We’re talking about feasts and festivals of Israel, especially those appointed by the LORD as holy convocations/assemblies.
These would be times of remembrance of what the LORD had done, His covenant with His people, of forgiveness and hope. They were a time of community gathering and joyous celebration.
Let’s start by reading our main text, Lev. 23
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts. “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.
We talked last week about this time of rest and refreshing which the LORD commanded. The first of the Holy days to the LORD.
We’ll see that the Sabbath cycle directs the feast/festival schedule.
not only through the year, but on a yearly schedule too
Sabbath year - year of rest for the land
year of Jubilee - 50th year; 1 yr after 7 cycles of sabbath year; year of rest, liberty, and restoration
“These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month 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 ordinary work. But you shall present a food offering to the Lord for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.”
Here we see Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Let’s keep reading, because once Israel made it to the Promised Land, the next section would become part of this.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the Lord. And the grain offering with it shall be two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, a food offering to the Lord with a pleasing aroma, and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, a fourth of a hin. And you shall eat neither bread nor grain parched or fresh until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
the LORD’s Passover —> Feast of Unleavened Bread —> Feast of Firstfruits
notice these three are back to back (9 days)
9 days of remembrance and celebration to the LORD!
Let’s take a minute and talk about days and months. We tend to try to understand the flow of the feasts and festivals of Israel while thinking of the calendar we know.
Solar calendar (our calendar)
12 months; 30-31 days (one short month); adjustment = leap year (every 4 yrs)
Jan-Dec. - mid-winter
Time: begins at mid-night; 24 hrs
Lunar calendar (specifically the Hebrew calendar)
(remember they were primarily an agricultural society; much of life cycled around growing seasons)
12 months (really 13),
Abib/Nisan - Adar/Adar Sheni (Sheni realigns new moon); Spring (March-April new moon)
Abib (Nisan after exile); calendar began first month, first day of the month = LORD brought Israel out of Egypt; Exodus 12:1; 13:4
begins on evening of the new moon. (holy day),
time: begins at sunset
Sabbath = 7th day; however, 1st day = New Moon (not always lined up to be Sabbath on our Saturday!).
i.e. this year ‘19; this group of feasts
New moon; Nisan 1, April 5-6; Fri. evening
Passover began Nisan 14, April 18-19;Thurs. sunset; Sabbath day
Feast of Unleavened Bread; Nisan 15, 1st day April 19-20 Fri. sunset
end: 7th day, Nisan 21, April 25-26; Thurs. at sunset; Sabbath day
Firstfruits: Nisan 22, April 26th; begins Fri. at sunset
So, you can see, we cannot get hung up on our “days fo the week” when talking about feasts of Israel. And that’s good, because that’s not really the main points here. (If you want to put these on your calendar, remember look up the lunar calendar, count the days, remember each day starts at sunset not mid-night)
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
This first Passover protected Israel from the plague of death; each year following would be remembering the might of the LORD’s hand in delivering His people from bondage.
available to all who trusted the word of the LORD
‘if you don’t have a lamb, share with your neighbor’
although, we later read this was ONLY for the LORD’s people; not for the foreigner or sojourner
servants included IF they had been circumcised.
The protection/deliverance would come through the sacrifice of a lamb, a yearling without blemish.
the blood would protect them from death
the body would nourish them for the journey ahead
They ate it in haste; ready to move forward, being led by the LORD;
there would be no time to wait around, no last minute packing
They were to hold this Passover at the same time every year
remember AND to teach their children
The Passover was followed the next day by the Feast of Unleavened Bread
Two feasts that are directly tied to each other
they would come to be referred to as one
Feast of Unleavened Bread
as Passover was one meal to be ate in haste, this feast lasted a whole week
“This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”
THIS 1ST DAY = day they came out of Egypt
first day as delivered people of God
beginning of their new journey towards being a holy nation to the LORD
remove ALL yeast;
from food ; in haste you don’t have time for the bread to rise.
they weren’t going to be camping just outside of Egypt; it was time to get away from them, to go to the Promised Land.
