The Feasts of the Lord
Though disputed by some, for all intents and purposes, the Church Age began on the day of Pentecost in the year AD32, 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today we’re going to look at the significance of this occurrence, how it was prefigured in the Old Testament, and how it is fulfilled in the New. We’ll also look at its significance in our own lives.
Before we do, there’s something we should understood concerning the giving of the Spirit – and that is to be derived from a proper interpretation of the Bible. There are a million things to know about interpreting the Bible, but I will give you a few simple rules to get you started. I bring them up from time to time in Bible studies and today’s sermon is a great day to bring them up again. When you’re evaluating verses, you should constantly ask yourself the first two rules, and make sure you carefully apply the third –
1) Is this Prescriptive – does it actually prescribe something for me? 2) Is this Descriptive – does it merely describe something to me. And, 3) What is the context of what I am reading or studying.
Let’s review – prescriptive, descriptive, and context, context, context! Context is king, and we simply cannot rip verses out of context without producing a pretext. It is certainly the greatest source of error in Christianity. Most error comes from using a passage which only describes something as if it was prescribing something. This type of error covers most of the bad doctrine that revolves around what happened at Pentecost and how we are to apply it in our lives now.
To help you get this right, I’ll give you an actual example to consider. Before we got into today’s sermon, I read you Leviticus 23:15-22. For you as a Christian, are those passages Prescriptive or Descriptive? In other words, do they prescribe something for us to do, or do they merely describe something for us to read and contemplate?
If you said they prescribe something for us to do, you have mishandled Scripture. You have reinserted the law which is fulfilled and obsolete. It is annulled in Christ. Further, if you say we are to observe this feast, then you must observe it as it is written. But nobody can do so, and nobody does do so. It is pick and choose theology, and it is a very poor handling of Scripture.
Today we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This is something that happened one time, at one location, and for a specific reason. It is a non-repeatable event. Yes, the Holy Spirit also came upon on those in Samaria in Acts 8 and on the house of Cornelius in Acts 10 – but neither occurred on Pentecost, and both were in the presence of Peter to demonstrate that all (Jew, Samaritan, and Gentile) are accepted by God through faith in Christ. After these occurrences, something different now happens.
The Holy Spirit still fills believers today, but according to Paul’s writings, which are prescriptive, He comes at the moment we profess faith in Jesus. The Spirit now baptizes and fills the believer in all His fullness at that moment. We cannot “get” more of the Spirit, but the Spirit can get more of us as we submit to Him.
Improperly applying Pentecost to our own conversion has led people to bark like dogs, lie on the ground and kick around like children, act in ways that would even embarrass animals, and has – and I mean this sincerely – brought great discredit upon the name of Jesus and the glorious work of the Holy Spirit in the world.
If you’re into theatrical Christianity, you should know that it is an insult to the beauty and majesty of the Person of our Lord, Jesus. So please remember and consider always these rules – Prescriptive, Descriptive, and Context, Context, Context – to the glory of the Lord who called you into His wonderful kingdom.
Text Verse: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” Colossians 2:16, 17
Our verses today have all kinds of wonderful things tucked away in them, or they point to all kinds of wonderful things elsewhere in Scripture. And every verse is there leading us to the Person and work of Christ. Pentecost was a one-time event, but it has a continuing application even today. Every time a person comes to Christ, the results of that first Pentecost are realized in that person.
He is sealed with the Spirit, and his eternal destiny goes from one of separation from God to one of adoption into the family of God. It is true for both Jew and Gentile, and it is a one-time non-repeatable event. One is sealed upon belief, and that seal is, according to Paul, a guarantee of our future redemption.
There is eternal salvation in Christ, and it is based on mere faith in what He has done. The things He has done are recorded in the Old Testament in anticipation of His coming, and they are recorded in the gospels, Acts, and the epistles to show that His coming was fully effective in accomplishing those things and reconciling us to God. These are the wonderful truths which are found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. Count Fifty Days (verses 15-22)
15 ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering:
The “day after the Sabbath” is speaking of the Sabbath mentioned in verse 11 in the explanation of the Feast of Firstfruits. As we saw, that pictured Christ’s resurrection on the Sunday (the first day of the week) after the Sabbath. The waving of the sheaf of the wave offering looked forward to the presentation of Christ Jesus alive and well before the Father. It is from this starting point that a set counting was to take place.
