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Leviticus 23:1_4

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Introduction

Laura Ingalls Wilder - Little House on the Prairie
“Sunday … began at sundown on Saturday night. Then everyone stopped every kind of work or play. Supper was solemn. After supper, Grandpa’s father read aloud a chapter of the Bible, while everyone sat straight and still in his chair. Then they all knelt down, and their father said a long prayer. When he said, “Amen,” they got up from their knees and each took a candle and went to bed. They must go straight to bed, with no playing, laughing or even talking. Sunday morning they ate a cold breakfast, because nothing could be cooked on Sunday. Then they all… walked to church… They must walk slowly and solemnly looking straight ahead. They must not joke or laugh, or even smile… In church, Grandpa and his brother must sit perfectly still for two… hours and listen to the sermon. They dare not fidget… They dared not even turn their heads… They must… never for one instant take their eyes from the preacher. When church was over, they walked slowly home. They might talk on the way, but they must not talk loudly and they must never laugh or smile. “

Old Covenant Celebrations God Established

The Passover - Celebrated God Delivering Israel from Death
God told His people to celebrate the Passover in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month. The Passover is described in verses 4 and 5. The Passover Festival originated in Egypt. God sent 10 plagues on Egypt to deliver His people from slavery. The last plague was the death of the firstborn. When God sent that final plague, He told His people to eat a special meal together, the Passover meal. That meal included a Passover lamb, and God said that whoever put the blood of a lamb on his doorpost would be safe from the plague of death. The Hebrew slaves put the blood on their doorposts, God delivered them from death, and God told His people to share that meal together on the same night every year to remember His delivering them from death.
The Festival of Unleavened Bread - Celebrated God Delivering Israel from Slavery
The Festival of Unleavened Bread is described in verses 6-8. God instituted the Festival of Unleavened Bread when His people were about to exit Egypt. The bread was unleavened because they were in a hurry to get out of Egypt, so they didn’t take the time to add leaven (yeast) to the bread and wait for it to rise. God told them to observe the seven-day Festival of Unleavened Bread every year. He also told them to say to one another during that festival that God brought them out of Egypt with a strong hand. They celebrated God delivering them from slavery.
The Festival of Firstfruits - Celebrated God’s Gift of the Coming Harvest
The Festival of Firstfruits is described in verses 9-14. The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were in the spring when the harvest began to ripen. During the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the people took the first of the harvest that had ripened, waved it before the Lord in thanks, and gave an offering to the Lord as an expression of thanks for the harvest that was coming. That ceremony was the Festival of Firstfruits, and the people observed it during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. Since the Festival of Unleavened Bread lasted for a week, a Sabbath day, or Saturday, would have been during that week. The Festival of Firstfruits was observed on the day after that Sabbath, on Sunday.
The Festival of Weeks - Celebrated God’s Gift of the Harvest
In verse 15 God said, “You are to count seven complete week starting from the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the presentation offering.” Seven weeks is 49 days after the Festival of Firstfruits. The next day was called the Festival of Weeks, though it is not named in . The Bible also refers to it as Pentecost. The word “Pentecost” means 50, and Pentecost was 50 days after the Festival of Firstfruits. Pentecost was at the end of the harvest, and the purpose of Pentecost was to celebrate God’s gift of the harvest that the people had gathered by that time.
The Festival of Trumpets - Was a Signal of the Coming New Year
The timing of the New Year in the old covenant period seems strange to most of us. For us, the New Year falls on January 1. God’s people in the old covenant period celebrated a religious New Year on the first day of the month Nisan in the spring, and a civil New Year on the first of the month Tishri in the fall. God refers to the civil New Year in verses 23-25. The New Year was signaled by blowing trumpets to gather the people and by presenting an offering to the Lord. Note that God said the celebration of the New Year was to focus on HIm. In the ancient Near East all kinds of superstitions were associated with the New Year, much like today. God told His people to worship Him on New Year’s Day.
The Day of Atonement - Celebrated God Taking Away Sin
The Day of Atonement came 10 days after the Festival of Trumpets. If you remember, the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus is devoted exclusively to the Day of Atonement, and God again commanded the Day of Atonement in chapter 23, verses 26-32. Clearly, the Day of Atonement was a high and holy day. The Day of Atonement was on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the fifteenth day of the seventh month was the Festival of Booths.
The Festival of Booths - Celebrated God’s Provision in the Wilderness
The Festival of Booths is described in some detail in verses 33-43. Sometimes the Festival of Booths is called the Festival of Tabernacles. the Jews call it Succoth because succoth is the Hebrew word translated “booths” or “tabernacles” The best translation is probably something like “hut” or “shack”, because the booths were just temporary shelters made from limbs, sticks, and branches. God told His people to build shelters and live in them during the Festival of Booths to remember that they had lived in the wilderness for 40 years and God had provided for them throughout those years.

