Some of you may be wondering why we would have such a study from the OT. We are not doing this to encourage anyone to go back under the Law of Moses and begin to keep these feasts once again. We do not live under the Law of Moses but are under law to Christ (1 Cor. 9:21). We do not seek salvation from the Law of Moses but in the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16). The very reason we look back to the Old Testament is because it points us forward to the New Testament. Paul wrote that the OT was written for our learning (Rom. 15:4). According to Hebrews 7-10, the Law of Moses contains many types, figures, shadows, symbols of things to come. Colossians 2:16-17 specifically mentions the feasts of Israel saying that they “are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ”. Let me illustrate it this way. [Take Bible and open between the testaments, hold OT down and pull NT up, then point out how the NT is the substance that casts the shadow of the OT.]
So, we will see how that the gospel of Jesus Christ was portrayed in the annual feasts of Israel long before Jesus ever came to the earth. These annual feasts are listed together in Leviticus 23. Read verse 24, “These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.” Notice, these were the appointments of the LORD [Yahweh], not man. They were holy convocations which literally means “something called out”. God gave the time, the place, the people, and the practice. They were made holy, set apart by God. Israel was to proclaim them each year at their appointed times. This was important not only because God commanded them to do so, but because each appointment was a proclamation of the coming of the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Prophet, the Priest, the King, Jesus Christ, the Savior and Lord of all, His saving gospel, His everlasting kingdom.
THE LORD’S PASSOVER & THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD We begin with the Lord’s Passover & the Feast of Unleavened Bread. These are the first two of the annual appointments and they were joined together by God. In the Bible the terms Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread are often used synonymously, especially in the gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The Lord’s Passover Let’s start with the Lord’s Passover (Lev. 23:5). This takes us back to Exodus 12. God’s people had been in bondage to Egypt for many years and Pharaoh would not let them go free, even after God had sent many plagues upon Egypt. The last plague, the death of the firstborn, would finally move Pharaoh to let Israel go. In fact, he would send them out as quickly as possible. It was at this time that God gave Passover. It was the month, Abib (Exo. 13:4), which corresponds to our March/April, to mark the beginning of the year for Israel from this time forward.
The Selection Of The Lamb On the tenth day each household would select a young lamb or kid (Exo. 12:3-5). The animal was to be a male, without blemish, of the first year. They were not to look for any lamb, but to look for a spotless lamb. The slightest bruise, the slightest scratch, a limp leg, a blinded eye disqualified this creature from sacrifice. The sacrifice had to be perfect. Why? Because the Lord Jesus is perfect. He was and is the only perfect Man (Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22). There were no hidden sins, no skeletons in His closet, Jesus was absolutely flawless, completely without blemish (1 Pet. 1:19), so much so that Judas who betrayed him confessed “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood”, and even Pilate who searched for a reason to execute Him was forced to declare “I find no fault in Him.”
The Sacrifice Of The Lamb On the fourteenth day at twilight [term uncertain, i.e. toward evening, at going down of sun, or sunset] the lamb would be slaughtered (Exo. 12:6). According to 1 Corinthians 5:7, “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” Jesus was singled out from the flock of Israel to become our Passover; appointed for death before He was actually slain. Peter proclaimed, “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know--Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death” (Acts 2:22-23). The death of Christ was no surprise (1 Pet. 1:18-20; Rev. 13:8). Jesus Himself knew at the age of 12, when He attended the Passover with his earthly family who He was and why He was here (Luke 2:49). John, the baptizer, announced that Jesus was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The world views the death of Christ as an act of fate, a tragic miscarriage of justice, but the Bible portrays it as an appointment set in eternity past - there Jesus was set apart as a lamb, appointed unto death.
The Blood Of The Lamb Some of the blood was to be put on the doorposts and lintels of their houses (Exo. 12:7). This was so that God would “pass over” and “the destroyer” would not enter these houses (vv. 22-23). As the Jew set the basin of lamb’s blood at the threshold of his door and began sprinkling it upon the door posts and lintel, he was marking out the cross of Jesus. You see if it wasn’t for the blood of the Lamb, if it wasn’t for the blood of Christ, none of us could be saved (Heb. 9:22; cf. Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 1:5). As we sing, “What can wash away my sins, nothing but the blood of Jesus.” Just as God passed over the houses covered by the blood of the lamb, so God will pass over those who are covered by the blood of Jesus (Rom. 4:7). God did not just sweep our sins under a rug to hide them, but they were paid for by the blood of Christ. So, we must come to the cross of Christ where we are covered by the blood of Christ (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21) and continue to abide there (1 John 1:7-9).
