Deuteronomy 17:1-13 ( Shall Be Put to Death the Dead)

Deuteronomy 17:1-13
Shall Be Put to Death the Dead

Years ago, I watched a movie where two guys were outside in the heat of the day. One of them was visiting the other while traveling. The one who owned the house was drinking something out of a can – maybe a beer or a soda.

He said to the guy who was visiting something like, “Hoowee, it sure is hot out here.” The other guy said, “Yeah, it sure is.” The first guy says, “I sure bet you’d like a cold drink too, wouldn’t you?” The other guy said, “Yeah, that would be really great.” The first guy, without missing a beat, handed his drink to the visitor then bent over, pulled a fresh drink out of his cooler, opened it up, and started drinking it.

Although I do remember not liking the movie very much, and not remembering almost anything else about it, that has always stuck with me. Sometimes I think I’d like to do that to someone, just for fun, to see their reaction. But it is actually so perverse to me that I couldn’t get myself to do it, even as a joke.

A guest is a person who is to be treated with respect and treated kindly. There are plenty of other things you can do to kid around with friends or family who are visiting, but to me, that is just too brazen to even consider. It really was funny to watch though.

The idea of Deuteronomy 17 follows that of what has already been presented, holiness before the Lord, right conduct, proper judgment, and so on. When this is lacking, the people will quickly turn away from what is right, and chaos – as is seen throughout the rest of the Old Testament – will ensue.

It all comes back to the people’s attitude towards the Lord. How they perceive Him and their relationship with Him will dictate how they conduct their lives before Him. This is no different today. Churches are filled with leaders and people who do not treat the Lord and His word with holiness. Old Testament or New, the Lord sees and is aware of the conduct of the people…

Text Verse: “You offer defiled food on My altar,
But say,
‘In what way have we defiled You?’
By saying,
‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’
And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice,
Is it not evil?
And when you offer the lame and sick,
Is it not evil?
Offer it then to your governor!
Would he be pleased with you?
Would he accept you favorably?
Says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 1:7, 8

This seemed to be an obvious passage for today’s sermon because it ties exactingly in with the first verse we will look at. Imagine having a half-finished and now lukewarm drink, and passing it off to a guest, and then reaching into the cooler for a new, cold, fresh, and bubbly drink. It made for a great comedic scene because the very idea of it is so offensive.

But this is just the thing Israel was doing toward the Lord. The whole book of Malachi follows this tone. What could the people expect of the Lord when they treated Him with contempt? They looked for blessing, but their actions toward Him were as cursing.

And as He notes, they would never dare to take such an offering to their own governor. The level of disrespect is only heightened because of this. Holiness before the Lord. That is what was expected, and it is the expectation today. Let us bring our best before Him at all times.

Whether it is an offering from what we have been blessed with, the quantity and quality of time spent in His word, or the type of sermons and studies we will participate in – or even our attitude towards our personal failings in His presence – such things as these are what He is evaluating.

He is a great God, and He has given us His best in the giving of His Son. Let us remember this and respond in kind. Such truths as this are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us 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. You Shall Inquire Diligently (verses 1-7)

“You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God a bull or sheep which has any blemish or defect,

Moses begins Chapter 17 with the same train of thought that he has already put forth – holiness before the Lord. This was the case with the pilgrim feasts, with the standards of justice expected of the people, and of maintaining pure religious expression by removing anything pagan and unauthorized.

Now, he reminds them of the necessity to present sacrificial offerings that are perfect in their being. He specifically mentions the shor and the seh. The shor is a bull or ox, an animal of the herd. The seh can be either a sheep or a goat, an animal of the flock. Thus, it is an all-encompassing expression to cover that which is offered to the Lord.

Of them, they are to be without any mum, or blemish, or any davar ra, or “thing evil.” Anything that was not absolutely perfect was not to be brought before the Lord. This thought was already carefully presented in Leviticus on several occasions, but a good all-encompassing explanation is found in Leviticus 22 –

“Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it shall not be acceptable on your behalf. 21 And whoever offers a sacrifice of a peace offering to the Lord, to fulfill his vow, or a freewill offering from the cattle or the sheep, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it. 22 Those that are blind or broken or maimed, or have an ulcer or eczema or scabs, you shall not offer to the Lord, nor make an offering by fire of them on the altar to the Lord. 23 Either a bull or a lamb that has any limb too long or too short you may offer as a freewill offering, but for a vow it shall not be accepted.” Leviticus 22:20-23

As was seen in our text verse today, this was something Israel did. What they would never present to their human rulers, they gladly brought before the Lord. And the offense is twofold. This wasn’t just an offense because of their negative attitude toward Him, which was certainly bad enough. It was further an offense against the typology of the coming Christ.

In offering marred sacrifices, it diminished their perception of what God would do in Him because these anticipated Him. The question one might ask is, “What kind of a Messiah were the people anticipating.” Would He be perfect and without spot, or were they expecting God to provide something flawed, just as they did towards Him? Their attitude towards Him reflected their thoughts about Christ. But the word says otherwise –

“And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:17-19

As a side note concerning these first words of Chapter 17, the KJV says, “…any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evilfavouredness.” It should not be necessary for the average reader of the Bible to have to carry around a lexicon in order to understand the intent being conveyed.

The Hebrew reads, kol davar ra, “all thing evil.” Coming upon words like “evilfavouredness” in archaic translations shows how good it is that we have up to date translations for people to appreciate what is being said. Concerning such blemished or evilfavouredly animals being presented, Moses says…

1 (con’t) for that is an abomination to the Lord your God.

The Hebrew is emphatic: ki toavat Yehovah elohekha hu – “for abomination Yehovah your God it.” Nothing further needs to be said. No further words of explanation are required. The law has been given, Moses repeats it now, and it is the expectation henceforth. God is great, and what is offered to Him is to reflect that greatness. Anything else is abominable to Him.

“If there is found among you, within any of your gates which the Lord your God gives you, a man or a woman who has been wicked in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing His covenant,

The idea here is similar to that of Chapter 13. There, it was an active attempt by others who were working to turn people away from the Lord, whether it was a person in general, someone close in friendship or relationship, or even a town of Israel. The idea was actively trying to turn others away from serving the Lord. Here, it is rather a person who has turned away on his or her own, as is seen in the next words…

who has gone and served other gods and worshiped them,

Such a person is a member of the covenant community. He has been considered a servant of the Lord because of that covenant relationship, and yet he (or she) has departed from that in order to serve elohim akherim, or “gods other” and bow down to them.

The idea here of serving could be burning incense to them, sacrificing to them, and so on. It is a form of physical service. The word translated as “worship” means to bow down to. Thus, worshipping, as if a master or overlord, is implied. What rightly belonged to the Lord has been transferred to another…

3 (con’t) either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven,

The Hebrew says l’kal tseva ha’shemayim – “to all host the heavens.” The thought has already been seen in Deuteronomy 4 –

“And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.” Deuteronomy 4:19

Not only did Genesis clearly indicate that these things were created by the Lord, but He has given them to all peoples under the heavens. The same sun, moon, and stars that shine over Jerusalem also shine over Moscow. They are in view at one time and out of view at another.

These things were never intended to be objects of worship. The heavens, being plural, means any and every view of the sky by man at any point in time. If these were gods, they would – like the Lord – always be present. But the Lord has divided them among the peoples because He is the Creator of them, and the One who appoints their seasons.

Therefore, these have been given by the Lord to serve man, not to be served by men. As He created them, the departure to them as “another god” was reprehensible enough, but to worship something clearly stated as having been created by Him – and thus not a god at all – would be perfectly demeaning of His authority. With that noted, Moses next says…

3 (con’t) which I have not commanded,

Two points of interest concerning these words come forth. First, instead of saying, “which I have forbidden,” He says it in the negative, lo tsiviti, or “no have I commanded.” In this, it produces a highly emphatic pronouncement.

But more, it is stated in the first person. The Lord takes up the speech, right in the middle of Moses’ words. This has already happened several times in Deuteronomy, such as in Chapter 7 –

“For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the Lord will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly.” Deuteronomy 7:4

One can almost sense the burning anger of the Lord at just the thought of what lies ahead. The Spirit is inspiring Moses to speak, and then right in the middle of his discourse, the Lord interjects His own words. It is a rather remarkable thing to consider. With the Lord’s words spoken out, Moses again takes up the conversation…

and it is told you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently.

As with the whole passage, the words are in the singular. Moses is either speaking to each person individually, or to the nation collectively. Probably the latter as appears the case from later verses. Either way, it is personal and very direct. The thing is brought forth and a process of inquiry is thus to be taken…

4 (con’t) And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel,

The Hebrew is again very precise: v’hineh, emet, nakon ha’davar – “And behold! True! Certain the word.” What was brought forth has been confirmed. The matter is established, and the offense is made manifest.

The importance of the matter is brought forth with the final word, b’yisrael, or “in Israel.” The offense has occurred among the covenant people, by a member of that people, and it is brought to light among that people. To not take action would be to deny the responsibility of every aspect of the matter.

There is the responsibility of the people because of who they are. There is the responsibility to the covenant that they agreed to. And there is the responsibility to the Lord with whom the covenant was made. Therefore…

then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing,

The Hebrew is again very emphatic – “and you shall bring out to your gates the man that or the woman that.” The idea by the emphasis is that there was to be no leniency regardless of who it was that did it. It could be someone famous, wealthy, in the priesthood, or a noble.

Whoever it was, he (or she) was to be taken out to the gates. As a point of clarification, this is not the same as was seen in Leviticus and Numbers where offenders were taken outside the camp and stoned. The reason for that was to not defile the camp of the Lord.

Once in the land of Canaan, the idea was not that the city would be defiled. Rather, it is because the gates of the city are the place where judgment is rendered among the city people. If someone was expelled from a city, he would be taken to the gates as a sign of his judgment and shoved out, “Beat it, buddy. And don’t come back!”

This is the same idea. They are taken out to the gates for judgment and then stoned outside them as a sign of judgment, “You are thus expelled from Israel.” It is to that place the person was to be taken…

5 (con’t) and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones.

eth ha’ish o eth ha’issah u-seqaltam ba’abamin v’metu – “the man or the woman and shall stone them in the stones and they die.” The same who are taken to the gates are the ones who are to be stoned. And they are to be stoned until they have expired. The entire thought is one of no mercy and no leniency towards such a person. With that in mind, a protection is given in this regard…

Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.

The Hebrew is direct concerning the guilty – yumat ha’met – “shall be put to death the dead.” In other words, because of his guilt, he is already dead. Thus, it is an emphatic command to ensure that the one who is dead is put to death. He is beyond rescue and the punishment must be meted out.

However, that person can only be considered as “the dead” when his or her actions are confirmed. One witness cannot be sufficient for such a judgment. The precept here was rarely carried out, and violations of the command permeate the time of the later kings. However, there are also instances where the law was again picked up and followed to varying degrees –

“So they gathered together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa. 11 And they offered to the Lord at that time seven hundred bulls and seven thousand sheep from the spoil they had brought. 12 Then they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; 13 and whoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman14 Then they took an oath before the Lord with a loud voice, with shouting and trumpets and rams’ horns. 15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him with all their soul; and He was found by them, and the Lord gave them rest all around.” 2 Chronicles 15:10-15

Whether this was actually carried out or not, it was right for them to affirm the matter. But in due time, and at the leading of a new king, the nation would again fall away from the precept and the people would again serve other gods, bowing down to them. When the precept was obeyed, and a person was judged and found guilty, there was an important part of the process to be adhered to…

The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death,

The reason for this precept is because there are those who will eviscerate another with their mouths, but who would not dream of lifting a finger to otherwise do what needed to be done. This is to weed out such people, and to let them know that the guilt of blood would first and foremost be upon them.

In other words, what is determined to be a legal and judicial act is – in the case of a false witness – an act of murder. Further, the Hebrew says “hand” in the singular – “the hand of the witnesses.” It is a unified act by them. If they are false witnesses, their single hand is one of blood and the Lord will know of it.

7 (con’t) and afterward the hands of all the people.

The word “hand” is again in the singular. It is a unified act by the people, acknowledging that what they have done is for the collective good. They are one people united in one act of the hand.

7 (con’t) So you shall put away the evil from among you.

It is word for word and letter for letter the same as the final clause of verse 13:5. The word translated as “put away,” is ba’ar. It signifies to burn, or to consume and this is certainly what is on Moses’ mind. It is as if the evil has been purged through fire, and thus it is a point of purification.

Do not worship anything, but Me alone, says your God
In doing this, you will do well
I will keep you safe on this earthly path you trod
And will open to you heaven, instead of opening hell

I am the Lord your God, so you are to worship only Me
And I will lead you in paths of righteousness for My name’s sake
I will guide you each step, watching over you tenderly
If you will follow Me – may this be the path you take

Forget the false gods, all of which are only vanity
Don’t bow to the heavenly host, and you will do well
Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into idolatrous insanity
And I will open to you heaven, instead of opening hell

II. You Shall Put Away the Evil (verses 8-13)

“If a matter arises which is too hard for you to judge,

The word translated here as “hard” is pele. It is widely translated, but the sense here is “extraordinary.” It is something beyond the ability of the people to resolve. It is a matter of judgment that is…

between degrees of guilt for bloodshed, between one judgment or another, or between one punishment or another,

The Hebrew reads in a comparative manner: ben dam l’dam, ben din l’din, u-ben nega, la’nega – “between blood to blood, between judgment to judgment, and between stroke to stroke.”

This final word, nega, or “stroke,” was used many times in Leviticus when referring to a plague or an infection of leprosy. It may be speaking of a wound or stroke incurred between people in a fight, but it very well may refer to the inability to decide a matter of ritual cleanliness not clearly defined by the law, but appearing to be something that defiles – “Shall this person be deemed unclean or not?” Either way, what is clearly implied here is that a decision cannot be made concerning a matter.

The importance of this notion is that if a decision can be rendered, the matter ends at that time. There is no higher court of appeal within the land. If a judgment for stoning occurs, the person is simply taken out of the gates and stoned. If a person is fined, he is to pay the fine. Elevation of a matter is only made when there are…

8 (con’t) matters of controversy within your gates,

divre rivot – “Words of strife.” The idea is that there is no consensus on the judgment of a matter of judicial importance. When such a case occurs…

8 (con’t) then you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord your God chooses.

Wherever the sanctuary of the Lord is, the matter is to be taken there for a decision. This, however, may include some other location when dealing with a judge because the judges of Israel did not necessarily judge from the location of the sanctuary.

However, the accounts of the judges show that they led Israel according to the word of the Lord. The reason for noting this distinction is seen in the next verse. Either way, in such a case, the decision is taken out of the hands of the city and presented before the Lord’s representatives…

And you shall come to the priests, the Levites, and to the judge there in those days, and inquire of them;

There are at least two categories here, and maybe three. It may say, “the priests the Levites,” or “the priests, the Levites.” The former is certainly correct, thus making only two categories – “the priests the Levites” and “the judge.”

As this is the case, the priests would decide matters of Levitical law, and the judge would decide the other laws. This seems obvious because it is apparent that Joshua was to lead Israel upon the death of Moses, not the priests.

At some point, Joshua would then be succeeded by another, and so on. And this line of judges (later to be kings) was not responsible for matters of Levitical law. And the Levitical priesthood was not responsible for matters outside of their priestly duties.

In other words, the structure of authority in Israel is being implied here in these words, and it is a structure that clearly defines the parameters of the two branches. Understanding this, in such a case, and whichever one applied…

9 (con’t) they shall pronounce upon you the sentence of judgment.

The Hebrew reads, “word the judgment.” Whatever they spoke forth was to be considered final and binding. In such a matter, though, it would keep things harmonious within the city. If there was strife about a judgment, that strife was to be left behind once the matter was elevated and the decision was rendered.

10 You shall do according to the sentence

v’asita al pi ha’davar – “And you shall do upon mouth the word.” Whatever the spoken word of the priest or judge was, it was to be considered binding and it was to be performed accordingly…

10 (con’t) which they pronounce upon you in that place which the Lord chooses.

Again, as noted in verse 8, judges of Israel did not necessarily judge from the place of the sanctuary. For example –

“Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.” Judges 4:4, 5

Despite the location, this is certainly what is being referred to by Moses. The place of the priest, or the place of the judge, is the place that the Lord chooses for such a decision. In going there, the decision would be rendered and final, as is next noted…

10 (con’t) And you shall be careful to do according to all that they order you.

The word translated as “order” is yarah. It signifies to throw or shoot, such as an arrow. Figuratively, then, it means to point out, teach, or instruct. One shoots an arrow to hit a mark. In speaking out what is decided, that is the mark that has been set, and it is to be followed…

11 According to the sentence of the law in which they instruct you,

al pi ha’torah asher yorukha – “Upon mouth the law which they instruct you.” Again, Moses uses the word yarah. It is as if a mark was made, it was determined as such, and it is binding.

