The LORD's Feasts and Holy Days

Countdown to Pentecost- 2017

pentecost countPrelude Music

Opening prayer

Opening hymns

Hymn 1: p. 2.11 – Brethren We Have Met to Worship

Hymn 2: p. 17 – Thou Art Our God Forever

Introduction:                                          

In both Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the LORD God declared the following specific instructions leading to the observance of the Feast of Pentecost:

“From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD.”Leviticus 23:15-16 (NIV)

“You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you.”Deuteronomy 16:9-10 (NKJV)

From these directives, it is clear that God designed Pentecost (also called “feast of Firstfruits”) to be anticipated and desired. God sets the pattern for us (which is based on the harvest seasons in the Middle East), amplifies it with His words and many historical precedent, and even encourages everyone to continue on today.

They are twice specifically connected in the Bible by way of a countdown, in the book of Leviticus and again in Deuteronomy.  This is called the “counting of the Omer”. This counting of the “days” and “weeks” provided a chain of events that directly links Passover and Pentecost together in a 50-day count.

This also makes Pentecost very much connected spiritually to the Exodus story. What started as deliverance during Passover (DUB), ended in the receiving of the Law at Mt. Sinai. According to Jewish sages, the counting began at the Exodus and ended when God gave Moses the Commandments. It is believed that Moses provided them this insight:

“The whole purpose of their being freed from Egyptian bondage was in order that they should receive the Torah (Law) at Mt. Sinai, and they eagerly and impatiently looked forward to it, counting each day that brought them nearer to that great moment. On the basis of this, God had later made it a requirement for Jews to count these days of the Omer, which connects Passover, the Festival of Liberation from physical slavery with Pentecost, the Festival of Mattan Torah (True Spiritual Freedom).” –Yetziyas Mitzrayim [The Exodus from Egypt]

Thus, the liberation of the children of Israel at Passover was not yet complete and still to be realized at Pentecost. God’s demand for Egypt was not simply to “let my people go” but “let my people go that they may serve me. (Exodus 8:1,20; earlier in Exodus 5:1 God said, Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me) To finally serve and worship the true God is the culmination of the deliverance. This is why the countdown and anticipation should begin immediately.

We are all familiar about countdowns. We make a countdown when we release or launch something. Countdowns get us from where we are to where we actually want to be. This idea very much applies to the coming Feast of Weeks (or Pentecost)! In today’s Songs and Scriptures, let us understand why this countdown and anticipation is important to us and the lessons God wanted to convey to us.

Our first batch of bible readers will be reading some introductory remarks concerning the importance of our counting for Pentecost.

Bible Reader 1 – Why Count?

Leviticus 23:9-16

Bible Reader 2 – Why Count?

Exodus 23:14-16

Deuteronomy 16:9-10

Thank you bible readers. Brethren, let’s all stand and sing the following hymn…

Hymn 3. p.49 – The Sacred Bond

B. Countdown to Firstfruits (Omer) Harvest. It is not merely coincidence that God patterned His plan of redemption for mankind according to the harvest seasons in the Middle East. While this feast is known by several names depending on its application and timing, as the feast of Harvest, it represents the firstfruits gathered as the result of the labor of those who completed the spring grain harvests in ancient Israel. The dictionary defines 'firstfruits' as: "The first gathered fruits of a harvest, offered to God in gratitude." In the symbolism of the Omer Wave Offering, the barley must be offered before any other harvesting can take place. One can only imagine the expectations the farmers had while waiting for the harvest to be offered before they can truly taste the fruits of their labors.

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Pentecost: Meaning of the 'Two Loaves of Bread'

twoloavesWhat do the two loaves of bread waved before God at Pentecost symbolize? On the Feast of Firstfruits or Pentecost, the priest performs a unique ceremony of waving two loaves of leavened bread before the Lord God. This particular ceremony was commanded by God for ancient Israel to carry out on the Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot). We can read about it in:

Leviticus 23:17 You shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenths of an ephah: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the firstfruits to the LORD.

20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.

Note that two male lambs accompanying the two loaves of bread are waved by the priest before the Lord God. The lambs which are a year old and without blemish represent the sacrifice of Christ. These lambs (Christ’s sacrifice) make possible the acceptance by God of the two loaves of bread that are offered to Him. The loaves of bread are not waved before God on their own but needed the lambs to go with them.

Since the lambs picture the sacrifice and offering of Christ, therefore for the two loaves of bread or any one of them being attributed to Him would be repetitive and would make no sense. Unleavened bread signifies the body of Christ. The two loaves of bread are leavened and more closely picture the firstfruits to God. So these loaves can only point to the ecclesia (the church) which constitutes the firstfruits harvest to God.

And also take notice of what God says in the first half of this verse:

Exodus 23:16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of your labors, which you have sown in the field…..

The Eternal says that Pentecost pictures the firstfruits of the work and effort of God’s people, coupled with God’s grace of course (refers spiritually to the works of righteousness and godly character developed in a person). Thus, the bread offered that day does not refer to, nor picture Christ.

