God gave Moses instructions for the seven festivals, or feasts, that they were to celebrate and remember. These were to be holy days of remembrance, set aside to the LORD. Each one was for a specific purpose, and each one points to Jesus Christ.
The first four are all in Spring, beginning in the month of Nisan. “‘In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover. Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.'” ~ Leviticus 23:5-6
Jesus came to be our Passover Lamb, to spare us once and for all from the wages of sin, death. We only have to accept this gift from Him. Passover points to the crucifixion and sacrifice of Jesus, His death for us. The Feast of Unleavened Bread represents His time in the tomb after His death.
On the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (third day after Passover…) comes the third feast.
“‘Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.”” ~ Leviticus 23:10-11
The Feast of First Fruits was a celebration of the harvest, giving thanks to the LORD. It also was the pledge of a full harvest yet to come. This points to the resurrection of Jesus from the grave, when He came forth bringing us redemption and the promise and hope of eternal life with Him.
The fourth festival was the Feast of Weeks. “‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD. You shall bring in from your dwelling places 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.'” ~ Leviticus 23:16-17
This caught my eye. Leavened bread. Most of the time, God called for “unleavened bread”. Leaven represented the effects of sin and the dangerous influence of the people dwelling around the sons of Israel. But here, God calls for leaven. Why?
The Feast of Weeks is known as Pentecost, and it represents and points to the day the Holy Spirit came. “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…” ~ Acts 2:3-4a. Jesus promised He would send a Helper, and He kept His word, as always!
The Day of Pentecost was the beginning of the Church, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, teaching the good news of Jesus to everyone around them. Peter preached “and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” ~ Acts 2:41b. Wow!
Back to the leaven- the Ryrie study notes in my Bible state that “the loaves, made with leaven, typified the formation of the Church on the day of Pentecost. The Church, the Body of Christ, is composed of sinners who are saved by the grace of God.”
Isn’t that the truth? The world looks at the Church and can’t believe what a mess we are sometimes. But we are all just sinners, saved by grace, striving to follow Jesus and become more like Him. We stumble and fall, we goof, we unfortunately revert back to our old nature. But we let God pick us up, and we keep on keeping on, hopefully dependent upon the power of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us. Thank God for His forgiveness, mercy and grace!
On our own strength, we cannot follow Jesus without stumbling. But with the power of the Holy Spirit, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:13