So Why is This Stuff Important?

As a reminder, the first reason is that it’s in the Bible. God has preserved these words through the centuries and the church has passed them down from generation to generation.
Second, the old covenant festivals are important because of what God did in salvation history during those festivals and how that history relates to us.
Amazingly, God timed the most important events in Jesus’ saving work to coincide with festivals He had commanded His people to observe over 1,400 years earlier. Let’s take a look at how the festivals and Jesus’ life line up.
In the Passover We See that Jesus Is Our Passover Lamb
To prepare for the Passover meal, each family killed a Passover lamb. They killed the lambs on Friday, since Passover began at sundown on Friday afternoon.
Of the 365 days God could have chosen for Jesus’ crucifixion, God arranged for Him to be crucified by the decision of wicked men on the Friday afternoon when the lambs were killed in preparation for the Festival of Passover. God was teaching a lesson. Jesus is our Passover Lamb.
Just as God delivered the Hebrew slaves in Egypt from death when they put the blood of the lamb on the doorpost, God also delivers every person from eternal death when they put their faith in Jesus the Lamb of God who shed His blood for our sin. The preaching of the apostles communicated that message verbally, as does the whole New Testament.
The timing God arranged for the death of Jesus communicates that message symbolically. God arranged for Jesus, the Son of God and the Lamb of God, to be killed at the time of the Passover to fulfill that part of his old covenant commands. The timing of the death of Jesus is nothing short of a divine miracle and demonstrates that our God is sovereign over time.
In the Festival of Unleavened Bread We See that Jesus Delivers Us from Slavery
The Festival of Unleavened Bread commemorated God’s deliverance of His people from slavery. Jesus delivers from slavery all people who put their faith in Him. In Jesus said, “Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin,” but “if the Son sets you free, you really will be free” (vv. 34-36). says Jesus “has set us free from our sins by his blood”. Jesus delivers us from slavery to sin, self, and the Devil. Jesus fulfills the Festival of Unleavened Bread.
In the Festival of Firstfruits We See that Jesus Is the Firstfruits of Our Resurrection
Passover was on the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan, and the Festival of Unleavened Bread began on the day after Passover, on the fifteenth day of Nisan. During the week of the Festival of Unleavened Bread a Sabbath would have occurred. The Sabbath was a Saturday, and the next day was a Sunday. When Jesus was crucified at the beginning of Passover, the day of Passover, the fourteenth of Nisan, was also a Sabbath, a Saturday. The next day was Sunday.
That day began the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and in the case of the year Jesus was crucified that Sunday was also the Festival of Firstfruits because it was the day after a Sabbath during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. That Sunday was the Festival of Firstfruits, and it was the day Jesus was resurrected. During the Festival of Firstfruits the Jews thanked God for the firstfruits and the coming harvest. Jesus rose from the dead on that day; He was the first to rise from the dead. Therefore,
refers to Jesus as “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Jesus rose from the dead, and all those who put their faith in Him will also rise to eternal life. He is the firstfruits; we are the harvest that comes after Him.
refers to Jesus as “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Jesus rose from the dead, and all those who put their faith in Him will also rise to eternal life. He is the firstfruits; we are the harvest that comes after Him.
In the Festival of Pentecost (Weeks) We See that Jesus Gives the Harvest
Pentecost was a harvest festival. How did Jesus fulfill that harvest? On the Pentecost after the death and resurrection of Jesus, was there a harvest? Yes, the second chapter of Acts says that on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon the church. says, “That day about 3,000 people were added to them.” Those new Christians were the harvested fruit of the continuing ministry of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. It was a harvest of souls.
On the day of Pentecost, the sickle of the Holy Spirit came down and reaped a harvest. Every time followers of Jesus get together for worship another Pentecost occurs, because the Holy Spirit still comes down upon the church, and whenever someone comes to saving faith, Jesus is giving a harvest.
In the Festival of Trumpets We See that Trumpets Will Signal Jesus’ Coming
The Festival of Trumpets was the New Year festival. Today Jewish people refer to the day as Rosh Hashanah–the head/beginning of the year. The trumpets heralded the New Year. In the old covenant period leaders used trumpets to call God’s people together–for the New Year, for battle, and for other purposes. The New Testament says that one day God will order trumpets to be blown to hearl the arrival of Jesus and the gathering of His church to His side.
1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 CSB
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
-17When the Lord Jesus returns, He will call out a command, and arch-angel will speak, and a trumpet will sound. The book of Revelation also says that during God’s judgment at the end of this age, seven angels will blow seven trumpets to signal that God’s judgement has arrived. God gave the Festival of Trumpets to foreshadow that new day is coming. As early as the garden of Eden, God promised to send the seed of the woman to bruise the head of the serpent. Throughout the Old Testament repeated His promise to send a Messiah to defeat the serpent. God’s people anticipated the coming of the Messiah who would crush evil and the evil one. When the trumpets sounded at every New Year celebration, they knew they were one year closer to the arrival of the Messiah. God says that one day His trumpet will sound and Jesus “will descend from heaven with a shout.”In the Day of Atonement We See that Jesus Takes Away SinGod gave the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) to provide ceremonies that symbolized His removal of Israel’s sin. It was a unique day. The sacrifices were a bit different than the normal every day sacrifices for