“You must become nothing but joyful.”—Deut. 16:15.
1. Who today prove to be the happiest people, and why?
WHO is there that does not enjoy a festival? Throughout the centuries the peoples of earth have enjoyed festivals. This was true of the people who got their national laws from man’s Creator through his prophet Moses. But their festivals were different; they were prophetic of good things to come. Joyfulness is likewise the portion of the modern-day counterpart of those ancient celebrators in the Middle East, for these enter into the fulfillment of those prophetic festivals. From the standpoint of the Sacred Bible, these present-day celebrators are spiritual Israelites, and they prove to be the happiest people on the face of the earth.
2. In Deuteronomy 16:16, how many festivals were provided for, and what were they?
2 In the inspired books written by Moses, three festivals were provided for. In this fifth book, entitled Deuteronomy, chapter 16, verse 16, we read: “Three times in the year every male of yours should appear before Jehovah your God in the place that he will choose: in the festival of the unfermented cakes and the festival of weeks and the festival of booths, and none should appear before Jehovah empty-handed.”
3. When the added words of Deuteronomy 16:17 were spoken, what was the situation of the natural Israelites?
3 De 16 Verse 17 says: “The gift of each one’s hand should be in proportion to the blessing of Jehovah your God that he has given you.” At the time those words were spoken, the Israelites were living in tents, on their way to the Promised Land of Canaan.
FESTIVAL OF UNFERMENTED CAKES
4. What was the first festival, and, on its second day, what did the high priest offer to Jehovah?
4 The first of the annual festivals, that of unfermented cakes, was held right after the observance of the Passover supper on Abib or Nisan 14. The festival of unleavened cakes was held for seven days, from Nisan 15 to and including Nisan 21. The first day of this festival was the Sabbath day that followed the keeping of the Passover supper. On the second day of the festival, or Nisan 16, the Israelite high priest at Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem would offer to Him a sheaf from the newly ripened barley harvest.—Lev. 23:11-16.
5. Why did Jesus not celebrate the festival on Nisan 15, 33 C.E., and when did his disciples enter into an unequaled joyfulness?
5 There is a historic account of a 12-year-old male who was taken from Nazareth to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The boy was Jesus, the son of Mary. Eighteen years later, in 29 C.E., that male Israelite, now the Lord Jesus Christ, became the “Lamb of God,” which was typified by the Passover lamb. (Luke 2:41-52; John 1:29-37) Three and a half years later he was actually sacrificed on a tree at Calvary, outside Jerusalem, on Friday, Nisan 14, 33 C.E. That Friday night Nisan 15 began, and along with it the festival of the unfermented cakes, but Jesus himself did not join in the rejoicing that marked such an occasion. He was dead and buried. Whereas the Jews in general at Jerusalem rejoiced at the start of their festival, the disciples of Jesus did not do so. They sorrowed at what seemed to them to be the permanent loss of their Leader. But on the next day, Sunday, Nisan 16, their sorrow was turned to a rejoicing that was not equaled by that of the Jews celebrating the festival.
6. In the light of 1 Corinthians 15:20, what did the sheaf of barley grain waved by the high priest on Nisan 16 picture, and why?
6 Why so? Because their Leader, Jesus Christ, was resurrected from the dead by the almighty power of his heavenly Father, Jehovah. Interpreting what this meant, the Christian apostle Paul, when writing about the resurrection, said: “Now Christ has been raised up from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death.” (1 Cor. 15:20) Thus the sheaf of firstfruits from the barley harvest that the Jewish high priest at the temple waved before Jehovah on Sunday, Nisan 16, pictured an individual, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, the first to be resurrected out of death completely to life eternal. So he alone was the one who could be called “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death.” This miracle marked the second day of the festival.
7. Why was leaven forbidden within Jewish quarters during the seven-day festival, and what did this memorialize?
7 During the seven days of the festival, no leaven was to be found in any quarters of the Jews, because leaven represented that which is out of harmony with God, sin. This festival really memorialized that, because of having to leave Egypt in haste, the Israelites did not have enough time to let their dough be leavened. Hence, they had to eat unleavened bread, just as they had done on Passover day.—Ex. 12:11-34; Deut. 16:2-4.
