Study Notes

Leviticus 23:1-22

One thing we should review before we begin, the Jewish day was based on Genesis 1, which said over and over,

Gen. 1:5 ...There was evening and there was morning, one day.

The Jewish calendar changes days at twilight. When the sun sets, the day changes. That is why you will notice on many calendars the Jewish holidays being noted by saying, "Passover begins at sundown," and then the next day also listing it.

23:1-3 Holy Convocations

A convocation is an assembly, or a calling together. God reminds them of these special days that were to be observed. There were seven feasts that the Lord gave to his people: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, the Feast of Weeks, Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. (Leviticus 23, Numbers 28-29, and Deuteronomy 16 all summarize these 7 feasts. )

They were given to celebrate certain things on certain days. But each of them also pointed forward to certain prophetic events about Christ that would be fulfilled on the days they were celebrated. This is interesting, because the word convocation" in Hebrew is "mik-RAW," which also means "rehearsal."

These feasts were rehearsals for what was to come. The Scriptures tell us...

Col. 2:16-17 ...Let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day - things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

This is what Jesus meant when He said,

Matt. 5:17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.

Tonight we will look at the first 4 feasts, and how Jesus Christ fulfilled the law in regards to them. Next week, we'll examine the last 3, and look at the prophetic events to which they point.

23:4-5 Passover

The Lord mentions Passover in this first verse, without giving any instructions other than the date. Why? He has already covered it in detail in Exodus 12.

Historically, Passover pointed back to the deliverance of God's people from the judgment of death in Egypt by the substitutionary death of the Passover Lamb. Prophetically, it pointed forward to the deliverance of God's people from the judgment of death in the world by the crucifixion of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

Passover was celebrated on the 14th of Nisan, the first month. On the 10th of the month, they were to bring an unblemished male lamb into their household for observation. None of its bones could be broken. Then on the 14th, it was to be killed at twilight.

They were to pour the blood into the basin built into the threshold of their doors, then take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the upper doorpost, the lintel, of their houses.

When God saw the blood on their house, He would pass over it, and this judgment would not destroy them.

This feast pointed prophetically to the death of Christ. Again, Scripture states this plainly, saying,

1Cor. 5:7 Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.

"Christ our Passover," Paul called Him. Why is Christ our Passover? Every detail we have about Passover is repeated in Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist announced the arrival of Jesus' ministry by saying,

John 1:29 ..."Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! "

When did this Lamb present Himself for inspection and observation? He entered Jerusalem on the 10th of Nisan - the very day that the Israelites were bringing their Passover lambs into their homes.,

When was this Lamb killed? On the 14th of Nissan, the very day that the Israelites were offering their passover lambs. One thing that I do find fascinating is that the lambs were to be killed at twilight. But remember, Jesus was having the Last Supper Passover Sedar with the disciples at that time. had to be removed from the cross by twilight. So what did God do? He caused darkness to fall upon the land the next afternoon! He made it supernaturally twilight when the Lamb of God was killed! It was twilight, yet still the 14th of Nisan!

The Lamb of God was unblemished by sin, and not a bone of his was broken - this was again the result of supernatural intervention. Remember that even after the order was given to break his legs, the Roman soldiers disobeyed orders:

John 19:31-34 The Jews therefore, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high {day} ), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and {that} they might be taken away. The soldiers therefore came, and broke the legs of the first man, and of the other man who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs; but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.

What could possess a Roman soldier to disobey a direct order? We know!

His blood soaked the wood of the cross in the same place that the Lamb's blood was applied to the door: the two sides (from the nails in His hands), the top (from the crown of thorns on His head), and the bottom (from the nail through His feet).

His death applied to us causes the judgment of the second death to pass over us. So Passover was fulfilled prophetically on the day it was celebrated historically.

23:6-8 Unleavened Bread

Unleavened Bread started right when Passover ended: on the 15th day of Nisan. For seven days, they ate unleavened bread. Unleavened bread was prepared then the same way it is prepared today. When we look at the Matzoh we partake of at communion, we see that it is not only unleavened, but striped and pierced as well.

