“You Must Become Nothing but Joyful”
“You will celebrate the festival to Jehovah . . . , and you must become nothing but joyful.”—DEUTERONOMY 16:15.
1. (a) What issues did Satan raise? (b) What did Jehovah foretell following the rebellion of Adam and Eve?
WHEN Satan led Adam and Eve into rebellion against their Creator, he raised two issues of vital importance. First, he challenged Jehovah’s truthfulness and the rightness of his way of ruling. Second, Satan implied that humans would serve God only out of self-interest. The latter issue was stated explicitly in the time of Job. (Genesis 3:1-6; Job 1:9, 10; 2:4, 5) Nevertheless, Jehovah acted quickly to handle the situation. Even while Adam and Eve were still in the garden of Eden, Jehovah foretold how He would resolve the issues. He foretold the coming of a “seed” who, after having his heel bruised, would fatally bruise Satan in the head.—Genesis 3:15.
2. What light did Jehovah shed on how he would fulfill the prophecy recorded at Genesis 3:15?
2 As time went by, Jehovah shed increasing light on that prophecy, thus demonstrating the certainty of its eventual fulfillment. For example, God told Abraham that the “seed” would appear among his descendants. (Genesis 22:15-18) Abraham’s grandson Jacob became father to the 12 tribes of Israel. In 1513 B.C.E., when those tribes became a nation, Jehovah gave them a system of laws that included various annual festivals. The apostle Paul said that those festivals were “a shadow of the things to come.” (Colossians 2:16, 17; Hebrews 10:1) They contained foregleams of the outworking of Jehovah’s purpose for the Seed. Observing those festivals caused great joy in Israel. A brief consideration of them will strengthen our faith in the reliability of Jehovah’s promises.
The Seed Appears
3. Who was the promised Seed, and how was his heel bruised?
3 More than 4,000 years after Jehovah’s original prophecy, the promised Seed appeared. It was Jesus. (Galatians 3:16) As a perfect man, Jesus kept his integrity to the death and thus proved that Satan’s accusations were lies. In addition, since Jesus was sinless, his death was a sacrifice of great value. By means of it, Jesus provided deliverance from sin and death for faithful descendants of Adam and Eve. Jesus’ death on the torture stake was the ‘bruising in the heel’ of the promised Seed.—Hebrews 9:11-14.
4. How was Jesus’ sacrifice foreshadowed?
4 Jesus died on Nisan 14, 33 C.E.a In Israel, Nisan 14 was the joyous day of the Passover celebration. Each year on that day, families shared a meal that included a young, unblemished lamb. In this way, they remembered the role that the blood of a lamb played in the deliverance of the Israelite firstborn when the angel of death slew the firstborn of the Egyptians on Nisan 14, 1513 B.C.E. (Exodus 12:1-14) The Passover lamb foreshadowed Jesus, of whom the apostle Paul said: “Christ our passover has been sacrificed.” (1 Corinthians 5:7) Like the blood of the Passover lamb, Jesus’ shed blood provides salvation for many.—John 3:16, 36.
‘The Firstfruits of the Dead’
5, 6. (a) When was Jesus resurrected, and how was that event foreshadowed in the Law? (b) How did the resurrection of Jesus make the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 possible?
5 On the third day, Jesus was raised back to life in order to present the value of his sacrifice to his Father. (Hebrews 9:24) His resurrection was foreshadowed during another festival. The day after Nisan 14 saw the beginning of the Festival of Unfermented Cakes. On the next day, Nisan 16, Israelites brought a sheaf of the firstfruits of the barley harvest, the earliest harvest in Israel, for the priest to wave before Jehovah. (Leviticus 23:6-14) How appropriate that in the year 33 C.E., on that very day, Jehovah thwarted Satan’s vicious efforts to silence forever his “faithful and true witness”! On Nisan 16, 33 C.E., Jehovah resurrected Jesus from the dead to immortal spirit life.—Revelation 3:14; 1 Peter 3:18.
6 Jesus became “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death.” (1 Corinthians 15:20) Unlike those who had been resurrected before, Jesus did not die again. Rather, he ascended to heaven to Jehovah’s right hand, where he waited until he would be installed as King of Jehovah’s heavenly Kingdom. (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:32, 33; Hebrews 10:12, 13) Since his installment as King, Jesus is now in a position to bruise the great enemy, Satan, in the head permanently and to destroy his seed.—Revelation 11:15, 18; 20:1-3, 10.
