Monday, February 28, 2011

February 28- The Holiday Calendar

February 28, 2011
Scripture Readings:
Leviticus 22:17-23:44; Mark 9:30-10:12;
Psalm 44:1-8; Proverbs 10:19
Nothing says holidays like a cheese log. ~Ellen DeGeneres

Leviticus 22:17-23:44
When the children were little I spent time considering what traditions we would form in our family for special holidays.  The year rolled along with a holiday to look forward to each season.  We would decorate heart cookies for Valentines’ Day, open small gifts and go to church on Easter, go to the beach for Memorial day week, and have a cookout for the fourth of July before going to a local fireworks display.  Fall brought us Labor Day at the pool, Halloween and Reformation Day parties at friends’ houses, and Thanksgiving filled with familiar foods and a thankfulness tree in the kitchen.  Finally, the year ended with Christmas and all the traditions associated with that wonderful time.  Each holiday was an opportunity to create family activities that defined us as a unit.  We confirmed our beliefs and celebrated what was important to us.  Each year’s festivities brought good memories and fellowship.
In today’s reading, God forms the holiday calendar for the nation of Israel.  Similar to a mother concerned for her family’s traditions, God uses these festivals and ceremonies to bind the nation of Israel together through thanksgiving to God and celebration of the gifts that He provides.  It should not surprise us that these holy seasons are each a picture of Christ or the nation of Israel’s relationship to God.  Here are the holy festivals dealt with in today’s reading and their symbolism:
·         Passover- the crucifixion and death of Christ
·         The Feast of Unleavened Bread- the fellowship we have with Christ because of His death
·         The Feast of the First fruits- the resurrection of Christ
·         Pentecost- the beginning of the Church
·         The Feast of Trumpets- Israel being brought back into the Land (this is in the future)
·         The Great Day of Atonement- the work of Christ upon the cross for us
·         The Feast of Tabernacles- the time when Israel is in the Holy Land (future time)
The Sabbath day is also reiterated to the Israelites, but that was established in the Garden of Eden.
I will briefly review that these holy days were designed to help Israel understand the providential work of God on earth to save mankind.  We have discussed how Jesus is our Passover Lamb.  Jesus is also the Unleavened Bread that had no “yeast” or sin in his life.  He was a perfect sacrifice.  Jesus is the first fruit of those raised from the dead.  As the Israelites gave their first produce to the priest as a sacrifice on the first day of the week, they created the picture of Christ resurrecting on the first day of the week.  He leads us in death and resurrection as our first fruit. 

The Holy season of Pentecost came 50 days after the Feast of First fruits.  It should be no surprise that the early church was given the Holy Spirit 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection.  Pentecost is the only feast where the Israelites were commanded to eat leavened bread.  Remember, leaven represents sin.  This feast represented the Church, which is not sinless like Jesus, but is here on earth and given over to sin. 
The Feast of Trumpets hearkens to the movement of the Israelites.  Seven trumpets were blown to mark the time that the Jews were to break camp and move towards the Promised Land.  Seven trumpets are blown in the book of Revelation to usher in the Great Tribulation Period.  Trumpets are connected with coming judgment.
The Day of Atonement was already explained in chapter 16.  This was the only festival of mourning for sin. This was also the most holy day in the Jewish calendar.  Jesus is our covering and atonement for our sins.  The Feast of Tabernacles celebrates a time in the future when Israel will live in the presence of God, just as He dwelt among them in the Tabernacle in the wilderness.  This celebration is a memorial remembering God’s care for them in the wilderness and also a prophetic anticipation of a time in the future when they will dwell in peace in the presence of God in the Promised Land.  Both Zechariah 14 and Revelation 21 deal with this prophecy.
So we see that God moved through the year with His children, guiding them to see who He was and what He would do for them to fulfill His promise to Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This calendar shows that God will use the Israelites to bring the Redeemer Child to earth. 
Do you think the Israelites understood that their feasts and holy days were an eternal picture on earth of future events?  That is why obedience to these ceremonies was so important to God.  They were a living picture of Him.  Do you know that your life is a living picture of God?  It is.  What do people see in the picture you are painting with your life?
Mark 9:30-10:12
Jesus could have been an attention freak, tweeting about every movement he made and every miracle he performed had he lived in our modern world, but we see that Jesus avoids publicity and spends quiet time with the disciples in order to teach them about the future.  He  tries once again to explain that he must be killed and after three days, rise from the dead.  Instead of focusing on his teaching, the disciples are arguing about who will be the greatest in his Kingdom. 
Jesus takes this opportunity to teach a very profound spiritual principle: If you want to be the greatest, you must be the least.  If you want to lead, you must serve.  John speaks up and reveals that the disciples are being exclusive about who can proclaim attachment to and power from Christ.  The disciples are trying to control what goes on in the ministry. Jesus rebukes John for this attitude.  Jesus lets them know that if a person is not against Christ, he is for Christ. 
Jesus, once again, speaks of hell for those who harm children and cause them to fall away from God.  No other person except Jesus speaks of hell in the Bible. Jesus is our source for understanding this aspect of eternity.  Jesus believes hell is real.
Jesus then clarifies God’s position on divorce.  We have gone over why marriage is such a big deal to God.  He sees it as a living picture.  It represents His intimate relationship with the Church.  We will see in our Old Testament readings that Israel is pictured as the Wife of Jehovah. Jesus does not back down on the sanctity of marriage.  It should be noted the Apostle Paul in his epistles clarifies that remarriage is allowed after divorce for Christians whose spouses have been unfaithful.  Jesus does not sugar coat the Law.  If anything, he ups the ante to include proper attitudes in addition to proper behavior.  He does this to bring us to our knees about our sinfulness.  No one can keep all of these rules perfectly.  That is his point. We need a Savior.
How are you like the disciples?  Are you exclusive in your Christian circle of friends?  Do you go into control freak mode about ministry issues? Do you believe there is a literal Hell?
Psalm 44:1-8
This is a psalm of remembrance.  Have you ever written a letter of remembrance to God about what He has done in your life?
Proverbs 10:19
Wow.  How many people need to hear this message? Too much talking leads to sin.  Duh.
What did you notice today?  Please share your thoughts.

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton


  1. Looking at these feasts as pictures of Christ and his work for us is really interesting. Thank you for pointing this out to us.

  2. Yes. These concepts/pictures make the readings in the Old Testament quite relevant to our faith. They build up our knowledge of God.