The Israelites had two different calendar years beginning
six months apart. The civil year began the first of
Tishrei in the fall. The religious year began in the spring
on the first of Nissan. Reference the list of Jewish months in the
third column of this page.
Seven feasts, prophetic in nature, were observed annually. The two years were also prophetic types: the religious year was a type of the age of grace -- the acceptabIe year of the Lord; while the civil year was a prophetic type of the Kingdom age.
The month of Nissan, the first month of the religious year, was the time of three great festivals, the Passover (14th and 15th), the offering of the firstfruits, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (15th to 2lst). The offering of the firstfruits customarily took place on the "morrow after the Sabbath". The Sabbath mentioned referred to the Passover Sabbath which was the fifteenth of Nissan. Thus the offering of the firstfruits was usually made on the sixteenth of Nissan. However, in some years the seventh-day Sabbath would fall on the sixteenth and in that case the morrow after the Sabbath would be the. first day of the next week. This is what happened in the year that Jesus was crucified. He died on Thursday, the l4th of Nissan at the time that the Passover lamb was usually killed. Friday, the 15th, the first day of unleavened bread, was considered a Sabbath. Saturday, of course, was the seventh-day Sabbath. Thus the offering of the firstfruits took place on the same day as the resurrection of Christ and was, in fact, a type of that great event; just as the killing of the Passover lamb was a prophetic type of the death of Christ. (I Cor. 5:7).
The Feast of Unleavened Bread was not a one day affair, but lasted for a full week. This fact suggested that its fulfillment would not be a single event, but a period of time or dispensation. This is exactly the case; for Paul tells us, by inference, in I Cor. 5:6-8 that the Feast of Unleavened Bread (like the religious year), is a type of the present age of grace.
After the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the next feast was that of Pentecost, after which there were no more feasts until the fall in the month of Tishrei. However, Pentecost is not to be thought of as a feast isolated from all the others by its separate position in the calendar. It was in fact tied to the passover, for its date was determined as fifty days after the passover. This festival marked the beginning of wheat harvest even as the firstfruits marked the beginning of barley harvest. The barley harvest, beginning at the Passover season, spoke prophetically of those who we're saved prior to Pentecost. The wheat harvest, beginning at Pentecost, is prophetic of the present age of the harvesting of souls.
continued at top of next column
The month of Tishrei, first month of the civil year, likewise contained three feasts:
After the institution of the civil year as described in our text, the years went their appointed rounds for about fifteen centuries. Then, on the fourteenth of Nissan, in the year 32 of the Christian Era, the invisible gears meshed; and the age of grace, the antitype of the religious year, began. On that day the Jews prevailed upon the Romans to crucify Jesus of Nazareth. In so doing, they unwittingly fulfilled the prophecy which had declared:
"And the whole assembly of the
children of Israel shall kill him in the evening." (It in
the KJV of this passage is actually he in the Hebrew; there
is no neuter gender in Hebrew).
Thus, Christ, the true Passover lamb, was sacrificed
(1 Co. 5:7), and the age of grace, typified by both the religious
year and the week of unleavened bread, began.
On the seventeenth of Nissan, AD 32, Jesus was raised from the dead- fulfilling the prophetic offering of the firstfruits. (1 Co. 15:15, 20-25). Then fifty days after the death of Christ, the Feast of Pentecost was fulfilled in the beginning of the harvest of this age.
None of the feasts which were appointed in the month Tishrei have had any historical fulfillment. Thus it appears that the religious year, the acceptable year of the Lord, is still running its course; and only when it has done so in full, will God's New Year begin, as foreshadowed by the civil year.
The Feast of Trumpets occurred on the first day of the civil year. and was characterized by the blowing of trumpets. The type of blast prescribed to be blown on that day was called a teruah. This was not the signal for assembly, but for marching and for festal occasions. Two passages in which the word is used shed light on the symbolic significance of the teruahs blown on the first day of the year. In Numbers 23: 18-21, where Balaam, the hireling prophet, is an unwilling witness to the future greatness of Israel, we read:
"The Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them."
The word shout stands for the Hebrew teruah. The other passage is in Psalm 89, which is acknowledged to be a psalm of the kingdom. Verse 15 reads:
"Blessed is the people who know the joyful sound."
Joyful sound translates the Hebrew teruah. It appears then, that
among other things, the teruah denoted the recognition of the
king. God's New Year will begin when Israel hears the joyful
sound and the teruah of a king is heard among them.
Ten days after the Feast of Trumpets came the Day of Atonement. The fulfillment of this type is to be found in prophecy in Zechariah 12:10-13:1, where it is predicted that the Jews will look on him whom they pierced, and mourn for him. After recognizing Jesus as their King, they will recognize him as the one whom they have consistently despised and rejected. This will occasion a time of national mourning, symbolized by the Day of Atonement.
After the Jews have acknowledged Jesus as their King and made their peace with him, the Kingdom Age, symbolized both by the Feast of Tabernacles and the civil year itself, will begin. The keeping of the Feast of Tabernacles will apparently be a feature of the Kingdom. (Zech. 14: 16-21)
Since the great religious year (age of grace) began in AD 32, the literal years have continued the cycle. One day, the gears will mesh and God's New Year will begin.
For lo, the days are hastening on,
by prophet bard foretold
When with the ever circling years,
comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
her ancient splendors fling
And the whole world give back the song
which now the angels sing.
The author originally used spellings of the month names that apparently were derived directly from the original language. The names in this version are those that appear to be used most commonly in English as of this writing.