Unlike the previous feast, the Feast of Firstfruits, no new introductory statement is made here. In verse 9 it said, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying.” That showed a completely different thought was being introduced into the scheduling of the feast, and that the Feast of Firstfruits was a separate thought than that of Passover.
The reason for this was to avoid the mistake in thinking that the Sabbath referred to in verse 11 is the same as the holy convocation of verse 8. It is an error very common among scholars, and one which has led to a very confused understanding of the timing of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. All we can go by is what Scripture gives us. Despite the fact that Jewish tradition aligns with the specific timing of Jesus’ resurrection on the year He rose, it also had to align with the Sabbath of the week, something that would not happen if the Passover occurred on any day but a Friday. The details are significant, and tradition cannot override Scripture.
Now, without a new introductory statement, we can see that the Feast of Firstfruits and the Feast of Weeks are united in their timing. Though no specific date was given for the Feast of Firstfruits, a specific date for the Feast of Weeks is given, and is based on the Feast of Firstfruits, whenever that would occur each year. These keys are given for us to unlock the specifics of Scripture. When ignored, the doors we pass through are unscriptural ones.
It should be noted now that, in a similar manner to Passover and Unleavened Bread, this is the only other coupling of feasts in Leviticus 23. All others are introduced with introductory thoughts except these. The Feast of Firstfruits leads naturally and directly into that of Weeks. One points to the next like an arrow heading toward a target. From the resurrection, a counting will now begin…
15 (con’t) seven Sabbaths shall be completed.
sheva shabbatot, or “seven Sabbaths,” is forty-nine days. It is an ancient trick, not using fingers to figure this out. If we know the result, and memorize the tables, we can do it in our heads. Seven times seven is forty-nine. Works every time!
The word “Sabbaths” here signifies “weeks.” It is a synecdoche where the unit stands for the whole. This will be seen in the words of the next verse, and as is seen in Deuteronomy 16:9. Further, this explains the same term used in the New Testament. Though in Greek, in Matthew 28:1, it says –
“Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.”
It is from the day after a Sabbath day, and to a day after a Sabbath day. It is pointing to a day during that week which is a particularly chosen day. Thus, we derive from this the name of the feast. It is “The Feast of Weeks.” We are being directed to a particular day during a particular week as is seen next…
A period of seven weeks would bring us to about early June on our calendar. The Hebrew says, ha’shabat ha’shevyit, or the Sabbath the seventh. There is a definite article in front of Sabbath to ensure that the mistake is not made that this is merely a period of weeks, but a period of weeks which ends on a Sabbath day. It is the day after this Sabbath that the attention is now being directed.
Despite the name “Weeks,” the feast actually is more commonly known from the Greek translation of the Old Testament of this verse. One was to count the seven weeks, but more exactingly, it was to be fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath, on whatever day that Sabbath was. The Greek translation translates the words, “fifty days” as Penteconta. In the New Testament, it is called, Pentékosté, or Pentecost. On this day, the people (the verb is plural) are required to do something particular…
16 (con’t) then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord.
v’hiqravtem minkhah khadasah la’Yehovah – “And you shall offer grain-offering new to Yehovah.” This is a new grain offering of the wheat-harvest which stands distinct from the omer, or sheaf, of the barley harvest which was presented at Firstfruits. Thus, this feast is described as “the Feast of Harvest” in Exodus 23:16. In Exodus 32:22 & Deuteronomy 16:10, it is specifically called the Feast of Weeks, and in Numbers 28:26, it is called “the Day the Firstfruits.”
The word “new” here is khadash. It has been used but once so far in the Bible. It means fresh, or new thing. It comes from the verb khadash which signifies to renew or repair. This new grain offering is then described next…
From the people’s dwelling places, they were to bring two wave loaves. This is not to be assumed, as John Calvin and some others state, that every house was to bring two loves. Rather, two loaves total are brought, but they were to be made out of daily household food, and not prepared from wheat solely used for sacred purposes. In other words, it is the common which is being highlighted here.
The word “wave” is tenuphah. It is means to offer in a waving motion. It comes from the word nuph which was seen in verse 11, which means “to quiver.” The waving would be to vibrate up and down, or to rock to and fro. These two loaves were to be of two tenths, meaning two omers, of an ephah.
