Celebrate Bible-Style

1888931_origSeven Feasts

Year-long Celebration

God’s Redemption

One Messiah

 

This is the fourth and last post looking at how God chose to paint a picture of the Messiah through the book of Leviticus. In the three previous posts, I talked about the process of cleansing lepers, the Day of Atonement, and the significance of blood in the Old Testament system. This post will be a little different. In Leviticus, chapter 23 appears an outline of the Biblical feasts. Instead of doing seven separate posts about each one, I’m going to lay out simple historical, prophetic, and spiritual connections to all seven in this one post. For that reason, this post will be quite lengthy but also concise and organized. Let’s begin!

Some of these feasts I’ve already posted about like Tabernacles, TrumpetsPassover and the Day of Atonement. But before I go more into each feast I’d like to make a few statements as to why I believe this is important for all Christians to know. Not only is it my opinion as a follower of Christ, but the Bible itself provides some powerful reasons for studying, understanding, and celebrating the Seven Festivals. Here are twelve of those reasons:

  1.  The Feasts are in the Bible, and all the Bible is inspired by God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  2.  The Feasts are a shadow of things to come that teach us about the Messiah. (Colossians 2:16-17, Hebrews 10:1)
  3. God gave the Feasts so we could learn and understand God’s plan of redemption for the world and our personal relationship to Him. (Romans 15:4)
  4. All of the Festivals are, at the same time, both historical and prophetic, and mean more to Christians than Jews.
  5. All of the Festivals teach about the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
  6. All of the Festivals teach about your personal relationship with God and how you are to walk with Him as you grow in the knowledge of Him, from being a baby believer to a mature believer.
  7. We are “grafted in” as God’s people through Christ, called to follow God’s word. (Romans 11:19)
  8. These are God’s Feasts, not the Jewish feasts. (Leviticus 23:1)
  9. Christ himself celebrated all of them as well as the 1st-century church. (Gospels and Acts)
  10. The feasts bring about knowledge of what God has called His people (not just Jews) to do to celebrate and worship Him.
  11. God’s Holy Feasts can take you deeper in your relationship with God. They have such significant meaning and unlock the meaning of scripture in an incredible way.
  12. God is a “calendaring” God, which is demonstrated by major events in Biblical History occurring on or around Feasts and how they reveal God’s redemptive plan for mankind.

The Festivals of the Lord found in Leviticus, chapter 23, were given to us by God so His people could understand the coming of the Messiah and the role that the Messiah would play in redeeming and restoring both man and the earth back to God following the fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. The Festivals are divided into two major portions, depending upon whether they occur in the spring or the fall.  The Spring Festivals teach about the First Coming of the Messiah, and the Fall Festivals teach about the Second Coming of the Messiah.

The Apostle Paul, in Colossians 2:16-17 refers to the Feasts as a “shadow of things to come.”  The first four Feasts or Festivals, which are Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost, primarily teach about the significant events in the First Coming of the Messiah and why these events were an important part of God’s redemption of man. Pentecost marked the beginning of the Church (body of Christ).

The last three Feasts, which are the Feast of Trumpets, also known as Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths (Sukkot), give us a fascinating insight concerning important events that surround the Second Coming of the Messiah.  God gave the Festivals to teach about the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah, the empowering of the believers by the Holy Spirit, the resurrection of the dead, the coronation of the Messiah, the wedding of the Messiah, the Millennium, and much more.

I want to demonstrate the incredible relevance of these feasts in three ways. First, I’d like to give a simple (and I mean simple) quick reference chart showing the meanings of all seven feasts. Second, I’ll provide some more scripture references for your own personal study if you so wish to join the journey. And third, I’ll break down three Hebrew words connected to the feasts.

Feast Historical meaning Messianic meaning Spiritual meaning
Passover Israel’s deliverance out of Egyptian bondage Death of Christ on the Cross Repent and trust by faith in the shed blood of Jesus. Saved by the blood
Unleavened Bread The going out of Egypt in haste after the tenth plague The burial of Jesus along with our sin Sanctification and separation from evil
First Fruits Crossing the Red Sea The resurrection of Jesus and ascension to heaven Walking in newness of life
Pentecost Giving the Commandments at Mount Sinai (Commissioning Israel) Pouring out of the Holy Spirit and birth of the Church (Commissioning followers of Jesus) Immersion (baptism) in the Holy Spirit and faith in God
Trumpets Jewish New Year The resurrection of the dead and Rapture of the believers Hear the calling of God for our lives just as Jesus’ sheep hear His voice
Day of Atonement The priest entered the Holy of Holies and Cleansing of the people’s sins The day of Christ’s Second Coming Surrendering ourselves to God so that we may live in His Presence
Tabernacle Entering the Promised Land/Great Rejoicing and when Jesus became the tabernacle of God’s fullness here on earth The Messianic Era/Millennium where we will live in the presence of Christ again after He returns A daily and eternal rest in the Messiah.

