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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Leviticus 23

Verses 1-22

  1. Intro: (1,2)
    1. New section! - Chapter 23-25 speaks of the Feasts(7), or the specialoccasions for worship!
    2. The idea of “seven” enters in to all these feasts.
      1. There are 7 feasts(we’ll take 4 this week)!
      2. Also, Weekly, monthly, yearly, the seventh year, the 50th year, all deal with the #7.
    3. (1,2) Feasts = Nothing to do with eating. (Day of Atonement was a fast)
      1. “It meant appointed times”.
      2. 2 Hebrew words are used for feasts:
      3. mo’ed (set feasts, or appointed feasts)
        1. General term refers to all the sacred feasts.
      4. hag (feast)
        1. This word for “feast” speaks of special Joy & festivity.
        2. This word was designated for 3 feasts: Unleavened; Pentecost; & Tabernacle.
        3. This was mandatory for all able-bodied men over the age of 20.
    4. Convocation = Proclamation, or announcement.
      1. So, The Lord appointed & announced these events!
    5. Let’s talk Calendars!
      1. The most foolish thing about people setting dates today is that they use our calendar & not Gods!
        1. God strangely seems to always use the one He gave!
        2. In the tribulation time he marks the days by the old Jewish 360 day calendar.
          1. Rev.12:6 - 1260 days(360x3 ½ yrs)
          2. Dan.12:11 – 1290 days (after trib. xtra 30 days)
          3. Dan.12:12 – 1335 days (after 30 days, xtra 45 days)
      2. The development of the modern calendar:
        1. Julius Caesar – (cent before Christ came) He sees the calendar is out of step w/nature – orders Sosigenes to straighten it out. – He temporarily adds nearly 3 months giving the year 46bc, 445 days!
          1. Thus the Julian calendar. 1.5.2.1.2.July/Julius; August/Augustus.
        2. Pope Gregory 13th – (1502-85) Commissioned the calendar we use today. It’s a revision of the Julian calendar.
        3. Great Britain – & its colonies adopted the “Gregorian” calendar in 1752, Sept. 3rd became Sept.14 (11 days disappeared from British History!)
          1. 20 year old George Washington found his b-day moved fromFeb.11 to Feb.22.
        4. Today – we heavily depend on our calendar. (I do!)
        5. Yet, the children of Israel didn’t! – They worked from sunrise to sunset; counted months by the moon(lunar);& watched the seasons come & go.
        6. Gen.8:22 “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”
      3. God gave Israel His own calendar tied to the rhythm of the seasons & the history of the nation.
        1. This calendar summarized what God had done for them in there past!
        2. This calendar also anticipated what God would do for them in the future!
          1. (i.e.) Their Feasts depict – Salvation work of J.C.; the founding of the church; & the future of the people of Israel.
    6. We will look at 4 feasts, & we will: Look Back; Look Forward; & Look Inside!
  2. THE WEEKLY SABBATH! (3)
    1. Wasn’t an annual feast but it was an important day for the Jewish people!
      1. Ex.31:13 "Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: 'Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations,”
      2. To dishonor it meant death.
    2. LOOKING BACK!
      1. ​​​​​​​It was to remind them of the days of creation, & God resting or “ceasing from labor” on the 7th day. It also was re-instituted when they got out of Egypt.
      2. This provided rest & refreshment.
    3. LOOKING AHEAD!
      1. ​​​​​​​This “rest”, even as Joshua brought them into the land, was never really realized by occupying the land. It is only to be fully realized in the person & work of Christ.
      2. Heb.4:8-11 “For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”
    4. LOOKING INSIDE!
      1. ​​​​​​​Q: Have you entered into the rest that Jesus provides?
        1. The principle in resting one in 7 days is a good one! – But Christian are you resting in Him 24/7?
  3. FEAST #1 - PASSOVER! (4-6)
    1. ​​​​​​​The Passover & The Feast of Unleavened Bread are practically one festival, but it was here clearly a “separate” idea.
    2. LOOKING BACK!
      1. ​​​​​​​This celebrated the deliverance from Egypt. Which marked the beg. (the 1st b-day) of the national life of the Israelites from Egypt!
      2. The innocent lamb died for the 1st born; because the blood of the lamb was applied to the door by faith, the 1st born sons were safe.
