Seasonal Celebrations in Ancient Israel

Harvest at SunsetA large part of the Old Testament is a story of Israel, the descendants of the patriarch Jacob, later renamed Israel. The nation’s worship is tied to the annual seasons and can be instructive even to us living in the 21st century.

Under their covenant with God, ancient Israelites were required to observe three Holy Day seasons – falling in spring/early summer and in the autumn. These seasons corresponded to two harvests – an early small harvest (firstfruits), and a later large har-vest. Two rainy seasons occurred that helped to bring the harvests to fruition.[1]

Biblically speaking, harvests are symbolic of con-versions, ministering to the saved, and bringing peo-ple into God’s kingdom. Timely rain is one of God’s blessings and a vital agent in producing a good har-vest. In the Scriptures, rain may be analogous to God’s teachings and the Holy Spirit, the means of conversion and salvation.[2]

The first festival period, in the spring, was the Passover followed by seven Days of Unleavened Bread. On the Sunday during this festival time, a sheaf of the first fruits of the harvest was presented to God. This ceremony typified and looked forward to Jesus Christ, who later became the first of the first- fruits. He was the first to be resurrected, glorified, and accepted by the Father on the Sunday after his crucifixion.[3]

Seven weeks after the firstfruits offering came the Feast of Weeks – referred to in the New Testament as Pentecost – during which two leavened bread loaves were offered to God. On the first New Testament Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended, writing God’s law on fleshly hearts (in contrast to tables of stone as occurred on Mount Sinai). On that day, 3000 were converted in a dramatic way – the first members, or firstfruits, of the church founded on the apostles and the prophets with Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone.[4]

The last major festival in ancient Israel was the Feast of Tabernacles, celebrated after the ingathering of the main autumn harvest. Based on the harvest typology, together with other indications in Scripture, it can be postulated that there is yet a large future harvest of the saved.[5]

[1] Deuteronomy 16:16; Exodus 23:14-16; Joel 2:23-24

[2] Matthew 9:35-38; 13:37-43; Luke 10:1-2; John 4:34-38; Revelation 14:15; Leviticus 26:4; Isaiah 44:3-5; 55:10-11

[3] Leviticus 23:4-11; John 20:1-17; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23; Acts 26:23; Colossians 1:18

[4] Leviticus 23:15-17; Acts 2:1-41; 2 Corinthians 3:3-18; Ephesians 2:19-22

[5] John 6:44, 65; Romans 8:22-23, 28-30; Revelation 20:1-6; 12-15; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Romans 11:25-32

From: Divine Reflections in Times and Seasons by Eva Peck

About Eva

I am a writer, editor and publisher of books dealing with spiritual themes, the arts, as well as other themes that inspire and edify the human soul and spirit. Please check my websites to learn more.
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