YHVH gave us His appointed times, firstly, as memorials and secondly as rehearsals to teach us His ways. When we discover His truth, He guides us to follow the ancient paths, His paths. His ways are described in His Word; His rest day, His feasts and His instructions to guide us in our lives. He gave these instructions not to put a burden on us, but to give us life.
In this article, we shall focus on the practical observance of the Feast of Passover, Unleavened bread and First Fruits. These are the first feasts of the new biblical year. If you would like a more general overview of all the feast days and why we are to celebrate it, you can read the article “Are you willing to be transformed?”
On a practical note, this article is a general guideline. It may help you get an overall view of the practical observance of these three feasts. If you would like to learn more, you can read the more detailed articles we have linked for you.
Determining the time
When are we to celebrate these feasts? YHVH gave us a way to determine His calendar for ourselves.
14 Then Elohim said, â€œLet there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years;
YHVH gave us the sun and moon for signs and for seasons, the moon to determine the month and the sun to make sure the calendar stays in tune with the seasons.
We have written three articles on the calendar we use and why. The first of these is “Which calendar did Y’shua follow” and the second “Why we do not follow the Jewish calendar.” We have also written on how we are to determine the new year. “Is the search for abib barley scriptural.”
The search for aviv barley takes place at the end of the 12th biblical month. Aviv is a certain stage in the development of the barley and this is determined by the sun. This is also called intercalation and it ensures that the calendar stays in tune with the seasons. We would otherwise celebrate the feasts at the wrong time, and this is a problem because the feasts are closely connected with the agricultural cycle. Just think of all the required first fruit offeringsâ€¦these can only be done if the first fruits are available at the right time.
When the barley is found to be aviv in Israel and the new moon was sighted, the new year has begun. The month of Aviv is the first biblical month and is always in the springtime in the northern hemisphere.
2 â€œThis month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.
Preparing our homes and our hearts
The time that follows is, for us, always a busy time. A time of preparationâ€¦ we are instructed to eat unleavened bread from the 15th to the 21st of Aviv. We are also instructed not to have any leaven in our homes during this time.
7 â€œUnleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders.
This is a literal instruction to remove all leaven and leavened products from our homes. It is time for spring cleaning! Did you know that this is probably where the concept of “spring cleaning” comes from?
We are to go through our grocery cupboards, fridge and freezer and remove all food items with leaven in it. I usually go through a few weeks before the feast, and put items with leaven aside in order to use it up before the beginning of the feast. We are not to put what is left over away in the shed until after the feast, for we are not to have leaven in all our borders. You can give it away, throw it away or burn it.
What would be considered leaven?
We should clean out every food item that can cause dough to rise, or anything that contains such an ingredient. That would include: yeast, baking powder, sodium bicarbonate, bread, cakes and the like. Many products contain yeast extract; those must also go (it is anyway very detrimental to your health).
Do not be misled by those who say you have to remove honey and all fermented foods. That is a rabbinical tradition.
This instruction, however, have spiritual significance as we are to remove all leaven, symbolic of sin, from our lives. So, as we search our homes for leaven, we are to search ourselves for spiritual leaven.
We have written an article about this “Unleavening our lives… it is all about intimacy”
The 13th of Aviv
Some people have a special meal on the evening of the 13th of Aviv, beginning of the 14th of Aviv to commemorate the meal Y’shua had with His disciples, which was not a Passover meal.Â Friends and/or family getÂ together and wash each other’s feet and eat bread and wine. This is NOT the official Passover meal.
We should be finished with all our spring cleaning when the 14th of Aviv arrives. This day is also called the preparation day. On this day, the last leaven is removed and burned, and the Seder meal is prepared. It is a day of great excitement in anticipation of the beginning of the feast of Unleavened bread. There are no special instructions other than preparing for the feast, and it is not a Sabbath.
The Passover or Seder meal is the meal that takes place on the evening after the 14th of Aviv, thus at the beginning of the first day of Unleavened bread (15th of Aviv). We start before the sun goes down. Our previous article is about how we are not required to slaughter a lamb or apply its blood on our doorposts. Here is a link to the article: “The first Passover and the commemoration of it.”
There is, however, some food we are instructed to eat. We are to eat unleavened bread and bitter herbs. This meal is a memorial of the first Passover that took place when the Israelites left Egypt.
We are also instructed to re-tell the story of the Exodus (Ex 12:24-27; Ex 13:6-10.) We have written a program called a “haggadah” that can be used for this meal. In this “haggadah” we furthermore show how Y’shua fulfilled this feast and how the symbolism of this meal points to Him. This document is available in English, Dutch and Afrikaans.