The Supper Of The Lamb The lamb would be roasted in fire and eaten in its entirety with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (Exo. 12:8-10). They would not eat barefooted in their pajamas, but everyone was to be fully dressed, with staff in hand, ready to go. They would not set the table whenever they go around to it, but without delay because Pharaoh would quickly send them out of Egypt. Each year at the supper of the lamb, the Israelites would tell this story to their children, saying, “It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households” (v. 27).
When Jesus was with His disciples at the last supper (Passover) He told them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16). Now, we remember our deliverance from the bondage of sin each Lord’s day in the Lord’s church/kingdom (Col. 1:13-14) by partaking of the Lord’s supper (1 Cor. 11:20), proclaiming His death until He comes (15:23-26). Just as the Lord’s Passover was a memorial of unleavened bread to be passed on to their children for generations to come, the Lord’s Supper is a memorial of unleavened bread to be passed on to our children for generations to come. Israel had a great story to tell their children about how God delivered them from bondage in Egypt, but we have an even greater story to tell our children about how God can deliver us from the bondage of sin.
There were two additional instructions regarding the supper of the lamb (Exodus 12:43, 46): 1) No foreigners could eat it. So, the Lord’s Supper is for those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior. [Such may go through the motions but no real communion] 2) No bones of the lamb were to be broken. This was amazingly fulfilled at the cross of Jesus (John 19:31-37).
The Feast Of Unleavened Bread Let’s go on now to the feast of unleavened bread (Lev. 23:6-8). Israel would eat unleavened bread and make offerings to the LORD for seven days (from the 15th to the 21st). According to Exodus, it was during these seven days that Israel was led out of Egypt by God (pillar of cloud by day, fire by night), through the Red Sea on dry ground; He protected and delivered them from Pharaoh’s army which He destroyed in the sea when they went after them, and then cared for them in the wilderness. Israel was to keep the feast throughout their generations to remind them of this deliverance.
The Removal Of Leaven Leaven was strictly forbidden and had to be completely removed from their houses (Exodus 12:14-20; 13:6-8; 23:15; 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:3, 8). Not only is eating food with leaven forbidden but so is the presence of leaven (Exo. 13:7). This was because it represented the evil influence of Egypt. They were not to take any with them. It was also reminder of their suffering in Egypt. This is why the unleavened bread is referred to as the bread of suffering. It was a reminder of the swiftness of God's deliverance. There was no time for their daily bread to rise, so it had to remain unleavened (Deu. 16:3). It reminded them of the completeness of their deliverance. Though slaves, they didn't leave empty handed (Exo. 12:33-36). Today, we are to keep the feast of unleavened bread but in a different way (1 Cor. 5:7-8; cf. John 6:35, 63, 68). We keep the feast by living holy, righteous lives before the Lord with pure hearts, having been cleansed of our sins by the sacrifice of Christ. This is only possible when we do not allow any evil influence of the world into our hearts and lives (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; Jam. 1:27; Rom. 13:14; 1 Pet. 2:11).
The Holy Convocations & The Offerings The first and last days of the feasts were sabbaths (days of rest) in which no work was to be done, except what was necessary for the bread and the offerings (cf. Mat. 11:28-30; Heb. 4:9; Rev. 14:13). The offerings are detailed in Numbers 28. They speak of consecration and atonement. Therein is our redemption, our reconciliation and holiness in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:30-31).
The Feast Of Firstfruits: Its Observance Leviticus 23:9-14
It was observed by Israel when they came into the land God would give to them, at the reaping of the harvest. Last week in our study of the Passover, we went back to when Israel was set free from Egyptian bondage, but The Feast of Firstfruits would not be observed until Israel came into the promised land of Canaan some forty years later. They were reminded in this feast each year that they only had what they had because God had given it to them. It was a feast of gratitude and rejoicing. They had been wandering in the wilderness but now they could reap the harvest!
A sheaf of the firstfruits was waved by the priest before the LORD on the day after the Sabbath, along with other offerings on that same day. It was a single sheaf of barley. Barley was the first crop to ripen each year. The word translated as “firstfruits” means, “the beginning,” “the first,” “the chief,” “the finest,” etc. It is the first in time, place, order, or rank. It is the principal thing. The firstfruits were also a pledge of an even greater harvest to follow. The priest waved the sheaf at the tabernacle on behalf of the people. Though the people themselves would not make the offering each would mentally enter into the heart and spirit of the feast. This was done on the day after the Sabbath which would be the first day of the week (cf. Lev. 23:3). A burnt offering (consecration of whole self) with its grain offering (consecration of one’s possessions), and its drink offering (means cover, as the wine, God’s blessing, was poured out over the offering) were made on this same day, before anyone would partake of the harvest for themselves. In doing this the people were acknowledging that all they are and all that they have comes from God, they were looking to God for every blessing, expressing their thankfulness, and trusting Him for the coming harvest.
