Day Fifty-One, More Various Verses from Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy
Today’s reading covers all the feasts that the Israelites were commanded to celebrate. There were three major feasts, along with a few others that the Israelites were to celebrate each year.
The first major feast is the Feast of Unleavened Bread or the Passover. This, of course, memorializes God freeing the Israelites from captivity in Egypt, as He sent His angel of death into Egypt, but He passed over the homes of the Israelites that were covered in the blood of the lamb. This was a weeklong celebration, during which times the Israelites were to have no yeast. They were to eat unleavened bread. The Passover meal was to include lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. On the first day, and on the seventh day, they were to observe a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It was to be celebrated during the first month of the Jewish calendar (March-April).
The second major feast is the Feast of Weeks or the Feast of the Harvest or the Feast of Firstfruits. They were to celebrate by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the Lord had given them. Along with this grain offering, they were to present seven male lambs, one young bull, and two rams as a burnt offering. They were also to present a male goat as a sin offering, and two lambs as a fellowship offering. They were to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work, as they celebrated in thanksgiving to the Lord their God. It was to be celebrated seven weeks (or fifty days) after the Passover, in the third month of the Jewish calendar (May-June). This is what we would later know as the Day of Pentecost, which holds major significance for us as Christians, as the day the church was established. (See Acts chapter 2!)
A lesser feast is the Feast of Trumpets. It was a day for the Israelites to sound the trumpets. They were to hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work, and to prepare a burnt offering to the Lord of a young bull, a ram, and seven male lambs. This was to be celebrated on the first day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar (September-October). Because this coincides with the first on the civil calendar, it is also a New Year’s celebration known today as Rosh Hashanah.
One of the most important days to be recognized was a Day of Atonement. This was the only day of the year that the high priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, with the blood of a goat, in order to make atonement for the sin of the people of Israel. The high priest would sacrifice a bull to make atonement for himself, then he would bring the blood of one goat into the Holy of Holies, while another goat, used as a scapegoat would be released into the desert, carrying on itself the sins of the people of Israel. This day called for fasting, rather than feasting, for all the people of Israel. It was to be celebrated in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar (September-October).
The third major feast celebrated by the Israelites was the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths, or the Feast of Ingathering. This feast, also celebrated in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar (September-October) was also associated with a time of harvest. It was to be a week-long celebration. The people were to hold a sacred assembly on both the first and seventh days, and they were to do no regular work. They were also to make certain offerings to the Lord for each day of the feast. During this week the people were to live in booths or tents, as a reminder of the time that they spent wandering in the desert because of their unbelief.
Now, I realize this is a really long post, with a lot of detail about the different feasts the Israelites were commanded to recognize and celebrate. But it helps me to think through them all “out loud” if you will, to get my own brain wrapped around them.
Also, I think it’s important to note that God is very concerned with the fact that the Israelites actively take steps to remember Who the God that they serve is and who they are as His people; to remember where they’ve come from, where God has brought them from; to remember all that the Lord has commanded them; and to remember why He has been so good to them—because He loves them. God remembers…and He wants His people to do the same.