Seven Feast that God Ordained For Israel
In Chapter 23 we read about the seven feasts that God ordained the Israelites. We saw the five offerings in the early part of Leviticus. God wanted to teach His people that religion was not a boring affair. It was to be an enjoyable and exciting thing-something that they could practice with joy. So he ordained theses feasts (or festivals) for them. One of the Hebrew words translated as "festival" was the word "hag" meaning "dancing" and that is what God expected His people to do! The number seven has a significance here. Every seventh day, every seventh month, every seventh year and also the year that came after seven times seven years (50th year) was a festival time. All these feasts were between April and October each year. God also selected a time of the year when the weather would be clear and when the farmers would not be busy in their fields, so that they could all go to Jerusalem for these feasts. The commands of God are all realistic and He is considerate of all our earthly needs.
Here is a list of the seven feasts:
- The Sabbath: This was at the end of six days of work, every week. On this day, no work was to be done. The day was meant to be spent, as Adam spent his first day-in fellowship with God. It symbolizes the rest that Christ brings us into in our relationship with God
- The Passover Feast: The Passover was on the 14th day of their fist month, in which they remembered the time when God saved their forefathers from Egypt by the blood of the lamb-a picture of our deliverance from Satan's kingdom by the blood of Christ.
- The Feast of Unleavened Bread: This followed immediately after the Passover-for seven days-during which they ate only unleavened bread. It reminded them about the leavened bread that their fathers left behind in Egypt-a picture of our old left life behind when we are converted. This symbolizes the cleansed life (free from leaven) that we are called to live in, under the new covenant.
- The Feast of Pentecost: This is also called the "feast of weeks" and was to be held 50 days after the feast of unleavened bread began. ("Pentekoste" means "fiftieth") that was a feast expressing thankfulness to God at the end of the barley and wheat harvest. The out pouring of the Holy Spirit took place on this day 1500 years later-and this is what this feast symbolizes (Acts 2:1). Two loaves of bread were offered to God on this day symbolizing that Jew and Gentile would be united on this day many years later. Both the loaves were leavened and salted indicating that there was still sin in those who were born again (leaven), but yet God had made an eternal covenant with them (salt).
- The Feast of Trumpets: It was the beginning of the seventh month and they used trumpets in Israel to gather people to worship, and for war, and sometimes in the wilderness when they had to move on. It was a celebration where it was a time of expressing their joy before God and thanksgiving to God. this first symbolizes the day when the last trumpet shall sound and the Lord will return for His people.
- The Day of Atonement: This was the most important day in the whole year. this was the only day in the year in which the high-priest could enter the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle. He looked forward to this day and would prepare himself for many hours to be ready for it. He wore his white dress only on this day of the year. on the mercy seat, he would offer the blood of the sacrifice upon the altar as an atonement for the sins of the nation of Israel. This feast looked forward to the great day of atonement on Calvary, when our great High Priest offered Himself for our sins.
- The Feast of Tabernacles: This was also called "the feast of booths", when the Israelites lived for seven days in little shelters and reminded themselves of how their forefathers wandered in the wilderness. Thus they expressed their thanksgiving to God for the good houses they lived in now. It may be good for us to live like that for a week every year so that we don't complain about the little problems we have in our good houses! this feast symbolizes the time when the kingdom of God will be on earth with Jesus reigning as King.
The most important of theses seven feasts, for which all the men had to go up to Jerusalem were the feasts of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:16).
Apart from these feasts there were also many other Sabbaths. Every seventh year was to be a sabbath of rest for the land, in which the Israelites were not to sow their fields or prune their vineyards (Leviticus 25:4). The Lord warned them that if they disobeyed this law, he would punish them by allowing enemies to take them away as slaves, so that the land would then enjoy its sabbath rest during those years (Chapter 26:34-35)! The Isrealites disobeyed this commandment of God for 490 years and so God sent them into captivity to Babylon for exactly 70 years so that their lands would have the commanded sabbath rest for 70 years. (II Chronicles 36:20-21)! If we do not take god's Word seriously, we suffer the consequences.
In Chapter 27, instructions are given for those who want tot give a voluntary gift to the Lord, or make a special vow to Him, or dedicate something to the Lord (vs 2). Thus far in Leviticus, the Lord had commanded the Israelites to make specific offerings to Him. Theses were mandatory. But the Lord also gave them the privilege to offer voluntary, freewill offerings to Him, out of gratitude. They could give their house to the Lord (verse 14) or a piece of their ancestral property (vs 16), or a field that they had bought (verse 22), or his animals. If later on, they wanted to redeem any of theses back, the Lord gave instructions as to how this was to be done. They usually had to pay 20% more than its value to get it back (verses 15, 19, 27, 31).
In the last three verses of the book (27:32-34, we read something interesting to deliver the Israelites from covetousness. One tenth of their herds and flocks was to be given to the Lord. They were to let their animals pass under a rod, one by one, before the priest. Every tenth animal was to be given to the Lord. But5 if the tenth animal was a really good, fat one, they were not allowed to exchange it for another sick one!! As they counted the animals one by one, Number Ten was the Lord's good or bad! they were not to be cold and calculating and stingy in their giving to God. They were to be rich towards God and give to Him cheerfully, because the Lord would give back to them much more than He gave them.