SPRING HOLY DAYS OF GOD, BY LOREN CHAMBERLAIN
Jesus Christ paid this death penalty for us. God our Father loved the whole world so much He was willing to allow the life of His own son to be sacrificed to pay the debt that no one was capable of paying and still live (John 3:16). God’s Holy character is so consistent there could be no other way for him to extend mercy to us.
To those who accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, obedience to all that He taught is of paramount importance and necessary. Jesus spoke to His disciples and told them, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have Commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (age)” (Matthew 28:20).
When the New Testament is read it is found that Jesus Christ, His Apostles and Disciples never observed Sunday, Christmas, Easter, Lent, or Halloween as days of worship. In fact you will not find them even mentioned in the Bible except as pagan ceremonies not to be taken part in. It is for this reason, and many more, that the Church of God continues to observe the Seventh Day Sabbath and Holy Days instituted by The Lord God, and these it will be found are mentioned prolifically in the Bible. In scholarship it is widely acknowledged the early Church continued to observe the annual Holy Days of the Old Testament: “In the early Christian Church the propriety of celebrating the festivals together with the whole of the Jewish people was never questioned, so that it needed no special mention” (The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 1, 628).
The annual Holy Days function in a similar manner as the weekly Sabbath in that they outline God’s plan of salvation for the individual and the world. Like the weekly Sabbath, each is reckoned from sunset to sunset. A complete summary of the Sabbath and the Holy Days of The Lord are to be found in Leviticus 23:1-36.
The bread and wine which Jesus instituted at His last supper and are taken yearly by the Church today, are explained symbolically both by Jesus Himself and by the apostle Paul. The wine represents the shed blood of Jesus who gave Himself as an offering to pay for all the sins of mankind. John records for us, “…Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). That full and complete sacrifice makes it possible for one to have any and all sins forgiven upon repentance. The wine also represents the New Covenant made between God and the Christian by the blood of Christ.
The bread represents the body of Jesus which was torn and beaten for us all, in Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for mankind. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51). For a fuller understanding read all of John chapter six. The eating of the bread and the drinking of the wine represent partaking of the eternal life only God can give. The beaten body of Christ also represents the stripes He took on His back enabling us to claim the gift of divine healing for our physical infirmities (Isaiah 53:4-5; 1 Peter 2:24).
The purpose of the foot washing ceremony as explained by Jesus Himself was to show true humility and the proper sense of service (John 13:12-17). No one can be greater than His Lord, who is Jesus Christ; yet Jesus was the greatest servant of all and gave more than anyone else for mankind. This Spirit of Christian love and service is expressed symbolically by washing another person’s feet and then allowing that person to reciprocate. Thus, the Passover represents Christ’s sacrifice for all–both the individual and the world–and pictures the initial step in salvation. Only through acceptance of this sacrifice can one repent and be forgiven. Repentance is the first stage in individual conversion.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is symbolical of the continual removing of sin from the spiritual sphere of one’s life and the continual practicing of a new godly way of life, represented by Christ who was unleavened, that is, without sin. The apostle Paul stated, “Purge out therefore the old leaven, (sin) that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
As the Hebrews prepared for their exodus from slavery in Egypt, they were commanded to prepare bread without yeast (“unleavened bread”) because they didn’t have time to wait for it to rise. Yeast also was a symbol of sin, so they were commanded to clean all of it out of their houses (Exodus 12:15; 13:7).
Therefore, today as a symbol of sin, followers of Christ remove yeast from their houses as a physical reminder of removing sin from their lives. It is a further reminder that we should have nothing to do with the sins of the past (“old leaven”).
Old Testament Passover lamb was slaughtered on the 14th of Nisan. It was eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (representing hard bondage) on into the evening. That night the death angel passed over, spared the Israelites who had put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts, and slaughtered the Egyptian firstborn. This began a period of seven days of eating unleavened bread. The 15th and the 21st days were Holy Days on which no work was to be done. The intervening days were not holy days, but no leaven was to be eaten or any leavened products to be in the houses. It was on the Sunday during this period that the first sheaf (omer) of the new harvest was offered as the Wave Sheaf offering. Jesus Christ is the Wave Sheaf offering! Only after this offering could the spring harvest begin (Leviticus 23:6-14).
Also known as the Feast of Weeks, this festival took its name from the manner in which it was determined. Rather than being celebrated on a particular calendar day, it was counted seven weeks or fifty days from the Wave Sheaf Day that occurred during the days of Unleavened Bread, hence the term “Feast of Weeks” in the Old Testament and “Pentecost” (Greek “fiftieth”) in the time of the New Testament. It marked the end of the spring harvest. The basic instructions for determining the date of Pentecost are clear in (Leviticus 23:15-16). The count begins on a Sunday and ends on a Sunday. The New Testament Church of God began on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came according to the promises Jesus had made. “But ye shall receive “Power” after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you” (Acts 1:8). “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing might wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:1-2).
The Sheaf had to be made up of the “firstfruits,” the very first of the harvest to be reaped. The Sheaf had to be offered first before the rest of the harvest because it symbolically represented Christ. “Christ [is] risen from the dead, and become the Firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20).The apostle James tells us “Of His own will begat He us with the word of Truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures (James 1:18). Therefore, Pentecost, or Firstfruits portrays to us the first part of the spiritual harvest of souls, the calling out of God’s Church, a small group of people and a small first harvest.