Why two loaves of bread? The Redeemer (the husband) made two major covenants with His people. The one in the past which was the first (old) and the new covenant at present. The firstfruits were taken out from these two covenants.

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Why the Fifty (50)-day Count to Pentecost?

holy templeWhat is the significance to the Eternal God of the number 50?

Based on what God revealed in scriptures, we can see that from His point of view, the highest equivalent worth and maximum valuation of a person is 50 shekels of silver.

Leviticus 27:2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, when a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for the LORD by your estimation.

3 And your estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even to sixty years old, even your estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary.

4 And if it be a female, then your estimation shall be thirty shekels.

5 And if it be from five years old even to twenty years old, then your estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.”

This implies that 50 is the symbolic number corresponding to the value or service a person can best give which God requires or deem necessary and fair enough to be served; when compared to others.

Tying this up to God’s people, 50 symbolize the highest attainable worth and spiritual growth a person achieves based on God’s judgment. Holds true when compared to the firstfruits harvest of the land. Firstfruits are always the prime, the choicest, the best most essential and eagerly awaited among the harvest of the field.

The same principle is true in regard to the output of the land and the slaves in Israel. These can be clearly seen from God’s law of the Jubilee year (the 50th).

The year of the Jubilee is a time when liberty is proclaimed throughout all the land and to all inhabitants. The 50th year marks the time when all the slaves of the people of Israel go back as free men to their own families and the land is given back to its original owner. It is a time for freedom, redemption and restoration.

It is the time when the land is given release and made to rest because it has served its best purpose and yielded its maximum output.

Leviticus 25:10 "And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee to you; and you shall return every man to his possession, and you shall return every man to his family.

11 A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be to you: you shall not sow; neither reap that which grows of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of your vine undressed.

12 For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.

13 In the year of this jubilee you shall return every man to his possession."

Leviticus 27:24 "In the year of the jubilee the field shall return to him of whom it was bought, even to him to whom the possession of the land did belong."

Fifty (50) is also the age when a priest is released from the physical service in the temple and begins to serve mainly as overseers. 49 is equivalent to 7 times 7 which indicate doubly complete, with the number seven (7) meaning complete or perfect. It is understood that the priest has completed the physical services required of him and is ready to cope with a new and greater scope of responsibility.

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Mapping the Plan of God

hand babyWhen God established His Holy Days—the weekly and annual Sabbaths—one of the reasons they were given was to set us an example or a teaching aid for understanding His plan of salvation.

 In Leviticus 23, we read how God patterned His feast days (Heb. moed –“appointed/set times”) according to the seasons and cycles of life and its environment (Gen. 1:14). These are not just coincidental because God knows right from creation how He will eventually use the growing cycles He set within plants, animals and even humans as an effective witness and tool in executing His plans.

Thus, if we follow the seasonal harvest in Palestine, God’s annual festivals can be classified and patterned with the Spring harvest—the Passover/Unleavened Bread and Pentecost, and Fall harvest—beginning Trumpets, culminating to the Feast of Tabernacles (“Booths”) and the Eighth Day.

But is there more to it? What other spiritual lesson from life’s cycle we can learn from?

With the advent of modern medicine together with the latest technologies, many observations even in the microscopic levels had come to light. One way to look at it is through our own life cycles! Yes, somewhat ‘hidden’ in our gene, we can actually map-out the plan of God!

God’s holy days do not only show us the plan of salvation, they also illustrate something only few people recognize today. They picture how we humans are made and how we were born. These must be very important to God that He patterned the human development or “birth process” after them. Let’s examine and find out how they are perfectly fit together.

This is how the cycle of life begins.

Ovulation in a woman’s body usually occurs about the 14th day before the beginning of her next monthly menstrual cycle. According to medical authorities the egg (which size is only like a period at the end of this sentence) must be fertilized during this critical 24-hour period for a baby to be conceived. After fertilization by male sperm, the egg or embryo begins a journey of seven days from the fallopian tube to the uterus, where it finally implants itself.

The embryo slowly develops and grows, by the 50th day the tiny embryo will then change to a human fetus (Latin for “offspring”).  During this period the tiny living human has now a discernable heartbeat, arms, legs, and other vital internal organs. The face begins to round and in more advance screening, you can actually detect its gender.  On this fiftieth day, this minute replica of humanity is, for the first time, recognizable as human!

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Tabernacles 2016: Meanings of the Feast

lulav waveTabernacles 2016: Meanings of the Feast

Prelude Music

Opening prayer

Opening hymns

Hymn 1:  p. 35 – Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Hymn 2: p. 225 – Joyful at the Feast     

The story of God's people is by and large, a story of redemption and future hope and restoration for mankind.  This kind of hope differs from an ordinary man-made expectations which are subject to change and even failure. On the contrary, the Christian hope is rooted in God Himself and in His eternal purposes fully anchored in His words.

For the believers, this is the Faith that drives us not only to be living expectantly for the coming Kingdom, but also to live the future intensively in the here and now (present) through a life that is shown by its fruitfulness.