        1. As the death angel “passed-over”!
    3. LOOKING AHEAD!
      1. ​​​​​​​Christ died on the Passover. This pointed to the Substitutionary death of the Lamb of God.
        1. Jn.1:29 “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
        2. 1 Pet.1:19 “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
        3. 1 cor.5:7 “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”
    4. LOOKING INSIDE!
      1. ​​​​​​​The 1st born Jews of Israel weren’t saved by admiring the lamb, caring for the lamb, or loving the lamb.
        1. The lamb had to be slain, the blood applied to the doorposts of each Jewish house.
      2. We aren’t saved by Christ the Example, Christ the Teacher, but by Christ the Substitute!
      3. The Christian life of fellowship requires Separation from Sin & Feeding on Christ(as they feed on the lamb)
  4. FEAST #2 - UNLEAVENED BREAD! (7,8)
    1. ​​​​​​​LOOKING BACK!
      1. ​​​​​​​Not waiting for bread to be leavened, they prepared, by divine direction, to escape IN HASTE (Ex.12)!
      2. They also ate bitter herbs – to remind them of the oppressions of Egyptian bondage.
      3. This feast began the day after Passover & continued for a week.
      4. To prepare for this the Israelites would sweep the house clean in order that no trace of leaven is found there.(Ex.12:15-20)
        1. Novotel Hotel in Israel – Explain this trip hitting on this time period.
        2. Leaven loophole! Spring cleaning or Hotel for the week?
        3. Street Sweeper Throw down a piece of bread & watch him go crazy!
    2. LOOKING AHEAD!
      1. ​​​​​​​This points to the holy walk of the believer! (leaven speaks of sin)
      2. 1 Cor.5:6-8 “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?(one toxic” Christian in a church body can defile the whole body) Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast(the Christian life is not a famine or a funeral), not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
      3. We are also supposed to put off “the leaven of malice & wickedness”; “the leaven of hypocrisy”; & “the leaven of false doctrine”.
    3. LOOKING INSIDE!
      1. ​​​​​​​Q: What area in your life can use a broom? Or a street sweeper?
      2. 1 Pet.4:1-5 “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles; when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”
  5. FEAST #3 - 1ST FRUITS! (9-14)
    1. ​​​​​​​LOOKING BACK!
      1. ​​​​​​​In waving this sacrifice (holding it out to the altar, & bringing it back again) God was recognized as the author of the entire harvest! It was dedicated to Him then it was received back(motion sheaves back), representing the harvest had come from him to the worshipper.
        1. A portion was burnt on the altar, & the worshipper ate the rest.
      2. This was an expression of gratitude of God supplying their daily bread.
      3. Also, the worshipper couldn’t eat the harvest until the 1ts fruits were given to the Lord.
    2. LOOKING AHEAD!
      1. ​​​​​​​This points to Christ’s resurrection which is the 1st fruits of the resurrection of all believers!
      2. 1 Cor.15:20-23 “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.”
      3. As God accepted the sheaf for the whole harvest, so as the Father accepted Jesus Christ, we are accepted in Him!!!
        1. Eph.1:5,6 “having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.”
      4. The sheaf is like the harvest!
        1. The priest didn’t wave palm branches to represent barley harvest; he waved a sheaf of barley.
        2. So we, at the resurrection harvest, shall be like the 1st fruits…“we shall be like Him!”
    3. LOOKING INSIDE!
      1. ​​​​​​​Q: What do you have to “wave” to Him tonight? - Is there something you’d like to tell the Lord Thank you for?
      2. Q: How should God’s promise…“we shall be like Him” change how we live today?
      3. 1 Cor.15: 35,38,40,42-44 "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?…God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body…There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another…So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”
  6. FEAST #4 - WEEKS! (14-22)
    1. ​​​​​​​LOOKING BACK!
      1. ​​​​​​​This was called the Feast of Weeks because it was celebrated 7 weeks after 1st fruits(or 50 days after).
    2. This was a 1 day feast, which also was on the 1st day of the week(The Lord’s Day, our Sunday).
    3. They were not to work but rejoice before the Lord w/a wave offering along w/a sacrificial offering.
    4. Instead of waving the sheaves of the harvest(the harvest was over now)they were to bring a “corresponding offering” from which God had given them. So they waved bread made from the barley harvest!
