An Exposition of the Feasts of the Lord.
"Until you have made a study of the three sevens, you will never know where you are in the dispensational ways of God." Words to this effect are attributed to the late Dr. Wolston. The three sevens he referred to are (1) The feasts of Jehovah. Lev. 23 (2) The parables of the kingdom. Matt. 13 (3) The addresses to the churches. Rev. 2, 3. This statement is true and a study of these passages of Scripture will amply repay the student. One interesting point is true in regard to all three. They divide into four and three. It will be obvious to the student that the first four feasts stand together and the last three. In the parables the first four go together and the last three. But in the addresses to the churches the first three go together and the last four. A word on this may be helpful.
The first four feasts have been fulfilled in Christianity; the last three have yet to be fulfilled in Israel in a future day. In Matt. 13, the first four parables were uttered outside of the house and the last three inside. The first four describe the kingdom in its outward aspect and of a character that all can see in the world. The last three present it in a way that only those taught of God are able to understand. Greatness and corruption seen externally; value and unity hidden internally and known only to those who are taught of God by the Spirit. This is suggested by the fact that the disciples were alone with the Lord inside the house. Eyes and ears were given to them of God that they may understand it both in its outward and inward aspects. v. 16. Then in the addresses to the churches, the first three states described have passed away but the last four run on to the end. The local conditions described in these churches serve to show how, historically, the church has acted in responsibility in this world. So much for the three sevens, but we are mainly occupied with the first seven in this pamphlet.
Strictly speaking, there are eight feasts in this chapter, beginning with the feast of the Sabbath and ending with the feast of Tabernacles. It will be noticed that the feast of the Sabbath is weekly, but the other seven recurred annually. It is evident that the Sabbath fills a place by itself, as it is the only feast spoken of in the first declaration "the set feasts of Jehovah." v. 2, N. Tr. A footnote by J.N.D. tells us that "set feasts" mean "fixed times (for drawing near to God)." Another thought underlying this word is appointment. This indeed gives us a clue as to the meaning of this sacred calendar outlined in this chapter. We have the statement "set feasts" repeated again in v. 4, thus severing the Sabbath from the rest of the feasts and putting it in a class by itself. The reason for this has often been noted, viz. we have presented in the first feast the great end in view of all these feasts. The Psalms are often like this, the subject being stated at the opening of the Psalm, and the rest of the Psalm taken up with the theme of how that objective was reached. The Sabbath is the great end in view of all the ways of God in time. In order to enlighten us as to how that end will be brought about, we have the detailed instruction of this interesting chapter. So we turn to it.
"And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, (Concerning) the set feasts of Jehovah, which ye shall proclaim as holy convocations — these are my set feasts." Lev. 23:1-2. N. Tr.
"And Jehovah spoke to Moses." This is authoritative. In these days of many false teachers (2 Peter 2:1), the saints of God should take great care that what they listen to and whom they listen to is authoritatively of God. "Jehovah spoke." Let us make sure then that what we accept as divine truth is really what God has spoken to us in His own word. Then, assured we have His own word let us not be slothful in doing it. "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments." Ezra 7:10. Our God desires us to know what He is doing for His own glory and for the satisfaction of His heart of love. Moreover, He wants us to work with Him intelligently. He speaks with a view to obtaining the interest of His people and a response to the desires of His heart.
"Speak unto the children of Israel." It is His own redeemed people to whom He is speaking. How many of them? All of them. It was not limited to the Priests or the Princes, no, it is a word to the whole congregation. There is ever a tendency to leave these matters to the teachers or the elder brethren, etc. God wants every one of His people to listen to what He has to say; to get an understanding of what He is doing, and so learn what they can do in service for Him in relation to the divine centre. If I belong to that company, I am responsible to listen to these communications and seek grace to answer to them for the present pleasure of God.
"The feasts of Jehovah." This statement tells us what God is going to talk about to His people, — His feasts, seasons of a festive character when His people can gather round Him and minister to Him something for the delight of His heart of love. Now He seeks to touch our hearts with a word like this — "my set feasts." Is there a desire in our hearts to answer to this? Not to be for ever occupied with what He has done for our blessing but to find out what we can do for Him. Like the lovely picture in John 12. "There they made him a supper." How often, beloved, do we approach God in this way? Not for ever seeking Him for what we can get, nor even praising Him for what we have got but to give to Him in praise and worship that which ever delights the heart of our God. To be interested in what He is doing for His own delight and not to be only interested in what He has done for us. We believe God would thus appeal to our hearts with this statement, "MY SET FEASTS."
"Holy Convocations." These suggest collective gatherings. It seems that our God delights to have His people together with a single thought in their minds — to collectively minister unto Him. He would guard them from any intrusion of the fleshly mind of man by reminding us that they are "HOLY"! We have to remember this, wonderful as the privilege may be, in our gatherings together to be ever conscious that He is there; that we come together for His pleasure, subdued, dependent, with holy reverence in our souls. This is the state that will lead to a spiritual production of that which will indeed be to God a feast. This would produce quality, even if it reduced quantity and all would be the better for it and God would be more rightly praised. These then are the instructive communications to our souls as preparing us for the unfolding of His mind in this wonderful chapter.
"Six days shall work be done: but on the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, a holy convocation; no manner of work shall ye do: it is the sabbath to Jehovah in all your dwellings." Lev. 23:3. N. Tr.
We have said already that this, the first feast, is the great end in view of all these feasts. That God is going to have a day when toil shall be no more is a theme running right through the inspired Word. It began with [the creation] of Genesis 1-2. So we read, "And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made." Gen. 2:2. The Sabbath then means — the cessation of all labour. But sin having later entered the creation on earth through Adam, God has to begin working again to undo all the havoc that sin has brought in. Later, having called Israel out of Egypt He once more introduces the Sabbath and binds it on them to observe in the fourth commandment. Moreover, He made it the mark of the covenant between Himself and them. Ex. 31:13. Now had Israel walked before God in answer to the covenant, God would have recovered His Sabbath through them. But the failure in the wilderness put an end to that thought and God has to swear that they would not enter into His rest. This is gone into in length in Heb. 4 — a chapter well worth studying on this subject of the Sabbath. In that chapter we read, "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." v. 9. The rest of creation was broken. v. 4. It was proposed again to Israel in the wilderness but Joshua did not bring them into it. It came up again in the Kingdom (Ps. 132) but David did not bring it about. v. 7. How then will it be brought about? The following seven feasts of our chapter show us. It failed in creation; it failed under the law; it failed in the Kingdom but it will come in yet. Based upon the death of Christ the feast of Tabernacles will yet be reached and in the World to Come of which the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks, the rest of God will be brought about. We which have believed will enter it. Heb. 4:3.
Now rest is the great thought here, and while the rest of God is future, He brings out certain details here which He desires His people to observe, and take up as a feast for Him. What a holy Sabbath it will be when at last His people gather around Him in a Holy Convocation! If we turn over to Lev. 25, we see something of the breadth of it. Even the brute creation is going to share that rest when it comes. vs. 6, 7. This is taught in Rom. 8:21. When man is brought into it at last, so will the creation over which he is Lord. In this feast, "no work" is to be done. In other feasts we will read "no servile work" is to be done, v. 7. But in this feast it is no work at all. "Servile work" is right in its place, for we judge it to mean work in the sphere of responsibility as distinct from work in the Divine circle, the daily round as we speak. But no work of any description is to be done on the Sabbath. It is complete rest. Rest, we believe when, free from all that would rightly engage us here, we sit in the presence of God, at liberty to contemplate what He is to us, and what He has done, for His own pleasure and glory. This we are enabled to do in "Holy convocation." But it is also to mark us in our dwellings. This is better translated "to Jehovah in all your dwellings." Now while the rest of God is future, we can, as brought near to Him, enjoy the elements of that rest through Christ. "I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28. This then is to fill our souls whether in our circle of responsibility — the dwelling — or, gathered together in Christian privilege — the holy convocation. "Your dwellings" would be our side of things but the holy convocation would be God's side, as His people met together at the Divine centre. Then, keeping "to Jehovah" before us, would lead to an answer directly Godward as ministering pleasure to Him in it. If we miss this point in our comings together, we too will get where the Jews got — reducing the feasts of Jehovah to the feasts of the Jews.
"These are the set feasts of Jehovah, holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons: In the first month, on the fourteenth of the month, between the two evenings, is the passover to Jehovah." Lev. 23:4-5. N. Tr.
With this quotation, we begin the series of feasts which bring before us the dispensational ways of God with a view to reaching the Sabbath at the head of our chapter. We begin with the great foundation of all for the glory of God and the blessing of man — the death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. Note a new phrase here: "In their seasons." Each feast has its proper time and proper order in the chapter and we must take care to keep to this order. How could we know the blessing of the feast of Tabernacles if we did not begin with the cross of Christ? "In their seasons" would show a Divine order which has been worked out according to plan. Not like the world who would gladly take up the Kingdom blessing but ignore the great necessity of founding it all on the DEATH of Christ. God has His Own way and His Own time in working things out and we must work to this plan if the blessings of these things are to be ours.
What a flood of precious thoughts fills our souls as we contemplate this wonderful theme of redemption by blood. It meant for Israel, deliverance from under the hand of Pharaoh and gave God a basis for bringing them out of Egypt and bringing the people to Himself in the wilderness. We know that they kept this ordinance as a remembrance in the wilderness. Num. 9. They kept it again as a remembrance when they got into the land. Joshua 5. But only once did they sprinkle the blood on the doorposts and lintels. This tells us again of the once for all application of the blood of Christ. It never needs to be repeated. Taking the three together we have (1) redemption by blood and deliverance from Pharaoh and the land of Egypt. Ex. 12. (2) As a remembrance to preserve us in pilgrim character as passing through the wilderness and going on to the inheritance. Num. 9. (3) As opening up to us the inheritance. Joshua 5. The death of Christ then has brought us to God and brought us out; maintains us in pilgrim character as passing through this world; and brings us in to the land, the Divine inheritance.