More Members of Abraham’s Seed
7. What was the Festival of Weeks?
7 Jesus was the Seed who was promised in Eden and by means of whom Jehovah would “break up the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) However, when Jehovah spoke to Abraham, He indicated that Abraham’s “seed” would be more than just one person. It would be “like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand that are on the seashore.” (Genesis 22:17) The appearance of other members of the “seed” was foreshadowed by yet another joyful festival. Fifty days after Nisan 16, Israel celebrated the Festival of Weeks. The Law about this states: “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. They should be baked leavened, as first ripe fruits to Jehovah.”b—Leviticus 23:16, 17, 20.
8. What outstanding event took place at Pentecost 33 C.E.?
8 When Jesus was on earth, the Festival of Weeks was known as Pentecost (from a Greek word meaning “fiftieth”). At Pentecost 33 C.E., the greater High Priest, the resurrected Jesus Christ, poured out holy spirit upon the small group of 120 disciples gathered in Jerusalem. Thus those disciples became anointed sons of God and brothers of Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:15-17) They became a new nation, “the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:16) From small beginnings, that nation would finally number 144,000.—Revelation 7:1-4.
9, 10. How was the congregation of anointed Christians foreshadowed during Pentecost?
9 The congregation of anointed Christians was foreshadowed by the two leavened loaves waved before Jehovah each Pentecost. The loaves’ being leavened showed that anointed Christians would still have the leaven of inherited sin. Nevertheless, they could approach Jehovah on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. (Romans 5:1, 2) Why two loaves? That may have pointed to the fact that the anointed sons of God would eventually be drawn from two groups—first from natural Jews and later from Gentiles.—Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 2:13-18.
10 The two loaves offered at Pentecost came from the firstfruits of the wheat harvest. Correspondingly, those spirit-begotten Christians are called “certain firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:18) They are the first to have their sins forgiven on the basis of Jesus’ shed blood, and that makes it possible for them to be granted immortal life in the heavens, where they rule with Jesus in his Kingdom. (1 Corinthians 15:53; Philippians 3:20, 21; Revelation 20:6) In that position, one day soon they will “shepherd the [nations] with an iron rod” and see ‘Satan crushed under their feet.’ (Revelation 2:26, 27; Romans 16:20) The apostle John said: “These are the ones that keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes. These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.”—Revelation 14:4.
A Day Emphasizing Deliverance
11, 12. (a) What happened on Atonement Day? (b) What benefits did Israel receive from the sacrifices of the bull and the goats?
11 On the tenth day of Ethanim (later called Tishri),c Israel celebrated a festival that foreshadowed how the benefits of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice would be applied. On that day the whole nation came together for the Day of Atonement to have sacrifices offered in their behalf for the covering of their sins.—Leviticus 16:29, 30.
12 On Atonement Day, the high priest slaughtered a young bull, and in the Most Holy, he spattered some of its blood seven times before the cover of the Ark, thus representatively offering the blood before Jehovah. That offering was for the sins of the high priest and “his house,” the underpriests and the Levites. Then the high priest took two goats. One he slaughtered as a sin offering “for the people.” Some of its blood too was sprinkled before the cover of the Ark in the Most Holy. Afterward, the high priest laid his hands on the head of the second goat and confessed the errors of the sons of Israel. Then he had the goat led off into the wilderness to carry away the nation’s sins in a symbolic way.—Leviticus 16:3-16, 21, 22.
13. How did events on Atonement Day foreshadow the role that Jesus plays?
13 As those acts foreshadowed, the great High Priest, Jesus, uses the merit of his own lifeblood to provide forgiveness of sins. First, the value of his blood is applied to the “spiritual house” of 144,000 anointed Christians, enabling these to be declared righteous and enjoy a clean standing before Jehovah. (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Corinthians 6:11) This is foreshadowed by the sacrifice of the bull. Thus the way is opened for them to receive their heavenly inheritance. Second, the value of Jesus’ blood is applied in behalf of millions of others who exercise faith in Christ, as shown by the sacrifice of the goat. These will be blessed with everlasting life here on earth, the inheritance that Adam and Eve lost. (Psalm 37:10, 11) On the basis of his shed blood, Jesus carries away the sins of mankind, just as the live goat in a token way carried the sins of Israel off into the wilderness.—Isaiah 53:4, 5.
Rejoicing Before Jehovah
14, 15. What happened during the Festival of Booths, and of what did this remind the Israelites?
14 After the Atonement Day, the Israelites celebrated the Festival of Booths, the most joyful festival of the Jewish year. (Leviticus 23:34-43) That festival took place from the 15th to the 21st of Ethanim and concluded with a solemn assembly on the 22nd of the month. It marked the end of the ingathering of the harvest and was a time of thanksgiving for the abundant goodness of God. For that reason, Jehovah commanded the celebrants: “Jehovah your God will bless you in all your produce and in every deed of your hand, and you must become nothing but joyful.” (Deuteronomy 16:15) What a happy time that must have been!