It was a statute forever. This means to the end of the age, not eternally. It was to be observed continuously every year by Israel until it was fulfilled in Christ.
The Feast Of Firstfruits: Its Fulfilment 1 Corinthians 15:20-23
Jesus is the firstfruits of the resurrection of the dead, having been raised again on the first day of the week. He is the first and the finest of all. He is the preeminent One, the “firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18). He was not the first to be raised from the dead, but He is the first and only One to be raised to never die again. He was raised to never die; to live forever. He is the firstfruits of those who are fallen asleep. In His death He paid for our sins so that we might be forgiven and in His resurrection He demonstrated His power over death so that we might have the assurance of eternal life (John 11:25-26). Only Jesus can make such claims. That day He proved it by raising Lazarus. One day He will call all men out of their graves (John 5:28-29). The only question is will you be raised to life or condemnation. Those who are fallen asleep is a reference to Christians who have died in Christ (Rev. 14:13; 1 The. 4:13-17). So we thank God for the gift of His Son, trust Him for eternal life and are assured of victory over death in the last day when we will be raised in victory over sin and death (1 Cor. 15:53-57).
We do not observe the annual feast of the Law but celebrate its fulfilment in Christ everyday. When we are baptized, we celebrate in the resurrection (Rom. 6:3-4). Baptism is an act by which we identify with Christ and His return from the dead. We are “united” to Him in baptism, Paul says in Romans 6:5. In baptism we recreate the “form” or pattern of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection in our own lives (Rom. 6:17)! Before baptism we are dead in sins (Col. 2:13). In the act of baptism, we die to sin and are buried with Christ to be raised to newness of life (Col. 2:12). That’s why sprinkling and pouring will not do; it’s a burial and resurrection. The word translated “baptism” in our Bibles means immersion. If you have not been immersed in water, you have never been baptized according to the Bible. Baptism is not optional (Mark 16:16; John 3:5; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Gal. 3:26-27; Eph. 5:26; Heb. 10:22; 1 Pet. 3:21)! If you have never been baptized in order to have your sins forgiven you have not been baptized according to the Bible. It is the time and place we identify ourselves with the resurrection of Christ.
We also celebrate the resurrection in a weekly observance: The Lord’s Day Assembly. Jesus was raised on the first day of the week (Mark 16:9). On that first Sunday of the resurrection, He met with the assembled disciples (Luke 24:33, 36). The church of Christ had its beginning at Pentecost (Acts 2), which came fifty days after the Sabbath following the Passover and thus always fell on the first day of the week (Lev. 23). From that time till now Christians have come together on the first day of every week to celebrate the resurrection and worship the risen Lord (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). Properly speaking, the resurrection of Christ is not something to be commemorated annually at Easter, but weekly in the assembly of disciples as they observe the Lord’s Supper, proclaiming His death until He comes again (1 Cor. 11:26). That is why faithful attendance at the Lord’s Day assembly is so important – it ties us in with the resurrection (Heb. 10:24-25)!
Finally, we celebrate the resurrection in our daily walk: Living For Jesus. Putting Him first, giving Him our finest. Trusting Him for all our needs. Praising Him in joy for every blessing. We must demonstrate to the world that we are the people of the resurrection by the lives which we live (Rom. 6:4, 11). The tragedy is that many who profess to follow Christ are living as if He were still dead! Colossians 3:1-4 says that those who are “raised with Christ” must “seek those things which are above” because “Christ is our life”. We do not just live for something or somethings, but we have Someone to live for – Jesus! It is not enough merely to believe that a man named Jesus was raised from the dead one Sunday morning 21 centuries ago! Our belief must make a practical difference in our lives: in our basic attitudes… in our values… in the way we treat others… in our daily conduct… (vv. 5ff). As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
On a faraway Judean morning two angels greeted a band of women before the door of an empty tomb with the words, “He is not here; For He is risen” (Mat. 28:6). And now we are called to celebrate in that victory!
The Feast Of Weeks (Harvest, Pentecost): Its Observance The Feast of Weeks is the second of the three “solemn feasts” that all Jewish males were required to travel to Jerusalem to attend and offer sacrifices (Exodus 23:14–17; 34:22–23; Deuteronomy 16:16).
