In Colossians 2:16, 17 festivals are called a mere shadow of things to come. In other words, the festivals Paul mentioned had a bigger fulfillment. While we are not to judge one another regarding these things, it is valuable to have knowledge of these festivals and their meaning. This article deals with the meaning of the Feasts.

Spring Festivals

The fourteenth day of the first month, Nissan, is the Lord’s Passover. Most readers will already know to point out that the Passover Festival Lamb was a mere shadow of Yahusha, the Lamb of God. On the Passover day, he offered his body and blood for a new covenant and commanded his followers: “Do this in remembrance of me”. (Luke 22:19)

The Feast of Unleavened bread was also a foreshadow of Jesus (Yahusha), who is the sinless “bread of life”. (John 6: 6:35, 48, 51) The first cut sheaf (the wave sheaf) of the first fruit harvest is then offered. (Leviticus 23:10)

The Law was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai on The Feast of Firstfruits, and it was a reminder that they had been slaves in Egypt. On this day, the 17th of Nisan, they celebrated the first fruits of the harvest, a foreshadow of Christ’s resurrection.

Fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits, two loaves of leavened bread are offered (Leviticus 23:17), and this is known as the Festival of Weeks or Pentecost. (Leviticus 23:15) We recognize this as the day the Holy Spirit was poured out as promised.

The Festival of Weeks is believed by rabbinic scholars to be the day that God gave Moses the Torah or law, the first covenant. Thus the Festival of Weeks can be understood to be a foreshadow of a new covenant sealed by the blood of the greater Passover Lamb. Our Father in heaven chose the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) to institute the Law of the New Covenant. Not on tablets of stone but in the mind and on the heart; not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. (2 Corinthians 3:3)

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33)

“By this he meant the Spirit, whom those believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (John 7:39)

“The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me.” (John 15:26)

Since the Spirit teaches truth in each believer, we are not to judge one another, because we do not know the revelation of the Spirit for that person. Of course we do know that our God is truth, and he would not instruct someone to violate his written word. We can recognize a person of God only by the fruits they bear.

Fall Festivals

There are more festivals, but they take place in the Jewish autumn harvest period. The first of these festivals is Yom Teruah, also known as the Feast of Trumpets. I wrote an entire article on the Seventh Trumpet and the meaning of this feast, as it foreshadows the return of Messiah and Gathering of the saints, something we should all be aware of.

After the Feast of Trumpets, there is Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. On this day the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies only once per year to offer atonement. (Exodus 30:10) On this day the High Priest performed ceremonial washings and made atonement for the transgressions of all the people by means of two goats. (Leviticus 16:7) As for what it foreshadows, we understand the first goat to represent Christ, who died to make atonement for the tabernacle [holy place]. (Leviticus 16:15-19)

When the high priest completed atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, the scapegoat received all the sins of Israel and carried them away in the wilderness not to be seen again. (Leviticus 16:20-22)

The scapegoat carried away the sin, not bringing it back into remembrance. The second goat foreshadows a removal of sin. In a way this is also a picture of Christ, who has himself ‘borne our sins’. (1 Peter 2:24) John the Baptist shouted: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!” (Matthew 8:17)

How I understand this personally is that the first goat foreshadows Jesus’ blood specifically in covenant-context for his Bride. A picture of the Great Crowd in Revelation 7 describes people from all nations, tribes, and tongues, with their robes washed white in the blood of the Lamb, and serving day and night in the Holy Place [Naos]. (Revelation 7:9-17) The first goat represents a limited-atonement of the congregation. (John 17:9; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25-27)

Furthermore, I understand the second goat to foreshadow the atonement for the forgiveness of sin for the people remaining on earth. (2 Corinthians 5:15; John 1:29; John 3:16; John 4:42; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:14) The second goat represents a broad atonement of the world. Notice that the second goat did not die for the sins, he carried away the sins. So while Christ “especially” died for his disciples, he is also the Savior of all the world, making intercession for the sins of the transgressors. (1 Timothy 4:10; Isaiah 53:12)

I confess my belief that while the Christ died for the Church, he also remains the savior of all humankind and will intercede in a spectacular way come the Day of Atonement. More than a year ago I wrote in an article titled “Mercy to the Nations” that Revelation 15:4 speaks of this:

“All the nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

What righteous acts? After those who were “victorious” are gathered on the sea of glass, it is time for Armageddon. (Revelation 16:16) The people remaining on Earth are about to see Jehovah’s righteous judgment.

Included in those who will not receive mercy are those who have the mark of the beast and worship his image, the waters of people who had clung to Babylon the Great and became partakers in her sin because they did not heed the warning to ‘get out of her’ (Revelation 18:4), those who blaspheme the name of God, and those sitting on the throne of the beast but did not repent. (Revelation 16)

After the nations witness these things, who shall not come before God and worship him in sackcloth, ashes and bitter lamentation? (Matthew 24:22; Jeremiah 6:26)

The next Feast is the Feast of Booths, and the Eighth Day. The Feast of Tents is the feast of ingathering (Exodus 23:16; 34:22), and started just five days after the Day of Atonement. It was a time of great rejoicing where they collected palm branches to build booths. (Deuteronomy 16:14; Nehemiah 8:13-18) I cannot help but relate to the promise in Revelation 21:3 that the Tent of God will be with us.

One important post-mosaic ceremony during the Feast of Tents is the pouring out of the water drawn from the pool of Siloam [1] – the pool from which water’s Jesus healed the blind man. Likewise, He will wipe out every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4) and gush forward water from the spring of the water of life. (Revelation 21:6) On the last day of the Feast of Booths, Jesus cried out:

“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.’ He who believes in me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38)

What about Summer?

Spring and autumn are seasons of harvest. They are reason for rejoicing. The summer is not foreshadowed by a feast, since it is a season for hard work and growing fruit. Still, many of Christ’s parables referred to a time period between the Master’s departure and his return. Those examples include parables of The Faithful Servant, The Ten Virgins and the growing season in the Parable of the Tares.

The message of Christ? Stay on the watch, for although we do not know the day or hour, the Master will surely return! So keep growing in fruits. Knowledge of the coming Autumn feasts keeps our eye focused on the promises for the future. Not one letter will remain unfulfilled.

“I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.” (Matthew 5:18)


[1] See Ellicott’s Commentary on John 7:37