Is it possible to know what the future holds for us?? The Creator of mankind does have a plan for us, and He reveals it to us through an annual cycle of festivals described in the Scriptures. It is an astounding plan offering an incredible future to every man, woman and child who has ever lived. Let us come to understand the incredible truth that lies ahead for humanity!!
|Every nation observes patriotic holidays. These special days are reminders of important events in a country’s history. They provide continuity between a nation’s past and the present.Usually citizens can understand and explain at least some of the significance of these celebrations. Yet, paradoxically, those same citizens seldom understand much about the days on which they worship and honor God. The nonbiblical roots of these religious practices are quietly ignored in their celebration.
As a result, people usually assume that popular observances such as Easter and Christmas serve as true representations of the themes of the Bible. Yet the Bible nowhere commands their observance, nor does the Bible record their observance by the early New Testament Church. However, God does command other, rarely noticed, festivals.
Some people realize that the Bible mentions specific days for religious celebration. But only a few can name any of them or explain their significance.
Those aware of these festivals generally believe they were meant only for ancient Israel and ceased after Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. They assume these days simply pointed toward Christ, and they think that, since He lived on earth 2,000 years ago, their importance has long since passed. Most people consider these biblical festivals as nothing more than relics of history with no relevance to the modern world.
Believe it or not, the Bible itself contradicts these commonly held views. An objective look at the biblical record reveals that both Christmas and Easter—the two main observances on the Christian calendar—are nowhere to be found, except where Passover is mistranslated Easter in Acts 12:4 in the King James Version. Surprising to many, the New Testament shows Jesus Christ observing God’s Holy Days, with Jesus Christ’s disciples following His example many decades after His death, burial and resurrection.
The teaching of the apostles in the years of the first century after the resurrection also differs from most people’s assumptions. The apostles’ instructions reveal a God who intended for all Christians to observe the biblical Holy Days—for a remarkable reason.
What these Holy Days reveal
Why does God want us to observe the Holy Days? Because God wants us to know about our future, He reveals to us His great purpose for humanity.
He explains why He puts us on earth, reveals our ultimate destiny and tells us how we can attain it! The observance of God’s Holy Days provides the key to understanding that elusive “unitary pattern,” the symmetrical order written about by Isaiah Berlin, that will make sense of human existence. The observance of these days reveals God’s great plan for the future of mankind.
The biblical Holy Days, or festivals, fall during three seasons of the year—the early-spring harvest, late-spring harvest and early-autumn harvest in the land of biblical Israel. The themes these days portray reflect God’s spiritual harvest of mankind to eternal life spoken of by Jesus Christ (John 4:35-38).
These observances serve as timeless reminders of how God’s plan gives eternal life to mortal man. Our Creator will bring His plan to fruition in spite of man’s choices and actions, which have consistently led to separation from God, suffering and death (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25; Isaiah 59:1-8; Jeremiah 10:23). These festivals reveal the unfolding of God’s plan for humanity and how He will establish His Kingdom on earth. This is the good news, or gospel, Jesus Christ preached (Mark 1:14-15). (For more information on this important subject, please write for our free booklet The Gospel of the Kingdom.)
God’s design to grant humanity eternal life has existed since “the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). The Holy Days teach humanity about that remarkable plan. The apostle Paul beautifully summed up its essence in his letter to the Ephesians: “He has made known to us his secret purpose, in accordance with the plan which he determined beforehand in Christ, to be put into effect when the time was ripe: namely, that the universe, everything in heaven and earth, might be brought into unity in Christ. In Christ indeed we have been given our share in this heritage, as was decreed in his design whose purpose is everywhere at work” (Ephesians 1:9-11, Revised English Bible).
The Holy Days help us comprehend the master plan—the very purpose—of God, how we truly become His people. Notice this description of our destiny: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3). Step by step, the Holy Days show us how this beautiful picture will become a reality.
In Leviticus 23 we find a listing of the Holy Days. After discussing the weekly Sabbath, the text describes special observances with unusual names such as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. In giving these Holy Days, God instructed Moses to make it clear that “These are the Feasts of the LORD” (verses 4, 37, emphasis added throughout).
The Bible teaches that eventually God will teach everyone to observe these days (Zechariah 14:16). In the pages of this booklet you will learn the fascinating purpose of each of God’s Holy Days, along with their promise of hope for mankind.
How to observe YHWH’s Holy Days
After we come to realize that the Holy Days are vitally important to mankind and eminently applicable to our modern world, we naturally want to learn more about how to observe them.
Where should we celebrate them? Should we keep them at home or in some kind of religious service? What should we do on these days? Does God mind if we do our normal work on these days, or should we reserve them for other purposes? How will the observance of these days affect our families and jobs?
These are all important questions we must consider upon learning about Yah’s festivals. Let’s examine some biblical principles we should consider in dealing with these real-life issues.
Some of these festivals have designated methods of observance that set them apart from the others. For example, only the Passover involves partaking of bread and wine as symbols of Yahushua’s death. The Days of Unleavened Bread are the only feast days during which YHWH tells us to remove leaven from our homes. The Day of Atonement also stands alone as the one Holy Day observed by fasting. Proper observance of these days includes acknowledging their distinctions, which are designed to teach us spiritual lessons.
Taken as a whole, however, there are principles applicable to observing all of YHWH’s Holy Days. First, we must remember that these days are holy to YHWH. They are “the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations,” says YHWH (Leviticus 23:2).
YHWH is the only one who can make anything holy. YHWH places these days on a plane higher than all humanly devised celebrations. Men and women can dedicate time to YHWH for a special purpose, but YHWH alone can set time aside as holy (Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:8, 11). When we exercise proper respect and appreciation for these special annual occasions, we also honor YHWH Himself by acknowledging His authority over our lives. Understanding this principle is important to worshiping YHWH properly.
