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Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Leviticus 23

 

 

Verses 1-44

VI. THE HOLY FEASTS AND SET TIMES

1. The Holy Feasts and Set Times

CHAPTER 23

1. The Sabbath (Leviticus 23:1-3)

2. The feast of Passover and feast of unleavened bread (Leviticus 23:4-8)

3. The firstfruits (Leviticus 23:9-14)

4. The feast of weeks (Leviticus 23:15-22)

5. The blowing of trumpets (Leviticus 23:23-25)

6. The day of atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32)

7. The feast of tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-44)

This is one of the grandest chapters in Leviticus, filled with the choicest truths and prophetic from beginning to end. The holy feasts and set times, appointed by Jehovah, to be kept yearly by Israel, cover indeed the entire realm of redemption facts. The dispensational dealings of God with Jews and Gentiles are clearly revealed in these feasts. We have to look at each of these divisions separately to point out the way to a deeper study, which no child of God should neglect.

1. The Sabbath--This is in itself no feast, but set time, a holy convocation after the six work days. What it signifies we have already seen in the study of Genesis and Exodus. The reason why the Sabbath is put here first is on account of its prophetic meaning. “There remaineth a rest for the people of God.” The Sabbath is the type of that rest yet to come, when redemption is consummated. When all the work is accomplished, foreshadowed in the feasts and set times of Israel, the great rest-keeping will begin. Faith can enjoy it even now. In the Sabbath the blessed outcome of all is revealed.

2. The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread--The Passover, with the lamb slain and its body eaten, occupies the first place. It typifies the blessed work of the Lamb of God, His redemption work on the cross. And this is the foundation of every thing, as we have seen in the levitical offerings and ceremonial. In this finished work, and the shed blood, God rests, and here the believing sinner has found his rest. The feast of unleavened bread is closely connected with the Passover, so that it cannot be separated from it. Leaven stands for sin and unleavened bread for holiness. The feast of unleavened bread therefore typifies the result of the work of Christ on the cross, which is holiness. Again we meet the great truth that Jehovah has redeemed His people to be separated unto Himself. They were not to do a servile work, but to bring an offering by fire unto Jehovah. On the first and on the seventh day no servile work was to be done. It typifies the fact that in redemption there is no servile work, but a joyous manifestation of Christ, the sweet savour in the power of the Holy Spirit.

3. The Firstfruits--While the Passover-feast foreshadows the death of Christ, the waving of the sheaf of the firstfruits is the blessed type of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was just one sheaf waved before Jehovah, the earnest of the harvest which was to follow. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:23). The grain of wheat had fallen into the ground and died. But He liveth; the full ear of the sheaf waved before Jehovah typifies the abundant fruit which He brings unto God. And it was waved before Jehovah “on the morrow after the Sabbath.” The morrow after the Sabbath is the first day of the week, the glorious resurrection morning. In connection with the waving of the sheaf of firstfruits there were offerings. But of what kind? “A he lamb without blemish for a burnt offering unto the LORD,” a meal offering and a drink offering. No sin offering was demanded, for that was accomplished when He died. The offerings were a sweet savour, telling forth once more the blessedness and value of His own person and work. And in Him we are accepted; with Him the firstfruits we shall be forever.

4. The Feast of Weeks--After seven Sabbaths had passed by, fifty days counted, a new meal offering was brought and two wave loaves baken with leaven. This is the feast of Pentecost (named on account of the fifty days). It is also called the feast of weeks, as seven weeks had passed by. Exactly fifty days after the waving of the firstfruits, on the morrow of the Sabbath, when Christ arose, the Holy Spirit came down out of heaven to form the church on earth. The meal offering as we saw in the first part of the book is the type of Christ in His perfect humanity. Pure flour, oil mingled with it, and oil poured upon it. Here is a new meal offering. It does not typify Christ, but those who are one with Him, His believing people. The oil, the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost upon them, as the oil was poured upon the meal offering.