 In many ways that hope are expressed in the festival that we celebrate today: the Feast of Tabernacles.  

The Feast of Tabernacles completes the sacred festivals of the seven month of the Hebrew calendar. In contrast to the subdued or somber mood of the feasts of Trumpets and Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles is a season of rejoicing.

From the time it was revealed to ancient Israel, the Feast of Tabernacles or “Booths” has been the source of inspiration that strengthens their faith and nourishes their hope in the outworking of God’s plan of redemption.

The Feast of Tabernacles is known by different names in the Old Testament. Because of its familiarity, the feast was simply referred to as “the feast”—1 Kings 8:2; or “the feast of the Lord”—Lev 23:39. This is indicative of its prominent role and of its rich meanings.

For our Songs and Scriptures, we will be going thru each of these names as we look at the lessons and the many ways the Feast was understood through its traditional, historical and prophetic significance. So we will be looking at the various ways the Feast has been described  or named with through its many rich attributes providing us analogy/typology lessons in history and as future promises unfolds.

Our first batch of bible readers will be giving some these introductory narratives as the children of Israel received the instructions and how/when to keep it.

Bible Reader 1 – a Sacred Assembly

Exodus 5:1-2; Exodus 10:9

Exodus 23:14-17

Bible Reader 2 – a Sacred Assembly

Leviticus 23:33-44

Thank you bible readers. Brethren, let’s all stand and sing the following hymn…

Hymn 3. p.120 – Behold, the Day Will Come

Hymn 4. p.226 –The Feast is Spread 

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The “Eighth Day” Feast: What It Means to God

new begOne doesn’t have to interpret the Scriptures his/her own way. The Scriptures themselves will reveal the meaning and mind of God to answers sought for. One doesn’t have to create a story around what he/she believe to make it stand. One just has to let the Bible interpret and explain itself.

The design of the woven tapestry of God’s works and laws details His mind on the concept of the Eighth Day Sabbath. Based on how God worked with mankind in the course of history, we can understand what the number eight means to Him.

  • After the Eternal was fed up with the lawlessness and corruption of the old world, He chose Noah, a just man and the eighth, a preacher of righteousness to start all over again.

2 Peter 2:5 (KJV)

 5And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

Peter used the Greek word “ŏgdŏŏs” meaning the eighth (Strong’s #3590) and not “ŏktō- eight (Strong’s #3638).  So the best translation is still the King James Version.         “. . . the eighth (person), a preacher of righteousness . . .”

  • Of all people on the earth at that time, God saved only eight people for the new world.

Genesis 7:13 (NKJV)

13 On the very same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark—

  • Seven days were given to Noah and his family; with all the creatures to board the safety of the ark before the Eternal caused the rains to come on the eighth day to renew the whole world.

Genesis 7:4 (NKJV)

4 For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.”

  • The Eternal destroyed the evil old world and initiated the change in the eighth month.

Genesis 7:11 (NKJV)

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

Second month (Heshvan) in Noah’s time is the same eighth month in the Hebrew calendar beginning with Moses up to the present. God changed the beginning of months when He began to redeem Israel from slavery to Egypt.

Exodus 12:2 (NKJV)

2 “This month (Nisan) shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.

  • The eighth month also marked the time when the eight people in the ark went out as God directed to start life anew on a completely washed and better ground.

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Trumpets 2016: God’s Awakening Call

trumpetTrumpets 2016: God’s Awakening Call

"All you inhabitants of the world, you who dwell on the earth, when a signal is raised on the mountains - look! When a trumpet is blown - hear!" Isaiah 18:3.

Prelude Music

Opening prayer

Opening hymns

Hymn 1:  p. 2.39 –Come and See The Shining Hope

Hymn 2: p. 2.13 – Faith is The Victory

Introduction:                                          

“The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts”, so says the LORD in Leviticus 23:2. Sounds very powerful and important, doesn’t it? A trumpeting sound coming from God Almighty saying emphatically, “These are My Feasts”!

From the Old Testament to the New, Genesis to Revelation, God provided symbol after symbol of His entire plan for mankind and one of the most startling prophetic pictures is outlined for us in the Leviticus 23.

1. First, we have the Sabbath: a Weekly cycle, symbol of feast-rest.
2. The annual Passover, followed by

3.Seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread
4. Pentecost or Feast of Weeks 
5. Feast of Trumpets
6. Day of Atonement
7. Feast of Tabernacles

8. The Eighth Day

These seven feasts reveal to us a special story. The annual feasts were spread over seven months of the Jewish calendar, at specific “set times” appointed by God.

Yet despite its meaningful symbolism, these feasts or Holy days are seldom kept today, let alone known by most people even among Bible believing Christians. Others substituted different religious holidays that supposedly center on Jesus Christ. 

Why? How did all this come to be? Should our receiving (or “acceptance”) of the Lord Jesus Christ, made all these celebration obsolete today?

What is the true meaning of the “feasts of the LORD”? Do they have anything to do with the continuing works of redemption of Jesus Christ? Or is their meaning/application limited only to long-ago “Jewish” events?

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