YHWH set forth some instructions for celebrating holy days. These are not largely taught or truly practiced in our culture today. We seem to have unlimited appetite for declaring a celebration or recognition day for almost anything under the sun, but we often fail to focus on celebrating what God instructs us to do. Many may point to Easter or Christmas, but in truth neither was instructed as celebration by our Father and both are steeped in deep pagan roots in much of how they are celebrated. Other’s include Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Presidents Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Ground Hog Day, Read Across America Day… and we could go on. Some of these may be fine and worthwhile, but we should start first with the celebrations our Father has instructed us to recognize.
The first in Leviticus 23 is familiar… the Sabbath day of rest. Many of us are familiar with it, but most do not actually recognize it anymore. It has become just another busy weekend day for most. They may have a day off their normal job (though many do not), but the day then becomes a busy work day for chores and responsibilities at home. I can tell you though, as one who was there and has now embraced Sabbath with my family, God has some really good ideas! A day of rest to focus on God and family rather than just another day to work is fabulous and has opened up time for me with God and with my family and just to pause and reflect from a busy week.
Celebrating Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are great ways of ensuring we take time to reflect on and give thanks for our Passover lamb, Jesus, and to better understand how the Old Testament (Passover in Egypt) foreshadows the sacrifice of Jesus we are familiar with in the New Testament. Once again we see God’s focus for additional Sabbath rest days. It is an important concept for Him. We are called to rest at times, rather than run busily here and there during holidays as many do…often getting distracted in busyness from the intent of the holiday.
Counting 50 days… Pentecost. We can again see the foreshadowing of the New Testament in the Old. We can give thanks to God for His provision as with harvest and again for providing us the Helper in the Holy Spirit, who came on Pentecost to the gathered believers in a powerful way as documented in Acts, after Christ returned to heaven. Our Father also reminds us that His provision is bountiful enough to share with others… hence the reminder not to harvest everything in verse 22.
We are called again to a Sabbath day of rest for Feast of Trumpets, and as we continue further in Leviticus we will come next to the Feast of Atonement as the subject of an article another day.
1The LORD spoke again to Moses, saying, 2“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘The LORD’S appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations—My appointed times are these:
3‘For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings.
4‘These are the appointed times of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at the times appointed for them. 5‘In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD’S Passover. 6‘Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7‘On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work. 8‘But for seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work.’”
9Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. 11‘He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12‘Now on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb one year old without defect for a burnt offering to the LORD. 13‘Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the LORD for a soothing aroma, with its drink offering, a fourth of a hin of wine. 14‘Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.
15‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. 16‘You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD. 17‘You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the LORD. 18‘Along with the bread you shall present seven one year old male lambs without defect, and a bull of the herd and two rams; they are to be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD. 19‘You shall also offer one male goat for a sin offering and two male lambs one year old for a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20‘The priest shall then wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering with two lambs before the LORD; they are to be holy to the LORD for the priest. 21‘On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.
22‘When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God.’”
23Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 24“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25‘You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD.’”
There is so much to study and celebrate laid out in this scripture, but to truly understand it and appreciate it, we each need to take time in prayer and study to seek to learn more about these festivals our Lord has instructed us to participate in. I encourage each of you to begin on this journey, as I have over the past few years. Do not try to get it all in one step. Pray, seek, study, and try to implement in steps. I have found this to greatly enrich my relationship with the Lord as I submit to and seek His instruction rather than just “going along with what everyone else expects you to do with the broad spectrum of holidays defined by man.
I would encourage you to consider learning more about the Hebrew roots of Christianity at Focused Ministries – Understanding Hebrew Roots. For holy days, I recommend starting with Bible.org – The Lord’s Appointed Times (Leviticus 23), 119Ministries.com, TheMoedim.com, Hebrew4Christians.com and SetApartPeople.com.
Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.