17 (con’t) They shall be of fine flour;
The tenths were to be soleth, or processed grain; thus fine flour.
17 (con’t) they shall be baked with leaven.
This is the second of only two times in the Bible where an offering was to be made to the Lord with khamets, or yeast. The other time is that of the thanksgiving peace-offering found in Leviticus 7:13. Yeast, or leaven, in the Bible pictures sin. It is what causes bread to puff up, and sin is what causes man to puff up. The addition of yeast also causes corruption and putrefaction to occur, the same is true with sin in man. So why was leaven added to the thanksgiving offering, and why is it added to this one? They are, after all, to be presented to the Lord.
Well, as I know you remember the details of the thanksgiving offering perfectly, I don’t need to explain it, but for those who may not have heard that sermon, the reason for offering leaven was that it was an acknowledgment that the Lord accepts such an offering despite man’s sin-nature. The Lord will not turn away an offering of thanks, even from a fallen, sin-filled man. Now, for the second and last time in the Bible, an offering with leaven is brought before the Lord. Therefore, this must have something to do with sin in man as well.
That is the pictorial meaning, and it will be explained more later, but for the feast itself, it may also have been to teach the people a lesson about the Lord’s blessing. At the Passover, no yeast was added. The reason is specifically stated that the people departed in haste, and didn’t have time to leaven their bread. Here, the people are not in haste, but in rest. Their harvest is ended, and they are having a feast before the Lord in relaxed gratitude for what He has provided.
17 (con’t) They are the firstfruits to the Lord.
The word here for “firstfruits” is bikkurim. It is not the same as the word translated as firstfruits in the Feast of Firstfruits in verses 9-14. There the word was reshith. This word comes from bakar, meaning properly, “to burst the womb.” Thus, firstborn. And therefore, bikkurim would be the hasty fruits, or those which ripen first. They stand for the whole of the crop which follows.
What is to be understood here is that the wheat harvest by this time is almost completed, and therefore, the presentation of these loaves, though at the end of the harvest cycle, are representative of the entire harvest cycle. This day of Pentecost is a day representative of the whole harvest.
For this same feast, instead of one young bull and two rams, Numbers 28 says “two young bulls and one ram.” No explanation for the change is given. Because of this, some scholars see that error has crept into the text. That is not likely with something so obvious. Especially when this feast was celebrated year by year. What this means is that these offerings were distinct from those in Numbers. The ones here belong to the loaves. The ones in Numbers are for the day of the feast itself. Thus, there is a total of these special offerings on this day of fourteen lambs, three young bulls, and three rams. The reason for giving these numbers separately, was because in Numbers the feast was observed as required, but only after they entered the land of promise would the offerings mandated here be made, because they accompany that which came from the produce of the ground.
For the offering with the loaves, there are first seven kebes, or lambs. The word comes from an unused root meaning to dominate. These are bene shanah, or sons of the first year, implying innocence. And they are to be without blemish. Also, there was one par ben baqar, or “bull, son of oxen.” The word comes from parar, meaning to defeat. Baqar means to seek out. Also, there were to be two rams. The Hebrew is ayil, which indicates strength.
18 (con’t) They shall be as a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings,
These animals were to be offered as burnt offerings to the Lord. Along with them were to be the standard grain and drink offerings explained in previous sermons. All of those details point to Christ and His work.
18 (con’t) an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the Lord.
Together, the sum of these offerings were to be raised up to the Lord as a reakh nikhoakh la’Yehovah, or a sweet aroma to the Lord. The word reakh comes from ruakh, which gives the sense of acceptance. The Lord smells and is pleased. The word nikhokh gives the sense of that which is quieting, or tranquilizing. It comes from nuakh, meaning “to rest.”
Along with the burnt offerings was to be a saiyr izzim, or “kid of the goats.” This was for a sin offering. The sayir was also the sin offering of the people on the Day of Atonement. The word izzim is derived from azaz, meaning “to prevail.”
19 (con’t) and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering.
These two lambs are the same animals as the seven lambs of the burnt offering of verse 18. They are to be made a part of the peace offering as next described…
These two lambs were to be waved before the Lord together at the same time as the leavened loaves of bread which were offered as firstfruits. The symbolism here is marvelous to contemplate.
