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Background for Acts 2: The Feasts of the LORD

The promise of the Father for which the disciples of Jesus were waiting in Jerusalem was the baptism in the
Holy Spirit. After Jesus ascended back to heaven, He would pour out the Spirit upon His Body on earth on
an appointed day - on the feast of Pentecost.

In Acts 2:1, we read, AWhen the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they [the disciples of Jesus] were all with
one accord in one place@. The Greek word for Afully come@ in this context speaks of time in the sense of a
fulfillment.

This feast, which was given by the LORD God to Moses for the nation of Israel over 1000 years before, was
being fulfilled in this moment of time. In what sense was it being fulfilled? The feast was a shadow of
things to come - a prophetic picture; and the events on this Pentecost were the substance, the reality of what
had been pictured, so long ago (Col 2:16-17).

In order to understand the fulfillment of the feast of Pentecost, we need to first look at the picture given in
the feast. Pentecost was one of three occasions for which all the men of Israel were required to go up to
Jerusalem, each year - festival occasions.

Turn first to Deuteronomy chapter 16. The LORD God had given Moses details concerning the feasts, which
Israel was to keep.

[Deut 16:16-17]

The feast of Weeks was the original name for the feast of Pentecost. What is the place that the LORD chose
for all the males of Israel to appear before Him? It is the place where He chose His name to dwell;
Jerusalem (Ps 132:13-14).

Israel was not to appear before the LORD empty-handed, but with an offering that reflected what the LORD
had blessed them with. This was an act of worship. True worship always glorifies God; it gives God the
recognition that belongs to Him; it manifests who He is. The feasts were opportunities for Israel to give
God His worth.

Each of the feasts of the LORD commemorated an actual event in the history of the nation of Israel. In
keeping the feasts, Israel was giving God His worth for what He had done for them in the past, as a nation.

But the feasts also look forward in time, prophetically picturing a future event that would be fulfilled in the
Coming of the Messiah to the earth. The feasts foretold of how God would obtain sons for His kingdom -
in heaven, and on earth. So in this sense, the picture in the feasts show Gods plan - for all mankind.

The order of the feasts in the calendar year reflect the chronology in which the commemorated events
occurred in Israel=s history. These feasts were also fulfilled by Christ, in the same order.

Looking at your chart, Unleavened Bread, Weeks (Pentecost), and Tabernacles were the three feasts given
by the LORD to Israel, to be celebrated in Jerusalem.

Unleavened Bread, which came in the Spring, was closely associated with the feast of Passover, which fell
on the day before Unleavened Bread started (Unleavened Bread was a 7-day feast). These two feasts were
always observed in conjunction with one another, in that unleavened bread was to be eaten with the
Passover lamb (Ex 12:8). In the day of Jesus, they were celebrated as one feast.
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We will see that the feast of Firstfruits is connected in Scripture with the feast of Weeks, which fell fifty
days after Firstfruits, in the early summer. Pentecost is the Greek name for this feast. What does the word
mean? Fiftieth.

While Scripture connects Firstfruits with Pentecost, Firstfruits was actually celebrated with the feasts of
Passover and Unleavened Bread, because it fell on the next consecutive day on the calendar to the first day
of the Unleavened Bread.

The feast of Tabernacles came in the autumn, and also had two feasts associated with it: Trumpets, and the
Day of Atonement. Whereas all the other feasts were occasions of great rejoicing, the Day of Atonement
was a somber occasion of national as well as personal repentance.

The feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits and Pentecost have all been fulfilled through the first
coming of Jesus to the earth. Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles will be fulfilled in the Second
Coming of Christ, when the nation of Israel will repent, and Jesus will set up His kingdom on earth with
Israel as the head nation.

We=ll be looking at just the first four feasts on the chart, which have already been fulfilled - the last of
which is the feast of Pentecost.