Yet, we believe, as a feast in this chapter, it goes beyond these other aspects. It is not so much the death of Christ for our deliverance here, but the great basis upon which God is building all for His Own glory. It is the "passover to Jehovah." What a gain to our souls when we can view the work of Christ as it effects the pleasure of God, more than how it brings us into blessing. Indeed, it is the pleasure of God to bring us into blessing and that is why, primarily, Christ died upon the cross. These two thoughts are clearly seen in Hebrews 10:9-10. "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." v. 9. "By the which will we are sanctified." v. 10. Why did He come into this world? To do the will of God. What is that will? Our sanctification. Truly the "passover to Jehovah." It is this then which seems to be the theme here, the memorial of the death of Christ as accomplishing the will of God, the great and eternal basis of all for the glory of God and the everlasting blessing of man.
"And on the fifteenth day of this month is the feast of unleavened bread to Jehovah; seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread. On the first day ye shall have a holy convocation: no manner of servile work shall ye do. And ye shall present to Jehovah an offering by fire seven days; on the seventh day is a holy convocation: no manner of servile work shall ye do." Lev. 23:6-8. N. Tr.
It is worth noting here that this feast springs out of and is connected with the feast of the passover. The usual introduction to a new subject, namely "the LORD spake unto Moses saying," is not mentioned here. This feast then is the corollary of the passover. It is the putting away of all evil because Christ has died unto sin once. Rom. 6:10. It is the subjective answer in us to the objective work of Christ on the cross. If He has died to sin, then we must die to it in a practical way in our Christian pathway. "For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." 1 Cor. 5:7-8. Here, the feast of unleavened bread is seen as the direct outcome of the feast of the Passover. Hence, the Spirit exhorts them to keep from leaven altogether. He speaks of the leaven in two ways. First as old leaven, then as malice and wickedness. The first would be a reference to their old way of living before the Gospel reached them. Possibly a reference to the worship of idols and the notorious fornication which accompanied it. To them this was "old leaven." The leaven of malice and wickedness would spring from the old man which was still in them. This too had to be refused, for while they might break with the fornication of idol worship they carried with them the old man whose malice and wickedness would be ever ready to spring out. Both had to be put away. But if these two evils had to be refused, sincerity and truth had to be accepted. This would be Christ as ministered to my soul by the Spirit. I am then to be done with my old way of living. Secondly, I am to keep the old man with his deeds in subjection. Thirdly, I am to feed upon Christ as food for my soul and so I grow to be like Him. sincere and true.
If we turn back to Exodus 12, where the Passover is first introduced, we read of two injunctions in regard to leaven. It was to be excluded from their bread and from their houses. They were to eat the passover with "unleavened bread." v. 8. They were to put all leaven out of their houses. v. 15. No one with any apprehension of the death of Christ in relation to sin would like to see worldly things in the house. Some of us have been glad to clear out these former marks of our life when we have lived to ourselves and not to God. It is good indeed when we have the grace and courage to do this. But all this, important as it is, is negative. It is more what we have done with as to our former life, possibly what Paul would call in Corinthians "old leaven." Are we now feeding on the unleavened bread? These negative things, important as they undoubtedly are, will not feed our souls. There is not only a putting off in Christianity, there is also a putting on. Beloved, are we on the negative line only — what we have put off — and are we failing to feed upon Christ, the true unleavened bread that we might put Him on? Rom. 13:14. They were to eat unleavened bread. If we are to produce a feast to Jehovah of unleavened bread, Christ must be appropriated daily as food for the soul. Only as we feed upon Him will we grow to be like Him and thus there will be reproduced in us the features that were seen in Him. What a feast it must be to God to see Christ reproduced in a saint who abhors that which is evil and feeds upon that which is good.
"Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread." Just as this feast sprang out of the Passover, so we see in the answer in 1 Cor. 5, keeping the feast would date from the Lord's Supper as this first Epistle teaches further on. The seven days would take us from Lord's Day to Lord's Day. Beginning here as we do in the remembrance of the death of Christ, or rather, the remembrance of HIM in death on our account, the seven days would carry us right through the week as walking through the world conformed to His death. As we feed upon Him spiritually at the supper, we continue to feed upon Him daily through the week and our hearts are kept in that holy atmosphere in which we delight when together at the Lord's Supper. The thought of His death governing every detail of life that I might be apart from that to which He died, would be the answer to keeping the feast "seven days." But let us not forget, that if I am to have power to keep apart from all that is evil, I must feed upon Christ daily.
Along with this injunction to eat unleavened bread seven days is the direction to offer an offering by fire seven days. This is a presentation of Christ to God. Why do we only think of offering once a week? It is the desire of our God to have Christ presented every day, not only in what we may have ability to say but also in what we are, as manifesting Him in this dark world. If we feed upon Christ daily, something of His perfection is sure to come to light in us and this becomes "to Jehovah an offering by fire seven days." If this were more true of us all, what wonderful times we would have when we come together. This feast begins with a "Holy Convocation" and ends with one. Our individual lives are bound to affect the company we belong to. If I feed upon Christ, live to Christ and manifest Christ daily, I will be a positive help to my brethren when we come together. These things are very testing but, if I cannot at times keep this feast of unleavened bread to please myself, I can seek grace to keep it to please God and thus make it — even if it be a cost to myself — a "feast to Jehovah."
"And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them, When ye come into the land that I give unto you, and ye reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest unto the priest." Lev. 23:9-10 N. Tr.
In the feast of the passover we have the death of Christ brought before us as the great sin bearer under the judgment of God on our account. Then the feast of unleavened bread which springs out of that, suggesting the putting away on our side of the evil to which Christ died. Power to put the evil away in our lives is found as we feed upon the true unleavened bread, Christ Himself. We thus grow to be like Him and come out in this world with the marks of sincerity and truth stamped upon us, the old life put away and malice and wickedness put off as the deeds of the old man. The feast of the wave-sheaf brings us now to His resurrection from among the dead. A footnote to the word sheaf by J.N.D. tells us it means an omer. If we turn to Exodus 16:32, we read "Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations." This is Christ as seen in the manna. An omer of manna and an omer of firstfruits. What does this mean? The same blessed Man who came into this world in Manhood and died upon the cross in obedience to the will of God, has been raised again from among the dead and lives to the glory of God. Praise His name! It is this "same Jesus" raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, the beginning of an entirely new order of things as the fruit of the counsel of God. So we read, "When ye come into the land." They had no land in Egypt, nor in the wilderness but this feast views them as over Jordan and in the inheritance which God gave unto them. Beloved, the resurrection of Christ has opened out to us the vast heavenly inheritance beyond the power of death. Little wonder Peter tells us it is incorruptible — death cannot touch it; undefiled — sin will never mar it; fadeth not away — time will never end it. We believe that wherever we get the resurrection of Christ something new is opened out to our souls. Paul tells us too in Ephesians 1-2, of the greatness of all that is ours in the heavenlies in Christ. "The land that I give unto you" would show that we did not earn it or deserve it, but it is the sovereign gift of God for the blessing of our souls. It is His land, but He gives it to us and we are called to enjoy it in the resurrection of Christ. It is worthy of note in Ephesians 1, how often we read in regard to God He and, His.
We understand this sheaf or omer, would be of barley, for barley prefigures the resurrection of Christ and wheat His heavenly glory. In John 6 we are told the five loaves were made of barley — the only evangelist who does tell us this — and he is also the only one who tells us of the grain of wheat, John 12. It is clear that resurrection is the thought in John 6:39-40, 44, 54. We think too the heavenly glory is the theme in John 12:24-25. The barley harvest in Israel was seven weeks before the wheat harvest. We add a note from the pen of the well-known Jewish writer Dr. Edersheim. "Already on the 14th of Nisan, the spot whence the first sheaf was to be reaped had been marked out by delegates from the Sanhedrim, by tying together in bundles, while still standing, the barley that was to be cut down." (The Temple and its Ministry). But more of this later.
"The sheaf of the first-fruits" then is Christ raised from the dead as we read in 1 Cor. 15:20, "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept." Then this sheaf was brought to the Priest. This is the first mention of a priest in the chapter. A priest is one who has been sanctified to draw near into the presence of God. Why bring the priest in here? Is it not to show that in the resurrection of Christ the way has been opened out for approach into the presence of God? This is one of the new things we mentioned before as brought about by His resurrection, a way of approach opened out into the immediate presence of God. Jesus is both the Apostle and High Priest of our confession. Hebrews 3:1. Moreover, we read in Hebrews 9:12, "he entered in once into the holy place." He is the answer to the priest, and as raised from among the dead, He is the answer to the omer in the hands of the priest. He lives a Great High Priest in the presence of God; the true wave offering for the abiding pleasure of God.
"And he shall wave the sheaf before Jehovah, to be accepted for you; on the next day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it." Lev. 23:11. N. Tr.
Another grand thought is brought before us here. Acceptance. We look up and see that MAN glorified in the presence of God, in the full shining of Divine favour, and as we gaze upon Him there, we think of that wonderful verse, "he hath made us accepted in the beloved." Eph. 1:6. What of our sins now? We still gaze upon Him there and think again, " As he is, so are we in this world." 1 John, 4:17. Christ being raised from among the dead is now active in bringing into effect all that His death has secured for the glory of God and the blessing of man. He has gone in to God; priesthood has been brought into function; man into acceptance; and thus the way is opened out for access through the veil, that the service of God in priestly worship may go on.
