feasts of the Lord

JOHNWILLOUGHBY (2)

Rev. John Willoughby

UNDERSTANDING THE FEASTS OF THE LORD.

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

IX. TABERNACLES – THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES.

Tabernacles includes the Feast of Trumpets (‘Rosh HaShanah’), the Day of Atonement (‘Yom Kippur’) and the Feast of Tabernacles (‘Sukkot’).

1. Historical background.

The Feast was called Tabernacles, because the Israelites slept in booths or shelters. It was also called the Feast of Ingathering (Ex 23:16), due to it taking place at the end of the harvest season.

a) Its time. Lev 23:33-36. There were two aspects:

* Seven days. From the 15th to the 21st of the seventh month of Tishri (Sept to Oct).

* Eighth day. On the 22nd of Tishri 

b) Its time in relation to the other two Feasts. The following is a summary:

* The Feast of Trumpets – a day for the blowing of trumpets. On the 1st day of Tishri. (There followed the Ten Days of Repentance.)

* The Day of Atonement – a day of repentance. On the 10th of Tishri.

* The Feast of Tabernacles – eight days of celebration. On the 15th to 22nd of Tishri.

c) Its activities. It was the last of the three major Feasts, at which all males must attend yearly to celebrate (Dt 16:16). There were the:

* First seven days. Num 29:12-16. On the first day (15th), “you shall have a holy convocation” (Sabbath). There were to be various offerings for each day, a burnt offering of “two rams and fourteen lambs in their first year … without blemish”, also young bulls (starting at 13 for the first day and reducing each day to 7 for the 7th day), a sin offering of, “one kid of the goats”, together with their grain offerings.

* Eighth day. Num 29:35-38. It was a Sabbath of rest and rejoicing, with a burnt offering of, “one bull, one ram, seven lambs in their first year without blemish”, grain offerings and “one goat as a sin offering”.

d) Its purpose. Lev 23:40-43. It was a time of great rejoicing, to celebrate the final ingathering of the harvest, which God had blessed the people with for the year. They were to build and then dwell in booths or shelters, in which they were to live during the Feast. This reminded them to:

* Look back. They remembered the time their forefathers (after being led out of Egypt) wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, living in shelters or tabernacles and that this was due to their unbelief and disobedience. Also that during this time, they could rest in God’s provision, as He provided for their every need, eventually bringing them into the land of rest, which He had promised them.

* Look forward. The shelters were loosely constructed, so that they could see through the leaves to heaven. This would remind them that they were pilgrims, passing through this life and that God had an even greater rest for them in the future, when their promised Messiah would come to bring them final deliverance, a hope of their ancestor Abraham who, “waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb 11:10).

2. Special celebration of the Feast under the Old Covenant.

Neh 8:13-18. This took place as a time of great rejoicing in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, after the Temple in Jerusalem had been dedicated and the walls had been completed (Neh 6:15). 

3. Celebration of the Feast at the time of Jesus.

As with the Feasts of Passover and Pentecost, all Jewish males were required to journey to Jerusalem each year for its celebration (Dt 16:16). The fruit of the land had been reaped, so the people could now rest from their labour. Tabernacles was known as, ‘the season of rejoicing’ and was such a joyous occasion that the Jews said that the person who had not been to Jerusalem during this Feast did not know what rejoicing really meant! An additional reason for celebration was that the month of Tishri was and is to this day, the start of the Jewish New Year under the civil calendar and was the beginning of the agricultural season with its early rains. 

4. Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Tabernacles.

As God resided with His people in the Tabernacle in the wilderness, so Jesus took on His earthly body (tabernacle) as a temporary dwelling place (Jn 1:14) to reside with us as, “Immanuel, God with us” (Mt 1:23). There were two Jewish rituals that illustrated its fulfillment through the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ:

a) The pouring of water. Jn 7:37-39. This took place on the 7th day (v37), “the last day” of the Feast (21st of Tishri), which was called in Hebrew ‘Hoshana Rabba’ (‘Day of the Great Hosanna’) and which translates into English as, ‘save now’. On this day the Jews would pray particularly for:

* The coming rain. This was needed in order to soften the ground for plowing, thus they made a special thanksgiving offering to God for the rain, which He was going to send.

* The coming of the Messiah. As part of the ritual of the Feast, a priest would draw water from the Pool of Siloam with a golden pitcher and while doing so would quote Isa 12:3, “Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation”. He would then go to the Temple, where the High Priest would take the pitcher and pour the water mingled with wine into a basin at the foot of the altar. As this was taking place, the priests would blow their trumpets and the Levites and all the people would wave palm branches, while singing Ps 113-118 (the Hallel). This pouring of the water was done in remembrance of the water supplied by God from the rock (Ex 17:6) and which spiritually pointed to Christ, as we read in I Cor 10:4, “they drunk of that spiritual Rock that followed them and that Rock was Christ”. This was the most joyous day of the celebration and the pouring of water was its climax. Jesus was present to keep the Feast, in obedience to the Law and just as the celebration reached its peak at the pouring of the water, He made the bold declaration, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (v37), pointing to Himself as the Messiah, the One who would give them the true water of life. 

b) The lighting of the Temple. Jn 8:2, 12. “Now early in the morning He came again into the Temple” (v2), being the 8th day (22nd of Tishri), which was the Sabbath. At this time tens of thousands crowded into the Temple area, each one carrying a lighted torch, resulting in the entire city of Jerusalem being illuminated for miles. This was to celebrate and to thank God for:

* The sun. The lighted torches represented the sun, plenty of which was needed, in order to have a successful agricultural season, thus they thanked God for this blessing.

* The coming of the Messiah. They acknowledged that God was their true light (Ps 27:1), who would one day give them spiritual sight through the Messiah. It was then that Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (v12).

In both events Jesus pointed to Himself as the One who had come to satisfy their spiritual thirst and to take them out of the darkness of unbelief into His true spiritual light. They rejected Him, because they thirsted after their religious rituals and traditions, rather than thirsting after God. Also because they desired a political Messiah or Deliverer, who would set them free from the bondage of Rome, rather than receiving the light of His conviction, resulting in deliverance from the bondage of sin. The result was that they missed the rest Jesus offered them and continued to be restless wanderers (as were their forefathers) for the coming 1,900 years.

5. Jesus will fulfill the Feast of Tabernacles.

As part of the three Feasts of Tabernacles on every fiftieth year, “you shall cause the trumpet of Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month on the Day of Atonement, you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout your land” (Lev 25:9). During this Year of Jubilee, there was a time of great rejoicing and a time for proclaiming liberty throughout the land – all prisoners were to be set free, property was returned to its original owner and the land rested without being worked. As the Hebrews looked through the leaves of their booths to the stars, it pointed to a future time, when God’s people will be completely set free, the earth will be restored to the godly and there will be rest in the land. There are two aspects of rest, when God will tabernacle in the midst of His people, which are still to be fulfilled:

a) The Millennium Rest. Rev 20:4-6. It represents the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth. (It is interesting that this is the seventh Feast, the seventh dispensation and the seventh thousand years in Biblical history.) As God rested on the seventh day and as we are to rest on the Sabbath (Ex 20:8-11), so too this seventh dispensation shall be a time of rest. Those who have received new resurrection bodies as part of the first resurrection (both Jews and Gentiles) will reign with Christ (v4) and those who comprise the sheep nations, together with those who are born during this time, will be its inhabitants. We read of this time in Zech 14:9, “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth”. The Millennium (Latin ‘milli’ means one thousand and ‘annum’ means year) will be a time of great rejoicing and rest for all people living at that time:

* Satan will be bound. Rev 20:1-3. Together with all his demonic forces of darkness they will be cast, “into the bottomless pit” (v3), so that they will not be able to entice and tempt the world’s inhabitants, nor control the world system, as they used to do.

* The Jews will be blessed. Jer 23:5-8. Israel will rest in peace in the full area promised to them through Abraham, which will extend far beyond its present borders, each tribe having its allotted land (Ez 47:13-48:29). They will also have a new Temple (Zech 6:12-13). We read of that day, “ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you’” (Zech 8:23).

* The Gentiles will be blessed. Isa 2:1-4. It will be a utopia for which man has so desperately strived, but has never achieved – with peace, safety, prosperity and righteousness as their inheritance. We read of this time in Zech 14:16-21, “everyone who is left of the nations (Gentiles) … shall go up from year to year to worship the King (Jesus), the Lord of hosts and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (v16) and those who do not will be punished.

* Jerusalem will be a blessing. Zech 8:3-8. From this ancient city Jesus will rule and all blessings will flow, as we can see from some of the various names given to it: “You shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city” (Isa 1:26), “The city of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel” (Isa 60:14), in Isa 62:4 “you shall be called Hephzibah (‘My Delight is in her’) and your land Beulah” (‘Married’) and in v12 she is called, “Sought Out, a city not forsaken”. In Jer 3:17 we read, “At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord”, in 33:16 “this is the name by which she shall be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNES” and in Ez 48:35 she is named, “THE LORD IS THERE”.

* The Gentiles and the Jews will be tested. Rev 20:7-10. Because of sin still residing in the heart of man, Satan will be released to entice many into a final rebellion against God at the end of this time, in order to test the hearts of those still living in His Kingdom. This rebellion will be speedily overcome, after which will be the Great Judgment (Rev 20:11-15). As wonderful as the Millennium will be, it is still not the final rest that God has planned for us. 

b) The Eternal Rest. Rev 21:1-7, 22-27. We read in Isa 65:17, “behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind”. The old will be destroyed by fire (II Pet 3:7) and the new shall remain forever (Isa 66:22). There will be no need of a temple for worship or the sun and moon to give light for, “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” and “the glory of God illuminated it, the Lamb is its light” (v22-23). We read in Num 29:35 that, as part of the Feast of Tabernacles, there was a special Sabbath on the 8th day (the 22nd), which was a day of great rejoicing and corresponds to the new heavens and earth. This is the final rest for which we are longing, when Satan (together with all demons and fallen angels) have been cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:10), when there will be no temptation to sin throughout creation, His universe and in the hearts of men and when God will come to live amongst His people (Rev 22:1-5). It will return to a time of innocence and rest, when nature will be restored as it was before the fall and when God’s full purposes will be fulfilled in His universe.

6. Personal application.

Mt 11:28-30. This seventh Feast completes the religious season and represents the completed work of God, not only for Israel, but also for Christians – the seventh step to spiritual maturity, a level to which we can all grow. Our bodies are our temporary dwelling places (tabernacles), as we make the journey through this world to our heavenly home (II Pet 1:13-14). Jesus said of Himself, “He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed”, He continues, “to preach the acceptable year of the Lord”, which refers to the Year of Jubilee (Lk 4:18-19). This Jubilee rest is not only for eternity, but is the inheritance of all those who would make Jesus Lord of their lives in this earthly pilgrimage. For those who have come into His light and drunk of His Spirit, we can rejoice that through Christ, there is:

a) A present rest. Heb 3:7-4:10. It was always God’s desire to lead His people Israel into their inheritance, the promised land of rest, but an entire generation did not make it, because of unbelief, disobedience and a hardness of heart towards Him (v7-11, 16-19). How easy it is for Christians to travel a similar path (v12-15). Egypt symbolizes the world system, the promised land symbolizes God’s rest and the wilderness lies in between. When a person accepts Jesus as Saviour, God delivers them out of a type of spiritual Egypt, but Egypt does not always come out of us, at least not for a while and in that time we can wander in a wilderness. Like the Jews, we Christians will not receive His inheritance and enjoy His rest in this lifetime, until we walk with Him in loving trust and obedience, not through our own efforts, but only through relying on His grace. Many never enter the promised land of God’s rest, because they seek the blessings, rather than the One who blesses. As we allow Jesus to be Lord of all and to live His life in us and through us, He becomes our life. We can now simply rest in Him, no matter the circumstances for as Paul wrote, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil 4:11). His rest is the place Christians come to in their walk with God, when they tabernacle in Him and He in them. The full blessings of the Feasts become a reality to us only by the work of the Holy Spirit and are received in an ordered sequence of events, as we receive His truths and put them into operation. We can rejoice in:

* Passover – Jesus died for our sins and we (our old life and self) by faith died in Him.

* Unleavened Bread – Jesus was buried and our old self was by faith buried in Him.

* First Fruits – Jesus was resurrected from the dead and our new spiritual life was by faith resurrected in Him.