The first feast, the feast of Passover, was ordained by the LORD while the children of Israel were still in
bondage in Egypt. The LORD had chosen Moses to be their deliverer. Turn to Exodus chapter 4. The LORD
was instructing Moses on what he was to say to Pharaoh.

[Ex 4:22-23] Moses was to tell Pharaoh that Israel was the LORD =s firstborn son - for Israel was the nation
the LORD made for Himself. Pharaoh was to release Israel from their bondage; to free them to serve the
LORD. If Pharaoh was unwilling to let go of the LORD firstborn, the LORD would take Pharaoh=s firstborn -
in death. This would be all the firstborn in the land of Egypt - of both man and beast.

The LORD gave Pharaoh opportunity after opportunity to comply - nine of them, in the form of plagues on
Egypt; but each time, Pharaoh hardened his heart. The LORD is longsuffering, but finally the judgment
spoken of had to come. Turn to Exodus chapter 12.

[Exodus 12:1-20]

v. 1-2 The LORD based Israel=s calendar on this feast, as being the beginning of the year for them. The
month was called Abib; it became known as Nisan after the Babylonian exile. This was Israel=s beginning
as a nation.

v. 3-4 Everyone in Israel was to take a lamb for their household. Now, if their household was too small,
they were to share the lamb with the house next door - the lamb must not be wasted. We can see that the
LORD regarded this lamb as precious. The lamb was to be taken according to the number of persons - there
was to be neither too much, nor too little; neither waste, nor want.

v. 5 The LORD gave certain qualifications for this lamb. He must be without blemish; the word has the
meaning of perfect; faultless; spotless. He must be of the sheep or the goats; that is, a clean animal,
suitable for consumption. That was the Divine standard for the lamb. Also, the lamb must be a male of the
first year; this was considered to be the prime of life for this animal.
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And whose lamb was this (beginning of v. 5)? This was your lamb. The LORD had told Moses that the
congregation of Israel was to take a lamb for a household (v. 3) - thats a lamb for the house of Israel; to
take the lamb, for him and his neighbor (v. 4) - theres the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the
world; and here we read of your lamb - for this lamb must be received personally, individually - taken in by
each one willing to believe the LORD at His word.

v. 6-7 How long was the lamb kept (from v. 3)? From the tenth day to the fourteenth day of the month -
four days. In ancient households, animals were often kept in the house. This would give the household
time to observe the lamb, to become familiar with him, maybe even become attached to him.

Then, as one, the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel was to kill their lamb, at twilight. Literally,
the Hebrew can mean, between evenings, which was between noon and sunset. Traditionally, the lambs
were slain at 3 PM.

Each of the children of Israel was to slay their lamb - to watch their lamb die before their eyes - and to
drain the blood from their lamb. In verse 22 of this chapter, we read of the blood in a basin; presumably it
was collected in that. Then they were to dip a bunch of hyssop into the blood (v. 22) - an absorbent plant -
and strike the blood on the top post and two side posts of the door to their house - so that death was applied
to that house.

v. 8-10 The same night as they killed their lamb, as they applied his blood to their doors, each household
was to roast their lamb with fire - the whole animal - and eat his flesh. Along with the lamb, they were to
eat unleavened bread - which pictured the haste with which they would leave Egypt - there was no time to
allow bread to rise (Ex 12:39).

They were also to eat the lamb with bitter herbs - a reminder of the bitter bondage that the LORD would
deliver them from, in Egypt. Anything of the lamb that remained was to be burned with fire - so that
whether by eating or by fire, the entire lamb was consumed - the lamb was not wasted.

v. 11 The children of Israel were to eat of their lamb, being dressed and ready to go - for the death of the
lamb was not only their means of salvation, it was also their means of deliverance. At the same time as
being saved from death through the blood of the lamb, their were to be delivered from their bitter bondage
in Egypt - and they needed to be ready to enter into that freedom which the LORD had prepared for them.

At the end of verse 11, the LORD said, AIt is the LORD =s Passover@. What is the LORD =s passover? Look back
at the context in verse 11: AAnd thus you shall eat it; with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet,
and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD =s Passover@.