"And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf, a he-lamb without blemish, a yearling, for a burnt offering to Jehovah; and the oblation thereof: two tenths of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering by fire to Jehovah for a sweet odour; and the drink-offering thereof, of wine, a fourth part of a hin." Lev. 23:12-13. N. Tr.
In these offerings, brought in along with the sheaf of first-fruits, we have presented in type all that was effected for the glory and pleasure of God in the life of our Lord; all that was effected in His efficacious death and all established in His resurrection from among the dead. If we are to get the full gain of all that God has secured through the incarnation of His Son, the life, death and resurrection of our Lord must be held together in our hearts as but three parts of a grand whole; and all seen gathered together and having a glorious answer, in the Son, a glorified MAN, at the right hand of God. "He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things." Eph. 4:10. It was the perfect sinless life of our Lord which gave to His death all its efficacy and the answer to it all is seen now in Christ in glory. These features are all suggested in the passage quoted above as we hope to show.
"A he-lamb." This obviously brings before us the Manhood of our Lord. There are times when a female is brought as an offering and speaks of Christ (Lev. 4:28; Num. 19:2), but here it is a male. It may be in the female that the death of Christ more on our account is in view while the male is the death of Christ more in relation to God. A lamb speaks to us of His submission to the will of God as Isaiah 53 so clearly teaches. This becomes a divine title of our Lord as we so well know. "Behold the Lamb of God." How often have we delighted to take this title on our lips in adoring worship. Yet, have we ever considered why it was not the Bullock of God; or the Goat of God; but the Lamb of God? That Abraham had this in mind we well know, but on the great day of Atonement it was a bullock for the house of Aaron and a goat both for Jehovah and the people. It is this title the Lamb however that is selected. We believe the reason is, as we have before stated, that it presents the submission and obedience of our Lord to the will of His Father. But these matters are well worth thinking over, for all these animals present distinctive aspects of the work of our Lord. So great and far-reaching has that work been that one kind of animal is not sufficient to set it out in all its detail. Here, it is the lamb, His submission to the will of His Father as the Garden of Gethsemane graphically portrays.
"Without blemish." This brings before us the perfection of the Manhood of our Lord. A spot is something which is there and ought not to be there. A blemish is something not there which ought to be there. In the first, it is something superfluous. In the second, it is something lacking. Lev. 21:8. Here we notice it is to be without blemish. Nothing is said about a spot. It is rather to set forth that every right attribute to be found in man was found in Christ. The nine fruits of the Spirit now to be seen in us were all evident in Christ down here in this world. We might almost say that these nine marks set forth perfect manhood for they are surely the reproduction in us, by the Spirit, of all that came out in Christ when in this world in subject Manhood, He ever walked to the glory of God. He was perfect in every attribute in Manhood — without blemish. Gal. 5:22-23.
"A yearling." This speaks of Christ as the first-born son of Mary. Obviously, only as being her first-born son could the virgin birth have been possible. Luke 2:7. "Of the first year," as the authorised version puts it gives the thought a little more clearly. It would seem that the virgin birth of our Lord is guarded even in type, as we have here.
"A burnt-offering to Jehovah." This type of offering has ever in view the devotion of our Lord to the will of God even unto death. As-we know from the first chapter of this book of Leviticus the burnt-offering was all for God. It is not so much His dealing with sin that is in view but His obedience to the Father's will. Not so much the need of putting sin away but of giving effect to the pleasure of God. "Lo I come to do thy will" is the burnt-offering Ps. 40:7-8; Heb. 10:7. Note how in Ps. 40, "I delight" is mentioned while in the quotation in Heb. 10, "I delight" is dropped. The reason for this is that Ps. 40 has mainly in view the burnt-offering while Heb. 10 has also the sin-offering in view. It was ever a delight to the Son to do the will of the Father in burnt-offering character but it was no delight to Him to be made sin in sin-offering character. Hence, when sin is in view, "I delight" is dropped. So in our passage it is the burnt-offering that is brought with the wave-sheaf — what Christ is as having brought to pass the pleasure of God, by His death upon the cross.
"The oblation." In this we have the life of Christ. The meaning of oblation is a food-offering. This we may see in John 6. The Lord speaks of Himself in this chapter as bread, and bread with three distinct characters. "The bread of God." This is what He is to the heart of God. "Living bread." This is what He is in Himself. "Bread of Life." This is what He is to us. As the oblation in this world He filled the heart of God; He had life in Himself; He gives life to all who appropriate Him by faith. The oblation was to be "mingled with oil." Here, the conception of our Lord by the Holy Spirit is prefigured. If we know from other parts that "anointed with oil" pointed to the banks of the Jordan where our Lord was publicly anointed, "mingled with oil" pointed to His holy conception by the Spirit and His virgin birth. So the oblation here reminds us of the Son of God in His perfect Manhood in this world under the eye of God.
"Fine Flour." This speaks to us of the texture of His being in Manhood. This word for fine flour is really "The finest part of wheat flour." (Lev. 2:1. Footnote J.N.D.). It has been said there was nothing of character in our Lord. (J.G.B.). He was perfect in every attribute. Not one feature of His Manhood stood out to the detriment of another. All was perfectly blended in Him. With flour, the harder the grind, the greater the pressure, the finer is the production. So it was with our Lord. Where was pressure applied to Him at its hardest? In the garden of Gethsemane. What did it produce? "Not my will, but thine be done." With us, pressure usually brings out the grit, making our uncomely parts more evident, but with Him it only served to bring out more into evidence His perfect Manhood. The fact, too, that it was wheat flour reminds us that He was "The second man out of heaven." He gave a heavenly touch to all He did and said. So this oblation of fine flour mingled with oil takes us in thought to the holy conception of our Lord, followed by His perfect pathway of obedience, where every attribute of Manhood was seen in Him as ever giving pleasure to the heart of God. The measure of "two tenth deals" we leave for the moment as we have it again further down our chapter.
In the light of all this, can we wonder why it is that Christ has been raised from the dead and given the highest place in the glory of God? Who could have been more worthy of that place? Every attribute of perfect Manhood was seen in Him from the manger to the cross. His sinless perfection, His obedience to the will of God which led Him to the cross, the burnt-offering where all was for the pleasure of God; and all combined together as "an offering by fire unto Jehovah for a sweet odour." Could any one, did any one but He give such sweet pleasure to the heart of God? Can we wonder then that God has given to Him the highest place in glory? It seems that all these offerings are brought in here to show us that the One Whom God has raised up and glorified has proved Himself worthy of it all. What other answer could God give as the end of that perfect pathway? So we see in Christ in the glory of God the answer to all that came out in Him down here for the abiding pleasure of God. But there is still another offering to consider.
"The drink-offering thereof, of wine, a fourth part of an hin." This is the first time in the book of Leviticus we have mention of a drink-offering. We read in Jotham's parable that wine cheers God and man. Judges 9:13. This gives us some idea of the bearing of the drink-offering for, unlike the other offerings, we have no instructions as to the drink-offering in Leviticus. In the places where it is spoken of it appears to give the idea of joy. Paul likened himself to a drink-offering in Phil. 2:17. The drink-offering coming in at this juncture would suggest the divine joy which has now been established in Christ at the right hand of God in glory. Apparently, this awaited the resurrection of Christ. This would be in line with "In thy presence is fulness of joy." Ps. 16:11. Here again, resurrection is in view. So this drink-offering speaks of the joy that God now has in the perfect answer to all His thoughts centred in Christ in Glory, the fitting complement to all these other offerings in this section.
"And ye shall not eat bread, or roast corn, or green ears, until the same day that ye have brought the offering of your God: (it is) an everlasting statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings." Lev. 23:14. N. Tr.
It is obvious from this passage that until God had secured His portion in Christ raised from the dead, there could be nothing for the sons of men. There is much that is of God for us in Christ as we learn from the Epistles, but He must be in glory first ere we can share in the harvest. If we take these three things mentioned here backwards, we might understand them better. Green ears speak of the full vigour of life. Roast corn, those ears in death. Bread, those same ears as food for our souls. The green ears set forth our Lord in His life in this world. The roast corn, that His life was taken away under the judgment of God. Then the result is bread — Christ for our appropriation as food for our souls. There is much for us in that harvest in Christ raised; much for us in his death; much for us in His life but not a grain can we have till He is raised from the dead and given His rightful place in the presence of God.
No mention is made in this feast of a "holy convocation," but stress is laid upon the thought of the "dwellings." In this feast we have Christ presented to us in responsible Manhood, as having accomplished the will of God and the answer to it seen in His resurrection. If we take up this feast as a statute in our dwellings, meditating in the presence of God of what Man is for the abiding pleasure of God, it will have an effect upon every detail of our life here. Understanding a little of what He was and is, will cause us to grow to be like Him. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Cor. 3:18. It seems to be the desire of our God that His moral glory should shine out in us in "our dwellings." The next feast will show us how this is brought about.
"And ye shall count from the morning after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave-offering, seven weeks; they shall be complete; even unto the morning after the seventh sabbath shall ye count fifty days; and ye shall present a new oblation to Jehovah." Lev. 23:15-16. N. Tr.