8, 9. Corresponding to the type, what provision must the antitypical festival of unfermented cakes follow, and how does Paul confirm this?
8 Just as the festival of unfermented cakes followed the Passover and lasted for seven days, so the antitype of this festival must follow the sacrifice of the “Lamb of God,” Jesus Christ, on Friday, Nisan 14, 33 C.E. Since the number of days of the festival, seven, pictures perfection, completeness, so the antitypical festival has continued on down through the centuries until now, and those Christians who are spiritual Israelites, Jews inwardly, are obligated to observe it. In 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, the apostle Paul refers to the antitypical festival as he writes:
9 “Do you not know that a little leaven ferments the whole lump? Clear away the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, according as you are free from ferment. For, indeed, Christ our passover has been sacrificed. Consequently let us keep the festival, not with old leaven, neither with leaven of badness and wickedness, but with unfermented cakes of sincerity and truth.”
10. Why and how must the antitypical festival be celebrated today, and why can the celebrators be “nothing but joyful”?
10 That was written about 55 C.E., or 22 years after Christ’s sacrificial death. Today, the spiritual Israelites who read those words of the apostle Paul more than 19 centuries later are duty-bound to keep the antitypical festival, namely, with sincerity and truth. As the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites do so, they can catch the spirit of the ancient typical festival and be “nothing but joyful.” Why? Because the faithful observance of the antitypical festival makes for a clean, theocratic organization on which Jehovah can express his approval.
FESTIVAL OF WEEKS
11. What was the second of the obligatory festivals, and why was it given that name?
11 The second of the obligatory festivals of ancient Israel was the festival of weeks. Why was it called so? For the reason that the Israelites were to count seven weeks from Nisan 16, the day that their high priest presented to Jehovah the sheaf of newly ripened grain as the firstfruits from the barley harvest. This count of time would run up to 49 days, and on the 50th day they were to celebrate the festival of weeks. In the Greek language into which a group of Jews translated their Bible, the word for 50th (day) is pentecostēʹ. Hence, the Greek-speaking Jews called the festival of weeks Pentecost. What was to be featured on this day?
12. According to Leviticus 23:15-21, what was to be featured on this festival day?
12 In answer, Leviticus 23:15-21 says: “‘And you must count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day of your bringing the sheaf of the wave offering, seven sabbaths. They should prove to be complete. To the day after the seventh sabbath you should count, fifty days, and you must present a new grain offering to Jehovah. Out of your dwelling places you should bring two loaves as a wave offering. Of two tenths of an ephah of fine flour they should prove to be. . . . And the priest must wave them to and fro along with the loaves of the first ripe fruits, as a wave offering before Jehovah, along with the two male lambs. They should serve as something holy to Jehovah for the priest. And you must make a proclamation on this very day; there will be a holy convention for yourselves. No sort of laborious work may you do. It is a statute to time indefinite in all your dwelling places for your generations.’”
13. When did the antitypical Pentecost go into effect, and how was that occasion marked?
13 This prophetic festival of weeks, or Pentecost, was fulfilled upon the congregation of Jesus’ disciples at Jerusalem on the 50th day counted from his resurrection from the dead. So the antitypical festival of weeks, or Pentecost, began to go into effect on the sixth day of the third lunar month, that is, on Sivan 6, of the year 33 C.E. At that time the glorified Jesus Christ was in the Most Holy of Jehovah’s great spiritual temple, namely, in the personal presence of Jehovah in heaven, to which he had ascended on the 40th day from his resurrection. While the Jews were celebrating the typical festival of weeks, or Pentecost, at Herod’s temple in Jerusalem, about 120 disciples of the spiritual High Priest, Jesus Christ, were met together in an upper room in that city. Then, before the third hour of the day (9 a.m.), the Lord Jesus Christ poured down holy spirit from the Most Holy of Jehovah’s spiritual temple. This resulted in their being spiritually begotten by their heavenly Father, Jehovah, and their being anointed with holy spirit by means of their High Priest, Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:1-36) Thus the two symbolic loaves of fine flour got Jehovah’s recognition in heaven, in his Most Holy.—Heb. 9:24.