cleansing of sin found in the first 7 chapters of Leviticus. First, the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement were for all the people. Chapters 1-7 describe sacrifices for individuals. Second, the rituals described for the Day of Atonement were observed only on one day per year.Third, all the sacrifices in the first 7 chapters could be offered by any priest. The Day of Atonement sacrifices were offered by the High Priest.Fourth, the every day sacrifices did not include use of the Holy of Holies. That was set aside for the High Priest on the Day of Atonement.Fifth, not only did the priest offer sacrifice and rituals for the people and himself but also for the tabernacle and all holy instruments.Sixth, the unique purpose of the scapegoat. The priest would burn one of the goats on the altar but then would release the other goat ast the scapegoat into the wilderness. Symbolizing the removal of sin from the nation. The writer of Hebrews referred to the Day of Atonement rituals in order to show how Jesus has fulfilled and superseded them. Just as the Day of Atonement contrasted with the other sacrificial rites, Jesus’ sacrifice contrasts with the Day of Atonement rites and has replaced all the old covenant sacrifices. As says, “Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry.” calls Jesus the “high priest” who entered the most holy place. However, He did not enter the earthly tabernacle but “the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, but into heaven itself. Jesus made His sacrifice before God the Father Himself. Jesus also offered His sacrifice only once, not once per year. And Jesus did not offer the blood of animals, but His own blood as a sacrifice. Therefore, Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant. Jesus fulfills the Day of Atonement rituals because He takes away our sings. He is our scapegoat; our sin was placed on Him, and He went outside the gate of the city to be crucified as a sacrifice for our sins. In the Festival of Booths We See that Jesus Provides for UsThe Festival of Booths was last on the sacred calendar. This festival commemorated God’s provision during all the hardships of the Jews’ 40-year wilderness wandering. What does the New Testament tell us about Jesus? says “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” No matter what we go through, no matter what wilderness experience we may have to endure, Jesus will provide our every need. In the new covenant age we don’t observe the Festival of Booths. We don’t construct booths and live in them one week every year, but we do gather each week to give thanks and praise to Jesus who provides our salvation and meets our every need.
When the Lord Jesus returns, He will call out a command, and arch-angel will speak, and a trumpet will sound. The book of Revelation also says that during God’s judgment at the end of this age, seven angels will blow seven trumpets to signal that God’s judgement has arrived. God gave the Festival of Trumpets to foreshadow that new day is coming. As early as the garden of Eden, God promised to send the seed of the woman to bruise the head of the serpent.
Throughout the Old Testament repeated His promise to send a Messiah to defeat the serpent. God’s people anticipated the coming of the Messiah who would crush evil and the evil one. When the trumpets sounded at every New Year celebration, they knew they were one year closer to the arrival of the Messiah. God says that one day His trumpet will sound and Jesus “will descend from heaven with a shout.”
In the Day of Atonement We See that Jesus Takes Away Sin
God gave the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) to provide ceremonies that symbolized His removal of Israel’s sin. It was a unique day. The sacrifices were a bit different than the normal every day sacrifices for cleansing of sin found in the first 7 chapters of Leviticus.
First, the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement were for all the people. Chapters 1-7 describe sacrifices for individuals.
Second, the rituals described for the Day of Atonement were observed only on one day per year.
Third, all the sacrifices in the first 7 chapters could be offered by any priest. The Day of Atonement sacrifices were offered by the High Priest.
Fourth, the every day sacrifices did not include use of the Holy of Holies. That was set aside for the High Priest on the Day of Atonement.
Fifth, not only did the priest offer sacrifice and rituals for the people and himself but also for the tabernacle and all holy instruments.
Sixth, the unique purpose of the scapegoat. The priest would burn one of the goats on the altar but then would release the other goat as the scapegoat into the wilderness. Symbolizing the removal of sin from the nation.
The writer of Hebrews referred to the Day of Atonement rituals in order to show how Jesus has fulfilled and superseded them. Just as the Day of Atonement contrasted with the other sacrificial rites, Jesus’ sacrifice contrasts with the Day of Atonement rites and has replaced all the old covenant sacrifices. As says, “Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry.”
calls Jesus the “high priest” who entered the most holy place. However, He did not enter the earthly tabernacle but “the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, but into heaven itself.
Jesus made His sacrifice before God the Father Himself.
Jesus also offered His sacrifice only once, not once per year.
And Jesus did not offer the blood of animals, but His own blood as a sacrifice.
Therefore, Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant.
Jesus fulfills the Day of Atonement rituals because He takes away our sings. He is our scapegoat; our sin was placed on Him, and He went outside the gate of the city to be crucified as a sacrifice for our sins.
In the Festival of Booths We See that Jesus Provides for Us
The Festival of Booths was last on the sacred calendar. This festival commemorated God’s provision during all the hardships of the Jews’ 40-year wilderness wandering. What does the New Testament tell us about Jesus? says “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” No matter what we go through, no matter what wilderness experience we may have to endure, Jesus will provide our every need.
In the new covenant age we don’t observe the Festival of Booths. We don’t construct booths and live in them one week every year, but we do gather each week to give thanks and praise to Jesus who provides our salvation and meets our every need.