This is more poignant because the word torah, or law, comes from yarah. If one wanted to loosely, but notably, paraphrase this, they could say, “Upon the mouth of instruction by which you were instructed.” Everything is coming back to the instruction, the law, which is to take preeminence in all such matters. When the law is given it is to be heeded…

11 (con’t) according to the judgment which they tell you, you shall do;

v’al ha’mishpat asher yomeru lekha taaseh – “and upon the judgment which they say to you, you shall do.” The previous clause spoke of the law. This clause speaks of the interpretation of the law. The judgment was based on the law, and the judgment is now the law which is to be performed. In this, Moses uses the word amar – to say. It is a word that implies participation in what is spoken.

In this case, those who receive the judgment are to communicate that judgment as they have received it to the one the judgment is directed to.

11 (con’t) you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left from the sentence which they pronounce upon you.

These words are probably as much for the judges who disputed in the first place as they are for the one to whom judgment is ultimately pronounced. In other words, there was a hearing at the gate of the city where the elders gathered. No judgment was rendered because there was no agreement in judgment. Because of this, they took the case to the ultimate place of judgment.

With the decision rendered, one of the city judges will be unhappy about the decision, but that is irrelevant. Whatever is decided upon by the authority is to be heeded without addition or subtraction, signified by the term yamin u-semol, or “right and left.” The course the arrow flew is where the decision lies. It is this standard that is reflected in the way King Jehoshaphat organized his kingdom –

So Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem; and he went out again among the people from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim, and brought them back to the Lord God of their fathers. Then he set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, and said to the judges, “Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.” 2 Chronicles 19:4-7

Interestingly, his name, Yehoshaphat, signifies exactly what the account records. It is a compound name – Yeho, is derived from Yehovah and shaphat signifies “judge.” Thus, it means Yah has Judged, or Yah Judges. As far as the judgment once it is rendered, the matter is settled and fixed, or else…

12 Now the man who acts presumptuously

It is a preposition and a noun, not an adverb: v’ha’ish asher yaaseh b’zadon – “And the man who acts in presumption.” It is a new word, zadon. It signifies insolence or presumption, coming from the word zud, meaning “to boil.” In other words, the person is like a boiling pot that refuses to act properly…

12 (con’t) and will not heed the priest

This shows that what was surmised earlier is correct. When it said, “the priests the Levites,” it was referring to only one category. A priest is the one who would decide the matter of Levitical law. One would generally assume it would be the high priest, but any priest could certainly act in his stead.

12 (con’t) who stands to minister there before the Lord your God,

Only the priests could stand and minister before the Lord. Levites could only minister between the priests and the people. Thus, this would be the high priest or his representative who would stand in this capacity. When they interpreted the law, it was considered on behalf of the Lord. For matters of non-Levitical law…

12 (con’t) or the judge,

Whoever was the appointed judge for non-priestly matters, that person was to be heeded, just as if the Lord had rendered the decision. Should that not be heeded by a city judge, or by the person on whom the judgment was rendered…

12 (con’t) that man shall die.

The words are emphatic: u-met ha’ish ha’hu – “and dead the man the him.” The judgment was made by the Lord’s representative. There could be no excuse and no appeal because he had not acted presumptuously against a person, but against the Lord who chose that person. In such a case…

12 (con’t) So you shall put away the evil from Israel.

Moses again uses the word ba’ar, to burn or consume, but instead of saying “from among you,” he says, “from Israel.” Such a person wasn’t just a local cancer, but one who infected the entire nation. He was to be eliminated. And that, for a very good reason…

*13 (fin) And all the people shall hear and fear, and no longer act presumptuously.

Moses now uses the verb zud, or to boil, that was the source of the noun just spoken forth. The matter would become known throughout the land, and it would be a source of fear to those who judged. When the decision of the Lord was given, they were to comply with the decision.

Likewise, those who stood for judgment would know that if they refused to comply with the decision of the chosen authority, they were refusing to comply with the word of the Lord. As the Law of Moses was to be the standard for the people, to fail to act in accord with the judgment was to fail to uphold the law.

The difference between the person in verses 1-7 and the person in verses 8-13 is which god they had turned to. In the first section, it was to a false god external from them – the stars, the sun, the moon, and so on. In the second section, it was to the false god of self. The person had placed his decision above that of the Lord.

In either case, the person was dead before he was executed. Nothing could change the course of the decision because judgment was already rendered. The execution was just a point of completion for it. Unfortunately, this has become the norm in our society – and societies around the world today.

The Lord has spoken, but there is presumption in the leaders of the world to speak against Him. It happened openly and publicly in the House of Representatives at the end of February this year.

While one congressman from Florida was standing up and speaking of God’s design for humanity as defined in Scripture, another congressman, a Jew from New York – Jerry Nadler – stood up and said, “What any religious tradition describes as God’s will is no concern of this Congress.”

Unlike Israel under the law, Nadler has a chance to redirect his thoughts and humble his heart. If he does, and if he turns to Jesus Christ for mercy, he will receive it. But as he stands right now, he is a dead man, simply awaiting the execution of his punishment.

God will not be mocked, and He will not tolerate such overflowing presumption, especially not from someone who bears the name of this holy, righteous, and just God. Jerry Nadler stands as a sinner in the hands of an angry God. The choice is his. The anger can be quelled, and a right and propitious relationship can be restored.

Will it come about? I’m not holding my breath, but the same God who saved Charlie Garrett through an infinite act of mercy can do so for a guy like Nadler. Only time will tell. The point is that we all must face the Lord for decisions concerning our life and actions. How will we meet Him?

For me, I appeal to the blood of Jesus Christ. It is in His cross, and in that alone, that I make my stand. The law is not a place to find mercy. But Jesus Christ, who fulfilled the law is. I pray you will act wisely and do the same. Come to the cross and be saved by His blood. May it be so, and may it be today – to the glory of God who redeems sinners such as us.

Closing Verse: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:4-9

Next Week: Deuteronomy 17:14-20 Who shall it be? Only time will tell… (A King Over Israel) (53rd Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Shall Be Put to Death the Dead

“You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God
A bull or sheep which has any blemish or defect
For that is an abomination to the LORD your God
Such inconsistencies He can detect

“If there is found among you
Within any of your gates which the LORD your God gives you
A man or a woman who has been wicked in the sight
———-of the LORD your God
In transgressing His covenant, so he does do…

Who has gone and served other gods and worshiped them
Either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven
———-if such shall be
Which I have not commanded
And it is told you, and you hear of it, then you shall
———-inquire diligently

And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination
———-has been committed in Israel
Then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman
———-even if it is your neighbor Mr. or Mrs. Jones
Who has committed that wicked thing
And shall stone to death that man or woman with stones

Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death
On the testimony of two or three witnesses, so shall it be
He shall not be put to death
On only one witness’s testimony

The hands of the witnesses shall be the first
Against him to put him to death, so they shall do
And afterward the hands of all the people
So you shall put away the evil from among you

“If a matter arises which is too hard for you to judge
Between degrees of guilt for bloodshed
Between one judgment or another
Or between one punishment or another, as I have said…

Matters of controversy within your gates
Then you shall arise and go
Up to the place which the LORD your God chooses
Thus, it shall be so

And you shall come to the priests
The Levites, and to the judge there in those days, as you are sent
And inquire of them
They shall pronounce upon you the sentence of judgment

You shall do according to
The sentence which they pronounce upon you, so you shall do
In that place which the LORD chooses
And you shall be careful to do according to all that they order you

According to the sentence of the law in which they instruct you
According to the judgment which they tell you, you shall do
You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left
From the sentence which they pronounce upon you

Now the man who acts presumptuously
And will not heed the priest who stands
To minister there before the LORD your God, or the judge
That man shall die just as the law demands

So you shall put away the evil from Israel
And all the people shall hear and fear
And no longer act presumptuously
The word will go out far and near

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God a bull or sheep which has any blemish or defect, for that is an abomination to the Lord your God.

“If there is found among you, within any of your gates which the Lord your God gives you, a man or a woman who has been wicked in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing His covenant, who has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded, and it is told you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel, then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones. Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness. The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you.

“If a matter arises which is too hard for you to judge, between degrees of guilt for bloodshed, between one judgment or another, or between one punishment or another, matters of controversy within your gates, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord your God chooses. And you shall come to the priests, the Levites, and to the judge there in those days, and inquire of them; they shall pronounce upon you the sentence of judgment. 10 You shall do according to the sentence which they pronounce upon you in that place which the Lord chooses. And you shall be careful to do according to all that they order you. 11 According to the sentence of the law in which they instruct you, according to the judgment which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left from the sentence which they pronounce upon you. 12 Now the man who acts presumptuously and will not heed the priest who stands to minister there before the Lord your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So you shall put away the evil from Israel. 13 And all the people shall hear and fear, and no longer act presumptuously.

 

Deuteronomy 16:13-22 (Observe the Feast of Tabernacles)

Deuteronomy 16:13-22
Observe the Feast of Tabernacles

The Passover and the first two khag, or pilgrim feasts, have been detailed. In our passage today, Moses turns to the third of these pilgrim feasts, Tabernacles. Of this feast, Charles Ellicott states –

“The Passover is His sacrifice and death. We keep the feast of unleavened bread by serving Him in ‘sincerity and truth.’ The Feast of Tabernacles has not yet been fulfilled by our Lord like the two other great feasts of the Jewish calendar. Unfulfilled prophecies regarding it may be pointed out, as in Zechariah 14.” Charles Ellicott

Ellicott is correct concerning the Passover. It anticipates Christ’s sacrifice and death. He is correct concerning the Feast of Unleavened Bread as well, citing Paul as a demonstration of it being worked out in our lives.

But… is it correct that the Feast of Tabernacles has not yet been fulfilled by our Lord? Anyone? For those of you who said, “No, that is a bunch of malarky,” you can give yourself a pat on the back. For those of you who went on to say, “That is actually heresy,” you get bonus points and accolades.

Is there anything else wrong with what he said? Well, yes. Yes, there is. He said, “like the two other great feasts of the Jewish calendar.” In stating it this way, he is implying that these are Jewish feasts. That is incorrect. They are feasts observed by the Jews, but they are feasts of the Lord in His redemptive calendar.

In matters such as this, it is important to be precise. As far as Zechariah 14, what he is referring to there, it forms our text verse –

Text Verse: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 17 And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. 18 If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” Zechariah 14:16-19

Has the prophecy of Zechariah 14 been fulfilled? We’ll no. It never has. As this is the case, then how can Charles Ellicott be wrong? Anyone? Let’s ask other questions from the Old Testament. Has Ezekiel 38 been fulfilled? How about Isaiah 65:22? How about Amos 9:15? No, no, and no.

And those are just a smattering of the as yet unfulfilled prophesies of the Old Testament, even some found in the law of Moses have yet to find their fulfillment. Unfulfilled prophecy does not equate to an unfulfilled law.

Unfulfilled prophecy means we have more to look forward to in the redemptive narrative. An unfulfilled law means we have nothing to look forward to – at all. Let us remember this and let us stand fast on the truth that the law is fulfilled. And, in its fulfillment, it is now set aside.

Keeping our categorial boxes straight in our theology is exceedingly important. In fact, when they get out of whack, the result can be eternity-changing for those who are so instructed. Let us handle this word with care and let us be sure to be precise in our words when it is called for.

This is what the Lord expects of us. Such truths as this are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us 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. You Shall Rejoice in Your Feast (verses 13-15)

13 “You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles

khag ha’sukkoth taaseh lekha – “Feast the sukkot shall do to you.” The words now reintroduce the third of the three pilgrim feasts, here called ha’sukkoth, or “the tabernacles.” It was first noted in Exodus 20 where it was called ha’asiph, or “the ingathering” –

“Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: 15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); 16 and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.” Exodus 23:14-16

It was noted again a second time as the Feast of Ingathering in Exodus 34:22. It is these words that set the tone for the three pilgrim feasts and how they anticipate the believer’s life in Christ. Unfortunately, Israel – and many ill-informed Christians – see this Feast of Ingathering as being about the end-times Jews.

In other words, it is common to hear people equate the ingathering of the Jews to the land of Israel as a fulfillment of this feast. This is not only incorrect, it is also terrible theology. The feasts have nothing to do with that. The Jews are being brought back to Israel as a fulfillment of the promises found in the law and the prophets. They have seven more years under the law in order to come to Christ.

During those seven years, the large majority of the Jewish people will die. If the Feast of Ingathering were about the Jewish people, it would be a rather sad event, not one to be rejoiced in. Further, if Ingathering were about the Jews, it would mean it was not about the Lord because the Jews have not yet come to the Lord. There is error from every angle in this failed typology.

The eight Feasts of the Lord are fulfilled in, or made possible by, Christ. The three pilgrim feasts anticipate the believer’s life in Christ – whether Jew or Gentile –because of what He has done.

For example, Christ is the Passover that makes our sinless life in Christ possible – the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Christ is the first Sheaf cut down and presented before the Lord alive again. His work anticipates the believer’s life in Christ, sealed with the Holy Spirit as the guarantee that we too will be raised again – the Feast of Harvest. And Christ is the One whose work then allows our works to bear fruit – the Feast of Ingathering.

These three pilgrim feasts of Israel were conducted in the presence of the Lord and they each anticipate us living our lives in the presence of the Lord. Israel was living out an annual series of feasts, based on the Lord’s provision towards them which anticipated believer’s lives in Christ based on what He has provided to us during this dispensation known as the Church Age.

What the Lord provided for Israel is what made their pilgrim feasts before Him possible. What the Lord has done for us is what makes our conduct before God possible.

The greatest detail concerning the feast is found in Leviticus 23. There, instead of Ingathering, it is called Tabernacles. It would be hard to understand the greater part of the workings of the feast without reading or watching the sermon from that passage. The feast is introduced there in verses 33-36 –

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 34 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. 35 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it36 For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.” Leviticus 23:33-36

The feast is then more fully explained beginning in verse 39 –

“Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest40 And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 23:39-43

The Lord gave the name, the Feast of Tabernacles, and then He gave the reason for the name, saying, “I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.” There the Hebrew said, ki ba’sukkoth hovoshavti eth bene Yisrael b’hotsyi otam meerets mitsrayim – “for in the sukkoth I made dwell sons of Israel in bringing them out from land Egypt.” That is based on the words of Exodus 12:37 –

“Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children.” Exodus 12:37

The location, known as Succoth, was the first place Israel journeyed to after leaving Egypt. It may have been named Succoth at that time based on the fact that Israel dwelt in tents, or it may have already had that name, but either way, the point is that Israel had left Egypt, and that was based on the work of the Lord at the Passover – the slaying of the Lamb, the sprinkling of the blood, and the passing over of the people.

But one can only slay a lamb if there is a lamb to be slain. Of this feast, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown states –

“Various conjectures have been formed to account for the appointment of this feast at the conclusion of the whole harvest. Some imagine that it was designed to remind the Israelites of the time when they had no cornfields to reap but were daily supplied with manna; others think that it suited the convenience of the people better than any other period of the year for dwelling in booths; others that it was the time of Moses’ second descent from the mount; while a fourth class are of opinion that this feast was fixed to the time of the year when the Word was made flesh and dwelt—literally, ‘tabernacled’—among us (Joh 1:14).” Jamieson-Fausset-Brown

Unless one sees Christ as the reason for these feasts, there can only be wild conjecture. And even in knowing that Christ is the reason for them, there is still often wild conjecture. What is correct and why? That will be seen as we continue.

13 (con’t) seven days,

Leviticus 23 said, “on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest.” There is no contradiction here. The words are focusing on the seven-day feast itself because it is that which pictures the believer’s life in Christ, based on what Christ has done to make it possible. The seven days, like the seven days of Unleavened Bread (verse 3) refer to the period observed by the believer based on the work of the Lord. This feast was to be…

13 (con’t) when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress.

Some translations say “after” while others say “when.” Saying
“after” is incorrect, and “when” can be misleading based on how you interpret it. The Hebrew reads, “in your gathering.” It is true that this occurred towards the end of the harvest season, but not everything was fully harvested at this time.

Olives, for example, will continue on into the next month. Other crops may still not be fully harvested by the time of this feast as well. The idea here is that the feast is observed, like the Feast of Weeks, in the time of the harvesting. It was to be a time of celebration at the bounty provided by the Lord. As it next says…

14 And you shall rejoice in your feast,

As in verse 11 with the Feast of Weeks, it is a positive command. Considering the symbolism of the feast, it is understandable why this is stated. For now, we are to simply read the words as they are given. The men of Israel, the heads of these agriculturally based households, are told that they are to rejoice. Along with them…

14 (con’t) you and your son and your daughter,

As in verse 11, the wife is noticeably missing from the list. It goes straight from the man to the son and to the daughter. Like last week, this is a note by Moses that there is no need to mention the wife separately. The husband and wife are one flesh. As such, when the man goes, the wife was to go as well. Along with them, the children were to be brought along as is fitting. Further…

14 (con’t) your male servant and your female servant

During the pilgrim feast, none in the household were to be left behind. Those in the household, but who were not a part of the family, were to go as well. Along with them…

14 (con’t) and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates.