So that you don’t take my word for anything in the first chart, I’d like to provide you with another chart with scripture references from the Old and New Testaments. Bear in mind that this is not an exhaustive study and there are so many more verses and stories in the Bible that unlock the importance of these feast days. But this will get you started.

Feast Scripture…Old and New Testament
Passover Exodus 12:14, 28-50                                 John 2:23 and 3:1-17

Leviticus 23:4-8                                         Luke 22:7-20

Joshua 5:10-11                                          Mark 14

Ezra 6:14-22                                               Matthew 26

Numbers 9:1-2, 15-23

2 Chronicles 30 and 35

Unleavened Bread Leviticus 23:4-8                                         Romans 6:1-23

Exodus 12, 13, 23:15, 34                         1 Corinthians 5:1-8

Numbers 28:16-18

Deuteronomy 16

 

First Fruit Leviticus 23:9-14                                       1 Corinthians 15

James 1:18

Pentecost Exodus 12:6,12 and 19:1, 11                   Acts 2:1-4

Leviticus 23:15-22                                     1 Corinthians 16:7-8

Acts 20:16

John 14:15-26

Trumpet Leviticus 23:23-25                                     Revelation 8:6-11:19

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

Yom Kippur Leviticus 23:26-32                                     Revelation 17-20

Leviticus 16

Tabernacles Zechariah 14:16                                        Revelation 7:9-10 (Lev 23:40)

Leviticus 23:33-44                                    John 7:2-11

1 King 8:2,65                                             Revelation 20-22

Nehemiah 8:1-3

Ezra 3:1-5

General Bible Verses 1 Kings 19:18                                             Mark 7:6-9

Ezekiel 8:13-14                                         Colossians 2:8

Deuteronomy 12:3-4                               1 Corinthians 10:21

Ezekiel 20:18-21                                       Matthew 5:17, 18

The third and last thing I’d like to give you is a word study. Below are three important Hebrew words and what they say about these Holy Feasts.

 

Translating the word “FEAST” in Leviticus 23

MO’ED

In verse 2, the word for feast is the Hebrew word ‘mo’ed‘- “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, concerning the feasts (mo’ed) of the Lord…” The word ‘mo’ed‘ means an appointment, a fixed time or season, a cycle or year, an assembly, an appointed time, a set time or exact time.  By understanding the Hebrew meaning of the English word “feast”, we can see that God is telling us that He is ordaining a “set time or exact time or an appointed time” when He has an appointment with humanity to fulfill certain events in the redemption.

CHAG

In verse 6 is another Hebrew word translated as “feast”- “And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast (chag) of unleavened bread…”  The Hebrew word ‘chag‘, which means a “festival”, is derived from the Hebrew root word ‘chagag‘, which means to move in a circle, to march in a sacred procession, to celebrate, dance, to hold a solemn feast or holiday.  God gave the Festivals as cycles to be observed yearly so that, by doing them, we can understand God’s redemptive plan for the world, the role that the Messiah would play in that redemption, and our personal relationship to God concerning how we grow from a baby Bible believer to a mature Bible believer.

MIQRA

In Leviticus 23:2 it is written, “…the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations…”  The Hebrew term translated as convocation in Leviticus 23:2,4 is ‘miqra‘, which means “a rehearsal“.  God gave the Festivals to be yearly “rehearsals” of the future events in the redemption.  Because God gave the “rehearsals” to teach us about the major events in the redemption, if we want to understand those events, then we need to understand what God was teaching us by these rehearsals.

God is so awesome to tell us the full story of His redemptive plan! Through the feasts, we get to celebrate grace, redemption, God’s goodness, and the Messiah all year long! What a great New Year’s resolution. To go deeper with Jesus through His feasts.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

 

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Sanctity of Blood

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For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

Leviticus 17:11 (ESV)

Some people get squeamish around blood but its importance cannot be overstated. It is the most vital substance to human life. While most of us go day to day without a thought about the blood in our bodies, it’s working to keep our entire system functioning. Thousands of years before modern science discovered the importance of blood, the Bible clearly outlined just how significant it is. Our blood is the foundation for how every cell in the human body gets the nutrients they need. All the ‘food’ that our cells need to grow, reproduce and repair is transported in the blood. Since our bodies also have multiple sophisticated organs they need the blood to transport and communicate between them.

