The Cycle of Levitical Feasts

Hebrew monthsThere is a love song hidden in the Cycle of Levitical Feasts. Every bit a sweet and lovely as the Song of Songs.

Because the inherited church long ago rejected all things “Jewish” we have all lost the song.  We don’t dance the dance, we don’t eat the food, we cannot hear our Lover’s call.  These are Biblical Feast we were never meant to lose.  We were always to sing two songs.

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, 

 “Great and wonderful are thy deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are thy ways, O King of the ages! Rev. 15:3

The problem began with the Jewish leaders about 200 years before Messiah was born in the Pseudepigrapha. These books tell of the fantasy vision of the future Kingdom of Messiah as a time of Jewish National power. They lost the symbolic meaning of the temple ritual sacrificial system and came to expect a literal physical fulfillment. They missed the grand view of universal acceptance of His rule. All mankind becoming the children of the Heavenly Father was lost to them. The Law being written on the hearts, the new spirit of forgiveness and righteousness they did not perceive. They had misunderstood the figurative language of the prophets. It is a common mistake to fall into egocentric interpretation. So when after the Bar Kochba rebellion when there was a complete break between Judaism and Christianity, the church/congregation left all that was “Jewish” behind. Throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water. Don’t let the anti-semites take your love song.  It is time to rediscover this song of Moses.

The Song

The song comes to it most magnificent elevation in The Revelation. In John’s vision of the celestial temple [Rev 4&5] all that was in the physical temple is here, in a grander spiritual light. [c.f. Ex 25:9; Ex 25:40; Heb 8:5] Every piece of furniture seen in the temple, every garment and function of the priests are described in the book of The Revelation, only on a grander spiritual plain.

John is in awe at the wondrous sights he sees. He is presented with a tabernacle/temple he recognizes but he is seeing a far more excellent version than what any human could have replicated. The celestial temple itself is the Throne room; it doesn’t have walls but an emerald rainbow, the cherubim are real and not just decoration, where Moses, Solomon, or Zerubbabel’s pathetic little replicas could only provide brass seas this sea is crystal.

It is Always Yom Kippur before the Throne

In the celestial temple the choir of twenty-four elders are dressed all in white and wearing crowns, and carrying golden censers of incense. This is the garb of the high priest on the Day of Atonement, the most solemn day in the festival cycle of the people of Israel [Lev. 16:1-34; 23:26-32]. It is on this day and this day only that the high priest, and the high priest alone dons, white. However this is not the usual Day of Atonement. Instead of carrying the blood of the sacrifice the twenty-four elders carry harps. This is because there is no sacrifice of a bull, a ram, and two goats being made. These sacrifices are no longer needed because of the ultimate sacrifice, the consummation of the ages; the sacrifice that bought mans freedom from sin, our Passover lamb, the Lamb of God, Messiah is fulfilled. For He is “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

The Cycle 

A love song given to Israel by God, that is sung in symbolic language that is revealed throughout history a small segments at a time. As each feast brings Israel closer to her God, each celebration brings us closer to understanding Gods ultimate plan for His followers.

Passover and Unleavened Bread / Pesach

seder-plate-40005mOriginally this feast was celebrated during the seventh month, however during the Exodus God changed the seventh month to the first month. Ever since, Israel has kept two calendars. (one civil, the other religious) To Israel, Passover is the celebration of the Exodus where God choose His bride then bought her freedom.