    5. Since this marked the END of Harvest, it makes mention of the need to care for the gleaners!(22)
  7. LOOKING AHEAD!
    1. ​​​​​​​As it was celebrated on the 1st day of the week(The Lord’s Day, our Sunday). Then each “Lord’s Day” commemorates the resurrection of our Lord; the coming of the Holy Spirit; & the birth of the church!
    2. This is tied to Pentecost! (Pente/50). The descent of the H.S. after Christ’s ascension.
    3. Acts 2:1-4 “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
    4. God’s people can’t function properly in this world apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit!
      1. It is the H.S. who baptizes you into the body of Christ. Empowers you for service & witness. And enables you to endure persecution & suffering for the glory of God.
    5. Interesting, there is a 4 month gap in God’s calendar until the next feast?
      1. Some see this gap as the present church age during which we should be devotedly involved in the harvest. “Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. "Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." Mt.9:37,38
      2. And, eagerly waiting for the sound of the Trumpet (next feast!) which is the “gathering together of His people!”
  8. LOOKING INSIDE!
    1. ​​​​​​​If you are a believer you have been baptized into the body of Christ.
    2. Q: Have you been baptized with the Holy Spirit? (Read Acts 19:1-6)

Verses 23-44

  1. Intro:
    1. Definitions:
      1. Feasts = “It meant appointed times”. Nothing to do with eating.
      2. Convocation = Proclamation, or announcement.
    2. The 7 Feasts had 2 purposes:
      1. [1] To remind the Israelites of their relationship to God.
      2. [2] To sketch out a picture of the person & work of J.C.
        1. Christ’s 1st Advent:
        2. (1) Passover = substitutionary death of the Lamb of God.
        3. (2) Unleavened Bread = the holy walk of the believer.
        4. (3) 1st Fruits = Christ’s Resurrection being the 1st fruits to ours.
        5. (4) Pentecost = descent of the H.S. after Christ’s Ascension.
        6. Interesting a gap (in the months) between these 2 sets of feast.
        7. Christ’s 2nd Advent:
        8. (5) Trumpets = the future gathering together of God’s people.
        9. (6) Day of Atonement = the future cleansing of God’s people.
        10. (7) Tabernacles = the future Joy of God’s people in His Kingdom.
  2. TRUMPETS – GOD IS GATHERING! (23-25)
    1. ​​​​​​​The #7 is very important in this calendar & in God’s plan for Israel.
      1. There are 7 feasts. - 3 of them are in the 7th month of the religious calendar, Tishri(our Sept./Oct.){The Feast of Trumpets was celebrated on the 1st of this month; the Day of Atonement on the 10th of this month; & Feast of Tab on the 15th of this month}
      2. (last week)The Sabbath is on the 7th day of the week. Pentecost is 50 days after 1st fruits(7x7 +1). The Feast of Unleaven Bread & the Feast of Tab both lasted 7 days.
      3. The Hebrew word “seven”(sheva) comes form a root meaning “to be full, to be satisfied”. It also means “to swear, to make an oath.”
        1. “When the Lord “sevens” something He’s reminding His people that what He says & does is complete & dependable. Nothing can be added to it.” (Warren Wiersbe; pg.108)
    2. The Feast of Trumpets was the beginning of their “civil year”.
      1. This is the Jewish New Year! (Rosh Hashanah, “the head of the year”)
      2. The Scriptures have not expressly declared the reason of its celebration. But as God gives us “new beginnings” we should not waste them!
        1. They used this New Year as, not empty new years resolutions, but as a time for prayer, meditation, & confession.
        2. They sought to make “a new beginning” with the Lord.
      3. I like challenging those getting baptized to do this. – Rededications accomplish this.
      4. Sit back & let this sooth your heart regarding 2nd chances! “Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the LORD.” Lam.3:22-26
    3. A trumpet had 3 meanings to it: [1] to call the people together [2] to announce war [3] to announce special times, such as the new moon. (Numb 10:1-10)
    4. The prophetic message to this feast?
      1. A trumpet sound for Israel! - Because of Israel’s unbelief & rejection of Christ, Israel became a scattered people, but God will gather them again to their land in the last days.
        1. We saw this process start on May 14, 1948.
        2. See - Is.27:12,13 (also Mt.24:29-31)
      2. A trumpet sound for the Church! – 1 Cor.15:52 “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (also, 1 Thes. 4:13-19)
        1. ​​​​​​​We await to be gathered together!