The LORD =s Passover is the lamb that was slain. In the next two verses, the LORD showed why He called
the lamb Athe LORD =s Passover@.

v. 12-13 The tenth plague that the LORD would bring, the death of the firstborn, would be upon Pharaoh
and all in the land of Egypt. Only God can make safe from His own judgment; and He must do so in a just
manner. Death was to be applied throughout all the land of Egypt - to every house - but to the houses that
already had death applied - through the shed blood of the lamb - these had already satisfied the judgment
of God.
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As the LORD passed through the land of Egypt that night, and saw the sign - the blood on the house - He
passed over that house. The Hebrew word for Apassed over@ can also mean hover over - the idea is a
protective action. The LORD protected that house, so that the plague of death did not come upon it, and
destroy the firstborn inside.

If a house was not covered by the blood, the LORD did not hover over it. In that case, the plague of death
was executed upon the firstborn in that house. In verse 23, we learn that this plague of death was brought
into the house by the destroyer - an angel that executes the LORD =s judgment.

This was the way that the LORD redeemed His people from the bitter bondage of Egypt - with the blood of a
lamb - the LORD =s Passover, His sacrificial lamb - his life given in death, so that theirs might be saved.

Was every firstborn of the nation of Israel saved from death? No - only those who obeyed God, and
applied the blood of the lamb to their doors. The LORD had told the children of Israel how to be saved; but
they were only saved if they believed the LORD for His Passover - His Lamb - and applied his blood to their
doors.

In the feast of Passover, we see a picture of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Paul said, AChrist, our Passover,
is sacrificed for us@ (1 Cor 5:7).

God provided Himself a Lamb - the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29). But that
Lamb must become your Lamb - His blood, personally applied to the door of your heart - in order for you
to be made safe by the LORD from judgment.

The judgment is the death of the firstborn - thats each man, born of the first man, Adam - by natural birth.
That creation is condemned to death. But you were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a
lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Pet 1:18-19). You were born again, a new creation, in Christ
Jesus - justified by His blood, and therefore saved from wrath (Rm 5:9).

The Passover lamb was kept four days, during which time the people could observe the lamb, and consider
its flawlessness, its innocence. Jesus ministered for four years. He came to His own - to Israel - dwelling
among them so that they could observe His sinless perfection, His righteousness - always doing the will of
the Father.

Israel could come to know Jesus; they could consider the wise thoughts He expressed, the marvelous works
He did. They could note His gentle compassion, His humility, His love. Here indeed was the Perfect Man -
revealed to be the Son of God; Israels Messiah. And yet, after just four short years, with the Lamb right in
His prime, His life would be cut short - in death.

The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel was responsible for the death of Jesus; they crucified
their Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36); they killed the Prince of Life (Acts 3:15). The nation of Israel witnessed
His death - they saw the Savior die right before their eyes - the One who was to be their Substitute, their
Sin Offering.

The Passover lamb was roasted with fire. The fire of God=s holiness burned out the sin which Jesus took
upon Himself on the cross. Jesus died on the fourteenth day of Nisan, at 3 PM - the very time when all the
Passover lambs were being slain in Jerusalem - lambs slain to celebrate the Passover - the feast that Jesus
was, at that moment, fulfilling through His death.
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Back in Egypt, the LORD had provided a physical redemption for the children of Israel - their freedom from
slavery was bought with the blood of the lamb. The people needed to believe into the One pictured in the
Passover - the Christ, whose shed blood would free them from their slavery to sin. In believing, the
children of Israel would be freed from the penalty of sin - death - a spiritual redemption.

The Passover was part of the LORDs preaching of the gospel to the children of Israel; but in the book of
Hebrews, we learn that the word preached to them did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those
who heard it (Heb 4:2). Nonetheless, the picture was there to be seen in the LORD =s Passover. The LORD
sought to preserve that picture by commemorating the day of Israel=s salvation and deliverance with a feast.

v. 14 A memorial is something that is used to keep a memory intact. By instituting this feast, the LORD
was helping the children of Israel to keep the truth of the LORD =s Passover intact - so that future generations
could believe to see the picture in the feast, and be saved.

