Israel’s Festivals were Rehearsals – Leviticus 23





Wednesday 09/05/18 

Message – Israel’s Festivals were Rehearsals – Leviticus 23

Series: Thru the Bible

***Video is HERE***


Israel’s Festivals were Rehearsals – Leviticus 23

First off, it is NOT my intention nor desire to dive deep into the Ancient Jewish calendar system, but some basics are necessary and helpful as we study the Bible and so I will attempt to confine most of our learning to those parts which are necessary to help understand calendar related events as mentioned in the Bible.

Their calendar was a lunisolar calendar. This basically means that the days are measured by the phases of the moon and the year by the sun.

As history unfolded there was added a leap month at the end of every 19th year to compensate for calendar drift – but this is not mentioned in scripture. Nowhere in scripture does it designate a certain length of days for the months. 

Just like in our calendar system, we add a day to February about every 4 years to compensate for drift, because in all reality a real – actual day is as defined by one complete revolution of the earth on its axis is actually 23 hours 56 minutes and 4 seconds (and it is getting a little slower each year due to entropy).


In like manner, our solar year – if we were to technically go by one complete actual revolution of the earth around the sun a year would be 365.2425 days.


So if you are only accounting for 365 – then every 4 years you are going to lose a full day, so we add leap year to compensate for this.

However, if the ancient Hebrew calendar were observed to the letter the way God described it – observing both lunar phases and harvests for the changing of months – then it is very likely that this drift would take care of itself. While it may not be “technically” – a year by our modern definition, it would most likely keep the calendar in balance and compensate for drift.


New Moons marked the beginning of a Jewish month.

A New Moon meant the first part of a crescent moon visible after the ending of the last lunar cycle. The New Moon will have a crescent with the ends pointing to the left.


Mid-month will have a full moon


and end of month will have a crescent with the ends pointing to the right.


Interestingly, as the year progresses, the “horns” will move from a horizontal orientation to a vertical orientation. In the early spring SLIDE006 (autumn in our southern hemisphere) the “Passover moon” will appear much like a saucer with both horns pointing upward.


Variations of this New Moon may be seen in springtime.

This is and is not a precise “science” depending on your definition of science. Clearly, it is accurate since it is created by the sun and the moon whose cycles you are following to define a month and year, but it is NOT accurate if you are looking for a specific number of days to always line up perfectly with what you witness in the heavens. But we are to be God oriented people NOT earth oriented people, and God said from the beginning.

So, we have a calendar which God set up based upon the “lights” He set in the heavens.

Gen. 1:14-19, “(14) Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for festivals and for days and years. (15) They will be lights in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth.” And it was so. (16) God made the two great lights–the greater light to have dominion over the day and the lesser light to have dominion over the night–as well as the stars. (17) God placed them in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth, (18) to dominate the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. (19) Evening came, and then morning: the fourth day.”

So let’s begin by reading Leviticus 23

Lev. 23:1-44 HCSB

Feasts of the Lord

The feasts or festivals – were holy convocations (a sacred calling together) to outline and highlight certain things throughout the year – all of them having significance on many levels both symbolic and prophetic – the most obvious of which is the story of redemption and so one of the secondary meanings of the word “convocation” is rehearsal.

(1) The LORD spoke to Moses:

(2) “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: These are My appointed times, the times of the LORD that you will proclaim as sacred assemblies.

The Sabbath

(3) “For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there must be a Sabbath of complete rest, a sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; it is a Sabbath to the LORD wherever you live.

A noun which comes FROM a word which means intermission and so the Sabbath was a day of rest. The seventh day was set aside at creation, but the holy Sabbath was first given to Israel and first mentioned in scripture in Exodus 16 as a gift to God’s people.

You remember God gave them manna and told them to gather twice as much on the sixth day and on that day alone the remainder of what they did not eat on the sixth day would still be edible on the Sabbath. They were told DO NOT go out to gather on the Sabbath because there will be no manna to gather…but the people went out anyway. To which God said to Moses, “”How long will you refuse to keep My commands and instructions? Understand that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day He will give you two days’ worth of bread. Each of you stay where you are; no one is to leave his place on the seventh day.” So the people rested on the seventh day.”

