Good News of Leviticus 23 – Introduction

Leviticus
The book of Leviticus contains a host of laws covering all sorts of civil issues from homosexuality to child sacrifices. Nestled amongst these various laws so many today consider archaic are the ancient and unchanging truths God is holy (Lev 19:2) and the greatest commandment being that we love one another (Lev 19:18). Chapter 25 gives a series of instructions about a wonderful concept – redemption.

Leviticus 23
Lev 23:1-2 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts. This chapter is another such diversion from the litany of laws. Chapter 23 deals with the major feasts of Israel instituted by Moses in the Wilderness. Each has practical as well as prophetic significance. Due to the extensive impact of the feasts of Israel outlined in this chapter, a Good News entry is also included for each individual feast.

The seven feasts are described in Lev 23:
Weekly
– Sabbath v3

Spring Feasts
– Passover: 14th Nisan (March/April) v4-5
– Unleavened Bread: 15-21 Nisan v6-14
– Weeks/First Fruits (Penticost): 50 days after Sabbath during Unleavened Bread. (May/June) v15-22

Fall Feasts
– Trumpets: 1 Tishri v23-25 (Sep/Oct)
– Atonement: 10 Tishri v26-32
– Tabernacles/Booths/Tents: 15-22 Tishri v33-44

Jewish Calendar – a little background info…
To make sense of these it helps to understand the Jewish calendar is very different than the one most of us are used to.

The month always starts on a new moon. Since the there are more than 12 new moons in a year (but less than 13) some years have 12 months and some have 13. They just have the last month twice to make up the difference. The total cycle repeats on a 19 year basis.

The first month is in the Spring, but the new year begins with the start of the 7th month. As bizarre as that sounds, when you consider that the Jewish day begins at dusk and is counted night and day to make a whole day (Gen 1), then you can see the logic in starting the year with the fall and winter (longer darkness) before the spring and summer (longer light) months regardless of the month’s number within a given year.

To make it even more interesting, the ancient Jews reckoned the daylight as 12 hours and the night as 12 hours regardless of season, only stretching the length of an hour to an even division of the available light or dark. The sun and stars were used to keep track of the time of day and night (Gen 1:14).

About Feasts in General
In spite of the technical instructions about the feasts we often dismiss as archaic, the concept of a feast is to get together, eat, be happy and praise God. Most modern Christians don’t keep the Jewish feasts, but instead keep Christmas and Easter. These are times Christians traditionally get together with church family and home family, eat big meals, enjoy the time together, and hopefully remember to praise God for His goodness in making it all possible. While the Christian themes associated with these holidays are good, the feasts of Israel as outlined in Lev 23 are the feasts prescribed by God.

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About Lance Ponder

Christian author of "Ask James one"; public speaker; husband and father. Available to speak on Creation and the Gospel.
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6 Responses to Good News of Leviticus 23 – Introduction

  1. aNNa says:

    You just lost me, Lance. I cannot BELIEVE you would say that Christmas and Easter are acceptable, being non-scriptural *AND* a yoking of darkness with light. Taking something pagan and mixing it with Truth is the death-knell of Truth. What does scripture say about a little leaven?

    I’ve had trouble for quite sometime with your ‘teachings’, but when I saw that you were going here, I felt a sickness in the pit of my stomach. Only I thought I’d be okay with the introduction and be sick about how you will most likely dismiss the commandment to keep the Sabbath (in favor of ‘The Lord’s Day’).

    I… there aren’t words. I knew this was coming, even a year ago. But how can I support this?

  2. Lance Ponder says:

    Anna,

    Thank you for calling me out on this. This gives me an opportunity to explain some things that were not in the original post. First, and this is a poor excuse, this is an OLD post from xanga that I’m reposting here. I should take the time to revise these as I go.

