SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES FORETOLD IN HEBREW FEASTS
Directing your attention to Exodus 23:17, 34:23 and Deuteronomy 16:2-3, &16 we read that the Lord commands the men of Israel to come before Him three times a year. The 16th chapter of Deuteronomy is more specific and these three times a year are identified. They include the Feast of Passover or Unleavened, the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. According to the Hebrew calendar there were initially a total of seven feasts ordained by God. An additional two feasts were added later. These three feasts correlate to essential spiritual experiences in Christ.
First it is generally understood that it was no accident that Jesus was crucified on the feast of Passover. God was offering up his Lamb once and for all so that this annual practice that was initiated when the Hebrews fled from Egypt would not need to be repeated. Consequently we view our salvation experience or born again experience as the spiritual fulfillment of Passover initiated centuries before. That is, the Passover was instituted as a type and shadow of things to come. The blood of an innocent lamb had to be put on the doorpost and lintels of each household so that the death Angel would pass-over. Where there was no blood applied the firstborn died. Likewise, when we come to Christ we accept his shed blood on the cross like the blood that was applied to the vertical door posts and horizontal lintels for the propitiation of our sins. We leave a cursed kingdom of darkness where God’s judgment and wrath is poured out and we enter into His glorious kingdom of light that carries with it the promise of eternal life. Passover is a perfect picture of what Christ did for us on Calvary in type and shadow. Indeed the Christian knows that it was no coincidence that Jesus died on Passover.
Concurrent with the Feast of Passover two other feasts are celebrated in the springtime. These include the Feast of the Unleavened Bread and the Feast of the Firstfruits (Ex 34:18-20). Sometimes they are collectively simply called the Passover, and at other times in the Old Testament they are simply referred to the Feast of the Unleavened as in Deuteronomy 16:16. These, like Passover are also symbolic and instituted as a foreshadowing of events in the life of the believer that have spiritual significance. As the Hebrews approached the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army was in pursuit, the Hebrews were unable to allow their bread to rise with the yeast or leaven. They were instructed that they had to eat their bread in haste or “unleavened.” Jesus said regarding sin, a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, cast out therefore the leaven. This is a type and shadow of the need for repentance – when a person first comes to Christ. We are brought out of Egypt (spiritually speaking) by the blood of the Lamb and we repent of our sins or cast out the leaven.
Finally, after they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land and the Egyptians were drowned, they celebrated the Feast of Firstfruits. This is described as such because the Hebrews offered unto God sacrifices including a portion of their first or early harvest. Even their firstborn were dedicated to God and were thereafter called to a priestly order. Again this is a perfect type and shadow of the commitment that is made to Christ at the time of salvation. Recall Paul’s words “that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service.”
Following their safe escape and out of the reach of Pharaoh one might naturally think that they would travel directly to the Promised Land. Instead God directs them in the opposite direction, to the southern region of the Sinai Peninsula, to Mount Sinai. There Moses receives the 10 Commandments. Because this occurs 50 days after Passover or on the day after seven weeks it is called the Feast of Weeks or the Feast of Pentecost (from the Greek like pentagon: five sided building). Once again this is perfectly fulfilled in the book of Acts on the Feast of Pentecost when the Holy Ghost was first poured out on the 120 disciples in the upper room. Recall from Jeremiah 31:33 and II Corinthians 3:3 (paraphrasing) I will no longer write my words on tablets of stone but on your hearts, and again in Isaiah 28:11 “with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.” Hence, just as it was absolutely necessary that Jesus die on the Feast of Passover, so too was it absolutely necessary that the Holy Ghost be poured out on the Feast of Pentecost. The first Pentecost described in Exodus was a celebration of the word of God given in a literal or natural way, on tablets of stone. The book of Acts reveals Pentecost fulfilled where the word of God is delivered spiritually and his disciples utter the very oracles of God by speaking in tongues. However, take note that when Moses gave the Hebrews the 10 Commandments etched in stone by God’s own finger there was a great falling away. Indeed a golden calf was erected and worshiped. The earth opened up and swallowed 3000 who sought to overthrow Moses and his leadership. So too, we should not be surprised as we enter into this spiritual Pentecost and we witness or are overwhelmed with a great falling away. Despite this mighty demonstration of God’s power at Pentecost the believer can also testify to the persistence of the carnal mind, which is often evident by the abundant working of the flesh. Indeed, more than any other feast we struggle with our own behaviors and the behaviors of other believers who have given way to fleshly and carnal desires, and they are often blatantly publicized. Hence we come to realize that these events associated with apostasy, debauchery and degradation were foretold in type and shadow at Mt Sinai. Why? Because just as it was not God’s intention that the Hebrews were to remain in the wilderness, it is also not God’s intention that we remain fixated on the Baptism of the Holy Ghost as God’s goal for our life. God desires that we move on to the Promised Land.
