the Pilgrimage Festivals!
Exodus 23:14 says "Three times a year you shall keep a feast to me in a year." In this passage, the Hebrew word for 'times' is 'regaliym' which means 'feet'. The implication is that the Israelites were to 'go on foot' or 'travel' to the place God appointed the be the location of the festival. Thus the festivals are call "pilgrimage' or traveling festivals.
Each of the three pilgrimage festivals is associated with a particular harvest in Israel. The first takes place at the end of the barley harvest and is called Passover and includes the 7 days of eating unleavened bread.
The second takes place at the end of the wheat harvest and is called Shavuot, which means 'weeks' and is often called 'Pentecost'.
The third, which takes place at the conclusion of the fall harvest is called by a number of names including 'the Feast of Ingathering', Sukkot (booths), and Feast of Tabernacles. This festival season includes the festival of Yom Teruah (the blowing of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and concludes with a one day festival call 'Shemini Atzoreth' (the 'Eighth Day Assembly'). Because of their association with a particular harvest, the pilgrimage festivals illustrate God's plan of salvation for all mankind.
Not 'Jewish' festivals . . .
In spite of the fact that today the Jewish people are the most visible people observing these festivals, the festivals are not 'Jewish' festivals, but are instead "God's" festivals (Leviticus 23:2). They are 'Feasts of the Lord', and He instructed all the Hebrews to observe them, not just the tribe of Judah. Furthermore, if you are a believer in Yeshua (Jesus), the observance of these festivals is extended to you since - according to Galatians 3:29 - ". . . if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
a 'Date' with God . . .
In Leviticus 23:2, the Hebrew word for 'feast' is 'moed', a term that is often translated as 'appointed time'. In Hebrew thought, a moed an appointment. It's as if God Himself was taking time off from His duties to meet with us. It's sort of like a date - a special time between God and His people. For those of us who are married, we know how important it is to be there when you've "got a date", and we would do practically anything not to miss it. A study of Biblical history will show that many major events took place on one or more of the 'moedim' (the plural form of 'moed')
a Call to Assemble . . .
Leviticus 23:2 also indicates a calling to assemble. In this passage we find the word 'convocation' which is translated from the Hebrew word 'mikrah'. This Hebrew word is rooted in the thought of being 'called' or 'summoned'. It implies a reading, presumably of a historical event. It comes from another word that can mean 'rehearsal'. The Biblical text is very clear that the Sabbath is a rehearsal of the seventh day of creation - the day God ceased from his creative work. The moedim are likewise rehearsals of God's 7000 year plan, culminating with the marriage of The Messiah to His bride.
Times of Joy . . .
Leviticus 23:6 uses the word 'feast' for the translation of another Hebrew word "chag". This word implies an assembly. This word is derived from another Hebrew word which means "to be giddy and to dance". Thus, God's festivals are to be happy occasions, a time for rejoicing in song, dance, good food, etc..
Each year, more and more Christians are coming to the understanding that there is value in observing the festivals. In doing so, they see the scriptures begin to open up and make greater sense. We invite you to share in the JOY of observing the Festivals of God.