Summary: How Jesus fulfills the Feast of Trumpets
Last Sunday 22 people in our family and extended family gathered together to celebrate several birthdays. This is actually a pretty regular occurrence for us since we pretty much have at least one birthday to celebrate almost every month of the year. Those gatherings are always a great opportunity to celebrate not only a number of birthdays but to think about and celebrate the great blessing of family.
When we gather like that, we don’t do it because we’re directed to do that – there is nowhere in the Bible that commands us or even suggests that we are to celebrate birthdays. We do it because we genuinely enjoy getting together.
The same is actually true for some of the holidays we observe as disciples of Jesus. Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to celebrate the birth or the resurrection of Jesus, for instance. There are really only two observances that are commanded in the New Testament – baptism and the Lord’s Supper. That’s why I’m really excited that we’re going to have at least one baptism coming up on October 8 and I’m praying that we’re going to have some others who will also be publicly testifying to their faith in Jesus through baptism that day.
While over the years I have run across some Christians who disagree, to me I see absolutely nothing wrong with observing a holiday that celebrates the birth or the resurrection of Jesus. Those holidays are kind of like our family birthday get togethers – we observe them because we enjoy having a special time to celebrate those important events, not just because we are commanded to do so.
When I think about the significance of family gatherings or church celebrations in my own life, it’s not really surprising to me that God initiated a number of holidays and observances in the life of Israel. Those feasts we intended to remind the people of the great salvation that God had provided for them and to thank God for his goodness to them.
Those feasts also pointed ahead to the arrival of the Messiah, who would provide a way for God’s people to be saved for eternity.
Those feasts were divided into two seasons. Earlier this year, we studied the four spring feasts [show chart] and found that each one of them were fulfilled by Jesus at His first coming:
• The Feast of Passover was fulfilled by Jesus’ sacrificial death
• The Feast of Unleavened Bread was fulfilled by His burial
• The Feast of Firstfruits was fulfilled by His resurrection
• The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) was fulfilled by the coming of the Holy Spirit
While each of these feasts all pointed forward to significant events in the life of Jesus, we need to keep in mind that these feasts were specifically instituted for the people of Israel and have great significance for them as a people.
Go ahead and turn to Leviticus chapter 23. We’ll be spending some time here over the next several weeks. In this chapter, God provides Moses with instructions concerning the feasts. The chapter begins with instructions for the Sabbath and then in verses 4-21, we read instructions for the four spring feasts that I just mentioned. Then we come to verse 22, which seems out of place:
“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.”
(Leviticus 23:22 ESV)
Then in verse 23, God continues with His instructions for the three fall feasts. But for some reason, in this four-month gap between the spring and the fall feasts, we find instructions for providing for the poor and the sojourner – a word that is used throughout the Old Testament to describe someone who does not belong to the nation of Israel – in other words a “Gentile”.
While there is no way the people of Moses day could have understood this, the New Testament clearly reveals why God includes this verse about the Gentiles right here in the text.
First we have the words of Jesus to His disciples after His encounter with the woman at the well in John 4:
Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.
(John 4:35 ESV)
Notice the mention of “four months”. I don’t think Jesus just randomly picked that time period. Jesus has just told the woman at the well that “salvation is from the Jews” and then revealed to her that He was the Messiah, who would inaugurate that salvation. That four-month period corresponds to the gap between the spring and fall feasts, a period that corresponds to an important time in the life of Israel in which God is preparing them for their ultimate salvation.