We arrive here at the well-known feast of Pentecost — fifty days as the word means. Notice again, that just as the feast of unleavened bread springs out of the Passover as the corollary of it, so this feast of the "New Meat Offering" springs out of the sheaf of first-fruits. "The morning after the sabbath" is the wonderful morning of the resurrection and here is where we start to count for this feast. The new oblation then has a direct link with Christ, dating from the morning of His resurrection. If we turn to the fulfilment of this feast as given in Acts 2, we learn at once what that direct link is. It is association by the Spirit with a risen and glorified Christ. Now again we ask, Why is this? It is that there might be reproduced in this world the features of Christ. He was the "oblation." By the Spirit we are "the new oblation." God has worked to reproduce the features of Christ in a company in this world, linked up by the Spirit with Christ in the place to which He has gone. Wonderful that Christ came out in this world, manifesting all that Man should be for the pleasure and glory of God. Being Who He was, the Son could not do otherwise. But that God can and does reproduce those same blessed features in creatures like us is a mighty triumph of His grace, wisdom, and power. This is the new oblation. We are it, the Christian company, sealed by the Spirit, linked with Christ in glory and manifesting those perfect features of manhood seen in our Lord when in this world. And as we do show forth those features we minister pleasure to the heart of God for it is one of the set feasts of Jehovah. So we proceed with this feast.
"Out of your dwellings shall ye bring two wave-loaves, of two tenths of fine flour; with leaven shall they be baken; (as) first-fruits to Jehovah." Lev. 23:17. N. Tr.
The first point we notice in this verse is the nature of this offering. It is "fine flour." This is the same as the meat-offering which was offered with the wave sheaf and is the same word used in Leviticus 2 of the meat-offering. A footnote by J.N.D. tells us that it means "The finest part of wheat flour." We have seen before that the wave sheaf would be barley; now, as we consider the outcome in this offering, we have the wheat brought in. Does this not remind us again that we are linked up with a glorified Christ by the Spirit, which, in fulfilment of this feast, came upon the Christian company as recorded in Acts 2? We do not, could not, get the thought of Christ glorified in this passage in Leviticus, but we know now that is what has taken place and can uncover a little this truth, embedded here in type. This fine flour then would be the nature of Christ formed in the saints by the Spirit. As forming the "Meat-offering" of Leviticus 2, it would be to set forth the "Second Man out of heaven." 1 Cor. 15:47. N. Tr. As forming the "New Meat-offering" of Leviticus 23, it is the nature of that heavenly Man formed in the saints that His character may be seen in them as a "feast to Jehovah." Christ is not only now the "Second Man out of heaven," He is that same glorious Man, in heaven. But all that marked Him in His perfect Manhood when in this world has been formed in the hearts of the Christian company to-day by the Spirit, that this may once more come into evidence for the present pleasure of God.
If in the fine flour we have the nature of this offering set forth. in the next statement we refer to — "two tenth deals" — we have the measure. We refer back to a point we passed over in v. 13 in considering the meat-offering there. We read it also was of "two tenth deals." Furthermore, if we turn on to Lev. 24:5, we find that the twelve loaves of the Showbread were also two tenth deals of "fine wheaten flour." Here, as we well know, the twelve tribes of Israel are in view. The meat-offering in v. 13 is Christ personally, the Second Man out of Heaven — "two tenths of fine flour mingled with oil." The new meat-offering is the formation of those features in the Christian company to-day, the same measure — "two tenth deals of fine flour" v. 17. The twelve loaves of the Showbread look on to the day when Israel will once more represent God in this world after the Church has gone to glory and here again the measure is the same — "each cake shall be of two tenths." 24:5. Surely we see here the thought of God to form that Man in nature and character in the Christian company to-day and then in Israel also when the Christian company is in glory. In the world to come, both in the heavenly company and the earthly company, Christ, the Second Man, will be seen in all, as the fruit of the work of God. It seems to be the thought of God to fill the universe with the features of that perfect, glorious and glorified Man. Christ will be all and in all.
"Two tenth deals." Ten, as is well-known, is the number of responsibility in man. "Two tenths " would view that responsibility in a two-fold way. We understand it to mean love to God and love to man. In Genesis 3, we see in the failure of Eve, then Adam, sin against God. Then in Genesis 4 with Cain and Abel, sin against man. It is on this two-fold count man stands guilty before God. When the law was given to Israel, these two objectives were the summing-up of the law. Indeed, the Lord Himself said that on these two — love to God and love to man — "hang all the law and the prophets." Matt. 22:34-40. Of the ten commandments, four brought in their responsibility God-ward and six of them their responsibility man-ward. Agur had this in view in his prophecy, stealing from man and taking the name of his God in vain. Prov. 30:9. Yet another was given to see the truth of it in a vision. "For every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it: and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it." Zech. 5:3. Here we see in vision the failure of Israel in relation to the covenant on both sides and judgment coming on them as a consequence. When our Lord was here we read of Him as the servant of Jehovah, "He will magnify the law, and make it honourable." So we read in the wonderful discourse on the mount as recorded in Matt. 5 - 7, fourteen tines the Lord says "I say unto you." "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time," — the law; but "I say unto you" magnified. Or take this, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy" — the law; but "I say unto you love your enemies" — magnified. He did not whittle it down and weaken it; He magnified and empowered it and then, having magnified it far beyond its original claims, met it in every part, kept it, honoured it, and glorified God in relation to it. "He will magnify the law, and make it honourable." Isa. 42:21.
See how this was accomplished, even to death in our blessed Lord. In John's Gospel, two communications from His own lips show how He expressed His love to God and love to man. "But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence." John 14:31. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13. Love to His Father and love to His friends perfectly expressed, when He laid down His life for them both. On the one side for the Father's glory and on the other for the need of His own. Nor can we limit it to His own, for, in His love to all mankind, He died for all upon the cross. 2 Cor. 5:14. This would be the answer to the "Two tenth deals."
"With leaven shall they be baken." Now we know that leaven was strictly forbidden in "the meat-offering." But here it is brought in. Leaven — a type of sin in the flesh — could never form a part in anything which set forth Christ in His Manhood. He was "that Holy Thing," Luke 1:35. But leaven was mixed with "the new meat-offering" for that speaks of us. What we call the mixed conditions of the believer. Thank God there is that of the fine flour character in all our souls but we know just as surely the leaven is there as well. The experience of Romans 7, which we will all have endured, proves this point — good and bad in conflict. Leaven is always a type of evil as we may ascertain by looking up the various places where it is mentioned in the New Testament. "Leaven which a woman took." Matt. 13:33. We understand this to be idolatry. Cf. Zech. 5:5-11. (The ephah is the same measure as the three measures of the parable). "The leaven of the Pharisees" — hypocrisy — "and of the Sadducees" — infidelity. Matt. 16:6. "The leaven of Herod" worldliness. Mark 8:15. Paul uses the same type in 1 Cor. 5:6. Here it is manifestly — evil practice. He mentions it again in Gal. 5:9. Here it is evil doctrine. Six times we have it then in the New Testament and in each case in a bad sense. Now, were any of these evils found in Christ? Not one as we shall see. Idolatry "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Matt. 4:10. Hypocrisy — "Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning." John 8:25. Infidelity — "The scripture cannot be broken." John 10:35. Worldliness — "I have overcome the world." John 16:33. Evil practice — "Which of you convinceth me of sin?" John 8:46. Evil doctrine — "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me." John 7:16. But, if every one of these evil features was absent in Him, they are all present in us. The loaves were said to be "baken." Thus the fire would nullify the working of the leaven. So the Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost like cloven tongues of fire. The indwelling Spirit in this character is the power to nullify these evil tendencies which are in us as the result of sin. Only as the leaven is thus kept neutral will the marks of the fine flour come to light. The New Meat Offering will then be seen.
"First-Fruits to Jehovah." We have before read that the wave-sheaf was first-fruits and refers to Christ raised from among the dead. 1 Cor. 15:20. Here we have another first-fruits. The first we believe has reference to the barley harvest. The second to the wheat harvest. The wheat harvest and the new meat offering are put together in Ex. 34:22. "And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the first-fruits of wheat harvest." This verse establishes the thought that the harvest was seven weeks after the barley. The barley harvest has its answer in Christ risen from among the dead and the second has its answer in the formation of the Church by the Holy Spirit of God. So we read, "that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures," James 1:18. If then Christ is the first-fruits as risen from among the dead, the Church is the first-fruits to God of all who will yet be brought into blessing as the fruit of the work of Christ. Israel has yet to come in for blessing, and when they do a portion of the Gentile nations will also be brought into blessing through them, but the Church is the first-fruits and the only company as yet who are in that blessing. James had in view the Christian portion of the Jewish nation who, separate from the nation by accepting Christ, was already enjoying the blessing of God. This is the company to which we all belong who have accepted Christ as our Saviour, — Jews and Gentiles now one in the Christian circle.
"Out of your dwellings." This is where the New Meat Offering is to be produced. Not in the convocation but in the dwellings. Where then is Christ to be seen in us. In the responsible circle in which we move. It is so easy to do right things and say right things when we meet collectively, but it is in our dwellings where the test of these things really comes in. If we turn to Colossians 3 we will see how the features of Christ come out in the three great circles in which we all find our life.
The great point in this chapter is putting off the old man and putting on the new. We are said to have done this, vs. 9 and 10. But have we put on the deeds of the new man? This is the exhortation. That the new man is Christ, characteristically in the saints by the Spirit, this chapter shows, for every feature of the new man is a reproduction of Christ the Second Man. Christ is never said to be the new man, He is the Second Man, but every feature of the new man came out first in Him. It is not so much Christ Personally, but Christ characteristically in the saints by the Spirit, that is called the new man. A close link we believe with the new meat-offering which is before us here. What then are the deeds of the new man? Holiness; love; mercies; kindness humbleness; meekness; longsuffering, v. 12. Forbearance and forgiveness, v. 13. And look at the measure of the forgiveness — "even as Christ forgave you." Do you say, I cannot forgive like this? You can! The two tenth deals of fine flour are formed in your soul by the Spirit. Had I not the nature of Christ I could not forgive as Christ, but the fact that I am told to do it proves I can. How often do we sing together —
Like Thee in faith, in meekness, love,
In every beauteous grace;
From glory into glory changed,
Till we behold Thy face.
