The Spring Feasts: A Time to Remember, A Time to Anticipate
Typically we think of the Spring Feasts as a time to remember – the Exodus and Yeshua’s death on Passover, his resurrection on the Feast of Firstfruits, the giving of the Torah and the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
Then, we think of the Fall Feasts as a time to anticipate – Yeshua’s return on the Feast of Trumpets, the Lamb’s Book of Life opening on the Day of Atonement and tabernacling with Yeshua on the Feast of Tabernacles.
However, I found there’s also more to anticipate in the Spring Feasts. There’s more to come. The remembering helps us understand what to anticipate in the future.
The Spring Feasts can be likened to a hallway of mirrors. When you look into the one ahead of you, you can see the mirror behind you, and vice-versa, repeating into infinity. You can see behind you when you look forward, and forward when you look back. It is mesmerizing!
That’s how the Spring Feasts are. You can see the future by looking back. And you can see further than just what you’re looking at. Through them you can see both the immediate detail of God’s plan and the big picture at the same time.
Deuteronomy 26:1-11 outlines the instructions for the one bringing his firstfruits to the priest on the Feast of Firstfruits. It provides the purpose of the Spring Feasts in a nutshell:
When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the land the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God. Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor. Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me.” Place the basket before the Lord your God and bow down before him. Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household.
This is what God wanted them – and us – to remember: Abraham following God, the oppression of the Egyptians, God’s deliverance from Egypt with an outstretched arm, and his bringing us to the Promised Land of abundance. This is the story that’s going to repeat itself over and over in his plan. That is why he instructed us to observe these holy days and to recite the story every year.
Their Journey is Our Journey
Reviewing the origins of the Spring Feasts, we remember how God delivered the Hebrews from bondage in Egypt on Passover. On the Feast of Unleavened Bread we remember their hasty exodus before their bread could rise. Then when they entered the Promised Land, they presented to God a sheaf of their Spring crop on the Feast of Firstfruits. Then on Pentecost/Shavuot they brought in the rest of that first harvest.
During the 40 years between their exodus and entering the Promised Land, the Hebrews ate manna. Many believe manna would have been unleavened. Exodus 16:31 tells us,
“The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.”
(It sounds better than the matzah we’re eating today!) Leavened or not, it was bread from heaven. Just as the matzah we are instructed to eat for seven days during the Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds us of Yeshua being our bread from heaven and his sinlessness, these 40 years were their time of learning what God considered sin and how to separate themselves from sin.
In a macro sense, this parallels our own spiritual journey. First, we have to come out of the bondage of the enemy; then we enter the wilderness, the unknown, where we learn God’s ways, separate ourselves from sin and align our lives with his will; then we enter into his Promised Land of abundance.
This is the story repeating itself.
Yeshua’s First Coming Brings the Spring Harvest
We also remember the significance of the Spring Feasts at Yeshua’s first coming:
- Yeshua was our Passover lamb, whose blood was shed to deliver us from bondage.
- His life was sinless – unleavened, he was our bread from heaven.
- He was striped and pierced like our matzah.
- On the Feast of Firstfruits he rose from the dead, like that first crop out of the dead earth in the springtime.
- Then on the Day of Pentecost, the rest of that first harvest was brought in – the Holy Spirit spread the good news of Yeshua throughout the world like wildfire.
There’s the story repeating itself again.
Consider for a minute this harvest on Shavuot/Pentecost. Today we’re still part of that first springtime harvest. 1 Corinthians 15:20 & 23 tells us:
“But the fact is that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died…But each in his own order: the Messiah is the firstfruits; then those who belong to the Messiah, at the time of his coming;”
This is us – the rest of that first crop. That harvest from his first coming is still being brought in. People are still coming to Yeshua all over the world.
In Israel there are two harvests per year that the Bible refers to: The smaller one in the spring, and the larger one in the fall. We’re that first smaller crop. Even though there are believers all over the world at this point, we’re all still the smaller crop. In a minute we’ll look at the larger fall harvest.
What’s Our Role in the Spring Feasts?
So what does this repeating pattern show us about how can we participate in God’s plan for the Spring Feasts? Besides gathering together, reading the story, bringing offerings and eating matzah, what’s our role today?