It was observed on the fiftieth day from The Feast of Firstfruits, which was always on the first day of the week (vv. 15-16). It was called The Feast of Weeks because the Israelites were to count seven weeks (sabbaths) from The Feast of Firstfruits, and it was called Pentecost, the Greek word which means fifty (Acts 2:1), because they were to count fifty days to the day after the seventh week (sabbath). It was also called The Feast of Harvest (Exo. 23:16) because it was at the wheat harvest in late spring (May-June). This would have been the same time that Israel came to Mount Sinai and God gave them His law through Moses (Exo. 19).
Two loaves of bread were waved by the priest before the LORD, along with a burnt offering, a sin offering, and a peace offering (vv. 17-20, 22). The bread was made of the firstfruits of the wheat harvest. We noted in previous lessons that the firstfruits (the first and the finest) belong to God and serve as a pledge of an even greater harvest to come. This bread was made with leaven. This is curious, because all other offerings under the law were without leaven. We will discuss why leaven may have been used later in this lesson. The burnt offering and peace offerings were offerings of consecration, while the sin offering was for atonement. In making these offerings the people were acknowledging that all they have comes from God, expressing their thankfulness, and trusting Him for the coming harvest. We should also note here how that God made special provision for the poor, by having the Jews leave the corners and the gleanings of the field for them (Lev. 23:22). I love that kind of welfare system where they are not given a handout without working for it but a hand up; an opportunity to work for what they needed.
No work was to be done on this day (v. 21a). It was another of the many sabbaths (or days of rest) in the Law of Moses to remind Israel of the rest God gave to them in the land of Canaan after their many years of oppression in Egypt and their wandering in the wilderness.
It was a statute forever (v. 21b). Forever literally means to the end of the age, not eternally. It was to be observed continuously every year by Israel until it was fulfilled in Christ.
The Feast Of Weeks (Harvest, Pentecost): Its Fulfilment This happened on Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus died during the week of Passover. He was raised from the dead at the Feast of Firstfruits. He spent the next forty days teaching His disciples of the kingdom of God and the promise of the Holy Spirit before ascending into heaven (Acts 1:3-11). Then, just ten days later, on Pentecost (the fiftieth day) we see God’s kingdom come with the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2).
The gospel was proclaimed on the day of Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ. Just as The Feast of Weeks marked the giving of the Law of Moses for Israel at Sinai, so the gospel of Christ was proclaimed on the day of Pentecost following His resurrection. God came with power on both occasions, revealing and confirming His word (Compare Exodus 19:16-20; 20:18 with Acts 2:1-6). But the result in each case was different. When Moses delayed coming down from the mount with God’s law, they made a golden calf to worship and that day about 3,000 men of Israel were put to death (Exo. 32:28). But when the gospel of Christ was preached about 3,000 souls were saved from their sins (Acts 2:36-41).
The church of Christ began with a harvest of 3,000 souls from every nation. The law brought death, while the gospel brought life! The fault was not in the law but in the people. Israel was condemned by the Law of Moses because they all sinned, but the gospel provided forgiveness for all through faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:21-29).
Some see the two loaves of leavened bread that were to be a wave offering as foreshadowing the time when the Christ would make both Jew and Gentile to be one in Him (Ephesians 2:14–15). This is also the only feast where leavened bread is used. Though leaven is often used in Scripture of the corrupting spread and influence of sin, Jesus used it to speak of the spread and influence of His kingdom, the church (Luke 12:1; 13:21). Jesus told His apostles “you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). In the book of Acts, we see how the church of Christ quickly spread by the preaching of the gospel from Jerusalem (Acts 2:47; 4:4; 6:7), to Judea and Samaria (Acts 8), and around the world (9-28), so that Paul would write, “the gospel… was preached to every creature under heaven (Col. 1:23). Church, we must continue to spread the good news of Jesus Christ foreshadowed in The Feast of Weeks so that we might reap a harvest of souls for Jesus in our generation, too (Mat. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16).
Today, we celebrate the greater feast of weeks that came with the coming of Christ and the giving of the gospel. Today, we enjoy the greater sabbath found only in Christ, salvation from our sins. Today, Jesus calls all to come to Him (Mat. 11:28-30).
The Feast Of Trumpets: Its Observance Leviticus 23:23-25
It was observed on the first day of the seventh month. The first day was the day of the new moon. It was the darkest day of the moon when it couldn’t be seen in the sky.
