From Slaves to Soldiers

Chapter 29

Yahweh had met Moses in the Tent of Meeting and given him directions for the feasts to pass on to Israel. Moses had instructed the chosen people concerning the feast days and recorded them in Leviticus 23.[1]

Tishri, 1 – The Feast of Trumpets and the first fall festival – Yahweh told his people to set aside a day of rest for a sacred assembly and mark it loud with the blast from the ram’s horn to signal the interruption of harvest. They were to offer a fire-gift to him and not do any ordinary work but celebrate his work of creation and rest.

Tishri, 10 – The Day of Atonement – Yahweh ordained another sacred assembly and fast – from evening to evening – along with the offerings of atonement. According to pray4zion.org, “The High Priest went through a complex set of sacrifices to atone for his own sins and the sins of all the people, and a goat was then led out to die outside the walls of the city – symbolically taking the sins of the people with it. The High Priest was then able to enter the Holy of Holies, sprinkling blood on the Ark of the Covenant. It was by no means certain that he would leave alive. A rope was tied around his legs so he could be pulled out if he should die. If he lived, he would go outside, lift his hands up and pronounce the Aaronic blessing on the people – the only time in the year any one would invoke the tetragamatron (“Y-H–V-H-“), the usually unutterable Name of God.”[2] Yahweh told his people, through Moses, not to work or eat on the day when atonement would be made for them. It was to be a day for concentration to Yahweh and their relationship to and with him – from the evening of the ninth day of the month to the evening of the tenth day of the month.

Tishri, 15-21 – Sukkoth, the Feast of Tabernacles – Yahweh instituted the last fest of the year to last seven days. It began and ended with days of sacred assembly with fire-gifts to Yahweh. Yahweh told his people that, after they had brought their crops in from your fields, they were to celebrate his Feast for seven days. The first and eighth days were to be days of complete rest. On the first day, they were to pick the best fruit from the best trees; take fronds of palm trees and branches of leafy trees and from willows by the brook and celebrate in Yahweh’s presence for seven days as a festival to him. Every year from that time forward, they were to celebrate it in the seventh month. They were to live in booths for seven days—every son and daughter of Israel was to move into booths so that their descendants would know that Yahweh made his people live in booths when he brought them out of the land of Egypt. Again, he reminded them that he is the great I AM – their God.

Yahweh told Moses that these appointed feasts were to be sacred assemblies for presenting the fire-gifts, Whole Burnt Offerings, grain, and drink offerings that were assigned to the specified day. He told Moses that these feasts were in addition to Sabbaths and other gifts connected with whatever a person vowed – and all the free-will offerings brought to him.

Some forty years later Yahweh instructed Moses to review these directives with the generation that would shortly be entering the Promised Land.

On the first day of the seventh month they were to gather in holy worship and do no regular work. This was to be their Day-of-Trumpet-Blasts when they were to sacrifice a Whole-Burnt-Offering: one young bull, one ram, and seven male yearling lambs—all healthy—as a pleasing fragrance to their God, Yahweh. They were to prepare a Grain-Offering of six quarts of fine flour mixed with oil for the bull, four quarts for the ram, and two quarts for each lamb, plus a male-goat as an Absolution-Offering to atone for them.

On the tenth day of Tishri, they were to gather humbly in holy worship and take their Whole Burnt Offering of healthy bull, ram, and seven yearling lambs. The Grain and Drink offerings were to be of the best required amounts and accompanied by the Absolution Offering.

Yahweh, through Moses, reminded his chosen people that these were all over and above the monthly and daily Whole Burnt Offerings with their accompanying Grain and Drink offerings.

Yahweh repeated to his people that on Sukkoth, the Feast of Tabernacles, they were to celebrate for seven days. Each day they were to take a succeeding number of young bulls, starting with thirteen and ending with seven on the seventh day. Every day they were to take fourteen yearling healthy male lambs; a Grain-Offering of six quarts of fine flour mixed with oil for each of the bulls, four quarts for each ram, and two quarts for each of the 14 lambs. Along with these they were to take a male-goat as an Absolution-Offering in addition to the regular Whole-Burnt-Offering with its Grain-Offering and Drink-Offering.

On the eighth day they were take a whole burnt Offering, one bull, one ram, and seven male yearling lambs along with the prescribed Grain and Drink Offerings and a male goat for an absolution Offering.

Yahweh restated for Israel that these were all over and above their personal Vow Offerings and Freewill Offerings.

The narrator recorded that Moses instructed the People of Israel in all that Yahweh commanded him.

 

Summary of chapter 29

Eugene Peterson’s preview to the book of Leviticus says, “Because the core of all living is God, and God is a holy God, we require much teaching and long training for living in response to God as he is and not as we want him to be. The book of Leviticus is…a kind of an extended time out of instruction, a detailed and meticulous preparation for living “holy” in a culture that doesn’t have the faintest idea what “holy” is. The moment these people enter Canaan they will be picking their way through a lethal minefield of gods and goddesses that are designed to appeal to our god fantasies: … What these god fantasies do is cripple or kill us. …God provides a way (the sacrifices, feasts, and Sabbaths) to bring everything in and about us into his holy presence and we, like ancient Israel; stand in his presence at every moment (Psalm 139). Our Lord is not dwelling in a tent or house in our neighborhood. But he makes his habitation in us and among us as believers and says, ‘I AM holy. You be holy.’”

David Zucker says, “Though the ancient sacrifices mentioned in Leviticus have no present day application, they do tell us about the thinking of the ancients.”[3]

Chapter 28 and 29 of Numbers records the reinstallation of these ceremonial laws for the new generation of Israelites who would shortly be entering the Promised Land. If we look at them through eyes of faith we can see the glory of Yahweh in them. If we examine them only through physical eyes we learn something about the ancients.

 

Prayer: Lord, I pray that you will help me to let the evidence of my eyes be interpreted by faith. Help me to see you at work in everything and your glory – your character – in your creation. You are dressed up in sunshine with all heaven stretched out for your tent. You built your palace on the ocean deeps and made a carriage out of clouds and took off on wind-wings. You commandeered winds as messengers and appointed fire and flame as ambassadors. You set earth on a firm foundation so that nothing can shake it, ever. You blanketed earth with ocean and covered the mountains with deep waters. Then you roared and the water ran away as your thunder crash put it to flight. Mountains pushed up, valleys spread out in the places you assigned them. You started the springs and rivers and sent them flowing among the hills. Along the riverbanks the birds build nests. You water the mountains from your heavenly cisterns so that earth is supplied with plenty of water. Mountain goats climb about the cliffs and badgers burrow among the rocks. The moon keeps track of the seasons and the sun is in charge of each day. When it’s dark and night takes over all the forest creatures come out. The young lions roar for their prey, clamoring to you for their supper. When the sun comes up they lazily stretch out in their dens. What a wildly wonderful world, Yahweh. You made it all, with Wisdom at your side. You made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. What was the feast of trumpets?
  2. What was the object of the Day of Atonement?
  3. Why do you think Yahweh inaugurated the Feast of Tabernacles?
  4. What was the purpose of a fire gift?
  5. Why do you think there were a succeeding number of bulls used for the Burnt Offering during the Feast of Tabernacles?
  6. What is the difference between approaching the ceremonial laws through physical eyes and the eyes of faith?

[1] Displaying Holiness, page 244, 245

[2] http://www.pray4zion.org/TheBiblicalFeastsofIsrael.html

[3] David J. Zucker, PhD. Paulist Press, New York/Mahwah, N. J., page 118, 2005

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