No person was to be left in the city. All who dwelt there were to go when the people loaded up and headed out. Once they had arrived at the place where the Lord resided, Moses again says…

15 Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God

shivat yamim takhog l’Yehovah elohekha – “Seven days you shall keep a feast to Yehovah your God.” The word “sacred” isn’t in the Hebrew and it should be italicized. Like in Exodus 23:14, it simply says, “keep a feast.”

Like during the other pilgrim feasts, it would be at this time that the people would bring their tithes and offerings and eat them in the presence of the Lord. It would be a time of relaxing, vacation, parties, dancing, and getting to see old friends, and meeting new friends. And Moses again notes that it is to be…

15 (con’t) in the place which the Lord chooses,

Again, as has been seen numerous times already, the unity of worship is what is being highlighted here. The people were to gather around one common sanctuary where the Lord dwelt. Thus, there is a note of exclusivity here.

If this is where the Lord dwells, and his people are gathered around Him, then those not gathered are not a part of what the Lord is doing. In other words, there are the redeemed of the Lord, and there are all others. For the redeemed, they were to keep the feast…

15 (con’t) because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands,

Israel was to keep the feast because the Lord would bless them. The point was to remember that the blessings came from the Lord. In turn, they were to bless the Lord in their time of rejoicing before Him. What their hands had produced was only because the Lord provided that it would be so. Of this, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown says the following –

“According to Jewish tradition, no marriages were allowed to be celebrated during these great festivals, that no personal or private rejoicings might be mingled with the demonstrations of public and national gladness.” JFB

If this is so, it is an unfortunate and legalistic addition to the word of the Lord, and it explains much concerning why they have had so much trouble in their history. First, the law never speaks of such a thing, and so it is an unsanctioned addition to the law. Secondly, the most propitious time for someone to get married is when their minds and lives are set on honoring the Lord. Such traditions are harmful, not helpful, to a right relationship with the Lord.

15 (con’t) so that you surely rejoice.

v’hayita akh sameakh – “and you will become only rejoicing.” It is a remarkable phrase. Again, and again, Moses has commanded the people to rejoice. Now, his words are less of a command and more of a statement of certainty.

The work throughout the year would be long, hard, and tiring. The people would be closed in at night, up early, and life would be good but maybe – as it often is – a bit boring. But to go out on a pilgrim feast would mean a different perspective, a time without work, a time of sharing in one another, and so on. In this, they would be nothing but rejoicing.

We are here in Your presence, dwelling in temporary tabernacles
And we are rejoicing in all that You have done for us
A fire is inside to warm us as each ember burns and crackles
We are safely secure as we await the Lord Jesus

Oh, to dwell in our eternal home; for this we long
May that day be soon, but we will rejoice until then
Hear our praises; hear our joyous song
Coming forth from the lips of Your redeemed among men

Thank You for our great hope, and the peace it does provide
Thank You for the surety we have in Christ Jesus
In His hope, we now patiently abide
Anticipating all that He has prepared for us

II. Pictures of Christ

We saw earlier that one can only slay a lamb if there is a lamb to be slain. After that, we cited a commentary that gave various views on why the feast is placed at the end of the harvest season.

One view not given, but which is quite commonly taught is reflected in the words of Charles Ellicott that we cited in the opening comments. Meaning, that it is not yet fulfilled. That is not only poor theology; it is heresy. To say that the feast is not fulfilled by Christ is to say that the law is not yet fulfilled by Christ.

As we noted in our opening comments, just because there are prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled from the time of the law, it does not mean that the law itself is unfulfilled. That distinction is both important and it must be clearly articulated. The Feasts of the Lord are just that. They are not Jewish Feasts, and they are not Feasts of Israel.

They are given in the law to reveal the working of God in Christ. In review of these appointed times, only three are actually designated as khag, or pilgrim feasts. The order from Leviticus 23 is first the Sabbath. Through faith in Him, He is our Rest, and He is our place of Rest. *Appointed time fulfilled.

The next is the Passover. He is our Passover Lamb and through Him we are redeemed from the bondage of sin. *Appointed time fulfilled. After that is the first khag, or pilgrim feast, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. That is based on Christ’s work as the Passover Lamb, and it is what makes the believer’s life sinless before God.

As we are so deemed, so we are to conduct ourselves. *Feast being worked out in us because Christ made it possible.

After that was the Feast of Firstfruits. It is a picture of the Resurrection of Christ. *Appointed time fulfilled. From there is the counting of weeks until the fiftieth day. On that day, the Holy Spirit was poured out because of the finished work of Christ.

This is the second khag, or pilgrim feast, the Feast of Weeks. As noted in last week’s sermon, it is the only feast that does not have a specific timeframe, such as “seven days.” It is fulfilled in believers, once and for all time for each believer, as they come to Christ and receive the Holy Spirit of promise. *Feast realize in us because Christ made it possible.

The next is the Day of Acclamation (Yom Teruah). It corresponds to the birth of Christ. *Appointed time fulfilled. That is followed by the Day of Atonement. It looks to Christ’s one-time atoning sacrifice for believers. *Appointed time fulfilled.

The events of the redemptive year finish with the third khag, or pilgrim feast, the Feast of Tabernacles. It is emblematic of our life in Christ before we are glorified. The final option suggested by Jamieson-Fausset-Brown is the correct one in the sense that Christ made it possible for us when He came and “tabernacled” among us. As it says in John 1:14 –

“And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.” John1:14 (YLT)

Christ “dwelt” or “tabernacled” among humanity. It is the same word that is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament when speaking of this feast. In other words, the Lamb that was slain was only slain because He had a body. That body is His tent, His tabernacle.

He came and tabernacled among us in order to make our Exodus possible, just as the slaying of the Passover lamb made the Exodus of Israel from Egypt possible. The first location Israel stopped at after the Exodus, Succoth (meaning Tabernacles), was selected to show that the people had been brought out of Egypt. They tabernacled apart from the land of bondage.

Thus, the name of the feast was given – Tabernacles. Israel’s annual Feast of Tabernacles typologically anticipated the lives of believers dwelling in temporary tents, awaiting their final glorification.

The very fact that the Passover lamb is what made the Exodus possible, and that the Exodus resulted in stopping in Succoth, or Tabernacles, demonstrates that the Feast of Tabernacles finds its fulfillment in Christ’s work of the past and not at some point in the future. The types were given in the Old Testament to point to what Christ would do in the New.

We are redeemed, and yet we continue to tabernacle in our earthly body. It would make no sense at all for a person to believe and then to be taken immediately to glory. Who would continue to spread the message?

Rather, there is redemption (Passover) and being deemed sinless (Unleavened Bread). There is then the sealing of the Holy Spirit (Weeks). And then there is the tabernacling with the Holy Spirit residing in us (Tabernacles). These all occur immediately upon belief, but they are logically ordered.

The other acts of Christ within the Feasts of the Lord are interspersed throughout the redemptive year as they occurred in the actual life events of Christ. As far as the khag, or pilgrim feast of Tabernacles, Paul clearly shows that it is being worked out in us, just as the other two are –

“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing   is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

There, Paul twice uses the word skénos, or tent, when referring to us in this earthly body. This life in Christ is our pilgrim feast. That could not be any clearer when reading the last verse cited from Paul: ὁ καὶ δοὺς ἡμῖν τὸν ἀρραβῶνα τοῦ πνεύματος, – “the and having given to us pledge the Spirit.”

The second feast, Weeks, is conditioned upon the first, Unleavened Bread. And that is conditioned on the Passover. Christ redeems from sin and then the Holy Spirit can move in.

The third feast, Tabernacles is an outworking of the second feast, Weeks. The Holy Spirit is given and the person tabernacles with the Holy Spirit because of Christ. The arrabón, or earnest deposit is what assures the believer that the final redemption will (not maybe) come to pass.

The symbolic point of the feast is that we will stay and continue tabernacling in the harvest, bringing all that are the Lord’s with us. And it is inclusive of all who are the Lord’s. That is evidenced in the words of Paul –

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28

The work by Christ is done. The appointed times are fulfilled, and the Feast of Tabernacles is realized through His work. *Feast being worked out in us because Christ made it possible.

Dwelling in these tents, we hope for our heavenly home
We await the day when we shall be taken there
But until that day, each place we roam
We do it knowing the Lord tends to us with care

He has filled us with His Spirit to carry us along
And with that, we shall remain content
We will praise the Lord in psalm and in song
Until our final day in this tent is spent

And then, we shall be taken to glory
A new dwelling – one to last for all eternity
Such is the marvel of the gospel story
Such is the wonder of what Christ has done for you and me

III. Justice, Justice You Shall Do (verses 16-21)

16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God

Because of the prominence of these words, the most common, and yet incorrect, comment concerning the pilgrim feasts is that only the males were required to go. Even more oddly, Joseph Benson goes further into the absurd, saying, “That is, from twenty to fifty years of age. The women were not obliged to be present at these solemnities; 1st, Because…”

Nothing like this is even hinted at anywhere in Scripture. There are no age limits at all on the men, all must go. This is simply stated because they represent the household. As has been seen half a dozen times, all people – without exception – were commanded to go up and be before the Lord. That is explicitly stated in Deuteronomy 31 concerning Tabernacles –

“And Moses commanded them, saying: ‘At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, 13 and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.’” Deuteronomy 31:10-13

All Israel was to go at each pilgrim feast year by year. And on the seventh year during Tabernacles, they were to hear the law read. The mandate to come was not just once every seven years, but every feast every year. It was to be…

16 (con’t) in the place which He chooses:

It is where the tabernacle was situated, or later where the temple was built. These three times are…

16 (con’t) at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles;

The three pilgrim feasts. They were the people’s responsibility to the Lord for what the Lord had done for the people. Likewise, they anticipate our responsibility to the Lord for what He has done for us. We are to live out our lives in sincerity, we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit, and we are to continue to work out our lives, bearing fruit to God for what He has done for us in Christ.

16 (con’t) and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed.

The statement was made in Exodus 23:15 and 34:20. The word translated as “empty-handed” is reqam. It gives the sense of something being vain. It was used was in Exodus 3:21 when the Lord promised Israel that they would not come out of Egypt empty-handed –

“So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed.” Exodus 3:20, 21

The intent here is that “Just as the Lord brought you out of Egypt (as Moses has so often reminded them) with hands that were not empty, so you shall come before Me with hands that are not empty. To do so would be a vain thing.” The Lord provided for Israel; Israel was to acknowledge that…

17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.

ish kematenat yado kebirkat Yehovah elohekha asher nathan lak – “Man according to gift his hand according to blessing Yehovah your God which He has given you.” This is surely speaking of the tithes and offerings that have been specified in the previous chapters.

The people were to bring these things. But tithes, firstborn, and so on are based upon what one has received. It is these things that are given. This, as you already know, means that they are to be sanctified to the Lord as holy and then eaten before the Lord. In the third year, they were to be handled according to the law of the third-year tithe.

With these words, a major section of Deuteronomy, that of the unity of worship, comes to an end. Now, without any fanfare at all, Moses immediately turns to a new section, that which Charles Ellicott calls, “the seat of the Kingdom of Jehovah.”

However, the seemingly abrupt change of direction is not really so. Rather, in order to ensure unity of worship before the Lord, there must be a unity of judgment among the people. Without this, there would be no remembrance of the law of the Lord that required the unity of their worship. With this understood, Moses continues…

18 “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates,

This takes the reader back to Deuteronomy 1. There he spoke of not being able to bear the burden alone. And so, he instructed “Choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men from among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you” (1:13).

He now notes that this practice is to continue in Canaan. He says that all cities (in all your gates) were to give 1) shophtim, meaning judges, and 2) shoterim, or officers. This second word comes from a root probably meaning “to write.” Thus, they are scribes.

The term “in all your gates” means “in all your cities.” The gate stands as representative of the city. But it is also a literal place for these people to work. Legal matters were brought to the gates where these men sat in order to have them decided upon. That is seen throughout Scripture.

18 (con’t) which the Lord your God gives you,

As Moses has consistently done, he reminds the people why they are to do these things by noting that what they have has been given to them. As this is so, they are to act in accord with the word of the Lord who gives and who can, thus, take away. They were to give (natan) judges and officers in the cities that the Lord gave (natan) to them. And this was to be…

18 (con’t) according to your tribes,

lishbatekha – “to your tribes” The word shevet, or tribe, signifies more of a political than a genealogical arrangement. Each tribe was to individually ensure the political system was maintained within the tribe, but under the parameters of the law given to Israel…

18 (con’t) and they shall judge the people with just judgment.

The words of this verse were probably what are being referred to by the Lord through Zechariah –

“These are the things you shall do:
Speak each man the truth to his neighbor;
Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace.” Zechariah 8:16

19 You shall not pervert justice;

The word is natah, it signifies “to stretch out,” “extend,” and so on. In other words. One can think of what is just being extended to what becomes unjust. Just think of any democrat-appointed judge and you will get the picture.

19 (con’t) you shall not show partiality,

lo takir panim – “no recognize faces.” In other words, justice is to be blind. One is not to favor the rich or take advantage of the poor. If it is a high official, a national superstar, or a son, there should be no more favoritism than if it is an arch enemy. There was to be one standard for all.

19 (con’t) nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.

The words are extremely similar to those of Exodus 23:8. The only difference is that there it says a bribe blinds the eyes of the “discerning.” Here it says, “of the wise.” Rather than allowing such morally corrupt things to occur, Moses says…

20 You shall follow what is altogether just,

tsedeq tsedeq tirdoph – “Justice, justice, you shall pursue.” The repetition of the word is its own stress. It signifies justice or righteousness. This was to be followed after as if in hot pursuit, as if hunting, as the verb indicates. It is the call Amos made to Israel, though they would not heed –

“But let justice run down like water,
And righteousness like a mighty stream.” Amos 5:24

When water runs downward, it pursues its path. Any obstacle to it is circumvented and the water continues on. This is what Moses is calling for now. This is so…

20 (con’t) that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

Moses, as he so often does, uses the term l’maan – “to end purpose.” The law is spoken, and the goal is given. The implication here is like that of verse 18. That which is given can be taken away. But more, that which is alive can be terminated, and that which is inherited can be disinherited. The words call out for right reason, proper conduct, and obedience to the word.

21 “You shall not plant for yourself any tree, as a wooden image, near the altar which you build for yourself to the Lord your God.

The word is asherah. It signifies a wooden image used as a symbol of fertility. These were entirely forbidden in the land. They were to be cut down and destroyed. But here, Moses specifically says “near the altar.” This doesn’t mean they are ok in other locations. That has already been noted earlier in Deuteronomy –

“But thus you shall deal with them: you shall destroy their altars, and break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire.” 7:5

Rather, the reason for including these words is because this is what those of the other nations did. Not only did they erect fertility symbols, but they specifically put them near to the altars where they sacrificed.

Everything about the rites and rituals of Israel was set and nothing could be added to it, or taken from it, without violating the typology of what it anticipated in the Person of Jesus.

Unfortunately, setting up such asherim near the altar is just what Israel eventually did. After this, a good king would come along and tear them all down, and then, along would come another king and erect them once again. The hopeless state of corruption in Israel permeates the sacred writings. Now, the chapter ends with…

*22 (fin) You shall not set up a sacred pillar, which the Lord your God hates.

The matstsevah is mentioned again as it was in verse 7:5 –

“But thus you shall deal with them: you shall destroy their altars, and break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire.” Deuteronomy 7:5

Not only were they to destroy such pillars that were formed by the inhabitants, but they were forbidden from setting any up for themselves. Here it says, “which the Lord your God hates.” And yet the same word is used to describe pillars set up by Jacob.

Because of this, it can’t be the pillar itself that is an abomination, but what it represents. For Israel, they had been given the necessary instructions, structures, and implements for proper worship that typologically anticipated Christ. This is the entire reason for the minute and exacting care.

As Israel was a people given in anticipation of Messiah, and as the law was given as a tutor to lead them to Him, then anything not sanctioned in the law would interfere with that set and uncompromising goal. Therefore, the Lord said he hated such things.

The perfect thought of what is being conveyed here is that of Hebrews 12:2 – “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.” In looking at what the Lord mandated in the law, the people were looking unto Jesus in type. When they looked to any other rite, idol, or practice, their eyes were being diverted from Jesus.

And, today, the same should be true with us – not in the shadow, but in the Substance. We should set our eyes, our minds, and our hearts on the Lord. As He is just, we are to be just. As He is impartial in His judgment, we are to judge likewise. As He is the embodiment of the law, we are to follow Him into the New Covenant, clinging to what He has done and cherishing it as if it is our highest joy.

Let us cling to the cross, boast in the cross, and revel in what the cross signifies – the riches of God in Christ poured out upon poor sinners like us, sinners that have failed to make the grade, and so the grade was imputed to us by Another. Thank God for Jesus Christ.