20 (con’t) They shall be holy to the Lord for the priest.
Both the waved lambs, and the leavened bread of the firstfruits were considered qodesh la’Yehovah, or “Holy to the Lord,” and they were reserved for the consumption of the priest alone. The word “priest” is singular. Normally only the breast and shoulder of the peace offerings was for the priests, and the offeror would receive back the rest to eat. It was thus a mutual sharing of a meal. However, in this case, the lambs were on behalf of the entire congregation, and so the lambs were deemed as Holy to the Lord and consumed wholly by the priest.
As a point of clarity, the NKJV, following the KJV, is punctuated incorrectly. The entire verse should read, “And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the Lord; with the two lambs they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest.” Otherwise, the verse is obscure and makes no sense.
To proclaim a holy convocation means to initiate the day with trumpet blasts. This is recorded in Numbers 10:10. Although the trumpets have not yet been made, when they are, this is one of the specific purposes for them. As it says there, sounding the trumpets in this manner is to “be a memorial for you before your God.” On this particular day, there was to be more than just a gathering of the people, but like the first and last day of Unleavened Bread, it was to be a holy convocation. This is then described with the words…
21 (con’t) You shall do no customary work on it.
kal meleket abodah lo taasu – “all work regular no shall you do.” Regular work was not to be conducted on this day. However, this is not a Sabbath. It is rather a day, on which according to Exodus 12:16, food could be prepared. Other Sabbath regulations would likewise not be enforced. Instead, it would be like one of our holidays.
21 (con’t) It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
The words khuqat olam, or statue forever, signify “to the vanishing point.” They do not mean that we still must observe this feast. What it means is that until it was fulfilled in Christ, it was to be observed year by year. All Israel was to observe this feast at its appointed time.
Affixed to the end of the feast is this seemingly unrelated verse. It appears to have nothing to do with the feast at all, and it is a repeat of Leviticus 19:9. It seems superfluous and cumbersomely placed here, and yet it is perfectly placed and a remarkable verse, both in the Hebrew wording, and in what it is pointing to.
u-b’qusrekem eth qetsir artsekem – and in your reaping harvest of your land. The verb for “when you reap” is 2nd person plural as is its corresponding noun, “your land.” The words are spoken to all of Israel. There is a time when they would reap their land’s harvest. It is this time which is being highlighted.
22 (con’t) you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap,
Listen carefully and see if you can hear what is odd in these words – lo tekaleh peat sakdekha b’qusrekha. Anyone? Really odd. Isn’t it! “No shall you make clean riddance of the edges of your field when you reap.” For only the second and last time in the chapter, words in this verse suddenly become second person, singular. “No shall you make clean riddance (meaning “you singular”) of the edges (of) your field (singular) when you reap (singular). The only other verse where this happens was verse 3 when speaking of working six days. “Six days you shall do work,” second person, singular. And it continues…
22 (con’t) nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest.
v’leqet qetsirekha lo telaqet – “and the gleaning (of) your harvest (singular) no shall you gather” (singular).
22 (con’t) You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger:
l’ani v’lager taazov otam – “to the poor, and to the stranger you shall leave (singular) them (plural, speaking of the things defined).” This is the last time in the entire chapter that it speaks in the singular. The Lord goes from speaking to all the people in the beginning clause, to just one in the middle, and then He will close speaking to all. What is going on here? We’ll try to figure it out before we finish. But for now, it is a reminder to the people that there is to be mercy upon the poor and the stranger. As Matthew Henry says, “Those who are truly sensible of the mercy they received from God, will show mercy to the poor without grudging.” See the book of Ruth for this law being practiced.
*22 (fin) I am the Lord your God.’”
ani Yehovah elohekem – “I am Yehovah your God.” The noun “your God” is plural. The Lord is speaking to all Israel. And so ends the instruction for the conduct of the feast. It is with this word of declaration that they have been instructed by Yehovah.
II. Fulfilled in Christ
The first thing that we need to get, is that there is a parallel to the timing of the first Passover to the giving of the Law of Moses and with the day of Firstfruits (meaning the resurrection of Christ) and the day of Pentecost. Each was an interval of fifty days.
