Feasts of the LORD
Several years ago I taught a 14-week Sunday school class for 6th - 9th graders on the Biblical feast days. My chief objective was to build students' confidence in the authority of Scripture by showing how the Feasts of the LORD, given to Moses on Mt. Sinai in approximately 1446 B.C., foreshadowed God's plan of salvation. The feasts are strong evidence (some would say proof) that Scripture could not possibly have originated with human beings, who cannot foretell what will happen tomorrow, let alone thousands of years in the future. These feasts were celebrated by thousands of people for 1500+ years before the prophecies in the spring feasts were fulfilled. The prophecies in the fall feasts remain to be fulfilled, so may teach us about God's future plans!
When we KNOW God is the Author of Scripture, it becomes easier to submit ourselves to what He says, whether or not we agree with it or like it. God is God. We are not.
It is my hope that these lessons will build students' faith. Deep confidence in God's promises for our future provides strength in times of trouble. Faith is stronger when based on the knowledge that God's promises of the past have been kept to the letter. Believing in God means believing He is the One true God. He has perfect integrity, and is capable, willing and resolved to fulfill His promises. We can stake everything on it. His promises are, in fact, the only true security we have in this crazy, uncertain world.
This series of lessons (which fit nicely between September and December) teaches the historical background of the feasts and what God had to say about each of them. The Biblical feasts are the oldest known holidays ("holy days") in the world, and they're still celebrated today, more than 3,450 years after they were instituted! Sabbath, although celebrated weekly, is one of the most important feasts instituted by God, and is the first to be discussed. To complete a 12-month calendar, two feasts of the Jews (as distinct from feasts of the LORD) are covered, Purim and Hanukkah. These are both mentioned in the Bible, but were not ordained by God and are not of supernatural origin.
At the end of the unit, around Christmas in our case, each child had decorated, compiled and bound a Gregorian / Jewish calendar as a gift for use in the upcoming year. The calendar master on this site does not include art. Some of the line art we used may be copyrighted. If anyone reading this is an artist and would be willing to make some line drawings for the calendar to make life easier for teachers, contact me. I'll share with you ideas and show you what I used.
The last activity of the class period was decorating the calendar pages. We had all kinds of art supplies on hand to make it fun for kids to decorate the pages and make them unique: sparkly pens, glitter, pieces of foil paper, cloth, etc. Kids were welcome to bring their own special art supplies from home as well.
A summary of the feasts was available as an informational handout for anyone at church.
Setting Up the Classroom
- Time Line. Prior to the first lesson, I placed a large timeline up near the ceiling that showed Ancient Egypt (3000 to 715 B.C.), Ancient Greece (800 to 300 B.C.), Ancient Rome (500 B.C. to 455 A.D.), Birth of Christ (4 B.C.), Middle Ages (476 to 1450 A.D.), Columbus (1492) and USA began (1776). C.E. and B.C.E. are now very common, so I taught children the meaning of all the abbreviations. B.C. means "before Christ", A.D. is anno Domini, Latin for "in the year of our Lord", B.C.E. is "before the common era" and C.E. is "common era." The old abbreviations have fallen from favor as the effort to cleanse Christian references from history has progressed. I later attached cards to the time line saying: Moses and Mt Sinai (1446 B.C.), George Washington (born 1732), Abraham Lincoln (born 1809), the pastor (born 1953) and YOU (my students were born in the 90s). This emphasizes how ancient these feasts are. Ancient Rome is a little more than halfway back to Sinai.
- List of Feasts. I also posted a large-print list of the feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits in light green (spring feasts), Feast of Weeks in yellow (summer), and Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles in orange (fall feasts).
- Posters. I had a poster of the Temple and would recommend a picture or drawing of the seven branched menorah, as the feasts are in a menorah pattern. There was a computer-generated poster with squiggly lines where 3D airplanes appeared if you looked beyond the surface of the picture. (If anyone reading this knows where I can order more of those posters or pictures, please let me know.) I also had a world map on the wall.
- Calendars. I posted two calendars for the upcoming year, a blank Jewish religious calendar (beginning with Nissan) posted above a blank Gregorian calendar, aligned approximately as the calendars match in time. (Nissan begins in March.) We added the holidays to these blank calendars in the first lesson.
- Booklets. I copied enough Feasts of the Lord booklets for each student to have one. I also had a class set of identical Bibles.
- File System. I set up a box with hanging folders, one for each lesson and one for each student. I copied enough calendar pages for each student on heavy colored paper and filed them in the lesson folders.
- Art Supplies. I put out several baskets with gel and glitter pens, colored pencils, crayons, paint pens, etc. for students to use when coloring their calendar pages during the last 10-15 minutes of class.
- Memory Work. The feasts were given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, as were the ten commandments. The students were asked to memorize one commandment a week, writing as many as they had learned to date each week on one side of a quiz sheet (copy of the same sheet used every week). On the reverse side were review quizzes from the lessons (links below).
Lesson Notes and Resources
- Measuring Time (Calendars in the Jewish tradition and in America).
- Sabbath (Shabat). Review quiz on measuring time. Recipes: Challah, Bessamen.
- Feasts of the Lord overview. Review quiz on Sabbath.
- Passover (Pesach). We did a mini-Seder based on the Messianic Passover Hagaddah for Children reproduced from Celebrations of the Bible: A Messianic Children's Curriculum. Recipe: Charoseth.
- Unleavened Bread (Hag-Matzot). Review quiz on Passover. Leaven experiment (using passover plates for mixing).
- Firstfruits (Bikkurim)
- Feast of Weeks (Harvest, Shavuot, Pentecost).
- Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah). Review quiz on Feast of Weeks. Unetane Tokef.
- Atonement (Yom Kippur). Review quiz on Feast of Trumpets.
- Tabernacles (Sukkot). Final quiz.
- Shadow and Reality (review of Feasts of the Lord and fulfillment).
- Purim (Feast of Lots from the Book of Esther). Zola Levitt tape and reading of Esther with groggers.
- Hanukkah (Feast of Dedication). History, lighting of menorah with song, playing dreydel, potato pancakes.
- Review, completion and binding of student calendars.
- Play. Song: "All Bow Down".
I am not Jewish and had to rely on books and sources written by others. Some of the sources I used in putting these lessons together include:
- Trepp, Leo. The Complete Book of Jewish Observance: A Practical Manual for the Modern Jew. New York, Behrman House, Inc., 1980.
- Celebrations of the Bible: A Messianic Children's Curriculum. Baltimore, MD, Messianic Jewish Publishers, 2004.
- Zola Levitt videos.
- Zimmerman, Martha. Celebrate the Feasts of the Old Testament in Your Own Home or Church. Minneapolis, MN, Bethany House Publishers, 1981.
- Conner, Kevin J. The Feasts of Israel. Portland, OR, City Bible Publishing, 1980.
- Birnbaum, Philip. High Holy Day Prayer Book. New York: Hebrew Publishing Company, 1951.
- Jewish Calendar. http://www.jewfaq.org/calendar.htm
- Feasts of the Lord. http://jackie576.tripod.com/feasts1.htm (and subsequent)
Teachers: I thought about updating and developing this study more, but there are a lot of great materials already out there. I did want to share with you the idea of having kids make a calendar. If you use any of these ideas, please contact me and tell me how it went for you. I don't know what on my site people find useful unless someone takes time to write. I appreciate your feedback and suggestions.
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