OVERVIEW OF THE SPRING FESTIVALS The four spring festivals are Passover (Pesach), Unleavened Bread (Hag HaMatzah), First Fruits (Bikkurim), and the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), or Pentecost.
Passover (Pesach) occurs in the first month of the religious calendar (Aviv, also called Nisan), on the fourteenth day, Leviticus (Vayikra) 23:5.
Unleavened Bread (Hag HaMatzah) immediately follows the first day of Passover (Pesach). It is observed in the first month (Aviv/Nisan) from the fifteenth day to the twenty-first day (Leviticus [Vayikra] 23:6-8).
The Feast of First Fruits of the barley harvest (Bikkurim) is observed during the week of Unleavened Bread (Hag HaMatzah). It will always be the day following the weekly sabbath, the first day of the week (Yom Rishon), which we call Sunday (Leviticus [Vayikra] 23:9-11). Anciently, on this day, sheaves of barley were waved before the L-rd in a prescribed ceremony.
Today, this festival is not observed in traditional Judaism.
The Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) is also known as Pentecost. Beginning on the Feast of First Fruits (Bikkurim), we begin to count 50 days. This is called the counting of the omer. On the fiftieth day following the Feast of First Fruits (Bikkurim) is the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) or Pentecost (Leviticus [Vayikra] 23:15-21). (Note: Pentecost is a Greek word that literally means “fiftieth.”)
These four spring festivals are joined together as an interrelated unit. The Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) is considered the conclusion or atzeret to Passover. The season of Passover (Pesach) is not considered totally over until Shavuot (Pentecost) is completed.
The Exodus Story: From Pesach to Shavuot Pesach (Passover) begins in Egypt (Mitzrayim) (a type of the world), where the children of Israel had become slaves. When the children of Israel cried out to G-d to remember the promises He made to Abraham (Avraham), Isaac (Yitzchak), and Jacob (Ya’akov), G-d called forth a deliverer named Moses (Moshe). G-d told Moses (Moshe) that He was going to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt (Mitzrayim) to the Promised Land (Exodus [Shemot] 3:8).
When G-d sent Moses (Moshe) to Pharaoh, G-d did not tell Moses (Moshe) to ask Pharaoh to allow the children of Israel to leave Egypt and go to the Promised Land. Instead, G-d only instructed Moses (Moshe) to ask Pharaoh to allow the children of Israel to take a three-day journey into the wilderness to make a sacrifice to G-d (Exodus [Shemot] 3:18). Moses (Moshe) obeyed G-d’s instructions exactly as can be seen in Exodus (Shemot) 5:1-3. Pharaoh’s first deviance of the Almighty One of Israel was his refusal to allow the people of G-d to observe a feast and to sacrifice to Him!
After a remarkable series of plagues inflicted on Egypt (Mitzrayim) because of Pharaoh’s continued stubbornness, the children of Israel were finally released to leave Egypt laden with the spoils of the Egyptians. The children of Israel came to the banks of the Red Sea on the seventeenth day of Aviv/Nisan, which is three days after the day of Passover in the first month of the religious calendar.
The Passover Lamb was slain on the fourteenth of Nisan and the people left Egypt (Mitzrayim) before midnight in the evening of the fifteenth after the death angel struck the firstborn of Egypt (Mitzrayim). When Pharaoh saw that the children of Israel were trapped against the sea, he foolishly decided to pusue them with his army (Exodus [Shemot] 14:1-9). The children of Israel became afraid, but Moses (Moshe) rose up and said, as it is written, “…Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation [Yeshooah in Hebrew], of the Lord…” (Exodus [Shemot] 14:13). Jesus (Yeshua) in Hebrew means salvation or Savior (Matthew [Mattityahu] 1:21).
At this point, the sea divided and the children of Israel crossed the floor of the Red Sea on dry ground while the Egyptian army, along with Pharaoh, pursued the Hebrews into the Red Sea and were drowned (Exodus [Shemot] 14:26-28; 15:4,19). The Bible says that the L-rd’s right hand destroyed the Egyptians (Exodus [Shemot] 15:6,12). The right hand is a term for the Messiah, Yeshua(Psalms [Tehillim] 44:3; 48:10; 63:8; 74:10-11; 89:13; 98:1; 110:1; 118:16; 138:7; Isaiah [Yeshayahu] 41:10; 53:1-5; 62:8; Acts 2:32-36; 5:31-32; Hebrews 1:3).
It is important to note that Pharaoh, along with his army, drowned in the sea. In the days of Joseph (Yosef), there was a famine in Israel and the children of Israel went down to Egypt (Mitzrayim) and gave themselves to rulership under Pharaoh. Because of this, Pharaoh had legal ownership over the people. This ownership could be broken only by the death of Pharaoh, thus freeing the children of Israel to go to the Promised Land.
Because of this fact, G-d did not violate His word to Pharaoh through Moses (Moshe) when he asked Pharaoh to let the people go on a three-day journey into the wilderness, but later continued to go to the Promised Land. When Pharaoh died, his rulership over the children of Israel was legally broken and the people were free to go to the Promised Land. For this reason, the season of Passover (Pesach) is called “The Feast of Our Freedom”.
Spiritually speaking, Pharaoh is a type of satan (Ha satan). Until you accept the Messiah (Yeshua) into your life, Satan (Ha satan) has legal ownership over you. By the death of Yeshua (Jesus), the legal ownership that satan (Ha satan) has over our lives is broken and we are free to enter into the spiritual promised land of G-d and receive all the promises that He has promised us.
Fifty Days From the Red Sea: Shavuot (Pentecost) From the crossing of the Red Sea (Nisan 17) to the day Moses (Moshe) met G-d on Mount Sinai were 47 days. For 47 days the children of Israel traveled through the wildemess before they came to Mount Sinai on the third day of the third month (Sivan) (Exodus [Shemot] 19:1). G-d instructed the people through Moses (Moshe) to sanctify themselves before He visited them three days later on Mount Sinai, which would be the sixth day of the third month of Sivan (Exodus [Shemot] 19:10-11). This day would be the fiftieth day following the crossing of the Red Sea; it came to be known as the revelation of G-d at Mount Sinai. This day being the fiftieth day from the crossing of the Red Sea on Nisan 17 would be the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), or Pentecost.
Therefore, from the Exodus story, we can see that the Lamb was slain on the fourteenth of Nisan, the day of Passover (Pesach). On the fifteenth of Nisan, the day of Unleavened Bread (Hag HaMatzah), the people left Egypt; on the seventeenth of Nisan the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea; and 50 days later on the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), or Pentecost, G-d gave the Torah (instruction) on Mount Sinai. In the following chapters, we will see how Yeshua (Jesus) died on Passover (Pesach) (Nisan 14), was in the sepulcher on the day of Unleavened Bread (Hag HaMatzah) (Nisan 15), and was resurrected on the day of First Fruits (Bikkurim) (Nisan 17), and the Holy Spirit empowered the believers 50 days following Yeshua’s (Jesus) resurrection on the day of Pentecost (Shavuot). We will also discover what these feasts mean to the individual believer and how they relate to our personal relationship with G-d.