The two loaves, baken with leaven, typify also the church. Sin is still there. Pure flour was in the loaves (the new nature), but baken with leaven (the old nature). The two loaves, no doubt, refer us to the Jews and Gentiles, which compose the new meal offering. And here is the sin offering, which was absent at the waving of the sheaf of firstfruits on the morrow after the Sabbath. The leaven and the sin offering indicate the presence of sin, as it is the case. Yet the loaves are waved in the presence of Jehovah and fully accepted.

The two loaves were a wave offering before Jehovah. Thus the church is presented unto Him “a kind of firstfruits” (James 1:18); the two loaves, the product of the wheat, the firstfruits of Christ’s death and resurrection.

We must not overlook verse 22. The harvest here, we doubt not, is the same as in Matthew 13:39. When that end of the age comes, the church will be taken into the garner, the firstfruits will be with Christ. The poor and strangers, Gentiles, will even then be remembered in mercy.

5. The Blowing of Trumpets--With this holy convocation we are led upon new ground. The feasts we have followed typify that which is past; the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and the formation of the church by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The three set times which follow, the memorial of blowing of trumpets, the day of atonement and the feast of tabernacles await their great fulfillment in the near future. The first thing after the two wave loaves are completely presented unto Jehovah, when this age is about to close, will be the blowing of the trumpets. It is the call of God to the remnant of His people, their regathering. A long period of time is between Pentecost and the blowing of the trumpets. This interval is the present age. The Lord does not regather His earthly remnant till His heavenly people, the church, is complete. Read and carefully consider Isaiah 27:13; 58; Joel 2:1. Matthew 24:31 is the regathering of His elect earthly people after He has come. But the blowing of the trumpets on the first day of the seventh month precedes the great day of atonement and is the heralding of that approaching day. All this, studied with the light God has given to us in the entire word of prophecy, is intensely interesting.

6. The Day of Atonement--We have already pointed out the dispensational meaning for the people of Israel in our annotations on the sixteenth chapter. When the great high priest, our Saviour and Israel’s King, comes forth out of the Holiest, when He comes the second time in power and glory, Israel will look upon Him whom they have pierced and mourn for Him. And He will take away their sins, typified by the scapegoat. “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness” (Zechariah 13:1). Their great day of atonement will be a Sabbath of rest unto them and glory will cover their long desolate land once more.

7. The Feast of Tabernacles--The final feast began on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. It is the feast, which comes after the sin of Israel has been removed. It was the feast of ingathering of the products of the year and a memorial of Israel’s dwelling in booths in the wilderness. The feast of tabernacles foreshadows the coming glory of the millennium, Israel’s glorious inheritance and the Gentiles gathered with redeemed Israel in the kingdom. It will be the time of the complete harvest, the time of rejoicing, when sorrow and sighing will flee away. It comes after the harvest (the end of the age) and the vintage (the winepress of the wrath of God). How beautiful is the order in these three last holy convocations! The blowing of the trumpets; the remnant of Israel called and gathered; the day of atonement; Israel in national repentance looking upon Him, whom they pierced, when He comes the second time; the feast of tabernacles; the millennium. “And it shall come to pass that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem, shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16). It is the great memorial feast of millennial times. Perhaps it will be during that feast that the King of Israel, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, will appear in visible glory in Jerusalem to receive the homage of the representatives of the nations of the earth. What a day that will be! The eighth day which we meet here again points us to that which is beyond the millennium. The story of the twenty-third chapter is marvellous! Only God in His infinite wisdom could give us such an unfolding and foreshadowing of His eternal counsels and purposes. We rehearse it briefly. The Sabbath is the type of the end, which will come after the accomplishment of all His purposes; the eternal rest. Passover, the type of the death of Christ; the waving of the firstfruits, the type of the resurrection of Christ; Pentecost, the type of the coming of the Holy Spirit for the formation of the Church. Then Israel’s restoration and fullest blessing comes in. How blind men must be who can call all these beautiful things fable and legends! In these poor critics there is once more fulfilled the Word of God, professing themselves to be wise, they become fools” (Romans 1:22).

 


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Bibliography Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Leviticus 23:4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/leviticus-23.html. 1913-1922.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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