Then we have to be marked by love, the bond of perfectness; to let the peace of God govern in our hearts and lives and to have thankful spirits to our God for His grace and mercy towards us day by day. vs. 14 and 15. This would involve contentedness with such things as we have. The word of the Christ is to have its place in our hearts that we might be rich in wisdom and thus capable of teaching and admonishing one another. It was in this way our Lord helped the disciples. Then in unison, whether it be Psalms — that which is experimental; hymns — praising the name of God; spiritual songs — singing of doctrinal truths, and all as the outcome of grace in the heart, singing to the Lord, v. 16. "And whatsoever ye do in word and deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." v. 17. This then is the first circle where the new meat offering is to be seen — the Christian circle.
Another circle is brought before us in vs. 18-21. Here we have the family circle, that which answers more to the "dwellings." Now, how can we apply these various relationships to Christ? is a question often asked here. We know that He never entered into relationships such as wife, husband and father. How then can His life in this world be an example to us here? In this way. "Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands." Submission was seen in Christ. "Husbands love your wives." Love was seen in Christ. "Children obey your parents." Obedience was seen in Christ. "Fathers provoke not your children." Grace was seen in Christ. These are the marks of the New Meat Offering, seen in the family circle.
Thirdly, we have the business circle. Servants are to be obedient and marked by faithfulness. vs. 22-25. Masters are to be righteous and equal to their servants. Col. 4:1. All these moral glories were seen in Christ. So in the Christian circle; in the family circle; in the business circle; the features of Christ are to be seen in every one in every relationship. Thus the two tenth deals of fine flour will be in evidence, even if the leaven is still in us, though kept in the place of death in the power of the Spirit of God. The two loaves would indicate that this new company is formed of Jew and Gentile. Not so much as the mystery which could hardly come into these typical passages, but as the new company seen in such a place as Romans 15. That which is collective though not quite corporate.
"And ye shall present with the bread seven he-lambs without blemish, yearlings, and one young bullock, and two rams; they shall be a burnt-offering to Jehovah with their oblation, and their drink-offerings, an offering by fire of a sweet odour to Jehovah." Lev. 23:18. N. Tr.
Every offering which God has introduced to portray some feature of Christ is presented with this New Meat-Offering. Burnt-offering; Meat-offering; Peace-offering; Sin-offering; Drink-offering; they are all here. Does not this suggest that we have here a company standing in the good of all that Christ has wrought by His death upon the cross? Whatever He has effected for the glory of God or the blessing of man — this company stands in the good of it all before God. Moreover, they are divinely equipped to apprehend it all and answer to it for the pleasure of God. We live in a day when God not only plainly declares what He has done and is doing consequent upon the work of Christ, but He has given us a capacity to take it in and give an answer to it for His own glory and pleasure now. Beloved, what a place of favour is ours! All these offerings presented with the bread.
Without going over ground already considered in relation to these offerings there are some new features which we must notice. All the offerings in this verse are said to be "of a sweet odour." This presents to our hearts what Christ ever was in His pathway of obedience unto death, in submission to His Father's will. The bullock speaks of His patient endurance. Never once did He turn aside but went steadily on till the will of God was accomplished at the cross. What a delight that must have been to the Father. No trial, no difficulty, ever turned Him aside. "I do always those things that please him." John 8:29. He endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself but nothing turned Him aside. The two rams speak of His devotion to the will of God. The bullock would set forth His power to accomplish that will but the ram His desire to accomplish it. "With their oblation" would speak again of His perfect Manhood, which gave all the efficacy to what He did, when He sealed His pathway of perfect obedience by dying on the cross. The drink-offering would again show the joy which God has derived as the fruit of what Christ has done. We, beloved, stand associated with all this, for they were presented "with the bread."
"And ye shall sacrifice one buck of the goats for a sin-offering, and two he-lambs, yearlings, for a sacrifice of peace-offerings." Lev. 23:19. N. Tr.
Looking back a moment, it is well to note that we have no mention of a sin-offering in the wave-sheaf. This tells the blessed story that sin has been so effectively dealt with in the death of Christ that it is not once raised in His resurrection. His death removed the sin and His resurrection is the witness that it is forever gone. Rom. 4:25; Rom. 8:34. In Christ raised from the dead, the sin question is settled for us once for all. Heb. 9:28; Heb. 10:12. But a sin-offering is brought in here because of our mixed conditions. Provision is made, because of the leaven, that this company might be maintained in the good of acceptance. Should sin break out in any one, "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." 1 John 2:1. "And ye shall sacrifice one buck of the goats." It is offered, its blood shed, and we stand cleared before God. This is to give us boldness in our service for God. "A buck of the goats." In Exodus 12 we read "ye shall take it from the sheep or from the goats." Why do we so regularly take up the lamb in this chapter and so completely ignore the goat? The Israelites had option between a lamb and a goat. Why? We believe one is the counterpart of the other. In the lamb we see prefigured the willingness of our Lord to die, but in the goat we have prefigured His ability to die. Often it has been pointed out that Moses was willing to die for the people, but he was not able. Ex. 32:32. Paul too seemed to be on this line in Rom. 9:3, but here again, however willing, he was not able. Blessed be God, Christ was both willing and able. He answered to both the lamb and the goat. We have a beautiful hymn which begins "PASCHAL Lamb, by God appointed." Why not a hymn " PASCHAL Goat, by God appointed?" A very necessary counterpart we believe. It is the goat then, not the lamb which is brought in here.
"A sacrifice of peace-offerings." As is well-known, the peace-offering carries the thought of fellowship. A wonderful circle of fellowship has been brought into existence to-day, based upon the death of Christ. This offering has not been mentioned in the chapter before. Fellowship could not begin till, from a glorified Christ, the Holy Spirit descended and bound that company together in the good and the enjoyment of all that Christ had effected. It began on the day of Pentecost as seen in the second chapter of Acts. "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship." v. 42. It is a fellowship which can only be realised in the power of the Spirit of God. We have it in the local company to which we belong, 1 Cor. 1:9. "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." We have it also in our souls by the Spirit as we are led into communion with the Father and the Son. 1 John 1:3. This is individual. Beginning with the gift of the Spirit from above, we are brought into fellowship with the saints collectively and into fellowship with the Father and the Son, individually. Christ as the peace-offering is the centre of it all. The best description of this great privilege is found in Luke 15. Here we have the father with the younger son and all else who were there feeding, and delighting together, as all partook of the fatted calf. This is, in picture, Christianity to-day.
"And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the first-fruits as a wave offering before Jehovah, with the two he-lambs; they shall be holy to Jehovah, for the priest." Lev. 23:20, N. Tr.
The waving of these things "before" Jehovah with the bread is that the eyes of God might rest on them all. To see every feature of His Son, waved in association with the loaves, that He might grace those of whom these loaves speak, in the sight of God. There are four statements which occur repeatedly in the books of Moses and a word on them might be of help. "As the LORD"; "Of the LORD"; "Before the LORD"; "Unto the LORD." As the LORD is usually followed by "commanded Moses." This involves on our part, obedience. Of the LORD would tell us that whatever the subject is it is Divine in origin. Before the LORD would be all that we do before Him for His pleasure. Unto the LORD would be all we render back to Him or offer to Him directly. Hence, in our service for Him, if we take up in obedience that which is of Him, hold it in our hearts before Him, we will have much to render unto Him in responsive praise and worship. This we believe is the order.
These gifts having been waved, we are told they were "holy to the LORD for the priest." These are the things which sustain priesthood — Christ and all that He is in association with His people. He could not take up His priesthood apart from His people. There would be no point in this. We noted how the priest was brought in with the wave-sheaf. There it is Christ the One Who has gone in and opened the way of access into the presence of God. But this feast would show us that priesthood is active in relation to the Christian company. If we turn to the Epistle to the Hebrews where this subject is so fully developed, we learn in Heb. 9 that, having found an eternal redemption Christ has entered in, v. 12. In answer to this in Heb. 10, we are exhorted to enter in, v. 19. Christ is seen with the garments of glory and beauty assumed in Chap. 9. — the answer to Aaron on the day of consecration. But in Chap. 10 He is rather seen with a company, the answer to Aaron's sons. In Chap. 9 He is there and we are here. He is there for us. This is representation. But in Chap. 10 we have our place there too. This is association. Aaron not only had a set of official garments, he had a family of sons. His garments were made that he might represent the people in the presence of God. He could go there but they could not. His sons on the other hand were anointed with him that they might share with him in priestly privilege. Are we content with representation and fail to enjoy the privilege of association? This is just the difference between Heb. 9 and 10. As priest, He has gone in. Because of this, as priests, we can go in. Hence the exhortation "let us draw near."
"And ye shall make a proclamation on that same day — a holy convocation shall it be unto you: no manner of servile work shall ye do: (it is) an everlasting statute in all your dwellings throughout your generations." Lev. 23:21, N. Tr.
We come now in this feast to "a holy convocation." Whatever exercise we have in our individual life in this world, we must never forget the pleasure God has in gathering His people together. If we walk before Him, well-pleasing in His sight, we will indeed value and be a help to "the holy convocation." What a privilege, as free from legitimate things — servile work — to come together to enjoy the circle of blessing which is ours in Christ. Not to take up that service for Christ as servile work, nor to seek to worship God in a servile way, but in the liberty of Sonship by the Spirit, praise and worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. This would produce the elements of a feast to God when in "holy convocation."
