Chapter 30 - The Feasts of the Lord
The 23d chapter of the Book of Leviticus gives us an account of the "Seven Great Feasts" of the Lord. They were a prophecy and foreshadowing of future events, part of which have been fulfilled, and part are yet to be. They are the "shadow of things to come, " of which Christ is the "body" or substance. Col. 2:16, Col. 2:17. They were "Holy Convocations" of the people. They were instituted by the Lord. The people had no voice in the matter. God promised that if the males went up at the "set time" to Jerusalem to keep these Feasts, He would look after their families. When the people became formal and indifferent, the Lord said, "Your new moons and Your appointed Feasts My soul Hateth; they are a Trouble unto Me; I am weary to bear them." Isa. 1:14. Therefore Jesus called them the "Feasts of the Jews, " rather than the "Feasts of the Lord."
The "Feasts of the Lord" are seven in number. If we include the Sabbath there are eight. But the Sabbath stands by itself. It was to be observed "weekly, " the other Feasts "annually." The Sabbath was to be observed at "home, " the other Feasts at "Jerusalem." The "Seven Feasts" may be divided into two sections of "four" and "three." The first section includes the "Passover, " the Feasts of "Unleavened Bread, " of "First-Fruits" and "Pentecost." Then there was an interval of four months, followed by the Feasts of "Trumpets, " "Day of Atonement, " and "Tabernacles." The "Three Great Festivals" were the "Passover, " "Pentecost, " and "Tabernacles." They extended from the 14th day of the First Month to the 22d day of the Seventh Month.
The First Four Feasts foreshadow truths connected with this present Gospel Dispensation and those who form the "heavenly" people of the Lord, the Church; while the Last Three Feasts foreshadow the blessings in store for God's "earthly" people, the Jews.
1. The Passover Feast.
The Passover Feast had its origin in Egypt. It was the memorial of the redemption and deliverance of the Children of Israel from Egypt. It was to them the "beginning of months, " and their birthday as a Nation. Ex. 12:2. It consisted of the taking of a male lamb, without blemish, of the first year, a lamb for a family and killing it on the 14th day of the month in the evening, and sprinkling its blood, with bunch of hyssop, on the two side posts and upper lintel of the door of their houses, so that when the Lord passed through Egypt that night and saw the blood on the doorposts, He would spare the first born sheltered within. The flesh of the lamb was so roasted and eaten with unleavened broad and bitter herbs, and none of it left until the morning. Those who ate of it were to do so with their loins girded, their shoes on their feet, and their staff in their hand, ready to leave Egypt.
The Passover Feast was to be to them as a "Memorial, " and they were to keep it as a Feast throughout their generations, and as an ordinance Forever. Ex. 12:14.
The Passover Lamb was intended as a "type" of Jesus, the "Lamb of God."
The shedding of His blood on Calvary, and our applying it to our hearts by faith, has the same effect as to our salvation, as the applying of the Passover Lamb's blood to the doorposts of those Egyptian houses had to the safety of those who were sheltered within. As that night was the "beginning of months" to them, so the moment a soul accepts Jesus Christ as its Saviour, that moment it is "born again, " and a new life begins, for Christ Our Passover was sacrificed for us. 1Cor. 5:7.
The first time the Children of Israel observed the Passover Feast it was amid the terrors of God's judgment plagues in the land of Egypt, a type of the world. Thereafter its yearly observance was as a joyful Memorial of their deliverance from Egypt. While they still observe the Passover Feast no "lamb" is slain, and no "blood" used, but when they get back to their own land they will again keep the Passover. The Christian Church does not observe the Passover, but they do observe as a Memorial the ordinance of the Lord's Supper that Christ instituted in its place.
2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the day after the Passover, and continued for seven days. Lev. 23:6-8. The lamb was slain on the 14th day at sunset, which ended the day. The Feast of Unleavened Bread began immediately after sunset, which was the beginning of the 15th day. Thus there was no interval between them. As the Passover is a type of the death of Christ, so the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a type of the "Walk" of the Believer, and there should be no interval between the salvation of a soul and its entrance on a holy life and walk. The "seven days" point to the whole course of the Believer's life after conversion.
Leaven in the Scriptures is a type of evil, so the Feast was to be kept with "unleavened" bread. Ex. 13:7. Paul speaks of "malice" and "wickedness" as leaven. "Purge out therefore the 'old leaven' that ye may be a 'new lump, ' as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the Feast, not with 'old leaven, ' neither with the 'leaven of malice and wickedness, ' but with the 'unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."' 1Cor. 5:7, 1Cor. 5:8.
