Posted by: missionventureministries | September 13, 2018

ISRAEL’S FALL FEASTS – Leviticus 23:23-44

Israel’s three fall festivals, Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles, are grouped together within a three week period. 

They afford us an annual opportunity to see a three dimensional portrait of our Messiah, Jesus, as we peer through that window and see Him through believing eyes. 

There are three key reasons for every believer, whether Jewish or Gentile, to study the Fall Feasts. First, study of these feasts opens up our eyes and deepens our understanding of the New Testament. As Paul emphasizes in his letter to the Colossians 2:16-17, these Jewish holy days point us to our Messiah; and the very essence of each festival is richly saturated through and through with Christ.  

Second, these holy days are very important to God. In Leviticus 23, where the calendar of these festivals is formally presented to Israel, they are specifically referred to as: “These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies” (Leviticus 23:2).  

According to the Bible, the first of the Fall Holy Days in Israel’s calendar, the Feast of Trumpets, is simply to be observed as “a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts” (Leviticus 23:24). The Jewish people traditionally call it Rosh Hashanah (literally, “head of the year”) and it is observed as the Jewish New Year. This serves as the commencement of a 10-day period called the “Days of Awe” which concludes with the Day of Atonement. For observant Jews, this solemn period serves as an occasion for self-examination, introspection and reflection as God annually considers the fate of each Jew. 

Many prayers on Rosh Hashanah are recited for God to remember the Jewish people with kindness, mercy and salvation based on the merit stored up through Isaac. The prayer goes, “Remember the binding of Isaac in mercy to his seed.” The events of Genesis 22 are a prime example of what scripture calls “a shadow of things to come” (Colossians 2:16-17). Isaac was a prophetic type, a picture, of the Messiah and both Yeshua (Jesus) and Isaac were the sons of promise. Both had miraculous births. Both were obedient and willing sons who were prepared and ready to lay down their lives at their Father’s request.  

As we see, both sons even carried the wood for their own sacrifice. Both had Fathers who were prepared to slay them to fulfill a larger purpose. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son; so too was God willing to sacrifice His only Son; but God did not demand of Abraham what He demanded of Himself. The Lord provided a substitute sacrifice for the son of Abraham, a ram caught in the thicket. But there was no alternative sacrifice for the Son of God; and Jesus became the obedient Lamb of God, slain for the sin of the world. 

The 10 Days of Awe conclude with the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. This Holy Day enlightens Jesus’ mission as a satisfactory sacrifice to remove sin and illustrates His resurrection ministry as our great High Priest. 

The Biblical term, Yom Kippur, can be translated as “The Day of Coverings”. It does not indicate removal of sins, only a covering over of sins. According to Scripture, the covering for sin is blood, the symbol of life (Leviticus 17:11). Without blood, there can be no atonement. Only Israel’s High Priest could act as Israel’s representative and carry the sacrificial blood into the Divine Presence in the Holy of Holies on this sacred day. 

God gave Israel the sacrificial system in order to restore their sin-fractured relationship; to cover over sin on an annual basis. Of course, this annual covering only lasted as long as individuals did not sin again. Indeed, following the Day of Atonement, the daily and weekly Levitical sacrifices immediately recommenced. 

Without bloodshed within the sacrificial Temple ritual, there can be no atonement; however, the New Testament letter to the Hebrews portrays Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of Yom Kippur.

Hebrews 9-10 makes it clear that Jesus is now our great High Priest. This Priest did not first have to make atonement for His own sins before representing the people, for He was sinless. Furthermore, High Priests came and went as they were replaced or died. Jesus, as a resurrected High Priest, will minister forever. Our sinless High Priest was also the perfect sacrifice. The very fact that animal sacrifices were repeatable proved that they were insufficient (Hebrews 10:1-4). Jesus’ sacrifice is a perfect offering sacrificed once for the total and complete eradication of sin. 

With the death of Jesus, sins are no longer merely covered over. Now they are removed through our Messiah’s sacrifice, which has created true atonement between God and His people, both Jew and Gentile. 

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Now the week-long Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkoth (booths) falls five days after the Day of Atonement. The most somber time of the year is quickly contrasted with the most celebratory. 

Biblically, it was the third and final pilgrimage period (along with Passover and Pentecost), when Israel was commanded to assemble at the central location of worship, the Tabernacle and later, the Temple. It was primarily established as an agricultural holiday, a period for ingathering of Israel’s people and crops. The essential element of this holiday is its namesake, the Sukkah, the singular form of Sukkoth. This is the temporary, three-walled hut which is built in the backyard or courtyard of Jewish homes. Although the Biblical command is to live in these booths for seven days, most Jews today fulfill that command by eating at least one daily meal inside the Sukkah; and some particularly observant Jews will sleep in them as well. 

The messianic connection we derive from the Feast of Tabernacles is that the Messiah has come to dwell with His people. The initial chapter of John’s gospel proclaims that “the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory” (John 1:14).  

Here we see where the apostle portrays Jesus as “dwelling” among us, emphasizing the Messiah as God’s Tabernacle! And we read in the book of Zechariah, just how crucial it will be for all nations to properly observe this holy day in the future millennial kingdom, the messianic age (Zechariah 14:16-19).  

John also provides a gorgeous portrait of God’s great ingathering of His harvest in the book of Revelation, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.” (Revelation 21:3). History, as we know it, will culminate with God, Himself, becoming our eternal Sukkah.

 

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