"An everlasting statute." This would warn us against modern innovations in the things of God. This feast has opened out in type the grand answer to all that Christ has done, and all made effective in the Christian company to-day. The truth of this all came out at the beginning of the dispensation and we are wise if we persevere in it to the end. It is not only "in all your dwellings" but also "throughout your generations." There might have been in subsequent generations those who thought the feast was out-of-date. Who knows but it might have been this very evil which ultimately reduced them to "feasts of the Jews." An everlasting statute would guard the faithful from any thought of this kind. Rather, in these days of modernism in the things of God, let us "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." Jude 3. We will then be able to answer to all the responsibilities and enjoy all the privileges which are ours as the new meat-offering and, keeping these things inviolate in affection in our souls, produce that which will be in truth, a feast to our God.
Dispensationally, these four feasts bring us right up to date in the time ways of God. Beginning with the feast of the Passover — the death of our Lord to redeem a people to God. The feast of Unleavened Bread — the practical putting away of all evil by feeding on Christ as food for our souls. The Sheaf of First-fruits — Christ in resurrection. The New Meat Offering — a company associated with Christ risen from the dead, reproducing His features in this world in the power of the Spirit of God, sent down by a glorified Christ on the day of Pentecost. This is Christianity, our day, beginning on the first day of the week when Christ was raised from among the dead. We are still in this age and will be till we hear the SHOUT of the Lord; we will then leave the scene of the time-ways of God on earth to fill our place in heaven. Israel and a portion of the Gentiles will then be raised up to bear witness for God in the world, though it does not appear that any Gentiles are mentioned in this chapter. We have to turn to the Book of Revelation for that knowledge. Rev. 7:9-17. So the first four feasts have found their fulfilment in Christianity to-day. The last three feasts await fulfilment in the days when Israel will once more be called of God to fill their appointed place in the "world to come." Heb. 2:5. There will be an epoch between the Church going to glory and the display of that glory in the coming Kingdom. Hence the awakening of Israel; their national repentance and final deliverance are all prefigured in the next three feasts. Before touching on them however, we must say something about v. 22. A glance at the New Translation will show this verse to be in the same paragraph as the New Meat Offering, connecting it thus with the first four feasts.
"And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not in thy harvest entirely reap the corners of thy field, and the gleaning of thy harvest shalt thou not gather: thou shalt leave them unto the poor and to the stranger: I am Jehovah your God." Lev. 23:22 N. Tr.
Some have thought that this verse suggests the Gentiles coming in for a meagre share in the blessings of Israel, but this can hardly be the meaning of the verse. Why, the blessings of to-day have gone far beyond anything promised to Israel. We judge it sets forth a carry-over from this great day of Christianity to support a remnant who will occupy for God till Israel are publicly in their place in the world to come. After the feeding of the five thousand we read that there were twelve baskets of fragments left over. Matt. 14. One for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We think these fragments can be found in such places as the first ten chapters of the Gospel by Matthew. "Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come." Matt. 10:23. This commission was never fully carried out owing to the rejection of Christ. Consequent upon His death and resurrection we read that another commission was given to them in Matt. 28. There can be little doubt that this commission in Chap. 10 will be the Gospel the remnant will take up after the Church has gone to glory. It is preparatory to the advent of the Messiah. This leads to another interesting connection in this matter, for John the Baptist was the one selected to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, and we see in his history, ground which Israel will yet go over again, but the next time the result will be different.
In the last book of the Old Testament, Jehovah left a promise that before the coming day of the LORD, He would send them Elijah. Mal. 4:5. We are clearly told that John the Baptist was the fulfilment of this promise. In announcing the birth of John the angel says, "And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias." We have in addition to this the testimony of our Lord Himself. Speaking of John, He said, "And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come." Matt. 11:14. But again, our Lord had to tell His disciples "But I say unto you, That Elias has come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of Man suffer of them." Matt. 17:12. It is striking in view of all these testimonies that, when the Pharisees asked John if he was Elias he said, "I am not." John 1:21. Why? The answer was given by our Lord. "If ye will receive it." So, John was Elias to all who received him. To those who refused him he was not. The people who asked him if he was Elias were the very people who refused his testimony and later crucified the One to Whom John bore witness. To them he most certainly was not Elias. But to the simple souls like the disciples he was just as surely Elias. Now in John we have the fulfilment of the prophetic announcement to Malachi. To this fact the Lord again bore witness. He was the summing up of all the Old Testament prophecies which pointed to the Messiah. "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John." Matt. 11:13. And to him it was given to introduce the grand answer to all that God had promised in introducing the Christ of God. Beginning with John and continuing with the earlier ministry of our Lord we have the Kingdom presented to Israel in accordance with the prophetic words of the Old Testament. This is fully presented in the record of Matthew in his Gospel. But a crisis came in. The people who refused John made it clear that they would not accept the One to Whom John bore witness, and when we reach Chap. 11 of that Gospel, we learn that the King is in rejection. From the same lips which pronounced the words "Blessed, blessed," we now hear, "woe, woe." Matt. 5:3; Matt. 11:21. If we learn from Matt. 11 that Israel has rejected their King, we learn from Matt. 12 that the King now rejects Israel. Then follows from Matt. 13 to 18 the unfolding of the new vessel which our Lord calls "my assembly." Matt. 16:18. For the moment — in the ministry of our Lord — the presentation of the Kingdom to Israel in relation to the Old Testament prophecies is broken off and the Church is introduced. Now that this truth has been disclosed the Lord tells His disciples not to preach Him any more as the Messiah, Matt. 16:20. He had spoken of the Church and for this vessel He was now labouring, hence, His presentation to Israel as their Messiah must cease till this age is completed. When it is He will turn to Israel once more. How will He begin again? We believe in the same way He began at the first, in the opening chapters of the Gospel by Matthew. The future link can be seen in Revelation 11. The two witnesses will combine the ministries of Moses and Elias. This again will be the fulfilment of Mal. 4:5. Having failed the first time because Israel refused their King, it will come in again. These we believe are the links in the chain: Elias; John the Baptist; one of the witnesses. The reign of Messiah over Israel has not been given up, it has merely been laid aside till greater and more blessed things have been secured in the heavenly company. This verse we are considering from Leviticus 23 has this transition in view. It is the preparation for the resumption of God's ways with Israel which is in view. So we begin to see why John was Elias and why he was not.
Now the commission which John does take up with the Pharisees is from Isaiah 40:3. This chapter begins a new section in the prophecy of Isaiah, and at this point introduces the Servant of Jehovah. This section runs from Chap 40 to Chap. 48. In it we have many details of the presentation of the Messiah to Israel and His rejection is clearly foretold. Indeed, Chap. 42 is quoted in reference to our Lord in Matt. 12, the very chapter where He is seen as in rejection and from this moment turning to the Gentiles. Isaiah 42:1-4; Matt. 12:18-21. This is why John took his message from this prophecy when speaking to the very people who rejected the Christ and sought His destruction. "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness." Isa. 40:3. It has often been noticed that the Apostle John begins his Gospel with Christ rejected from the very outset, and it is in this Gospel that John the Baptist says he was not Elias. We see the inference quite clearly. It was the first presentation of the Messiah to Israel in a lowly guise and for the apprehension of faith. Those who had faith and received John got the blessing the Lord brought in. The nation as such refused Him and have yet to await a future fulfilment of these very things before they too are brought in. We believe all this initiatory ground has to be gone over again with Israel in a day to come. The next time, whoever it will be who fills the office, will be Elias to the nation, and the election according to grace will receive him as such. We do not think John will come back again, no more than John was Elias. It is the spirit of the thing and not the actual men who are in view. Elias was the man who sought to recall Israel back to the worship of the one true God. John came with the same message and hence is spoken of as Elias by our Lord but the angel had said "in the spirit and power of Elias." This we believe will happen again in the days when Rev. 11 will be accomplished. We are merely trying to show the setting of this transitional period forecast in this verse.
One harvest has been gathered for the wave-sheaf and the new meat-offering gives us the gathering in of both the barley and the wheat. It is the gleaning of this field at the end and not at the beginning as some have strangely thought. The twelve baskets full of fragments set forth the same idea. It is provision to sustain a remnant till Israel are nationally in their place before God.
We can turn for a picture of this to the Book of Ruth. Here, we believe we have a picture of the return of Israel though we have often enjoyed the individual application too. In Elimelech and Naomi we have a picture of the nation turning their backs upon God, and seeking ease and contentment among the Gentiles. Their father Jacob had before prophesied that they would do this. Gen. 49:15. Elimelech had choice of more than one place to go to. He might have looked South. But that meant Egypt, the land that God had judged. Perhaps he was afraid to go that way. Then, he might have looked North, but that was Babylon — the place of idolatry. Fear too might have hindered him going that way. He turned his eyes to the East — Moab. Yes, that is the place. Moab sets forth ease for the flesh. Jer. 48:11. After all, he might have argued — as an orthodox Jew once did with me — God is not what we thought Him to be. There was a famine in the land. Apparently they had no conscience that the famine was because of their own failure. However, the very thing that Elimelech tried to avoid by leaving the divine centre, met him in Moab. He died there. Truly, the nation have run into more trouble outside of their land than they ever suffered when in it. Little wonder, like Naomi, they are anxious to get back. Naomi represents the remnant who do get back; Elimelech, the unbelieving part of the nation who do not get back. Ruth represents the Gentiles who will be brought into blessing in company with the remnant of Israel. "Thy God shall be my God." Israel went out full. God will bring them home again empty. They will confess that they did the going out but it was God Who brought them home. Ruth 1:21. Ruth becomes the gleaner in the fields of Israel and it is worth noting that we have the first mention of David in this Book. Ruth 4:22. We like to think of Naomi as the poor and Ruth as the stranger, and connect the picture with this verse in Lev. 23:22. So we believe a certain portion will be reserved from the field of the Assembly which will support this remnant till their own blessings under the Messiah are in their possession. They will yet get the gain of both the barley harvest and the wheat harvest and David will be their king. Ruth. 2, 4:22.