This is without question the basis for Jesus’ understanding of Sabbath – that it was made for man – not man for the Sabbath, Mark 2:23-28, HCSB “(23) On the Sabbath He was going through the grainfields, and His disciples began to make their way picking some heads of grain. (24) The Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” (25) He said to them, “Have you never read what David and those who were with him did when he was in need and hungry– (26) how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest and ate the sacred bread–which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests–and also gave some to his companions?” (27) Then He told them, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. (28) Therefore the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

The purpose for the Sabbath was rest for all God’s people; its basis was found in God’s cessation from work at Creation (Exod. 20:11)

The word describes the day…

  • that was to be kept holy, set apart to the Lord (Exod. 20:8-10).
  • It was blessed by the Lord (Exod 20:11)
  • It was to be observed by Israel forever (Exod. 31:13-16)
  • Not even a fire could be lit in any house on the Sabbath (Lev. 23:32)
  • No work, even on the Tabernacle, could be performed (Exod. 35:2).

Additionally, special offerings were presented on the Sabbath in addition to the regular daily burnt offerings, properly termed Sabbath offerings (Num. 28:9-10).

Unfortunately, God’s people chose to utterly desecrate the Lord’s Sabbaths (Ezekiel 20:13-20) and many times God punished them in accordance with what He said He would do if they broke His Sabbaths as we will see in Chapter 26.

This is not a command to work a 6-day week, but a restriction on too much work. The words “shall work be done”  grammatically means, “may be done” – not “must be done”.

The Passover

(4) “These are the LORD’s appointed times, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times.

(5) The Passover to the LORD comes in the first month, at twilight on the fourteenth day of the month.

(6) The Festival of Unleavened Bread to the LORD is on the fifteenth day of the same month. For seven days you must eat unleavened bread.

(7) On the first day you are to hold a sacred assembly; you are not to do any daily work.

(8) You are to present a fire offering to the LORD for seven days. On the seventh day there will be a sacred assembly; you must not do any daily work.”

According to Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, The observance of these appointed times took place in the parts of the year corresponding to our March, May, and September. Divine wisdom was manifested in fixing them at those periods; in winter, when the days were short and the roads broken up, a long journey was impractical; while in summer the harvest and vintage gave busy employment in the fields. Besides, another reason for the choice of those seasons probably was to counteract the influence of Egyptian associations and habits. And God appointed more sacred festivals for the Israelites in the month of September than the people of Egypt had in honor of their idols.

On the Jewish ceremonial calendar, the first month was called Nisan; Passover was held on the 14th day of Nisan every year.

Passover was a day or remembrance to commemorate Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. As you will remember, on the 10th day of Nisan, every family in Israel was to pick out a lamb worthy of the offering and bring it into the house to live with them for four days. This was a time of “approving” the lamb for sacrifice.On the last day they were to kill the animal and place the blood of the lamb around their door posts which upon God seeing the blood so applied, His judgment would passover them and not fall upon them as it did on their enemies.

The feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev. 23:6-8)

On the following day (the 15th) they were to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. During which they were to observe seven days of eating unleavened bread.

On the first day they were to have a holy gathering (rehearsal); They were to do no customary work on it. Also, they were to sacrifice an offering made by fire to the LORD for seven days. The seventh day (Nisan 21st) was also a holy convocation on which they were to do no customary work.

This feast was to represent the holy and pure lives God’s people were to live after being delivered by blood from their captivity to the world (Egypt).


The Feast of Firstfruits

(9) The LORD spoke to Moses:

(10) “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you enter the land I am giving you and reap its harvest, you are to bring the first sheaf of your harvest to the priest.

(11) He will wave the sheaf before the LORD so that you may be accepted; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.

(12) On the day you wave the sheaf, you are to offer a year-old male lamb without blemish as a burnt offering to the LORD.

(13) Its grain offering is to be four quarts of fine flour mixed with oil as a fire offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma, and its drink offering will be one quart of wine.

(14) You must not eat bread, roasted grain, or any new grain until this very day, and you have brought the offering of your God. This is to be a permanent statute throughout your generations wherever you live.