Closing Verse: “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’” Revelation 21:3, 4

Next Week: Deuteronomy 17:1-13 Until you get it, it’s rather awkwardly said… (Shall Be Put to Death the Dead) (52nd Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Observe the Feast of Tabernacles

“You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days
So to you I address
When you have gathered from your threshing floor
And from your winepress

And you shall rejoice in your feast
You and your son and your daughter, your male servant
———-and your female servant and the Levite
The stranger and the fatherless and the widow
Who are within your gates, as is good and right

Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God
In the place which the Lord chooses, so bring your singing voice
Because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce
And in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice

“Three times a year all your males shall appear
Before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses
———-and as I have commanded
At the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks
———-and at the Feast of Tabernacles
And they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed

Every man shall give as he is able, so he shall do
According to the blessing of the Lord your God
———-which He has given you

“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates
Which the Lord your God gives you; to where you are sent
According to your tribes
And they shall judge the people with just judgment

You shall not pervert justice
You shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe
For a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise
And twists the words of the righteous as I now describe

You shall follow what is altogether just, so you shall do
That you may live and inherit the land
———-which the Lord your God is giving you

“You shall not plant for yourself any tree, as a wooden image
Near the altar which you build for yourself to the Lord your God
You shall not set up a sacred pillar
Which the Lord your God hates in this land upon which you trod

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

13 “You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. 14 And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. 15 Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.

16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.

18 “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. 19 You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. 20 You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

21 “You shall not plant for yourself any tree, as a wooden image, near the altar which you build for yourself to the Lord your God. 22 You shall not set up a sacred pillar, which the Lord your God hates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deuteronomy 16:9-12 (You Shall Keep the Feast of Weeks)

Deuteronomy 16:9-12
You Shall Keep the Feast of Weeks

I’m always giddy about the thought of the rapture, except for one – and only one – reason. No, it’s not about an upcoming wedding, scheduled cruise, retirement, or coming inheritance. It’s not about my next anniversary (sorry, Hideko), or the thought of getting a new car (the old pickup suites me just fine).

There is, literally, nothing that I do from day to day, nor anything that is yet ahead of me that I can experience or possess that at all makes me think, “I really want to be here for that.” But there is something that I have done that keeps me from wanting to be raptured.

Our friend Sergio has memorized pretty much every password I have. He can access my computer and my life at any given moment to bail me out of a crisis, to print something off with my printer without asking permission (how dare he!), or to pretend he is me in order to send himself an email that he then sends back to me with a response to something I never wrote.

We are kids like that. But from time to time I send him the same email that involves this ability of his to access my life – “Sergio, if something happens to me, please be sure the sermons are read to the church.” He knows where they are, and it is his obligation to get them printed for either someone here, or for him personally, to read to the church.

That is, literally, the only thing I will wish had been presented before the rapture. But, as long as I keep typing new sermons, there will always be a time that a certain number of sermons will go unread – not heard by anyone. That is assuming, of course, that Sergio actually makes the rapture too.

It is for this reason that I wouldn’t mind punching my ticket a couple months before the rapture – if it could be planned that way. It is the word of God, and apart from seeing the face of the Lord with my own two eyes, it is all that I care about in any measure.

Everything else is temporary and will come to an end, but the word of the Lord stands forever, and I just want my part of analyzing it available for those who are left behind. When I sit down to type on Monday morning, it is a point of rejoicing because it is a blessing from the Lord that I can do so.

Text Verse: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6

The passage today tells the people to rejoice before the Lord, and that rejoicing is to be an acknowledgment of how the Lord God had blessed them. The temporal blessings of Israel are mere shadows and types of the spiritual blessings found in the church.

Where Israel celebrated the Passover with a lamb, we celebrate it with the Lamb. Where Israel celebrated Firstfruits with a sheaf of the first harvest of grain, we celebrate it in the resurrection of the Lord. Where Israel celebrated the Feast of Weeks with a new grain offering to the Lord, we celebrate it with…

Well, we will go through the verses and remind ourselves of some of the typology already seen in the past sermons concerning this feast. So, there is no need to spoil what lies ahead during the introduction.

But the fact is that every material blessing of these feasts for Israel is realized in spiritual blessings for the church. And so, how can we not rejoice? We were sinners and Christ died for our sins. We were in bondage, and Christ has set us free. We were without the Spirit, and we are now reconnected to God because of the Spirit.

What is there to not rejoice about when we consider where we stand in relation to where we were! Typing these sermons is a point of rejoicing because they analyze the word of the Lord from a perspective Israel had no idea about.

To them, they were words of law. To us, they are words of grace. To them, they spoke of condemnation. To us, they speak of salvation. When one sees Christ Jesus in what is presented, it goes from a temporal blessing to a spiritual blessing.

Yes, the law was a blessing to them because it unified them and kept them as a people, but it could not bring them life, except as it was finally fulfilled in Christ. To us, it is life because Jesus embodies what it presents. Let us consider this and rejoice before the Lord God all our days.

And if I die before the rapture, don’t feel bad – even one bit. It will be its own blessing to me and a grace from God. But… the rapture is still the best deal of all. We’ll leave such things in the Lord’s hands and continue on awaiting whatever He determines for each of us.

Until then, great things are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us 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. The Tribute of a Freewill Offering (verses 9 & 10)

The feast now to be described was first introduced in Exodus 23:14-17 with the introduction of the three annual pilgrim feasts –

“Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: 15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); 16 and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.
17 “Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God.”

This was repeated in Exodus 34:22 where it is called the Feast of Weeks. After that, it was detailed in the listing of the eight Feasts of the Lord. That will be cited in a few minutes. It was again referred to in Numbers 28 which provided details concerning the offerings to be made to the Lord during the feast.

Moses is repeating the requirement and he will build upon it in these few short verses. The main ideas to be conveyed here are in relation to the people’s responsibilities during the feast. Remembering that Christ is the fulfillment of the typology found in these feasts, there is to be a connection to His people in what He has done.

That is the purpose of the symbolism of these three pilgrim feasts. They take what Christ has done and then deal with the responsibility of those who participate in what was fulfilled in Him. What Israel, the people, did under the law as is recorded in these verses is to be lived out by the people of the church because of our relationship to what Jesus did.

The first of these pilgrim feasts was recorded and looked over last week, meaning the Passover which is immediately followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Christ is the Passover Lamb, and we are to live our lives in sinless holiness before God, represented by the seven days of having no leaven in the territory.

Obviously, none of us are sinless in our conduct, but because of the non-imputation of sin for those who have entered the New Covenant, we are deemed as sinless before God. When one is under law, the imputation of sin is the result.

However, Paul repeatedly conveys the thought that believers in Christ are not under law, but we are rather under grace. Without law, sin is not imputed. That is the idea which was typologically lived out by Israel when the yeast was purged from the land during that feast.

The next pilgrim feast, that of Weeks, will now present another typological anticipation. What Israel did under the law anticipates what we are to do under grace. What Christ did in fulfillment of the symbolism, we are now to participate in with the reality. Where the typology was only shadow, we now possess the Substance. With that, we begin with…

“You shall count seven weeks for yourself;

The words here and in the next clause follow after Leviticus 23 where the Feast of Weeks is first described –

 “And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. 16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord.” Leviticus 23:15, 16

It is “from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering.” That was clearly identified in the Feasts of the Lord sermons to be a picture of the resurrection of Christ.

As was seen in the earlier Leviticus 23 verses dealing with the Feast of Firstfruits, Christ’s resurrection was on a 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. As it says here, “You shall count seven weeks for yourself.” That is in accord with the counting of Leviticus 23, of which Moses is now restating for the people who are about to cross over the Jordan and enter the land of promise. And so, he says…

9 (con’t) begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain.

mehakhel khermesh baqamah takhel lispor shivah shavuoth – “from begin sickle in the standing, begin to count seven weeks.” Here, we have a new word, khermesh, meaning a sickle. It comes from kharam which is the act of devoting something to God through destruction, exterminating, and so on. This word will be found only here and in Deuteronomy 23:25.

It is interesting that the root signifies something devoted to God, and that is exactly what happens to the sheaf of the Firstfruits. Though the word is usually taken in a negative context, it can be positive as well, such as in Leviticus 27:28 –

“Nevertheless no devoted offering that a man may devote to the Lord of all that he has, both man and beast, or the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted offering is most holy to the Lord.”

This sheaf was solely devoted as a presentation to the Lord, just as the work of Jesus in destroying sin and annulling the law is solely set apart and dedicated to the Lord.

The sickle, as a tool of devotion, anticipates what happens to that which is cut down. Christ was cut down for the utter destruction of sin, but He was raised as an acceptable offering before the Lord because He had no sin of His own. The idea here of the Firstfruits as an offering before the Lord was precisely detailed in Leviticus 23:10-14 –

“When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord. 13 Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the Lord, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. 14 You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your Godit shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”

As I just said, this sheaf of the firstfruits, which Moses is alluding to here again, is a picture of Christ in His resurrection. Though He was cut down, He was presented alive before the Father, symbolized by the waving of the sheaf before the Lord by the priest.

As was seen during that sermon, the word translated as “wave,” nuph, gives the sense of “to quiver,” because of the motion of it vibrating up and down or rocking to and fro. Elsewhere the word is translated as “to wave,” “to beckon,” “to sprinkle,” “to rub,” “to saw,” and so on. Each of these implies motion and vibrancy.

In this was seen a picture of Christ, the true High Priest causing this preeminent sheaf to be vibrant before the Lord, just as occurred in the resurrection. His life that was cut down was reanimated. The fulfillment of that symbolism is found in Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 15 –

“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:20

The background information is necessary to understand the timeline of what Moses is now referring to in Deuteronomy. From that day, meaning the day of the presentation of this sheaf of the Firstfruits, seven weeks are counted off…

10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God

In this clause, the word khag, or pilgrim feast, is used. It comes from khagag which signifies to make a pilgrimage or a pilgrim feast. That, in turn, comes from a primitive root signifying to move in a circle. Thus, one thinks of being giddy and celebrating.

When this term is used, it signifies the people’s part of what the Lord has initiated. In other words, the Lord was the first of the resurrection and thus the first of the church. He is emblematic of all others in the church who follow after Him. This khag, or pilgrim feast, is given as an anticipatory type to the people of the Lord whose work made the feast possible.

As far as the dating, the seven weeks after the Feast of Firstfruits means one arrives at the fiftieth day. We just read that from Leviticus 23, but let us read it once again –

“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. 16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord.” Leviticus 23:15, 16

The day after the Sabbath means a Sunday. It is the first day of the week. Fifty days after the Firstfruits of Israel equates to fifty days after the resurrection of Christ Jesus.

As a point of correction of doctrine which should always be remembered when discussing these things, is that these words of Leviticus 23, along with the words of Exodus (and elsewhere), and which form the basis for the timeline of the work of the Lord, clearly indicate that Christ, the Passover Lamb, was crucified on the 14th and raised on the 16th of the first month –

“Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.” Exodus 12:6

“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath [which would be the sixteenth], from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering.” Leviticus 23:15

Christ was crucified on a Friday and resurrected on a Sunday. This is evidenced in the Old Testament typology, and it is clearly revealed in the New Testament. For reference, a detailed timeline of this will be included at the end of this sermon, as posted to the Superior Word website, to substantiate this.

For now, the period of fifty days after Firstfruits is directly equated to fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus. As it says in Acts 2 –

“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 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 other words, Pentecost, the day which the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers – thus establishing the church – is the fulfillment of the presentation of the new grain offering to the Lord. The shadow is fulfilled in the Substance. The type is realized in the reality.

With the work of the Lord fulfilled in the giving of the Holy Spirit, the typology of Israel’s pilgrim feast is then applied to the reality which is to be lived out by those in the church.

It should be noted, however, that of these three pilgrim feasts, this is the only one that does not give a timeframe for how long the feast was to be held. Passover is one plus seven, meaning Passover and then seven days of the feast. On the first and last days there were sacred assemblies. Tabernacles is seven plus one, meaning an eighth-day closing affixed to the feast.

In Numbers 28, the Feast of Weeks only records offerings for one day, the day of firstfruits. If the people were there longer, the Bible says nothing of that. The reason seems clear. The Holy Spirit is given to the believer only once.

Unlike Unleavened Bread, which looks to believers living sinlessly before the Lord, and like Tabernacles that looks to living our lives working in the harvest field before the Lord, Weeks looks to the time when the believer is sealed with the Spirit. It is a one-time and for-all-time event in the believer’s life.

As a short insert to the thought of what occurred at Pentecost, the typology that anticipated the Lord’s work for His people – and that of how the people are to live out their lives in the Lord – reveals the false teaching of hyperdispensationalism.

It is a heretical doctrine which says that there are two gospels and that the church did not start until Paul was commissioned as the apostle to the Gentiles. If the teachers of this false doctrine understood the typology presented in the Old Testament, they would not make this fundamental error in thinking.

Despite this, the presentation of these pilgrim feasts anticipates those who are truly of the church, meaning saved believers in Jesus Christ. For Israel, at the time of the feast, Moses continues the thought of keeping the feast to the Lord…

10 (con’t) with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand,

misat nidbat yadekha – “tribute of free will offering your hand.” There is no article before the word tribute, as if it is understood what is being referred to. Further, the word misah, or tribute, is found only here in the Bible. It is from masas meaning to dissolve or melt. Thus, it speaks of abundance or giving liberally.

What is of note in this is that it does not say what is done with the tribute. One can assume that it is presented to the priests, but that is only an assumption. This is perplexing, because everything in the law is so precise and clearly defined.

As this is a freewill offering, it cannot be speaking of the mandatory offerings that are listed in Leviticus 23 and Numbers 28 that are prescribed for the feast.

The word nedevah, or freewill offering, generally speaks of an offering to the Lord, but one would think, like in such cases, it would then say, “to the Lord.” Again, it does not. The word is used elsewhere when speaking of the Lord loving freely (Hosea 14:4), making an offering of the mouth (Psalm 119:108), and so on.

Nothing concerning the offering (type or amount) is defined, and what is to be done with it is left undefined. All that is noted is…

10 (con’t) which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you.

The entire thought of this verse, and how it points in type to a New Testament truth, is surely summed up in these words. Unlike all of the other mandatory prescriptions of the law – each pointing to Christ in some way or another, this points to the blessing from the Lord and it is completely voluntary, without set limit, and without set type. It is what Paul lays out in several places in the New Testament, such as –

“On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” 1 Corinthians 16:2

“Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation. But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:5

For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:12-15

The Corinthians had made a freewill offering from their liberality. There was no condition set upon it. There was no amount prescribed, and there was no type mandated. Paul’s only desire was to see that what had been vowed would, in fact, be prepared and presented accordingly.

This sets the pattern for all other giving within the church. It is to be voluntary, of whatever amount is decided upon solely by the giver, and in whatever manner and type the giver decides is right. And it is to be, just as Moses says to the individual Israelite now, “as the Lord your God blesses you.”

The type in Israel is only a shadow of the substance for the church. It is the Lord who has blessed, and thus, each individual is to determine what that blessing means to him. Everything is to be in relation to the gratefulness of the believer for what the Lord has done in his life. With that in mind, and with that thought upon the heart, Moses will continue when we get to verse 11. For now…

Rejoice before the Lord! Again, I say, “Rejoice!”
You have been redeemed, what could possibly rob your joy?
Rejoice before the Lord! Lift up your cheerful voice
Let it be that shouts of thanks and praise you willfully employ

The Lord has given you of His Spirit, and for that rejoice!
He has sealed you for the glorious coming day
To Himself He will gather His people, so lift up your voice
And, let all of the Lord’s redeemed jubilantly say…

“We will rejoice in our God while we yet live!”
We will raise our hands and our voices to Him forevermore
To Him, eternal praises we shall give
When He carries us across to the other shore

O great and glorious Lord, in You we shall rejoice
To You, O mighty Savior, we shall forever raise our voice

II. Be Careful to Observe These Statutes (verses 11 & 12)

11 You shall rejoice before the Lord your God,

This is now the fifth of nine times the word “rejoice” is found in Deuteronomy. It is a positive command. The people are not to be unhappy or miserable. Rather, they are to actively rejoice before the Lord.

As the Feast of Weeks anticipates the giving of the Holy Spirit, and because it is also a pilgrim feast, it is typical of life in Christ, having been sealed with the Holy Spirit. Because of this, the imperative to “rejoice” is obvious, and it is abundantly stated in various ways in the New Testament.

Most especially, Paul says, “rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 3:1), rejoice in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:3), “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4), and “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

These, and other examples – found in abundance in the epistles – are given as prescriptions to those of the church because of the blessings of the Lord upon them, just as the people of Israel were to rejoice because of the blessings of the Lord upon them. The typology of the Old leads directly to the fulfillment of it in the New.