The seventh month of the Jewish Calendar corresponds to our September-October. This year it begins at sundown, tomorrow. Today the Jews celebrate it as Rosh Hashana, which means “Head Of The Year” because it marked the beginning of the ancient civil and agricultural calendars. They also believe that on this day God created the heavens and the earth, Adam was created, Samuel was born, and the first temple of God was dedicated. However, it is impossible to prove such assumptions, and Adam being created on the sixth day rules out the possibility of God both creating the heavens and the earth and Adam on the same day of the month.
It was a sabbath, or day of rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. Throughout this day the Israelites would hear the sound of trumpets blowing, hence the name The Feast of Trumpets. According to Numbers 10:1-10, two silver trumpets were blown by the priests at the beginning of each month marking the new moon. These trumpets were used to herald in the new month and to call the people together. Verse 10 tells us that it was a day of gladness and a memorial for them before the LORD. According to Psalms 81, it was a day of singing, shouting, and the playing of musical instruments, including a ram’s horn or curved trumpet (Heb. shofar), remembering it was the LORD who had delivered them from Egyptian bondage so that might continue to put their trust in Him.
This sacred celebration was a call to stop work, to assemble, and to remember the LORD with joyful praise and thanksgiving. He had made them into a great nation, redeemed them from their long bondage in Egypt, and made a covenant of great blessing with them at Mount Sinai, including the promised land of Canaan in which they did come to dwell in and possess.
An offering by fire was made to the LORD. According to Numbers 29:1-6, there were burnt offerings, with their grain offerings (offerings of consecration to the LORD), and a sin offering (an offering of atonement), as well as the offerings of the New Moon and the regular daily offerings.
The Feast Of Trumpets: Its Fulfilment
It heralded the birth of Jesus Christ with great joy. Though many mark the birth of Christ at Christmas on December 25, that can hardly be correct according to what we learn from Luke 1-2. John the Baptist was conceived at the time his father, Zacharias, was serving at the temple. Zacharias served in the division of Abijah (Luke 1:5). It was the eighth division (1 Chr. 24:10), which would not serve until June. Elizabeth, John’s mother, was in her sixth month (Luke 1:36) with John when Jesus was conceived in his mother, Mary. That puts Jesus’ conception in December, not His birth. Jesus would then be born some nine months later in September, the same month as The Feast of Trumpets. We will talk about this again when we get to The Feast of Tabernacles which came in the middle of the month. Is that when Jesus came to dwell, literally tabernacle among us in the flesh (John 1:14)?
It pointed to the church’s celebration of redemption from the bondage of sin through Christ. Just as Israel came together to remember the LORD and to celebrate their redemption from slavery in Egypt, so every LORD’S Day we come together in the LORD’S Church at the LORD’S Table to remember what He has done for us and to worship Him with praise and thanksgiving for our redemption from the slavery of sin. Jesus is our whole burnt offering and our sin offering (Eph. 5:2; 2 Cor. 5:21).
It anticipated the resurrection, ascension, reign and return of Christ. At least two of the Psalms in the Old Testament connect these things with the blowing of trumpets. Psalms 47:5 reads, “God has gone up with a shout, The LORD with the sound of a trumpet.” This psalm speaks of Christ’s triumph over death, His going up into heaven, and sitting and reigning as King over all. Psalms 98:6 reads, “With trumpets and the sound of a horn; Shout joyfully before the LORD, the King.” This psalm speaks of the marvelous things God has done and will do through Christ; His victory, His salvation, and His coming to judge the earth in righteousness.
The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Zephaniah, and Zechariah all use the blowing of trumpets to announce the coming Day of the LORD.
In Revelation 8-11, John pictures God’s judgment upon Rome who persecuted His church with the blowing of seven trumpets. With the blowing of the seventh trumpet Rome is defeated and Christ and His church reign victorious.
On the last day, when Jesus comes and destroys the last enemy death, the last trumpet will blow and sound the victory (1 Corinthians 15:51-57). We will not be left behind but go to be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). What a day of rejoicing that will be!
Now, we suffer temptation, trial, and tribulation but the time is coming when all will be made new (Rev. 21:3-5). Do not lose heart (John 14:1-6).
The Day Of Atonement: Its Observance Leviticus 23:26-32
It was a holy convocation (i.e., a sacred assembly) on the tenth day of the seventh month (10th day = complete, 7th month = perfect). It is considered to be the most important day of the Jewish calendar.
Israel was to afflict their souls (refers to mourning and fasting over their sinfulness, and if anyone in Israel failed to enter into the spirit of that day, they would be cut-off, i.e., put to death or excommunicated) and make an offering by fire to the LORD (we will discuss this more below from Leviticus 16).