Notice that this was not to be practiced while wandering in the wilderness, but only after becoming established in the land Promised to Abraham and his descendants – once they eventually crossed the Jordan with Joshua.

This was the first ripened gathering of the Barley harvest which is a warmer climate harvest.

The Feast of Weeks

(15) “You are to count seven complete weeks starting from the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the presentation offering.

(16) You are to count 50 days until the day after the seventh Sabbath and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD.

(17) Bring two loaves of bread from your settlements as a presentation offering, each of them made from four quarts of fine flour, baked with yeast, as firstfruits to the LORD.

(18) You are to present with the bread seven unblemished male lambs a year old, one young bull, and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offerings and drink offerings, a fire offering of a pleasing aroma to the LORD.

(19) You are also to prepare one male goat as a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a fellowship sacrifice.

(20) The priest will wave the lambs with the bread of firstfruits as a presentation offering before the LORD; the bread and the two lambs will be holy to the LORD for the priest.

(21) On that same day you are to make a proclamation and hold a sacred assembly. You are not to do any daily work. This is to be a permanent statute wherever you live throughout your generations.

(22) When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap all the way to the edge of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the foreign resident; I am the LORD your God.”

For this festival, they were to count 50 days from the Feast of Firstfruits at the end of the wheat harvest and then celebrate the bringing in of the new grain offering for the Lord. We have the advantage of knowing part of what this was “rehearsing” due to the day of Pentecost to which this feast corresponds. Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for POWER from on High. You remember what Peter said on that day, “This is that which the prophet Joel said…” So let’s go read that passage in Joel 2 beginning in verse 18.

Joel 2:18-32, HCSB “(18) Then the LORD became jealous for His land and spared His people. (19) The LORD answered His people: Look, I am about to send you grain, new wine, and olive oil. You will be satiated with them, and I will no longer make you a disgrace among the nations. (20) I will drive the northerner far from you and banish him to a dry and desolate land, his front ranks into the Dead Sea, and his rear guard into the Mediterranean Sea. His stench will rise; yes, his rotten smell will rise, for he has done catastrophic things. (21) Don’t be afraid, land; rejoice and be glad, for the LORD has done great things. (22) Don’t be afraid, wild animals, for the wilderness pastures have turned green, the trees bear their fruit, and the fig tree and grapevine yield their riches. (23) Children of Zion, rejoice and be glad in the LORD your God, because He gives you the autumn rain for your vindication. He sends showers for you, both autumn and spring rain as before. (24) The threshing floors will be full of grain, and the vats will overflow with new wine and olive oil. (25) I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust ate, the young locust, the destroying locust, and the devouring locust–My great army that I sent against you. (26) You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied. You will praise the name of Yahweh your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. My people will never again be put to shame. (27) You will know that I am present in Israel and that I am the LORD your God, and there is no other. My people will never again be put to shame. (28) After this I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions. (29) I will even pour out My Spirit on the male and female slaves in those days. (30) I will display wonders in the heavens and on the earth: blood, fire, and columns of smoke. (31) The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and awe-inspiring Day of the LORD comes. (32) Then everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved, for there will be an escape for those on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, as the LORD promised, among the survivors the LORD calls.”


The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)

(23) The LORD spoke to Moses:

(24) “Tell the Israelites: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you are to have a day of complete rest, commemoration and jubilation–a sacred assembly.

(25) You must not do any daily work, but you must present a fire offering to the LORD.”

This was a day of commemoration – of remembrance but of what it is hard to say. It was observed in the month of Tishri (the 1st day of the 7th month). It may have served to prepare the people for the coming solemn feast of booths as well.

Trumpets served a purpose in Israel. Blasts were made as warnings, as calls to war and to rally the people and for victory and good news.

In the rabbinical literature, the most significant is the use of the shofar, the ram’s horn, instead of the usual silver Temple trumpets.

In Jewish thought, the shofar is associated with Abraham’s offering of Isaac on Mount Moriah, (Genesis 22) in that the ram which took Isaac’s place was caught by the horn in the thicket. Rabbinical tradition associates the left horn of the ram as the “first trump” and the right horn as the “last trump”.

