Many Sabbath-keeping Christians are not aware that besides the weekly Sabbath day, God instituted seven annual sabbaths in the Old Testament. Just as the weekly Sabbath provides the opportunity to draw closer to God and learn more about His ways and His plan for mankind, so the annual Sabbath days and festivals help to illustrate God's plan for mankind in more detail. Here is a listing of these annual days:
- Passover (not a sabbath, but a feast day): Represents the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
- First Day of Unleavened Bread and Last Day of Unleavened Bread (sabbaths and feast days): Leaven is used as a symbol of sin in the New Testament - 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 - and the festival of unleavened bread represents repentance and putting sin out of our lives, an important step in becoming a Christian (Acts 2:38). Also, this verse in 1 Corinthians shows that the churches raised up by Paul among the gentiles kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because Paul said, "Therefore, let us keep the feast...".
- Pentecost (sabbath and feast day): Represents the gift of the Holy Spirit and the founding of the New Testament Church of God (Acts 2:1-4). It is the Holy Spirit dwelling in a person that makes that person a Christian (Romans 8:9-11). In the Old Testament, it is called the feast of first fruits, and reminds us that Christians today are the early harvest of what will be a far greater spiritual harvest in the future.
- The Day of Trumpets (sabbath and feast day): Represents the second coming of Christ to rule the earth and the resurrection of the saints. This happens at the last trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:50-57, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, Revelation 8:2, 11:15-19).
- The Day of Atonement (sabbath and a day of fasting): This represents the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but also the putting away of Satan into a condition of restraint after the return of Christ (Leviticus 16:1-34, Revelation 20:1). In the passage in Leviticus 16, the goat that is killed represents the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins, and the goat that is released in the wilderness represents Satan and his responsibility for deceiving mankind and temping men into sin. Christ pays the penalty for our share of the responsibility for our sins, but Satan must bear his own blame for his share of the responsibility for mankind's sin. Compare Revelation 20:1-4 with Leviticus 16:21-22.
- The Feast of Tabernacles (first day is a sabbath and feast day): Represents the millenial reign of Jesus Christ and the peace, prosperity, and happiness that mankind will experience (Deuteronomy 16:13-15).
- The Last Great Day (a sabbath and a feast day): Represents the general resurrection and the white throne judgment when salvation will be made available to all who have lived and died and never had the opportunity to hear and understand the true gospel before (John 7:37-38, Ezekiel 37:1-14). Compare John 7:37-38 with Ezekiel 37:12-14. The book of life will be open and men's names can be written in it (Revelation 20:11-15).
I have observed these days by resting and attending church services, and their observance has helped to teach me and remind me of God's wonderful plan for salvation of all mankind.
For more information about these days, see my section entitled The Annual Holy Days and the Plan of God in my book Preaching the Gospel. You can page down to find the particular holy day or festival you want more information about. Or you can go to the book Table of Contents for a listing of the holy days in chapter two and click on the link for the one you are interested in.