1. Separating ourselves from Satan’s bondage – evil (just like at Passover)
There are plenty of scriptures reminding us that it’s our job to resist sin and evil. We are commanded to be holy. Being holy is partly our responsibility.
“Therefore consecrate yourselves — you must be holy, because I am Adonai your God.”
“As people who obey God, do not let yourselves be shaped by the evil desires you used to have when you were still ignorant. On the contrary, following the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in your entire way of life.”
Here is the command in relation to our past slavery. Romans 6:17-19:
“By God’s grace, you, who were once slaves to sin, obeyed from your heart the pattern of teaching to which you were exposed;and after you had been set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. For just as you used to offer your various parts as slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led to more lawlessness; so now offer your various parts as slaves to righteousness, which leads to being made holy, set apart for God.”
Since Yeshua freed us from the bondage of sin, just as YHVH freed the Hebrews from bondage in Egypt, we now have the power to choose sin or righteousness. We have to take the responsibility to resist evil and pursue righteousness.
2. Setting ourselves apart as holy by keeping our lives unleavened (just as the Feast of Unleavened Bread demonstrates)
I call it washing our robes. Revelation 7:13-15:
One of the elders asked me, “These people dressed in white robes — who are they, and where are they from?” Then he told me, “These are the people who have come out of the Great Persecution. They have washed their robes and made them white with the blood of the Lamb. That is why they are before God’s throne.
Yeshua, our Passover Lamb, shed his blood, but we are responsible for washing our robes, keeping ourselves holy. This includes devoting ourselves to him, prayer and communion with him, confessing sin, resisting evil, being faithful in following his commands and pursing righteousness.
3. Preparing for the transformation of our bodies when Yeshua returns (just like Yeshua’s resurrection on the Feast of Firstfruits)
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 tells us:
Not all of us will die! But we will all be changed! It will take but a moment, the blink of an eye, at the final shofar. For the shofar will sound, and the dead will be raised to live forever, and we too will be changed.
So what is our role? Remember the ten bridesmaids? They were longing for their bridegroom’s return. What did they do? They kept oil in their lamps; they brought more than enough oil to make sure they wouldn’t miss him. Matthew 25:10-13 explains,
“The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
This is what the Feast of Firstfruits reminds us of: To keep watch, be ready for his appearing and our resurrection.
Earlier in 1 Cor. 15:35-49 it tells us exactly how our resurrection works – what we’re looking forward to:
35 But someone will ask, “In what manner are the dead raised? What sort of body do they have?”36 Stupid! When you sow a seed, it doesn’t come alive unless it first dies. 37 Also, what you sow is not the body that will be, but a bare seed of, say, wheat or something else; 38 but God gives it the body he intended for it; and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all living matter is the same living matter; on the contrary, there is one kind for human beings, another kind of living matter for animals, another for birds and another for fish. 40 Further, there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; but the beauty of heavenly bodies is one thing, while the beauty of earthly bodies is something else. 41 The sun has one kind of beauty, the moon another, the stars yet another; indeed, each star has its own individual kind of beauty. 42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. When the body is “sown,” it decays; when it is raised, it cannot decay. 43 When sown, it is without dignity; when raised, it will be beautiful. When sown, it is weak; when raised, it will be strong. 44 When sown, it is an ordinary human body; when raised, it will be a body controlled by the Spirit. If there is an ordinary human body, there is also a body controlled by the Spirit. 45In fact, the scripture says so: Adam, the first man, became a living human being; but the last “Adam” has become a life-giving Spirit. 46Note, however, that the body from the Spirit did not come first, but the ordinary human one; the one from the Spirit comes afterwards. 47 The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 People born of dust are like the man of dust, and people born from heaven are like the man from heaven; 49 and just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, so also we will bear the image of the man from heaven.
This is what the Feast of Firstfruits looks forward to – our resurrection, our new heavenly, spirit-controlled body, strong, not decaying, beautiful, bearing the image of the man from heaven – Yeshua. This is what we’re waiting and watching for.
And there’s the pattern again – separated from bondage, washing our robes, keeping ourselves holy, then entering into immortal life – the “Promised Land.”