14. (a) The fact that the two wheat loaves were leavened pictures what? (b) What reasons might be assigned to why there were two loaves?
14 In the typical festival of weeks, or Pentecost, why were two loaves made of grain from the newly ripened wheat harvest presented to Jehovah? This typified that there would be more than one individual involved in the fulfillment. The two typical wheat loaves were baked with leaven. This indicates that those upon whom the fulfillment of the festival is realized are leavened with sin, by natural birth, which was the case with the 120 disciples of the sinless Jesus, waiting in Jerusalem on Sunday, Sivan 6, 33 C.E. There being two loaves may also indicate that those who become spirit-begotten, anointed disciples of the Messiah Jesus would be taken from two groups on earth, first from the natural circumcised Jews and later from all the other nations of the world, the Gentiles. Together, the two groups would constitute one antitypical wave offering to Jehovah.—Eph. 2:13-18.
15. When was the loaf as representing a Jewish loaf presented to Jehovah, and how was his recognition shown?
15 Looked at from the latter viewpoint, the first of the antitypical loaves, as meaning the circumcised Israelites, was presented by the High Priest Jesus to Jehovah God right on time, on Sivan 6, which was the same day when the Jewish high priest waved the two typical loaves before Jehovah in Herod’s temple in Jerusalem. As those two wheat loaves were no longer necessary as a type, Jehovah did not recognize them, and so the Jews celebrating at Herod’s temple did not receive the gift of the holy spirit. Those Jews who wanted to realize the fulfillment of Joel 2:28, 29 upon them had to come away from that typical temple and get in touch with the 120 disciples of Christ upon whom the prophecy had already come true. Thus about 3,000 of them became part of the antitypical wave loaf on that twofold day of Pentecost, 33 C.E.
16. When was the second symbolic loaf presented to Jehovah, and till when have the two symbolic loaves been in process of being completed?
16 The second symbolic loaf, as meaning the Gentiles, or non-Jews, began to be waved before Jehovah later with the admission of the believing Samaritans to the Christian congregation and afterward the admission of the uncircumcised Gentiles or peoples of the nations in general. This latter is understood to have taken place in autumn of 36 C.E. (Acts, chaps. 8 and 10) The two antitypical loaves have been undergoing completion during these past 19 centuries. The facts show that some have been added to be part of the “loaves” in recent times, these having been prefigured by Ruth the Moabitess and ancestress of Jesus Christ and by Queen Esther, the cousin of the Jew Mordecai who became the prime minister of the Persian Empire.—See the book Preservation, published in the year 1932 and reproducing the material in the series of articles appearing in the Watchtower issues of 1931 and 1932.
17. (a) The process of completing the membership of the two symbolic loaves has been a cause for what on the part of the festival celebrators? (b) For what reason are those making up the symbolic loaves a kind of “firstfruits”?
17 The completing of the membership of the two antitypical Pentecostal loaves during the now more than 1,900 years has been a cause for great rejoicing on the part of those spiritual Israelites celebrating the antitypical festival of weeks. Just as the two typical loaves represented the firstfruits in the harvest month of Sivan, so those making up the antitypical loaves are firstfruits to Jehovah God through Jesus Christ, since they take precedence over the rest of the world of mankind, getting a heavenly inheritance as the first benefits of the sacrifice of the “Lamb of God.”—Jas. 1:18; Rev. 14:4.