For those in the church, the words of our text verse today concerning every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ are meant for every saved believer. And the knowledge of them is to be shared with every person we can share them with. For Israel, rejoicing in the temporal blessings was not just for the men of the house, but for…

11 (con’t) you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you,

When I lived in Japan, I climbed Mt. Fuji one night. The goal for those who climbed was to leave at evening and make it to the top by sunrise. In this, you would see innumerable torches and lamps being carried up the various paths that crisscrossed the side of the mountain.

If you drove by it on a highway at night, the same sight could be seen for vast distances. Thousands upon thousands of individual lights zigzagging upwards toward the summit.

If one has seen the movie, “Field of dreams,” the very ending of the movie had something similar – a line of cars with their lights on stretching back for miles that were heading to the field at night.

The words of Moses in this verse are a matter of law. None were to be excluded. It is incorrect to say that only the men were required to attend the three annual pilgrim feasts. Rather, all the men were to go, and they were to be accompanied by all of these categories.

Like Mt. Fuji, Israel would have looked like an ant farm as every path, every road, and every highway was filled with people heading to the place where the Lord God resided. Some walked, some rode animals, some may have been carried, but all were heading to one specific location in order to feast and to rejoice.

It should be noted that the wife is noticeably missing from the list mentioned in this verse. Moses says you, your son, your daughter, your male servant, your female servant, the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, but nothing is said of the wife.

What seems obvious is that this is not saying that the wives were to stay home and take care of the pets. Rather, it is a way of acknowledging her importance within the household. It takes us back to the very beginning of man’s time on earth –

“And Adam said:
‘This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.’
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:23, 24

Rather than being an oversight by Moses, it appears he is reiterating the fact that the man and his wife are one. In mentioning him, she is implicitly mentioned as well. Therefore, there is no reason to include her in the list. It would be unthinkable for him to observe the feast without her. Thus, all were to attend…

11 (con’t) at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide.

These words have been stated again and again. The people were to gather in the presence of the Lord, right where He resided, and they were to rejoice and have a feast, even to the point of being giddy. It speaks of unity of worship This is the type. The antitype is first seen in Jesus’ words of John 4 –

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23

What is supposed to be the case, in order to fulfill the typology, is that Christians are to rejoice wherever they are. As the nations saw Israel rejoicing before the Lord in Israel, so the nations should see the people of the church doing so before the Lord at any place they currently are standing.

What Israel experienced for a week at a time, the church is to experience in a fuller way from moment to moment. We have been redeemed. How can we do anything, but rejoice? As he next says…

12 And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt,

As he has done time and time again in Deuteronomy, Moses again reminds the people of where they came from and what that meant while they were there. They were slaves, they are now the Lord’s people. They were in Egypt, Double Distress, and now they are on the shores of the Jordan, free from Pharaoh and from their harsh taskmasters.

Because of this, the act of remembering as stated here is probably twofold. First, it is to spur the people on to generosity in the tribute offering mentioned earlier, and also toward those who came together with them on the pilgrim feast. They were once in bondage, and so now they were to remember those who currently had less than they did.

And, secondly, the purpose of the pilgrim feasts was to have them experience the joy of delighting in the abundance of the Lord. In Egypt, they suffered and had lack. In Canaan, they could expect prosperity and abundance. In Egypt they were slaves. In Canaan they were property owners.

Because of these truths, the contrast was to be remembered by them so that they would always be grateful for what they did have. They were never to focus on what they didn’t have, but they were rather to be grateful for what they possessed.

And what they possessed and were blessed with was a result of the covenant that they agreed to. Therefore…

*12 (fin) and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.

After all of the words of blessing, abundance, and rejoicing, these words serve as a reminder and even a warning. Israel had what they had because the Lord gave it to them. They had nothing substantial to speak of before He did.

Israel was where they were because the Lord had brought them out from where they previously were. They could not save themselves, and without His hand of intervention, they would still be where they were.

Israel had covenanted with the Lord, and in that covenant, they had agreed to the stipulations. What they possessed, and where they were to be in Canaan was a result of that agreement. If the agreement was made based on obedience, and it was, then disobedience to it would incur the opposite of the blessing.

That was previously laid out, and Moses was telling them now that they were to carefully observe the stipulations in order to remain in that state of abundance, blessing, and the ability to rejoice. Should they fail, they could expect it to end.

In this, one can see the contrast and the similarities between the type and the antitype. When Israel was obedient to the covenant they agreed to, they would receive the temporal blessings. When we receive the work of the Lord, we receive the spiritual blessings.

Israel was freed from physical bondage, but they were brought into a spiritual bondage being servants to the law. We are the Lord’s freedmen from spiritual bondage, and we are brought in to being the Lord’s slaves to righteousness.

When Israel was not obedient to the words of law, they received temporal judgments, but they were never cast off permanently from the Lord. When we fail to live out our lives in accord with the obligations expected of us, we too can expect temporal judgments, but the Lord has promised to never cast us off permanently.

Israel was promised earthly reward; we are promised heavenly reward. Israel is a nation and a culture set apart from the world. The church is a body taken out of the world.

There are differences and there are similarities, but both reflect the workings of God in Christ, leading all to anticipate Him and to glory in what God has done through Him for us. Let us remember this as we contemplate the Feast of Weeks and what it signifies in us.

We have been given the Holy Spirit, poured out upon us. In this, we have been sealed for the day of redemption as the Lord’s purchased possession. It isn’t a day that might come, it is a day that is coming. We weren’t saved in order to fight our way until the end. Rather, Christ did the fighting and He prevailed.

There is no struggling to attain the promise. Rather, in Him, we are those who have prevailed; we have received the promise. And so, remember this. When life is beating you up, when it seems your prayers aren’t being heard, when you are sick, in pain, agonizing over circumstances, or even facing the end of your physical existence – remember this.

We have every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. They are ours with a guarantee, and they will never be taken from us. Cling to this, and even in times of the greatest of distress – even in those times – rejoice in the Lord. Again, I say, “Rejoice in the Lord!”

Closing Verse: “For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” 1 Corinthians 7:22, 23

Next Week: Deuteronomy 16:13-22 Hey ma! Why is everyone building little shackles?… (Observe the Feast of Tabernacles) (51st Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Observe the Feast of Tabernacles

“You shall count seven weeks for yourself
Begin to count the seven weeks, as I explain
From the time you begin
To put the sickle to the grain

Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks
To the Lord your God with the tribute, so you shall do
Of a freewill offering from your hand
Which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you

You shall rejoice before the Lord your God
You and your son and your daughter, also
Your male servant and your female servant
The Levite who is within your gates shall also go

The stranger and the fatherless
And the widow who are among you, all side by side
At the place where the Lord your God chooses
To make His name abide

And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt
And you shall be careful to observe these statutes
———-none shall be skipped

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

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Misconceptions –

1) Sign of Jonah / Three days and three nights. Matthew 12:40 –

a: The sign of Jonah is not the Lord’s time in the belly of the great fish. It is the message He preached and which will be rejected. Jonah cried out, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed.” As is consistent in the Bible, it was a warning, a day for a year. Israel would be destroyed in 40 years.

With a cursory look at Jesus’ words in Matthew, the sign seems to be is His death and resurrection. But Luke leaves out both the time frame and the entire account of the fish. When he does this, he clears up the context – that the sign of Jonah is his preaching, and what that preaching stated… that destruction was decreed in 40 days. The preaching to the Ninevites was the sign.

When Israel disobeyed in the wilderness, they were given a day for a year punishment for every day that the spies were gone. It was 40 days, and thus 40 years of punishment. In Ezekiel chapter 4, he was told to lay on his right side for 40 days signifying a day for a year of punishment for Judah. He was told to do the same for his left side, but for 390 days. It was a day for a year for the house of Israel. Together, they form the prophetic basis for the return of Israel in 1948.

In forty years after Jesus’ words, a day for a year, Israel was destroyed and carried away exile. The Romans came in and did what Nineveh was spared of. God’s judgment fell heavy upon them for failing to repent, receive their long-awaited Messiah, and conform to the will of God which is found in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

b: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:40

This is an idiomatic expression. It does not mean literally three days and three nights. This is a misunderstanding of the phrase as it related to Biblical time. It’s important to note that this verse is from Matthew and is directed to the Jewish people – Jesus as King.

Hebrew idioms would have been understood and not needed any clarification or verbal amending. To the audience Matthew was writing to any part of a day is considered to be inclusive of the whole day. It’s no different than terminology we use today. If I arrive in Florida on a plane at 11:30pm on 11 April, during a later conversation I would still say I was in Florida on that day.

The biblical pattern of “evening and morning” being a day goes back to the first chapter of the Bible and includes an entire day – regardless of what part of a day one is referring to. If you want to understand the term day and night as an idiomatic expression, simply type “day and night” into your Bible search engine and see how many times, throughout the Bible, the term is used in this way. It goes on and on. Jeremiah does a great job of using it in this way. Study!

The same verse, as recorded in Luke says, “And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say,

“This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.”  Luke 11:29-32

As you can see, Jesus explicitly states that the sign is the preaching of Jonah. In this instance, Luke was not writing to only Jewish people, but predominately to non-Jewish people – Jesus as the Son of Man. Therefore, the terminology is amended to avoid confusion. This occurs many times in the gospels and therefore the addressees (or the background of the writers themselves) need to be identified to understand proper terminology.

The same phrase is given in Esther 4:16 –

“Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”

This is then explained in Esther 5:1 –

“Now it happened on the third day (b’yom ha’shelishi) that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, across from the king’s house, while the king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, facing the entrance of the house.”

As you can see, what she said in verse 4:16 is explained as an idiomatic expression in verse 5:1. This same phrase is exactly repeated in the NT 13 times – “On the third day,” not, “After the third day.”

2) High Sabbath. John 19:31 –

“Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.”

The second issue to be resolved is that some scholars claim that John “appears” to place the crucifixion on a different date than the other writers. Because of this, an attempt to insert some second type of Passover meal, or a second Sabbath into the Bible. This supposedly helps the Bible out of an apparent problem.

However, no such meal, or Sabbath, is identified in the Bible – at any time. Nor is it necessary to make something erroneous like this up. The Bible identifies the timing of the entire Passion Week, dispelling the problem. The terminology for “Preparation Day” used in all four gospel accounts absolutely clears this up and will be noted as we go on.

The terminology “high Sabbath” is pointing to the fact that the Sabbath (there is only one Sabbath, Saturday) coincided with the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a “holy convocation” according to Exodus 12:16 and Leviticus 23:7. There are only six times in the Bible that something is called a Shabbath Shabaton, or “Sabbath of complete rest.” Four of them speak of the Seventh Day Sabbath, one concerns the Day of Atonement, and the last speaks of the seventh year Sabbath rest for the land.

Thus, there is no second Sabbath. A holy convocation is not a Sabbath. On a Sabbath, meals could not be prepared. However, Exodus 12:16 says –

“On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you.”

3) Four days. Exodus 12:3 –

“Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.”

This requirement has nothing to do with the Passover at Jesus’ time. Nothing in Scripture can be used to justify what is commonly taught, saying that the Passover lamb was selected each year to test it for defects. The opposite is true. The lamb was selected because it had no defect. Thus, this has nothing to do with Palm Sunday and the subsequent days leading up to Passover. Rather, this animal was selected early to ensure that every household had a lamb before the plague of darkness which fell on Egypt. It is never mandated again. People bought their lambs, in Jerusalem, from keepers of the flock who already inspected them. Further, they did it within a day of the Passover.

There are four things that occurred at the first Passover that are not required in the annual celebration found in Leviticus 23 –

  1. The eating of the lamb in their houses dispersed through Goshen.
  2. The taking the lamb on the tenth day.
  3. The striking of its blood on the door posts and lintels of their houses. And,
  4. Their eating it in haste.

The four-day requirement never occurred again. There is no biblical support of it. People have picked and chosen selected verses, without following through on the study, to come to an incorrect conclusion on this.

Chronology of the Events –

1) The easiest way to identify the day of Passover from the gospels is by reviewing the term “Preparation Day.” It is in all four gospels, and it exactingly identifies the day of the Passover –

Matthew 27:62 – “The next day, the one after the Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.” This was the day after the crucifixion. Matthew says it is the day “after Preparation Day.” After this is recorded the day after the Sabbath (Matt 28:1, the first day of the week).

Mark 15:42 – “It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached…” This is the day of the crucifixion. Mark says “It was Preparation Day.” Mark 14 ends on the night of Christ’s time in the Garden of Gethsemane. Mark 15:1 then identifies that it is “immediately, in the morning,” meaning Preparation Day.

Luke 23:54 – “It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.” This is the day of the crucifixion. Luke says “It was Preparation Day.” Luke 23:56 then says that they rested on the Sabbath, and then He was raised on the day after the Sabbath, Sunday, the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week (Luke 24:1).

John 19:14 – “Now it was Preparation Day of the Passover.” This is the day of the crucifixion. John says “It was Preparation Day.”

This definitively, and without any chance of coming to any other conclusion, identifies the day as Friday, followed by the Saturday Sabbath. As sad as it is that this is denied by many, it is what the Bible actually teaches.. The four gospels are harmonious in this, and it is… irrefutable. However, the rest of the Passion week identifies this as well.

And so let’s break all this down. Here’s what you need to know:

Paul plainly states that the Feast of Firstfruits is a picture of the resurrection:

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”  1 Corinthians 15:20

The feast of Firstfruits was a Sunday according to Leviticus 23:15 – “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.” Note: the Sabbath referred to here is a Saturday. We don’t need to go any further there to know this is correct and that Christ rose on a Sunday.

Here is the math from the gospel accounts. It’s all there in black and white and very easy to look up –

**“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.”  John 12:1 This would have been a Sabbath day (Saturday.)

**“The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.”  John 12:12 This would have been 5 days before the Passover, meaning Sunday (Palm Sunday) as the Passover would have started Thursday night at sundown and run until Friday night at sundown (remember biblical days start at sundown).

The account couldn’t be clearer that the next day after the Passover was a Sabbath. This is indicated several times. As I said, some people have attempted to use the terminology in John (it was a “high day” or a “special Sabbath”) to indicate that it could have been a day other than a Saturday. All special Sabbaths are specified in Leviticus and don’t necessarily fall on Saturdays. However, the term “Sabbath” as used in the other gospel accounts is indicating a Saturday. There is nothing to support, anywhere in Scripture, that there were two Sabbaths in a row on this particular week. Further, the special Sabbaths in Leviticus do not apply here. As I said, one is the Day of Atonement, which occurs in the seventh month. The other is a Sabbath for the land every seventh year. Neither applies.

In fact, such an analysis does an injustice to the reading of the text. Therefore, the special Sabbath occurred on a regular Sabbath day (Saturday). As I said earlier, it was a great (high) Sabbath because it coincided with the holy convocation which is the first day of Unleavened Bread.

From this we can give the entire week’s schedule (refer to the cited verses in your own Bible to familiarize yourself with what’s being said) –

Sabbath 6 before // John 12:1 – …six days before the Passover.  Bethany/Lazarus.
Sunday 5 before // John 12:12 & Mark 11:10 – The next day…  Palm Sunday/Riding the donkey.
Monday 4 before //  Mark 11:12 Now on the next day… Jesus cursed the fig tree.
Tuesday 3 before //  Mark 11:20 Now in the morning… The withered fig is identified.
Wednesday 2 before // The gospels are silent on what occurred on this day.
Thursday 1 before – Passover starts at Sundown //Mark 14:1 After two days it was the Passover… (this is the first timing mentioned since Mark 11:20 which was Tuesday).

Note:  Pay special attention to the fact that in the following accounts Mark is using Jewish time (sunset to sunset and John is using Roman time – from midnight) –

Mark 14:12 – “Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread when they killed the Passover Lamb.”  Here Mark, like Luke, unites the Passover with the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

John 13:1 – “Now before the Feast of the Passover….”

Both Mark and John are speaking of the same day – The meal, washing of feet, Gethsemane, etc.

***Christ crucified this same 24 hour period, but it was obviously after the final night at Gethsemane and then the illegal trial.  Mark is speaking of this event from sundown, John is speaking of it in Roman time (this is obvious because they use different terminology for the same meal where Judas left to betray the Lord… can’t miss this point and get it right).

6 days before – Saturday
5 days before – Sunday
4 days before – Monday
3 days before – Tuesday
2 days before – Wednesday
1 day before – Thursday
The Day – Friday

The problem with people believing that John was speaking of a different day (as mentioned above) is that they miss the fact that the terminology for the day is different based on the author. To clear up any misunderstanding here, one needs only to compare the uses for the term “Preparation Day.” Once one does this, there are no discrepancies in the accounts. Go back and review what I said about that earlier. The timeline is set, it is irrefutable, and it is the only biblical option. Anything else inserts unbliblical information into the record.

Based on the biblical evidence, there is

1) No discrepancy between any of the accounts.

2) Jesus was crucified on a Friday.

3) Jesus rose on a Sunday.