So the LORD ordained: keep the feast. Watch over it carefully, preserve it - for in the feast is the truth of the
Coming One - the Christ. He is the LORD =s Passover - the means by which God delivers a man from sin
and death.

After this, the LORD gave instructions to Moses concerning another feast, that was to directly follow the
celebration of the feast of Passover - in fact, it began with the Passover.

v. 15-20 The feast of Unleavened Bread officially began the day after the Passover feast, but in that
unleavened bread was eaten with the Passover lamb (v. 8), the two feasts were always celebrated jointly,
one as part of the other.

This second feast went on for seven days. The beginning and end of the feast were marked by holy
convocations. This was a calling out of the people, gathering them together, as an assembly, to worship the
LORD - in this case, to keep the feast, together.

The feast of Unleavened Bread stressed the need to put out all leaven from the house, and to eat only
unleavened bread. This would be done as a memorial of Israels deliverance from Egypt; for when
deliverance came, it would be sudden and complete; in fact, the record says they were driven out of Egypt
(Ex 12:39).

There would be no time to allow bread to rise; instead the people would take their unleavened dough with
them. So the putting out of the leaven underscored the LORD separating them from Egypt.

Now, leaven refers to living microorganisms that reproduce and spread throughout dough. They consume
the starches in the flour, a fermenting process which sours the dough. The work of leaven is actually to
corrupt the dough, then; but in doing so, the leaven generates pockets of gas, which cause the dough to rise.
So though it is a corruption, the result is often considered more palatable to people, isn=t it? - a nice, puffy
loaf of bread - a pleasure.

In Scripture, leaven is always a type of evil, or sin. Often there is pleasure associated with sin; passing
pleasure (Heb 11:25). It can appear attractive, to man; enticing. But once a man has taken it in, sin begins
to work its corrupting influence; consuming him with the lusts of his flesh and of his mind; souring his soul
to the things of God, puffing up a man with an inflated sense of his own importance.
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So the idea behind the putting out of leaven in this feast is that, not only was the LORD separating them from
Egypt; He was separating them to Himself. They were to be His consecrated people; holy as He is holy -
sin apart.

This would only be possible through the One who would fulfill this feast - the Coming Christ, by whose
life the people would be enabled to not sin, to be sanctified - to be a holy, consecrated people.

The human body of Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit in a virgin womb - so that in Him was no sin (1
Jn 3:5). He came as the bondservant of Jehovah, subordinating Himself to God - so that He knew no sin (2
Cor 5:21). And Jesus walked in perfect obedience to the will of God - so that with His body, He did no sin
(1 Pet 2:22). Jesus was obedient unto death - even the death of the cross.

The sinless Lamb of God was slain; He offered Himself to God as a sacrifice for the sin of mankind, taking
the penalty for the sin upon Himself; and God accepted the sacrifice of His Son - the Lamb that God
Himself provided.

After His death, the body of Jesus was taken down from the cross, and laid in a grave. David prophesied
that the LORD would not leave the soul of Messiah in Sheol, nor permit His Holy One to see corruption,
speaking of the natural decay of a dead body in the grave (Ps 16:9-10).

It was because of Jesus sinlessness that His return from Death was assured. It is sin that corrupts, in death.
There was no sin to corrupt the body of Messiah, so it was not possible that He should be held by Death
(Acts 2:24).

The body of Jesus lay in the grave for three days, resting in its sinless perfection - the only dead body that
never saw corruption. And at the end of those three days, the LORD showed Messiah the path of Life.

Jesus was resurrected out from the dead, in a body of glory - a body of Life, in which death has no part; and
then He ascended into the presence of the Father, full of the joy of having accomplished His Father=s will to
bring Life out of death - a Life that He would share with all who believe in Him.

