Leviticus 23-25: The Feasts of the Lord
Turn to Leviticus 23. Today, we’ll be covering the FEASTS OF THE LORD, what the Bible calls “HOLY CONVOCATIONS”.
Many Christians today don’t know much about the feasts.
And it’s important that, we at least, have a basic sense of what they entail.
And so this sermon is designed to lay out the fundamentals or the basics of what the feasts are.
The Sabbath & the Jubilee
The Passover & The Feast of Unleavened Bread
The Feast of Firstfruits
The Feast of Weeks (or Pentecost in the NT)
The Feast of Trumpets,
The Day of Atonement (which we covered in Leviticus 16)
& the Feast of Tabernacles.
Because there’s much to cover, we’re going to do this in 2 parts, beginning with the Sabbath & Jubilee, the Passover & the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
READ LEVITICUS 23:1-2
The Bible calls these the “FEASTS OF THE LORD” and “HOLY CONVOCATIONS”.
WHAT IS A CONVOCATION? It’s the calling together of an assembly.
So a HOLY CONVOCATION is a HOLY ASSEMBLY.
This is described in the BOOK OF NUMBERS, CHAPTER 10, where God gives instructions for calling a holy assembly by the BLOWING OF TRUMPETS.
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.
3 And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
So each of the CONVOCATIONS or FEASTS OF THE LORD would begin with a blowing of silver trumpets and all the people would assemble together at the door of the tabernacle.
• Now, the Bible calls the WEEKLY SABBATH one of the FEASTS OF THE LORD.
READ LEVITICUS 23:3
So the main feature of the SABBATH is that WORK WAS PROHIBITED.
• It was to be a DAY OF REST & worship of the LORD.
This, of course, went back to the completion of the CREATION & the 7th Day in GENESIS 2:1-3:
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
The SABBATH is also listed as the 4th COMMANDMENT in
Exodus 20:8-11 also:
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates:
11 For [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
The SABBATH is eternally connected with the FINAL DAY of CREATION, as a DAY OF REST.
Now people wonder: Do we have to keep the Sabbath today as NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIANS?
THE ANSWER is found in Galatians 4 and Colossians 2.
Beginning with Galatians 4:9-10: “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.”
So observing days & months, & times, & years, as they did in LEVITIUS, God now calls “bondage” to “beggarly elements”.
Why? Because like we talked about, BEGGARLY ELEMENTS are talking about WORLDLY ELEMENTS, as in the CARNAL LAWS.
EVERYTHING in the Book of Leviticus points to CHRIST!
And in Him, we find fulfillment of all the beggarly elements that merely symbolized the spiritual things in heaven.
So it’s no longer a requirement to observe any set days or months or times, including ANY of the FEASTS OF THE LORD or the HOLY CONVOCATIONS in their OLD TESTAMENT format.
Otherwise, we’d all be sacrificing animals to this day.
But something has occurred: Christ has fulfilled the LAW.
The only exception is the PASSOVER, which is still observed in the New Covenant, BUT IS TRANSFORMED in the LORD’S SUPPER, with Christ being our Passover Lamb.
COLOSSIANS 2:16-17: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days]:17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Christ.”
• Colossians 2 is clear: the feasts are no longer a REQUIREMENT under the NEW COVENANT.
In fact, they’ve been fulfilled.
They merely represented & foreshadowed Christ.
So why would you return to something that was an image of Christ, when you now have Christ Himself?
Even the Sabbath was a representation of the rest we have in Christ.
LOOK at HEBREWS 4:3-10. It explains that FAITH IN JESUS fulfills the SABBATH:
3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh [day] on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
5 And in this [place] again, If they shall enter into my rest.
• So Jesus compares the SABBATH to entering into “HIS REST” through BELIEF in Him.
Continuing in VERSE 9:
9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God [did] from his.
This is very important: HE THAT IS ENTERED INTO HIS REST, HE ALSO HATH CEASED FROM HIS OWN WORKS …
That means that SALVATION is BY FAITH ALONE.
We ENTER into GOD’S REST; we don’t have to work to be saved.
We’re saved by the MERIT of HIS WORK on the cross.
The SABBATH foreshadowed REST FROM OUR WORKS by FAITH IN CHRIST.
MATTHEW 12:8 also says: “For the SON OF MAN is LORD even of the SABBATH DAY.” Because it’s about Him.
* * *
Now every 7th YEAR was also a JUBILEE to the LORD, which is an extension of the 7th-Day SABBATH.
JUMPING ahead a little to LEVITICUS 25 …
Let’s cover the JUBILEE, as it’s closely related to the SABBATH.
& In addition to 7-Day Sabbaths, there would also be a 7-YEAR SABBATH of Rest …
… and also every 49 years (7×7 YEARS), the following year (which was the 50th year) would be a JUBILEE of JUBILEES.