It was a sabbath, or day of rest. If anyone did work that day, they would be destroyed or taken away.
It was a day of atonement. The Hebrew is Yom Kippur (pronounced kip-poor’). It means expiation, atonement and speaks of the covering of sins provided by the sacrificial offerings made that day.
It was a statute forever. The word translated forever may mean eternally, but it often simply means long lasting or continuing. Of course, the Law of Moses lasted for a long time before it served its purpose and found its fulfilment in Christ who brought a new and better covenant not just for the Jews but for all nations (See Hebrews).
The Day Of Atonement: Its Observance Leviticus 16
A Warning (vv. 1-3) This is a reference to Leviticus 10, where they learned to respect God’s holiness. On the Day of Atonement, Aaron would enter the Holy Place with the blood of a sin offering and a burnt offering. We may only come to God on His terms, in His way.
A Washing And A Change Of Garments (v. 4) He would wash his body and put on linen garments. The Jewish year was 360 days, 359 days the high priest wore glorious multi-color garments as heaven’s representative among the people but on the Day of Atonement he would immerse himself into another role as an ordinary servant priest.
A Sin Offering And A Burnt Offering For The Priests And For The People (vv. 5-11) He would make offerings: First for himself and his house – a bull as a sin offering (v. 6). Then, for the people he would take two goats (vv. 7-10). One was for the LORD as a sin offering (they wrapped a scarlet ribbon around its neck), the other a scapegoat (lit. strong removal, i.e., of their sins) (they put a ribbon on its horns) would be let go into the wilderness.
A Burning Of Incense And A Sprinkling Of Blood In The Most Holy Place (vv. 12-17) The high priest could only enter the most holy place with incense and blood or he would die. He realized he did not deserve to be there; he was a sinner coming into the presence of the sinless One. God had given the recipe for the incense He required in Exodus 30:34-38. It was symbolic of prayer (Psa. 141:2; Rev. 5:8; 8:3). It was to be burned in the censer with coals of fire from the altar before the LORD (v. 12). Remember, Nadab and Abihu died because they offered profane fire which the Lord had not commanded (Lev. 10:1). The high priest would sprinkle the blood of the bull and then the blood of the goat seven times on the mercy seat to make atonement for the tabernacle and for all the sins of Israel (vv. 13-16). Seven is a symbolic number in the Bible and here speaks of a full, complete, perfect covering of all sins. Notice, also, from verse 17, that no man could be in the tabernacle when the priest goes into the holy place to make atonement.
A Cleansing Of The Altar Before The LORD (vv. 18-19)
A Sending Away Of The Live Goat (vv. 20-22) The live goat was sent into the wilderness with all the sins of the people from the past year. They wanted the goat to go far away and never to return. If they found it, they would send it over a cliff.
A Washing And A Change Of Garments (vv. 23-24a) The high priest would take off the linen garments and put on his glorious garments. He had disappeared into the holy place with his glorious garments and reappeared coming forth with his glorious garments.
A Making Of Offerings And Some Washings (vv. 24b-28) The high priest would offer his burnt offering and the one for the people to make atonement. He would fume the fat of the sin offering on the altar to God (vv. 24b -25). The one who released the goat would wash his clothes and bathe (v. 26). The bull and goat whose blood was brought into the Holy Place were burned (seraph, consuming fire) outside the camp (v. 27). The one who burned them would wash his clothes and bathe (v. 28).
A Forever Statute For Israel (vv. 29-34) As we mentioned before, the shadow of the Law served its purpose when it was fulfilled in the New Covenant of Christ. Jesus Christ exactly fulfilled every detail of this day. Let’s see just how this is so.
The Day Of Atonement: Its Fulfilment Philippians 2:5-11
Just as Israel was warned, so we are warned to have regard for the holiness of God. We learn from the Day of Atonement how the Holy God made it possible for us sinful beings to be made holy so we could come to Him through Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:19-22; 12:28-29). In all this we see the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ by which we are saved from our sins to live a life of holiness with God forever!
Just as the High Priest removed his glorious garments to put on the linen garments of a servant, so Jesus put off His glory with God in heaven to put on the flesh of man (John 1:1, 14; Phi. 2:6-8; Mat. 20:28).
Just as one goat was sacrificed and the other let loose in the wilderness, so Jesus died for our sins, taking them far away from us (Isa. 53:5-6; 1 Pet. 2:24; Psa. 103:12). (Rom 3:24-26; 4:7; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 8:12; 1 John 2:2).
