Summary: To understand the significance of Jewish festivals at a time the Jews world over would have celebrated three important festivals-Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkoth- in a span of about 20 days beginning with18th Sept 2012.
THE JEWISH FESTIVALS-A SHADOW OF CHRIST
These (Jewish festivals) are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.-Colossians 2:17
Action: a) Display of picture of the shadow of Christ
b) Display of picture of a Jewish calender of Festivals
Oh yes, most of the Christians may not be celebrating the Jewish Festivals like some First Century Christians did (especially those of the Jewish background – Romans 14:5) but boy…are there lessons to be gleaned from them!!! What better time than now…when the World over in the next 20 days or so, the Jews will be celebrating three of their important festivals…Rosh Hashannah…Yom Kippur…and Sukkoth. Mind you complete Chapters in the Bible like Leviticus 16/23 and Numbers 28/29 are dedicated to their observance. When Apostle Paul wrote that they were a “shadow of the things to come” (Colossians 2:17) what did he actually mean? When someone is walking towards us, with bright light in the background, we are bound to see his shadow first and then the person. Right? Similarly when the Son of God was coming to us, with the indescribable light of his Father (I Tim 6:14-16) behind him, we were bound to see His shadow first, as a sure proof of His approach. The Divine instructions about Jewish festivals “hewn in rock” as it were in the Scriptures served and still serve as a “shadow of Christ” to come not only in his first advent but also in his second advent! Simply put, the Jewish Festivals portray symbolically the landmark events in Christian history…the ones’ which have already occurred and the ones’ which would occur.
The ORDER in which the Jews have been Divinely commanded to celebrate their festivals beginning with Passover and ending with Purim in the Jewish calendar year of 12 months (from April to March) is an adequate pointer to God’s sovereign hand in operation who in His infinite wisdom had concealed the entire history of our times in it! Didn’t Wise King Solomon say that it is God’s privilege to conceal things and the king’s privilege to discover them (Proverbs 25:2)? So let us for once don the apparel of an explorer like Indiana Jones in unraveling the “significance” of Jewish Festivals to us Christians especially in the times when the dispensation of Grace is drawing to a close.
In this message/series of two parts, we would categorize the Jewish festivals into two groups
I) Jewish festivals signifying those events in Christian history, which have already occurred!
1. THE PASSOVER
2. THE FESTIVAL OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
3. THE FESTIVAL OF FIRST FRUITS
4. THE PENTECOST
It has been a constant allegation by contemporary Jewish Biblical Scholars that historical Christian events are not DIVINELY MANDATED as they did not happen in full public glare, like the Divinely mandated events of the Jewish Scriptural history…like say events of the Passover night, parting of the Red sea, descent of the Holy consuming fire on Mount Carmel etc etc. God’s work they claim would always be a national revelation, not happening in a remote corner. Now who is to tell them, that landmark events in Christian history occurred on Jewish festivals-PUBLICLY (Acts 26:26)!!! Praise God, they did serve as a revelation for many Jews of the first century, who received Christ as their Savior in their lives (Acts 2:41/5:14)!
II) Jewish festivals signifying those events in Christian history, which are yet to occur! They are also significant to the future of the Jews.
1. THE FEAST OF THE TRUMPETS
2. THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
3. THE FESTIVAL OF TABERNACLES
4. THE FESTIVAL OF DEDICATION
5. THE FESTIVAL OF PURIM
Firstly…Jewish festivals signifying those events in Christian history, which have already occurred!
Jewish reason for celebrating :
To commemorate, deliverance from Egyptian slavery, a lamb called the Pascal lamb is sacrificed (Exodus 12:21-27).
Jesus symbolizing the Pascal Lamb died on the Passover day (Matt 27:50) to liberate us not from physical Egyptian bondage but from spiritual slavery to sin (I Cor 5:7-8).
The Heavenly Father had decided about Divine Passover offering-both its place and time in the eternity past -1 Peter 1:20/Rev 13:8
ACTION: Display of pictures of
a) Jerusalem being in the centre of the World
b) Time showing 3 PM.
Now why Jerusalem was chosen as the “THE PLACE OF ALL PLACES” where the Redemption plan prepared before the foundation of the World (I Peter 1:20/ Rev 13:8) would be completed? By virtue of its location in the MIDDLE of the World (Ezekiel 5:5), it typified Jesus’ mediatory Ministry of bringing about reconciliation between Holy God and sinful mankind (1 Tim 2:5). The penalty of the Cross which requires the condemned “hands and legs be fastened by the nails to it” also in a way portrays the “MIDDLEMAN” role of the Saviour for in the Cross the condemned man’s head neither touches the sky nor do his legs touch the ground. He is right in the MIDDLE between God above and man below. FINALLY IS IT NOT FAR MORE EASIER FOR THE GOOD NEWS (1 Cor 15:1-4) TO TRAVEL TO ENDS OF THE EARTH (ACTS 1:8) FROM THE MIDDLE SPOT ON PLANET EARTH RATHER THAN FROM ITS NORTH POLE OR SOUTH POLE?