The Lord told Moses on the 48th day after their departure from Egypt that He would appear to the people “on the third day.” Thus, He would appear to them on the 50th day. As the Lord appeared to the people on the 50th day and gave them the law, so the Holy Spirit came down upon the people in Jerusalem 50 days after Christ’s resurrection. That is recorded in Acts 2 –
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4
In type then, the giving of the law prefigures the giving of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost because of the 50-day interval. As there was no Feast of Firstfruits at the time of the exodus, the feast is counted from the first day after the Passover rather than from date set here in Leviticus. Both events are preceded by a fifty-day period of learning from the Lord and anticipating a meeting with Him. This is why the calendar day for the Feast of Firstfruits is not given. It is based on a Sabbath, whenever that Sabbath would occur. What is important is the 50-day interval.
It is on this day that a new grain offering was to be made. As I said, the word “new” is khadash. It means fresh, or new thing. It comes from the verb khadash which signifies to renew or repair. It is on this day that the spiritual reconnection to God, which was lost at the fall of man, was to be repaired. Signified by this grain offering.
From this grain offering, gathered from the common stores of the people, two loaves of bread, with leaven, were to be presented to the Lord as a wave offering. The word “wave” signifies to move back and forth, coming from a word meaning to quiver. This root was the same used to describe Christ’s resurrection in the Feast of Firstfruits. As He became vibrant and alive again, we are spritiually made vibrant because of His work. It is the rebirth through the work of the Spirit. Paul explains this in Ephesians 2:4-6 –
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…
They were to be two loaves of fine flour, signifying that they are pure. And yet, they were to be baked with leaven. That there were two of them signifies a contrast. In the Bible, this is what the number two signifies – a contrast, and yet a confirmation of something. There is day and there is night. They contrast, and yet they confirm the duration of a day. There is the Old Testament and there is the New. They contrast, and yet they confirm the totality of the word of God. There is Jesus – divine and human. They contrast, and yet the confirm that He is the God-Man.
In this, the two loaves are filled with yeast, and yet they are fine flour – and there are two of them. Fine flour signifies purity; grain which is processed and acceptable. Yeast signifies sin. The loaves are the redeemed of the Lord, deemed as pure, and yet still bearing sin. And more, they reflect Jew and Gentile being presented as acceptable to Him, signified by the sealing of the Spirit. This is actually seen in the writings of Paul. He twice mentions people as being firstfruits of an area known as Achaia. The first is Romans 16:5; the second is 1 Corinthians 16:15 –
“Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ.”
“I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia…”
Epaenetus is a Jew. The name is the same as the Hebrew Judah or “praise.” And so it is believed he used his Hebrew name among the Hebrews and his Greek name among the Greeks as often happened in those days. Stephanas was a Gentile.
More interestingly, the name Achaia where both were from has the same general meaning as the Hebrew name of Egypt. Egypt or mitsrayim is a plural word which means “double distress.” Achaia means “grief.” These are called the Firstfruits of Grief. They are a picture of the first redeemed out of the world of grief, just as Israel was redeemed out of Egypt, or double distress.
These then show the fulfillment of the two loaves of bread with yeast being presented to the Lord at this feast, Jew and Gentile. Returning the firstfruits to the Lord is a picture of the firstfruits of the redeemed being noted as such in the New Testament. As the Day of Pentecost stands for the entire church age, these two are noted out of Jew and Gentile as examples of all who would likewise be a part of this great harvest. As it said in verse 17, “They are firstfruits to the Lord.”
The seven lambs of the first year for the burnt offering picture Christ. Seven is the number of spiritual perfection, emblematic of His spiritually perfect work. The first year signifies innocence, just as Christ was innocent. The lamb or kebes means “to dominate.” Through His innocence He dominated over sin and destroyed it.
Along with that was a par ben baqar, or “bull, son of oxen.” Par comes from parar, meaning to defeat. Baqar comes from a word meaning to inquire or seek out. Christ defeated the devil, seeking out those He would redeem, just as the Lord is said to seek out His sheep in Ezekiel 34.
The two ayil, or rams, indicating strength, shows that Christ’s strength was expended for both Jew and Gentile. They reflect the total commitment of Christ who offered all of His natural strength to His Father. He is fully sufficient to redeem all. These were returned to the Lord as a burnt offering.