Our blood provides and regulates the pH levels by supplying oxygen and filtering our CO2 and other wasteful things. It also carries essential vitamins and minerals. In terms of communication between organs, our blood carries regulatory messages through hormones. Blood also plays a major role in protecting our bodies. It is an integral component of the immune system involving antibodies and white blood cells. Our blood is highly sophisticated too. When cut, our blood initiates the clotting process to prevents its own loss. Our blood also tries to fight against internal clotting through thrombosis.

When people read statements like the one in Leviticus 17, they can figuratively scratch their heads out of not understanding the meaning, or they can discount it as gross or even weird. But the truth is, when the Bible speaks of blood, it speaks of life. Blood is powerful, amazing, and should be greatly valued. One of the easiest ways to give life-changing help to others is to donate blood and/or plasma. It is one of the most vital tools our hospitals have to keep people alive. It’s no wonder that God would choose blood as a life-giving source in a spiritual sense.

Leviticus isn’t the first place we see mention of the importance of blood. Back in Genesis chapter nine, following the flood, God told Noah two things about blood. One, don’t eat it, and two, the shedding of someone’s blood requires your blood being shed.

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed for God made man in his own image.”

Genesis 9:3-6 (ESV)

Some will be tempted to jump into a debate over the ‘eye for an eye’ issue and how the death penalty is inhumane. However, this concept is the fundamental reason behind the death penalty both in the Bible and in modern society. God values life, everyone’s life. When life is taken, life is required. No one’s life is more important than another. When man brings death a reckoning for life has to be wrought. Hence, the Levitical system of sacrifice. The blood of animals could never remove the sin from humanity but it could train people in dedication to God and increase awareness of their need for forgiveness. The sacrificial system created a method that would draw people towards God despite their frailty and imperfection. The Levitical system required personal sacrifice towards God. Sin always has a price to pay. Most importantly, the Old Testament system pointed toward the greater work of the Messiah.

Christ’s Passover

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.

Matthew 26:27-28 (ESV)

In churches across America and the world, followers of Jesus take part in communion. This is a brief portion of the greater Passover meal that Jesus celebrated with His disciples the night before His crucifixion. In a previous post, I went in-depth about how relevant that meal is in pointing to Jesus and His mission as the Christ. One of the things Jesus did was to use a cup of wine to symbolize His blood which He would shed for humanity.

Christ’s Ransom

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Mark 10:45 (ESV)

The purpose of the Messiah is to be a ransom. A ransom is a payment for someone held captive. In this sense, those in captivity are humanity. The payment is the blood of Christ.  Our captivity is spiritual death and the blood of Christ gives us life!

Christ’s Justification

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:23-26 (ESV)

To be justified means to be made right. Just like we’ve all tried to justify our actions in defense so that others may view that right. In this case, we needed to be made right with God because our actions can in no way justify us. When standing before a Holy God, nothing we’ve done can make us right or good. That’s where the blood of Jesus comes in. In shedding His blood for us we’ve been given new life, His life.

Christ’s Cleansing Power

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:7 (ESV)

Perhaps one of the most difficult things for me to wrap my brain around is the fact that I’m clean, as in holy and spotless. I make far too many mistakes, say too many things I shouldn’t, and think too many things to be considered ‘clean’. But that’s exactly what the life-giving blood of Jesus does. It doesn’t just bleach our stains, it completely removes them. To be cleansed with His blood is a very odd term for those outside the realm of Christianity. It doesn’t sound appealing at all until you understand the relevance of it. Once you do, there’s nothing greater.

Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!

Eugene Peterson, The Message (Romans 5:9-11)

Don’t forget to sing today brothers and sisters

Cleansing Lepers

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The entire system of Judaism was the gospel veiled.”

Stephen Haskell (The Cross and It’s Shadow)

We’ve moved into the third book of the bible on our journey to see how the entire Old Testament revealed the Messiah. The book of Leviticus is jam-packed with laws and regulations. This leads many people to avoid it all together. I admit, I was one of those people for many years. It wasn’t until I started to spend a lot of time studying the significance of the unfamiliar Old Testament passages that I began to appreciate all the little details.

One of the most incredible images of sin in the bible is seen in the leper. There is something about this disease, and the frequent alluding to it in the bible, that stands out. A leper was often treated with contempt and judgement, especially in the time of Jesus. They were separated from society and considered unclean. Their uncleanness made them social, and quite possibly, spiritual outcasts. Occasionally, people were struck with leprosy due to their rebellion against God. Like in the case of Miriam (Moses’ sister) for her actions against Moses. Or when King Uzziah was got it after doing what he was forbidden to do in the temple. But that is not the main point behind this disease. Many people got it, and many still do today. And it did make people unclean, but in a ceremonial sense, not in a moral sense. However, leprosy is a good outward picture of humanity’s inward sickness.