"And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first of the month, shall ye have a rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. No manner of servile work shall ye do; and ye shall present an offering by fire to Jehovah." Lev. 23:23-25. N. Tr.
It is interesting to notice first of all that these three feasts all occur in the seventh month. This points to the introduction of the visible kingdom of God in relation to Israel. The feast of trumpets on the first day of the month is the beginning in Israel of this great event. We have a reference to this feast in the instructive details concerning the making and the use of the silver trumpets of Num. 10. If we turn to this chapter for some help in explaining this feast we will find there are at least five occasions on which these trumpets were blown.
"For the calling together of the assembly." v 2. This was the first occasion of their use. The fact that these trumpets were made of silver suggests that, whatever communications Jehovah makes to His people, He makes them on the basis of redemption. In the discourse of our Lord as recorded by Luke — a discourse of events coincident with the feast of trumpets — we hear the Lord saying about certain events, "for your redemption draweth nigh." Luke 21:28. Comparing this with Matthew's account of the same discourse we read, "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Matt. 24:31. This is the answer to "the calling of the assembly." Moreover, they are called to redemption as the silver would indicate.
"For the journeying of the camps." v. 2. This was the second occasion of their use. At the first alarm the camps eastward set forward, and at the second alarm the camps southward set forward, vs. 5 and 6. The forward movement of the camps towards the promised land is indicated here.
"And if they blow with one, then the princes, the heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather unto thee." v. 4. Here, the leaders of the people gather to Moses and receive whatever divine communications Jehovah had for them through Moses.
"And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before Jehovah your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies." v. 9. Here, the intervention of God to deliver them from the enemies who invade the land is clearly stated.
"And in the day of your gladness, and in your set feasts, and in your new moons, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt-offerings and over your sacrifices of peace-offering; and they shall be to you for a memorial before your God: I am Jehovah your God." v. 10. This looks on to the time when they will celebrate their deliverance and joy in the presence of their God. Now we judge the feast of trumpets will involve all these elements.
First, there will be the awakening of the nation which will lead to a calling together of the whole assembly. This seems indicated by our Lord's words in Matt. 24. This again will lead to a mass movement towards the land, as the place of their inheritance. Leaders of the thousands of Israel will have their ears open to hear what God has to say to them and will pass on this word in preaching the gospel of the Kingdom. Then will come the invasion of the land as foretold in many of the prophets. They will cry to Jehovah their God and He will remember them and will save them from their enemies. Then will come the time of gladness; the fulfilment of the feasts; it will be their new moon; they will once more stand before God on the ground of acceptance — the burnt-offering; and will be reinstated into fellowship with their God — the peace-offering. In that day it will be publicly seen that Jehovah is their God.
Numbers 10 is not the only place where help can be found in regard to the feast of trumpets. An interesting connection is found in Ps. 81. "Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the set time, on our feast day." Many of the events we have looked at in Num. 10 are seen here, but the main line in the Psalm is deliverance from their enemies. The new moon has in view the restoration of Israel as the leading nation. The moon has not risen yet, but soon now they will rise again and take their place as the leading nation. The trumpet will blow in the new moon — it will usher it in as it were.
One more link we may look at, Isaiah 18:3. "All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, when a banner is lifted up on the mountains, see ye, and when a trumpet is blown, hear ye!" In this short chapter the restoration of Israel back to their land is so clearly stated that little need be said about it. Israel has long been "a people scattered and peeled (ravaged) and meted out (continued waiting)." The rivers set forth ordered states of government as seen in the nations. The nations of ordered government have spoiled the land of Israel and will yet spoil it. That is why we have judgments four times on the rivers in the book of Revelation. But Jehovah their God will judge these rivers and the lands to which they belong; Israel will be delivered and restored; the new moon will arise and she will take her place as the head and not the tail of the nations. This will be the time of the feast of Tabernacles of which the feast of trumpets is the beginning.
Coming back to our chapter and feast, it is helpful to notice that the word "memorial" here means "a remembrance." It is the same word used of the twelve stones taken out of Jordan. Will not the moment of Israel's awakening bring many things to their remembrance? "The first day of the month" indicates a new beginning. Not in the first month as when God first led them out of Egypt but the seventh month, their second new beginning. In this day they have "a rest." They do no manner of servile work but have a holy convocation. It seems to indicate that a moment is coming when they will lay down the things which they are so busy with to-day, commercialism and politics; then at rest, they will have time to review their position in the sight of God; this will bring many things to their remembrance, for we believe the blowing of the trumpet of remembrance will indicate God speaking to them. Moreover, Jehovah will get His rightful place among them again, as indicated in the "Offering by fire to Jehovah." They will be awake, alive (Ezek. 37) and the congregation will begin to move towards the land. It is the latter day call of God to Israel, Who will ultimately save them and re-establish them in the land of their inheritance. Yet, befre this happy moment for Israel arrives, God has to take a dealing with them and this comes out in our next feast.
"And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Also on the tenth of this seventh month is the day of the atonement; a holy convocation shall it be unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and present an offering by fire to Jehovah." Lev. 23:26-27. N. Tr.
If in the feast of trumpets we have the clarion call of God to awaken them to their long lost glory, in this feast we learn that it will produce in them national repentance. A reference to the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus will show the connection with this feast and what is recorded there. Indeed, it is the ritual of Chap. 16, which is in view here. A careful reading of the details of that great chapter will show that in type, we have the work of Christ portrayed in a threefold way. In the bullock — propitiation for the Assembly. In the goat — propitiation for Israel. But, along with the blood of the goat which was sprinkled upon the mercy-seat, we have a view of the reconciliation of all things. We have that blood in the Most Holy Place. v. 15. We also have the blood cleansing the Holy Place and the Tabernacle. v. 16. Then we have both the blood of the bullock and of the goat sprinkled on the Altar which was in the Court. This in type is the reconciliation of all things. A comparison of Lev. 16:33, and Col. 1:20 will substantiate this thought. This remarkable chapter has in view the reconciliation of all persons and all things who will yet share in the great day of the display of Christ, the Assembly, Israel and all things. But, up-to-date, only the Assembly has experienced this blessing. The foundation of all was laid in the cross, but the Assembly is the only company who have so far obtained this blessing. Israel will come into it next and with them all things, for the order of the chapter is clearly the Assembly first, seen in Aaron and his sons who alone were taken account of in the blood of the bullock. Then Israel, whose sins were taken account of in the blood of the goat. Then the holy place and the tabernacle and the altar, all coming under the efficacy of the blood, will bring the things into reconciliation. Space forbids entering into a discussion of the interesting subject of the reconciliation of all things, but it is clearly seen in type in Lev. 16.
In the order of the feasts, we now have presented the time for Israel to come into their place, as provided for in the death of our Lord upon the cross. Long since the work was done, but they have yet to realise it and get the blessing of it when they turn in heart to the Lord. 2 Cor. 3:16 The instructions in this feast show us what will mark them in that day. But we must notice this. In Lev. 25 we have the account of the great day of JUBILEE. A day when the trumpet will sound (v. 9) "and ye shall return every man unto his possession and ye shall return every man unto his family." v. 10. Now the trumpet of jubilee will sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, coincident with this feast of atonement. This then is what is in view for Israel when they turn in heart to Jehovah.
"And ye shall do no manner of work on that same day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before Jehovah your God." Lev. 23:28. N. Tr.
There are two outstanding things mentioned in the instructions for this feast and they are both mentioned three times. They are, affliction of soul and no manner of work. Affliction of soul is clearly repentance. Nor have we far to look into the Word to find what that repentance will produce. We have but to turn to Zech. 12:10-14. Here, the repentance in the remnant who will be the election of grace (Rom. 11:5) is seen in its widest character. David — the kingly line, Nathan — the prophetical line, Levi — the priestly line, Shimei — the common people; all will be involved in that day and no privileged position will keep any out of that repentance who desire the blessing of God. The fruits meet for repentance will be produced. Luke 3:8.
Another place, well-known to all our hearts, describes for us that affliction of soul, Isaiah 53. Here, the history of our Lord, His birth into the world, His rejection and death upon the cross, all come before us. We read of Him in v. 2, growing up before Jehovah as a tender plant. Out of dry, barren Israel, one growing up in every phase of manhood, before Jehovah. Stepping out into His public ministry, with no commanding form, no external lordliness, no beauty — things calculated to attract fleshly man. Hence, they did not desire Him. v. 2. Because of His humble birth and humble walk they despised Him. Sorrow and grief were His portion. From Him men hid their faces and, as despised on every hand, none of the leaders had any esteem for Him at all. Why was He a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief? Because in the love of His soul for the very nation who rejected and crucified Him, He carried their sorrows sympathetically, as He healed them on every hand. Matt. 8:17. Yet, deep as the sorrow was in His life, it was small compared with the sorrows of Gethsemane and the cross. When at last, moving the hand of that weakling Pilate, they saw Him hanging on the tree, what did they think of Him? They regarded Him as stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. v. 4. This is what they thought and said of Him, in the day of His deepest sorrow. But in the day when they turn in affliction of soul their eyes will be opened to see the truth. The One Whom they thought an imposter; the One Whom they tried to get God to curse by hanging Him on a tree; yes, the One they said was dying because God was against Him, — "we did regard him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted"; in that day they will say, "But he was wounded for our transgressions." They once thought He was wounded for His own transgressions, but in the day of their repentance they will know and own that He was wounded for theirs. What a change! What affliction!! What repentance!!! They will learn that Jehovah had laid on Him the iniquity of them all, v. 6. Here is the great answer to Aaron bearing the sins of the people before Jehovah, on the great day of atonement. This affliction of soul will enable them to open their eyes to see this and, in turning in repentance towards God, get the gain at long last of what Christ did for them when they nailed Him to the cross.