After this came the grain and drink offerings. They have been fully explained in past sermons, and so suffice it to say that every detail of them points to the finished work of Christ. In short, as a refresher concerning the drink offering, it is poured out in its entirety to the Lord. No part of it was drank by the priests or the people, signifying that the people were partially excluded from the full blessings of the Lord while still under the Law of Moses. This is what Jesus was referring to in Matthew –
“Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17
Jesus was speaking of the law and grace. The new wine is the new dispensation of grace to come. The old wine was the dispensation of the law. If one were to introduce the new concept into the old, it would not work because the two were incompatible. Putting new wine in new wineskins is emblematic of putting new doctrine into renewed minds. Only in Christ does man truly enter into God’s victory and rest. It is a rest guaranteed by the sealing of the Spirit on Pentecost, and for each believer since that first day.
All of these offerings were considered a reakh nikhoakh la’Yehovah, or a sweet aroma to the Lord. As I said reakh comes from ruakh, which gives the sense of acceptance. The word nikhokh gives the sense of that which is quieting, or tranquilizing. It comes from nuakh, meaning “to rest.” Through the work of Christ, we are accepted, and the anger of the Lord is quieted. Now we enter His rest because of the work of Christ, who is our Rest.
Next described are the sin and peace offerings. The sin offering here is the saiyr izzim, or “kid of the goats.” As I said, this is the same as is seen on the Day of Atonement. Rather than a specific sin, this is a general sin offering for the people. It again pictures Christ. Sayir is the hairy goat. Hair signifies awareness. It is an offering for the awareness of sin. Izzim is derived from azaz, meaning “to prevail.” Those with an awareness of sin prevail over it in Christ.
After that came the two lambs of the peace-offering. They were waved with the two loves of bread. The loaves, picturing both Jew and Gentile sinners sealed with the Spirit of God, and the lambs picturing the innocent Christ who dominated over sin on their behalf – meaning both Jew and Gentile – are waved as one before the Lord. Together, not separately, they are made a peace offering. It is because of Christ that the one offering of both is termed qodesh la’Yehovah, or “Holy to the Lord.”
This holy offering was reserved for consumption by the priest alone. That is why the word “priest” is singular here. It is an indication of the priesthood of believers. We have only one Mediator between God and man, and that is Christ Jesus, and there is no mediator between Christ and man. The symbolism of the Old shows us the folly of the supposed mediatorial priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church. Christ is our Priest, and together with Him we are made a peace offering to God.
It was after noting these final offerings that the people were told this was a holy convocation on which they were not to work. Such a holy convocation is a reminder that Christ has done the work, and that we enjoy the benefits of it. The preparing of food, which is allowed, can be equated with our spiritual growth, but all forms of works meriting salvation are accomplished solely by the Lord
With this, the rites of the Feast of Weeks were completed, but then came that obscure verse, repeated from Leviticus 19:9. Both of them bear the same odd pattern of being addressed in the plural and then moving to the singular.
It cannot be an error. The Hebrew is so obvious that anyone reading it would immediately see the change. And yet, other than one off-handed remark by one scholar that notes it is in the 2nd person singular, the matter is completely ignored.
But ignoring this leaves out any possibility of solving the enigma. What is happening here is that the Lord is speaking to the entire congregation. Imagine Him waving His hand over all of them and saying, “I want all of you to do this when you reap the harvest of the Land.” And then with the same breath, He stops, points at one person, and says, “You shall not make clean riddance of the edges of your field when you reap. And neither shall you gather any gleaning of your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and the stranger.” And then He waves His hand to the entire congregation again and says, “I am the Lord your God.”
It is obvious to Israel that these words are intended for all at all times, but it is equally obvious that He is singling out a specific instance, in conjunction with the Feast of Weeks, and saying, “I am giving You alone specific instructions.”
As this feast is pointing to the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and as this feast represents the entire church age, and all who are included in it, then this must be referring to leaving something behind after the church age. The Lord is directing Christ concerning what is to be done at the rapture. The answer is found in Revelation 7.
At some point, after the rapture, there will be 144,000 Jews who will be sealed with the seal of the living God. It is they who will evangelize those left behind who will come looking for what is left over after the harvest is complete. They are the poor and the strangers who have come to glean from the merciful God who has instructed His Son to leave behind a blessing for them.