  3. ATONEMENT – GOD IS FORGIVING! (26-32)
    1. ​​​​​​​It is also known as Yom Kippur.
    2. Atonement = to make amends, to set things right. (Also to remove by paying a price) - It involves Substitution & Satisfaction.
      1. Substitution – Key phrase “on behalf of” (Jesus didn’t die for Himself, but for us)
      2. Satisfaction – Jesus satisfied God’s holy justice. He received His wrath for us.
        1. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​John Stott, “We strongly reject, therefore, every explanation of the death of Christ which does not have at its center the principle of ‘satisfaction through Substitution’ indeed divine self-satisfaction through divine self-substitution. ”
        2. Vance Havner said, ”We’re getting people to say “Here I am” before they have ever said, “Woe is me!”
    3. It was a time where all work was suspended.
    4. It was a time of affliction of soul(fasting, praying & confessing sin).
    5. It required the people to confess their sin & trust God for cleansing.
    6. This points to future cleansing that will take place Zech.13:1,2 “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. "It shall be in that day," says the LORD of hosts, "that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land.”
    7. The forgiveness of God!
      1. God does not wish us to remember what he is willing to forget.
      2. Our God has a big eraser!
  4. TABERNACLES – GOD IS FAITHFUL! (33-44)
    1. ​​​​​​​This is also called, the “Festival of Sukkot”(means "booths") so the title, “Festival of Booths”. It is also called the “Feast of Ingathering”(as it was at the completion of the Harvest)
      1. This was the most joyful feast of the year! - A festival packed with Joy & feasting lasting 1 week!
      2. This came right after the Day of Atonement.
        1. True Joy comes only when we know we are right w/God !
        2. Ps.7,8,12 “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. - Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice… Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”
    2. How they celebrated this? (42)
      1. Families would erect flimsy shelters made of branches of trees. All native Israelites would live outdoors this week.
        1. We saw this a couple of trips back up in Galilee in the lot next to our hotel.
    3. Why they celebrated this? (43)
      1. This reminded them of the days in the wilderness w/Moses.
      2. Though they were now in the promise land, living in stone houses, they were never to forget that the covenant people dare not “dig in” in this life!
      3. They were being reminded that they were still pilgrims on the march from birth to death.
        1. What great object lessons we have here. - Parents next camp-out you take your tikes on, spend a night using this as a devotion, as a reminder that we are pilgrims also, just passing through.
        2. See - Col.3:1-7.
    4. It is similar to our Thanksgiving Day Celebration:
      1. Our American pilgrims, who originated the Thanksgiving holiday, were deeply religious people. They were expressing their thanks for their survival, and for the harvest, & probably based their holiday in part on Sukkot.
    5. The Feast of Tab. also commemorated the “Faithfulness of God”.
      1. The Lord showed Himself faithful from the beginning to the end of the wilderness wanderings.
      2. As the Passover commemorated the beginning of that experience, so the Feast of Tabernacles recalled the experience itself.
      3. Read 2 Thes.3:3-5!
    6. In later years, they added two more rituals/traditions to the climax of the feast.
    7. [1] The pouring out of water!
      1. The High Priest, marched down to the pool of Siloam carrying a golden pitcher to scoop up water from the pool. He would then carry it back up to the temple area & pour it on the altar of sacrifice.
      2. This reminded them of God’s provision of water in the desert.
      3. As they did this they would quote Is. 12:3 “Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” & Psalm 114:7,8 “Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, At the presence of the God of Jacob, Who turned the rock into a pool of water, The flint into a fountain of waters.”
      4. Now turn to the gospel of John 7:37-39 & watch this chapter come alive! - It was probably at this dramatic moment that Jesus proclaims…
    8. [2] The lighting of the large lamps!
      1. After the sun had set 2 great lamps were lit in the temple court.
      2. They were meant to recall the pillar of fire by night that had accompanied the children of Israel in their wanderings.
      3. Now turn to John 8:12 & watch this verse come alive! - It was probably because of this that Jesus proclaims…
    9. In Jn. 6 Jesus was “the manna come down form heaven”! In ch.7 Jesus was “the water miraculously provided from the rock”! In ch.8 “He is the worlds light.”
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Leviticus 23". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/leviticus-23.html. 2017.