God’s deliverance was to be more than settling for ‘just outside of bondage’.
became a symbol for the pervasive influence of evil
yeast would not be in most of the grain offerings to God
this was a time for ‘cleansing’ their homes
begins and ends with a holy day to the LORD.
no work being done, except food prep
(sounds like a Sabbath day)
In this, Israel would remember that the LORD brought them out of bondage in haste, to be His people,
they would be reminded to trust in the LORD’s provision and faithfulness in His promises
they would remember this marked the beginning of their new lives as a holy nation to the LORD; they were no longer slaves, it was time to cleanse their homes, their lives, of the old things
1st of 3 annual feasts that required ALL the males to go to the Temple
“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.
couldn’t travel on Passover; holy day, Sabbath. At these 3 main festivals, the community would be together. (not something you celebrated in your own home or home town; in the place the LORD would choose)
In their lunar/agricultural calendar, the Feasts of Firstfruits (beginning of the harvest) fell at this time.
Israel brought ‘firstfruits’ to the Lord at various times, but this is a special firstfruits festival
Lev 23 doesn’t directly link this with the exodus but
“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there. And you shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him, ‘I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.’ Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God. “And you shall make response before the Lord your God, ‘A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders. And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God. And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.
in conjunction with Feast of Unleavened Bread
day after the Sabbath
focus on barley harvest
signified gratitude to and dependance on God
beginning of the harvest
means “first to appear”, not “best of the harvest”
= 1st born (may not be best [haha])
no need to hoard; trust God’s provision
sheaf of the first grain = wave offering
yearling lamb and grain offering sacrifice
didn’t eat of the harvest until the firstfruits offering was made (until they gave thanks)
statement of gratitude and confession of the benefits of God’s grace
Together these 3 feasts were celebrated at the beginning of each new year. A time of the coming together remembering God’s might and power and love and celebrating the new life and hope they had through the covenant promise and God’s faithfulness.
NT & us
Passover, Festival of Unleavened Bread, and Feast of Firstfruits are linked to the Christian’s relationship with Christ
LORD’s supper instituted during the Passover
Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Passover lamb protected Israel from the plague (death) of the firstborn
Jesus, Passover Lamb, took the wrath of God to save us from eternal death
looks back to Passover and forward to the Cross
bread = body; Passover Lamb
drink = blood; on doorpost, spared
Passover meal and unleavened bread signs of ‘in haste’
we should ‘in haste’ seek salvation in the blood and ‘in haste’ cleanse our home of yeast;
set apart as a holy nation to the LORD
leaving the old, beginning a new life and journey
we are a new community (Church) who have experienced a new exodus (freed from slavery of sin and death), spared through the blood of the Lamb, and we (with the help of the Holy Spirit) continue to cleanse the yeast from our homes.
we give our firstfruits
gratitude and confession of God’s grace
communion - proclaim the Lord’s death til He returns
study the Word = remove/cleanse our lives and homes of sin; we transform our minds
praise and give thanks in all things
Jeremiah 2:3 = Israel is firstfruits among the nations
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 - Jesus - firstfruit of the power of the resurrection, victory over death; guaranteeing ours
Romans 8:23 - we have the firstfruits of the Spirit; Who worked our sanctification and continues to work in our growing more into the image of Christ as we are waiting for full adoption
James 1:18 - Christians = firstfruits of God’s work giving new birth through the Word; first appearing of the new creation
For us, who are Christians, we celebrate this collective feast of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits every week (and it is a week long celebration!!).
we experience Passover every Sunday when we share in Communion.
we cleanse our homes as our minds are transformed by the truth of the Word
we give praise and thanks to the LORD as we lift our prayers and serve Him (loving Him in action of loving others)
we take communion when we meet at the first of the week, but we spend the rest of the week caring out God’s will for His Kingdom.
Israel gathered together to remember the LORD’s sparing, deliverance, provision, and promise during this special time of celebrating and feasting each year.
We celebrate this each week.
Go, tell, celebrate, and give thanks for what the LORD has done and His faithfulness!!