15 During that festival, the Israelites dwelled in booths for seven days. They were thus reminded that at one time they had dwelled in booths in the wilderness. The festival gave them ample opportunity to reflect on Jehovah’s fatherly care. (Deuteronomy 8:15, 16) And since all, wealthy and poor alike, dwelled in booths that were similar, the Israelites were reminded that in relation to the festival, they were all equal.—Nehemiah 8:14-16.
16. What was foreshadowed by the Festival of Booths?
16 The Festival of Booths was a harvest festival, a joyful celebration of ingathering, and it foreshadowed the joyous ingathering of those who exercise faith in Jesus Christ. The ingathering began at Pentecost 33 C.E., when Jesus’ 120 disciples were anointed to become part of “a holy priesthood.” As the Israelites lived in booths for a few days, anointed ones know that they are mere “temporary residents” in this ungodly world. Their hope is a heavenly one. (1 Peter 2:5, 11) That ingathering of anointed Christians reaches its conclusion during these “last days,” when the final ones of the 144,000 are gathered.—2 Timothy 3:1.
17, 18. (a) What indicates that others besides anointed Christians benefit from Jesus’ sacrifice? (b) Who today are benefiting from the antitypical Festival of Booths, and when will that joyful festival reach its climax?
17 It is noteworthy that during this ancient festival, 70 bulls were offered. (Numbers 29:12-34) The number 70 represents 7 multiplied by 10, numbers that in the Bible represent heavenly and earthly perfection. Hence, the sacrifice of Jesus will benefit faithful ones from all 70 families of mankind that descended from Noah. (Genesis 10:1-29) In harmony with that, in our time the ingathering has widened out to include individuals from all nations who exercise faith in Jesus and have the hope of living on a paradise earth.
18 The apostle John saw this modern-day ingathering in vision. First he heard the announcing of the sealing of the final ones of the 144,000. Then he saw “a great crowd, which no man was able to number,” standing before Jehovah and Jesus, with “palm branches in their hands.” These “come out of the great tribulation” into the new world. They too are now mere temporary residents in this old system of things, and they look forward with confidence to the time when “the Lamb . . . will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life.” At that time, “God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:1-10, 14-17) The antitypical Festival of Booths will reach its climax after the end of the Thousand Year Reign of Christ when they along with faithful resurrected ones are granted everlasting life.—Revelation 20:5.
19. How do we benefit from a consideration of the festivals celebrated in Israel?
19 We too can be “nothing but joyful” as we meditate on the meaning of the ancient Jewish festivals. It is thrilling to consider that Jehovah provided foregleams of how his prophecy given back in Eden would be fulfilled, and it is exciting to see its actual fulfillment taking place step-by-step. Today, we know that the Seed has appeared and that he has been bruised in the heel. Now he is a heavenly King. Further, most of the 144,000 have already proved their faithfulness to the death. What remains to be done? How soon will the prophecy be completely fulfilled? This will be discussed in the following article.
a Nisan corresponds to March/April on our present calendar.
b In this wave offering of the two leavened loaves, often the priest held the loaves in the palms of his hands, raised his arms, and moved the loaves from side to side. This motion symbolized the presenting of the sacrificial things to Jehovah.—See Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, page 528, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
c Ethanim, or Tishri, corresponds to September/October on our present calendar.
Can You Explain?
• What was foreshadowed by the Passover lamb?
• What ingathering was foreshadowed by the Festival of Pentecost?
• What features of the Atonement Day pointed to the way that Jesus’ ransom sacrifice is applied?
• In what way is the ingathering of Christians foreshadowed by the Festival of Booths?
[Chart on page 22, 23]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
Passover lamb slain
Festival of Unfermented Cakes (Nisan 15-21)
Festival of Weeks (Pentecost)
Two loaves offered
Jesus presented his anointed brothers to Jehovah
Day of Atonement
A bull and two goats offered
Jesus offered the value of his blood in behalf of all mankind
Festival of Booths (Ingathering, Tabernacles)
Israelites joyfully dwelled in booths and rejoiced in the harvest, 70 bulls offered
Ingathering of anointed and “great crowd”
[Pictures on page 21]
Like the blood of the Passover lamb, Jesus’ shed blood provides salvation for many
[Pictures on page 22]
The firstfruits of the barley harvest offered on Nisan 16 foreshadowed Jesus’ resurrection
[Pictures on page 23]
The two loaves offered at Pentecost foreshadowed the congregation of anointed Christians
[Pictures on page 24]
The Festival of Booths foreshadowed the joyous ingathering of anointed ones and of “a great crowd” from all nations