READ LEVITICUS 25:1-7
• The 7-YEAR JUBILEE would be a rest for the entire nation & land.
Farmers & husbandmen would leave their land untilled & unsown with seed. & They would let it sit fallow.
What’s amazing is that even long after people forgot about the JUBILEE …
… farmers still let their land sit fallow for a time or rotate crops because it naturally restores the richness of the soil.
READ LEVITICUS 25:8-10
After SEVEN 7-YEAR JUBILEES (7×7), 50th year was to be a JUBILEE OF JUBILEES.
• So you can see the pattern: 7 Days, 7 Years, 7×7 Years …
This reflects the 7-day Creation and 7 represents perfection and completion … as we see in the Creation.
… Since everything God had created ‘was very good’ according to Genesis 1.
• So at the JUBILEE, The TRUMPET WOULD SOUND & LIBERTY WOULD BE PROCLAIMED throughout the entire land.
The 50th-year JUBILEE had to do with returning people to their ORIGINAL possession.
IT WAS A RETURN TO NORMALCY.
• It was a year of RETURN of the people of God to their own land, their possessions, & their families.
Leviticus 25:13 says: “In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession.”
• The REAL REASON for the JUBILEE was that LAND was APPORTIONED by God to the Israelites by their tribes when Joshua entered the Promised Land.
* A certain portion of land was given to Judah, to Zebulun, to Issachar, etc.
So this was like a reset button to what GOD HAD providentially APPORTIONED to the 12 tribes.
That’s really what the JUBILEE was about.
It was a way for possessions & land & people to be returned to the way that God had intended.
If someone had sold their land because they had become destitute, their land could be either redeemed again by a kinsman …
… or if not, it would be returned to them again at the time of Jubilee …
… And it would stay within the possession of their tribe & their family.
READ LEVITICUS 25:23-28
We see these Laws played out in the Book of Ruth, when Boaz used the redemption laws to redeem Naomi’s land.
• During the JUBILEE, “BONDSERVANTS” would also be set free.
So the jubilee was not only for the land and possessions, but also for people.
A “BONDSERVANT” was someone who had become poor & could no longer care for himself or his family, and so he would be sold to pay off his debts.
It was a form of slavery, except instead of being based on race, it was based on a person’s economic condition.
And it wasn’t a lifetime bondage … among the Israelites.
• Bondservants would be set free during THE JUBILEE.
READ LEVITICUS 25:39-42
But ultimately, THE JUBILEE, was also a foreshadowing of the LIBERTY that would be proclaimed through Jesus Christ.
ISAIAH 61:1, which is a Messianic passage, says: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;”
USURY is also spoken against in Leviticus 25:35-38
• USURY is another way of putting people in bondage.
Think of credit card interest rates or bank mortgages.
When you buy a house for $400,000, you put 20% down or $80,000.
That leaves you with a loan of $320,000.
At a 5% interest rate amortized over 30 years …
You will end up paying $618,000!
That’s almost DOUBLE your loan amount!
This goes to the heart of our banking system, which is BUILT on usury.
And what’s ironic is that the BIG BANKS of our WORLD SYSTEM FAILED in 2008 …
2008 WAS A JUBILEE YEAR according to the HEBREW CALENDAR.
* BUT guess who bailed them out?
They received a JUBILEE AT OUR EXPENSE.
It was a financial manipulation of the system!
• But GOD had delivered the children of Israel OUT OF BONDAGE FROM EGYPT …
The JUBILEE commemorated their freedom from EGPYT.
• God wanted to ensure that they would never be in bondage again.
• LEVITICUS 25 ends, reinforcing that God delivered His people out of EGYPT.
And that’s really what the Jubilee was about.
READ LEVITICUS 25:55
But ultimately, the JUBILEE represented the FREEDOM we would have in Christ, who would set us free from the bondage of sin.
Galatians 5:1: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
2 Corinthians 3:17: “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
John 8:36: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
• So that COVERS the SABBATH & the JUBILEE.
* TURNING BACK TO CHAPTER 23 …
… The next FEAST OF THE LORD in Leviticus is the PASSOVER & THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD.
These two are closely associated together.
They’re actually one 7-day feast … beginning with the Passover on the 14th day of the first month, which on the Hebrew calendar is the month of Nisan.
So PASSOVER is on Nisan 14, the first day of the month.
READ LEVITICUS 23:4-8
Notice that PASSOVER begins in the evening.
Leviticus 23:5 says: “…at even is the LORD’S passover.”
This is because Biblical Creation Days begin in the evening.
Genesis 1:5 says: “ … And the evening and the morning were the first day.”
And again in v. 8: “And the evening and the morning were the second day.” And so on …
So the EVENING always comes first in the Bible, as the start of a day.
This is hard for us in modern times to wrap our heads around …
… but the Biblical day began at evening and went through to the next evening, which then began the 2nd day.
