Chapters 23 and 24 cover the holy feasts and the priestly duties. The seven feasts of the Lord are full of rich spiritual food and bear careful study. We have already covered some of these feasts. The Weekly Sabbath is covered in chapter 23:1-3. This is not one of the seven annual feasts enumerated in verses 4-44, but is basic to the entire festal cycle and Israel's religion, and so introduces the description of these sacred seasons or "set times.".
The Passover is again considered in verses 4 and 5. This feast memorialized redemption from Egypt, when the Lord passed over the blood-covered dwellings of Egypt. This was the first feast, basic to all the rest, as all spiritual blessings rest on sinful man's redemption by Christ (I Corinthians 5:7), who is "our passover sacrificed for us." Verses 6-8 cover the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This pictures the believer putting sin out of his life. Redemption is to be followed by a holy life and walk.
The First-fruits Feast is covered in verses 9- 14. This is a picture of the Lord's resurrection, for I Corinthians 15:20 calls Him "the first-fruits." The Feast of Pentecost can be seen in verses 15-21. This feast occurred fifty days after the First-fruits Feast. Fifty days after Christ's resurrection, the Holy Spirit came to the believers in the Upper Room. The new meal offering was composed of two loaves of bread, which symbolized Jews and Gentiles baptized together into one body. The fact that the leaven was allowed illustrates that there is sin in the church on the earth today.
It is after Pentecost that we have the long gap when there are no feasts. There are three feasts in the first month and three in the seventh, with Pentecost in between. This long gap is often referred to as speaking of the present age in which we live, the Age of the Church. Israel rejected her Lamb; she cannot receive the Spirit until she receives her Messiah, and she is scattered across the world. She has no Temple, no priesthood, no sacrifice, and no King!
The Day of Atonement is covered in verses 26-32. This was also covered in chapters 16 and 17. When God has gathered the Jews together, He will reveal Christ to them and "They shall look upon him whom they have pierced." Israel's future Day of Atonement is described in Zechariah 12:10--13:1. Please take time to read these verses. It will be a day of mourning for sin, a day of cleansing by the blood of the Lamb. There are some who apply the Day of Atonement to the Judgment Seat of Christ, when the saints of God will give account for the deeds done in the body. Its primary application, however, is to the nation of Israel.
The Feast of Tabernacles is covered in verses 33-44. This feast speaks of the future millennial kingdom that God has promised the Jews. This feast followed the harvest (verse 39), which teaches us that God will have gathered all of His harvest before Christ establishes His earthly kingdom. It was to be a feast of rejoicing, not sorrow; and certainly all heaven and earth will rejoice when Christ reigns from Jerusalem.
Our comments today briefly cover God's prophetic timetable. We do not know when the trumpet will sound, but it is very important that we be ready for its sounding and for the coming of the Lord. Matthew 24:44 says, "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.".
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