* Pentecost – Jesus was glorified, sent the “promise of the Father” and we receive by faith His power through the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

b) A future rest. II Cor 5:1-8. It is interesting that the Jewish month of Tishri, is also the start of the new year in the Jewish civil calendar and thus for Christians can symbolically be taken as the start of something new. One day we must all put off this tent (II Pet 1:14) and “be clothed with our habitation, which is from heaven” (v2), in which we will be able to fully enjoy His blessings. For those who fully tabernacle in Him now, “as sojourners and pilgrims” (I Pet 2:11), His rest will also be their inheritance for the Millennium and for eternity, as the apostle Peter wrote, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (II Pet 3:13). We can rejoice in the sequence of future events.

* Trumpets – Jesus will return for His bride and we who are ready will be caught up to meet Him in the air. Let us watch, with our lamps burning, for His return.

* Day of Atonement – Jesus will be the judge of all who have ever lived and for us (who are His bride), there will be an account of our stewardship (not of our salvation). Let us glorify Christ in all we are and do.

* Tabernacles – Jesus will bring eternal rest for His universe and we will receive and be part of that rest for eternity, all due to His grace and mercy. Let us enter that rest and tabernacle in Him now. 

Rev 22:1-5. We also read of that time in Rev Ch 21: That God will “tabernacle … with men and He will dwell with them” (v3). “There shall be no more death, nor sorrow … nor pain for the former things are passed away” (v4), that those “who overcome shall inherit all things and I will be his God and he shall be My son” (v7). No evil will be permitted (v8) and there will be a glorious New Jerusalem to accommodate all the righteous, who have ever lived (v2, 9-21), “with no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light” (v23). What a future inheritance of rest for the redeemed.

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feasts of the Lord

JOHNWILLOUGHBY (2)

Rev. John Willoughby

UNDERSTANDING THE FEASTS OF THE LORD

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

VIII. TABERNACLES – THE DAY OF ATONEMENT.

Tabernacles includes the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement (‘Yom Kippur’) and the Feast of Tabernacles.

1. Historical background.

a) Its time. Lev 23:26-27. It was held on the 10th day of the 7th month of Tichri (Sept to Oct).

 b) Its activities. Lev 16:1-33. It was an awesome day of fasting and deep repentance, in which God Himself would, “appear in the cloud above the mercy seat” (v2) and anyone who worked or would not repent of their sins would suffer death (Lev 23:29-30). The following were important:

* Only Aaron or the High Priest would take part. Firstly he needed to wash, prepare and then clothe himself with the special clothing (v4). After this he would offer, “the blood of a young bull as a sin offering” (v3) and “sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat … seven times” (v14) to make, “atonement for himself and for his house” (v6).

* Offering of two goats. Both were to be presented, “before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting” (v7). One as a, “sin offering” (v9) and the other, “on which the lot fell … shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement upon it and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness” (v10).

* Offering of incense. The “cloud of incense” was to “cover the mercy seat” (v13).

* Offering of a sacrificial goat. He would sprinkle the blood of the goat on the, “horn of the altar … seven times to cleanse it and consecrate it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel” (v18-19). It was the one day of the year, when the High Priest would go behind the veil into the Holy of Holies with the blood of the sacrifice and sprinkle it on the mercy seat (v15). This offering of the innocent substitutionary sacrifice and the sprinkling of its blood on the mercy seat (under which was the Law), made possible the atonement (‘covering’) for the sins of the nation for a year.

* Release of the scapegoat. Aaron would, “lay both his hands” on its head, confessing “over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel and all their transgressions … putting them on the head of the goat and shall send it away into the wilderness” (v21). “The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land” (v22).

* The carcasses of the bull and goat. They were to be, “carried outside the camp. And they shall burn” them with fire (v27).

* Day of repentance and rest. It was to be “a sabbath of solemn rest” (v31), when they were to “afflict” their souls, “do no work at all”, whether Jew or “a stranger who dwells among you” (v29). “For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord” (v30).

c) The reading of the Law. Dt 31:9-13. This would take place on this Feast day every seven years (Sabbatical Year), as well as on the Year of Jubilee (Lev 25:9).

d) Its purpose. Num 29:7. It was a time of fasting, great soul affliction, godly sorrow, repentance, confession of sins and of mourning before God with a broken spirit and a contrite heart, in order that God would atone for all confessed sin of individuals and the nation. (There were, however, some sins which were so bad that they could not be atoned for, as by law the guilty person, when judged guilty was stoned to death.)

2. Celebration of the Feast at the time of Jesus.

Lev 16:34. It was to be, “an everlasting statute” for the children of Israel.

a) Ten days of repentance. During the 10 days, between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement, the people prepared themselves spiritually. (These came to be known as the ‘Awesome Days’ or the ‘Ten Days of Repentance’.) They would perform many good deeds and greeted each other with the phrase, ‘may your name be inscribed in the Book of Life’. 

b) A special day of repentance. At that time and today, Yom Kippur is observed by all Jewish adults (except the sick) as a day of complete fasting (without water) and deep repentance for personal and community sins, but at the same time as a day of hope and renewal. When the High Priest was in the Most Holy Place in the very presence of God, the people waited with mounting tension for his reappearance, with a dreadful fear that his prolonged absence in that place could signify that God had not forgiven His people and had slain the High Priest. When he at last appeared, they sighed with relief that their sins were atoned for. This day (on which God judged the sins of the entire nation) became known as the ‘Day of Judgment’. The Jews thought that the future final Judgment and accounting of the soul would come on this day and the future of every individual would be sealed and the gates of heaven would be closed to those who had not repented.

3. Jesus has fulfilled the Day of Atonement.

In spite of this day, which is dedicated to atonement, there is a longing and a hope of complete forgiveness, but no real assurance of sins forgiven in Judaism. However, He came to be the:

a) Great High Priest. Heb 9:11-15, 24-28. The High Priest entered the Holy of Holies once a year to present the blood as an atonement for the sins of the people, but Jesus as our “Mediator” (v15) and “High Priest … with His own blood … entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (v11-12), thus fulfilling the spiritual aspects of the Day of Atonement. We also read in Hebrews, “this Man after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. … For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (10:12-14). For those who believe in Christ and repent, it is not just a covering of sins for a period of one year, but a complete forgiveness of all sins for now and eternity, as we read in Ps 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us”. Under the Law, some sins were so heinous that they were not forgiven and resulted in stoning to death, but under grace all sins can be forgiven. Jesus was buried in a garden near Golgotha (Jn 19:41), which was outside the city walls, to fulfill Lev 16:27 where the sacrificial carcase of the goat was, “carried outside the camp”. Under the Old Covenant, the Israelites watched intensely for the reappearance of their High Priest, after he had entered the sanctuary to make atonement. Likewise believers, knowing that our High Priest has entered the heavenly sanctuary as our Advocate, wait with earnest hope for His reappearing. 

b) Scapegoat. Jn 19:17-20. This goat is a picture of Christ, as He took our sins upon Himself and became sin in our place, being led outside the city, “to a place called … Golgotha” (v17). The Apostle Paul wrote, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor 5:21).

4. Jesus will fulfill the Day of Atonement.

This Feast (Yom Kippur) also points to the future, when the atonement of Jesus Christ will be effective for the repentant, but also there will be a judgment for those who have chosen not to repent. We see this in the following events:

a) The Judgment Seat of Christ. II Cor 5:9-10. For those who believe that His blood cleanses from all sin, there is no judgment for past sins, but there will be rewards for how we as His stewards have used our finances, time and gifts here on earth. This is often referred to as the ‘bema seat Judgment’, which derives its name from the seat or throne on which the Roman Emperor would sit, when distributing rewards to returning legions, after a successful military campaign. Referring to this Paul wrote, “judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts and then each one’s praise will come from God” (I Cor 4:5). The Apostle John wrote, “little children, abide in Him, that when He appears we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (I Jn 2:28). Some of the rewards will be: mansions (Jn 14:2-3), glorious resurrection bodies (I Cor 15:41-44), responsibilities (Mt 25:21), heavenly treasures (Lk 12:33-34) and crowns (I Cor 9:24-27). At the Ithmian Games (second in importance to the Olympics) held every three years at Corinth, competitors trained for ten months for a crown made of leaves, however, for the Christian there will be “imperishable” crowns. However, Jesus did give us a warning, “Behold I come quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown” (Rev 3:11). 

We read in Rev 4:10, “the twenty four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever and cast their crowns before the throne”. All a Christian is able to do in this life is simply by and through His grace. Let all glory go to Him!

b) The judgment of the Nations. Mt 25:31-46. We read of similar future judgments of the living unrighteous at His return in the Parables of the Tares and the Dragnet (Mt 13:36-43, 47-52). In Ps 96:13 it was prophesied, “for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness and the people with His truth”. Jesus said of His return, “then all the tribes of the earth will mourn and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Mt 24:30). We read in Mal 3:2, “who can endure the day of His coming and who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like a fullers’ soap”. He will defeat all opposition (Rev 19:11-21) and will be received by the remnant of Israel as their Messiah (Zech 12:10). After this He will judge the nations, as to how they have treated Israel and the sick and the poor of those who have believed in Him during the Great Tribulation. Those who are worthy will enter His reign in the Millennium, but of those found unworthy He says, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (v41).

c) The Great Judgment. Rev 20:11-15. Jesus Christ, the One who was tempted on all points, but who never sinned, will be the Judge on this day (Jn 5:22). He said, “that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned” (Mt 12:36-37) and in Heb 4:13 we read, “there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account”. Those who have lived since Adam and have not received forgiveness of their sins will be judged, “according to their works” (v12). Those, “not found written in the Book of Life” will be “cast into the lake of fire” (v15), but we can assume from these verses that those who have been atoned for by the blood of Christ (including all those who have lived during the Millennium), whose names are written in the Book of Life, will enter eternity with Him. Referring to this time, we read in Dan 12:2, “many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt”. It is interesting that in this verse the same Hebrew word (‘olam’) is used in both cases for everlasting contempt” and everlasting life”. As heaven is an everlasting reality with a resurrected body, so is hell. We read in Lev 23:29, that the unrepentant were not atoned for on the Day of Atonement and as a result they, “shall be cut off from His people”. Being “cut off” or separated from God for eternity is mentioned many times in Scripture. Some of the words used for this separation are:

* Hell, “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mk 9:44). Charles Spurgeon said, ‘There is a real fire in hell, as truly as you now have a real body – a fire exactly like that which we have on earth in everything except this, that it will not consume though it will torture you’.

* The lake of fire, where the “smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever and they have no rest day or night” (Rev 14:11).

* Outer darkness where, “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 25:30).

5. Personal application.

Rev 22:12-17. Those who believe in Christ have been forgiven and made clean once and for all by His blood, not only for now, but also for eternity (Feast of Passover). We not only look for His return (Feast of Trumpets), but we also prepare ourselves for that time, when we will stand before Him to give an account of our stewardship. Paul wrote to the believers at Thessalonica, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He continues, “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (I Thess 5:23-24). As we die to our old nature and trust in Him for His grace, so He “will do it”! Therefore, in order to be pleasing to Him when, “each of us shall give account of himself” (Rom 14:12), we should endeavour to fulfill the following:

a) Our foundation is in Christ. I Cor 3:11-17. Paul wrote, “Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone in whom the whole building being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for an habitation of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2:20-22). How important that the spiritual foundations of our lives are in Christ and that all materials used to build our lives are by His grace and to His glory, that we may be found, “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor 1:8). 

b) Our first love is Christ. Mt 22:35-40. The word used for “love” (v37, 39) means a ‘sacrificial love’ (Greek ‘agapao’). A test of our love for Jesus is that we are obedient to Him (Jn 14:15). To love Jesus before all, means to die to our desires and to put Him first, by receiving Him as Lord in every area of our lives. A bride is in love with and longs to please her bridegroom at all times, so the true church (the bride of Christ) longs to be pleasing to her heavenly Bridegroom in every way and to stand before Him without regrets on that day. Let us not be like the unwise virgins, who let their lamps nearly go out, just before the return of the bridegroom (Mt 25:1-13).

c) Our walk is in Christ. Col 2:6-7. As we believe that our old self died in Jesus Christ, so we also believe that we rose in Him in His new resurrection life (Rom 6:3-5). John wrote, “little children abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (I Jn 2:28). Our lives are hidden in Christ, to give Him glory by walking:

* In the Spirit. Gal 5:16, 24-25. Without the Holy Spirit’s presence the Christian life is impossible, but when we are born again of the Spirit, He lives in us to enable us to please Him by dying to, “the flesh with its passions and desires” (v24).