The feast of Unleavened Bread points to the incorruptible body of the sinless Son of Man, the Bread of
Life, the true bread from heaven that gives Life to the world (Jn 6:33).

In Christ is deliverance to new Life, with freedom from the power of sin. The length of the feast reflects the
ongoing process of sanctification, and the number of its days - seven - the process, complete - holy, as God
is holy.

Now, of course, that was the spiritual picture in the feast of Unleavened Bread. If the children of Israel
followed the LORD =s command - to be ready to leave, to leave in haste, without allowing their bread to rise -
it would result in their physical deliverance from Egypt.

But if they mixed what they did with faith - or if those who kept the feast after them, in putting out the
leaven from their houses, believed to see the sinless Coming One, who would set them apart unto God, and
enable them to put sin out of their lives - then they could be delivered from the power of sin. Then they
would be capable of not sinning - of purging out the leaven in their lives - of being truly unleavened (1 Cor
5:7).
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The next feast began on the day after the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread, but it would not be
observed by the children of Israel until they came into the land that the LORD was giving them, for it was a
harvest feast.

Turn to Leviticus chapter 23. The LORD was speaking to Moses of His feasts, which the children of Israel
were to proclaim in their seasons (Lev 23:4): Passover, on the fourteenth; Unleavened Bread, beginning on
the fifteenth; and then the feast of Firstfruits.

[Lev 23:9-14]

v. 9-10 A sheaf was a bundle of grain, that had been recently cut off the stalks. The firstfruits were the
first part of the harvest of a crop that had grown to maturity.

Of course, to obtain that harvest, what did you have to sow? Seed. If the heavens provided plentiful rain,
the seed would have sprouted, and new life would have sprung up from the ground, growing up into
maturity with full heads of grain.

The firstfruits of that crop were considered to be the LORD =s, for He had given the harvest. Offering the
firstfruits back to the LORD was an expression of thankfulness by the children of Israel for God=s provision.
The firstfruits of the crop were also considered a token of the rest of the harvest - an assurance that it
would also grow to maturity.

v. 11 The priest was to wave the sheaf of grain - literally wave it, heavenward, before the LORD - and then
the priest was to keep it.

The firstfruits were unadulterated raw grain, and were therefore considered to be unleavened. Even though
other forms of unleavened grain were offered by fire unto the LORD, the firstfruits were not; they were kept
by the priests for their consumption (Lev 2:12, Num 18:11); it became food, for them.

Notice when the firstfruits were offered - on the morrow after the Sabbath. The Sabbath referred to the first
day of the feast of Unleavened Bread, on the fifteenth of the first month; Firstfruits took place the following
day, on the sixteenth.

v. 12-14 When they were initially instituted, the feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread had no offerings
that accompanied them; but you can see that here they are represented in the feast of Firstfruits - a lamb
without blemish of the first year, as a burnt offering, and an unleavened grain offering. In addition, there
was a drink offering, which was poured out on the altar.

The feast of Firstfruits was a picture of the resurrection of the Coming Christ, who would spring forth from
the ground in a glorified body.

Speaking of His coming glorification on the cross, Jesus had said, AUnless a grain of wheat falls into the
ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain@ (Jn 12:24).

Jesus was that grain of wheat that had die, in order to bring forth the Life that was contained within Himself
- eternal life, for the body - a life in which death has no part. And that Life is reproduced in all who believe
into Christ, to receive it.
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The offerings that represented the crucifixion and burial of Jesus are present in the firstfruits offerings, for
it was out of the death of Jesus and the burial of His incorrupt body that the resurrected body of Jesus came
forth. The drink offering represents the life poured out, in death. This is the complete work of redemption.

Paul wrote to the Corinthian assembly that Christ is now risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits
of those who have fallen asleep (1 Cor 15:20), speaking of those who have died in Christ.

