Los Alamos Church of Christ
This morning we are Leviticus 23. I have to confess, I don’t often preach from Leviticus.
--Leviticus is the 3rd book of the Old Testament. It is the nuts and bolts of how the Jews were to observe all the laws under the Law of Moses.
--We don’t follow the old law. We live under the new covenant… There is the Old Testament. There is the New Testament. We follow Christ, not Moses. We are Christians, not Jews. The liturgies of the old law are not for us. Therefore, I don’t preach a lot of sermons from Leviticus.
--But having said that, I am going to do a sermon from Leviticus 23… because there is an amazing God-thing in this chapter. The traditionalists, amongst us, are going to love the symbolic connections that are in chapter 23 of Leviticus. The intellectuals might enjoy this as well. I don’t know about the Caregivers… maybe. There are not only lessons to learn, but connections to God.
Leviticus 23 outlines the 7 Holy Days; the holidays, of the Old Law. This chapter first mentions the Sabbath Day. Then chapter 23 outlines seven feasts that the LORD commanded the Jews observe. These seven feasts were the essence of the Old Law. But amazingly, these seven holy days symbolically point to the essence of the New Law. What? It is a God-thing!
Let me briefly outline each of the seven feasts. Then, we will get to the good part of the sermon on how these seven feasts connect us to the LORD. Here is a sneak preview… God’s plan for humans is revealed in these seven holy feasts. Wow! I’m telling you it is a God-thing!
The Seven Feasts…
1) The Passover… As we know, the Passover remembers the 10th plague of Egypt… the death of the first born. In Egypt the Jews marked the doors to their homes with the blood of a lamb. This holy feast remembered deliverance from slavery; the birth of a nation; the inauguration of God’s people. Blood is protection.
2) The Feast of Unleavened Bread… This feast began the next day, after the Passover celebration. The Unleavened Bread was kind of a negative feast. The Jews were to make sure there was no leaven in the house. There was to be no fermenting stuff, no baking powder, and no yeast… nothing that would cause bread to rise. The first day of the feast was a holiday… no work; a day off. During the week remembered how quickly they had to leave. No time for the bread to rise. Then the last day of the celebration you had another day off. It was a negative symbol of no leaven.
3) The Firstfruits… When the grain was ready to harvest, the first sheaf was to be brought to a priest and waved before the LORD. This is kind of cool. This was symbolic of offering the harvest to the LORD. The first of harvest was given to the LORD. The Firstfruits was a kind of thanksgiving celebration.
4) The Day of Pentecost… Seven full weeks after the Sabbath of the Firstfruits; 50 days later, there was an offering of two loaves of bread. Two loaves of bread was baked with leaven and brought to the LORD. This is believed by Jewish scholars to be remembering the day the Law of Moses was given on Mount Sinai. This was not a lousy unleavened bread, but a celebration of the Law of Moses.
These 4 feasts all happened in the spring of the year. There is a gap in the holidays. The last three were fall celebrations.
5) The Feast of Trumpets… This was another day off; a Sabbath Day. On that day there were blasts of trumpets. Leviticus 23 doesn’t tell us what the trumpets were supposed to remember. There is speculation of the trumpets of Joshua when Jericho fell and the Israelites entered the Promised Land. That works for me. The Feast of Trumpets was a celebration remembering the Land of Promise.
6) The Day of Atonement… Also known as Yom Kippur… the Day of Covering. This was the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. It was not a feast, but rather, a day of fasting; a day of repentance. The High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle the blood on the Ark of the Covenant for forgiveness. It was a day of repentance and forgiveness. But more importantly it was a day of Covering.
7) The Feast of Booths… Or Feasts of Tabernacles. The Jews were to build a shelter, a sukkot, to symbolize their 40 years of wondering in the wilderness. They lived in what we would call tents for seven days. It was a camping trip to remember the roots of living in tents in the wilderness.
In the days of Jesus, during the Feast of Booths every morning was a water libation. Shortly after dawn the high priest with lots of celebration went to the Pool of Siloam and dip water and bring it back to the temple through the Water Gate and poured it out on the altar. This may have been in remembrance of the water from the rock in the wilderness. The Feast of Booths was a fun holiday.