Live by the Covenant Celebrations God Established

We Seek God’s Presence
Going into the presence of God was the purpose of the festival days. God established times when his people would formally come into his presence. Those days–the high, holy days–were not the only times God wanted His people to come to Him. But he ordered the calendar so all year long they would never forget to come to him. The festivals communicate the message that every season, every experience during the year, every emotion, is directed to God.
All of life relates to Him. Financial income, the blessing of the harvest, is His provision, so we go to Him and give thanks. When we think about the good times in our pasts, those good times were God’s blessings, so we go to Him and give Him praise that He was working in ways we could not even see at the time.
As we approach a new year, we go into His presence and commit the year to Him. We also go to Him to confess sin and receive His forgiveness and cleansing. God ordered the calendar of His people around fellowship with Him. God’s arrangement of the year in that way constitutes an exhortation to us–seek God’s presence.
We Celebrate God and His Salvation
Ways we celebrate in life
life
winning games
games
parties and weddings
weddings
graduations
birthdays
God is not opposed to this. He instituted festivals and feasts and invites us to celebrate with him. When we don’t celebrate our salvation there is a disconnect between our testimony what the Bible says about being joyful in the Lord.
We Share Gifts With God and Others
A prominent part of the festivals of the old covenant was giving offerings to God and sharing meals with other people, and verse 22 mentions sharing with the poor and the foreigner. The New Testament also has much to say about our gifts to God and our generosity to others.
- says we are not to give reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. Do we give generously to God and others?
We Submit to God’s Sovereignty over Time
The old covenant calendar communicated the message that God is sovereign over our time. When a young child would ask “why are we going to this festival” a parent would come back and reply that God has laid them out and told us to worship him in this way.
Furthermore, God’s fulfillment of the sacred calendar in Jesus shows us that he controls time.
The Dutch statesman and theologian Abraham Kuyper once famously said - “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: Mine!”
Conclusion
When the Jews and Romans colluded to put Jesus to death, they thought they were in charge of Jesus’ fate. They had positions of authority that made them appear to be the masters of that place and time. And they were responsible for Jesus’ death.
When Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, he told them, “You used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill him” (). However, in His providential sovereignty God was also guiding all the decisions and events in connection with the death of Jesus. As Peter put it, “He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge” ().
The authorities thought the decision to kill Jesus on the afternoon beginning Passover was solely their decision. But over 1400 years before that day when God’s people were slaves in Egypt, God told them to kill a lamb and put its blood over their doors and He would save them from death. When God told them that, He knew that 1400 years later He would arrange the death of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
If God can arrange history to the hour from over a thousand years away, don’t you think He is capable of helping us with the challenges of our schedules? May we submit to His lordship over the days and hours of our lives. Let us make Him the focal point of all our celebration and acknowledge Him and speak to Him in every task and moment. We praise Him as the God over time. We spend time with Him, and we obey what he tells us to do with our time. end good
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