Tag: Leviticus 23
We have encountered books with such titles as “The Feasts of Israel.” Such books can be enjoyed by Christians because they are designed to teach lessons of the Holy Days, but without actually expecting anyone to observe or celebrate these days. However, Scripturally these days are not called ”the Feasts of Israel.” In the King James Bible, in Leviticus 23:2, they are called “the feasts of the LORD,” not the “feasts of Israel.” In the original Hebrew, they are called “Mo’edei YHWH.” A “mo’ed” is an appointed time.
Beginning during the season of Passover and Unleavened Bread is a counting of weeks to the Festival of Weeks: “You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete Sabbaths [seven full weeks, RSV, NIV, CJB, ESV, et. al.]. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD…On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations” (Leviticus 23:15-16, 21).
An important ceremony, known as the waving of the sheaf of first fruits, was to be observed in conjunction with the Festival of Unleavened Bread: “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, “When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it”’” (Leviticus 23:9-11).
Concurrent with the remembrance of Passover— and in Jewish tradition witnessed in the New Testament and today often just called by the general season “Passover”—is the Festival of Unleavened Bread: “Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work. But for seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work” (Leviticus 23:6-8).
The first appointed time that the Lord prescribes is the Sabbath or Shabbat, opening the list seen in Leviticus 23: “For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings” (Leviticus 23:3). It is the day of the week that God has made a holy convocation—a time for us to be in special fellowship with Him.
In the Autumn of every year, the Jews celebrate their most solemn festival, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Would it surprise you to learn that Yom Kippur is a Christian holiday as well, that the New Testament church observed the day, only with a different sense of its meaning? Very few Christians take any note of the day at all, and that is surprising, since the day is all about the ministry of Christ. They cheerfully observe Easter which is not in the Bible at all, and ignore the Day of Atonement which is not only biblical, it lies right at the heart of the meaning of the Christian Faith. Maybe it is because observing the Day of Atonement requires a fast, but it is probably because no one ever thinks of it.
The end of the first century saw a time of severe persecution of the Jews in and around Rome. It was no wonder that the Roman Christians began to differentiate themselves from the Jews in every way they could. Many practices that were very common in the early church disappeared in the smoke of the persecution of the Jews. But why would the early church have paid any attention to what we know as Jewish holidays in the first place? For one thing, Christians and Jews shared the same God. In its earliest years, Christianity was viewed by the world, not as a separate religion, but as a sect of Judaism. The earliest Christians were Jewish, and they had no consciousness of starting a new religion. Many saw what they were doing as a restoration of a purer faith. Judaism, in their view, had gone astray from the faith of Abraham and Moses.
Now when you understand what Pentecost is, it is a wonder it isn't a much bigger thing among Christians. Pentecost was the day, when the Holy Spirit was poured out in power on the early Church. It was the day they baptized 3,000 people in one day (Acts 2:41), I don't think the Church has done that since. It has been called the birthday of the Church and you would think it would be celebrated in fine style. But for most of liberal Protestant Christianity it passes unnoticed.
The Apostle Paul wrote out of hard times. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ Jesus,” he said, “we are of all men, most miserable.” He also wrote about Israel of old: “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). In other words, all that happened to Israel, all that they did, all the suffering they endured, all the correction and chastisement, all of it had to do with us. It is written in the Word for our admonition.
The typical nature of the annual feasts is also indicated by their parallel with the Sabbath in Leviticus 23. The chapter begins by introducing the “appointed feasts” (mo‘ed) to be observed. These consisted of the weekly Sabbath and the annual feasts, both of which are ordained as mo‘ed, “appointed feasts.” The term mo‘ed stresses the time set for the Sabbath and the feasts and is thus translated as “appointed feasts,” “set times,” or “set feasts.”