* In faith. II Cor 5:7. Only through the trials of life will our faith and obedience be tested, that we may come through as fine gold.

* In wisdom. Col 4:5-6. How we need to hear that still small voice guiding us, that we may always be pleasing to Him by our words and and actions.

* In love. Eph 5:1-2. The second most important commandment is to love our neighbour as ourselves (Mt 22:39). The Bible says that without love we, “have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (I Cor 13:1) – making a lot of noise, but with little real effect.

* In the light. I Jn 1:5-7. How important it is to please Him by walking in righteousness for, “there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret, but that it should come to light” (Mk 4:22).

* In truth. III Jn 3-4. Jesus is the Truth (Jn 14:6) and as His disciples, we need to walk in Him.

* In obedience. I Jn 2:4-6. The last commandment Jesus gave before His ascension was the Great Commission for His church to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mk 16:15).

plant

 

feasts of the Lord

JOHNWILLOUGHBY (2)

Rev. John Willoughby

UNDERSTANDING THE FEASTS OF THE LORD

 

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

VII. TABERNACLES – THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS.

Tabernacles includes the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.

1. Historical background.

a) Its time. Lev 23:23-25. The Feast of Trumpets (‘Rosh HaShanah’) was celebrated on the 1st day of the 7th month of Tishri (Sept to Oct), which was a Sabbath.

b) Its activities. Num 29:1-5. By this time all the crops had been harvested and the people were called to, “do no customary work” (v1) and to celebrate by:

* The blowing of trumpets (v1). Originally two silver trumpets were blown. The Hebrews always blew trumpets on the 1st day of each month, so that everyone would know that the new month had arrived (Num 10:10). However, on the day of the Feast of Trumpets, they blew them extra long, extra loud and all day.

* The offering of sacrifices (v2-5). The commandment was, a burnt offering of “One young bull, one ram and seven lambs in their first year, without blemish”, a grain offering and “also one kid of the goats as a sin offering, to make atonement for you”.

c) Its purpose. It was to be, “a sabbath rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation” (Lev 23:24). God wanted His covenant people to rest after the harvest and to prepare them for the 10 days of repentance before the Day of Atonement.

2. Use of trumpets under the Old Covenant.

Num 10:1-10. There were a number of reasons trumpets were sounded, some of which were:

* To gather the people – “for calling the congregation and for directing the movement of the camps” (v2). One trumpet was used to call the leaders and two trumpets for all the people (v3-4).

* To sound an order of advance – “they shall sound the call for them to begin their journey” (v5-6). At the time of Moses, it was to break camp and to move on.

* To call to warfare – “you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets” (v9). Joshua was commanded by God to instruct the priests to blow the trumpets, as they marched around the city of Jericho and on the seventh time the walls fell down, giving them a great victory (Josh Ch 6). Gideon used the sound of the trumpets to gain a great victory over the Midianites (Judges 7:16-23).

* To proclaim their act of worship – “in your appointed feasts and at the beginning of your months … over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifice of your peace offerings” (v10). We read in I Chron 16:6, “the priests regularly blew the trumpets before the ark of the covenant of God” and in Ps 150:3, “Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet”.

3. Celebration of the Feast at the time of Jesus.

a) Its importance. The 7th month was important, because it was the last month in the religious season and a time when God would complete His dealings with His people for that year, thus it was the last time they were required to visit Jerusalem, until the following year at Passover. It was also the first month of the Jewish New Year – on the civil calendar.

b) The trumpets. The two silver trumpets (Num 10:2) were by the time of Jesus replaced by the ram’s horn (‘shofar’), in remembrance of the ram that was sacrificed in place of Isaac (Gen 22:13). There were and continue to this day three ways of sounding the ram’s horn:

* The first – ‘tekiah’, which means ‘blast’. It is a long, clear note, calling people to pay attention.

* The second – ‘shevarim’, which means ‘broken’. It is three short notes, blown together and must be equal to the time taken to sound the ‘tekiah’.

* The third – ‘teruah’, which means ‘alarm’. It is a rapid series of very short blasts numbering at least nine, whose duration should also equal the ‘tekiah’.

c) The sacrificial ram. Gen 22:1-18. On the day of the Feast of Trumpets and during the following 10 days of repentance, they would remember the obedience of Abraham in being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac and the mercy of God in supplying a ram in his place.

4. The church age.

Jn 1:11-12. God chose the Jews as a nation, but they rejected their promised Messiah.

a) The dry months. Lk 21:24. The Feasts symbolized major encounters between God and His covenant people, but there was a long period in the Jewish calendar, when there were no Feasts – between the Feasts of Pentecost and Trumpets (in the summer months of Tammuz, Ab and Elul). During this time God was very graphically showing His people that there would be a long period of time in the future, when He would not make Himself known to them on a national basis, in the way He had in the past. These three dry summer months, correspond to the church period, which started nearly two thousand years ago and began with the Feast of Passover, then the Feast of Pentecost and will continue up to the future prophetic complete fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets. During this time He has still been saving individual Jews, but His favour and attention has been directed towards the Gentiles, fulfilling the original Abrahamic covenant that through him, “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:2-3).

b) The two silver trumpets. Lev 23:22. It is interesting that He revealed His plan for the Gentiles, by strategically placing a comment between the last verse of instruction on the Feast of Pentecost and the first verse of instruction on the Feast of Trumpets. The key word in this verse is “stranger”, which refers to the Gentiles. God instructed His people to make two silver trumpets to sound, “as an ordinance forever throughout your generations” (Num 10:2, 8). In the Bible silver is symbolic of redemption. After Jesus was rejected by those He came to bless, the spiritual kingdom was then offered to the Gentiles, the“stranger”. Today every Jew or Gentile (the two trumpets) who believe in Christ and are redeemed by His blood become part of that kingdom, which is His church.

5. Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Trumpets.

Lk 2:8-14. Jesus is the, “Good tidings of great joy” (v10). He came to His people as their Messiah, born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2), of the seed of Abraham (Mt 1:2), of the line of David (Isa 11:1), who would come to rule the nations (Isa 9:6-7), but who would first die as the Saviour of all who would believe (Isa 53:7-9). This proclamation “of great joy” (as of a trumpet) was given by, “a multitude of the heavenly host” (v13). As the Sinless One who became the sacrifice for sin, He fulfilled the purpose of His Father, who gave Him as the sacrifice, fulfilling what Abraham was held back from doing in sacrificing his son Isaac.

6. Jesus will fulfill the Feast of Trumpets.

a) He is returning for His church with a trumpet blast. I Thess 4:16. One use of the trumpet was to call the people to break camp and to move on (Num 10:5-6). This finds its fulfillment in the rapture of the church. As was the custom for the Jewish bridegroom (after completing their future dwelling and at the command of his father), to return with great joy, shouting and the sound of the ram’s horn in order to collect his betrothed, together with a great company of friends. In like manner Jesus will return in a group (of the redeemed), with a shout and the blowing of the trumpet (‘shofar’)

b) He will deal with the rebellious through the trumpet judgments. Rev 1:10-13. Referring to the time after the churches John wrote, “After these things I looked and behold a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me saying, ‘Come up here and I will show you things, which must take place after this’” (Rev 4:1). Surely this voice, “like a trumpet” must refer to Christ (v10). He will deal with:

* Israel. Joel 2:1-2, 10-11, 30-32. The use of trumpets to sound an alarm for warfare found its fulfillment in the establishment of the nation of Israel (Josh Ch 6), in her re-establishment (Isa 27:12-13) and also in His future dealings with His people at the end of this dispensation (v1). In v15 we read, “Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly”. These Scriptures speak a warning to Israel of coming judgment on the earth and to prepare themselves for “the Day of the Lord” (v1) and their coming Messiah.

* The Gentile nations. Rev 8:7-9:21. The inhabitants of the earth will rise up under the leadership of the Antichrist who, “shall speak pompous words against the Most High” and “shall persecute the saints of the Most High” (Dan 7:25), during the last three and a half years of this dispensation. We read the words of the prophet Isaiah concerning these future terrible judgments of God on the rebellious, “Behold the Lord makes the earth empty and makes it waste, distorts its surface and scatters abroad its inhabitants. … The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away. The haughty people of the earth languish. The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants”. He then gives the reason for this judgment, “Because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth and those who dwell in it are desolate.” (24:1, 4-6). Many, however, will be saved (both Jew and Gentile) during this time of Great Tribulation (Rev 7:9-14).

c) He will return to rule with the sound of the trumpet. Rev 11:15-19. The ultimate fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets is the second coming of Christ to reign (Rev 19:11-16), which will be announced with trumpets (v15). We read in Zeph 1:16 that it will be, “A day of trumpet and alarm” and in Rev 19:17-21 as a time to make war, to conquer all His enemies and to rule with a rod of iron a kingdom, which will never end. Jesus spoke of this time, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days … the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn and they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet and they will gather together His elect … from the one end of heaven to the other” (Mt 24:29-31). He will come not as the Lamb, but as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah to rule, not only as King of the Jews, but also as King of Kings and Lord of Lords of all who dwell on the earth. One of the prophetic significances of the Feast of Trumpets is that it represents the end of the age and the return of Jesus, as God’s final encounter with the Jewish people. He will once again offer the physical, literal kingdom to the Jews as a nation, but this time they will receive Him as their Messiah and King and both Jew and Gentile will be united under His rule.

7. Personal application.

Phil 3:13-14, 20-21. The Feast of Tabernacles represents the third major encounter the believer can have with God and the Feast of Trumpets the 5th step in our Christian walk. The four Feasts comprising Passover and Pentecost have been fulfilled, with the three Feasts of Tabernacles awaiting their fulfillment. Because the trumpet blast has been sounded for Israel (Isa 27:12-13) – she has been restored to her land, became a nation once again in 1948 and has regained her capital city (Jerusalem) in 1967, we can know that the church period is coming to a close. God is preparing the Jewish people for the return of their Messiah and also His Son’s people for the coming of their Bridegroom. His return for His bride is certain and can happen at any time (Mt 24:44). We read in I Thess 4:16, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God.” And in I Cor 15:51-52, “Behold I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed”. At this time, “we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them (the dead in Christ) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (I Thess 4:17). This word “caught up” (Greek ‘harpazo’) means to ‘snatch’ or ‘take something away by seizing it suddenly’. In the light of this, Jesus instructs us:

a) To watch. Mt 24:36-44. He encourages those who love Him to be vigilant at all times, looking outwards at the signs in the world and inwards at our own lives. Paul writes, “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night … But you brethren are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (I Thess 5:2-6). Concerning His return, the following are some of the important signs the Bible gives for us to continue to watch: The re-emergence of the nation of Israel (Mt 24:32-35), an increase in knowledge (Dan 12:4), of wars, earthquakes, famines, diseases and signs in the heavens (Lk 21:9-11), of persecution against Christians (Lk 21:12-19), of fear of future events in men’s hearts (Lk 21:25-28), in the means of control (Rev 13:16-17), in immorality, adultery, fornication and homosexuality (Lk 17:26-36), in the backsliding of believers (Mt 24:12), of ungodliness and rebellion of children against their parents (II Tim 3:1-5), of false christs and prophets (Mt 24:24). Also the emergence of the Antichrist and his kingdom (Dan 7:23-28) and the rise of an apostate church (Rev 17:1-6), but a promise that the gospel, “will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations and then the end will come” (Mt 24:14).

b) To be faithful in works. Mt 24:45-51. We read, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (I Cor 4:2). Faithfulness is expected of us and will be rewarded on His return, with responsibilities in His new Kingdom (Mt 25:14-30).

c) To be prepared. Rev 19:7-9. We read in Eph 5:25-27, “Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish”. As He is preparing His bride for His return, so the bride must also prepare herself (v7). We see a warning given by Jesus in the parable of the 10 virgins, that half chose to be ready and half chose to be unprepared (Mt 25:1-13). We also read in the letter to the church at Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22), which many believe to be representative of the last day church, that some can sink into lukewarmness and receive a terrible condemnation from the Lord of the church. How we need to heed today His voice and the message He gave to the seven churches, which came to the Apostle John as, “a loud voice, as of a trumpet” (Rev 1:10). Under the Old Covenant the trumpet call was to Israel, now it is to the church. He is calling us to spiritual warfare, sacrifice, worship and to make Him first in our lives not only as Saviour, but also as Lord. Jesus spoke to us the following words of warning, “Watch therefore and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk 21:36).