So keeping that in mind, PASSOVER would begin on the evening of the 14th day of the 1st month.
& The PASSOVER was a MEMORIAL of the first PASSOVER which occurred in EXODUS 12.
1. VERSE 2: Beginning of Months.
2. VERSES 3-6: 10th day: 4 days before selected/examined the PASSOVER LAMB.
3. VERSE 8: Bitter herbs represented the harshness and slavery they endured in Egypt.
4. VERSE 11: Loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand, eat in haste.
• They were to be ready to flee from Egypt at the moment of God’s deliverance.
• That’s why the BREAD was to be UNLEAVENED (without yeast).
• UNLEAVENED BREAD represented HASTE.
5. VERSE 13: God passing over when He saw the blood on the doorposts symbolized Jesus blood protecting us from God’s wrath.
In the same way, when God sees the blood of Jesus over US, He will pass OVER us in judgment …
… and we WILL NOT experience His wrath or go through the WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT …
… where the wicked are judged and found guilty.
6. VERSES 18-19: 7-days from 14-21st.
We also see the PASOVER in NUMBERS 9, but look at V. 12.
SPEAKING OF THE PASSOVER:
12 They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.
This was a PROPHECY ABOUT JESUS, whose bones were never broken.
• Normally, Roman guards would break the legs of the crucified, in order to speed up the crucifixion process.
• The crucified man needed his legs to push his body up in order to breathe.
But JESUS DIED before they could break any of His bones.
32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.
33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:
36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.
Psalm 34:20 also says: “He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.”
John the Baptist said of Jesus in John 1:29 prior to His baptism: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
The PASOVER LAMB was also represented in the Lord’s Supper or the Communion, when Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples.
Mark 14:12: “And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?”
So the meal that Jesus ate in the upper room was the Passover meal.
• That’s why it’s so important that we, as a CHURCH FAMILY, observe COMMUNION together.
It really is CENTRAL to a NEW TESTAMENT church as we fellowship with each other and with the LORD.
1 Corinthians 11:
24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
This was instruction for the CHURCH body, to be done together.
This idea of separating into your own houses and partaking communion individually instead of with the church (as someone preached recently) is a false teaching that strikes at the very heart of the church!
* And the PASSOVER is now fulfilled in the LORD’S SUPPER.
Just as the PASSOVER foreshadowed and looked forward to CHRIST, JESUS now looks back in time to the PASSOVER.
It was all speaking of Christ, His body and His blood.
JESUS also entered Jerusalem the week leading up to the Passover.
Remember, Passover began on the EVE of the 14th, …
… but 4 days before, on the 10th of the month …
… THE PASSOVER LAMB would be SELECTED & the INSPECTION PROCESS would begin …
… in search of the perfect, UNBLEMISHED LAMB …
… the 4 days leading up to Passover.
Jesus was also INSPECTED & TESTED by the PHARISEES & SADDUCEES during that same period, after He entered Jerusalem.
We see this in Matthew 22:15: “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in [his] talk.”
… and they begin testing Him with a series of questions …
… such as if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar …
… or when the Sadducees who did not believe in the RESURRECTION, asked Him whether there would be marriage in heaven …
… We also see this in the Gospel of John, when the Pharisees try to trap Jesus with the WOMAN CAUGHT IN ADULTERY, asking Him whether she should be stoned.
AT THE SAME TIME that the PASSOVER LAMB was being EXAMINED in the NATION OF ISRAEL …
JESUS WAS BEING TESTED & EXAMINING, as they asked Him: “By what authority do you do these things?”
• Jesus passed all of their tests and escaped UNBLEMISHED.
HIS ANSWERS silenced the RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION who sought to TRAP HIM.
In the same passage in Matthew 22, v. 33 it says that “when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.”
And in Verse 34 that: “the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence.”
His answers were perfect. He came out unblemished by their examination of Him.
After the Last Supper, Jesus was then tried in the middle of the night before the Sanhedrin & the elders & scribes …
Again He was being examined …
59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none.
• Finally, Jesus was TRIED BEFORE PILATE …
John 19:4: “Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that they may know that I FIND NO FAULT IN HIM.”
1 Peter 1:18-19 says:
18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
So this covers the PASSOVER, the FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD, the SABBATHS and the JUBILEE.
In the next sermon, we’ll cover the next FEAST, which is the FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS, which represents the resurrection of Jesus Christ, being the FIRSTFRUIT of those risen from the dead.
1 CORINTHIANS 15:20: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”
So we see how perfectly the feasts fit together to, again, represent Christ, as everything else in Leviticus has to this point.
We’ll also cover the remaining feasts, including the feast of weeks (or PENTECOST), the feast of TRUMPETS, the DAY OF ATONEMENT, & the FEAST OF TABERNACLES.