Leviticus xxiii

The Lord commanded His people Israel to keep seven yearly feasts. We find them mentioned in their proper order in Leviticus. The feasts, or holy convocations are: The Feast of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of First-fruits, the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. While these feasts had a special meaning for God’s people Israel and their worship they are also “the shadow of things to come;” they have a decided prophetic meaning. In a most remarkable manner they reveal the whole plan of redemption. All the dispensational dealings of God with Jews and Gentiles may be traced in these feasts.

We find also in the Old Testament Scriptures seven compound names of Jehovah. These are the following: Jehovah-Jireh (Jehovah provides), Gen. xxii:14; Jehovah-Rophekah (Jehovah thy Healer), Exod. xv:26; Jehovah-Nissi (Jehovah my banner), Ex. xvii; Jehovah-Shalom (Jehovah is Peace), Judges vi:24; Jehovah-Roi (Jehovah my Shepherd), Psalm xxiii:1; Jehovah-Tsidkenu (Jehovah our Righteousness), Jer. xxiii:6; Jehovah-Shammah (Jehovah is there), Exek. xlviii:35. These names are also prophetic; they tell out the story of redemption and may be linked with the Feasts of Jehovah. The interesting fact is that these names are given in the Word in such an order that they correspond with these feasts of Jehovah.

I. The Passover Feast. This was to be observed on the fourteenth day of the month of Abib and was kept in memory of Israel’s redemption and deliverance from Egypt, the house of bondage. The Passover-lamb was slain and its blood sprinkled on the lintel and side-posts of the door. God assured them when they were in Egypt, “When I see the blood I will pass over you.” And so it was. The blood of the slain lamb sheltered them and secured immunity from death. The lamb, as a spotless victim, died that they might live. This feast marked the beginning of Israel’s history as a redeemed people; their years were to be counted from that day (Exod. xii:1). The blessed story of this great redemption was not to be forgotten, but to be remembered from generation to generation (Exod. xii:24-27). The Passover lamb and the sheltering blood foreshadow most blessedly the atoning work of the Cross, the sacrifice of our Lord and His precious blood. The paschal lamb is a type of Christ our Passover. “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. v:7). Our Lord fulfilled the type in every detail. When the time came for the Lord Jesus Christ to give His life, Satan made an effort that His death should not occur on the Passover-feast. Satan knew that he was the true Lamb, and so he tried to prevent His death at the proper time (Matt. xxvi:5; Mark xiv:2). But the Lamb of God died at the very time, thus fulfilling the Scriptures. Redemption by blood stands first, for it is the foundation of everything.

Jehovah-Jireh—”the Lord will provide”—is His name in connection with Abraham when he put his son Isaac as a sacrifice upon the altar. When Isaac asked, “Where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?” Abraham answered, “My son, God will Himself provide the lamb for a burnt-offering” (Gen. xxii:8). The ram was provided to be put upon the altar and Abraham called the place Jehovah-Jireh. And so the Lord has provided the Lamb; He has provided a free and full salvation through His own Son. How beautifully this name of Jehovah fits the Passover feast needs not to be demonstrated. Every one can see this.

II. The Feast of Unleavened Bread. This feast could not be separated from Passover. Passover without the feast of unleavened bread would have not only been an impossibility, but an insult to God. And so also the feast of unleavened bread without the Passover. Leaven is always the type of evil, corruption and sin. An unleavened condition means the opposite, it means holiness. God redeems unto holiness. What He redeems is destined to share His own holy character. This feast of unleavened bread was to be kept for seven days. In Corinthians (1 Cor. v:7-8), where we read of Christ our Passover, the unleavened bread is likewise mentioned. “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; wherefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” And before this it is written “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out, therefore, the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.” Redemption delivers from the power of indwelling sin. Redeemed by blood, and saved by grace, our calling is unto holiness. Spiritually to keep the feast of unleavened bread means to live in the energy of the new nature, walking in the Spirit. And ultimately His redeemed people will be wholly sanctified delivered from the very presence of sin. He will present the church to Himself, “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. v:27). That will be when we shall be with Him in glory. Then the gracious work of redemption is completed and crowned.