Jn 11:25-26. If we are those who have died, He has promised that we “shall live” (v25), but if we are alive at that time we “shall never die” (v26), but at the sound of the trumpet we shall be caught up to meet Him in the air. What a promise! What a hope! In Heb 9:28 we read, “To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin for salvation.” The Bridegroom’s last words in the Bible are, “Surely I am coming quickly” and the last words of the bride are, “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20).

RIVER

 

 

feasts of the Lord

JOHNWILLOUGHBY (2)

 

Rev. John Willoughby

UNDERSTANDING THE FEASTS OF THE LORD

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

VII. TABERNACLES – THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS.

Tabernacles includes the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.

1. Historical background

a) Its time. Lev 23:23-25. The Feast of Trumpets (‘Rosh HaShanah’) was celebrated on the 1st day of the 7th month of Tishri (Sept to Oct), which was a Sabbath.

b) Its activities. Num 29:1-5. By this time all the crops had been harvested and the people were called to, “do no customary work” (v1) and to celebrate by:

* The blowing of trumpets (v1). Originally two silver trumpets were blown. The Hebrews always blew trumpets on the 1st day of each month, so that everyone would know that the new month had arrived (Num 10:10). However, on the day of the Feast of Trumpets, they blew them extra long, extra loud and all day.

* The offering of sacrifices (v2-5). The commandment was, a burnt offering of “One young bull, one ram and seven lambs in their first year, without blemish”, a grain offering and “also one kid of the goats as a sin offering, to make atonement for you”.

 

c) Its purpose. It was to be, “a sabbath rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation” (Lev 23:24). God wanted His covenant people to rest after the harvest and to prepare them for the 10 days of repentance before the Day of Atonement.

2. Use of trumpets under the Old Covenant

Num 10:1-10. There were a number of reasons trumpets were sounded, some of which were:

* To gather the people – “for calling the congregation and for directing the movement of the camps” (v2). One trumpet was used to call the leaders and two trumpets for all the people (v3-4).

* To sound an order of advance – “they shall sound the call for them to begin their journey” (v5-6). At the time of Moses, it was to break camp and to move on.

* To call to warfare – “you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets” (v9). Joshua was commanded by God to instruct the priests to blow the trumpets, as they marched around the city of Jericho and on the seventh time the walls fell down, giving them a great victory (Josh Ch 6). Gideon used the sound of the trumpets to gain a great victory over the Midianites (Judges 7:16-23).

* To proclaim their act of worship – “in your appointed feasts and at the beginning of your months … over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifice of your peace offerings” (v10). We read in I Chron 16:6, “the priests regularly blew the trumpets before the ark of the covenant of God” and in Ps 150:3, “Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet”.

3. Celebration of the Feast at the time of Jesus

a) Its importance. The 7th month was important, because it was the last month in the religious season and a time when God would complete His dealings with His people for that year, thus it was the last time they were required to visit Jerusalem, until the following year at Passover. It was also the first month of the Jewish New Year – on the civil calendar.

b) The trumpets. The two silver trumpets (Num 10:2) were by the time of Jesus replaced by the ram’s horn (‘shofar’), in remembrance of the ram that was sacrificed in place of Isaac (Gen 22:13). There were and continue to this day three ways of sounding the ram’s horn:

* The first – ‘tekiah’, which means ‘blast’. It is a long, clear note, calling people to pay attention.

* The second – ‘shevarim’, which means ‘broken’. It is three short notes, blown together and must be equal to the time taken to sound the ‘tekiah’.

* The third – ‘teruah’, which means ‘alarm’. It is a rapid series of very short blasts numbering at least nine, whose duration should also equal the ‘tekiah’.

c) The sacrificial ram. Gen 22:1-18. On the day of the Feast of Trumpets and during the following 10 days of repentance, they would remember the obedience of Abraham in being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac and the mercy of God in supplying a ram in his place.

4. The church age

Jn 1:11-12. God chose the Jews as a nation, but they rejected their promised Messiah.

a) The dry months. Lk 21:24. The Feasts symbolized major encounters between God and His covenant people, but there was a long period in the Jewish calendar, when there were no Feasts – between the Feasts of Pentecost and Trumpets (in the summer months of Tammuz, Ab and Elul). During this time God was very graphically showing His people that there would be a long period of time in the future, when He would not make Himself known to them on a national basis, in the way He had in the past. These three dry summer months, correspond to the church period, which started nearly two thousand years ago and began with the Feast of Passover, then the Feast of Pentecost and will continue up to the future prophetic complete fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets. During this time He has still been saving individual Jews, but His favour and attention has been directed towards the Gentiles, fulfilling the original Abrahamic covenant that through him, “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:2-3).

b) The two silver trumpets. Lev 23:22. It is interesting that He revealed His plan for the Gentiles, by strategically placing a comment between the last verse of instruction on the Feast of Pentecost and the first verse of instruction on the Feast of Trumpets. The key word in this verse is “stranger”, which refers to the Gentiles. God instructed His people to make two silver trumpets to sound, “as an ordinance forever throughout your generations” (Num 10:2, 8). In the Bible silver is symbolic of redemption. After Jesus was rejected by those He came to bless, the spiritual kingdom was then offered to the Gentiles, the“stranger”. Today every Jew or Gentile (the two trumpets) who believe in Christ and are redeemed by His blood become part of that kingdom, which is His church.

5. Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Trumpets

Lk 2:8-14. Jesus is the, “Good tidings of great joy” (v10). He came to His people as their Messiah, born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2), of the seed of Abraham (Mt 1:2), of the line of David (Isa 11:1), who would come to rule the nations (Isa 9:6-7), but who would first die as the Saviour of all who would believe (Isa 53:7-9). This proclamation “of great joy” (as of a trumpet) was given by, “a multitude of the heavenly host” (v13). As the Sinless One who became the sacrifice for sin, He fulfilled the purpose of His Father, who gave Him as the sacrifice, fulfilling what Abraham was held back from doing in sacrificing his son Isaac.

6. Jesus will fulfill the Feast of Trumpets

a) He is returning for His church with a trumpet blast. I Thess 4:16. One use of the trumpet was to call the people to break camp and to move on (Num 10:5-6). This finds its fulfillment in the rapture of the church. As was the custom for the Jewish bridegroom (after completing their future dwelling and at the command of his father), to return with great joy, shouting and the sound of the ram’s horn in order to collect his betrothed, together with a great company of friends. In like manner Jesus will return in a group (of the redeemed), with a shout and the blowing of the trumpet (‘shofar’).

b) He will deal with the rebellious through the trumpet judgments. Rev 1:10-13. Referring to the time after the churches John wrote, “After these things I looked and behold a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me saying, ‘Come up here and I will show you things, which must take place after this’” (Rev 4:1). Surely this voice, “like a trumpet” must refer to Christ (v10). He will deal with:

* Israel. Joel 2:1-2, 10-11, 30-32. The use of trumpets to sound an alarm for warfare found its fulfillment in the establishment of the nation of Israel (Josh Ch 6), in her re-establishment (Isa 27:12-13) and also in His future dealings with His people at the end of this dispensation (v1). In v15 we read, “Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly”. These Scriptures speak a warning to Israel of coming judgment on the earth and to prepare themselves for “the Day of the Lord” (v1) and their coming Messiah.

* The Gentile nations. Rev 8:7-9:21. The inhabitants of the earth will rise up under the leadership of the Antichrist who, “shall speak pompous words against the Most High” and “shall persecute the saints of the Most High” (Dan 7:25), during the last three and a half years of this dispensation. We read the words of the prophet Isaiah concerning these future terrible judgments of God on the rebellious, “Behold the Lord makes the earth empty and makes it waste, distorts its surface and scatters abroad its inhabitants. … The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away. The haughty people of the earth languish. The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants”. He then gives the reason for this judgment, “Because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth and those who dwell in it are desolate.” (24:1, 4-6). Many, however, will be saved (both Jew and Gentile) during this time of Great Tribulation (Rev 7:9-14).

c) He will return to rule with the sound of the trumpet. Rev 11:15-19. The ultimate fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets is the second coming of Christ to reign (Rev 19:11-16), which will be announced with trumpets (v15). We read in Zeph 1:16 that it will be, “A day of trumpet and alarm” and in Rev 19:17-21 as a time to make war, to conquer all His enemies and to rule with a rod of iron a kingdom, which will never end. Jesus spoke of this time, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days … the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn and they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet and they will gather together His elect … from the one end of heaven to the other” (Mt 24:29-31). He will come not as the Lamb, but as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah to rule, not only as King of the Jews, but also as King of Kings and Lord of Lords of all who dwell on the earth. One of the prophetic significances of the Feast of Trumpets is that it represents the end of the age and the return of Jesus, as God’s final encounter with the Jewish people. He will once again offer the physical, literal kingdom to the Jews as a nation, but this time they will receive Him as their Messiah and King and both Jew and Gentile will be united under His rule.

7. Personal application

Phil 3:13-14, 20-21. The Feast of Tabernacles represents the third major encounter the believer can have with God and the Feast of Trumpets the 5th step in our Christian walk. The four Feasts comprising Passover and Pentecost have been fulfilled, with the three Feasts of Tabernacles awaiting their fulfillment. Because the trumpet blast has been sounded for Israel (Isa 27:12-13) – she has been restored to her land, became a nation once again in 1948 and has regained her capital city (Jerusalem) in 1967, we can know that the church period is coming to a close. God is preparing the Jewish people for the return of their Messiah and also His Son’s people for the coming of their Bridegroom. His return for His bride is certain and can happen at any time (Mt 24:44). We read in I Thess 4:16, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God.” And in I Cor 15:51-52, “Behold I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed”. At this time, “we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them (the dead in Christ) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (I Thess 4:17). This word “caught up” (Greek ‘harpazo’) means to ‘snatch’ or ‘take something away by seizing it suddenly’. In the light of this, Jesus instructs us:

a) To watch. Mt 24:36-44. He encourages those who love Him to be vigilant at all times, looking outwards at the signs in the world and inwards at our own lives. Paul writes, “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night … But you brethren are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (I Thess 5:2-6). Concerning His return, the following are some of the important signs the Bible gives for us to continue to watch: The re-emergence of the nation of Israel (Mt 24:32-35), an increase in knowledge (Dan 12:4), of wars, earthquakes, famines, diseases and signs in the heavens (Lk 21:9-11), of persecution against Christians (Lk 21:12-19), of fear of future events in men’s hearts (Lk 21:25-28), in the means of control (Rev 13:16-17), in immorality, adultery, fornication and homosexuality (Lk 17:26-36), in the backsliding of believers (Mt 24:12), of ungodliness and rebellion of children against their parents (II Tim 3:1-5), of false christs and prophets (Mt 24:24). Also the emergence of the Antichrist and his kingdom (Dan 7:23-28) and the rise of an apostate church (Rev 17:1-6), but a promise that the gospel, “will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations and then the end will come” (Mt 24:14).

b) To be faithful in works. Mt 24:45-51. We read, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (I Cor 4:2). Faithfulness is expected of us and will be rewarded on His return, with responsibilities in His new Kingdom (Mt 25:14-30).

c) To be prepared. Rev 19:7-9. We read in Eph 5:25-27, “Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish”. As He is preparing His bride for His return, so the bride must also prepare herself (v7). We see a warning given by Jesus in the parable of the 10 virgins, that half chose to be ready and half chose to be unprepared (Mt 25:1-13). We also read in the letter to the church at Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22), which many believe to be representative of the last day church, that some can sink into lukewarmness and receive a terrible condemnation from the Lord of the church. How we need to heed today His voice and the message He gave to the seven churches, which came to the Apostle John as, “a loud voice, as of a trumpet” (Rev 1:10). Under the Old Covenant the trumpet call was to Israel, now it is to the church. He is calling us to spiritual warfare, sacrifice, worship and to make Him first in our lives not only as Saviour, but also as Lord. Jesus spoke to us the following words of warning, “Watch therefore and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk 21:36).

Jn 11:25-26. If we are those who have died, He has promised that we “shall live” (v25), but if we are alive at that time we “shall never die” (v26), but at the sound of the trumpet we shall be caught up to meet Him in the air. What a promise! What a hope! In Heb 9:28 we read, “To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin for salvation.” The Bridegroom’s last words in the Bible are, “Surely I am coming quickly” and the last words of the bride are, “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20).

cycalmen

 

feasts

JOHNWILLOUGHBY (2)

 

Rev. John Willoughby

UNDERSTANDING THE FEASTS OF THE LORD

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

VI. THE FEAST OF PENTECOST.

It is also referred to as the Feast of Weeks (Ex 34:22), the Feast of Harvest (Ex 23:16) and only later was it known as the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). The word Pentecost means 50 and was taken from Lev 23:16-17, “Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath”.

