The feasts! God set specific times for His people to gather, celebrate, and honor. These feasts were important social and cultural markers for Israel, and of course there are deeper meanings pointing to our Lord and Savior.
Notice that God called the people together for these assemblies. We cannot properly worship God by ourselves. “Communing with God in a fishing boat” isn’t God’s idea of worship, nor is it worship when an otherwise healthy person chooses to stay home and watch church on television rather than coming together in a live service. We need to focus our attention on worshiping God the way HE wants to be worshiped!
The Sabbath. We are to work six days and have a rest on the seventh. This day of rest is to honor God.
The Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread. We read about the institution of the Passover, when God brought an entire nation out of slavery to Egypt. We saw that the death angel was stayed by the blood of a slain and perfect lamb, which was a pointer to The Lamb that would be slain for the salvation of the world Who was killed during the Passover celebration.
The Feast of Firstfruits. To Israel, this was a celebration of the harvest. The first and best was joyously waved before the Lord, and a lamb was slain as well.
The broad field, sowed with good seed, with its golden ears ripening for the harvest, is Christ's own chosen figure of his kingdom upon earth, and the congregation of his believing children maturing for the garners of eternal life. In that field, the chief sheaf is Jesus Christ himself; for he was in all respects "made like unto his brethren. He is "the first fruits." He was gathered first, and received into the treasure-house of heaven. It was the Passover time when he came to perfect ripeness. It was during these solemnities that he was "cut off." And when the Spirit of God lifted him from the sepulchre, and the heavens opened to receive him, then did the waving of the sheaf of first fruits have its truest and highest fulfilment. Until this sheaf was thus offered along with the blood of atonement, there could be no harvest for us. "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept." It is as our representative and forerunner that he has been thus lifted up before God. There is, therefore, a harvest for man—a gathering into the garner of heaven. "The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the harvest is the end of the age." And when that "end" arrives, a voice shall come forth from the eternal temple, "Thrust in thy sickle, and reap; for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe." —Gospel in Leviticus
Christ is our Firstfruit, and He compared Himself to grain just before He was taken to be killed.
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:23-24 (ESV)
The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost). Celebrated 50 days after the Passover, this ceremony required sheaves, leavened bread, and seven lambs.
Before Jesus ascended, He promised to send the Holy Spirit.
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5 (ESV)
The disciples were celebrating this festival in Jerusalem 50 days after Jesus was killed.
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 (ESV)
The Feast of Trumpets (New Year). This was a day of solemn rest, punctuated by the blowing of trumpets.
The Day of Atonement. This was the most solemn day on the Jewish calendar. As we’ve discussed, it was the day that the High Priest alone performed the sacrifices needed to atone for the people’s sins.
The Feast of Booths. This festival was joyous! Fifteen days after the Feast of Trumpets, the people left their own dwellings, constructed temporary shelters, and rejoiced in what God had done for them. It commemorated the 40 years of wilderness wandering while living in tents.
God then focuses our attention on the sacred places. He gives the command to continually burn lamps. He details number and type of bread to remain on the table. This holy bread is to be eaten only by the priests and his sons.
The Sabbath Year and Year of Jubilee celebrations are instituted. Every seventh year was to be a year of rest. The land was to remain unworked. God would provide enough in the sixth year to allow the rest In the seventh.
And if you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we may not sow or gather in our crop?’ 21 I will command my blessing on you in the sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years. 22 When you sow in the eighth year, you will be eating some of the old crop; you shall eat the old until the ninth year, when its crop arrives. Lev 25:20-22 (ESV)
Every seventh Sabbath Year was to be a year of Jubilee where all would return to their own clans and no work would be done on the land. Prices were set based on the number of years until the Jubilee and all property was returned to its original owner during that year. The Lord reminded the people that true ownership of the land was not vested in humans, but in God. Details for the sale and trade of property were given, and the people were commanded to help their poor brothers.
God always amazes. He details the way we should live and promises blessings on us when we do. But we have a sin nature, and we frequently think that we know better than God. What does that accomplish for us? Would it not be better to take daily steps toward walking in the way God designed? Perhaps today you could pray for the beggar on the street corner. Maybe you could offer to help an elderly widow get her groceries or medicines. Reach out – show God’s love!
One more day of Leviticus! We’re almost done. See you tomorrow.