Skip to main content

The Lord's Appointed Times

Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17)


Jesus came to fulfill the Law. Not to abolish, not to discard it, not to do away with it. To fulfill it.

Paul understood this. We must also. The Apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Colossae:
Therefore, no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day-- things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)

The dietary guidelines had a purpose. So did the festivals and Sabbaths. They were a shadow of what is to come. They pointed to the substance which belongs to Christ. These aspects of the Law were given for a purpose. They revealed in shadow what was coming in the future. They were prophetic. In fact, they still are.

Christ has fulfilled much of the Law and Prophets in His first coming. Christ was born according to the Scriptures. He died for our sins according to the Scriptures. He was buried and rose again according to the Scriptures. The Son of Man has entered into His glory and is currently seated at the right hand of the Father.

Jesus has not yet returned. But, He will. These aspects of the Law and Prophets have yet to be fulfilled at Christ's second coming.

Christ in the Feasts

The Law contained commandments to celebrate holidays at the Lord's appointed times. These are the "festivals" which Paul discussed in Colossians 2:16. While New Covenant believers do not need to take the Law upon themselves and celebrate the festivals accordingly, we would be wise to see how these shadows point to Christ. They will equip us to better understand how Christ fulfills the Law.

Shadow of the King
You can read the commandments on how to celebrate these feasts in Exodus 23:14-17, Leviticus 23, and Deuteronomy 16:1-17. While reading through these in English it is easy to miss a nuance that is clearer in the original Hebrew.

We must note a difference between the Pilgrimage Festivals/Feasts (Heb: chag or chagag) and the other Appointed Times (Heb: mow'ed). If we fail to note this difference we will run into a contradiction of our own making.

By reading Exodus 23:14-17 and Deuteronomy 16:1-17 together we get a holiday schedule that looks like this:

1. Unleavened Bread
2. Harvest of First Fruits / Feast of Weeks
3. Feast of the Ingathering / Feast of Booths


These are the Pilgrimage Festivals (chag or chagag). The Pilgrimage Festivals are a special type of Appointed Times (mow'ed). They require an appearance before the LORD.
Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD.
(Exodus 23:17)
Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed.
(Deuteronomy 16:16)

Leviticus 23 outlines eight appointed times. They are as follows:

1. Sabbaths
2. Passover
3. Feast of Unleavened Bread
4. First Fruits (Day after Sabbath)
5. Pentecost
6. Trumpets
7. Day of Atonement
8. Feast of Tabernacles


The first of these, the seventh-day Sabbath, does not require a pilgrimage. It can be celebrated and kept wherever you are. The other seven appointed times coincide with the Pilgrimage Feasts. They were commanded to be celebrated according to the Jewish calendar. Here they are, clumped together by pilgrimage and in the order they were to be celebrated each year.

1. Passover - Nisan 14
2. Unleavened Bread - Nisan 15-22
3. First Fruits - Nisan 16

4. Pentecost - Sivan 6

5. Trumpets - Tishri 1
6. Atonement - Tishri 10
7. Tabernacles - Tishri 15


The first three appointed times coincide with the first pilgrimage in the month Nisan. The second pilgrimage was appointed in the month Sivan. The final pilgrimage occurred in the month Tishri.

As these festivals and appointed times are celebrated these days become "Sabbaths." They are holy days. They are not the seventh-day Sabbath but special Sabbaths that can occur on any day of the week. They are like your birthday, which is a special day that is celebrated at a particular time each year. It always falls on the same date but not on the same day of the week.

These appointed times of the Lord, including the pilgrimage feasts, were commanded to be kept by the nation of Israel.

Fulfillment in Christ

The New Testament makes it explicit that Christ has fulfilled the first four of these appointed times covering the first two pilgrimage feasts. The final pilgrimage and coinciding appointed times have not yet been fulfilled.

The first pilgrimage feast of Unleavened Bread entails the three appointed times of Passover (Nisan 14), Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15-22), and First Fruits (Nisan 16). This was dramatically fulfilled in the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

Crucifixion of Jesus
The Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 5:7, "For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed" (1 Corinthians 5:7). The Apostle John made efforts to outline the tragic irony that Christ was being crucified while the Passover lambs were being slaughtered (John 19:14).

Christ was buried on the beginning of Unleavened Bread (John 19:41-42).

On the third day, the day of First Fruits, Christ rose from the dead. Paul uses this terminology explicitly:
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.
(1 Corinthians 15:20-24, underline added)

The second pilgrimage festival was to be celebrated fifty days after First Fruits. In Exodus and Deuteronomy it is referred to as the Harvest of First Fruits or the Feast of Weeks. It is called Pentecost (pentecost literally means fiftieth) in the New Testament. Leviticus 23 explains:
'You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD.'
(Leviticus 23:15-16, underline added)

Pentecost was the reason Jews from all throughout the Roman Empire had assembled in Jerusalem. God poured out the Holy Spirit on this day. You can read all about this dramatic fulfillment in Acts 2. God inaugurated the beginning of the church in accordance with His appointed times. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost is in keeping with God's eternal purpose in Christ to reconcile a people to Himself from every tribe, tongue, nation, and people.

