November 2009

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From the editor: "The God of Hope" (Rom 15.13)
J Grant

Letters to a New Believer (4): The Generation Gap
D Newell

The Significance of Pentecost (1)
E W Rogers

Book Review

Enjoying the Feasts Every Day
C Logan

The Olivet Discourse (5)
J Gibson

Poetry: "He has not come yet"
Bob Cargill

Ye are the body of Christ (3) - 1 Corinthians 12
M Hayward

Question Box

Notebook: The Conquest of Canaan
J Grant

Propitiation and Substitution
I Jackson

Mary Weeping (Jn 20.11)
A Souter

Into All The World: News from Tupi Paulista, Sao Paulo, Brazil
John and Claudete Axford

Whose faith follow: Mr A T Stewart (1885-1977)

The Lord’s Work & Workers

With Christ

Forthcoming Meetings

Notices

Enjoying the Feasts Every Day

C Logan, Botswana

When we explore the wealth of Scripture through a daily reading of God’s Word, we soon come to appreciate that there is a vast storehouse of riches in the Old as well as the New Testament. A favourite and profitable study is that of the Feasts of Jehovah outlined in Leviticus 23. There are various time frames associated with an understanding of these feasts.

The Agricultural Year

The nation of Israel celebrated the seven principal feasts over the course of a year. They were closely linked to events in the agricultural calendar: there were the months of the early and latter rains and also months of drought; there was the sowing season followed by the reaping season; the grain was harvested and also the grape.

The Jewish calendar was quite different from ours. The first month had originally been Tishri but from the time of the Exodus out of Egypt it was changed to Nisan (also called Abib). This month was equivalent to March/April in our calendar. It was the time of the latter rains and the barley harvest. Three feasts were celebrated in the first month – Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits. A fourth, the Feast of Weeks, was celebrated 50 days later in the third month. After an interval of several months the last three feasts – Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles – were all celebrated in the seventh month.

Jewish History in the Past

For Israel there was also a wider time frame in view. Some of the feasts reminded them of great events in their history. The Passover feast was a memorial of that unforgettable night when they were redeemed out of Egypt by the blood of a lamb. The Feast of Unleavened Bread would have reminded them also of how they were commanded to sweep their homes clean of leaven prior to their departure. The Feast of Tabernacles looked back to their dwelling in booths during their years of wandering in the wilderness. The Feast of Firstfruits would have been celebrated properly only after they had come into the promised land of Canaan and reaped their first harvest.

Christ, the Foundation of the Church and the Future of Israel

Apart from the annual celebration of the seven feasts by the Jews and the significance of great historical events in their past, there is an even grander panoramic setting that reveals God’s purposes for Christ, the Church, and Israel. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ are anticipated as is the birth of the Church on the day of Pentecost when the promised Holy Spirit came down. Following this present age of grace and gospel opportunity, with Israel being set aside, a day will come when the nation will be restored. The last three feasts in the seventh month answer to God’s future dealings with the nation of Israel.

Passover - The Death of Christ

Unleavened Bread - The Sin Question Answered

Firstfruits - The Resurrection of Christ

Pentecost - The Descent of the Holy Spirit

Trumpets - Israel Regathering

Atonement - Israel Repenting

Tabernacles - Israel Rejoicing

It is common to see charts of these seven feasts bracketed with a weekly Sabbath feast on either side suggesting that God’s purposes, although being worked out in time through human history, ultimately stretch from eternity to eternity.

The various aspects of truth already mentioned do not completely exhaust the value of studying the feasts. It is possible for us as believers to live out the teaching and enjoy the truth of all of these feasts every day.

Thanksgiving – A daily appreciation of Christ’s death for me

The Passover reminds us of redemption by the blood of the lamb. Those of us who have been set free through the value of the shed blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, cannot let a day pass without thanking God and praising His Son for His death at Calvary. Paul reminds us that "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us" (1 Cor 5.7). The Lord Jesus Christ was the only one fit to take the sinner’s place, being completely without blemish and without spot in every aspect of His life. He is ever worthy of our adoration and worship.

Holiness – A daily determination to forsake sin

Although cleansed and forgiven in Christ, we must daily do battle with sin. The world in which we live has a corrupt and evil influence that we must guard against. The flesh is ever with us and it cannot be removed or improved. It can, however, be denied and starved. The devil too stalks us relentlessly. These three enemies can leaven and weaken us if we grow careless about sin. The only answer is to frequently use the broom and keep sweeping out anything sinful in our lives (1 Cor 5.7).

Consecration – Putting God first every day

One of several important principles connected with the Feast of Firstfruits is that of giving God the first and best of what we have. The rich farmer of Luke 12 totally neglected to acknowledge the goodness of God in the bounty of the harvest. His selfish plans were utter folly because he died that very same night, leaving all his personal wealth behind. By contrast, the Macedonian believers out of deep poverty gave generously to help others. Their secret was that they had first given themselves wholeheartedly to God (2 Cor 8.5).

Guidance – A daily responsiveness to the Spirit’s leading

The indwelling Holy Spirit is the One promised by the Lord Jesus Christ as the Comforter. The Church was born when that unique baptism in the Spirit took place on the day of Pentecost. From then until now, every child of God is indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit from the moment of conversion (Eph 1.13). He leads and guides us in ways that are well-pleasing to God and He also empowers us for service. We cannot afford to act independently of His divine counsel and we should heed His voice whenever He prompts us.

Assembly activity – Frequently gathering to His name

The silver trumpets were used in Israel to call the people to gather together in times of peace and in times of danger. One of the great needs of individual believers is that of fellowship with others of like mind. We are thereby strengthened as we grow together and are also protected from spiritual harm. Mutual love and care are sure signs of divine life and an eloquent testimony to others. Fellowship is not an occasional thing or even something restricted to one day of the week. Let us not forsake the opportunities to gather together (Heb 10.25).

Confession – A day by day willingness to keep short accounts with God

Unconfessed sin is a barrier between ourselves and God, breaking our communion and nullifying any spiritual power we may have enjoyed. In Israel the annual Day of Atonement was a most solemn event. A goat was sacrificed and its blood was sprinkled on and before the Mercy Seat for the eye of God. The high priest then confessed the sins of the people over the head of a second live goat. Before the eyes of the people it was led away into the wilderness. "Forgiven, again!", they might have said with relief. May we make it our business to be sensitive about any sin in our own lives, to readily confess it, and resolutely forsake it. The Lord Jesus Christ is our advocate with the Father and His blood continues to cleanse us from every sin (1 Jn 1.7; 2.1).

Fellowship – An enjoyment of daily communion

The Feast of Tabernacles pointed forward to a time when Israel would again rejoice in their God and dwell with Him. It was said of Enoch that he walked with God for 300 years. He had no Bible to enlighten him and no assembly fellowship to encourage him, nevertheless his daily communion with the God of heaven was real and unbroken. Even as we journey to heaven today, we can know His presence every step of the way and enjoy heavenly blessings now. These are all ours in Christ (Eph 1.3).

Concluded.

 

 

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