The season of Easter will begin April 12, 2020 and will end May 31, 2020 (Pentecost).
Passover is April 8-16, 2020.
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Amazing prophecies of God’s plans for the world can be found embedded in the customs of the feasts of Israel. The intricate detail of the prophecies illustrated in the observances of these feasts provide insight into God’s plan for the ages.
In time for the feast of Passover, Bible Gateway interviewed Michael Norten about his book, Unlocking the Secrets of the Feasts: The Prophecies in the Feasts of Leviticus (Thomas Nelson, 2015).
Why are feasts in the Bible considered important?
Michael Norten: Many Christians are not aware of how really important these biblical feasts are to our understanding of our salvation and the plans God has for mankind. When I discovered their importance, I was overwhelmed. They’re God’s game plan or playbill for his total redemptive plan performed by Jesus Christ, presented in seven festivals. This way we can learn through activity and fellowship. God wants us to learn about him through all five of our senses. I found that I can teach the whole council of God or all of systematic theology by using the feasts as the outline or headings.
What feasts are described in the Bible?
Michael Norten: The Bible describes the Spring feasts: Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of First Fruits, and Pentecost. It also describes the Fall feasts: Rosh Hashanah (feast of trumpets or blowing), Yom Kippur (day of atonement), and the Feast of Tabernacles. The feasts are mentioned in several places in the Scriptures, but are expounded upon in Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23.
What is the significance that these feasts are observed in Spring and Fall?
Michael Norten: The Spring feasts are observed in the harvest season, because the harvests picture so much in Christ’s redemptive plan. Primarily, though, the Spring feasts picture the major events of Christ’s first coming to this earth. Then the Fall feasts picture the major events of Christ’s second coming. It’s quite interesting that there are several months between the Spring and Fall feasts, because that break seems to picture the many years between the two comings in which we call the age of grace or the church age.
How do the feasts work together as a message from God?
Michael Norten: First of all, God said in Leviticus 23:1-2 that these times are his appointed times. They are not Israel’s or the church’s appointed times. Secondly, Christ fulfilled the feasts on the very day of each feast, by his appointed actions. He was crucified on Passover, buried on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, rose on the Feast of First Fruits, and brought the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. I believe that Christ will fulfill the Fall feasts just as explicitly in his second coming.
What is the origin of the Passover feast?
Michael Norten: In Exodus 12:2-3 God told the people the instructions for the Passover feast. It was to be a way to teach the children and further generations about how God rescued His people out of Egypt. Now it’s also a teaching method to illustrate how Christ provided salvation.
What elements comprise the Passover feast?
Michael Norten: Last year I performed three Seder or Passover dinners. The dinner and program is done according to a program outline called the Haggadah. The presentation plate or Seder plate has several elements: bitter herbs, shank bone, vegetable, horseradish, roasted egg, and charoset. They all have a story behind them, but two of the most interesting elements are the cups of wine and the matzah bread (unleavened bread).
The matzah bread is interesting because it appears to be pierced, bruised, and striped, making a picture similar to Isaiah 53:5-6. Also, the four cups represent the four promises that God gave in Exodus 6:6-7. The names given to the cups are: 1) cup of sanctification, 2) cup of praise, 3) cup of redemption, and 4) cup of the kingdom. The third cup is the one that Jesus held up to announce his shedding of blood and the covenant (Matt. 26:28). This is the cup that we drink at the observance of communion. It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t drink of the fourth cup, because he will have us all drink of that cup together when we’re in the kingdom.
A rabbi explained to me that the third cup is also the cup of betrothal and the fourth is the cup of consummation. When a man proposes to a prospective bride, he offers her a cup of wine. If she accepts and drinks the cup, he tells her that he will go to his father’s house to prepare a place for her. When we drink of the communion cup, we’re relaying to Christ that we accept our betrothal to him as the bride and will live a holy life waiting for his return. When the wedding of the bride and groom has been consummated, they drink the cup of consummation together at the marriage feast. We’ll drink that cup when we’re all together with Jesus at the marriage supper of the Lamb in the kingdom.
How does Passover reflect the gospel?
Michael Norten: It reflects the gospel much like the communion service does, but with more detail. It’s fascinating that when the families took their lamb to be sacrificed, they wanted to make sure that they got their personal lamb back for the family meal. They would get a bronze plate with their family name on it and put it around the lamb’s neck with a red lanyard. When Pilot placed the sign above Jesus on the cross that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews,” he had it written in three languages: Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. When artists painted Christ on the cross, they took the first letters of the title in Latin spelling INRI to depict the sign for sake of room. It is astounding that when you do the same thing in the Hebrew, it spells YHVH, the Tetragrammaton form of Yahweh! God wanted his Lamb back, which he did at the resurrection. He put his name on his Lamb for his family, which consist of those of us who have accepted Christ as our savior.
What other secrets of feasts does your book unlock?
Michael Norten: There are so many prophecies and teachings that are unlocked, but here’s one that I’d like to mention. I was always puzzled about Jesus not wanting Mary at the tomb to touch him, because he hadn’t been glorified, yet. I was reading Josephus’ work to find out his take on the Feast of First Fruits. He mentioned that they were not allowed to touch the barley until the first fruits were presented to God at the temple. Jesus was described as the first fruits of those who were asleep in 1 Corinthians 15:20. He told Mary that he was going to the Father. That made all the sense in the world. He was the First Fruits. After he had apparently made a quick trip to the Father and back, he allowed Thomas to touch him.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Michael Norten: One of the most meaningful discoveries that I found is about the care of the lambs. Micah 4:8 says that the Messiah would be announced at the tower of the flock. That’s significant, because the shepherds that were in the field when the angel announced Christ’s birth used the tower of the flock to aid in the birthing of the lambs, because they were shepherding priests that provided the lambs for sacrifices at the temple. They would wrap the newborn lambs with strips of cloths made from recycled priestly undergarments to protect them from blemish. Then they gently place them on the manger to keep them from being trampled. When the shepherding priests saw baby Jesus prepared just like their lambs, they were so excited, beyond description. It was a personal sign to them that only they would have understood. We need to be just as excited about the coming of our Savior. He has given us many more signs of His soon return.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?
Michael Norten: I use Bible Gateway all the time. It is a Godsend for so many. I used it profusely while writing my book. The search engine and study tools are so handy no matter where you are. I don’t remember when I first discovered Bible Gateway, but I have used it ever since and many of my friends depend on it.
Bio: Michael Norten received a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1974. He has served on staff of a number of ministries such as Campus Crusade for Christ and Search Ministries, and served as a Bible instructor in Bible conferences and institutes. He was an associate pastor of Lewisville Bible Church in Lewisville, Texas, and served as interim pastor and pulpit supply for some churches in North Texas. He has been teaching the Bible for over 40 years. After authoring the book, Unlocking the Secrets of the Feasts, published in 2012 and 2015, Michael has been teaching and speaking at churches about Bible prophecy as well as the prophecies imbedded in the seven feasts of Leviticus 23.