There are several holy days, feasts and festivals we celebrate throughout the year. Christians should observe these holidays not only because it is commanded in the Bible, but Jesus himself kept them. We can see Jesus Messiah throughout all of these holy days.
Shabbat – Sabbath
The Sabbath is a weekly day of rest that was instituted by God himself. Too many people get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and forget to take a day to recharge. I know for myself when life gets too busy, I find it hard to sit down and rest like I know I need to. Yet God Himself rested on the seventh day, and so should I.
Pesach – Passover
Passover is celebrated with a dinner, called a seder. It is a time to remember that the Hebrews were slaves unto Pharaoh, but it was by the hand of God that they were delivered. God commanded them to take a perfect lamb and sacrifice it and apply its blood to the top and sideposts of the door. It was then roasted and eaten. When the angel of death passed over, they were spared. Today we remember this deliverance, and recognize that God provided Jesus as the Lamb to forgive and remove our sins.
Hag HaMatzot – Unleavened Bread
The Children of Israel were released from slavery in Egypt, but they left in great haste. They left so quickly that the dough for their bread did not get a chance to rise. Tradition says that the hot desert sun baked the bread while they were travelling. To celebrate this, we are to eat nothing made with leaven, or yeast, for seven days. They were even to go through their houses and remove everything that had leaven in it. In the Bible, leaven is to be considered sin. We see this as an analogy to remove sin from our lives.
Yom HaBikkurum – Firstfruits
Firstfruits is the first day of the spring harvest. The Hebrews would go into the field, and lift their harvest of grain up, praising God for his provision. It is said that this is the day that Christ rose from the dead. In the same way that they lifted up their harvest unto God, Jesus was lifted up for the whole world to see.
Shavout – Weeks/Pentecost
The Feast of Weeks is a later harvest, 50 days after Passover. This is also the time when God sent the Holy Spirit, and people were speaking in tongues and had flames over their heads. Three thousand people believed and were baptized.
Yom Teruah – Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah
This is the Jewish New Year. It commemorates the creation of the world, and marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, which is a 10-day period of introspection and repentance. Honey-dipped apples and other sweet foods are eaten to “usher in a sweet new year.” During the 10 Days of Awe, we are to acknowledge our sin, turn back to God, and demonstrate acts of kindness towards others.
Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement
Yom Kippur is a day of affliciton. The Hebrews were to fast from eating and anything that brings them pleasure to humble themselves. If you have an issue with your brother, this is the day to make it right by the end of the night. The Jews do these good works to ensure their names are written in God’s Book of Life for another year. For Christians, we realize that our names are written in the Book through the blood of Jesus.
Sukkot – Tabernacles/Booths
During their wandering in the wilderness, the Hebrews dwelled in temporary houses or booths. No wear came to their clothes or shoes the entire 40 years in the desert. They were provided with food and water every day. Today, we build a 3-sided building which we are supposed to live in for a week to remember how the Children of Israel lived. Christians remember that Jesus “tabernacled” among us, leaving his home in Heaven to live as a man.
Hanukkah – Lights
During the time in Jewish history where the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Antiochus, the Macabees tried to restore the temple. They found enough oil to light the menorah for one day, but it miraculously lasted 8 days. The Hanukkah menorah has a center candle that sits higher than the others, called the servant candle, which is used to light the eight other candles. Jesus came to earth as a servant, and He is the light of the world.
Purim – Lots
Purim comes from the story of Esther, the redeemer of her people from Haman’s plot to wipe them out. It is customary to send gifts of food to your friends, and for children to dress up in costume. Many churches have a Purim play, where they act out the story from the book of Esther.