The raising of Christ glorified is the assurance of resurrection for all those who have been born again, of
the incorruptible seed Christ (1 Pet 1:23, 25); His seed remains in them (1 Jn 3:9). Jesus is the firstfruits of
the harvest of glorified sons of God.

These three feasts - Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits - were fulfilled in the death, burial and
resurrection of Jesus Christ. The feast of Pentecost, which we will see fulfilled in Acts chapter 2, is
connected to the feast of Firstfruits. Its timing is measured from that feast.

[Leviticus 23:15-21]

v. 15-16 This feast, called Pentecost in the NT, occurred fifty days after the feast of Firstfruits (seven
Sabbaths, then the morrow after the seventh Sabbath; 49+1=50).

In Scripture, seven is the number of? Completion. There is a perfect completion, then one more - making
eight, the number of? New beginning.

It was at this time that the children of Israel were to offer a new grain offering to the LORD. Elsewhere, it is
recorded that the offering for this feast came from the wheat harvest (Ex 34:22).

v. 17-21 Now, the outstanding thing to note in verse 17 is that the offering was to be baked with leaven.
That is contrary to every other grain offering made to the LORD; this is the only offering that contains
leaven.

Notice that the children of Israel were to bake these loaves in their homes - two loaves. They were not to
be a burnt offering, but a wave offering, for the consumption of the priests.

The offering of the wave loaves were to be accompanied by burnt offerings, grain offerings, drink
offerings, sin offerings and peace offerings. With the accompanying offerings, these wave loaves were holy
to the LORD for the priest - despite the leaven.

We will see that the feast of Pentecost was fulfilled in the baptism of the Body of Christ in the Holy Spirit.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit occurred exactly fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

At that time, the Body of Christ was anointed for their ministry of reconciling men to God. They were a
consecrated offering unto the Lord; a new creation in Christ Jesus, as the wave loaves were a new grain
offering unto the LORD (v. 16).

The unleavened grain offerings are a type of Christ in His sinless humanity. But what about these leavened
loaves, offered on Pentecost? They represent the Body of Christ.
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The wave loaves were made from the firstfruits of a harvest of grain, just like the wave sheaf. Believers are
born again, born of the Spirit, sons of God (Jn 1:12, 3:3, 5). We have been planted together in the likeness
of Christ=s death; we can be certain we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection (Rm 6:5). We are
members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones (Eph 5:30). Were a part of Him; One.

The wave loaves, with their leaven, picture the Body of Christ - composed of members who were sinners,
who sinned as a way of life, but in whom the corrupting action of sin has now been rendered inoperative by
righteousness (Rm 6:6, 8:2) - just as the corrupting action of the leaven in the loaves was rendered
inoperative by the fire, through the baking process.

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rm 8:1), for Jesus has taken care of all of
our sin, for all time. This is what is seen in the accompanying offerings, which represent the work of Jesus
Christ, on the believers behalf.

Notice that there were two loaves in this offering; two loaves, but representative of a single harvest - and
presented as a single offering. The Body of Christ is composed of two peoples: Jew and Gentile. These
were two peoples formerly separated and at enmity with one another. Both have now been united as one
new Body in Christ.

Turn to Ephesians chapter 2. Paul wrote of the unity of the Jews and the Gentiles, in Christ.

[Read Eph. 2:14-18] Two peoples, united in Christ, having access by one Spirit to the Father. Two
peoples, one Body, an offering acceptable, pleasing to God - in Christ. This is what was represented in the
two leavened loaves offered on the feast of Pentecost.

In his epistle, James wrote that of the Father=s own will, He brought us forth by the word of truth - the
gospel of Christ - that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creation of mankind (Ja 1:18). A kind of
firstfruits - for we have already received eternal life, in Christ. And Christ is our assurance of the
completed harvest - as glorified sons of God - which we will see begin with the harvest of souls, on
Pentecost.

Reading: Acts 2; 1 Cor 14:20-22; Genesis 11:1-9