The-typical teaching then of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is that, having been saved by the shed blood of Christ our Passover, we are to "walk" in newness of life, purging out the leaven of wordliness, and doing no "servile work, " or work that is done to earn salvation.
3. The Feast of First-Fruits.
The Passover- took place on the 14th day of the month, the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the next day, which was the Sabbath, and the following day, which was the "morrow after the Sabbath, " the Feast of First Fruits was to be celebrated. This however could not be done until after the Children of Israel had entered Canaan, therefore the Feast of First Fruits was not observed during the Wilderness Wanderings. The Offering was a sheaf reaped from the waving fields of the ripened harvest, and carried to the priest to be waved before the Lord for acceptance, and was to be followed by a Burnt, Meat and Drink Offering, but no Sin-Offering. The Burnt-Offering was to be a male lamb without blemish of the first year.
The Feast of First-Fruits was a type and foreshadowing of the Resurrection of Christ.
He arose on the "morning after the Sabbath, " and His resurrection is spoken of by Paul, as the "First-Fruits" of the resurrection of the dead. As the "Corn of Wheat" (John 12:24) He was buried in Joseph's Tomb, and His resurrection was the "First-Fruits" of the Harvest of those who will be Christ's at His coming. 1Cor. 15:23.
When the Priest on the day of Christ's resurrection waved the sheaf of "First-Fruits" in the Temple, it was before a "rent veil, " and was but an empty form, for the Substance had come and the shadow had passed away, and the empty tomb -of Joseph proclaimed that the "Great First-Fruits' Sheaf" had been reaped and waved in the Heavenly Temple. There will be no Feast of First Fruits in the Millennium, it has been fulfilled in Christ. 4. The Feast of Pentecost.
Fifty days after the Feast of First-Fruits, the Feast of Pentecost was observed. The space between the two Feasts, which included Seven Sabbaths, was called the "Feast of Weeks." It began with the offering of the First-Fruits of the Barley Harvest, and ended with the ingathering of the Wheat Harvest. The First Day was the Feast of the First-Fruits, the Last Day was the Feast of Pentecost. Only the First and Last day were celebrated.
At the Feast of Pentecost a New Meat Offering was to be offered before the Lord. It was called "new" because it must be of grain from the "new" harvest. At the Feast of First-Fruits "stalks of grain" were to be offered and waved, but at the Feast of Pentecost the grain was to be ground and made into flour, from which two loaves were to be baked with leaven. The "two loaves" represent the two classes of people that were to form the Church, the Jews and Gentiles, and as believers are not perfect, even though saved, that imperfection is represented by the leaven.
A "Burnt Offering" of seven lambs without blemish of the first year, one young bullock, and two rams, was to be offered with the "Wave Loaves, " as was also "Meat" and "Drink" Offerings for a sweet savor unto the Lord. These were to be followed by a "Sin Offering" of a kid of the goats, and two lambs of the first year for a "Peace Offering." The "Wave Loaves" were to be waved before the Lord. Note that it is now "loaves, " not loose stalks of grain. The "loaves" represent the homogeneousness of the Church.
The Feast of Pentecost had its fulfilment on the Day of Pentecost, when the disciples of the Lord were baptized into one body by the Holy Spirit. 1Cor. 12:13.
Between the Feast of Pentecost and the Feast of Trumpets there was an interval of four months during which the Harvest and Vintage were gathered in. There was no convocation of the people during those busy months. This long "Interval" typifies the "Present Dispensation" in which the Holy Spirit is gathering out the elect of the Church, and during which Israel is scattered among the Nations. When the Present Dispensation has run its course, and the "Fulness of the Gentiles" has been gathered in (Rom. 11:25) along with the "remnant according to the election of grace" of Israel (Rom. 11:5), then this "Dispensation of Grace" will end, and the elect of Israel will be gathered back from the four quarters of the earth to keep the Feast of Trumpets at Jerusalem. Matt. 24:31.
5. The Feast of Trumpets.
The Feast of Trumpets, which was observed on the first day of the Seventh month, ushered in the second series of the "set feasts." It fell on a Sabbath day, at the time of the New Moon, and ushered in the Jewish New Year. It was followed by the "Day of Atonement', a on the 10th day of the month, and by the "Feast of Tabernacles" which began on the 15th day of the month, a Sabbath day, and ended on the 22d day of the month, which was also a Sabbath day. It was ushered in with the blowing of Trumpets. During the Wilderness Wandering two silver Trumpets, made of the atonement money of the people, were blown for the "calling of the Assembly, " and for the "journeyings of the Camps." Num. 10:1-3.
