The Bible teaches that the OT festivals prefigured and foreshadowed the work of Christ. Paul writes, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Col. 2:16-17 NIV). Consider each religious festival below:
Old Testament Passages: The OT describes this festival in multiple passages (Ex. 12:1-19; Num. 28:16-25; Lev. 23:5; Deut. 16:1-8).
Description of the Festival: The Passover began on the eve of escaping Egypt in the Exodus. The Jews were commanded to sacrifice a perfect lamb and spread the blood of the animal over the doorpost, so that the judgment of God would “pass over” their house.
Month: The Passover occurred in the month of Abib—the first month on the Hebrew calendar.
Fulfillment in Christ: The Passover prefigured the death of Christ as our sacrificial lamb (1 Cor. 5:7; Jn. 1:29; Rev. 5:12). For a full explanation of how this feast foreshadows Christ, see our earlier article (Does the Passover Foreshadow the Work of Christ?).
2. Unleavened Bread
Old Testament Passages: The OT describes this festival in multiple passages (Lev. 23:6-8; Deut. 16:3-8).
Description of the Festival: This occurs the day after Passover, and it occurs for a week (Lev. 23:6). During this special week, the people would eat bread without yeast (i.e. unleavened bread). They did this because they had left the land of Egypt in “haste” (Deut. 16:3). Thus they didn’t have time for the bread to rise. Often, this festival is combined with the Passover, because they are so similar. Edersheim writes, “From their close connection they are generally treated as one, both in the Old and in the New Testament; and Josephus, on one occasion, even describes it as ‘a feast for eight days.’”
Month: The Feast of Unleavened Bread occurred in the month of Abib—the week after Passover.
Fulfillment in Christ: Paul relates this festival to the life that is separated from sin. He writes, “Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:7-8). The context for this passage is church discipline and taking a strong stance on immorality. Of course, this break from sin is based on our new identity (“new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened”) versus our old identity (“clean out the old leaven”).
3. Wave Offering (First Fruits)
Old Testament Passages: The OT describes this festival in multiple passages (Ex. 29:24-27; Lev. 23:10-11, 17, 20; Num. 8:11-14).
Description of the Festival: A wave offering was an offering that the priest would “wave” in front of the Tabernacle. For instance, a priest might wave his own food in front of the Tabernacle, but then eat it for his own use. In Numbers 6:20, we read, “Then the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the Lord. It is holy for the priest, together with the breast offered by waving and the thigh offered by lifting up; and afterward the Nazirite may drink wine.” Therefore, the wave offering did involve literal waving. Ronald Allen writes, “The ‘wave’ offering is the most obscure to us. The idea in the wave offering was to hold an object, usually the part of the offering that would be the food for the priests, before the Lord, to wave it back and forth, and then to keep it for one’s own use.” Leviticus 23:20 explains that the priest would keep the offering that was waved before God.
Month: The Wave Offering occurred in the month of Abib.
Fulfillment in Christ: Paul writes that Jesus’ resurrection was the “first fruits” of those who would be resurrected (1 Cor. 15:20, 23). Thus Christ’s resurrection served as the first fruits of all believers who would be raised.
4. Feast of Weeks (Pentecost)
Old Testament Passages: The OT describes this festival in multiple passages (Ex. 34:22; Lev. 23:15-16; Deut. 16:9-16).
Description of the Festival: The Feast of Weeks is also called “Pentecost,” because it occurs 50 days after Passover. In the Feast of Weeks, the Jews dedicated the first fruits of the harvest to God.
Month: The Feast of Weeks occurred in the month of Ziv.
Fulfillment in Christ: Jesus was crucified on the Passover, and it foreshadowed his work on the Cross. It is fitting that the church began on the day of Pentecost, which was 50 days after Passover. Here the church began at the same time that the Jewish people were told to dedicate the beginning of the harvest to God. On the day of Pentecost, 3,000 people came to faith in Christ.
5. Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)
Old Testament Passages: The OT describes this festival in multiple passages (Lev. 23:23-25; Num. 29:1-6).
Description of the Festival: This is the Jewish New Year, which is accompanied by repentance of sins for the Jewish people. This period culminates in the Day of Atonement ten days later.
Month: The Feast of Weeks occurred in the month of Tishri.
Fulfillment in Christ: Paul writes that Jesus will come back “at the last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15:52). At Jesus’ second coming, Zechariah tells us that the nation would find deep repentance over Jesus’ death (Zech. 12:10-13:1).
Notice that there is a period of silence on Israel’s calendar for several months before we reach this festival. Likewise, Jesus’ first coming to fulfill the Passover, First Fruits, and Pentecost is separated from his second coming by a long period of time (at least 2,000 years). When he returns, he will fulfill the Festival of Trumpets (Zech. 12:10; 1 Cor. 15:52), the Day of Atonement (Zech. 12:11-13:1), and the Festival of Booths (Zech. 14). Michael Brown writes, “So, there are no holy days for five long months, and then, quite suddenly, three major spiritual events in just fourteen days.”
6. Day of Atonement
Old Testament Passages: The OT describes this festival in multiple passages (Lev. 16:1-34; Ex. 30:10-30; Num. 29:7-11).
Description of the Festival: The people preformed a ceremony where they would sacrifice an animal and send an animal out of the camp. This symbolized the way that the Jews would get rid of their guilt before God. The first goat was killed to make atonement for their “sins” and “impurities.” He died for the sins of the people (Lev. 16:16). The second goat escaped into the wilderness (Lev. 16:21-22). Therefore, it has been called the “scapegoat.” He carried away the sins of the people.
Month: The Feast of Weeks occurred in the month of Tishri.
Fulfillment in Christ: Of course, Christ was our sacrifice, who paid for our sins and also “suffered outside the gate” (Heb. 13:12). Thus he fulfilled both roles of the first and second sacrifices.
7. Feast of Tabernacles (Booths)
Old Testament Passages: The OT describes this festival in multiple passages (Lev. 23:41-42; Num. 29:12; Deut. 16:13-17). It is twice called “the Feast of the Ingathering” (Ex. 23:16; 34:22).
Description of the Festival: During this festival, the people commemorated the wilderness wandering. They lived in tents for a week with their children, and celebrated their feast.
Month: The Feast of Weeks occurred in the month of Tishri—five days after the Day of Atonement.
Fulfillment in Christ: During the Feast of Booths, Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’” (Jn. 7:37-38). This festival was prophetic of the entire Millennial Kingdom the celebration of the completion of the Harvest. It prefigured the anticipation of peace and prosperity of the Messiah (Zech. 14:16). Edersheim writes, “The harvest-thanksgiving of the Feast of Tabernacles reminded Israel, on the one hand, of their dwelling in booths in the wilderness, while, on the other hand, it pointed to the final harvest when Israel’s mission should be completed, and all nations gathered unto the Lord.”
Archer, Gleason L. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Third Edition. Chicago, IL: Moody, 1998. 260.
Brown, Michael L. Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: General and Historical Objections. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2004.
Edersheim, Alfred. The Temple, Its Ministry and Services As They Were At the Time of Jesus Christ. Bellingham, WA. 2003.
 Edersheim, Alfred. The Temple, its ministry and services as they were at the time of Jesus Christ. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. 2003. 208.
 Allen, Ronald. Numbers. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 2: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1990. 767.
 Brown, Michael L. Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: General and Historical Objections. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2004. 81.
 Edersheim, Alfred. The Temple, its ministry and services as they were at the time of Jesus Christ. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. 2003. 269.