Our Creator desires that people willingly and in faith follow all of His instructions (Isaiah 66:2). A cooperative, humble attitude stands in contrast to the frame of mind of those who want only to do as little as possible to get by. The heart of the matter is whether we really believe and love God. The apostle John illustrated the attitude YHWH desires when he wrote: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
But how does YHWH want us to conduct ourselves on these days? Consider His basic instruction: “These are the YHWH appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times …” (Leviticus 23:4, NIV). Other versions of the Bible, such as the King James and New King James, use the phrase “holy convocations,” but the meaning is the same. These are annual occasions on which we should gather with other believers. As with the weekly Sabbath, YHWH commands special worship services on each of the Holy Days.
YHWH revealed to the early Christians the principle of meeting with others of like mind on the Sabbaths and Holy Days: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25). What better time to encourage and exhort each other than on the days that depict God’s great plan of salvation!
When we assemble at the times of these annual festivals, we allow ourselves a wonderful opportunity to learn more about YHWH’s plan of salvation. Nehemiah 8 records a striking instance of YHWH’s people gathering to observe the Feast of Trumpets (verse 2). During their religious service, the leaders “helped the people to understand the Law … So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading” (verses 7-8). The early Church continued to keep these yearly feast days according to these same principles, but with much greater spiritual understanding (Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8).
In Nehemiah’s day, because the people had neglected God’s festivals, they needed encouragement. “And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to YHWH; do not mourn nor weep.’ For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to YHWH. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the YHWH is your strength'” (Nehemiah 8:9-10). Then, after they were taught YHWH’s law, “all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them” (verse 12).
These special days are meant to be enjoyed by the whole family—everyone who attends! Especially at the Feast of Tabernacles, sufficient time is available for proper family activities and recreation as well as rejoicing over the knowledge God reveals.
To properly rejoice on YHWH’s days of celebration, we are not to do our customary work (Leviticus 23:3, 7-8, 21, 25, 35-36). Notice that, even though preparing food for the Holy Days does entail work, YHWH says that this kind of effort is entirely appropriate. However, on the Day of Atonement we are to forgo all regular work including, of course, food preparation (verses 28, 30-31).
We also demonstrate our obedience and commitment to God by arranging time off from our jobs so we can observe the Holy Days. With proper planning and respectful communication with employers, most people can work out the details required to be able to take these days off. It is our responsibility to use wisdom and patience when informing family members of our decision to observe the festivals.
Responding to YHWH’s instruction is a matter of faith. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:7: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” It is, therefore, important for us to start keeping the Holy Days when we learn about them. Even though we may not understand everything at first, we will learn a great deal more as we actually begin observing them.
In summary, the feast days of YHWH are a time of happiness, not just because of their meaning for us, but because of the wonderful hope they promise for all mankind. Observing the Holy Days reminds us of God’s great love for humanity. Worshiping God in this way is a joy and pleasure. These festivals truly are God’s gifts to His people!
Calendar of YHWH’s ANNUAL Festivals
Passover: April 8 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 9-15
Pentecost: May 31
Feast of Trumpets: September 19
Day of Atonement: September 28
Feast of Tabernacles: October 3-9
Last Great Day: October 10
Passover: March 29 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: March 30 – April 5
Pentecost: May 23
Feast of Trumpets: September 9
Day of Atonement: September 18
Feast of Tabernacles: September 23-29
Last Great Day: September 30
Passover: April 18 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 19-25
Pentecost: June 12
Feast of Trumpets: September 29
Day of Atonement: October 8
Feast of Tabernacles: October 13-19
Last Great Day: October 20
Passover: April 6 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 7-13
Pentecost: May 27
Feast of Trumpets: September 17
Day of Atonement: September 26
Feast of Tabernacles: October 1-7
Last Great Day: October 8
Passover: March 25 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: March 26 – April 1
Pentecost: May 19
Feast of Trumpets: September 5
Day of Atonement: September 14
Feast of Tabernacles: September 19-25
Last Great Day: September 26
Passover: April 14 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 15-21
Pentecost: June 8
Feast of Trumpets: September 25
Day of Atonement: October 4
Feast of Tabernacles: October 9-15
Last Great Day: October 16
Passover: April 3 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 4-10
Pentecost: May 24
Feast of Trumpets: September 14
Day of Atonement: September 23
Feast of Tabernacles: September 28 – October 4
Last Great Day: October 5
Passover: April 22 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 23-29
Pentecost: June 12
Feast of Trumpets: October 3
Day of Atonement: October 12
Feast of Tabernacles: October 17-23
Last Great Day: October 24
Passover: April 10 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 11-17
Pentecost: June 4
Feast of Trumpets: September 21
Day of Atonement: September 30
Feast of Tabernacles: October 5-11
Last Great Day: October 12
Passover: March 30 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: March 31 – April 6
Pentecost: May 20
Feast of Trumpets: September 10
Day of Atonement: September 19
Feast of Tabernacles: September 24-30
Last Great Day: October 1
Passover: April 19 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 20-26
Pentecost: June 9
Feast of Trumpets: September 30
Day of Atonement: October 9
Feast of Tabernacles: October 14-20
Last Great Day: October 21
In biblical reckoning, days begin in the evening (Genesis 1:5), when the sun goes down (Joshua 8:29; 2 Chronicles 18:34; Mark 1:32), and are counted “from evening to evening” (Leviticus 23:32). Thus, all God’s festivals begin the evening just before the dates listed in this table. For example, in 2008 Passover is observed Friday evening, April 18, after sundown, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins Saturday evening, April 19. The festivals end in the evening on the dates given.
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