The next three feasts are celebrated conjointly like the first three feasts, and as a group are known collectively as the harvest feasts (in the fall season) or the Feasts of the Ingathering. In Numbers 11 we read that God instructs Moses to construct trumpets made of silver of which much could be said regarding their spiritual significance. For example, silver which tarnishes was used to purchase Joseph by Potiphar. Our Lord was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (further explanation for another time). Nonetheless, the traditional ceremonial shofar was not used. Instead these silver trumpets were used to announce to the encamped Hebrews the need to move on. The glory cloud was moving, the trumpets were sounding, tent stakes needed to be pulled up and God’s people needed to follow Him to the land of promise. Ephesians 1:13 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. (Verses15-17) I… cease not to… mention of you in my prayers that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory may give unto you the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation in the knowledge of Him.” Essentially this experience which involves divine revelation empowers the Christian to actually comprehend the full extent of His love to “usward who believe.” No more “ever learning, never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” No more need for Sunday school. It is because of this enlightening experience that the songwriter wrote, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” This revelation is divine wisdom. At long last the Christian understands God’s purpose and goal for the entire body of Christ. In brief that goal is to “conform us to His image,” and that we as “His body” are to be “filled with all the fullness of God.” But this encounter with Christ is inclusive of much more. Knowing the goal and knowing how to get there are two different things; hence the need for wisdom and revelation. And although reception of divine illumination can be likened to a spiritual experience, it is probably better understood in the context of a journey, much like the Hebrews who traveled from Sinai to Palestine. Yet at the same time this feast is experiential because a quickening in the spirit occurs with each new insight. For example, in their journey the Hebrews had many experiences and received many specific instructions. They were fed by manna and later by quail. Water miraculously gushed from the rock and quenched their thirst. They were healed when they simply looked upon the bronze serpent held up on Moses’ staff. They were overshadowed by the pillar of cloud by day, which protected them from the blistering desert rays. They were warmed at night from freezing temperatures by the pillar of fire. They received instruction to construct a tabernacle as well as an altar of sacrifice, a water laver, a golden candlestick, a table of shew bread and the Ark of the Covenant. An order of priests was established with specific duties. Even the garments of the priests were specified by the Lord himself. All of these events, instructions and more are provided as type and shadow of Wisdom and Revelation that is available in the realm of the Spirit for the believer.
After receiving such great Wisdom and Revelation from Christ himself the believer is attacked and tried in the natural and spiritual realms in a way like never before. Revelations gained at the Feast of Trumpets are tried in the fire by a seemingly endless series of tribulations. Because it is so difficult to rejoice in the midst of horrific personal tribulation this period of time is not referred to as a feast but is simply called the Day of Atonement. The believer becomes well acquainted with the books of Job and James. They become your new best friends while sackcloth and ashes are, for the first time, truly understood. Like the 40 days of Noah’s flood or the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness it now becomes personal. Indeed this period of time can be likened unto the 40 weeks of Job’s trials or like the 40 weeks of gestation before birth. This is a marked period of time foreordained by the Lord to confirm and solidify divine revelations that nourished the believer during the Feast of Trumpets. It’s as if Trumpets is a time of preparing the soil for a great planting. It is often a time of rejoicing and typically many are involved. At the end of the day there is satisfaction in the cool of the summer evening. It is a job well done. While Atonement involves waiting, pulling weeds and chasing away birds and rodents who would readily devour your garden and its fresh tender shoots, it is a difficult time and lonely time in which the heat of the noonday sun beats down mercilessly. And unlike the time of planting, no one is there to help.
Finally at long last the believer has come to the River Jordan. This experience, known as the Feast of Tabernacles is characterized by deliverance. Here each believer tabernacles intimately with the Lord as He delivers the New Creation Manchild who is born to slay giants. Just as the Hebrews are delivered out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land, so to is the believer birthed into a Kingdom Walk. All of the carnality associated with Pentecost is rebuked and cast out by Jesus himself. He may use other believers as midwives to assist in this task but the believer knows assuredly that only Jesus can do this mighty work. And with this deliverance we march into the Promised Land on dry ground while the Jordan River parts. We are well aware that there are giants in the land but we have been reassured that…
We are able to go up and take the country
And possess the land from Jordan to the sea,
And though giants tall there be our way to hinder,
God will surely give the victory.
I also mentioned two other feasts that were added. These include the Dedication of the Temple when fire fell from heaven and consumed 144,000 sacrifices while God’s glory like a thick cloud filled the Temple. It is beyond the scope of this writing to share this experience at this time but please know that this is a direct reference to the baptism of fire.
The feast of Purim was also instituted and referenced in the book of Esther. Again this is outside of our discussion but please understand that this is a reference to the intercessory work of Christ in our life when we needed it most. For most of us after we began the Kingdom Walk, we were immediately involved in healing the sick, raising the dead and casting out demons. But unforeseen consequences occurred. We became totally full of ourselves, totally enamored with our “high spiritual standing.” Essentially we become what Oswald Chambers calls “spiritual prigs.” Though we were involved in signs and wonders we are oblivious to our arrogance, pride and blackened hearts. And so our great intercessor, Jesus, the Son of the Living God, slowly begins to reveal how deeply offensive we really were, how very shallow we had become, how truly unlovely we appeared. And once again he broke us, molded us afresh and we are again brought back and prepared to rebuild the Temple a second time. While we were performing mighty miracles we were carried off to Babylon. In some cases years, or even decades passed but God is faithful and brings us back to the land of promise. He gives us careful instruction and he revives our soul. We are allowed to rebuild. One might ask, What is the Land of Promise? The Promised Land is JESUS, our true inheritance.
In another time and another season, perhaps I will be able to share the significance of the three other days of holy convocation: Sabbath, Sabbatical and Jubilees. It has been a pleasure to share with you and thank you for friending me. It may be that the information that I have just shared is not new to you at all. However if it is new to you, I hope and pray that you receive it not from me but from the Lord Jesus Christ himself for I am nothing and He is everything.
In His Service,
Brother Jerry Turk
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