The natural question then is, “Because this is yet future, doesn’t this mean that this portion of the Law is not yet fulfilled?” The answer is “No.” The Feast is fulfilled in the giving of the Spirit, not in the rapture of the church and what comes after it. Those are merely a part of the feast, just as each new believer in Christ is. There is one fulfillment through Christ’s work, and there is the continuing application of that fulfillment, just as there is one day of birth, but many birthdays.
This is why James, writing to the Jews of the end times, says to them, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (1:18). They will be their own kind of firstfruits, being a part of this feast, and yet a separate and distinct part nonetheless. It is also why the book of Revelation uses the same term for them in verse 14:4 –
“These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.”
The feast continues though the feast is fulfilled. What we have seen is the truth that the law has been completed by Christ, and that He is the fulfillment of it on our behalf. We can either trust in Him, and in His finished work for us, or we can trust in the law to save us. To show us the severity of the choice, there is another pattern that goes along with the previous one of the fifty days leading up to the giving of the law, and the fifty days leading up to Pentecost.
At the time of the giving of the law, the people of Israel rejected the Lord and built a golden calf, bowing down and worshiping it. At that time, Exodus 32:28 tells us that about three thousand of the people fell before the Lord for their violation of the law.
However, at the time of the giving of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, it says, “those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” Paul then provides us an explanation of this in 2 Corinthians 3:6. There he says that the letter, meaning the law, kills, but the Spirit gives life. There is a complete contrast to the two. It is the continuous lesson of the Bible. We can work our way towards God and be found guilty before the Lord, receiving our just condemnation. Or, we can trust in Christ, be granted His Spirit, and be saved. The choice is clearly laid out for us, and it is left up to us to decide which we will pursue.
This is why we don’t observe these ancient feasts anymore. They are fulfilled by Him. We are merely participants in this great unfolding drama of His beautiful work. Remember our text verse for today – “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”
These feasts of the Lord are given to show us Christ and His work on our behalf. In Him we live in the substance, not the shadow. If you are trying to find God’s favor through shadowy rituals, obsolete dietary laws, and spending your Saturday as the Jews of old did (and failed by the way), then you have put up a wall – a giganticus maximus wall – between you and God. Tear it down, and pass freely and without hindrance into the arms of Christ by receiving His completed work as your own.
Closing Verse: “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Romans 8:22-25
Next Week: Leviticus 23:23-25 Lots of shouting on this day in Israel the nation… (The Feasts of the Lord, The Memorial of Acclamation) (40th Leviticus Sermon)
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if you have a lifetime of sin heaped up behind you, He can wash it away and purify you completely and wholly. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.
The Giving of the Spirit
‘And you shall count for yourselves
From the day after the Sabbath, the day when death is defeated
From the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering:
Seven Sabbaths shall be completed
Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath
———-According to this word
Then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord
You shall bring from your dwellings
Two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah, according to this word
They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven
They are the firstfruits to the Lord
And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs
Of the first year without blemish, one young bull, and two rams
They shall be as a burnt offering to the Lord
With their grain offering and their drink offerings
An offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the Lord
Such shall be these profferings
Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats
As a sin offering, so you shall do
And two male lambs of the first year
As a sacrifice of a peace offering, as I instruct to you
The priest shall wave them with the bread
Of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the Lord
With the two lambs as I have said
They shall be holy to the Lord for the priest, according to this word
And you shall proclaim on the same day
That it is a holy convocation to you, without alterations
You shall do no customary work on it
It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations
‘When you reap the harvest of your land
You shall not wholly reap the corners, so I attest
Of your field when you reap
Nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest
You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger
I am the Lord your God, your feast-day Arranger
And so we thank You Lord Jesus, for having fulfilled this feast
You poured out your Spirit on the sons of men
Upon Jew and Gentile, and upon the greatest and the least
All who call on You, are at that moment born again
The Spirit is given; a divine guarantee
We have the surety of God, upon us sealed
Eternal salvation is granted; from condemnation we are free
Marvelous salvation; we are brought in as crops from the field
Thank You, O glorious God, for this that You have done for us
To give us new life, You sent Your only begotten; our Lord Jesus
Hallelujah and Amen…