Jehovah-Rophekah, “the Lord thy Healer,” He calls Himself in Exod. xv:26. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases, who redeemeth thy life from destruction, who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies” (Psalm ciii:2-4). We look forward to the day when in the kingdom to come “the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick” (Isa. xxxiii:24), when His redeemed, blood-washed people shall be glorified and then wholly sanctified as to body, soul and spirit. When our body of humiliation is changed that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body (Phil. iii:21), then shall we know all the gracious power of Jehovah-Rophekah.

III. The Feast of First-fruits. The third feast is the Feast of First-fruits (Lev. xxiii:9-14). While the Passover typifies the death of Christ, the waving of the sheaf of the first fruits is the blessed type of the physical resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the third feast; the number three in the Word of God is almost in every instance connected with resurrection. One sheaf only was brought into the presence of Jehovah; this sheaf was the earnest of the harvest to follow. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. xv:20). “But every man in his own order: Christ, the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His Coming” (1 Cor. xv:23). The grain of wheat had fallen into the ground and died. But He liveth; the full ear of the sheaf waved before Jehovah typifies the abundant fruit which He brings unto God. It was waved “on the morrow after the Sabbath.” That is the first day of the week, the glorious resurrection morning. Thus we see in this feast Christ risen from the dead, the first-fruits, now at the fight hand of God. And as He was raised from among the dead, so shall His people be raised from among the dead, when He descends from heaven with the shout; while living believers shall be changed in a moment. And all will be with Him in that blessed day when He comes for His own.

Jehovah-Nissi, “the Lord my Banner” (Exod. xvii:15). Israel, as we read in this chapter, fought with Amalek (the type of the flesh). Joshua was the leader of God’s people in this warfare, while Moses was on the top of the hill holding up his hands that Israel might prevail. And Joshua gained the victory over Amalek. Joshua typifies Christ risen from the dead, who, like Joshua, brings His people through Jordan into the promised land. And Moses on the top of the hill with his uplifted hands also represents Christ risen from the dead, at God’s right hand interceding for His people. Through a risen Christ, whose life we have, and who liveth for us, we get the victory in the conflict down here. He died for us, which gives us peace; He lives for us and in us, which gives us power. The risen Christ is our banner and victory.

IV. The Feast of Pentecost (verses 15-22). This is the Feast of Weeks, also called Pentecost (the Greek word for fifty) because it was celebrated fifty days after the Feast of First-fruits. After seven Sabbaths had passed by, a new Meal-offering was to be brought to the Lord. It consisted of two loaves, which were of fine flour, leaven also was to be put in them; they were to be the first-fruits unto the Lord. In the beginning of Leviticus we read of the meal-offering. The offering here in the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, was a new meal-offering. The meal-offering in the first part of this book (ii:1-16) is the type of Christ in His perfect humanity. In that meal-offering there was no leaven, but fine flour was mixed with oil, and oil was poured upon it before it was exposed to the fire. All this blessedly foreshadows the Lord Jesus in His spotless humanity and the sufferings through which He passed. But here is a new meal-offering, into which leaven was put.

Fifty days after Christ arose, when the day of Pentecost had come, the Holy Spirit descended out of heaven. While He filled the assembled believers in Jerusalem, He also baptized them into one body; the church, the body of Christ, began with this great event. The new meal-offering, therefore, is a prophetic type of the church. Let us notice that the loaves of this new meal-offering were also called “first-fruits.” This word identifies them with Him who is the first-fruits of them that slept, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the First-fruits and His believing people are likewise called by that name. “Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures” (Jas. i:18). Believers have the first-fruits of the Spirit (Rom. viii:23). Christ also is the firstborn, while believers are His brethren destined to share His glory (Rom. viii:29); and the church is called the church of the firstborn” (Heb. xii:23).

This new meal-offering, a type of the church, was made of fine flour, which comes from the corn of wheat. It typifies the true believer, who is born again, and possesses the new nature, and only those who are born again are members of the true church. The leaven put into this offering is the type of sin and the old nature, which is still in the believer. Therefore the sin-offering was made prominent in connection with this feast, which tells us of the blessed work of Christ as the sin-bearer of His people. The two loaves foreshadow believing Jews and Gentiles, which compose the church. Some day the church will be presented to the Lord, as the new meal-offering was brought into His presence. This will happen when the Lord comes for His Saints.

Jehovah-Shalom, “the Lord is Peace” (Judges vi:24). How beautifully this name of Jehovah harmonizes with Pentecost. He has made peace in the blood of the Cross. “Peace be unto you” was His blessed word of greeting to the assembled disciples on the resurrection day. And ever since He is in the midst of those who gather unto His Name and His blessed, precious word of peace remains throughout this age for His redeemed people. Furthermore, “He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, the law of commandments in ordinances, for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace. And that He might reconcile both unto God, in one body by the cross having slain the enmity thereby. And came and preached peace to you which were far off, and to them that were nigh” (Ephes. ii:14-17).

But let us notice here that four months elapsed before another feast was kept. During these four months the harvest and vintage took place. The feast of Pentecost had after it this long period before the trumpet was blown for another solemn feast. This interval has a prophetic meaning of much importance. Dispensationally we are still in the Feast of Pentecost. This age is the age of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is present to accomplish His great mission, which is to gather out the church. This blessed work goes on during this age. But some day the Spirit’s work will surely be finished and the new meal-offering, the church, will be presented in glory. How this will be accomplished we know from 1 Thess. iv:13-18 and 1 Cor. xv:5 1-54.

Let us remember then that the four feasts foreshadow the Cross of Christ (Passover); the Work of the Cross which is complete Redemption (Unleavened Bread); the Resurrection of Christ (First-Fruits); the Holy Spirit and His Work on earth, the out-calling of the church (Pentecost). We are living in the interval between Pentecost and the fifth feast. But the next feast in its prophetic meaning will not come till the church is completed and presented unto the Lord. The harvest has to come. And the harvest is in verse 22 the same as in Matt. xiii:39.

Recently a theory has been advanced according to which the Lord must come for His Saints on the Jewish feast of Trumpets. But that is only a speculation. It is disproven by the fact that the new meal-offering on the feast of Pentecost, typifying the church, must be first presented to the Lord, before the feast of trumpets can come. What the feast of trumpets foreshadows we shall see next.

V. The Feast of Trumpets. The feast of trumpets, the day of atonement and the feast of tabernacles in their prophetic meaning are still future. Nor will the events foreshadowed come to pass till the harvest, the end of the age, comes, and the church has been removed from the earth. The trumpets here must not be identified with the last trump in 1 Cor. xv:53 or the trump of God in 1 Thess. iv. The feast of trumpets does not foreshadow the Coming of the Lord for His Saints. The feast of trumpets shows prophetically the call of God to the remnant of His earthly people. They are to be regathered and a remnant of them is to be brought back. But the Lord does not regather earthly Israel as long as His heavenly people are still here. An awakening spiritually and nationally is predicted throughout the prophetic Word for His people Israel. See Isa. xxvii:13 and Joel ii:1. Matt. xxiv:31 has often been applied as meaning the church. This is incorrect. The elect to be gathered by the trumpets’ sound is Israel. The blowing of the trumpets on the first day of the seventh month precedes the great day of atonement and heralds that approaching day.

Jehovah-Roi, “the Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm xxiii:1). Christians have almost universally applied this precious Psalm to themselves and forgotten that Israel also has a part in it. He who is our Shepherd is the Shepherd of Israel. He gave His life as the good Shepherd for all His sheep; yea, He died for that nation (John xi:51). There is a day coming when this loving, caring Shepherd, who was here once and sought the lost sheep of the house of Israel, will seek them again. “Behold I, even I, will both search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his flock that are scattered, so will I seek out my sheep; and will deliver them out of all places whither they have been scattered in the day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers and in all the inhabited places of the country” (Ezek. xxxiv:11-14). And when He gathers them, then will they joyfully praise Him as their Shepherd and know Jehovah-Roi.

VI. The Day of Atonement. This solemn feast followed immediately the blowing of the trumpets. Lev. xvi gives us the full description of that important day. On that day the blood of a sacrificial animal was carried within the vail and sprinkled by the high-priest on the mercy seat. When the high-priest has done this and came out from the Holiest the second sacrificial animal, a goat, was brought before him. He then put his hands upon the head of the goat and confessed upon it all the iniquities, the transgressions and sins of the children of Israel. “And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness” (chapter xvi). And here the dispensational aspect comes in. Before the transgressions of Israel could be confessed over the scapegoat and before the goat could be sent forever away with its burden, the high-priest had to come out of the Holiest. As long as He remained alone in the Holiest, the goat could not carry away the sins of the people. When the Lord appears the second time, when He comes from heaven’s glory as the King-Priest, then the blessed effect of His death for the nation will be realized and their sins and transgressions will forever be put away. Then they will in true repentance look upon Him whom they pierced and mourn for Him. And their sins will be forgiven and remembered no more. They will, through grace, become the righteous, the holy, the Spirit filled nation. “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness” (Zech. xiii:1).

Jehovah-Tsidkenu—”The Lord our Righteousness.” It is significant that this name of Jehovah appears twice in Jeremiah. Once it means our Lord and connected with the acknowledgement of Him as “our righteousness” is the promise that He shall reign as King. “In His days shall Judah be saved and Israel shall dwell safely, and this is His name whereby He shall be called ‘Jehovah-Tsidkenu'” (Jer. xxiii:5-6). They will know Him as their righteousness, as we know Him as our righteousness. But when? When He has come and they accepted Him as their Lord and King. In Jer. xxxiii:16 the city of Jerusalem shall be called by that name. One of the future names of restored Jerusalem will be “the Lord our righteousness.” No doubt, because the King has chosen her and manifests His glory in, round about and above Jerusalem.

VII. The Feast of Tabernacles. The seventh feast began on the fifteenth day of the seventh month and was kept after the harvesting. “Thou shalt observe the feast of Tabernacles seven days, after thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine” (Deut. xvi:13). Besides this it was a memorial feast of their wilderness journey of the past. Therefore they made booths of palm trees and willows. The palm is the emblem of victory and the willow the emblem of suffering and weeping. This feast is prophetic of the millennium and the coming glory, when Israel is back in the land and the kingdom has been established in their midst. Then the King will manifest Himself in the midst of His people. It will be a time of rejoicing and victory, when sorrow and sighing, so long the lot of Israel, will no more be heard. It comes after the harvest (the end of the age) and the vintage (the winepress of the wrath of God). The Gentiles, too, will join in that feast; it will be celebrated by Jews and Gentiles throughout millennial times (Zech. xiv:16), while the glorified church dwells with the Lord in the heavenly Jerusalem above the earth in marvellous glory, seen by the inhabitants of the world during the millennial age. It will probably be during that feast that the King of kings and Lord of lords will appear in visible glory in Jerusalem to receive the homage of Israel and the representatives of converted nations. How beautiful is the order of these last feasts of Jehovah! The blowing of the trumpets, the remnant of Israel called and gathered; the day of atonement, Israel in repentance, looking upon Him whom they pierced, when He comes the second time; the feast of Tabernacles, the Kingdom come, the time of peace and glory for the earth.

Jehovah-Shammah, “the Lord is there” (Exek. xlviii:35). The name of that city from that day shall be “Jehovah-Shammah”—the Lord is there. This is another millennial name of the city of Jerusalem. The closing chapters of Ezekiel tell us of Israel’s restoration, the overthrow of their enemies, Gog and Magog, the powers from the North. Then the glory returns (Ezek. xliii:1-5), a wonderful temple is seen once more in Jerusalem, the Lord manifests Himself in the midst of the city and living waters will flow forth from Jerusalem. Thus the last compound name of Jehovah clearly points to millennial times.

We have seen that the feasts and the names of Jehovah are prophetic. They reveal the great redemption and tell us of the cross, the work accomplished there, how God made provision and redeems unto Himself. We traced in them His resurrection and the victory; the coming of the Holy Spirit, the formation and completion of the church; the regathering and the restoration of Israel, their spiritual blessing and the millennium. His Name is blessedly linked with these feasts. How wonderful is the blessed Word of God! And how we may find His gracious purposes in every portion of this Book of books. Soon the last three feasts may be ushered in. Let us therefore as His heavenly people, with a heavenly hope and destiny, wait daily for the promised home-call, the gathering shout.