1. Historical background

a) Its time. Lev 23:15-16. The Feast of Passover marked the beginning of the barley harvest, while the Feast of Pentecost was celebrated in the summer at the completion of the wheat harvest. This harvest festival was celebrated on the 6th of the Jewish month of Sivan (May to June), 50 days after the Feast of First Fruits.

b) Its activities. Lev 23:17-20. These consisted of:

* A firstfruit offering (v17). This was the presentation to the Lord of two loaves of baked bread with leaven which, “are the firstfruits to the Lord”. They were made of fine flower (from the first grain of the harvest) that had been carefully sifted, to separate the coarse matter from the wheat.

* A sacrifice (v18-19). As a burnt offering “seven lambs … without blemish, one young bull and two rams”, as a sin offering “one kid of the goats”, as a peace offering “two male lambs”, together with grain and drink offerings.

* A wave offering (v20). The priest was to take the peace offering and “the bread of the firstfruits” and wave them before the Lord.

c) Its purpose. Dt 16:12. It was a day of thanksgiving, when they “shall do no customary work” (Num 28:26). It expressed the Hebrew people’s complete dependance on God for His power in their deliverance from Egypt, for the harvest and their daily bread.

2. Celebration of the Feast at the time of Jesus

Lev 23:21. Since the word ‘Pentecost’ in Greek means 50, it derives its name from the 50 days interval between the Feast of First Fruits and the Feast of Weeks or Harvest. Later when the Jews were dispersed among the nations, the Feast of Weeks (‘Shavuot’) lost its significance as a harvest festival and was celebrated as a memorial to the time when God gave them the Law at Mt Sinai. It became known as ‘The Feast of the Giving of the Law’, which the Jewish rabbis traditionally believed also took place on the 6th of Sivan. It is interesting to note that at Mt Sinai 3,000 souls died (Ex 32:28) and at Pentecost 3,000 souls were saved (Acts 2:41).

3. Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Pentecost

For fifteen hundred years the Jews had been celebrating this Feast, which would be fulfilled by the coming Messiah:

a) He is the baptizer in the Holy Spirit. Jn 1:29-34. John the Baptist introduced Jesus as, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Passover) and as, “He who baptizes in the Holy Spirit” (Pentecost). So important are these words of John, that they are repeated in each of the other Gospels (Mt 3:11. Mk 1:8. Lk 3:16).

b) He was glorified. Acts 2:32-36. Forty days after His resurrection (Feast of First Fruits), He ascended to the Father and was exalted to sit at His right hand (Heb 1:3), from where ten days later He sent the Holy Spirit upon His disciples on the Day of Pentecost. He fulfilled the Feast as the glorified Lord, “being exalted to the right hand of God and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (v33).

c) He sent the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:1-4. As there was such joy in heaven over the victory and exaltation of Christ we read in Acts 2:33, “He poured out this which you now see and hear” on His disciples. This promise of the Father was fulfilled when, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (v4). It took place on the very day that the Jews were offering the two wave loaves to God. These two loaves were “the firstfruits to the Lord” and were “baked with leaven” (Lev 23:17), which speaks of sin and represented Jews and later Gentiles, both of whom have the leaven of sin in their lives. Those 3,000 Jews saved on that day (v41) represented the first harvest, after the 120 disciples had been filled with the Holy Spirit (v4).

4. Jesus empowered the Early Church

Mt 3:16-17. Even though He was God incarnate and was conceived of the Holy Spirit, He submitted Himself to receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit, before beginning His ministry of preaching, healing the sick, casting out demons and overcoming Satan. On the evening that He was resurrected and after presenting His blood to the Father, He appeared to His disciples and breathed the Holy Spirit into them (Jn 20:19-22). This was their spiritual rebirth, which established their new position as believers in Him (Rom 8:9-10). However, they needed a greater infilling:

a) The early church was empowered. Acts 1:4-8. The same ministry that Jesus undertook, He gave His disciples to continue in His Name, with the same empowering of the Spirit. It was not the three and a half years of teaching and discipleship nor His resurrection which empowered them, because even after Jesus appeared and “breathed on them” the indwelling Holy Spirit (Jn 20:22), He still told them to wait, “in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Lk 24:49). Rather it was that, “you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (v5) – the coming major encounter with God, when they would receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. This great blessing transformed Peter from being a timid coward, hiding behind closed doors, to the man who stood with the other disciples before the great crowd and boldly proclaimed the exalted Christ (Acts 2:14-39). When they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they received power to be witnesses to Christ and as a result this little band of ordinary men and women turned their world upside down.

b) The early church continued to move in power. Acts 4:31. After the “three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41), they continued to move in the power of God, with the result that, “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). Later those who believed “came to be about five thousand” (Acts 4:4), but the number of believers continued to increase, whether Jew or Gentile (Acts 10:45), as His disciples spread the Good News from Jerusalem to, “all Judea and Samaria” and then “to the end of the world” (Acts 1:8). The Feast of Pentecost continued to be celebrated by the early church and is mentioned twice in relation to the Apostle Paul (Acts 20:16, I Cor 16:8).

5. Personal application

Acts 19:1-6. Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Passover as the Lamb of God, who died on the cross for our sins, the Feast of Unleavened Bread by His burial and the Feast of First Fruits by his resurrection. These represent the first major encounters with God, when we receive peace through the forgiveness of sins and the victory to overcome through appropriating His death, burial and resurrection in our own lives. Pentecost represents the next major encounter, when we receive the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses for Him, to move by faith in His gifts and to overcome the evil one. The following are important aspects for us, concerning the Feast of Pentecost:

a) Jesus continues to endue with power today. I Cor 4:20. Somebody wrote, ‘A Christian who neglects the Holy Spirit is like a lamp that’s not plugged in’. God wants us to know Jesus not only as the crucified Lamb of God, who died for our sins, but also as the glorified Lord, who baptizes us in the Holy Spirit. When He ascended to the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit upon His followers of every generation, so that they would be able to fulfill the Great Commission and even do greater (more extensive) works than He (Jn 14:12). When He walked the earth, His ministry was limited to His human body, now He ministers through His church, His body on earth. We need His power:

* To witness. Mk 16:15-18. In order to fulfill this call concerning the Great Commission, we must submit and humble ourselves to receive that greater anointing and power, which comes through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). As the early church was emboldened and empowered, after receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, so can we, if we humbly ask Him for this gift.

* To be used in the gifts. I Cor 12:7-11. These nine gifts can be divided into three categories – gifts of power (Faith, Healings and Miracles), gifts of revelation (Words of Wisdom and Knowledge and Discernment of spirits) and gifts of utterance (Prophecy, Speaking in tongues and Interpretation of tongues). Each of these are so important as a means of blessing others and are available, as the Spirit wills, in all the different situations we might find ourselves (v11). The gifts of utterance are often used in a church setting to encourage the body of Christ. The gifts of revelation for counselling and sometimes together with the gifts of power, for the casting out of demons. The gifts of power are also often used as signs to the unconverted and in pointing people to Christ. The more we are willing to be used in these gifts, so the stronger they will become and the more others will be blessed and His Kingdom established in people’s hearts.

* To have victory over Satan. Eph 6:12 .1:15-23. God has defeated Satan through Christ, so we do not have to defeat him ourselves, but rather to stand in the victory that has already been won for us (Col 1:13-14). In Col 2:15 we read, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” and in Eph 2:6, He “raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Chris Jesus”. Once we experience the reality of the Feast of Pentecost and are filled with the Spirit, we will experience spiritual warfare, for the closer we draw to God and begin to walk in His power, the greater will the spiritual battle become, for we become a threat to Satan and as a result he will do all he can to defeat us. The attacks will come in our minds, our bodies, through circumstances and the world system. Jesus said, “in Me you will have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” and “the ruler of this world is judged” (Jn 16:33, 11). James wrote, firstly “submit to God”, then “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jms 4:7).

b) Jesus sanctifies today. Mt 3:11-12. When Moses received the Law on Mt Sinai, there was fire on the mountain and, “the Lord spoke … out of the midst of the fire (Dt 4:11-12). The Law gave direction to His people to be separate from all other nations and to be a holy people, serving only their God. John the Baptist said of Jesus,“He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire(Lk 3:16). We read of the outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 2:3, “there appeared to them divided tongues of fire and one sat upon each of them”. In Heb 10:16 we read, “I will put My laws into their hearts and in their minds I will write them”. The Holy Spirit is HOLY, bringing light and conviction of hidden sin into His people’s hearts and for those who repent, burning up “the chaff with unquenchable fire (v12). He desires a separated people who, “persue … holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).

c) Jesus wishes that all be baptized in the Holy Spirit today. Lk 11:9-13. The baptism in the Holy Spirit will not only empower, equip and sanctify us, but will also open the door to a deeper walk with Him. The words of Peter on the Day of Pentecost have encouraged Christians down through the centuries, “you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-39). Luke encourages us with the words of Jesus in v13, “how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” and in v9-10, “I say to you, ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives and he who seeks finds and to him who knocks it will be opened” (v9-10). Jesus gives a promise to us – as we continue by faith to ask, seek and knock, we shall receive.

scenic 7

 

 

 

 

feasts of the Lord

JOHNWILLOUGHBY (2)

 

Rev. John Willoughby

UNDERSTANDING THE FEASTS OF THE LORD

 (All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

 V. PASSOVER – THE FEAST OF FIRST FRUITS

Passover includes the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits.

1. Historical background

a) Its time. The following is a summary of the events in relation to Passover:

* The Feast of Passover – sacrifice of the lamb, on the 14th of Nisan.

* The Feast of Unleavened Bread – removal of leaven, on the 15th to the 21st of Nisan.

* The Feast of First Fruits – presenting sheaves of grain, on the 16th of Nisan.

b) Its activities. Lev 23:9-14. The following would take place:

* Sheaf of grain (v10-11). They would “bring a sheaf of the firstfruits” of the barley harvest and take it to the priest, who would present it to the Lord, by waving it back and forth, “on the day after the Sabbath” (Sunday).

* Offerings to the Lord (v12-14). At the same time there was: The burnt offering, “A male lamb of the first year without blemish” (v12), the grain offering, “fine flour mixed with oil” and the drink offering. They were not to eat bread or grain until all had been completed.

c) Its purpose. The offering was consecrated to God and represented the whole harvest. It reminded them that God had given them the land, they were simply stewards of the harvest, which rightly belonged to Him and to put Him first in all things.

2. Celebration of the Feast at the time of Jesus

The Lord spoke through Moses, “it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings” (Lev 23:14).

3. Jesus fulfilled the Feast of First Fruits

Ex 22:29. The firstborn of the sons born to an Israelite were dedicated to God. Also when the time for harvest had come, the farmer would go into the field and inspect the firstfruits of the crop, presenting the first of the firstfruits as an offering, as a result the rest of the harvest would be accepted and a blessing was promised (Prov 3:9-10). God our heavenly Father accepted His only begotten Son as the firstfruits from the dead. He fulfilled the Feast by:

a) His resurrection. Mt 28:1-8. In Ps 16:10 we read of Christ, “You will not leave My soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption”. He talked to and walked with His disciples, eat fish and honey and was touched by them, yet His was a supernatural body (Lk 24:1-49). Bishop Lesley Newtigon wrote of this mighty event, ‘The resurrection was not the reversal of a defeat, rather it was the manifestation of a victory’. He fulfilled the Feast of Passover through His death, the Feast of Unleavened Bread by His burial and the Feast of First Fruits by His resurrection.

b) Being the wave offering. Col 1:18. In fulfillment of this Feast He was resurrected as the, “sheaf of the firstfruits” (Lev 23:10) on the 16th of Nisan (Sunday), the exact day that the barley sheaves were being waved before the Lord. He then entered heaven and presented Himself before the Father, as the first of the firstfruits to rise from the dead. He was the beginning of the harvest of those who would never die, those who have been set apart for God for eternity through Himself.

4. Celebration of the Feast by Jews today

This great Feast has been celebrated down through the centuries and remains a major event in any Jewish household. Amongst other aspects of the Feast, three pieces of unleavened bread (‘matzos’) are covered with a napkin. Early in the meal the father of the house takes the middle one, breaks it and after pronouncing a benediction, distributes half among the members of the family, while the second half is hidden and then brought forth at the end of the meal. For Christians this is symbolic of the second in the Trinity (without the leaven of sin), being broken on the cross, hidden in the grave and then raised in resurrection glory.