Just as the High Priest entered the Holy Place with blood and incense, so Jesus is our High Priest who entered the true Holy Place of heaven with His blood to make full, complete, and perfect atonement for our sins once and for all, and He always lives to makes intercession for us. The blood of bulls and goats point to the blood of Christ by which we are redeemed and the incense that was brought into the holy place speaks of the intercession of Christ before God on our behalf (Heb. 4:14-16; 7:25; 9:12; 10:1-4, 10, 17). After 1400 years of animal offerings and sins carried away on goats, God finally, once and for all, took care of sin through the death of Christ on the cross. The sins of all were atoned for (covered) by the blood of Jesus to be remembered no more.
Just as we learned no other person could enter the tabernacle while the High Priest was making atonement for sins, so only Jesus Christ can truly atone for the sins of the world (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). There is no other Savior.
Just as the body of the bull and goat whose blood was brought into the Holy Place was burned outside the camp, so Jesus was crucified outside the city of Jerusalem (Heb. 13:11-12).
Just as the High Priest took off the linen garments and put his glorious garments back on, so Jesus was raised from the dead to return to glory with His Father in heaven (Phi. 2:9-11).
We no longer keep the Day of Atonement as the Jews once did because it has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The date of that day (10th day = complete, 7th month = perfect) pointed to the day when God would accomplish complete and perfect redemption through Jesus. Israel had the symbols of salvation, but now the real Person of salvation has come. We put our faith in the true One, not in the symbolic ritual of the Law. Ever since God’s judgment on Israel for their rejection of Christ in 70 A.D. with the destruction of the temple it is impossible to keep the Old Law. There is no more Aaronic priesthood, bronze altar, or holy place in Jerusalem. These were all just symbolic of the greater priesthood of Christ, the altar of the Cross, and the Most Holy Place of heaven we have in the New Covenant.
Just as Israel rested on The Day of Atonement, so we have rest in Christ from the burden of sin, now, in death, and in eternity (Mat. 11:28-30; Rev. 14:13; 21-22). As they afflicted their souls on that day, so we are cut to the heart whenever we recall the price Jesus paid at the cross for our sins, especially when we assemble on the Lord’s Day in the Lord’s Church at the Lord’s Table. At the same time, we rejoice in Him knowing that our sins are now covered, once and for all.
The Feast Of Tabernacles: Its Observance Leviticus 23:33-43
It was a sacred assembly from the 15th to the 22nd day of the seventh month on the Jewish calendar. The first and eighth days were sabbaths, or days of rest. Numerous and specific offerings were made on each of the eight days, including burnt offerings and sin offerings with their accompanying grain and drink offerings (Num. 29:12-40). All males in Israel were required to appear before God at the Tabernacle (later the Temple in Jerusalem) to present these offerings before the Lord (Exo. 23:14-17; 34:22-24; Deu. 16:16). This was one of three feasts in which this was required, Unleavened Bread (Passover), Weeks (Harvest, Pentecost) and Tabernacles (Ingathering).
It was a celebration of the autumn harvest when all would dwell in booths remembering God’s deliverance from Egypt and His care for them in the wilderness. This feast was first known as The Feast of Ingathering because it was celebrated at the time of year when they would be gathering in the fruit of the land (Exo. 23:16; 34:22). It was Israel’s Thanksgiving.
It was called The Feast of Tabernacles because it pointed to the time when God brought Israel out of their bondage in Egypt, when they moved from Rameses to Succoth (Exo. 12:37). Succoth is the same Hebrew word used here of this feast and refers to the temporary dwellings used by Israel in the wilderness. The Hebrew word means “hut or lair” and is translated in the KJV as “booth, cottage, covert, pavilion, tabernacle, tent” (Strong’s Hebrew).
During this time, God guided them with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. He protected them from their enemies. He took care of all their needs. He provided water from a rock that followed them everywhere they went. He sent manna from heaven so they would have food to eat, and quail by the east wind. Miraculously, their clothes and shoes never wore out throughout their 40-year journey to the Promised Land of Canaan (Deu. 2:7; 8:4; 29:5; Neh. 9:21).
So, every year at The Feast of Tabernacles (or Ingathering) they would think back and rejoice before God for delivering their nation from Egyptian bondage and for His care for them in the wilderness
It was a statute forever in their generations. As a feast instituted by God, it was never forgotten. It was celebrated in the time of Solomon (2 Chr. 8:13). In fact, it was during this feast that Solomon’s temple was dedicated (1 Kin. 8:2). It was observed during Hezekiah’s time (2 Chr. 31:3), and after the return from exile (Ezra 3:4; Read Neh. 8:13-18).
