A Spectacular Lineup
Pivotal moments in the agricultural cycle in Israel included the early spring grain harvest at Passover, the later grain and fruit harvests at Shavuot, and the final autumn ingathering of produce at Sukkot. For a people deeply rooted in the soil, these holidays were joyous occasions of heartfelt thanksgiving and celebration. There is no obligation for Christians to participate, only rich experiences of the inheritance left for us by the earliest Church. Here's a quick glance at days on Jesus' Spring calendar:
April 6 (begins at twilight Wed April 5 and ends at twilight Thurs April 6)
Passover is the remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt. The Passover meal, often called the Last Supper by the Church, serves as a memorial celebration for what God did to save His people. Just as the Passover Lamb’s blood rescued the Hebrew people from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, Jesus’ blood saves us from the bondage of sin. The latter, a gift for all who believe. No wonder, filled with Passover joy, Paul exclaimed, “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the festival…” (Leviticus 23:4-8; I Corinthians 5:7-8).
FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
April 6-12 (begins at twilight Wed April 5 and ends at twilight Thurs April 12)
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a 7-day festival that starts the day after Passover. Because the yeast did not have time to rise when the Israelites fled Egypt, an annual custom of eating bread without yeast began and continues today. For one week a year following Passover, unleavened bread (crackers or matza) replaces bread. In fact, for those tied into the traditions of the earliest followers of Jesus, yeast was even cleared out of homes. Paul uses this ancient practice as the backdrop to a discussion, comparing yeast to sin, when he said, “Get rid of the old yeast …” (Leviticus 23:4-8; I Corinthians 5:17).
April 9 (begins at twilight Sat April 8 and ends at twilight Sun April 9)
On the day after the Sabbath after Passover, when the Temple stood in Jerusalem, the firstfruits of the barley harvest were gathered into a small amount (called an omer) as a offering. The offering of grain, a wave offering, was a way of agreeing with the promise from God for a good harvest 50 days later. The day of Firstfruits launched a seven week countdown to the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost). Firstfruits is also the day that Jesus, our Firstfruit, rose from the dead. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (Leviticus 23:9-14; 1 Corinthians 15:20).
COUNTING THE DAYS/OMER
April 9 - May 27 (begins at twilight on Sat Apr 8 and ends at twilight Sat May 27)
Starting on the day of Firstfruits, instructions were given to count seven weeks (49 days) day by day, week by week, until the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost). The counting process is called “Counting the Omer” because the barley given as a wave offering to God was in the measured amount of an “omer” (like a liter/quart). These days, in addition to the Feast of Unleavened Bread, tie together the entire Spring festival season in anticipation of Pentecost. Jesus appeared for 40 of these 49 days while His disciples "counted the omer" (Leviticus 23:15; Acts 1:3).
FEAST OF WEEKS (PENTECOST)
May 28 (begins at twilight on Sat May 27 and ends at twilight Sat May 28)
This Spring harvest-time party, called Shavuot (Hebrew for “weeks”), is when the firstfruits of the harvest were brought to the Temple with thanksgiving for God’s provision. Renamed Pentecost by the Greeks, this is one of three annual invitations from God to meet with Him face-to-face. Providentially in the year Jesus died, God sent the Holy Spirit to those gathered in Jerusalem on Pentecost (Leviticus 23:17-21; Acts 2).
Background and Meaning of PassoverExplore More
The rich tradition of Passover spans back 1500 years before the earliest Christians and served as a bedrock annual event for the Jewish people. Join in the celebration that Jesus fulfilled with His death and resurrection!
How To Celebrate PassoverExplore More
Join the long time tradition of remembering Passover in your home. If you've always wanted to celebrate passover but haven't known how, here's a few quick tips to set up your home for a meaningful evening.
The Spring Festival SeasonExplore More
Every Spring, over 50 days---bookended by two big parties---fill the calendar with reasons to celebrate. Special days of God's choosing come with an opportunity to say yes to His invitation and join together in celebration!