I’m going to share another email I’ve recently sent out. This is a rough overview of Jesus’ relationship to the feasts of Leviticus.
If you’ve spent enough time in either dispensationalist churches or the Hebrew Roots/Torah movements, you’ve probably heard about how in Jesus’ first coming, he fulfilled all of the spring feasts, but then he will fulfill the fall feasts at his second coming. I’ve never seen a detailed treatment of this, addressing other views, but other views exist.
Below is an email I sent answering a question about the feasts and Jesus fulfilling them. It is not exhaustive, but I think it offers some things to think about that show we should not just accept what people tell us about how Jesus fulfilled the feasts.
Dispensationalists and Torah observers have an obvious theological motivation for saying what they do about the feasts, but when we start to look at details, it just doesn’t seem to hold up. Add to this the fact that every feast included commands for sacrifices at the temple/tabernacle, and you have a situation where anyone saying they must be kept today are saying that we must come up with our own ways of keeping them, which then raises other concerns and problems, but that is for another time.
Here are some short thoughts on Jesus fulfilling all the feasts.
***Jesus’ fulfillment of all the Levitical feasts in his first coming***
Let me say what I think is going on with the feasts being fulfilled in Christ. I believe they were all fulfilled in His first coming. Some of them were fulfilled on the day of the feast, while others were fulfilled more generally through his life.
For example, He was crucified on Passover and is referred to as our Passover lamb. No question there. But what about unleavened bread? Some folks just link them with Passover, which is understandable, but we can also see how Jesus living a sinless life is the fulfillment of that feast. It wasn’t a specific event at one time, like Passover and first fruits, but it happened. There is language about all the feasts we can link to the life of Christ, without demanding that all of them be fulfilled in the same way that some of them were.
So, for example, Sukkot is the feast of tabernacles, and Jesus “tabernacled” among us (John 1:14). It wasn’t a specific event on a specific feast, but it is a fulfillment. The Gospel of John is also a good place to look when it comes to feasts, because he often tells of events surrounding feasts. And interestingly, he talks about the “feast of dedication”, Hanukkah, as one of them. Even though it isn’t a biblical feast, John sees it as significant and shows Jesus teaching at it. Also, Hebrews 10 makes it clear that Jesus’ sacrifice was a fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, contrasting it with the repeated, once-a-year sacrifice when the high priest would go into the holy of holies. Jesus did it once for all .
6 Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, 7 but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. 8 The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9 which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10 since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?Hebrews 9:6-14
One day, I hope to do a more in-depth study into the feasts and how Jesus fulfilled them, but this is where I am now. I know lots of people see the fall feasts being fulfilled in the second coming, and so think they should be continued, but that argument has problems. If they think we should be trying to do all the feasts (which we can’t, since they all have temple sacrifices), then they really don’t care about whether they have been fulfilled. It’s really just an argument against the Christian position on them. But if the Christian position is that we are in a New Covenant and the Sinai covenant has completed, then it’s not really about the symbolism and whether it’s been fulfilled yet.
Any way you look at it, I don’t think the symbolism of Christ found in the feasts creates any obligation.
***end of email***
One thing I did not mention in the email above, but have done other videos on, is the fact that Jesus fulfilled the Sabbath as well. It was also one of the feasts mentioned in Leviticus, right along with the others. You can see that in my exegesis of Hebrews 3 and 4, here:
BW Live: Seventh Day Sabbath or Rest in Christ? Book of Hebrews Explained