The nation of Israel had to experience cases of leprosy regularly, which I believe is why God created a method of cleansing them. In Leviticus chapter 14, God lays out specific steps for the leper to go through to be reinstated as ceremonially clean. That’s extremely important so that the individual can return to certain methods of worship that they would have to abstain from while unclean. I would suggest reading through all of Leviticus 14 on your own because I am going to be selecting only about 10 of the verses for this post. The verses I have picked all show some aspect of the Messiah’s purpose (verses 5-14), as well as the impact that He has on His followers’ lives (verses 15-18). Here we go…

#1- Birds and Pots

And the priest shall command them to kill one of the birds in an earthenware vessel over fresh water. (v.5)

The earthenware vessel of this ceremony is a picture of Christ’s dwelling in a human body which would eventually be used in the sacrifice. The bird being slain over flowing water alludes to the Messiah’s ever-flowing and ever-cleansing efficacy of His blood in the redeeming process.

#2- More birds, wood, hyssop, and blood

He shall take the live bird with the cedarwood and the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, and dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. (v.6)

The cedarwood tree represents the cross on which the Messiah hung and a small reed of hyssop supported the sponge that was dipped in vinegar wine and given to Him to quench His thirst as He hung there. The blood and the water were reflected by the blood and water that flowed from the side of Yeshua when the spear was jammed into His side (John 19). The live bird in this scene gained it’s freedom only after it was dipped in the blood of the slain bird. The Messiah, being that slain bird, who’s blood paid for our release.

#3- One last mention of birds

And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed of the leprous disease. Then he shall pronounce him clean and shall let the living bird go into the open field. (v. 7)

Seven is the number of completion in the bible. The blood being sprinkled seven times shows the completeness of the Messiah’s sacrifice in cleansing the leper, the sinner, you and me. We are said to have been sprinkled clean by the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1).

#4- The blood of the Lamb

“And on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish, and a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, and one log of oil.And the priest who cleanses him shall set the man who is to be cleansed and these things before the Lord, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the priest shall take one of the male lambs and offer it for a guilt offering, along with the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before the Lord.And he shall kill the lamb in the place where they kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the place of the sanctuary. For the guilt offering, like the sin offering, belongs to the priest; it is most holy.The priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and the priest shall put it on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. (v.10-14)

A lamb without blemish, just like in the Passover celebration, is the image of the sinless one who was the Messiah. The blood was placed on the ear, thumb, and toe of the leper covering his body to signify he was wholly clean. Once the leper was deemed clean through the process described, he was then anointed for service.

Then the priest shall take some of the log of oil and pour it into the palm of his own left hand and dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand and sprinkle some oil with his finger seven times before the LordAnd some of the oil that remains in his hand the priest shall put on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering.And the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed. Then the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord. (v.15-18)

After the sprinkling of blood, the newly cleansed person’s hands and feet were anointed with oil for service. His head was then anointed with oil which was often used in the method of commissioning people for service (like King David being anointed by Solomon). This is exactly what the effect of the Messiah would have on those who believe in Him. To accept His cleansing sacrifice is to also accept His anointing on our lives.

The leper was cleansed from a loathsome living death. He must have felt so thankful to God for the freedom and healing that he would have consecrated his life to the service of the Lord. His worship would have been amplified. His heart would have been open. No doubt, grace would have filled his life like never before. Another story of leprosy in the bible brings this to life even more.

On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Luke 17:11-19 (ESV)

Jesus cleanses ten lepers but only makes one well. The reaction of the one is the response of the truly humble. All ten received physical healing. The leprosy was gone. But when it says that the one was made well, it uses the same word (sozo in greek) that means saved from perishing. Wow! And the response of the one who was saved was humility, thankfulness, and straight up falling at the feet of Jesus. That was a man who recognized how desperate his situation was and how miraculous his encounter with Jesus was. That reminds me of yet another story in the bible.

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment,and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 7:36-50 (ESV)

Throughout the bible the condition of humanity is made very clear. We are all spiritually dead and separated from God because of our sin. God created a means, a process by which we can be in His presence. All of the old testament ceremonies were foreshadowings of what the Messiah would ultimately do once and for all. The Messiah’s mission was to heal the common leprosy that all of humanity suffers from. Yeshua did that for you and me. And His sacrifice comes with a calling. The oil of anointing is an emblem of the Holy Spirit, which is often symbolized by oil, preparing the follower of Christ for service. The Holy Spirit enables us to live the new life of freedom that Christ’s sacrifice made possible.

Here in a book written 1400 years before the Messiah would make His appearance and give His life to cleanse the world, God was giving us a picture of what to look for. The relationship between sacrifice and service was inextricably linked. To be cleansed means to be called.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

Be at peace my fellow cleansed and called ones!