The Final Pilgrimage

The final pilgrimage festival and corresponding three appointed times have not yet been fulfilled. We must be careful any time we attempt to look into the future with certainty. However, we can have some confidence by noticing that just as Paul used the language of the appointed times from the Law in describing Christ's incarnation and death, burial, and resurrection, he likewise uses the language of the final appointed times to look forward to Christ's return.

Feast of Trumpets
According to the schedule of appointed times in the Law, the next to be celebrated is Trumpets.

Jesus used the language of the trumpets to describe the gathering of His people at the last times.
"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other."
(Matthew 24:30-31, underline added)

Paul also uses this language.
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
(1 Corinthians 15:51-52, underline added)
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
(1 Thessalonians 4:16)

After the Trumpets is the Day of Atonement. The language of the Old Testament festivals could easily be understood to foreshadow the Final Day of Judgment. After this appointed time, the final celebration is the Feast of Tabernacles. The language of "tabernacles" points to a dwelling. The consummation of all things is when God dwells among His people.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."
(Revelation 21:3-4, underline added)

Conclusion

While I would not be willing to guarantee that Christ's return will coincide with the appointed times from the Law, it would be unwise to miss the fact that God has already orchestrated the First Coming of Jesus and the Beginning of the Church age according to this prophetic schedule.

Open Bible
Jesus did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. These appointed times have been partially fulfilled. We currently live in the time between Pentecost (the church) and the Second Coming of Christ (Trumpets). Whether or not Christ returns or raptures His church on Tishri 1 of some year remains to be seen. What we can know for sure is that Christ is coming again to fulfill the rest of the Law.

Are you ready? If you are, are you proclaiming the glorious truth of the gospel and urging those who are not ready to be reconciled to God the Father through His Son?

Comments

Popular Posts

Prayer vs. Petition

Q: What's the difference between prayer and petition? Phil 4:6 for example.

A: An excellent word study question! When attempting to study words from the text it is necessary to analyze the word being studied in the original language (in this case Greek) as attempting to look up the words in English will often produce erroneous results.

For example, in English the word petition has within its range of meanings things that are certainly not within the scope of meanings for the Greek word (i.e. “a sheet that is signed to demonstrate agreement with some principle or desire for some social action to be taken” is part of the range of “petition” but not of the Greek deesis from which “petition” is translated).

The word most commonly translated as “prayer” in our English Bibles is proseuche, which appears 36 times in the New Testament (NT) in one form or another (for the purposes of this study, we are only examining the usage of these words as nouns – the verbal forms will not be included…

10 Things An Evangelist Is Not

You've probably heard the term Evangelist before. Most people have. The term most likely brings something to mind. Sometimes positive. Often negative.

Does your idea match what other people think of when they hear the term evangelist?

More importantly, do any of these ideas match what the Bible tells us an evangelist is?
The truth is that most of the popular ideas about what an evangelist is and does are based on the culture, not the Bible. This is a problem.

The cultural idea of an evangelist is so popular that it is beginning to be used by companies. If you go to popular job sites and put the term evangelist into the search bar you will find many non-church jobs looking for evangelists. Many of these positions include the duties of spreading knowledge about a particular company, product, service, or idea.
The Bible tells us that Jesus gave some Evangelists for His church.And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers

5 Keys To Effective Witness

Content is important. But it's not the only thing. Some evangelistic methods are presented as if they are the perfect witnessing method. Some think memorizing a method and mechanically delivering the content means you have effectively witnessed.

Witness throughout the New Testament demonstrates this is not accurate. There is not a cookie-cutter approach that is applied the same way every time.
Content is extremely important. Without the right content our witness cannot be effective. Messing with the content of the gospel voids its power. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. (1 Corinthians 1:17) Focusing only on content fails to recognize that we are not preaching to the air. We are preaching to persons.
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel,…

Lift Up The Son, Part 2

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
(Romans 15:4)

(If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.)

The Apostle Paul quoted a verse from Psalm 69 before making his comment in Romans 15:4. When he speaks of whatever was written before he means what we have recorded in the Old Testament. He simply called them the Scriptures.

God inspired the Hebrew Scriptures, our Old Testament. Paul said they were written for the instruction of New Testament believers. Through perseverance and encouragement in the Scriptures we can have hope. The Old Testament is not supposed to be ignored by Christians.

As we apply this to our task of lifting up the Son, that in and through Christ our Father may be glorified, we encounter a word of caution.

It is easy to agree on the surface that the church ought to talk about Jesus. That's a given. But are we aware that not everyone means th…

Fullness By Design

My wife and I are expecting our 8th child this year. I want my children to grow to full maturity. That's not to say that I want to skip the fun things that accompany young kids. I don't want to skip any of it. As each day passes I realize how quickly these moments are gone.

The march toward adulthood is inevitable. Every day, we all get older. I must be aware that my children are growing up, whether I like it or not.

But maturity is not the same as age. It is possible to get older while never really growing up.

When I say that I want my children to grow to full maturity what I mean is: I desire my children to realize their potential. I want them to grow into responsible adults.

I don't want my three sons to live in my house indefinitely. They shouldn't be expecting their mother to cook and clean for them into their thirties. Part of my responsibility as a father is to steward the children God has so graciously given us. We are to raise them so that they can be delivere…