5. Personal application

Jms 1:18. In the Bible, Egypt symbolizes the world system, which is evil, sinful and contrary to the Word of God. Their covenant with God through circumcision meant that the Hebrew people could be delivered and live differently. Under the new covenant Christians, who are circumcised in heart, have been delivered through Christ from the world system and are also called to live a life separated from the attitudes and ways of the world – in the world, but not of it. The Feast of First Fruits teaches us about different aspects of this new resurrection life:

a) A change – spiritual resurrection in Christ. Rom 6:5-11. We are saved through Christ’s death (Passover), our old person was buried in Him (Unleavened Bread) and we, who are dead in our sins, are raised by faith in Him (First Fruits). We read in v5, “For if we have been united together in likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection”. Peter wrote, “according to His abundant mercy (He) has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven” (I Pet 1:3-4). We express this inward change of death, burial and resurrection to others through water baptism.

b) A lifestyle – new resurrection life in Christ. Eph 4:20-24. Our lives are changed, as Paul expressed in II Cor 5:17, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new”. A. W. Tozer wrote, ‘God offers life, but not an improved life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross’. The spiritual meaning behind these three Feasts represent the work of God in us, that enables us to be conformed into the likeness of Christ and to live a holy and separate life (II Cor 3:18). By His grace we put on the new man, by dying to the old self and allowing the Holy Spirit to live His resurrection life in us and through us, for as we walk daily in the Spirit, the character of Christ will be the dominant force in our lives. Paul wrote, “the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20). As with the Israelites, we too can look upon ourselves as simply stewards of any fruit, which may result from our new resurrection life, giving all glory to Him for His work for us and in us.

c) A future – resurrection at Christ’s return. I Cor 15:15-23. All those who are in Christ, “shall be made alive (resurrected), but each one in his own order” (v22-23):

* “Christ the firstfruits” (23). Jesus has become the, “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (v20).

* The Old Testament saints. Soon after His resurrection, “the graves were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (Mt 27:52-53.

* “Afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (v23). We look forward to that wonderful event, when He will return, together with “the dead in Christ” (Thess 4:17).

5. Easter today

In the early years the church rightly celebrated the Feast (according to the Jewish lunar calendar) at the time of the Feast of Passover. However, at the Council of Trent (AD 325), the church departed from its Hebrew routs and changed the dates. The word Easter is derived from ‘Eastre’ (the name of the Anglo Saxon pagan goddess of Spring), whose festival was called ‘Eastre’ and came at the spring equinox. The church also allowed the incorporation of the pagan fertility symbol of coloured Easter eggs and added the custom of hot cross buns (made with yeast), to be eaten on Good Friday, which was contrary to the laws concerning the lack of leaven in the bread (‘matza’), eaten at the Feast of Unleavened Bread. However, for Christians today the Festival of Easter reminds us of the three Jewish Feasts, which were completely fulfilled by the Messiah, our risen Lord.

sparrowhawk

 

 

feasts of the Lord

JOHNWILLOUGHBY (2)

 

Rev. John Willoughby

UNDERSTANDING THE FEASTS OF THE LORD

 (All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

 IV. PASSOVER – THE FEAST OF UNLEAVEND BREAD

Passover includes the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits.

1. Historical background.

a) Its time. Lev 23:4-8. It was celebrated the day after Passover and lasted for 7 days (v6) from the 15th to
the 21st in the Hebrew month of Nisan (March to April).

b) Its activities. Num 28:16-25. On the first and the seventh days there was to be, “a holy convocation (gathering) when, “you shall do no customary work” (v18, 25). For each of the seven days (v24) there was to be a burnt offering of, “two young bulls, one ram and seven lambs in their first year … without blemish” (v19) and “one goat as a sin offering to make atonement for you” (v22), together with grain offerings (v20-21).

c) Its bread. Ex 12:15-20. Leaven was symbolic of the Jewish old way of life in Egypt, under the bondage of Pharaoh and the Egyptian system, thus unleavened bread was to be eaten at the Feast of Passover on the 14th and for the next 7 days until the 21st (v18). When God brought His people out of Egypt, it was in great haste, but before the Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread could be celebrated, all the leaven was to be removed from their houses and “whosoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel” (v15).

d) Its purpose. Ex 13:3, 8-10. The purpose of the Feast was to remind His people through Moses that He had brought them out of the bondage (leaven) and suffering of Egypt under Pharoah, to be a separate people unto Himself.

2. Celebration of the Feast at the time of Jesus

Dt 16:3-4. The removal of all leaven from their houses entailed a great deal of work, for all had to be thoroughly washed, scrubbed and cleaned – the walls, ceilings, floors, cooking utensils, furniture etc. Once this was accomplished, the family would participate in a ceremony called, ‘search for the leaven’. After dark the head of the house would take a lighted lamp and diligently search through every part of the house, looking for any that was hidden. If he found any, it was immediately removed. Many modern Jewish families participate today in a similar way in ‘search for the leaven’, but instead of using a lamp they would use a candle or a torch.

3. Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Unleavened Bread

a) He is the Bread of Life. Jn 6:32-35, 48-51. He fulfilled the Feast as the bread of life from heaven, who had no leaven (sin) in Him (I Jn 3:5). Jesus also pointed to Himself as its fulfillment, the very same week it was being celebrated in Jerusalem (Jn 6:4). Many Jews had come to celebrate and a huge crowd of about 5,000 men (together with women and children) followed Him, but having no food, He fed them with 5 barley loaves and two fish (v5-13). The next morning He spoke to them about Himself being, “the bread of life” and that he who comes to Him, “shall never hunger” (v35).

b) He celebrated the Feast. Lk 22:14-20. Looking towards His death at Passover (v15), “He took bread, gave thanks and broke it and gave it to them saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (v19).

c) He was buried. Mk 14:1-9. Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Passover through His death and the Feast of Unleavened Bread by His burial. The wonderful act of this woman, who broke the flask of “very costly oil of spikenard … and poured it on His head” (v3), was commended by Jesus with His words, “she came beforehand to anoint My body for burial, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” (v9). Two days later (v1) Jesus was crucified (14th of Nisan) and His body was taken from the cross before 6 o’clock that evening, which would begin the start of the next day. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus prepared His body for burial and placed Him in Joseph’s tomb, in time for Him to be buried on the 15th, which was the 1st day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Jn 19:38-42).

4. Personal application

The Feast of Passover is the first step in our walk with God and relates to our justification. The Feast of Unleavened Bread symbolizes our next step and relates to our sanctification. He is not only interested in our position (Passover), He is also interested in our condition (Unleavened Bread). Beginning at new birth, He wants to change our life and transform us into the moral image and character of His Son.

a) Christ was buried. I Cor 5:6-8. He who knew no sin, became sin (leaven) for us and paid the full penalty of our sins on the cross, by taking them upon Himself. He then took our leaven of sin with Him into the grave and remained there for three days, during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

b) We were buried in Christ. Rom 6:1-7. Paul wrote that we are to, “put of … the old man which grows corrupt” (Eph 4:22). Passover reminds us of our death in Christ (v3) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds us of our old life being buried in Christ (v4). The bondage of our Egypt – our worldly attitudes, oppression, sorrow and suffering that was all part of our old life, by faith went with Him into the grave. We are to put off the old leaven of sin that was crucified and buried with Him and as a result, the power of sin over us is broken, releasing God to now work His changes in us through His resurrection life (the Feast of Firstfruits).

flowers 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

feasts of the Lord

JOHNWILLOUGHBY (2)

 

Rev. John Willoughby

UNDERSTANDING THE FEASTS OF THE LORD

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

III. PASSOVER – THE FEAST OF PASSOVER

Passover (Pasach) includes the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits.

1. Historical background.

a) Its time. Lev 23:5. It took place in the spring, on the 14th day of the 1st month of Nisan (March to April), during the barley harvest.

b) Its activities. Ex 12:1-7. The following were important, concerning the sacrifice:

* It was tested (v3-6). They were to select a lamb (of sheep or goats) for each household. Starting on the 10th day of the month, they were to observe it for 5 days (until the 14th), to make sure that it was, “without blemish”.

* It was sacrificed (v6). At about 3 o’clock in the afternoon (at “twilight”), on the 14th day of Nisan (the 5th day), they were to kill the lamb on the doorstep of the entrance to their house. As the head of the house killed it, he would catch the blood in a basin at the foot of the doorstep.

* Its blood was sprinkled (v7, 22). At this time (on the afternoon of the 14th ), he would then sprinkle the blood of the lamb on the floor, above and on both sides on the outside of the door with a branch of hyssop, thus the entire entrance to the house was covered by the blood. The family then entered their house through the blood stained door, to prepare and eat the meal.

c) Its meal. Ex 12:8-11, 43-48. Only the Jewish circumcised males could take part (v48). They killed the lambs at “twilight” or 3pm (v6), in order to cook and eat the meal by 6pm, when a new Hebrew day would commence. In preparing the meal not one bone was to be broken and it was to be roasted and completely consumed, with nothing left over for the next day (v46). In order to make certain that none of its bones were broken, it must be placed on a spit, shaped like a crossbar, so that its body could be spread on it. It was to be eaten, “with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover” (v11). Along with the lamb the family ate bitter herbs, to remind them of the bitterness of their bondage in Egypt and unleavened bread (v8) to remind them that they had to flee in haste.

d) Its sign of protection. Ex 12:12-13, 23, 29. As they eat their meal, the angel of death moved through the land of Egypt. As he went from door to door, he passed over those houses with the blood on the lintels, which formed a seal of protection for those inside. He would only enter those, which did not have the blood painted on the outside and as a result their firstborn would die.

e) Its purpose. It was to remind them that the blood of the lamb made atonement for their sins and was God’s way of saving His covenant people and giving them peace in the midst of great opposition in their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt.

2. Celebration of the Feast under the Old Covenant

There were three important celebrations of the Feast of Passover, all taking place after renewal of the covenant and dedication of the Temple:

* In the reign of King Hezekiah. II Chron 30:1-27.

* In the reign of King Josiah. II Chron 35:1-19.

* Under the leadership of Ezra. Ezra 6:19-22.

3. Celebration of the Feast at the time of Jesus

Ex 12:14, 24-27. At the Feast of Passover, all Jewish males were required to journey to the Temple at Jerusalem for a special encounter and visitation by God. The following aspects were important:

a) Jesus kept the Passover. Lk 2:41-50. We read in v41, “His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of Passover”. It was on one of these visits, that at the age of 12 He was eventually found by them in the Temple, in discussion with the teachers of the Law. In reply to His mother’s anxious inquiry He replied, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business” (v49). Perhaps we can sense the significance of these, His first recorded words in the Bible and can compare them with His last words on earth (uttered also at the time of the Passover), “It is finished” (Jn 19:30). He continued to, “be about His Father’s business” and at the end finished all the work, which His Father gave Him to do (Jn 17:4).

b) It was a time to remember. Dt 16:1-2, 5-7. This continued to be a special celebration for the Jews in remembrance of their deliverance from Egypt, but instead of at their private dwellings, it would be celebrated, “in the place where the Lord chooses to put His Name” (v2), which would be the Temple at Jerusalem. They continued in the Law of Moses:

* The lambs were tested for 5 days. At the time of Jesus, it had become more difficult for folk living in outlying areas to bring a lamb to the Temple, so the priests bred them specifically for that purpose and sold them to those attending the Feast. They could then buy a lamb that had been closely inspected, “without spot or blemish”, infact one that had been born to die at Passover.

* A blood sacrifice. At about 3pm, on the 14th day of Nisan (the 5th day), they were to kill the lambs. After the Temple was built, instead of killing the lamb at their own door post, they would take it to the Temple to kill it or they would purchase one at the Temple (which was specifically bred for that purpose) and sacrifice it there.

* A remembrance. As they eat their meal, they would remember back to the time when they were in Egypt, when the angel of death moved through the land, passing over those with the blood on the lintels of the doors, but destroying the firstborn of those without the covering of the blood.

c) A time of celebration. The Passover was a time of great joy, praise and adoration in worship to God. As they sacrificed at the Temple, the Levites would lead the people in singing the Psalms of David, in particular Psalms 113-118. This was accompanied with many musical instruments and as their worship reached its peak, those present lifted their voices in one accord and sang, “This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps 118:24). Most Jewish families continue to celebrate Passover today, with a special meal called the ‘seder’ (meaning ‘order’).

4. Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Passover

Isa 53:4-7. For over 1,500 years the Jews celebrated the Feast, however, the blood of an animal could only cover their sins, it could not take themaway. God raised up prophets to explain that one day in the future a human Lamb would come, who wold deal with the problem of sin and death once and for all. The last of these prophets was John the Baptist, who pointing to Jesus proclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). Because of their religious sacrifices, the Jews would know the significance of John’s statement.

a) Jesus the Lamb of God prepared. He was set aside to be sacrificed, examined and crucified on the exact month, day and hour that the Jews had been handling the lambs for centuries in keeping the Feast.

* He was prepared. Heb 5:7-9. He is, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8). For this purpose Jesus was born, His entire life being predestined to fulfill this purpose, exactly as God had instructed. As the time approached for Him to die, He deliberately arranged His personal activities around the events associated with the selection, testing and death of the Passover lamb. In this way the Jewish people would be able to understand who He was and what He was doing.

* He entered Jerusalem. Jn 12:1, 12-16. “Six days before the Passover” (14th day of Nisan) would mean that He came to Bethany on the 9th, which was the Sabbath (Saturday). It was the following day (v12), the 10th day of Nisan, on the exact date that God told the Jews to set aside their lambs back in Egypt, that Jesus entered Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, fulfilling the 400 year old prophecy of Zechariah, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey” (9:9) and was greeted by cheering crowds, “who cried out Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! The King of Israel” (v13). (This day is historically referred to as Palm Sunday.)

* He was tested. Mt 21:23. This testing by the religious leaders took place from the 10th to 14th, during the 5 days the Jews were checking their lambs for sacrifice. The Pharisees questioned His authority and asked Him trick questions before and during His trial to try to make Him stumble (Mt 22:17). He always responded perfectly and as a result they could not find anything wrong with Him. Even Pilate said, “I find no fault in Him” (Jn 19:4). The perfect Lamb of God was to the end, “tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15).

* He celebrated the Feast. Mk 14:12-17. Jesus pointed to Himself as the Passover Lamb with His words, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many” (24).

* He rejoiced. Mt 26:30. Just before His great struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane, He joined with the other disciples in singing the Hallel in which were the words, “the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Ps 118:22-23). In His mouth these words are very significant, for He Himself was “the stone which the builders rejected”, but after the victory of the cross and resurrection He would became, “the chief cornerstone” of His Kingdom.

b) Jesus the Lamb of God was sacrificed. Mk 15:33-37. He knew that He would be crucified, as we read in Mt 26:2, “You know that after two days is the Passover and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified”. It is interesting that Josephus wrote that there were about 256,500 lambs killed at Jerusalem at the Passover that year. They would have started to prepare them for sacrifice at the 3rd hour (9am), killing them at the 9th hour (3pm), so that the Passover could be completed before the 12th hour (6pm), which would begin a new day. At the 3rd hour (9am), that exact hour when they were preparing their lambs for sacrifice, Jesus was nailed to the cross (Mk 15:25) and He remained there for 6 hours (until the 9th hour), fulfilling the words of the prophet Isaiah, “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (53:7). As the people were praising God and slaughtering the lambs at the 9th hour, the crucified Lamb of God, “cried out with a loud voice, ‘Father into Your hands I commend My spirit’. And having said this he breathed His last” (Mt 23:44-46). They took His body down from the cross before the 12th hour (6pm), on the 14th Nisan (Friday), so that He might, “not remain on the cross on the Sabbath” (Jn 19:31).

c) Jesus’ bones were not broken. Jn 19:31-37. The spits on which the lambs were spread and roasted were shaped like a crossbar (a cross), so that no bones would be broken. To fulfill Scripture (Ex 12:46), the Roman soldiers did not need to break His legs to cause death, for He was already dead.

5. Personal application

The Feast of Passover stands as our first major encounter with God:

a) Sin causes separation. Rom 5:12. The Bible says in Romans, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23), thus the result of sin is both spiritual and later physical death, with eternal separation from God. We suffer the consequences of Adam’s disobedience by natural descent and are blessed by the consequence of Christ’s obedience by receiving in faith.

b) Christ died for us. I Pet 1:18-19. (The word “redeemed” means ‘bought back’.) We were once God’s by creation, but became lost through sin, but the blood of Christ is the price God paid for purchasing us back (redemption). We read in II Cor 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”. As with the Jews, we too can be set free from Egypt (which speaks of sin or separation) for as Paul wrote, “Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us” (I Cor 5:7). When we acknowledge our sinful state and repent, His blood is applied to the doorposts of our hearts, thus death cannot enter for, “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin” (I Jn 1:7), with the result that we have, “passed from death into life” (Jn 5:24). Paul wrote, “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” and “much more then having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Rom 5:1, 9). Justification is a judicial act of God and means that He imputes or credits the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ to our spiritual bank account, giving us His peace.

c) The Last Passover meal. At the time of the Last Supper, His disciples reclined on cushions around a U shaped low table, called a ‘triclinium’. We remember:

* His death. Mt 26:17-20, 26-30. As the time came for Jesus to take the 3rd of the four cups, which was called ‘the cup of blessing’ or ‘the cup of redemption’ He said, “Drink from it all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (v27-28). Paul referred to this in I Cor 10:16, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” As we remember the reason for the original Passover and that God set them free through the blood of the sacrificial lambs. So we are set free today from the bondage of sin and all of Satan’s power and schemes by the blood of the Lamb of God, fulfilling the prophecy in Gen 3:15 that He, “shall bruise” his head. As Christians gather today to celebrate His victory as the Passover Lamb, we remember the words of the Apostle Paul, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (I Cor 11:26).

* His servanthood. Jn 13:1-5, 12-17. It was the custom of the most important person at the Passover meal (‘seder’) to wash his hands ceremonially, but Jesus used this occasion instead to wash His disciples feet (including those of Judas), to teach a lesson to us all in humility and love. He who had created the universe put aside ceremonial rites and acted the role of a slave (whose job this normally was). He had previously spoken these words, “whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant and whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mt 20:26-28).

d) We died in Him. Gal 2:20. As we by faith died in Him on the cross, the old has passed away. Even our good acts, “are like filthy rags” (Isa 64:6), unless they are accomplished by His grace and to His glory. The apostle Paul could write, “For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) nothing good dwells” and “the good I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice”. He continues, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” and ends with the answer, “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 7:18-19, 24-25). In Christ we died to:

* The old fleshly desires. Gal 5:24.

* The world. Gal 6:14.

* The bondage of sin. I Pet 2:24.

e) We take up our cross daily. Lk 9:23-24. Paul could say, “I die daily” (I Cor 15:31). A. W. Tozer wrote, ‘Carrying the cross means to be attached to the Person of Christ, committed to the Lordship of Christ and obedient to the commandments of Christ’. By His grace this death to self encompasses putting Him before: Family (Mt 10:34-39), acclaim of the world (Mk 8:34-38) and riches (Mk 10:21).

In order to live in the full victory of Christ and the peace which this brings, death in Him alone is not sufficient, we also need to by faith be buried in Him (Feast of Unleavened Bread) and be resurrected in Him (Feast of First Fruits).

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feasts of the Lord

JOHNWILLOUGHBY (2)

 

 

 

 

Rev. John Willoughby

UNDERSTANDING THE FEASTS OF THE LORD

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

II. INTRODUCTION TO THE SEVEN FEASTS

1. For Jews – understanding the Seven Feasts.

Lev 23:4. God has established various Feasts, but from the beginning there were 7 specific Feasts, which He commanded all Jewish males to celebrate together, “before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses” (Dt 16:16) – at Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.

a) The seven Feasts. Ex 23:14-17. They were divided into 3 groups as follows:

* Passover. It included the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits. This represented the first of the three major encounters with God. It takes place in the month of Nisan (March – April) and was celebrated during the barley harvest.

* Pentecost (also called the Feast of Harvest, the Feast of Weeks and the Day of Firstfruits). This was the second major encounter with God and came at the time of the wheat, olive and date harvest in the month of Sivan (May – June).

* Tabernacles (also called the Feast of Ingathering). It included the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. This was the third major encounter with God and was celebrated at the end of the agricultural season in the month of Tishri (September to October). It came at the time of the early rains, ploughing, wheat and barley sowing, the winter rains, the citrus harvest and the latter rains.

b) Those taking part. Ex 12:43-45, 48-49. Only Jewish (circumcised) males were to participate in the Feasts, the significance being that male circumcision was the outward evidence that the person was in a covenant relationship with God. If a Gentile accepted the Hebrew God for himself, he was to be circumcised and as a result would then be an heir to the promises made to Abraham and could inherit the blessings that were part of God’s covenant with the Jewish people and thus take part in the Feasts.

c) Their purpose. Dt 16:16. They represented three major encounters with God in the lives of His covenant people. Each of the Feasts was a very important aid:

* To know God’s ways. They were a visual and practical means of better being able to understand God’s laws and commandments.

* To know God’s blessings. Passover – His peace. Pentecost – His power. Tabernacles – His rest.

* To know God better. They were special holy convocations or assemblies, established by God, when the Jews would come together to meet Him in worship and to appreciate all He was to them.

* To know about the coming Messiah. Each portrayed a particular aspect of His future life and ministry.

2. For Jews and Christians – understanding the Calendars

a) The Gentile – solar (Gregorian) calendar. The sun or ‘solar’ calendar was established in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII and operates on the principle that the earth revolves around the sun. The days begin at midnight and last for 24 hours. It takes approximately 365¼ days for the earth to make a complete circuit around the sun, therefore an extra day is added every 4 years (in February), which is called a leap year. This is the calendar we use in the Western nations today.

b) The Jewish – lunar calendar. The moon or ‘lunar’ calendar is based on the movement of the moon around the earth. The days begin at sundown at approximately 6pm and also last for 24 hours. It takes about 29½ days for the moon to make a complete circle around the earth. The 12 lunar months add up to about 354 days in a lunar year. The difference of 11¼ days requires the Jews to make adjustments, otherwise over a period of time the Feasts would be in a different season of the year. To compensate for this difference, they have a leap year, by adding an extra month (Adar Sheni) of 29 days at the end of every third year. They also have the sacred and the civil calendars:

* The sacred calendar. This was established by God (Ex 12:2. Dt 16:1), when He brought His people out of Egypt. The first month was to be the month of Abib (the name was later changed to Nisan, during the Babylonian captivity) and corresponds to the months of March and April in the Gregorian calendar. This is the calendar, which is used in our studies.

* The civil calendar. This is based on the Jewish agricultural season. It begins with the month of Tishri, which corresponds with the months of September and October in the Gregorian calendar and is the beginning of the agricultural season. The civil calendar and agricultural season began with the early rains that softened the ground for ploughing. This was followed with the sowing of the wheat and barley seed in November and December.

3. For Christians – Understanding the Sacrificial System

Heb 9:12-14. Public sacrifices were undertaken each morning and evening, each Sabbath, the first day of each month, during special feast days, also on days of assembly and celebration, which amounted to about 1,273 a year. In addition to the official public sacrifices, there were also millions of offerings by individuals during the year. All the animals were to be offered, “without blemish”. By this God was making it clear that man can only approach Him through an innocent blood sacrifice, until that time when the Lamb of God was to be sacrificed as the final offering for the sins of mankind. The five main sacrifices or offerings were presented to God as an atonement for the people’s sins and in the case of the Sin and Trespass Offerings, also for the sins of the nation. They were the physical, outward expression of the inward longings of His people, in seeking communion with God. There were also, in addition to the five main offerings, Freewill Offerings, which referred to all those given to God of the person’s free will (Num 15:3), Wave or Heave Offerings, which were those lifted up and waved before the Lord (Lev 7:14) and Drink Offerings, which were associated with the other offerings and sacrifices (Num 15:5). For Christians we read in Heb 13:15-16, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” The five main offerings were:

a) The Sin Offering. Lev 4:1-6, 11-18. It was offered as an atonement for the unintentional sins of the individual or nation. It comprised either a bull, lamb, goat, turtledove or pigeon. The priest or individual laid their hands upon the offering and killed it, sprinkling the blood on the altar. The entire carcase, apart from the priest’s portion, was taken outside the camp and burned (Heb 13:11-12), the ashes indicating that the offering had been made and sin dealt with.

* Fulfilled in Christ. He took upon Himself our sin nature on the cross, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us” (I Cor 5:21).

* Our response. Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).

b) The Trespass Offering. Lev 5:14-19. It was offered as an atonement for trespasses and sins committed, “unintentionally in regard to the holy things of the Lord” (v15) by the individual or nation. After the laying of hands and the confession of sins, a ram was sacrificed by the priest or individual and its blood was sprinkled on the altar. The priests were to take the carcass for themselves.