FESTIVAL OF BOOTHS
18. What was the final festival of the Jewish sacred year called, when did it occur, and who were to take part in it?
18 The final great festival of the Jewish sacred year occurred in the seventh month, the month of Ethanim, or Tishri. (1 Ki. 8:2) It was outstanding in certain respects. Most frequently it was called the festival of booths, but two times it is called the festival of ingathering. (Ex. 23:16; 34:22) For instance, Exodus 23:16, 17 states: “Also, the festival of harvest of the first ripe fruits of your labors, of what you sow in the field; and the festival of ingathering at the outgoing of the year, when you gather in your labors from the field. On three occasions in the year every male of yours will appear before the face of the true Lord, Jehovah.” Also, Exodus 34:22 speaks of “the festival of ingathering at the turn of the year.” Deuteronomy 16:13-15 mentions it as the festival of booths and says: “The festival of booths you should celebrate for yourself seven days when you make an ingathering from your threshing floor and your oil and winepress. And you must rejoice during your festival, you and your son and your daughter and your man slave and your slave girl and the Levite and the alien resident and the fatherless boy and the widow, who are inside your gates. Seven days you will celebrate the festival to Jehovah your God in the place that Jehovah will choose, because Jehovah your God will bless you in all your produce and in every deed of your hand, and you must become nothing but joyful.”
19. (a) Why was the festival true to its name in the way it was celebrated? (b) Why was the time when it was held a most favorable one for the celebrators?
19 For the most part, this festival is called “the festival of booths.” During its seven days the Jews who were assembled at Jerusalem dwelt in booths or tabernacles, true to the name of the celebration. It began five days after the Day of Atonement, which took place annually on Tishri 10 and by which the nation of Israel was restored to peaceful relations with Jehovah God. So the festival of booths began at a most propitious time, and lasted from Tishri 15 to Tishri 21, a complete number of days.
20. According to historical records outside the Bible, what would a priest do each morning of the festival?
20 It was without equal in the rejoicing that marked it. According to historical records, at daybreak of each festival day a priest would take a golden pitcher that could contain three log measures, or two pints, of liquid and he would descend from Jerusalem down to what came to be called the Pool of Siloam. Those of our readers who have visited today’s Jerusalem will recall how, when they left the city by the Dung Gate at its southeast corner, they came down to what was called the Virgin’s Well, or the Well of Gihon. From this well, King Hezekiah dug a tunnel during the threat of an Assyrian invasion. Stouthearted visitors will recall how, after feeling their way through the darkness of this tunnel for some time, they came out into the Pool of Siloam.
21. (a) How would the priest get to the Pool of Siloam, and what would he do with the water of Siloam? (b) The rejoicing at this time would remind the Jews of what words of Isaiah’s prophecy?
21 Not through Hezekiah’s tunnel, but followed by a great procession, including a band of musicians, the priest with the golden pitcher would go to the Pool of Siloam. After filling the pitcher with water, the priest would return to the city and would go to the courtyard where Jehovah’s altar of sacrifice was situated. On the altar’s southern side two basins had been installed, each with a hole at the bottom. The basin at the altar’s southwest corner was for the water from the Pool of Siloam. When the priest poured in the water, it would flow through and fall at the altar base. On this occasion the observing Jews rejoiced greatly. This may have reminded the joyful celebrators of Isaiah, chapter 12, which describes the pleasure experienced by the Israelites on being released from exile in Babylon in 537 B.C.E. Isaiah 12:3 says: “With exultation you people will be certain to draw water out of the springs of salvation.”
22. (a) How was Jehovah the Source of water of salvation for the forefathers of the Jewish celebrators? (b) How was the rejoicing at the pouring out of the water of Siloam described?
22 Jehovah God was the heavenly Source of their salvation. He was the One who delivered their forefathers from the 70 years of exile in pagan Babylon where they had thirsted for salvation to come after Babylon’s overthrow in 539 B.C.E. (Isa. 44:28 through 45:7; Jer. 2:13) The remembrance of this deliverance was a cause for rejoicing during the festival of booths. An ancient Jewish proverb says: ‘He who has never seen the rejoicing at the pouring out of the water of Siloam has never seen rejoicing in his life.’
[Picture on page 8]
Sheaf of firstfruits from the barley harvest pictures resurrected Jesus
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Two symbolic loaves have Jehovah’s recognition in heaven from Pentecost