Again, the Bible says 13 times that He was raised “on” the third day.  This is mentioned by Jesus himself as well as the apostles. Therefore, it must have been Friday that Christ was crucified.

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Finally, please don’t believe (as some have claimed) that Christ rode the donkey into Jerusalem on a Saturday instead of a Sunday. This would have been the Sabbath. If He did, He would have violated the law –

“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.”  Deuteronomy 5:12-14

There is no need to make the assertion it was a Saturday unless you simply wanted to finagle the dating. There is also no biblical provision for an exemption to the commandment prohibiting working a donkey.

 

“You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. 10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you. 11 You shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. 12 And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.

Deuteronomy 16:1-8 (A Passover to the Lord Your God)

Deuteronomy 16:1-8
A Passover to the Lord your God

The opening words of the passage call out for the people of Israel to pay heed to at a certain time of year, keeping the Passover to the Lord. There is a reason for this that we will look at today. But for now, suffice it to say that if you don’t pay attention to something you are supposed to see, you miss that thing will most certainly.

The entire Old Testament asks the people of Israel to pay attention. In fact, if they had really taken the stories, the commandments, the warnings, and the shadows laid down there to heart, there is no way they could have missed Christ when He came. Everything pointed to Him.

At the same time, if you read a book that said someone was coming and would actually be the Messiah, would you recognize Him when He came? I mean, there’s that Guy. He doesn’t act the same as everyone else, but we saw Him grow up in Nazareth. He doesn’t look any different than we do. How can we be sure? Well, one way people believed in Him is found in our text verse –

Text Verse: “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.” John 7:23

Jesus did signs. Like the prophets of old, signs were given to confirm things. If there was a sign, it pointed to something else. The things Jesus did pointed to the fact that He was, in fact, Israel’s Messiah. However, it might still be hard to accept that someone who can do amazing things is really the Messiah. How far does someone need to go to actually prove – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that He is that Person?

If the people of Israel didn’t look at things like the Passover as being about them, they would not have missed who Christ is. But they took the Passover as a past act and a memorial of what occurred. Instead, they should have looked at it only as a stepping stone to the true Passover.

In seeing this, they would then see who He truly is. And from that, the Feast of Unleavened Bread would then make all the sense in the world to them as well. Someday, they will see Him for who He is, and they will realize it is all about Him, not all about them.

For now, we can see this if we are willing to acknowledge that we are in need of a Savior. When someone realizes that, the imagery of the Passover suddenly makes all the sense in the world. And the imagery of Unleavened Bread can then be understood in its proper context. This is why studying the law is so important. It is a marvel and a treasure box full of wonder.

Yes, great things are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us 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. The Bread of Affliction (verses 1-8)

“Observe the month of Abib,

shamor eth khodesh ha’aviv – “Observe month the aviv.” The word shamar, translated as “observe,” signifies to keep, watch, preserve, and so on. It comes from a primitive root meaning “to hedge about” (as with thorns). Thus, one can think of guarding.

Moses tells them they are to guard this month, meaning not forget, and be sure to observe. One would think, “It’s the Passover, how could they forget that?” The answer is, “Because they failed to guard carefully what they had been given.”

It is often said that the Passover is the longest continuously held annual ceremony in the world, being observed for 3500 years. This is incorrect. The failure of Israel to observe the Passover is noted several times in Scripture, such as –

“Then the king commanded all the people, saying, ‘Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.’ 22 Such a Passover surely had never been held since the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah.” 2 Kings 23:21, 22

One cannot observe what one is unaware of, and it is the words of Moses now that are intended to make them aware of this particular responsibility. But the Book of the Law given by Moses had been neglected to the point that Israel didn’t even know it existed.

Just one chapter earlier, King Josiah had the temple repaired. During the work, the high priest “found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord” (2 Kings 22:8). How could Israel carefully guard the month of the aviv in order to observe the Passover if they didn’t even know they were supposed to do so?

Moses’ words to guard the month were ignored until the Book of the Law was rediscovered. As far as the word aviv, it speaks of the March-April timeframe when the ears of grain are fresh. It was introduced into Scripture in Exodus 9:31, “Now the flax and the barley were struck, for the barley was in the head and the flax was in bud.”

The redemptive calendar for Israel was then set by the Lord in Exodus 12:2, saying, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” This was at the institution of the Passover. After that, designating the month as “the aviv” was first proclaimed in Exodus 13 while the Feast of Unleavened Bread was being described to the people –

“Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. On this day you are going out, in the month Abib.” Exodus 13:3, 4

The word aviv is used only eight times. Six times it is used to describe the month and twice to describe fresh ears of grain. It means “greenness” or “fresh” and it indicates fresh young ears of barley grain which come forth at this time of year.

In Exodus, it is also called “the aviv.” Thus, this is not technically the name of the month, but it is a designation. It is in this month, the first month of the fresh ears, that Moses says…

1 (con’t) and keep the Passover to the Lord your God,

v’asita pesakh l’Yehovah elohekha – “and keep Passover to Yehovah your God.” In this, Moses leaves off the article. Instead of “the Passover,” he simply says, “Passover to Yehovah.” He is making a general statement about what Israel is to do when they enter the land, even if it is about a specific event. The word pesakh, or Passover, comes from the verb pasakh that was introduced in Exodus 12. It signifies to pass or spring over –

“For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. 13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. Exodus 12:12, 13

Because of this, it is called pesakh l’Yehovah, or “Passover to Yehovah.” The Passover is on the 14th of the month of Aviv, as was commanded in Exodus 12:6. The specific time of the day when the Passover was to be killed was first defined in that verse as well –

“Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.”

The translation as “twilight” is misleading. It does not mean “in the evening.” Rather, the Hebrew term, translated as “twilight,” is ben ha’arbayim, or “between the evenings.” It is a phrase that is based on biblical time. In the Bible, a day is divided into “evening” and “morning.” Thus, there are actually two evenings to be reckoned. The first began after 12pm and runs through until sunset.

The second evening begins at sunset and continues till night, meaning the whole time of twilight. This would, therefore, be between twelve o’clock and the termination of twilight. “Between the evenings,” then, speaks of the three o’clock sacrifices at the temple. They were considered as the evening sacrifices even though to us it would be deemed as an afternoon sacrifice. With that understood, Moses next says…

1 (con’t) for in the month of Abib

Again, in this verse it says ha’aviv, or “the aviv.” In essence, “In the month of the fresh young ears, the Lord brought you out.” Also, this is the last time that the word aviv is found in Scripture. After this, the first month will be known by its proper name, Nisan, a name found in both Nehemiah and Esther. Or it will simply be called “the first month,” such as in Joshua 4:19.

1 (con’t) the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night.

As the start of a new day in the Bible begins at sundown, this then refers to the 15th of the month, when the moon was full. The words here seem contradictory to those of Exodus 12:22 and Numbers 33:3. They state –

“And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.” Exodus 12:22

“They departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the Passover the children of Israel went out with boldness in the sight of all the Egyptians.” Numbers 33:3

Moses saying in this verse that they were brought out by night is inclusive of the entire process of the Passover. The Lord accomplished the work of bringing them out by night, Pharaoh gave them permission to leave at night, and the people prepared for their departure at night. They then departed in the morning with the completion of the process.

Therefore you shall sacrifice the Passover to the Lord your God,

v’zabakhta pesakh l’Yehovah elohekha – “And you shall sacrifice Passover to Yehovah your God.” Again, no article precedes “Passover.” It is a general statement about the observance. It is a Passover to Yehovah and the statement encompasses not merely the Passover itself, but the entire feast adjoined to the Passover, meaning the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As it next says…

2 (con’t) from the flock and the herd,

tson u-baqar “flock and herd.” The Passover sacrifice was of the flock, either a lamb or a kid of the goats. By saying “flock and herd” here, it is referring not only to all of the sacrifices mandated throughout the entire Feast of Unleavened Bread which are precisely detailed in Numbers 28:16-25, but also to any festival meals eaten during the week of feasting. This could include firstborn of the flocks, tithe animals, and so on.

In other words, “Passover” without the article, is being used to signify the entire Feast. This is seen in the New Testament, where Luke also leaves off the article before “Passover” –

“Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover.” Luke 22:1

This is next mandated to be…

2 (con’t) in the place where the Lord chooses to put His name.

The unity of worship called for in the previous chapters continues to be conveyed here as well. Referring to appearing at the place chosen by the Lord is stated in one way or another six times between now and verse 16. Thus, it is its own stress and is to be carefully heeded.

All of Israel was to appear before the Lord, without exception. Next, as a continued confirmation that the term “Passover” used here is inclusive of the entire feast, Moses says…

You shall eat no leavened bread with it;

lo tokal alav khamets – “No you shall eat with it leavened.” The word khamets used here speaks of that which is leavened. This was originally stated in Exodus 12:15 –

“Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.”

For the entire feast, known as Passover, nothing leavened was to be eaten by the people. As Moses next says…

3 (con’t) seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it,

shivat yamim tokal alav matsot – “seven days you shall eat with it unleavened bread.” As the Passover is a single day, and yet it says it is to be eaten for seven days with unleavened bread, then this absolutely confirms that Moses is using the term Passover to speak of the entire feast, which is made up of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Moses next defines the matsot, or unleavened bread, saying…

3 (con’t) that is, the bread of affliction

lekhem oni – “bread affliction.” The word oni comes from anah, signifying to be bowed down, or afflicted. The question concerning this bread is whether it is referring to the bread itself, being tasteless and thus afflicting to eat, or is it referring to the bread as a memorial of afflictions.

It is probably speaking of both. The bread is bland and tasteless, and thus afflicting, but that is to then remind the people of what they had been delivered from and what they had been delivered to, as well as the process by which it came about. With that understood, Moses says…

3 (con’t) (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste),

The word translated as “haste” is khipazon. It signifies haste, but it implies haste which is in a state of alarm. It comes from the verb khaphaz – to be in trepidation, hurry, or alarm. This must speak of the entire process.

The people were in bondage in Egypt and were thus afflicted. The destroyer passed through and only the blood would save them, but others would die. The people were brought out quickly and without time to prepare their bread. They had a hope of a new and better future in a fairer land, but they had to endure the trials of getting to that future on the march there. And so on.

Thus, the bread of affliction is that tasteless bread which speaks of everything the people had faced and would continue to face in the process of their redemption from Egypt.

3 (con’t) that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life.

Moses says: l’maan tizkor – “to end purpose you may remember.” The eating of the bread during this feast has a specific intent, it is to remind the people. Moses ties the day in which they were brought out into the reason for eating the bread of affliction. And that remembrance was to be for “all the days of your life.”

The idea here is, essentially, “You are not to forget where you came from, how you got here, and who got you here.” With that understood, Moses says…

And no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory for seven days,

Here Moses uses the word seor, or leaven for the last time in Scripture. The word used earlier referred to that which is leavened. This word refers to the leaven itself. In other words, not only is there to be nothing leavened in the houses, but there was not to be any leaven at all. It is an absolute prohibition in all ways. This takes the reader back to Exodus 12 again where all three of the pertinent words are used in one verse –

“Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread [matsot]. On the first day you shall remove leaven [seor] from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread [khamets] from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.” Exodus 12:15

4 (con’t) nor shall any of the meat which you sacrifice the first day at twilight remain overnight until morning.

This is referring to the paschal lamb as was originally stated –

“And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. 10 You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire.” Exodus 12:7-10

Again, the word “twilight” must be explained. In using the term ba’arev, or “in the evening,” it is referring to the 14th of the month when the lamb was slaughtered. However, the meal is eaten in the night, making it the 15th of the month.

Here, it reads: asher tizbakh ba’erev ba’yom ha’rishon la’boqer – “which you sacrifice in the evening in the day the first to the morning.” The lamb is slain on the 14th, Passover. The evening is then the transition, the folding over into the next day. And then the 15th begins the first day of Unleavened Bread. Nothing that was eaten from the start of that day was to be left at morning time.

“You may not sacrifice the Passover

Here the article is used, ha’pasakh, or “the Passover.” It is not speaking in general terms, but rather of the sacrificial lamb itself which stands as representative of the day.

5 (con’t) within any of your gates which the Lord your God gives you

b’akhad shearekha – “in one of your gates.” The meaning is that they were not to sacrifice the Passover in one of their towns, symbolized by the gates of the town. Instead, Moses again speaks of the unity of worship, saying…

but at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide,

Again, as in verse 2, Moses refers to the place chosen by the Lord to make His name abide, which is thus referring to the location of the tabernacle/temple. It is to this place that…

6 (con’t) there you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight,

The phrase has to be taken in a general sense. Again, the word “twilight” is ba’arev, or “in the evening.” However, that has already been explained earlier as meaning, “between the evenings,” and thus, in the afternoon.

This is clearly understood from the rest of Scripture where the “evening sacrifice” refers to the afternoon, or 3pm, sacrifice – it occurs “between the evenings. It is at this time, and in the place the Lord chooses to make His name dwell, that this was to occur.

6 (con’t) at the going down of the sun,

Again, the words have to be taken in a general sense and with other relevant passages. The sun starts going down at midday. In the afternoon, the Passover would be sacrificed, and in the next day, meaning at evening when the 14th passes into the 15th, the Passover was eaten. Moses then says…

6 (con’t) at the time you came out of Egypt.

moed tsetekha mi-mitsrayim – “appointed time you came from Egypt.” This is not speaking of the time of day, but of the time appointed by the Lord for it to occur. It is a general statement of the entire process, all centered on the time of the sacrifice of the lamb. It happened during a particular month, on a particular day, at a particular time.

Everything is centered on that moment. From there, Moses then speaks of the events which occur at the outset of the next day, meaning the 15th of the month…

And you shall roast and eat it in the place which the Lord your God chooses,

Moses uses the word bashal which comes from the idea of growing ripe, as a harvest. At times, it means to boil or seethe, but the instructions for the original Passover explicitly said that the Passover was to be roasted over the fire and not boiled –

“Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails.” Exodus 12:8, 9

As this is now to be conducted in a large gathering, rather than in the homes of Egypt, it was probably cooked over a fire, but maybe with cookware or gratings designed to accommodate innumerable people. This is seen, for example in 2 Chronicles 35:13, where the same word is used twice in obviously different contexts –

Also they roasted the Passover offerings with fire according to the ordinance; but the other holy offerings they boiled in pots, in caldrons, and in pans, and divided them quickly among all the lay people.”

And again, Moses notes that it was to be both roasted and eaten at the place the Lord chose for His name to dwell. With that understood, he then says…

7 (con’t) and in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents.

As the entire feast goes on for more than a week, the obvious meaning of this is that after the people had gathered and collectively eaten the Passover and spent the night together, they then returned to the tents they brought, or to the places they stayed, during the entire week. This is again evidenced in 2 Chronicles –

“And the children of Israel who were present kept the Passover at that time, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days.” 2 Chronicles 35:17

The entire night of the Passover was probably spent in a large gathering with much celebration and enjoyment, followed by a long morning of sleeping. Moses next turns to the rules of the adjoining Feast of Unleavened Bread…

Six days you shall eat unleavened bread,

These words certainly do not mean “only,” as in, “This is the only thing you can eat.” Rather, any bread that was eaten was to be unleavened. Joshua 5:11 notes that on the first Passover in the land they ate both unleavened bread and the produce of the land, specifically parched grain.

This week of the feast would be spent at the place of the sanctuary, and it would certainly involve eating the tithes and offerings the people brought to the various pilgrim feasts. However, for this feast, only unleavened bread could accompany those things. Nothing with leaven was to be eaten during the entire feast.

Another point which must be clarified is that this is actually an eight-day event. It involves the Passover and then seven days. And so, when it says here, six days you shall eat unleavened bread, it means six days followed by one which is…

8 (con’t) and on the seventh day there shall be a sacred assembly to the Lord your God.

Here, a word previously only used in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles is seen, atsereth, or sacred assembly. It comes from atsar which signifies to shut, restrain, and so on. Thus, it is a completing ceremony which is dedicated to Yehovah. Although it does not say it here, unleavened bread was to be eaten on this day as well. That is clearly defined in Leviticus 23 (and elsewhere) –

“On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.” Leviticus 23:5-8

As a special convocation, but not as a Sabbath, it says…

*8 (fin) You shall do no work on it.

This is defined more precisely in Leviticus 23 where it said, “no customary work.” In other words, meals could be prepared, but no regular work was to be conducted. Thus, unless it fell on a Sabbath, it was not a Sabbath observance.

A Lamb, spotless, and pure – without any defect
Will be sacrificed in my place
And looking at that Lamb, I can certainly detect
The greatest love and grace… this I see looking upon His face

Oh! That I could refrain and not see Him die
Oh! If there could be any other way
How could this Lamb go through with it for one such as I?
Oh God! This perfect Lamb alone my sin-debt can pay

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Behold the sinless One, there on Calvary’s tree
He has prevailed and the path to heaven has been unfurled
The Lamb of God who died for sinners like you and me

II. Pictures of Christ

To get a full picture of everything that Moses summarizes in these eight verses would mean going back and watching quite a few sermons from Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. It’s not possible to fit everything into a short summary.