The fact that the Feast of Trumpets comes immediately at the close of the "Interval" between the two series of "set feasts" is not without significance. As we have seen the "Interval" represents this "Dispensation of Grace, " and we know that two things are to happen at the close of this Dispensation. First the Church is to be caught out, and secondly Israel is to be gathered back to their own land. When the Church is caught out-"The Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the Trump of God" (1Thes. 4:16), and "We shall not all sleep (die), but we (who are then alive) shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the Last Trump; for the Trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed " 1Cor. 15:51, 1Cor. 15:52.
This "last trump" is not the list of the "Seven Trumpets" that sound in the Book of Revelation, for it does not sound until the "Middle of the Week, " while the Church is caught out "before" the beginning of the "Week." We probably are to understand by the "last trump" the last of the Two Trumpets used by Israel, the first, for the "calling of the Assembly, " will call out the dead in Christ from their graves, and the second or "last, " for the "journeying of the camps, " will be the signal for the upward journey of the risen and transformed saints to meet the Lord in the air.
Then we read in Matt. 24:31, that the Son of Man, when He comes in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory at His Revelation of Himself, shall send His angels with a great sound of a Trumpet, and they shall gather together His "elect" (not of the Church but of Israel) from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." From this we see that the "Feast of Trumpets" has a typical relation to the "catching out" of the Church, and the regathering of Israel at the Second Coming of Christ. This has led some to believe that as Jesus was crucified at the time of the Passover, and the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost, that when He comes back the "Rapture" will take place at the Feast of Tabernacles, and the "Revelation" seven years later at the time of the same Feast. Time alone will reveal the correctness of this view.
6. The Day of Atonement.
The "Day of Atonement" was Israel's annual cleansing from sin. For a full account of the day and its services read Lev. 16:1-3. Its typical meaning was fulfilled in Christ. He is our Great High Priest, who instead of offering a "Sin-Offering" for Himself, offered Himself as a "Sin-Offering" for us. Heb. 9:11-13. But the fact that the "Day of Atonement" is placed between the "Feast of Trumpets, " which we have seen will have its typical fulfillment at the Second Coming of Christ, and the "Feast of Tabernacles, " which is a type of Israel's "Millennial Rest, " implies that it has some typical significance between those two events. It must therefore refer to the time when a "Fountain will be opened to the House of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." Zech. 13:1. That is, there will be a National "Day of Atonement" for Israel after they have been gathered back to their own land unconverted, and shall repent and turn to God. Zech. 12:9-11.
7. The Feast of Tabernacles.
This was the last of the Seven Set Feasts. It was a "Harvest Home" celebration to be observed at the end of the harvest, and was to continue seven days. Deut. 16:13. The people during the Feast were to dwell in booths (arbors) made of the branches of palm trees and willows from the brook, which would remind them of the palm trees of Elim, and the "Willows" of Babylon. Psa. 137:1-3. The Antitype of this Feast has not as yet appeared though Peter anticipated it, when on the Mt. of Transfiguration, he said-"Lord, it is good for us to be here; if thou wilt, let us make here three Tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias." Matt. 17:4. What Peter desired, the dwelling of heavenly with earthly people on the earth, was not possible then, but will come to pass in Millennial Days, when Heaven and Earth shall be in closer union. The Feast of Tabernacles points forward to Israel's "Millennial Rest."
What the "Seventh Day, " or Sabbath, is to the week, a day of rest; so the "Seventh Month" to the other six months of the "Seven Month Cycle, " typifies a period of rest-the "Sabbatic Rest" of the "Millennial Age, " or 1000 years, in relation to the other six thousand years of the world's work day history. Like the Lord's Supper is to us, a "Memorial" pointing back to the "Cross" and forward to the "Coming, " so the "Feast of Tabernacles" will be a "Memorial" to Israel, pointing back to Egypt and forward to Millennial Rest.
While the Feast of Tabernacles began on the Sabbath and continued seven days, it was to be followed by a Sabbath. Lev. 23:39. This Sabbath on the "Eighth Day" points to the New Heaven and Earth that follow the Millennium, and to the "Eighth Dispensation, " the Dispensation of the "Fulness of Times" as shown on the Chart "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth."