Understanding His story helps us to understand that His-Story is our Story!
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In the beginning when God created the heavens and the Earth, God creates light. Did you know that everything in the universe emits light? From radiation of infrared to ultraviolet, everything glows with some form of light! We can only see a small part of the light spectrum. Without light, life would not exist. Plants require light to live. They also require water which God organizes next. Then on the third day, God makes dry land appear and creates vegetation of every sort of seed-bearing plant and trees that grow seed bearing fruit. God sets reproductive limits on creation when He says, “These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” (Genesis 1:11 NLT) I love how the New Living Translation translates the next phrase: “And that is what happened.”
By the end of the third day, God has produced all of the vegetation and trees that living creatures would ever need on this Earth. On the fourth day, God creates the sun, the moon and the stars. He does all of this for one simple reason, to “Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years.” (NLT) And then in verse 15 it says, “‘Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened.” (NLT) And that is exactly what they are for! We can track the movements of the stars back in time so that we know exactly where they were when ancient people were looking at them. Of course, the greatest sign to come from this would be the star that would shine on the night that Jesus was born and then again on the night when the Magi were led to the house where the Child was.
Then of course, God makes the animals. Now that everything is ready, the last thing that God made was the crown and glory of creation! Us! All of creation seems to center on one theme up to this point. Everything seems to work together for the purpose of giving us light, water and food. And then, God “...breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7 KJV)
Now that's interesting! Light, water, and food! Another connection just occurred to me! As Jesus teaches the people about who He is, how does He describe Himself? He is the Light! (John 8:12) He is the Fountain of Living Water! (John 7:37-39) And, He is the Bread! (John 6:35) And then He sends the Holy Spirit! The word for Spirit in both the Old and New Testaments means breath! The Breath of God!
The Lord gave the Feasts listed in Leviticus 23 to help Israel to know and remember who God is and what He has done! But they also had another reason… to know the One that was yet to come! Maybe, by looking at what the Lord commanded Israel to do, we can gain a fresh perspective on food, feasting and the dinner table. Maybe, we can find Jesus in every meal?
Lesson Objective: Connecting the Feast to the Harvest
In this lesson, we will learn the importance of the provisions of God and the need to remember what He has done, as well as, what He is yet to do! We will learn how God can teach us by using things like food, drink and eating together, to show us our need for Him and our need for each other!
The Lord designed the feasts of the Old Testament not only to remember what the Lord did, but also to teach about the coming Messiah.
The feasts of the Old Testament reflect the Lord Jesus Christ and although we are not commanded to observe them, we can learn valuable, life changing and life sustaining things from the study of them.
The statements made by Jesus Christ concerning Himself as the Bread of Life, the Water of Life, and the True Food spoken of in John 6:55 tell us that He and His Words are as fundamental to our spiritual life as surely as food is fundamental to our physical life.
When you really look at it, the whole universe seems to be made for the purpose of feeding and sustaining us physically and spiritually! And man was made with the need not only to eat - but to eat together! Eating together increases the bonds between people, families and friends! The dinner table has lost its importance in today’s society and we have yet to see the full ramifications of that change. Eating together has a positive effect! (Unless you take the last piece of chicken!) God made it so! That is why it was common to see Jesus feeding people, eating with friends and reclining around the table with those who invited him! Author Leslie Leyland Fields has some great thoughts in her book titled: The Spirit of Food. She says, “In some ways we are sort of gluttonous about food; we can’t seem to watch enough cooking shows or buy enough kitchen appliances. I understand that food is interesting; it is fascinating and it’s one of our primary appetites – in fact we would die without food, God made us that way.” And she goes on to say this: “We’re missing the most essential element of all and that is that food really is holy. It’s a gift from God to every one of us and it’s holy…”
Is she right? I believe so! Let me show you why… Whether we use it correctly or incorrectly, God intended it to be a good thing! Eating is talked about throughout the whole Bible! It is a major part of our relationship with God and each other!! Adam and Eve were told they could eat any plant, seed or fruit in the garden (except one). So, food is central from the beginning, and in fact, it is what becomes the object of the first temptation.
Then, Cain kills Abel... For what? The struggle that resulted from what kind of food was to be offered as a sacrifice! When the Lord (see Genesis 18) appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre (the three men on their way to Sodom), Abraham begs them to stay and be refreshed/comforted with some food. After the meal, the Lord told Abraham that he and Sarah would have a son! How about the Passover? It is a meal to remember what the Lord has done in Egypt and the first time it was eaten was while the firstborn of Egypt died!
Every time the Lord wanted Israel to remember something, they were to have a feast. Many of the sacrifices offered in the Tabernacle and in the Temple fed the workers and the priests of God. When the Lord Jesus taught the multitudes, He made sure they all ate together! He filled their stomachs before or while He filled their hearts. This was not just one time! He fed people again and again! It was not just another miracle for Jesus! Feeding people was a way of life for Him!
When the Lord was about to die on the cross, He has a meal with his closest disciples. When the Lord wants the church to remember the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are to take, eat, drink and remember! When we all finally get to heaven, the first thing we will do is sit down and eat the Marriage Supper of the Lamb! Psalm 136:25 says, it is the Lord “Who gives food to all flesh, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” The Lord spent a great deal of Scripture on the subject of food, feasting, sacrifice and fasting.
2. Connecting the Feasts and the Fulfillment of the Scriptures!
There are seven major feasts that the Lord commanded Israel to observe. Leviticus 23 lists all seven of them in chronological order. In order to understand the Festivals (which would better be called Appointed Days!), we must begin by understanding the Sabbath. The Sabbath falls on the last day of the week for the Jewish People. It begins on Friday evening at sundown (twilight) and ends at sundown (twilight) on Saturday evening. Roughly 6:00 pm. But it can be different because of the seasons and orbit of the Earth around the Sun. Sabbath does not mean seven or seventh day! Also, we do not have our weekly services on the Sabbath! We have our regular worship on the first day of the week. So there are some misconceptions out there about it. But, did you know there are other Sabbaths that do not occur on the seventh day of the week? (For example see: Leviticus 16:29-31.)
Each Feast is celebrated on the same day of the Jewish calendar every year. Like our calendar, Jewish calendars dates change yearly as to which day of the week they may happen on. In other words, July 15th falls on Sunday in 2018, but July 15th falls on a Monday in 2019. But, unlike our calendar (called the Gregorian calendar adopted in 1582 during the reign of Pope Gregory XIII), the Jewish calendar does not have 365 days in a year So, Holy Days like Passover, are on different dates on our calendar every year. For instance, Passover began on Friday, March 30, 2018 but it changes to April 19th in 2019, April 8th in 2020 and March 27th in 2021. The reason why? The Jewish calendar only has 354 days because it is based on the moon. A lunar month is about twenty nine and a half days (x 12 = 354). And, rather than a leap year every four years, the Jewish calendar adds a 29 day month about once every three years (or seven times in nineteen years). And, some years are 353, 354, 355, 383, 384, or 385 days long! Confused? So are many Biblical scholars! Imagine having to figure out when the Exodus took place and you begin to understand why we are so confused on the exact year that Moses was born or when he led them out of Egypt?
All of these Feasts are also known as High Sabbaths. The Lord commanded them to observe these days as High Sabbaths no matter what day of the week they may fall on. As we have said before, Sabbath does not mean the seventh day. It means a Holy Day of rest unto the Lord.
"‘These are the appointed times of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at the times appointed for them. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover.’" (Leviticus 23:4-5) “Mow’ed” (pronounced with a long O = MO- ade like aide) is the Hebrew word for "appointed time." A fixed and definite time, day or days. It is often translated as "festival," or “feast” but the actual meaning is "appointment." These "appointed times" are the LORD's appointed times! Laid out by God Himself, appointed time is observed with some kind of feast, which may include celebration or it may be solemn. So, these “appointed times” must be very important in the larger picture of the redemption of mankind. at the time of Christ, these dates were already being debated on which calendar was the correct calendar to use. at some points and Israel's history Passover happened the day before the beginning of the Feast of unleavened bread and at other times Passover and unleavened bread began on the same day. Confusion over calendars is not a new thing. it was happening 2,000 years ago as well.
One of the connections here is found as Jesus prepares to meet His own appointed time in Jerusalem. In Matthew 26:17-18, Jesus is speaking about his crucifixion and death as "my time has come" or “my appointed time.” In saying this, the Lord has identified the appointed time of Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread as His appointed time. The Lord knew his time was coming to be nailed to the cross. As he went to the garden on that Thursday evening after sundown, it was actually the beginning of the Passover preparation day which had started around 6 that evening. As everyone else was preparing for the Passover, so was Jesus. But his preparation was a little different than theirs. They were preparing their lambs for Slaughter which would be carried out the next afternoon beginning at the ninth hour. they would be furiously removing any yeast from their homes before the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread would begin along with the Passover. But Jesus Was preparing in prayer in the garden. Weeping before the Lord and asking if there was another way. But ultimately his answer to all of this while I was “Thy will be done”.
Passover began at sundown, the end of the 14th day of the month and the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread begin at the same time. So Passover and the first day of Unleavened Bread were on the 15th day of the month of Nisan - sometimes called the month of Abib. It was the first month of the Jewish year.
We will continue this discussion in our next lesson! PART 2
It doesn't take long in life to learn the importance of food. Without food we will not survive. It is the same with water, light and with air. The Feasts teach us that everything we need is provided by the Lord Himself. They also teach us that Jesus is our bread, our living water, the light that shines forth through us as we live and breathe. They will also teach us that we were made to be together with Him and each other.
They also teach us that we must be careful to give God the credit and the praise that He deserves for doing all of this for us. He gives us His Grace when we do not deserve it! One of the things that all seven of the Feasts have in common with each other is that during these times, God expected His people (Israel) to seek forgiveness of sins and to be holy in front of a holy God! God expects no less from us! You be holy as I am Holy is the command we are given!
God gives us appointed times that we are to worship Him. He tells us in His Word not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. But there are more appointed times to consider in our lives. Whether we notice them or not, there are appointed times during our week when God allows us to encounter someone who needs Christ, someone who is in need, someone who needs love or maybe just someone who God wants to reveal Himself to - through you and I. Those are also acts of Worship! To worship God is to lift Him up! That is how we will win people! That is how we will help thise who have fallen down... By lifting Him up and humbling ourselves.
There is another appointment that we do not like to talk about. It is appointed unto every man once to die and then the judgment. We can't do anything to stop that appointed day so the question really is what will you do everyday until that day? Will you be found worshipping when that day comes?
God speaks through the Feasts to teach the people about holiness.
God acts by making His Holiness known through the sacrifice and the harvest
God reveals the prophetic vision of the coming Messiah through the Feasts of the Lord. (Leviticus 23:2)
Why would God allow the Israelites to have these appointed days of the Feasts where they could receive a covering up of their sin (forgiveness) in spite of how rebellious they were over and over?
Why do you think God made eating together something that binds and bonds people together?
Answer this question with tree or false: God's provision of food for us and our consumption of food is a picture of our spiritual growth in Jesus Christ?
If true, how do we apply that statement to our lives?
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