To God, Passover is the verse in the love song that speaks to the consummation of eternal freedom for His followers. Freedom from the bondage of sin and claiming back the ground given over to Satan in the garden. After the exodus Israel was taken to the wilderness to be purified and made into a suitable bride. This time allegorically represents the choosing of a woman or bride to be. They then enter the betrothal period. This takes place in the spring, when love is always on people’s minds but is not culminated until the wedding, which is not for seven more months during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Pentecost / Shavuot

flameFifty days after First Fruits, Pentecost is celebrated. [Lev 23] This is the celebration of Weeks, the promise of things to come, the looking forward toward the full harvest. Rabbinical tradition says that God gave the Torah to Israel on the very first Pentecost, celebrated in the wilderness [Ex 19-24]. Pentecost is also the day that God gave the Holy Spirit to the chosen in the upper room. These gifts are merely shadows and promises of things to come, the second verse of His love song. In Jewish betrothal tradition there is the Mohar or bridal present [Gen 34:12; I Sam 18:25]. At the betrothal a man must give at least a small portion of the agreed upon amount to the bride. When she takes it into her hand she is betrothed. From then on she is treated as if she were actually married. This arrangement cannot be broken except by divorce. At Pentecost when God gave His gifts, first of His Word and later of the Holy Spirit to His own, He was giving us our Mohar.

Feast of Trumpets / Rosh Hashanah

thumbnail.tremp3The sounding of the trumpet is to be a memorial, but the Bible never says what it is a memorial of [Ex 12:14].

Rosh Hashanah is the head of the year or New Years. It is the silver trumpets that are sounded and not the Shofar (ram’s horn). Only the priests played silver trumpets. They were sounded for battle [Num 10:9; II Chron 13:12-14], at the coronation of kings [II King 11:14; II Chron 23:13] and at the dedication or re-dedications of the temple [I Chron 13:8; I Chron 16:6,42; II Chron 5:13; II Chron 29:28]. When the silver trumpets were sounded at the coronation of the King, his rightful ownership of all things was secured.

The silver trumpets have long been lost along with the Temple in Jerusalem, but they will sound again. For these will be the first sweet sounds the bride hears announcing the approaching of her Bridegroom. For we are no ordinary bride but the wife of the King of Kings. We listens for no other sound but this one, and we long to hear. We strains with all our strength to hear it for He has promised that the He will come for us. At long last He will call for His beloved. We have been cleaving to our Mohar, but it is only a shadow of what is yet to come. One more verse in the long sweet song bringing us closer yet to the long awaited wedding feast.

Day of Atonement / Yom Kippur

confessOn Yom Kippur the goat for Azazel i.e. scape goat (the meaning of Azazel is ambiguous but it seems to have the idea of entire removal) was to be sent out into the wilderness [Lev 16:6-10]. But because the Jews felt it was a bad omen if this animal should wonder back in to inhabited areas, they changed the ceremony so that the animal was taken out a pushed over a precipice killing the animal. This marred the type. The first animal, the one that is sacrificed in the temple represented the cleansing blood of Messiah so that God may dwell among His sinful people and the smoke of its sacrifice going up was to represented the ascension of Messiah. However the Azazel goat was to represent salvation where the animal is free to live its life because of the sacrifice of the other.

The imagery of the Temple in the book of The Revelation is from the Day of Atonement [Lev 16]. This is the most solemn day in the Levitical cycle. It is the day when God’s grace was available to all. It is a day of fasting and prayer, and restoring relationships.

Now the bride must be prepared for the wedding for she must be clean and spotless for her King. The Jewish bride is ritually bathed before her wedding. The bride in our love story has not been as faithful as we believed we would be. Over the long wait the bride has taken much comfort in the Mohar (the Holy Spirit and The Word) a reminder of the love of our King. Yet, the Holy Spirit is only a shadow of what is to come and the wait has been long and difficult with many temptations. How marvelous that our King has provided all that is needed for our cleansing.

Yom Kippur provides the picture of cleansing for the bride, the necessary ritual bath before the marriage ceremony itself. The Hebrew word for atonement means to cover or conceal. The root word kipher is the ransom of money paid in the case of accidental death [Ex21:10] or the ransom of the half shekel [Ex 30:12].

The preparation and ransom have been paid for the bride. It is during this time of purification that the bride/congregation will be cleansed of the unfaithful and unbelieving. The bride must be purified before we are finally ready to wed our Betrothed. The cleansing fulfills the legal requirements before the marriage ceremony itself can take place.