What prophetic significance does this feast have? The body of Jesus Christ being buried. You see, Jesus' body is the bread:

Matt. 26:26 ...Jesus took {some} bread, and after a blessing, He broke {it} and gave {it} to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body."

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life...

John 6:41 ...He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven."

His body was represented by unleavened bread. You see, leaven, or yeast, causes bread to rise by corruption and fermentation. Because of this, leaven is always a picture of sin in Scripture. Jesus, of course, was sinless:

2Cor. 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf

Hebr. 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as {we are, yet} without sin.


1John 3:5 And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.

In addition to being unleavened, He was also striped:

Isa. 53:5 (KJV) ...He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

He was pierced as well:

Ps. 22:16 (KJV) For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

John 19:37 And again another Scripture says, "THEY SHALL LOOK ON HIM WHOM THEY PIERCED."

So the feast of Unleavened Bread pointed prophetically to the corpse of Christ.

When did Unleavened Bread begin? Remember that we just read that the first day of Unleavened Bread was a Sabbath - a day when they could do no work. Although the day before was Passover, they really celebrated it the night before, when the 14th began at twilight. So the Jews would use the daytime of the 14th as a preparation for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which would begin at twilight. Thus, you will find it referred to in every gospel as "the Preparation day" or "the Jewish day of Preparation."

This was the day that Jesus died. In the Scriptures, we read that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took the corpse of Christ to bury it. They decided to use Joseph's grave. Why?

John 19:42 Therefore on account of the Jewish day of preparation, because the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

They buried Him there because it was nearby. The sun was about to set - Unleavened Bread was beginning. Jesus Christ's body had just been laid in the grave when the feast of Unleavened Bread began! Another prophetic fulfillment!

23:9-14 The Feast of Firstfruits

Now we read of the Feast of Firstfruits. When this was celebrated, it would look back historically at when God brought His people into a new life - into the promised land.

The people were to offer up the first fruits of the harvest. It was to be celebrated the day after the Sabbath that followed Passover and Unleavened Bread - in other words, Sunday.

This feast also points prophetically to the fact that God would bring His people into a new life, into a promised land. What, then, is the first fruits? Paul tells us in 1Corinthians:

1Cor. 15:20-23 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man {came} death, by a man also {came} the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming,

Jesus, by His resurrection, is the first fruits from among the dead. There is a great harvest, of course, following: the church. Jesus was the first of all that would be resurrected to eternal life after Him.

When did He rise from the dead? The day after the Sabbath following Passover - Sunday morning! Third feast, third perfect fulfillment!

23:15-22 The Feast of Weeks

Here we have introduced the Feast of Weeks. It was 50 days following the Feast of Firstfruits. This is why, by the time of Christ, it had become known in Greek as "the fiftieth day," that is, "Pentecost."

They were to offer a new grain offering. This is intriguing, because this Feast is the only one to call for this kind of grain offering. In Hebrew it is "khaw-DAWSH min-KHAW" - "a grain offering of a new kind."

And the wave offering was to actually be baked with LEAVEN! This is unheard of! If you've been going through these offerings with us, you know that leaven is never to be offered! God had even said,

Lev. 2:11 'No grain offering, which you bring to the LORD, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the LORD.

So what is going on here? This is a strange oddity among God's instructions. It is no wonder then that the feast of Pentecost prophetically pointed to the birth of the church.

Remember that Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be sent, teaching the disciples all things, bringing to their remembrance all that He had said to them, giving them power to be His witnesses. After the resurrection, the disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to be sent.

In Acts chapter 2, we read when this happened: exactly 50 days after the resurrection, the Feast of Firstfruits:

Acts 2:1-4 And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

Why were two leavened loaves offered? Because

Rom. 3:9 ...both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;

Why were the loaves of equal size - both 2/10 of an ephah?

Rom. 10:12-13 ...There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same {Lord} is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for "WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD will be saved."

Indeed, whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. God has proven His existence by telling the future before it happened. Next Thursday night, we will look at the 3 feasts that foretell 3 incredible events - wondrous blessings if you have called upon the name of the Lord - horrible terrors if you haven't

I encourage you - if you haven't received the salvation of Jesus Christ - the Lamb of God that died, was buried, and rose again from the dead - don't leave tonight until you have.

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