But I wondered, why does the Feast of Firstfruits fall in the middle of the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread? Regardless of how you calculate the day it falls on, it always falls somewhere between the first and last day of Unleavened Bread. In the context of the three feasts – Passover being our deliverance, the Feast of Unleavened Bread being our time of training and making ourselves holy, and the Feast of Firstfruits being our resurrection, I wondered why Feast of Firstfruits would come during Feast of Unleavened Bread. Why not after?
Then I realized, that timing lines up with the prophetic meaning of the process. Yeshua’s return and our transformation from mortal to immortal will happen in the midst of our “unleavening” – while we’re in the process of training and making ourselves holy. It’s not that once we’re holy enough, Yeshua will return and we’ll be raised. No, it will happen right in the middle of our becoming holy. This pattern is consistent with God’s prophetic plan.
Yeshua’s Second Coming Brings the Fall Harvest
When we talk about our resurrection, we’re really talking about Yeshua’s second coming. But isn’t that jumping ahead to the Fall Feasts – the last trump of his return being on the Feast of Trumpets (as we saw in 1 Corinthians 15), etc.?
Because we believe that the Spring Feasts were fulfilled in Yeshua’s first coming, and that the Fall Feasts will be fulfilled in his second coming, it’s easy to think of the Spring Feasts as past, and the Fall Feasts being prophetic. But the Spring Feasts are also prophetic, because on the Feast of Firstfruits we look forward to our own resurrection. But…this is only true for his followers – those of us in the first harvest.
Think about the difference between his first and second coming. Yeshua said he came “for the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” meaning his own people – Jewish people and those who had joined with them. Basically, only those who knew the prophecies about the Messiah and could connect the dots could see what was happening.
To the Romans, the Greeks, and the other surrounding nations they would’ve thought of Yeshua as just a Jewish guy put to death for false teaching…if they had even heard of him at all. This was not a worldwide event broadcast all over the internet or the evening news. This was a local event that only made sense to his followers, and it only made sense to them 50 days later on Pentecost, when Peter connected the dots from Joel’s prophecy.
After Pentecost/Shavuot, his followers could act on the events that had taken place. Their work was part of the first harvest, the Spring Harvest, during the Spring Feasts. As I referred to earlier, there are two harvests in Israel – the spring harvest, the smaller one; and the fall harvest, the larger one. Yeshua’s body was the first sheaf of the first harvest presented on the Feast of Firstfruits. Shavuot/Pentecost that year was the beginning of the rest of that first crop being harvested. That’s who we are – we’re considered part of the first harvest, a result of Yeshua’s first coming.
The second harvest – the larger harvest – is at Yeshua’s second coming. Think about the events of the last trump blowing, the dead being raised, the mortal turning to immortal. I think that will make the evening news and a few social media sites. That’s the beginning of the second harvest, the larger harvest – the harvest that includes all nations. This will not be a local event about a guy most of the world doesn’t know. There will be no missing this event.
Then there’s the Day of Atonement – the opening of the Lamb’s Book of Life. Everyone on earth will be included in that process, not just Yeshua’s followers. Everyone will be judged on that day as to whether his name is in the book or not.
Consider the Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot. Zechariah 14 tells us, “everyone from all the nations will go up every year to worship the king, The Lord of Hosts, and to keep the festival of Sukkot.”
If any of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the king, the Lord of Hosts, no rain will fall on them. If the family of Egypt doesn’t go up, if they refuse to come, they will have no [annual] overflow [from the Nile]; moreover, there will be the plague with which Adonai will strike the nations that don’t go up to keep the festival of Sukkot. This will be Egypt’s punishment and the punishment of all the nations that don’t go up to keep the festival of Sukkot.
Unbelievers will be expected to keep Sukkot.
The Fall Feasts will be fulfilled for the whole world to see and participate in. They will have no choice.
Your Crown Awaits
While the Fall Feasts may be prophetic for everyone, The Spring Feasts are only prophetic for Yeshua’s followers. We who are in the first harvest are the only ones who can look back at the Spring Feasts and be reminded of the future.
Yeshua’s resurrection foreshadows our resurrection at his next appearance. Keeping ourselves set apart and holy while we wait is our role now. Remember Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:8:
All that awaits me now is the crown of righteousness which the Lord, “the Righteous Judge,” will award to me on that Day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for him to appear.
Are you longing for him to appear? That’s what the Feasts of Firstfruits points to – pursuing righteousness while we watch for his return.