Last week, we began our study of the feasts in Deuteronomy 16. We looked at Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits, saw what they remembered historically, and what they were rehearsing prophetically.
- Passover pointed to the death of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God (1Cor. 5:7).
- Unleavened Bread looked at His broken, sinless body (Matt. 26:26).
- And Firstfruits foretold of His resurrection, how He would become the firstfruits of the dead (1Cor. 15:20).
Each of these were fulfilled in Christ, not only in the details, but also in the timing. They were each fulfilled on the exact day on which they were celebrated.
We left off at verse nine, when Moses told them to count seven weeks from the Feast of Firstfruits, as he says,
Deut. 16:9 "You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain."
Now, we pick up the rest of the instruction beginning in verse ten...
Seven weeks after the Feast of Firstfruits was the Feast of Weeks. Specifically, the instructions were to...
Lev. 23:16 ...count fifty days - to the day after the seventh sabbath...
The day after the seventh Sabbath was 50 days after Firstfruits.
Many commentaries say that this feast was a celebration of the giving of the law at Mount Sinai, fifty days after they left Egypt. However, there is no Biblical evidence to support that. In reality, the Jews did not make this connection until later in their history. The original reason for the Feast of Weeks is stated clearly as...
Ex. 34:22 ...the Feast of Weeks, that is, the first fruits of the wheat harvest...
Like the Feast of Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks was also a "firstfruits" celebration, although this one was of the wheat harvest.
Verse ten tells us that there was an offering to make. The detailed instructions were given in Leviticus 23. The Jews were to...
Lev. 23:16 ...count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD.
A "new grain offering." It sounds like they were to make an offering of the new grain. However, the Hebrew here is "khaw-DAWSH min-KHAW," which means, "a grain offering of a new kind." And it is most definitely a new kind of offering! The form it took was:
Lev. 23:17 ...two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the LORD.
Two loaves of bread, both of equal weight. The really strange thing is that these loaves were baked with leaven! This is completely contrary to every other kind of offering! Remember, the Lord had said that leaven was never to be offered to Him!
Lev. 2:11 "No grain offering, which you bring to the LORD, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the LORD."
In the Bible, leaven is always a picture of sin, because it corrupts by puffing up. And so this offering of two leavened loaves is definitely of a new kind!
Verse eleven instructs the people to rejoice. "Rejoice" is the Hebrew word "saw-MAKH." In the book of Nehemiah, this same Hebrew word is used:
Neh. 12:43 and on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy, even the women and children rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard from afar.
This kind of rejoicing is heard from far away. Notice too that it was not just the Jews, but the servants and strangers -in the place where the Lord chooses to establish His name -were to rejoice as well. In other words, everyone in Jerusalem.
So we've examined this feast - 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits, celebrating the firstfruits of the wheat, when an offering of a new kind - one with leaven - was presented, and the audible rejoicing of Jews, visitors, and strangers in Jerusalem was heard. Now that we've read the details of history, how did this point forward to prophesy?
First of all, look at the timing. The day after the seventh Sabbath was 50 days after Firstfruits. For this reason, the Jews called the feast "the fiftieth day," or "Pentecost." Now, this is beginning to ring a bell, right? Remember what happened on the day of Pentecost, fifty days after Christ rose from the dead:
Acts 2:1-11 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabswe hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God."
On the Feast of Weeks, the day of Pentecost, God did a new thing. He ushered in the firstfruits of the wheat harvest. Remember that Christians are referred to as wheat many places in Scriptures. John the Baptist said of Christ,
Matt. 3:12 "His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
The wheat are those who will be gathered into the Lord's barn. On the day of Pentecost, the firstfruits of that wheat was offered to the Lord - the birth of the church, the first fruits of 2,000 years of Christians.
Within just a few minutes,
Acts 2:41 ...that day there were added about three thousand souls.
The wheat harvest had begun, and thousands of people were getting saved. They rejoiced in the Lord. Who and where? Native Jews and strangers from around the world all rejoiced in the place where God chose to establish His name: Jerusalem.
This "grain offering of a new kind" was also perfectly represented by the two leavened loaves of equal weight, because at this time God was calling two groups of sinners into one covenant:
Rom. 3:9 ...both Jews and Greeks are all under sin
Both loaves were leavened, and of equal weight:
Rom. 10:12-13 ...there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."
Two of the seven feasts are not reviewed by Moses in this chapter of Deuteronomy - the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. Although they are not part of our text in Deuteronomy, I do want to cover them in order to give you a complete picture of the prophetic significance of the seven feasts.
After the Feast of Weeks, a long period passes in the calendar without any holidays. Then, all of a sudden comes the Feast of Trumpets (Lev. 23:24-25).
The Feast of Trumpets was a Sabbath day - a day when trumpets are blown and workers cease from their labors. But interestingly, there is little more information given about it. Of the seven feasts, it is the deepest mystery.
At least it was a mystery until it was unveiled by the apostle Paul. You see, the Feast of Trumpets rehearses the still-future event that we call the Rapture.
In 1Corinthians 15, Paul is talking about new bodies that we will receive at death - bodies that are glorified, resurrected, and changed. But then he tells us that not everyone will die to get these bodies. At the sounding of a trumpet, some Christians will get new bodies without dying:
1Cor. 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
He also reminded the Thessalonians about this trumpet blast:
1Th. 4:13-18 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Yet again, the trumpet is spoken of in regards to the rapture. Jesus told John to write down three distinct things which comprise the book of Revelation:
Rev. 1:19 ..."write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things."
"The things which you have seen" were what John wrote in chapter one. "The things which are" were the things of the church, to which he devoted chapters two and three. "The things which shall take place after these things" began in chapter four, which described the final seven year period of man's rule on this earth. Now, between the division of the things of the church and the future to come, we read this:
Rev. 4:1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things."
John was in the now, the period of the church. Then, a trumpet sounded and he was caught up to heaven. This is a picture - a foretelling - of the rapture.
In Nehemiah 8:9-12, we a few more details about the Feast of Trumpets.
Neh. 8:9 ..."This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep."
Neh. 8:10 ..."Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
Neh. 8:12 All the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them.
On the day of the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets, we will not mourn or weep because from that moment on,
1Th. 4:17 ...we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
We will sit down at the table of Jesus and hear,
Rev. 19:9 ..."Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb."
And we will celebrate a great festival, because the Word of God, Jesus Christ, will be made known to us, and we will understand Him.
1Cor. 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
The next time we get together, we will cover the final two holidays - the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.