The other injunction, "no work," will deliver them from any attempt to work out a righteousness for themselves. How carefully God lays this injunction down. Like Israel of old, who rested on the day of atonement, so will the remnant. Aaron did all there was to do on that day when he went in alone, with the blood, and sprinkled the mercy-seat. We can sing about them in that day in the terms of a well-known hymn,
NOTHING either great or small;
Nothing, Israel, no:
Jesus did it, did it all,
Long, long ago.
"For every soul that is not afflicted on that same day, shall be cut off from among his peoples." Lev. 23:29. N. Tr.
The unbelieving portion of the nation is in view here. While a remnant will turn to the Lord, and like Joseph's brethren will say, "We are verily guilty concerning our brother," (Gen. 42:21), yet the rebellious among the children of Israel, allied to Antichrist, will refuse to be afflicted and consequently will be cut off. The election will rest, i.e. be free from every other consideration, that alone with God their whole sinful history will come before them and they will own it to God. Two things will then take place for their blessing. They will be brought to enjoy the redemption which is in Christ Jesus — the answer to the blood on the mercy-seat. And they will be publicly reinstated as the people of Jehovah — the answer to the scape-goat. It has often been pointed out that in Lev. 16 no mention is made of a scape-bullock. The bullock for Aaron and his house sets forth Christ and the Assembly. Now the Assembly never had a place nationally before God like Israel, hence, no scape-bullock is needed. Israel have yet to be put right both before God and nationally before the world. They will fill once more in that day their place as the people of God. This brings us to our last feast in the chapter which looks on to this day when the nation, established in the Kingdom, will rejoice before Jehovah their God.
"And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of booths seven days to Jehovah. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation; no manner of servile work shall ye do. Seven days ye shall present an offering by fire to Jehovah; on the eighth day shall be a holy convocation unto you; and ye shall present an offering by fire to Jehovah: it is a solemn assembly: no manner of servile work shall ye do." Lev. 23:33-36. N. Tr.
In this last feast we have Israel's great day of rejoicing in the kingdom. These last three feasts, all in the seventh month, depict the last great exercises of that nation. Awakened, and alive by the prophetic Word which will go out to them, they will be led to own their sins. National repentance will bring them into national forgiveness and public restoration as the people of Jehovah. In that day they will review all the ways of God with them, commencing with their deliverance from Egypt till the establishment of the kingdom of God in power. Mark 9:1.
Three times in the history of the nation they experience the delivering power of God. First in Egypt when He brought them forth with a stretched out arm. Secondly from Babylon under the edict of Cyrus the Persian. Thirdly from all nations at the end of the times of the Gentiles. They dwelled in booths apparently when they first came out of Egypt. A sign that they were, at the moment, pilgrims with no homes for they were moving forward to Canaan. It was this original aspect of the booths which became the kernel of the feast of remembrance. It is of interest to note that when they came out of Babylon at a later date they kept the feast of Tabernacles. Ezra 3:4. Here once more they celebrated a deliverance by their God. So it will be at the end. Moreover, we read in Zech. 14:16, that any nation who refuses to go up to the feast of Tabernacles will come under the judgment of God. God intends that all these nations are going to come up to the land and witness what He has done for His People. "And it shall come to pass, that all that are left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Jehovah of hosts, and to celebrate the feast of tabernacles." Zech. 14:16.
This feast seems more than all the others to be a time of joy. When Israel have gathered in the harvest, then the vintage, they dwell in booths and enjoy the blessing of their God, while the booths will witness to His mighty work of deliverance. The harvest ever precedes the vintage for it is always "corn and wine" never "wine and corn." Dispensationally, the harvest points on to the discretionary judgment and the vintage to the unsparing judgment. The harvest judgment must be first as this involves the severance of the good from the bad. Matt. 13:49; Matt. 24:40. Having secured the good, all that is left is bad. This will bring about the unsparing judgment of the vintage. Rev. 14:14. It is after these judgments have swept the earth that Israel will be finally delivered and will celebrate in grand conclusion the feast of Tabernacles. Their first deliverance involved the judgment of Pharaoh and Egypt. Their second deliverance involved the judgment of Belshazzar and Babylon. Their last final deliverance will involve Satan and all nations. What a feast it will be in that day! Though Satan is allowed at the end to gather together all nations against Israel, it does not seem that he is allowed to touch them, for fire comes down from God and consumes all his host.
Another interesting feature comes to light in this feast. We have mention of the "eighth day." It is this day, which is called that great day in which our Lord cried "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." John 7:37. We are informed at the beginning of this chapter that it was the feast of Tabernacles, v. 2. This eighth day looks on to ETERNITY. When the ways of God have reached a glorious conclusion in the world to come, all our God has secured for His eternal pleasure will go into the new heavens and the new earth. We learn from Rev. 21:3 that the Assembly will fill the part in that day of "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men." The men will be undoubtedly Israel and the saved portion of the nations with them. Apparently in that day there will no more be divisions between the nations. The only division which does seem to exist is between the heavenly company and the earthly company. It is clear that the Assembly will be the heavenly company and Israel with the saved portion of the nations will be the earthly company. God has not only purposed the Assembly for glory in eternity but Israel and part of the Gentiles as well, each in their respective place and all radiant with the glory of God. We believe this is all involved in the eighth day of this feast.
This was the day on which our Lord cried, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." The nations had long since turned the "feasts of Jehovah" into "the feasts of the Jews." Hence, instead of being filled with the blessings of God in these feasts they are still barren and thirsty. Their law failed to bring them into this blessing because of their miserable failure in not keeping it, the only hope for them is to turn to the Son of God. He promises all who will come to Him the gift of the Spirit. This is what the Lord connects with this eighth day — the gift of the Spirit. We have before looked at this feast as coming in after the corn and the wine had been gathered in but now another interesting thing is added to these two things in the book of Deuteronomy — oil. Five times we read in this book of "corn and the wine and the oil." The day of Israel's recovery and blessing will be characterised by an outpouring of the Spirit, far in excess of anything they had known before. Joel 2:28. "I will hear saith Jehovah, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the new wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jizreel." Hosea 2:21. Jizreel means — God soweth. The waters flowing forth from the sanctuary, Ezek. 47; and the Tabernacle anointed with oil, Lev. 8:10, all speak of the day when the Holy Spirit of God will pervade all. It speaks of all that God has purposed for His abiding pleasure in Israel secured in the power of the Spirit of God. It is the gift of the Spirit which our Lord connects with this eighth day.
Another thought in this eighth day is — resurrection. Israel will yet be brought to enjoy life beyond the power of death. They will not physically die and be raised again but they will be brought to share that life in resurrection which has now become available in Christ in resurrection. We have this life to-day. Israel will have it in their day in the Kingdom (Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:46), and in the eternal state. We have a picture of this in the mount of transfiguration in Luke 9:28-36. We are told by Luke this event took place about an eight days after. We see the Old Testament saints in life in the cloud of glory. In Peter, James and John, the remnant. Asleep at the moment, but then awake, they will behold the glory of their Messiah and a company with Him in that glory. "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." Dan. 12:2. Here, in this picture, we see the kingdom set up and Israel in their place in that day. This eighth day is called a "solemn assembly." We find that this word means — restraint. As assembled in holy convocation in the presence of God, the Majesty, Glory and Holiness of God will fill their souls with reverential homage. Restraint, in holy subjection of spirit, alone becomes a place like this. They will but bow their heads and worship.
In this great chapter we have outlined for us the great end to which God is working in relation to Israel. Already, as we have seen, the first four feasts have been accomplished in the Assembly, where the remnant have now their part as having believed the Gospel. This has meant for them a part in that heavenly company. Israel as a nation has yet to be brought in and will form the earthly company. Even in the prophets we have a foreshadowing of this. "And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth." Isa. 51:16. In verse 13 we have the heavens and the earth created but in verse 16 we have them filled. The One Who created them is the One Who will fill them. He will plant the heavens with the Assembly and lay the foundations of the earth with Israel. One the heavenly company and the other the earthly. All will be seen in the kingdom in their right places when the time ways of God will end and He will enter into His rest. This is the great end to which He is working as we saw at the head of this chapter and He graciously opens out to us the thoughts of His mind that we may know what He is doing and thus know how He will reach that rest. Step by step we have it all outlined in this chapter.
Based upon the death of Christ as seen in the feast of the Passover; the setting aside of evil by bringing in that which is good, as seen in the feast of Unleavened bread; the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ as seen in the Wave-sheaf; the formation of the Christian Company as seen in the feast of the New Meat-Offering; the revival of the nation of Israel as seen in the feast of Trumpets; the national repentance of Israel as seen in the feast of Atonement; the future glory of the kingdom in the world to come and all passing on into eternity as seen in the feast of Tabernacles. In this way, the rest of God will be secured. The day of display in the world to come will manifest the answer of God to all the havoc that sin has brought into this world "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." Hab. 2:14. Then, when kingdom days are over, God will gather out of the present heavens and earth all that He has secured for His eternal glory and pleasure and, setting it in the new heaven and new earth, He will rest in His love for evermore. This is indicated in the eighth day of the feast of Tabernacles.
May the Lord graciously help us to understand these things a little more fully to-day, that, being intelligent in relation to His ways at the present moment and knowing something of what He is doing for His eternal glory, both in the heavenly company and the earthly company, we might move in unison and fellowship with Him, serving Him acceptably with reverence and godly fear till the display of that glory has dawned at "the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Titus 2:13.