This meal is enjoyed by family and friends together and can take three to four hours. We always do some activities for the children to make them a part of it and to keep it interesting for them. We have, for example, printed out pictures of the ten plagues and when we read about it; they must identify and sort the pictures in the sequence of events. Older children can also participate in the reading of the exodus narrative.
It may also be a good idea to have small treats available and to ask them questions during the reading to keep them interested and to test their comprehension. Our children really enjoy this evening because they are a part of it. Don’t neglect them, rather make beautiful memories that they will want to re-live year after year.
The first day of unleavened bread – a sabbath
This evening also marks the beginning of a Sabbath, the first day of Unleavened bread (Ex13:16; Lev 23:7; Num 28:18). We are allowed to prepare food on this day and we are to have a holy convocation. We have written an article about what a holy convocation is about “You shall have a holy convocation” It is a day of rest, an appointed time to spend with YHVH. If you are able to join other believers in this celebration, do so, it is a feast.
When we are in Israel, we go to the City of David on this day to present ourselves to YHVH. We sit there under the shade and read about Y’shua and how He fulfilled this feast. Passover for us is about Y’shua fulfilling the feast of Passover and also remembering the exodus. We afterwards go to the park with our children and other believers. It is a day of rest and fellowship.
The days that follow the first day of Unleavened bread are ordinary days. If you are able to take time off work, great. However, there are no special instructions except for the sacrifices on these days, which we can’t do due to the absence of the Temple.
We try to go to Israel for this feast as it is a pilgrimage feast, so we spend our time in Jerusalem, doing sightseeing and fellowshipping with other believers from all over the world. There is a very important day during this time that is often neglected. That is the Feast of first fruits.
The feast of First Fruits
The feast of First fruits takes place on the first day after the weekly Sabbath. We have written an article about the significance of this day “The significance of understanding First fruits” and how important it is for us who are believers in Y’shua. We shall briefly look at what is commanded for this day.
10 â€œSpeak to the sons of Israel and say to them, â€˜When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 â€˜He shall wave the sheaf before YHVH for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 â€˜Now on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb one year old without defect for a burnt offering to YHVH. 13 â€˜Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to YHVH for a soothing aroma, with its drink offering, a fourth of a hin of wine. 14 â€˜Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your Elohim, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.
No grains of that season may be eaten before this offering was done. This is closely linked to the barley being aviv as the harvest season starts after this first fruit offering was done. If the barley is not in the aviv stage at the beginning of the month, it will not be ready for harvest two weeks later. We have seen how it worked this year. The barley was not in the aviv stage at the time for the new month to start. A thirteenth month is therefore declared, Adar Bet, in order to give the barley time to mature enough to be ready to be presented as a first fruit offering.
This feast was fulfilled when Y’shua was raised from the dead. He is the first fruit from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:20
20 But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
Y’shua fulfilled all the Spring feasts; this is no exception. His resurrection was on the first day of the week, just after the weekly Sabbath, not because He changed the Sabbath, but because the First Fruits offering was presented on the day after the Sabbath. It is for this reason a very important day for us as believers in Y’shua.
When in Israel, we go up to the City of David and read about Y’shua’s resurrection and the significance of it. This day is not a Sabbath, but not to be ignored. In Israel, this day is not really even acknowledged; it is a normal business day.
On this day, we are commanded to start counting the Omer.
The Counting of the Omer
The counting of the Omer is done from the day after the Sabbath.
15 â€˜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. 16 â€˜You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to YHVH.
According to the literal interpretation of this verse, it is understood that the weekly Sabbath is meant because the fiftieth day must be after the seventh Sabbath, thus on the first day of the week. This is by the way also the pattern that is followed when counting for the Jubilee. There are some who teach that the counting must commence after the first day of Unleavened bread, but that would break scripture. Here is a study about how to count the Omer. We have previously written a general article about “How to count the omer and celebrate Shavuot“if you would like to read it.
We are to, physically, keep a count for ourselves in order to know when the next feast would be. A good idea is to read through the book of Psalms at this time. Remember also to continue to eat unleavened bread, until the evening of the last day.
The last day of unleavened bread -a Sabbath
The feast of Unleavened bread is concluded on the seventh day with another Sabbath. No laborious work is to be done, but cooking is allowed. We continue to eat unleavened bread until the sun sets. We are also commanded to have a holy convocation.
We will once again go and present ourselves before YHVH and spend the day with the family and friends.
We will now continue to count the Omer until the day of Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks.
We have specifically written this for new believers, but we can all learn from each other. We would, likewise, like to learn from you. If you do something differently or have a great idea as to how to make these days more special, please share with us and other readers in the comments. We would really appreciate it. We appreciate your input and feedback!
May YHVH bless you abundantly and keep you as you follow His ways!
Shalom to you in this special time, in Y’shua’s name!
24YHVH bless you, and keep you; 25 YHVH make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; 26 YHVH lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.â€™