* Fulfilled in Christ. We read in I Cor 15:3, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”.

* Our response. John wrote, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is good and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn 1:8-9).

c) The Burnt Offering. Lev 1:1-17. It was offered as an expression of the consecration of the entire person to God. As with the Sin Offering a bull, lamb, goat, turtledove or pigeon was to be sacrificed and its blood sprinkled on the altar, after the laying of hands by the priest or individual. Its whole carcass was to be burned on the altar.

* Fulfilled in Christ. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (Jn 6:38). We read in Eph 5:2 that Christ has, “given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling aroma”.

* Our response. Paul wrote, “do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor 6:19-20).

d) The Meal or Grain Offering. Lev 2:1-13. It was offered as an expression of the person’s desire to commune with God. This was only offered with Burnt Offerings and consisted of fine flour, mingled with oil and seasoned with salt (with no leaven or honey added). It was offered to the priest (uncooked or as cakes), who would offer a handful to God and eat the remainder.

* Fulfilled in Christ. Jesus said, “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (Jn 12:24).

* Our response. We walk by yielding to the conviction and guidance of the Holy Spirit (oil) and eat of “the bread of life”, which is Christ (Jn 6:48), in whom there is no leaven (sin).

e) The Peace Offering. Lev 3:1-13. It was offered as an expression of celebration of the person’s complete communion with God. It consisted of a bull, lamb or goat on which the priest or the individual laid their hands, before killing it and sprinkling some of its blood on the altar. The breast and right thigh were given to the priest and the rest was taken by the people.

* Fulfilled in Christ. Paul wrote, “you who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable in His sight – if indeed you continue in the faith” (Col 1:21-23).

* Our response. Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not you heart be troubled nor let it be afraid” (Jn 14:27).

There were some sins, which were so heinous, they were not atoned for through sacrifices and offerings, but rather under the Law the guilty were stoned to death. Some of these offenses were: the worship of other gods (Dt 17:2-5), mediums (Lev 20:27), blasphemy (Lev 24:14-16), murder (Lev 24:17), violation of the Sabbath (Num 15:32-36), rebellious children (Dt 21:18-21), fornication and adultery (Dt 22:20-24), homosexuality (Lev 20:13) and mating with an animal (Lev 20:15-16). However, the Bible says that Jesus, “has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’)” (Gal 3:13). Through Christ there is no sin too bad, which His blood does not cleanse, including those committed which could not be atoned for under the old covenant..

4. For Christians – understanding the Seven Feasts

A study of the Feasts will help us understand that God has a plan for all those who come to Him through His Son. His full redemption has a definite beginning, a definite process and a definite conclusion. They help us to remember and understand:

a) God’s gift of His Son. Mt 5:17. Their time and sequence reveal the overall prophetic plan of God, which Jesus came to fulfill in His own life and ministry on the exact dates that the Jews had been celebrating them for 1,500 years. He has already fulfilled the first two (Passover and Pentecost) and He will fulfill the last (Tabernacles) at His second coming.

b) God’s ways. They help us to know His purposes and give us a better understanding of how to grow in His peace, power and rest. Each of the Feasts have a particular message for us today:

* Passover. We have peace with God and the peace of God, due to forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with our Creator, through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

* Pentecost. It shows us that we can receive the gift of His power and appropriate it into our lives through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

* Tabernacles. It represents that place in our walk with God, when we enter into His divine rest now, with the hope of His glorious return, giving an account of our lives and an eternal rest in His presence.

c) God’s works. As with the celebration of the Feasts of Hanukkah and Purim by the Jews, we also can look back, to celebrate past events. We see that Sunday church services are a type of feast, because they are holy assemblies of God’s people meeting on the first day of the week (the day of Christ’s resurrection). We celebrate Communion, as it reminds us of all He has done for us on the cross, Christmas reminds us of His birth and Easter of His death and resurrection.

PICT0018

 

feasts of the Lord

JOHNWILLOUGHBY (2)

 

 

 

 

Rev. John Willoughby

UNDERSTANDING THE FEASTS OF THE LORD

(All scriptures in ‘New King James Version’, unless otherwise stated.)

I. THE SABBATICAL AND MINOR FEASTS.

1. THE SABBATH FEASTS

a) The Sabbath. Ex 20:8-11. The word sabbath means ‘desist’ or ‘rest’. With reference to v11 we read in Gen 2:3, “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work, which God had created and made”. Coming before the Jewish law, this indicated that from the time of creation, God wanted one day in seven to be a source of blessing for all, not just the Jewish race. The following aspects are relevant:

* For Jews. Ex 23:12. We read in Ex 31:17,“the Sabbath is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever” and in v14 a warning, “Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death”. It was also described as, “a holy Sabbath to the Lord” (Ex 16:23) and, “a sign … that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you” (Ex 31:13). We also read in Isa 56:2, “Blessed is the man who … keeps from defiling the Sabbath” and in Isa 58:13-14, “if you turn … from doing your pleasure on My holy day and call the Sabbath a delight”, you will be blessed. Each Sabbath (the seventh day) they were instructed to sacrifice two lambs, “without blemish” as a burnt offering, together with a grain and a drink offering (Num 28:9-10). It was to be a special day of rest for His people, when no work or reaping of crops was to be undertaken (Ex 35:1-3) and as a result it proved a means of trusting in God that His supply on the sixth day, would also be sufficient for the seventh. An example of God’s faithfulness is seen, when He provided manna for His people in the wilderness, which they were instructed to eat the same day on which it was gathered, but if they kept it for longer, it would be filled with maggots. However, He gave the one exception – that they could gather for two days on the day before the Sabbath and miraculously it would not go bad (Ex 16:23-26)!

* For Jesus. Mk 2:23-28. He would often teach in the synagogue on the Sabbath (Mk 6:2) and respected it as a holy day, but would not be under the Pharisaic interpretation of it. It was rather to be a time of spiritual and physical benefit to the people, rather than a burden (v27). He felt free to bless with healing and deliverance on this day – healing the man at the Pool of Bethesda (Jn 5:1-15), the man with a withered hand (Mt 12:10-13), the blind man (Jn 9:1-13) and delivering a woman from a spirit of infirmity (Lk 13:10-16).

* For Christians. Col 2:16-17. Jesus rose from the dead, “on the first day of the week” (Lk 24:1), which is the day after the Sabbath (Mt 28:1) and on the same day appeared to Mary (Mk 16:9), to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13) and to many of His disciples (Jn 20:19). On this day (Sunday) Christians started to worship together, “to break bread” (Acts 20:7) and to give their tithes (I Cor 16:1-2). As the Sabbath was a covenant sign that the Israelites were the people of God (Ex 31:16-17), so Sunday can be seen by the world as a sign that Christians belong to Christ, as they set it aside as a time of rest and a time to worship God and to celebrate the work of His Son. We read that John received revelation about present and future events from Christ, “On the Lord’s Day” (Rev 1:10). However, although Sunday is a day set apart in a special way for God, for Christians each day is a “Sabbath rest” in Christ (Heb 4:9. NIV).

b) The Sabbatical Year. Lev 25:1-5, 18-22. It took place on the last year of each seven years and was a year of rest for the land and for the people (v4). No work, planting or harvesting was allowed during this seventh year (v4-5), for they must rely on God to supply all their needs from a bumper harvest the previous year (v21). However, “the poor of your people may eat (from the fields) and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat” (Ex 23:11). This harvest of the sixth year would supply their needs for not only the rest of that year, but also for the Sabbatical year and for the following year, until the crops were harvested (v22). At this time all debts must be cancelled and all Jewish bond servants released with a blessing. Those bond servants who did not wish to leave their masters could remain with them as bond servants, if they so wished (Dt 15:1-3, 12-18). The Sabbatical Year taught the Jews to trust in Him to provide for their needs miraculously and for Christians not only to rest in His faithfulness for all our lives, but also that we can voluntarily become His bond servants.

c) The Year of Jubilee. Lev 25:8-17. It took place on the 50th year, following the seven Sabbatical years (49 years). No work, planting or harvesting was permitted during two years – the previous Sabbatical Year (49th year) and also the Year of Jubilee (50th year). They therefore needed to rely on God for a bumper harvest on the 48th year, for food during the 49th and 50th years and also for the following year after the year of Jubilee (51st year), until the crops were harvested. All sales and purchases during each year must take account of the 50th Year in their price structure (v15-16), for the Year of Jubilee was a time of great release from debts and slavery. Again it taught the Jews reliance on a faithful God for their needs during those years, when there was no harvest. We read in Lk 4:18-19 that Jesus encouraged Christians to trust in Him for all things and that He would release us from all bondage when He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord (the Year of Jubilee).

2. THE MINOR FEASTS

The people were not required to go to Jerusalem for these feasts. There was a feast of the new moon, which took place on the first day the moon appeared after the change (I Chron 23:31). However, there were two other Feasts of particular importance:

a) The Feast of Purim (also known as ‘the Feast of Esther’). Esth 9:20-28. In the Book of Esther, God orchestrated a plot to deliver His people from evil, through the faith of Queen Esther and Mordecai, as they called on Him with prayer and fasting (Esth 4:16). Purim means ‘lots’ and relates to Haman (the enemy of the Jews), who chose by lot the date of 13th Adar (Esth 3:13), as the day on which to kill all the Jews (v23-24) in the empire of the Medes and Persians. The Feast is:

* For Jews. A means of celebrating the faithfulness of God in their release (in about 475 BC) from the evil schemes of Haman and is held on the 14th and 15th of the month of Adar (February or March) – a month before Passover. It is a time of great celebration, giving of gifts and the reading of the Book of Esther.

* For Christians. The Book of Esther reminds us to celebrate God’s faithfulness to all His people, no matter the circumstances or the opposition.

b) The Feast of Hanukkah (also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication). Jn 10:22-23. The word Hanukkah in Hebrew means ‘dedication’ and specifically refers to the dedication of the Temple of God. It is not specifically mentioned in the Old Testament, as the events took place just after its completion, when Israel was ruled for seven years from 171 BC by the infamous Syrian (Selucid) king, Antiochus Epiphanes (meaning ‘god in the flesh’). In 167 BC (three and a half years later) the Jewish population was forced to eat pork and Sabbath observance, circumcision of males and the reading of the Biblical scrolls were forbidden by royal decree. Amongst other desecrations, he ordered the High Priest to be murdered, a statue of Jupiter (Zeus), fashioned in his own likeness, to be erected on the brazen altar of the Temple and the daily sacrifice of a pig to be made on it. His antagonism towards God’s people was so bitter that at the statue’s dedication, he had the blood of a pig sprinkled in the Holy of Holies. However, the Jews had been forewarned of his coming and his desecration through the prophet Daniel (8:9-14). The end came in 164 BC, when Judah ‘the Maccabee’ led an uprising, which drove the Syrians from the Temple and the city, three and a half years after the Temple had been originally defiled. They rededicated the Temple on the 25th of Kislev (November to December) amidst great rejoicing and consecrated a new altar in place of the old. After the cleansing, they found that the huge ‘menora’ (golden lampstand) had sufficient oil for one day only. The lights on the golden lampstand should burn continually, according to Jewish law (Lev 24:1), but it would take eight days for the oil to be replenished. Miraculously the one day’s oil supply lasted for the full eight days (until new oil could be produced) and for this reason the eight day holiday of Hanukkah is also known as the ‘Festival of Lights’.

The Feast is:

* For Jews. A celebration, starting on the 25th of Kislev, which corresponds approximately to the time of Christmas, giving glory to God for His miraculous deliverance.

* For Christians. As we dedicate our lives (temples) to Him, “the light of the world”, He has promised that we, “shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (Jn 8:12) and that He would give us the Holy Spirit (represented by the oil in the golden lampstand). We can also see in the person of Antiochus Epiphanes, aspects of the coming Antichrist – he will rule from Jerusalem for 7 years (Dan 9:27), three and a half years later will be worshiped as a god in the temple of God (II Thess 2:4) and will persecute God’s people (Rev 13:7). It is interesting that, “the abomination of desolation” to be set up in the Holy Place was four times referred to by the prophet Daniel (8:13. 9:27. 10:31. 12:11). It was fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphenes in 167 BC, but Jesus also referred to this event as taking place in the future (Mt 24:15), which will be fulfilled a second time by the Antichrist (II Thess 2:4). However, at that time God will once again be supreme and His people will be overcomers (Rev 12:11).

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