In the New Testament, Jesus attended the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7-8). At this time two important ceremonies took place. The Hebrew people carried torches around the temple, illuminating bright candelabrum along the walls of the temple to demonstrate that the Messiah/Christ would be a light to the Gentiles. Also, the priest drew water from the pool of Siloam and carried it to the temple where it was poured into a silver basin beside the altar. The priest called upon the Lord to provide heavenly water in the form of rain for their supply and the people looked forward to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit as prophesied by Joel. On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus spoke these remarkable words: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). John said He was talking about the Spirit that would be given to those who believe (v. 39). The next morning, while the torches were still burning Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (8:12). Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, they were looking for, the true life, and light of the world!
The Feast Of Tabernacles: Its Fulfilment
It pointed to the time of Christ’s coming in the flesh to “tabernacle” among us. Read John 1:1 and 14. The Word, God’s eternal Son, was born into this world as a human being. He “dwelt (literally tabernacled) among us”. If you ask when Jesus was born most would answer December 25. But that can hardly be correct according to what we learn from Luke 1-2.
John the Baptist was conceived at the time his father, Zacharias, was serving at the temple. Zacharias served in the division of Abijah (Luke 1:5). It was the eighth division (1 Chr. 24:10). There were 24 divisions and each one was to serve in the Temple for one week at a time (Exo. 29:30; 1 Chr. 9:25; 2 Chr. 23:8; 2 Kin. 11:5), then the rotation would be repeated for another 24 weeks. The Jewish calendar had 51 weeks, so there were three weeks in the year that the rotation was suspended, and all priests were required to serve (e.g. 2 Chr. 5:11 at The Feast of Tabernacles; cf. v. 3; 1 Kin. 8:2; 2 Chr. 7:8-10). This was during the three feasts that all males were required to go to the Temple, and all of Israel would flood Jerusalem. Therefore, to determine when Zacharias served “in the order of his division” (Luke 1:8) we must count 8 weeks from the beginning of the Jewish calendar (late March through April), add 2 weeks for The Feast of Unleavened Bread and The Feast of Weeks, so that we have 10 weeks, which would bring us to our month of June. This then marks the month of John’s conception.
[Note: John could not have been conceived in Zacharias’ second rotation in December, putting Jesus’ birth in March/April, because Jesus had his 30th birthday (Luke 3:23) some months before the Spring Passover (John 2:13; cf. Mat. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13; John 1:19-2:12).]
Elizabeth, John’s mother, was in her sixth month (Luke 1:36) with John when Jesus was conceived in his mother, Mary. That puts Jesus’ conception in December, not His birth. Jesus would then be born some nine months later in September, the same month as The Feast of Tabernacles. Is that when Jesus came to dwell, literally tabernacle among us in the flesh?
It prefigured all nations coming to worship King Jesus in His church. Zechariah used the figure of The Feast of Tabernacles to illustrate the rejoicing and thanksgiving of the remnant from all nations who would turn to the Lord (Zechariah 14:16-21). Those who refuse will “have no rain” (i.e., they will live in a perpetual desert spiritually) because in Christ only is found every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3). Zechariah went on to prophesy how that all in the Lord’s house would be made holy, pointing to the cleansing of the blood of Christ for both Jew and Gentile so that there is no more distinction, but we are all one in Christ (Rom. 3:19-31; Gal. 3:26-29; Eph. 2:19-22).
It pictured our present journey towards heaven in “tents”. Just as God cared for Israel in the wilderness to bring them home to the Promised Land of Canaan, so we trust God to care for us while we make our way towards heaven. We know that this world is not our home (Phi. 3:20-21). We are just passing through (1 Pet. 2:11). We are looking for a better, heavenly country (Heb. 11:8-10, 13-16). “Therefore, we do not lose heart… For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens…” (2 Cor. 4:16-5:11).
It anticipated the day when God Himself will “tabernacle” with us in “a new heaven and a new earth”. Read Revelation 21:1-8. There will be no separation between God and man. God Himself will be with us. All will be made new. John goes on in this chapter and the next to describe what it will be like and mentions the same two features of the feast’s theme that Jesus emphasized when He attended the feast: 1) How the city has no need for the sun or moon because the Glory of God illuminated it and the Lamb (Jesus) is its light (21:23). 2) A pure river of water of life, clear as crystal (22:2, 17).
The Feast of Tabernacles reminds us to thank God for sending His Son so we can be delivered from the bondage of sin and to rejoice in every blessing we have in Christ, especially the hope of eternal life.