3 X's in a Year

In Leviticus 23, God’s feast days are revealed in chronological order. These feasts are described as God’s feasts, not the feasts of the Jews. These feasts are holy convocations to be observed at their appointed times.

There are 7 feasts listed in Leviticus 23, along with the weekly Sabbath and the Passover. Their appointed times for observance are specifically designated.

God’s late apostle, Herbert W. Armstrong, came to understand, through revelation, the meaning of these feast days. Each feast represents a step in God’s plan of salvation for all mankind.

“Seven annual festivals were given to ancient Israel and were ordained forever. Their true meaning had long remained a hidden mystery. They picture God’s plan of redemption—the divine plan by which God is reproducing himself.”

Source: “Mystery of the Ages,” pg. 201

Appointed times

God’s feast days are to be observed at specific times throughout the year. These times always occur on the same day and same month of every year. The one exception is the “Feast of Weeks,” which is a feast day to be calculated.

The “Feast of Weeks” always occurs 50 days (7 weeks + 1 day), beginning with the day the wave sheaf is offered during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The count begins on the day after the weekly Sabbath during this feast (Lev. 23:10-11, 15-16). The “Feast of Weeks” is always to be observed on the first day of the week (Sunday).

The timing of God’s feast days are determined by using the Hebrew/Jewish calendar, which begins in the spring of the year. This calendar is the calendar of the Bible (Exod. 12:1-2). No other calendar is acceptable for use when determining the appointed times for God’s feast days.

2 harvest seasons

A close examination of the appointed times of God’s feasts show the first 3 feasts of Leviticus 23 occur in the spring of the year, while the remaining 4 are in the fall of the year.

The timing of God’s feasts coincide with the harvest seasons of the Promised Land, which God gave to the children of Israel (Ge. 15:18).

These 2 harvest seasons are clearly referenced in Exodus 34:22.

“And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.”

The “Feast of Weeks,” is also called the Feast of Pentecost in reference to the counting of 50 days (Lev. 23:16; Acts 2:1). The “Feast of Ingathering” refers to the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:39).

The table below lays out how God’s festivals coincide with the 2 harvest seasons in their appointed times (Lev. 23:6, 8, 15-16, 24, 27, 34, 36).

A contradiction?

While Leviticus 23 shows 7 annual feast days to be observed in 2 different harvest seasons, Exodus 23 seems to indicate something different about the harvest times of God’s feast days.

“Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Harvest (Weeks/Pentecost) and the Feast of Ingathering (Tabernacles) (Exod.23:14-16)."

Does God’s instruction in Exodus 23 to the ancient Israelites contradict what is written in Leviticus 23?

Some within God’s Church believe only these 3 festivals need to be observed annually, but this contradicts what is said in Leviticus 23. All of God’s festivals in Leviticus 23 are to be kept forever. Notice God’s instruction for keeping the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 23:31.

“You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”

One cannot exclude observing the Day of Atonement just because it is not mentioned in Exodus 23. All of God’s feasts are to be observed at their appointed times forever.

From 7 to 3

What is the meaning of Exodus 23? Does this instruction contradict God’s instruction in Leviticus 23?

No!!! God’s Word doesn't contradict itself.

Leviticus 23 gives us the big picture of God’s festival plan, while Exodus 23 provides finer details about the plan.

An understanding of those details require knowing how each festival listed in Exodus 23 fits into its harvest season.

Unleavened Bread represents the offering of the wave sheaf, which occurs on the first day of the week following the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The wave sheaf consists of the very first ripened grains of barley to be harvested. Offering the wave sheaf marks the start of the spring harvest season.

Pentecost represents the conclusion of the spring harvest.

This feast coincides with the wheat harvest, which is ready for harvesting shortly after the barley has been harvested (Exod. 23:16; 34:22). The presentation of the 2 wave loaves made with leaven, is to occur at the end of the spring harvest, 50 days after the presentation of the wave sheaf (Lev. 23:16-17).

Pentecost is followed by the latter rains and summer growing season for those crops to be harvested prior to the fall festivals.

The Feast of Tabernacles represents the completion of the fall harvest season. Notice the latter part of Exodus 23:16. “. . . and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.” The fall harvest is already complete before the Feast of Tabernacles begins. The “end of the year” means the end of the agricultural year.

The winter season follows the conclusion of God's feasts with the early rains (Deut. 11:14) and planting of various types of grains (Exod. 9:31-32), marking the start of the next agricultural year.

The box below demonstrates how the festivals of Exodus 23 fit within the 2 harvests seasons.

The festivals of Exodus 23 reveal there are 3 harvest periods within the 2 harvest seasons of the Promised Land.

While these feasts picture 3 different harvest periods, the other feasts of Leviticus 23 deal with important events that occur before, during and after these harvest periods.

The biblical meaning for the number 3 is complete. The feasts of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles, signify the completion of God’s harvest and therefore the complete redemption of mankind.

Who do these harvest periods represent? What is the meaning of each harvest period? Why does God have 3 harvest periods within 2 harvest seasons?

Stay tuned for exciting biblical answers to these questions!!!