Now to the God-thing part…
These seven Holy Days are fulfilled in Christ. What? Watch the connections to Christ…
1) The Passover… Jesus is the Passover lamb.
ESV John 19:13-18 So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold your King!" They cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.
The blood of the lamb spread on the wood of a cross brings protection from death. Jesus is the Lamb of God! Symbolism… the Passover is Christ!
2) The Feast of Unleavened Bread… Jesus said of himself…
ESV John 6:33-35 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always." Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger.
Leaven symbolically is sin. It fills and spreads and changes bread, just like sin. Jesus, the sinless one, the one without leaven, brings life to us. The sinless one is the bread of life! More Connections!
3) The Firstfruits… on the day after the Sabbath, Jesus rose to be the firstfruits of all who are to be raised. The Resurrection is symbolized by the firstfruits!
ESV 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
In the Resurrection Jesus became the firstfruits!
There is one more spring holiday.
4) The Day of Pentecost… On the Day of Pentecost, just like that day on Mount Sinai when the Law was given to Moses, the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles. The good news of Jesus was proclaimed to the nations! The Day of Pentecost was the announcement of a new Covenant. A Day of Proclamation which began in Jerusalem and went to the ends of the earth…
ESV Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
Two loaves… Jews and Gentiles now receive the bread of life!
Those were all the spring celebrations. Then there was a gap until the fall. Perhaps, if we use our imaginations, if we think like a traditionalist, if we plug in some symbolism… Jesus fulfilled all of the spring feasts. We are living in between. Watch the fall festivals… they are yet to be fulfilled.
5) The Feast of Trumpets…
ESV 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
If the Feast of Trumpets celebrated Jericho and the entering into the Promised Land, then the trumpets will sound again to mark the beginning of us being raised from sleep to receive our new bodies and enter into the Eternal Promised Land. I told you it was a God-thing. There will be trumpets announcing Christ’s second coming.
6) The Day of Atonement… The writer of Hebrews makes the connection for us…
ESV Hebrews 9:24-28 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
--Christ took his blood into heaven before the very throne of God.
--At the end of the ages, Christ put all the sin behind him
--Now because of His Day of Atonement activities he will appear a second time to save those who are waiting for Him!
--The Day of Atonement points to the day when Christ appears again to be done with sin and save those who long for him.
Which leaves one fall feast left…
7) The Feast of Booths…
The Gospel of John helps us out with this one in John 7. Remember the water libation of the Booths?
ESV John 7:2 Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand.
John 7:11 The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, "Where is he?"
John 7:14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching.
John 7:37-38 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'"
Then John wraps it up in Revelation 21…
ESV Revelation 21:1-6 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”
The feast of booths was all about being God’s people… We will be God’s people who will be guided to springs of living water forever on the restored earth.
I think I was right… this is a God-thing. The Jewish feasts described in Leviticus 23 outline the work of Christ to redeem the world. They are even in chronological order!
--Jesus is the Passover Lamb offered on the preparation Day of the Passover.
--Jesus lived a leaven free life of holiness thus giving him the ability to be the perfect sacrifice.
--Jesus rose from the grave as the firstfruits of those who are in him… Firstfruits of Resurrection.
--We continue to proclaim the gospel to the world… two loaves of bread to the ends of the earth.
Then…Then… Then… One day…
--The trumpets will sound announcing the coming of our Lord to restore the Promised Land.
--Jesus took his blood into the holy of holies for real to bring salvation to this earth at his return.
--We will dwell in booths on the restored earth drinking from the living water forever!
These are amazing connections. This week the challenge is to remember each of the seven feasts; one a day… handout & emails remind us of these seven feasts… Maybe we could do more with these feasts… Pentecost is the one coming…
With these symbols in mind, let’s commit to… the Shema and the Temperament liturgy…
ESV Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
My temperament is God’s gift to me.
My temperament is my gift to God.
My temperament is my gift to the body.
My temperament is my gift to the world.
April 17, 2016
Los Alamos Church of Christ