    I think the last paragraph of the post are the source of this problem so I’ll make an effort to address the problem areas. One significant thing I want you to know is that what I state to be normative among Christianity does not automatically mean I concur with it being right. That said…

    //In spite of the technical instructions about the feasts we often dismiss as archaic, the concept of a feast is to get together, eat, be happy and praise God.//

    Most [chrischuns] do dismiss most of the Torah and Leviticus especially as archaic at best. Whether I do is another story. I’m simply stating the fact that most Christians see it this way. Christians love to quote Paul here: “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.” (Col 1:16). Paul goes on to explain that the feasts are prophetic. Well, can there be any doubt of that? Gentiles are not required to observe the Jewish feasts, though I think we (I am a Gentile) ignore them at our expense. And with the possible exception of Yom Kippur I think all the feasts do mean feasting with good food, good company, and good praise and worship.

    //Most modern Christians don’t keep the Jewish feasts, but instead keep Christmas and Easter.//

    Again, not a judgment call. A fact. You and I both know the difference.

    //These are times Christians traditionally get together with church family and home family, eat big meals, enjoy the time together, and hopefully remember to praise God for His goodness in making it all possible.//

    Again, not a judgment call – a simple fact. These are the two most active religious periods in popular Christian culture. Tremendous effort is expended by some to promote “Merry Christmas” over “Happy Holidays” in an effort to keep Jesus in a season that we both know didn’t originate with him.

    //While the Christian themes associated with these holidays are good, the feasts of Israel as outlined in Lev 23 are the feasts prescribed by God.//

    The Christmas theme in popular Christianity is pretty simple. While I do not believe Jesus was born on Dec 25th, the theme of Jesus being born of a virgin in a stable in Bethlehem is biblical. Commercialization? Not so much. The gift giving? If done in remembrance of the gifts of the Magi and the gift of salvation accomplished at the cross? That’s okay with me. While I do not hold the Dec 25th birth as truth, I am not in the condemnation business.

    As to the matter of the “Lord’s Day” vs Sabbath – you know me better than that. The Lord’s Day IS the Sabbath. The notion of it being Sunday because that’s the day of the resurrection is ludicrous. I’m not in the condemnation business, though, so I’m not going to tell someone they’re wrong for worshiping on any given day of the week. I am grieved of heart that Sabbath is ignored and I say so to anyone who tries to say Sunday is the Sabbath in my presence. I attend church on Sundays. And Wednesdays. And Thursdays. And sometimes on Fridays. But my most treasured time of communion with saints is on Saturday morning when I meet with a group of men at the local Dairy Queen. We pray together and take turns teaching through chapters of the bible. This is my Sabbath worship and I keep it more religiously than I keep any of the other rituals.

  3. Todd Beal says:

    Lance, I have studied the Sabbath Day versus the Lord’s Day topic for going on three years now. I still have a lot of questions but have gained no few answers. As I have said previously on my blog, I come from a very traditional evangelical upbringing – some of it good, some of it not so good – and since the fall of 1997 have made it my mission to find scriptural truth, even if the results reject what I was taught. That includes understanding the topic of the Lord’s Day versus the Sabbath Day.

    The one definitive scripture passage I have found concerning this issue is Romans 14:5-6 [ESV] [5] “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. [6] The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.” Also, the following International Standard Bible Encyclopedia article, Lord’s Day, lays out the historical background of the Lord’s Day versus the Sabbath Day.

    On the one hand, instinct tells me that we are to still observe the Sabbath (Saturday). But, on the other hand, instinct tells me that because Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28), and because he specifically tells us in Matthew 11:28 that he gives us rest, and that by accepting him into our heart we continually receive that rest because he resides within us, he is now our living internal Sabbath who replaces the physical Sabbath day.

    Historically and scripturally, as laid out in the above “Lord’s Day” encyclopedic commentary, the Sabbath Day and the Lord’s Day are clearly not one and the same; they are distinctly separate days with different meanings. So why do we insist on treating one as if it is the other? Upon thorough study of all canonized Biblical scripture, one will find that the Lord’s Day appears distinctly in the New Testament, while references to the Sabbath Day begin with the Pentateuch and continue through the book of Revelation. But, for some strange reason, we Christians insist upon borrowing the Sabbath Day (Saturday, day six) as if it were the Lord’s Day (Sunday, day one). If they are the same, why does the Lord’s Day not appear in Biblical scripture until the New Testament, and why does John in Revelation 1:10 say that he was “in the spirit on the Lord’s Day” instead of “on the Sabbath Day”?