However, a brief review of what Moses said will give an overall brushstroke of what is being pictured. First, Moses begins with the words “Observe the month of Abib.”

He is telling the people, once and forever, to pay heed and keep watch during this month. That alone hints at the coming of Messiah. The Passover was conducted during this month and it was to be an annual memorial to the people. But the shadow would someday be replaced with the Substance.

If the people paid heed to the typology, it would be as clear as crystal to them what was occurring when the events coincided with the work of Christ. Without getting dogmatic about the significance of the word ha’aviv, or “the aviv,” it may possibly be a reference to Jesus’ words spoken on this exact day about fourteen hundred years later.

As He was going to be crucified, He said, “For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?” (Luke 23:31). Obviously, wood and grain are not the same thing, but the idea is. There is the fresh green ears and there is the moist green tree (as the Greek implies).

Of His words, Albert Barnes interprets the meaning as, “If they, the Romans, do these things to me, who am innocent and blameless; if they punish me in this manner in the face of justice, what will they not do in relation to this guilty nation?”

At the time of that which is fresh and green – meaning at the time of Christ’s work, fire is resisted. But to reject that greenness would attract the fire, meaning judgment. As Jamieson-Fausset-Brown then says, “If such sufferings alight upon the innocent One, the very Lamb of God, what must be in store for those who are provoking the flames?”

The entire point of the Passover is the presentation of an innocent Lamb to redeem the people from their bondage, meaning sin. And so, Moses told them to watch at the time of the aviv, meaning the green, and at that time to observe “Passover to the Lord.”

As noted, there was no article before Passover in verse 1. It speaks of the entire eight days of both Passover and Unleavened Bread. Thus, the term “flock and herd” speaks of all of the sacrifices of the feast, all of which speak of the work of Christ (see Numbers 28, and etc.). And that explains the constant repetition of the words, “the place where the Lord chooses to put His name.”

That is referring to Jesus, in whom is the Name of the Lord. He is the place where the people of God are to meet and share in those sacrifices which only prefigure the work He accomplished.

From there Moses noted that following the Passover the people were to eat unleavened bread for seven days. It is the Passover that leads into the Feast. As seen in previous sermons, it anticipates Christ’s cross, that leads into our sinless state before God. This is what the feast only pictured.

The people ate unleavened bread which pictures our positional state of sinlessness in Christ. Paul refers to it in 1 Corinthians 5 –

“Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for usTherefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Corinthians 5:6-8

When Paul says, “let us keep the feast,” he is not referring to the Passover. That is Christ and His work for us. Rather, he is referring to what the feast that followed the Passover pictures.

Moses then called it lekhem oni, or “bread of affliction.” As I noted this is surely referring to the bread itself, being tasteless and thus afflicting to eat, and it is also referring to the bread as a memorial of afflictions. As we saw, oni comes from anah. It is a word used twice in Isaiah 53 when describing Christ –

“Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:4

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.” Isaiah 53:7

That resolves the memorial of afflictions, but the bread itself is its own picture of affliction. As Israel was to eat the bread of affliction, it anticipates that we too will face our own afflictions –

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Just as Christ suffered and then entered into His glory, we are left here for a season, rather than being taken home immediately. And during our stay, we will suffer our own afflictions during this time of hope in Christ and of the glory to come.

Moses then went on to explain the reason for the bread of affliction, saying that the people came out in haste, and thus they were to remember that day all the days of their lives. This is exactly what happens to believers.

As noted, he used the word khipazon. It signifies haste, but it implies haste which is in a state of alarm. It comes from the verb khaphaz – to be in trepidation, hurry, or alarm.

We aren’t brought out of our bondage to sin gradually. Rather, we are brought out instantly, and certainly in a state of trepidation because of the sin we bore.

Those who understand the significance of the work of Christ in their lives know that the word “haste” hardly captures the sense. If we are wise, we will then remember that moment all the days of our lives. Never returning to the life we were saved from.

Moses then spoke again of not having any leaven among the people for the whole time of the feast. It is a picture of clearing it out of our lives – living for God and not with sin. It’s why Paul said to “purge out the old leaven.” But Moses continued by reminding the people to not leave any of the meat of the sacrifice till morning.

The idea here is that the feast anticipates our sinless state before God. As Christ died for our sins and then went into the grave that same day, we are to leave our sins behind. On the first day of our walk with Him, we are to live as if it is so.

As Paul notes, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).

Israel was redeemed by the blood of the lamb. They had nothing to boast in except what God had done. The deed was finished. They were to live for the Lord, and not for the world, from that time on. This is what they were to remember each year, and it is what we must remember every day of our lives in Christ.

Moses next spoke to them about not sacrificing the Passover b’akhad shearekha – “in one of your gates,” but only at the place where the Lord chose to place His name. First, it is a note of exclusivity. There is one place, and one place alone where redemption can be made – and that is at the cross of Calvary and in the Person of Jesus Christ.

He is the place where the Lord has chosen to make His name abide. And secondly, Moses’ words tend to anticipate the statement made by the author of Hebrews, where he said –

“Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.” Hebrews 13:12

The context of Hebrews is speaking of the animal sacrifices that were burned outside the camp, thus picturing Christ who died outside of the walls of Jerusalem. But even the walls of Jerusalem which surrounded the temple had their own gates, within which people lived. Christ, who is the true spot where the name of the Lord is placed, died outside of any gates. This may stretch the typology a bit too much, but it may not as well.

Moses next mentioned the sacrifice being at twilight. That is less specific than what has been previously stated, but the point is made. Christ died at the same time as the Passover lamb was sacrificed – three o’clock in the afternoon.

The Passover lamb’s sacrifice coincided with the daily afternoon lamb offering at the tabernacle. Each day two lambs were offered, one in the morning and one in the evening. Together they are equated as a single day’s offering and thus are considered as one offering. The gospel of Mark provides the clarity of this –

“Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.” Mark 15:25

It then next says –

“Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’
35 Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, ‘Look, He is calling for Elijah!’ 36 Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, ‘Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.’
37 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.” Mark 15:33-37

Mark, who is in agreement with the other gospel writers, shows that Christ was crucified at the same time as when the morning offering was being made – 9am. He then says that Christ died at the same time that the evening offering was being made – 3pm.

Thus, the two lamb offerings encompass, and stand representative of, the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The Passover lamb, which was slaughtered at this same time, is given as one aspect of Christ’s work while the daily lamb offerings were given as another.

Moses finishes up with the instructions concerning how and where to prepare the Passover which was followed with the note of returning to their tents. In other words, there is one gospel, one way to receive it, and one Lord who makes it possible. Nothing else will suffice. After receiving that, we are to live out our lives as is right.

Moses then repeated the thought that the people shall eat unleavened bread. It is to be taken as a positive command. It doesn’t say, “You may not eat bread with leaven for six days.” Instead, it says, “six days you shall eat unleavened bread.”

They were to eat unleavened bread during the entire feast. This goes in picture to what was just cited from Paul in 1 Corinthians, “let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

Not only are we to not partake of sin, but we are to actively live our lives in “sincerity and truth.” It is not that we can abstain from the whole if we abstain from one; it is that we are to abstain from one while partaking in the other.

Moses then finished up with the note concerning the atseret, or “sacred assembly.” It is a completing ceremony to the Lord. That surely refers to the ending of life and our meeting with the Lord where we are given what we now only possess in God’s eyes. He deems us as sinless, and we are no longer being imputed sin. But someday, we will be sinless, no longer even committing sin.

This passage today speaks of the marvel of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, and of our responsibility when we are in Christ. He is our Passover Lamb, and we are His people. Every detail associated with this passage anticipates the Person and work of Jesus Christ for us and then our responsibilities toward Him.

As this is so, and as He was faithful to uphold His portion of these types and pictures, then let us, likewise, be faithful to live the lives we have been called to.

Let us live for Christ and be pleasing and faithful people, living out our lives pursuing His righteousness and sinlessness as our highest desire and goal for all of our days. May it be so to the glory of God. Amen.

Closing Verse: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Galatians 5:9

Next Week: Deuteronomy 16:9-12 The final feast of the year for folks to tackles… (Observe the Feast of Tabernacles) (50th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

A Passover to the Lord your God

“Observe the month of Abib
And keep the Passover to the Lord your God, yes in His sight
For in the month of Abib
The Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night

Therefore you shall sacrifice
The Passover to the Lord your God; exalting His fame
From the flock and the herd
In the place where the Lord chooses to put His name

You shall eat no leavened bread with it
Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it
———-of leaven not even a taste
That is, the bread of affliction
(For you came out of the land of Egypt in haste)

That you may remember the day
In which you came out of the land of Egypt
All the days of your life
To keep this memory from being from you stripped

And no leaven shall be seen among you
In all your territory for seven days, take this as a warning
Nor shall any of the meat which you sacrifice
———-the first day at twilight
Remain overnight until morning

“You may not sacrifice the Passover
Within any of your gates which the Lord your God gives you
But at the place where the Lord your God chooses
———-to make His name abide
There you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight, so you shall do

At the going down of the sun
At the time you came out of Egypt in a march and not a run

And you shall roast and eat it
In the place which the Lord your God chooses it to be so
And in the morning
You shall turn and to your tents you shall go

Six days you shall eat unleavened bread
And on the seventh day there shall be
A sacred assembly to the Lord your God
You shall do no work on it, as instructed by me

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night. Therefore you shall sacrifice the Passover to the Lord your God, from the flock and the herd, in the place where the Lord chooses to put His name. You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life. And no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the meat which you sacrifice the first day at twilight remain overnight until morning.

“You may not sacrifice the Passover within any of your gates which the Lord your God gives you; but at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight, at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt. And you shall roast and eat it in the place which the Lord your God chooses, and in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents. Six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a sacred assembly to the Lord your God. You shall do no work on it.

Deuteronomy 15:12-23 (The Lord Your God Redeemed You)

Deuteronomy 15:12-23
The Lord Your God Redeemed You

The verses today are broken into two separate concepts. The first is that of the Hebrew slave, which is followed by the law of the firstborn of the flock and herd.

As we saw from an example in the last passage (the Shemitah), it is fashionable to take portions of the Law of Moses and try to inject them into the modern world, as if God is still working out His precepts under the law in our lives today.

If this were so, there ostensibly should be such books dealing with the same things from all of the other passages as well. But curiously, nobody is writing books like that about Hebrew slaves or the disposition of the firstborn animals.

The reason for this is that these things do not find their substance in the world today. Rather, the reality of them is found solely in Jesus Christ and in our relationship to Him. The world at large has nothing to do with the Law of Moses. Our only connection to it at all is in our relationship to Him.

It is man’s natural desire to place himself into the redemptive narrative in relation to his current time and place. Since Christ ascended, people have done this. They have inserted the Roman Empire into it, they have inserted England or America into it. And so on.

And one would be hard-pressed to find a single generation of scholars that did not write as if the book of Revelation or the coming of Christ was dealing with their specific timeframe. It is problematic but it is our human nature to want it to be so.

Instead, He has given us the overall picture of what is coming. However, He has reserved most of the details for Himself. Our futile attempts at filling in the blanks are counterproductive at best.

Text Verse: “And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’” Acts 1:7, 8

It might seem like an odd text verse for a sermon from Deuteronomy, but it is used here to remind us that we have a job to do. That job will end when the Lord returns for us. In the meantime, we are to work on the conversion of others, make disciples, and be witnesses to what we know.

And the fact is that the more we know about the Law of Moses, the more we will understand God’s workings in redemptive history and how it all points to the Person of Jesus Christ. That is absolutely certain. In the passage today are all kinds of things that will increase our knowledge, firm up our doctrine, and help us to better understand what God has done.

For example, it is often argued whether salvation is eternal or not. Verses are used, or misused, to justify one stand or another, but we have already seen – numerous times and right out of the law itself – which is correct. We will see that again today. God provides typology so that we can be more assured in our doctrine because of what that typology presents. The two will always work harmoniously together. Let us be sure of this and let us be grounded in our faith.

Great things, such as the doctrine of eternal salvation are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us 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. A Servant Forever (verses 12-18)

12 “If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman,

This law follows after what was given in Exodus 21:1-11. Due to its being placed immediately after the giving of the Ten Commandments and the law of the Earthen Altar, it is obviously an important point.

There are some differences between what is stated here and what was given in Exodus 21, especially the more detailed words concerning the rights of the female in that previous passage. Here in Deuteronomy, it uses the feminine form of the word “Hebrew,” ha’ivriyah. This is found only here and in Jeremiah 34:9.

In Exodus, there are rights and protections for the female that was brought into a state of betrothal within the household. This passage here doesn’t refer to that, but only speaks of a Hebrew man or woman who has been sold into bondage. That is seen in the next words…

12 (con’t) is sold to you and serves you six years,

The repeating pattern of six leading to a seventh is seen again here. God created six days and then rested. The Sabbath called for six days of work and then rest. There were to be six years of harvesting and then a seventh year of having the ground lay fallow. There were to be six years where debts were acceptable, but they were to be released on the seventh. And so on. In this case, there is six years of servitude for the Hebrew or Hebrewess…

12 (con’t) then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you.

The cycle completes with the granting of freedom. God created and then was free from His labors, man worked, and then was freed from his labors, and so on. Here, there is a time of servitude, and then a mandated release from that state.

The word is khophshi. It was introduced in Exodus 21 and it has not been used since then. It is an adjective signifying free, or liberty. It is debated as to whether this means a full six years of work and then freedom, or if the person was to be freed in the Hebrew year of release which is a rotating seven-year period.

If the latter, it would mean they were to be released whether they had been slaves for any time up to six years. When the year of release came, release was to be granted. In other words, a Hebrew could serve no more than six years at the outside.

There is nothing specific to justify this interpretation. One must suppose this, but there is nothing to disprove it. And more, the year of release that we looked at last week specifically referred to the event. This does not. It states six followed by the seventh without any qualifiers. This is true each time the precept is mentioned.

Leviticus 25 is more detailed concerning slavery, such as noting that a slave can be redeemed from that state at any point. If not redeemed during that time, he was to be released at the seventh year.

However, Leviticus 25 also detailed what is known as the Year of Jubilee. Every Hebrew slave, with but one exception, was to be released in the fiftieth year regardless of how many years he had been a slave.

It would make no sense to mention that provision while not specifically speaking of the same during the seven-year cycle. Thus, the Hebrew slave was to work six and be freed on the seventh. The only exception is the Year of Jubilee. It is this exact provision, and the failure to abide by it, that brought about the Lord’s wrath in Jeremiah –

Therefore the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 13 “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, saying, 14 “At the end of seven years let every man set free his Hebrew brother, who has been sold to him; and when he has served you six years, you shall let him go free from you.” But your fathers did not obey Me nor incline their ear. 15 Then you recently turned and did what was right in My sight—every man proclaiming liberty to his neighbor; and you made a covenant before Me in the house which is called by My name. 16 Then you turned around and profaned My name, and every one of you brought back his male and female slaves, whom you had set at liberty, at their pleasure, and brought them back into subjection, to be your male and female slaves.’” Jeremiah 34:12-16

Because of their failure to uphold this provision of the law, the Lord promised He would judge them, saying –

“‘You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and every one to his neighbor. Behold, I proclaim liberty to you,’ says the Lord—‘to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine! And I will deliver you to trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth.’” Jeremiah 34:17

13 And when you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away empty-handed;

It is obvious that after six years of slavery, if a person who had originally been sold into slavery because of poverty was set free with no provision, that person would immediately have to sell himself into bondage once again. This was not to occur.

The idea here follows after the Sabbath cycle. In the giving of the Ten Commandments, the Lord said, “Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11). And more to the point, in the initial giving of the Sabbath, it said –

“And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” Exodus 16:5

In other words, the Lord did not just take care of the people for six days and then tell them to rest on the seventh without any provisions. Rather, He provided before the Sabbath so that in their time of release from work, they would be well supplied. The same is true with the seventh year Sabbath of the land –

“And if you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, since we shall not sow nor gather in our produce?” 21 Then I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years. 22 And you shall sow in the eighth year, and eat old produce until the ninth year; until its produce comes in, you shall eat of the old harvest.’” Leviticus 25:20-22

This precept was seen in the previous sermon as well. Verses 9 and 10 presuppose that the people are to be gracious enough that the year of release will be a time of increase for the one who was given that release. Hence, Moses instructs for the released slave that…

14 you shall supply him liberally

There is a stress in the words: haaneq taaniq lo – “As a necklace, you shall necklace him.” It is a new verb in Scripture, anaq, meaning to serve as a necklace. It is found these two times and then once in the Psalms, where it says –

“Therefore pride serves as their necklace;
Violence covers them like a garment.” Psalm 73:6

The symbolism, then, is that of the owner heaping up all kinds of goods upon the person so that he will have a new start to life after his years of bondage. This is an addition to the law at Sinai. When the law was first given, it said, “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing” (Exodus 21:2).