A distinguishing feature of this celebration is the last, climactic blast of the Shofar. This is not the usual series of short bursts, signaling alarm or bad news. Rather, it is a long blast, signaling victory or good news. It is this last blast that is referred to as the last trump.

Skip ahead to the writings of Paul under the New Covenant

In I Corinthians 15, he describes what we often refer to as the “The Rapture” of the Church:

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

Notice he used the word “last trump”

It seems likely that due to Paul’s Pharisaical background he was alluding to the climactic trumpet of the Feast of Trumpets and that, perhaps, this feast is prophetic of the call of God’s people home at the end of the age of the Gentiles (which he also refers to in Romans 11).

Notice that following this feast is the Day of Atonement, which if we are right about the significance of the Feast of Trumpets, seems precariously placed as following the rapture of the church.

After this Feast of Trumpets are seven days of “affliction” in anticipation of Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) on the 10th of Tishri and 5 days following that on the 15th of Tishri begins Saccoth – the Feast of Tabernacles which if all taken together may indeed make a lot of sense.

The Day of Atonement

(26) The LORD again spoke to Moses:

(27) “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. You are to hold a sacred assembly and practice self-denial; you are to present a fire offering to the LORD.

(28) On this particular day you are not to do any work, for it is a Day of Atonement to make atonement for yourselves before the LORD your God.

(29) If any person does not practice self-denial on this particular day, he must be cut off from his people.

(30) I will destroy among his people anyone who does any work on this same day.

(31) You are not to do any work. This is a permanent statute throughout your generations wherever you live.

(32) It will be a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you must practice self-denial. You are to observe your Sabbath from the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening.”

We know about this from just having covered it, but it possibly has a three-part reference. Once for the days of the Old Covenant during which there was an annual reminder of sins. Secondly of our day and covenant during which the guilt and stain of sins are removed from our nature and our account. Thirdly, as a possibly representing the time following the rapture of the church, beginning with the 144,000 Jews who repent (change their minds) about their Messiah and turn to Him with all their hearts.

If this is the case, the the final feast also has a three-part reference.

The Feast of Booths

(33) The LORD spoke to Moses:

(34) “Tell the Israelites: The Festival of Booths to the LORD begins on the fifteenth day of this seventh month and continues for seven days.

(35) There is to be a sacred assembly on the first day; you are not to do any daily work.

(36) You are to present a fire offering to the LORD for seven days. On the eighth day you are to hold a sacred assembly and present a fire offering to the LORD. It is a solemn gathering; you are not to do any daily work.

(37) “These are the LORD’s appointed times that you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for presenting fire offerings to the LORD, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its designated day.

(38) These are in addition to the offerings for the LORD’s Sabbaths, your gifts, all your vow offerings, and all your freewill offerings that you give to the LORD.

(39) “You are to celebrate the LORD’s festival on the fifteenth day of the seventh month for seven days after you have gathered the produce of the land. There will be complete rest on the first day and complete rest on the eighth day.

(40) On the first day you are to take the product of majestic trees–palm fronds, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook–and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.

(41) You are to celebrate it as a festival to the LORD seven days each year. This is a permanent statute for you throughout your generations; you must celebrate it in the seventh month.

(42) You are to live in booths for seven days. All the native-born of Israel must live in booths, (43) so that your generations may know that I made the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.”

(44) So Moses declared the LORD’s appointed times to the Israelites.

This Feast represented the time when Israel was delivered from bondage to Egypt and came to serve and worship the Lord in the wilderness dwelling in tents (also that God came and tabernacled among them in the midst of Israel in the Holiest of Holies).

Secondly, this was pointing to the birth of Jesus Who as Emmanuel became God with Us – Who tabernacled among us as ONE of us.

Thirdly, it is possible that this may represent BOTH the Millennial reign of Christ – tabernacling in Israel and the FOLLOWING end of the ages, when God makes His tabernacle with men Who care called His Own.

Rev. 21:1-7, NKJV “(1) Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. (2) Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (3) And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. (4) And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (5) Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” (6) And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. (7) He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”

There is more information in the audio/video of the actual message. I hope you listen, learn and enjoy!



I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

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Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!