This particular Yom Kippur in The Revelation is also during a Jubilee year.

Jubilee

This is the most holy year in the Bible, yet no people or kingdom has ever kept it. The nation of Israel never kept it, nor has any Christian nation ever adopted it. Many statutes and laws from Torah have been adopted into our culture and laws, but not the Jubilee year. We are far too selfish and greedy to accept it.

The Jubilee year is every 50 years. It is both the 1st year and the 50th year of the cycle. So they are 49 years apart and always fall on a Sabbatical year (the cycle where every 7th year the land must lay fallow). The Jubilee requires that all debts both public and private be forgiven, all lands are returned to their original owners, and all slaves are set free. [Lev 25: 1-24; Num 36: 4]

The Jubilee year begins on Yom Kippur, not on Rosh Hashanah. It is announced by the sounding of the Shofar (ram’s horn) the trumpet of the resurrection [Is 27:13; I Cor 15:52; I Th 4:16]. One may note that the silver trumpets of Rosh Hashanah make a nice melodious sound, but the Shofar makes a sound that can wake the dead. How we have strained over the centuries to hear this sound. It is the deepest desire of all believers.

The king has paid the ransom, delivered the bride’s price, and now in the year of Jubilee He will redeem His bride for Himself; her debts have been paid and she has been set free.

Tabernacles / Booths / Sukkot

sukkot5Tabernacles the feast of the ingathering is a harvest festival. All are to build temporary shelters to represent the wilderness wanderings of the children of Israel. Later, during the harvest, harvesters used them for shelter. [Lev 23:33-44; Num 29:12-40] This festival was to last for seven days, with an eighth day added. This is the normal length of the marriage feast [Gen 29:27; Judg 14:17]. An interesting commandment is given that all must rejoice [Lev 23:40].

FYI: The many sacrifices for this festival are always divisible by seven.

All of this is very reminiscent of a Jewish wedding where there is always great rejoicing. The marriage ceremony takes place under a Chuppa or booth made out of the bridegroom’s prayer shawl. (His banner over me is love Song 2:4) The marriage contract or Ketuvah is read aloud.  The bride inspects the bridegroom while walking around him seven times. Then the bride is brought into the house for the consummation of the marriage.

The festival of Booths is a foreshadowing of the “marriage supper of the Lamb” when the king will finally take His bride. The feast will take place and on the eighth day she will go to live with Him forever.

FYI: It would seem that Solomon dedicated the temple on this festival [I King 8:2].

Conclusion:

This allegory about a betrothal and a wedding begins when Christ gave his life to redeem those who would be His bride on the Passover. No longer does chosen Israel consist of a single nation of people but now it is composed of peoples from all nations brought together through the blood of the Lamb. We are neither Jew nor Gentile but we are all heirs with Christ.

Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, Rom. 3:29

At Pentecost fifty days later He gave the Mohar (His Spirit) to His chosen bride. The wait has been long and not all who have waited have remained faithful to the Lord. So once again a choosing will take place as in the allegory of the ten virgins. Only five were ready for the bridegroom, only five would go to be with Him. Historically we have yet to come to the feast of Rosh Hashana where the Bridegroom is declared King so we strain to hear the trumpets for we know the time is near.

We understand the time is near because we know that the “Times of the Gentiles” has ended.    The King is returning. The Jubilee is about to start. All things will be restored (whatever that might means).

Stop ignoring these feasts. It is time to sing the songs, dance the dance, eat the food, and let our Beloved Woo us.

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7 thoughts on “The Cycle of Levitical Feasts

  1. ” It is on this day and this day only that the high priest, and the high priest alone dons, white.”
    The more I look for confirmation, the more I cannot find it. Would you give the scripture reference, please?

  2. Pingback: Musings on H. Grattan Guinness’ Round Chart called “The Year of Messianic Cycles.” | Israel & The Church in the Last Days

  3. Pingback: What Comes from the Man Nailed to the Cross? Torah! | From the Congregation of Biet Sepher

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