Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Mandatory Feasts

Deuteronomy 16:1-17

“Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.  Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the LORD thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the LORD shall choose to place his name there.  Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction: for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life. 

And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning.  Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee: But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.  And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents.  Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD thy God: thou shalt do no work therein.” (Deuteronomy 16:1-8) 

Exodus 12 describes the first Passover, partaken while they were waiting for the death angel to strike the Egyptians and pass over Israel.   Each family was to partake in their own home and they were not to go to other places.  The command here describes how they were to partake in the land once they were established. There are some differences.

They were to come to the Tabernacle and sacrifice their lambs for each family, and cook it there.  They were only to make the sacrifice in that place.  Since it was a memorial of what had happened in Egypt, they were to use unleavened bread as a reminder of what it had been like.  After the Passover they could return home, but for the next six days, portraying their flight from Egypt before crossing the Red Sea, they were to eat unleavened bread.  The seventh day after Passover they were to come together again in a national memorial of God destroying the army of Egypt in the Red Sea.  They were free to return home in between.

“Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn.  And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the LORD thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the LORD thy God, according as the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: And thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to place his name there.  And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes.” (Deuteronomy 16:9-12) 

Wheat harvest begins in late spring or early summer in mild climates such as found in Israel.  Seven weeks after wheat harvest began, they were to celebrate the Feast of Weeks, in midsummer, after the wheat and barley was harvested.  They were to bring a freewill offering to the Tabernacle based on how the Lord had blessed them and share it their servants and family, as well as the Levites and destitute who lived among them, celebrating their right to keep their crops for themselves rather than having to give it to Pharaoh.  Leviticus 23:10-21 gives far more detail about this feast.

“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.  And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD.  And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.  And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 

And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.  Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD.  And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the LORD, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the LORD. 

Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings.  And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the LORD with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.  And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.” (Leviticus 23:10-21)

This feast does not represent their flight from Egypt, and the bread was to be leavened, rather than unleavened showing they were no longer under pressure.  They were to celebrate the blessings of their life.  Along with the thanks giving they were to offer a sin offering, as evidence of repentance, and a peace offering, showing their desire for fellowship with God.

“Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates.  Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.” (Deuteronomy 16:13-15)

The day of Atonement was to take place on the tenth day of the seventh month,  the fifteen day of the month, exactly six months after the Passover, they were to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles.  Leviticus 23:39-43 describes the celebration.  “Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. 

And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.  And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.  Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”

This feast was basically a national campout to remind future generations of the time Israel spent camping in the wilderness.  They were to build simple brush shelters for each family to stay in to make it real to their children.

“Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee.” (Deuteronomy 16:16-17)

Every man was to make the pilgrimage to the tabernacle for each of these feasts, and they were to bring an offering, of whatever they were able to bring.  Failure to bring anything implied the Lord was not blessing as he promised.  


  1. Excellent post, dfish. There is a tendency today to show an inappropriate familarity and jocularity toward God. He is worthy of our complete love, respect and obedience.
    God bless,

  2. Thanks. Laurie. The irreverent attitude among professing Christians today makes it hard for unbelievers to take Christianity seriously.