The Bible talks about times and seasons. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 spells it out—“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven… “ (I’m old enough to remember the Byrd’s cover of Pete Seeger’s song, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” which was a number one hit in 1965.) Furthermore, God tells us that it’s important to understand the time we live in. The book of Esther calls the men who understood the times “wise” (see Esther 1:13).
How do we understand the times?
One way is to pray. James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” God knows the times we’re in. Ask Him.
Another is to keep up with current events, not just so you can express your outrage or frustration, but so you can compare them to the events prophesied in the Bible. Along with this, we need to study history. How else can we gain an accurate perspective on our present day? I’ll admit, history isn’t my favorite subject, but the older I get, the more I realize that my teachers were right—knowing history is crucial to understanding today.
I recently learned about a third way we can understand God’s timetable—we can learn about the feasts He established. The feasts are right there in Leviticus 23, but, like most American believers, I’ve always quickly skimmed the passages and moved on. Then a guest speaker pointed out what I’ve been missing. I admit to being rather chagrined—especially since I’m a quarter Jewish—and Pete is half. What better way for God to teach us about the times and seasons than by a calendar full of feast days?
I’ve known for some time that God is a party God. There’s even the “party tithe,” which I wrote about in 2017. It’s outlined in Deuteronomy 14:22-26—where the Israelites were commanded to save up for a huge bash to be held every three years. Most of the feasts (obviously not the Day of Atonement) are parties, but with a purpose. Like everything else God does, they are a foreshadowing of his plan for the world.
Most Christians are aware that Jesus is our Passover Lamb. Paul comes out and says so in 1 Corinthians 5:7. In that same passage, he explains that leaven (yeast) represents sin. Cleansing the house of yeast during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, symbolizes the elimination of sin from our lives. But that is just the beginning.
There are three primary spring feasts: Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Weeks (also known as First Fruits; it marked the beginning of the grain harvest). There are also three fall feasts: Trumpets (marking the end of the grain harvest), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and Sukkot, or the Feast of Booths, which is a week-long celebration. Between these two sets of three there is a break in the feast calendar, as the summer is a busy time in an agricultural community.
As I am learning about these six feasts, and their spiritual significance, I’m once again awed by how God teaches us about Himself throughout the Bible. Stay tuned—I intend to write about each feast as we come to it, starting with Passover, which begins one week from tonight.
Let us be like “the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, …” (1 Chronicles 12:32a) so that we too will know what we ought to do.