Monday, April 25, 2011

Leviticus: Chapter 23

Two things jumped out at me as I read through the holy festivals:  all but one includes abstaining from work and only one includes leaven in the offering.  As one who loves 'to do' the first notice was striking; and since the focus throughout Leviticus has been holiness, the inclusion of leaven was startling.  Before I share the reasoning I uncovered in the commentaries, I will share some broad notes about the festivals from my studies. 

The majority, if not all, of God's instructions have both practical and spiritual implications; the festivals are no different.  The commanded times of gathering were of benefit to the nation of Israel socially and economically.  Spiritually, the festivals were both reminders and prophetic promises.  Five of the seven festivals have been fulfilled in Christ; two remain to be fulfilled.  This simple list from McGee was very helpful to me:

Passover relates to the crucifixion and death of Christ. (Saved by the blood!)
Unleavened Bread relates to our fellowship with Christ. (Cleansed by the blood!)
Firstfruits is the resurrection; the harvest is all believers but Jesus was FIRST!
Pentecost was fulfilled by the Spirit's indwelling and pertains to the birth of the Church.
Trumpets relates to the return of Israel to God--and to the coming judgment.
Great Day of Atonement is all about the work of Christ on the Cross (1 John 1:9)
Tabernacles Festival relates to a future time when Israel will dwell fully in the Promised Land.

The festival which does not say 'no work' is the Firstfruits.  Jesus Christ is the Firstfruits but the harvest is the church.  We were not saved because of our works; we are not cleansed by works but we were saved to live for Him.  The life of Christ is to be lived out in our daily walk.  This particular festival was not celebrated in the desert wandering time.  In fact, it required a field where there would be sowing and harvesting.  Interestingly, when the grain was sown, the Israelites checked daily to find and gather a sheaf of grain heads.  May we all be so diligent to watch the fields and gather new lives for Jesus!
The festival which involves leaven in the bread will sadly make sense to:  Pentecost.  We all know our churches are to be the Bride of Christ, but our churches (like its imperfect members) struggle.  God knew it, too, and the offering reflects the fact that there is indeed sin in the church.  Praise God He understands, He has provided and all His promises will be fulfilled.

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