    It is ironic to me that despite all Paul’s efforts to thoroughly lay out the difference between the Law as established by the New Covenant (Jesus, the fulfillment of the Law who resides within our heart as the living Law) and the Law as established by the Old Covenant (rules and regulations put in place to convict us of sin, thereby giving us knowledge of sin and righteousness through our feeble attempt to obey the Law), and despite our unswerving dedicated lip service to Pauline doctrine, we still insist that everyone still adhere to the human-defined standards of Old Testament Law as if the New Testament Law (Jesus Christ) did not exist. We do this because we don’t understand what Christ achieved.

    I don’t have this whole thing sewn up yet regarding my understanding of this topic, but I tell you Lance, somehow somewhere we are grossly off center in our base understanding of the Covenants. Something tells me that until we authoritatively understand the Old Covenant first, the New Covenant second, and the relational similarities and differences between them third, we are doomed to repeat the legalism (Pharisee-ism) that so infuriated Jesus in the gospels, all because of our human insistence on following rules and regulations, not truth – something that “Christians” are famous for.

    Even in the Old Testament, Jesus, the Living Word, told Israel through the prophet Isaiah, “You honor me with your lips but your hearts are far from me.” Since time began, we humans have tried and tried again to reach God through our own devices. Scripture after scripture records our efforts to create silly human laws “based” on scripture to obtain salvation and appease our version of God. How dare we continue mocking what Jesus accomplished on the cross, and so clearly spoke of in prophecy after prophecy: “I did not come to do away with the Law but to fulfill the Law.” What does this mean? Why do not we know what this means? Why do we speak of Jesus’ awesome sacrificial fulfillment of the Law in passing as if it lacks importance? If it is not important, why did he for thousands of years prophetically proclaim it as his mission for redemption? If Jesus is our only way, truth, and life, why do we at all cost avoid understanding and teaching the truth of his fulfillment of Mosaic Law? We avoid it because we would rather obey a written rule than subject ourselves to the living law himself, Jesus Christ.

    Never in my life have I ever heard anyone, theologian or otherwise, convince me that his or her understanding of Christ’s fulfillment of the Law – the base premise underlying this whole Lord’s Day/Sabbath Day issue – is delivered to them by the one true God that reigns over all creation and authoritatively inspires all scripture through his Holy Spirit. I have never read or heard any explanation that is not vague and does not scream, “I don’t know what I’m talking about because truth did not inspire me to say this”, yet, we arrogantly stand up in public forums, churches, and everywhere else, proclaiming that this scripture snippet and that scripture snippet is the God-ordained one all do all explanation – all without a single shred of contextual scriptural evidence to support our claim.

    I assert it is high time we stop guessing and assuming and instead start knowing.

    • Lance Ponder says:

      Admittedly I cannot *prove* that what John calls “Lord’s Day” is really Sabbath as opposed to the first day of the week. I know that Lord’s Day traditionally refers to the first day of the week in honor of the resurrection, however I am convinced this was not a first century use of the term. As to Paul excusing the Gentiles from feasts and Sabbaths, I liken it to excusing children from the table to go play because they can’t sit still long enough to eat and converse with proper respect. I am no better, so please don’t think I’m making such a claim. But I am convinced we Gentiles throw out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to so many things in the OT like observing the feasts of Israel, Sabbath, and so forth. It wasn’t until the time of Constantine that the prime day of Christian worship morphed from Saturday (Sabbath) to Sunday “Lord’s Day.” Constantine mixed a lot of paganism with primitive Christianity and because he was Emperor he had the power to make his ideas stick. Within a generation his codes became culture and so we have it today. There is a post upcoming on Sabbath, so perhaps that is where to address this further. I do look forward to continuing this discussion. ~_*

      • Todd Beal says:

        Okay, I’ll hold off on my thoughts until that post.

        • Lance Ponder says:

          No worries. Really, the “Lord’s Day” issue is pretty trivial compared to the Feasts. No, I don’t mean the resurrection is trivial – I mean the debate over use of the term. Anyway, it is only mentioned a couple of times and we don’t have enough info to say it must mean this or that whereas we do have a lot of info on Sabbath.

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