Instead of simply going out without paying for his freedom, exactly the opposite was to be the case. He was to go out necklaced with abundance. Moses says these goods are to be…

14 (con’t) from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress.

The words here follow after those of the previous chapter in the tithing verses –

“And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.” Deuteronomy 14:23

It is certain that if the man had a Hebrew slave, a part of that slave’s work would involve care of these things. Thus, the owner benefited from the labors of the slave. As this was the case, the slave should be cared for from those labors as well. This is certainly the case because Moses next says…

14 (con’t) From what the Lord your God has blessed you with, you shall give to him.

This follows from the next verse of Chapter 14 which said, “when the Lord your God has blessed you.” The Lord has blessed the owner through the slave. His work has brought increase, and so it is right that he should be weighed down with a portion of that after his six years of labor. And there is a specific reasoning behind this that Moses once again brings up…

15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you;

The idea of having been slaves in Egypt, and having been redeemed from there by the Lord, has been repeated numerous times already in Deuteronomy, but it is also poignantly stated elsewhere as well. In Leviticus 25, the underlying basis for the law of release from slavery is explicitly stated –

“For the children of Israel are servants to Me; they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 25:55

A Hebrew slave is ultimately a servant of the Lord. Therefore, they were to be released to their rightful Master after their time of servitude. As Moses says…

15 (con’t) therefore I command you this thing today.

al ken anoki mesvekha eth ha’davar ha’zeh ha’yom – “upon thus I command you the word the this today.” In other words, the command rests upon the truth that they were once slaves and the Lord redeemed them.

Again, and again, everything comes back to the fact that they were slaves and that they were redeemed. Thus, the law is justified in mandating these things. However, there may be a slave that doesn’t want his freedom…

16 And if it happens that he says to you, ‘I will not go away from you,’ because he loves you and your house, since he prospers with you,

In these words, Moses sums up the previous law which was more expansive. From Exodus 21 –

“If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master has given him a wife, and she has borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,” Exodus 21:3-5

The slave is content, disposed towards both his life and those who he tends to, and his soul is prospering. If so…

17 then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear to the door,

An extra step is overlooked here from Exodus 21. It is a step which is presupposed based on the former command –

“then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.” Exodus 21:6

Having him brought before the judges was a future protection for both the slave and the owner. There in Exodus, rather than “to the judges,” the Hebrew says to take him el ha’elohim, or “to the God.” The Greek translates that as pros to kriterion Theo, or “to the judgment of God.” In the end, it is God who will see the act and accept it. The wording is specific.

Once he was brought before God, the action was then to be performed. This is the second and last use of martsea, or awl, in Scripture. It comes from ratsa, meaning to bore or pierce. With this, it says v’nathathah b’azeno u-badelet – “and give in his ear and in the door.”

In this, the words “ear” and “door” are parallel. The two are tied together as if they have become one.

17 (con’t) and he shall be your servant forever.

v’hayah lekha eved olam – “and will be to you servant forever.” The change is made, and it is permanent. The mark is a witness to the permanent ownership. This rite, repeated from Exodus 21, is given to picture our position in Christ.

It is accepted that this boring through the ear is what is being referred to in Psalm 40. That is a messianic psalm which speaks of Christ’s work –

“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire;
My ears You have opened.
Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:6-8

That is cited in Hebrews 10. However, Hebrews modifies the psalm just enough to show us that Christ’s work is what is being pictured. There, it says –

“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.” Hebrews 10:5

Instead of “My ears You have opened,” it says “a body You prepared for Me.” The ears are being used in parallel with the entire body. Thus, the opening of the ear in the psalm refers to Christ’s crucifixion. Because of His work, He is the Door of salvation –

“Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:7, 8

The slave wanting to stay with his owner, who is then united to him by uniting to the door, is a picture of our proclamation before God of receiving the work of Christ.

The slave willingly gave up his freedom and his rights in one economy and transferred them to another. When he was a free man of Israel, he was bound to the Law of Moses. As Paul shows in Galatians, the law is bondage. It is what shows us our sin and it is what condemns us. The law is not freedom; it is bondage, as both Paul and Peter say again and again in the New Testament –

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1

The very thing that we think is freedom is, in fact, only another type of bondage. But for the slave of his master, it is his master who was bound to the law and the slave is bound to his master under the law. It is a picture of Christ fulfilling the law on our behalf. He is the Master, we are His slaves, and we are crucified with Him. As Paul says in Galatians 2:19-21 –

“For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and 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. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

But there was always the chance that the master might have forced his slave to remain in bondage against his will. Who could tell if no public affirmation of his intent was made known? This is why Exodus specifically said that he had to be taken el ha’elohim, or “to the God.”

The affirmation is one which is voluntarily made and openly witnessed. The ownership is not forced but willingly accepted. This is an obvious picture of the free-will of man in his voluntary surrender to the Lord in the presence of “the God.” The picture is clear – we who are in Christ are free from the law because He fulfilled it on our behalf. As Paul says –

“For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” 1 Corinthians 7:22

And this position we possess is, as this verse says, olam. Here in Deuteronomy, we have a picture of the doctrine of eternal salvation. The picture given to us in the law tells us all we need to know. We are His servants forever! And that means any who come to Him…

17 (con’t) Also to your female servant you shall do likewise.

This is an obvious reference to Paul’s words in Galatians –

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

With the picture of Christ complete, Moses now continues with words concerning the Hebrew who has served his time…

18 It shall not seem hard to you when you send him away free from you;

lo yiqsheh b’enekha – “No hard in your eyes.” The master was not to view the matter as any burden at all in letting the slave have his freedom. And the reason goes in two directions at once. The first is backwards to what has been…

18 (con’t) for he has been worth a double hired servant in serving you six years.

ki mishneh sekar sakir avadekha shes shanim – “For double the hire of the hireling serving you six years.” In other words, the owner saved the cost of paying a hired laborer. Because the slave wasn’t paid, he was worth twice as much to him.

As a point of context, the words of Isaiah 16:14 are not what is being referred to here –

“Within three years, as the years of a hired man, the glory of Moab will be despised with all that great multitude, and the remnant will be very small and feeble.” Isaiah 16:14

Jewish interpretation of this is that a hired servant was to be for no longer than three years, and thus the Hebrew slave would be worth twice that. That is not at all what Isaiah is saying. He is referring to a hired man counting the days for his pay, and that no work would be done without proper wages.

In other words, Isaiah’s prophecy was spoken and there would be no delay. The same thought is expressed again in Isaiah 21:16. The second direction of Moses’ words concerns the future…

18 (con’t) Then the Lord your God will bless you in all that you do.

Not only had the past been good to the master because of the free labor, but in being gracious to the slave upon his departure, the Lord would take note and bless him into the future.

As a point of theology, when viewing slavery as the consequences of sin (and sin coming through a violation of law), these words provide instruction. The people of God have been redeemed from that life. Thus, we are to then interact with others as redeemed sinners rather than righteous saints. It is why the master was to treat his Hebrew slave so generously.

And the limitation on the length of bondage, that of six years, certainly makes a picture of man’s bondage to the devil. The Bible shows that all people are born under his power. Our sin is inherited. John says that “He who sins is of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

As all have sinned, then all are born under the devil’s power and authority. But the good news is that Jesus came to correct this. When we call on Christ, we move from the bondage of the devil to being servants of a new Master.

The six years of slavery, followed by the seventh year of freedom, surely forms a double picture. First, it looks to our time before coming to Christ and then the freedom we have in Him. This follows in picture from the six days of work followed by the seventh day of Sabbath rest.

Secondly, it is a picture of the six thousand years of man, living in the world of sin from the time of the fall. That is to be followed by the final thousand years called the millennium. It is a time where Christ will rule over all the nations. It is a time of liberty from the yoke of the devil and rest in Christ.

I was a slave to the law which only pointed out my sin
I couldn’t meet its expectations though I tried and tried
But in my place the Lord Jesus, the victory did win
Now my yoke is light and easy because for my sin He died
 

And so, with Him I desire ever to stay
As His slave, may I forevermore remain
May the joy of serving Him begin right now, today
I give up my freedom to sin and receive heavenly gain
 

My Master is tender and caring; to Him I will cleave
For all of eternity in His presence I will stay
All that I was asked to do was just believe
And now, life under my Master gets sweeter each day

II. The firstborn of the herd and flock (verses 19-23)

19 “All the firstborn males that come from your herd and your flock you shall sanctify to the Lord your God;

Of these firstborn, Exodus 22:30 says, “It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.” Deuteronomy 12:6 then instructed the people to eat the firstborn in the place the Lord chooses.

What this obviously means is that the animal was to be set apart as holy on the eighth day, regardless as to when it was actually eaten. From the eighth day they were sanctified and set apart for when they traveled to where the tabernacle resided. During that time, however long it might be…

19 (con’t) you shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock.

The animal already belonged to the Lord because of His claim on all the firstborn of man and beast. This was first as a memorial of having spared the firstborn of Israel while taking the firstborn of Egypt – of both man and livestock.

Secondly, it typologically anticipates Christ and those in Him, as it says in Romans 8:29 that He is “the firstborn among many brethren.”

These animals were sanctified to Him, and they were therefore not to be used for ordinary purposes. Nor could they be dedicated in a vow to the Lord (Leviticus 27:26). One cannot dedicate something to the Lord that already belongs to Him. Of them, Moses now repeats the general thought already seen three times in Deuteronomy…

20 You and your household shall eat it before the Lord your God year by year in the place which the Lord chooses.

This is perfectly in accord with the previous verses of 12:6, 12:17, and 14:23. At the time when the tithes were dedicated, so were the firstborn to be eaten.

The term “year by year” speaks of the pilgrim feasts which came around at the set times each year. But before eating them, they had to first be sacrificed and offered to the Lord –

“But the firstborn of a cow, the firstborn of a sheep, or the firstborn of a goat you shall not redeem; they are holy. You shall sprinkle their blood on the altar, and burn their fat as an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the Lord. 18 And their flesh shall be yours, just as the wave breast and the right thigh are yours.” Numbers 18:17, 18

The animal was not worked or sheared for personal gain. Instead, it was sacrificed to the Lord, a sacred portion belonging to the priest (and which both priest and portion picture Christ), and the rest was then eaten by the family in the presence of the Lord in joy and rejoicing. However, Moses next provides an exception…

21 But if there is a defect in it, if it is lame or blind or has any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God.

Though not stated, we can assume that the rule of the firstborn surely still applies in this situation. The animal was to be sanctified to the Lord and neither worked nor sheared. However, it was not to be sacrificed to Him if it had a defect. Offering any animal to the Lord that possessed a defect would destroy the typology of the pure and undefiled Christ who offered Himself to the Lord. Of such a defect…

22 You may eat it within your gates; the unclean and the clean person alike may eat it, as if it were a gazelle or a deer.

Saying, “You may” gives the impression that it could be otherwise. However, being a firstborn, and probably not to be worked or shorn, this is more likely a command, “You shall.” Either way, this refers back to Chapter 12 –

“However, you may slaughter and eat meat within all your gates, whatever your heart desires, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, of the gazelle and the deer alike.” Deuteronomy 12:15

The firstborn that bore a defect was to be eaten as a common animal, within the gates and without first being presented to the Lord as a sacrifice. But, like all animals at all times…

*23 (fin) Only you shall not eat its blood; you shall pour it on the ground like water.

raq, eth damo lo tokel, al ha’aretz tishpekenu kamayim – “Only! It’s blood no you shall eat; on the ground you shall pour it like water.” With minor exceptions, the words are almost identical to Deuteronomy 12:16.

As was then noted, to eat the blood is to assimilate into oneself something that belonged to the Lord alone because the life is in the blood. It is considered an act of idolatry to use it in any other way than designated by Him. If blood was not used in the rites of the tabernacle, it was to be poured out and covered with earth.

When it was used in the temple rites, it typologically anticipated Christ. When it was poured out and covered with the dust, as is explicitly stated elsewhere, that also typologically anticipated Christ. Either way, to eat the blood was to destroy the typology, and thus, like presenting a defective animal for sacrifice, was also forbidden.

Though not all of the details were explained in the passage today, because they have been explained several times in the recent past, everything about these twelve verses in this passage points to God’s workings for us in Jesus Christ.

Paul, as a Pharisee and one who was completely educated in the law, saw this perfectly. Hence, he calls the law a shadow of which Christ is the Substance. Paul lived out his life fulfilling this law as best he could. But when Christ came, He missed the fulfillment of the typology.

However, with the coming of a great light and a voice from heaven, it all started to come into focus. He was able to take all of that knowledge he had been endowed with, and he was able to then say, “I see how this is fulfilled in Him.”

As this is so, he then realized the purpose of it all. The countless details, the many years under the law, the call of the prophets, and the coming of Christ… It was all to show that God had kept His promises.

From the Lord’s words in Genesis 3 concerning the Seed of the woman, to His loving utterance on the Mount of Transfiguration – “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” – right up to the words of the Lord on the cross, “It is finished,” everything was pointing to God’s work in Christ. And this includes all of the Law of Moses.

Paul saw that and he turned from his self-centered hopes for righteousness to the imputed righteousness of God in Christ. From that awakened standpoint, he spoke out concerning the law. It was a tool, a pointing arrow, a tutor, and a revealer of what God was doing and would do.

Paul and the other apostles never spoke against the law, although they were certainly accused of having done so. Rather, they confessed that the law had a purpose, and that purpose was now fulfilled. To speak against the law would be no different than to speak against the prophet Isaiah who was a prophet under the law.

However, these men learned to situate the law in its proper place, showing that it was only a steppingstone to a higher, richer, and more glorious place where we can sit at the feet of the Redeemer of mankind and revel in what He did with the law – living it out perfectly, fulfilling it, and then setting it aside through a better and surer covenant based upon a better and surer hope.

If you have not come to that realization yet, I pray that today will be the day. In your feeble attempts at meriting righteousness through the observance of the law, you are – exactly and nothing less – saying to God, “I will do it on my own. I don’t need Jesus. I’ve got this one.”

I pray that you will find proper perspective concerning this law – this marvelous treasure of wisdom and understanding – by finding in it the Person of Jesus Christ. And then, it is my prayer that you will set yourself aside, believe that God has done it all for you, and submit to that fact by simply trusting in Christ, and in Christ alone, for your salvation. In this, you will become an acceptable receptacle for the dwelling of God’s Holy Spirit.

May it be so, and may it be today. And may all of God’s people say, Amen.

Closing Verse: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20

Next Week: Deuteronomy 16:1-8 He is our Lamb, and to Him we do applaud… (A Passover to the Lord your God) (49th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Lord Your God Redeemed You

“If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman
Is sold to you and serves you six years, such he may do
Then in the seventh year
You shall let him go free from you

And when you send him away free from you
You shall not let him go away empty-handed
You shall supply him liberally from your flock
From your threshing floor, and from your winepress
———-be sure this is clearly understanded

From what the LORD your God has blessed you with
You shall give to him; pay careful heed to what I say
You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt
And the LORD your God redeemed you
———-therefore I command you this thing today

And if it happens that he says to you
‘I will not go away from you;’ such he does do
Because he loves you and your house
Since he prospers with you

Then you shall take an awl
And thrust it through his ear to the door – a bit ouchy I surmise
And he shall be your servant forever
Also to your female servant you shall do likewise

It shall not seem hard to you
When you send him away free from you
For he has been worth a double hired servant
———-in serving you six years
Then the LORD your God will bless you in all that you do

“All the firstborn males that come from your herd and your flock
You shall to the LORD your God sanctify
You shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd
Nor shear the firstborn of your flock; these rules you shall apply

You and your household shall eat it before the LORD your God
Year by year in the place which the LORD chooses; take it there
But if there is a defect in it, if it is lame or blind
———-or has any serious defect
You shall not sacrifice it to the LORD your God; of this beware

You may eat it within your gates
The unclean and the clean person alike may eat it, as if it were
———-a gazelle or a deer
Only you shall not eat its blood
You shall pour it on the ground like water; and so
———-the Lord Your God you shall fear

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 “If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. 13 And when you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away empty-handed; 14 you shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress. From what the Lord your God has blessed you with, you shall give to him. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today. 16 And if it happens that he says to you, ‘I will not go away from you,’ because he loves you and your house, since he prospers with you, 17 then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also to your female servant you shall do likewise. 18 It shall not seem hard to you when you send him away free from you; for he has been worth a double hired servant in serving you six years. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all that you do.

19 “All the firstborn males that come from your herd and your flock you shall sanctify to the Lord your God; you shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. 20 You and your household shall eat it before the Lord your God year by year in the place which the Lord chooses. 21 But if there is a defect in it, if it is lame or blind or has any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God. 22 You may eat it within your gates; the unclean and the clean person alike may eat it, as if it were a gazelle or a deer. 23 Only you shall not eat its blood; you shall pour it on the ground like water.