Study Notes

Leviticus 23:23-44


We have learned that there were seven feasts the Lord gave to his people: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, the Feast of Weeks, Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. These are summarized in Leviticus 23 and Numbers 28-29.

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.

Last week, we looked at the first 4 feasts, and how Jesus Christ fulfilled the law in regards to them. These were:


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.

We looked at how the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, fulfilled every detail given to us in Exodus 12 regarding the Passover Lamb.

How He entered Jerusalem on the 10th of Nisan, just as the lambs were entering homes that day. That He was killed at twilight on the 14th of Nissan, just as the lambs were. That none of His bones were broken. That He was unblemished by sin. That His blood stained the cross on the same points as the lamb's blood stained their doorways. And how God's judgment passes over us when He sees the blood of Christ applied to our lives, just as He did in Egypt when He saw the Passover Lamb's blood on their homes.

In this way, Passover was fulfilled prophetically on the day it was celebrated historically.

Unleavened Bread

Unleavened Bread, which started the day after Passover, pointed historically to God's people about to be delivered from Egypt, and not having time to leaven their bread dough. Prophetically, it pointed forward to the corpse of Christ - His body as it lay lifeless in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb.

In the unleavened bread, we saw a picture of Jesus: without leaven of sin, scarred, and striped, and pierced. His body lay in the tomb when Unleavened Bread began.

The Feast of Firstfruits

Historically, the Feast of Firstfruits looked back to 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.

But it also pointed prophetically to the fact that God would bring His people into a new life, into a promised land. We read 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, was the first fruits from among the dead. When did He rise from the dead? The day after the Sabbath following Passover - Sunday morning! Third feast, third perfect fulfillment!

The Feast of Weeks

The fourth feast, the Feast of Weeks, was celebrated 50 days following the Feast of Firstfruits. In Greek, it was known as "Pentecost," meaning "the fiftieth day."

Historically, it spoke of the new thing that God did, the wonderful harvest that included a grain offering of a new kind, as well as two leavened loaves of equal size.

We looked at how this pointed prophetically to God birthing the church - a new work that included both Jews and Gentiles - both equal, both sinful. The church of course was birthed on the day of Pentecost, just as we would expect it to be, following the pattern of these feasts - fulfilled in order, on the day of their celebration.

Now we pick up in Leviticus 23, verse 23, as we read of the fifth feast...

23:23-25 Feast of Trumpets

Another holy convocation - another rehearsal for what is to come.

This feast is on the first day of the 7th month - much time has passed since the first cluster of feasts. I have no doubt that the Lord is telling us that there will be a long period of time between the fulfillment of the fourth feast, Pentecost, and the fulfillment of the fifth feast, the Feast of Trumpets. Indeed, it has been 1900 years since Pentecost.

What was the Feast of Trumpets historically? it was a Sabbath day - a day for the workers to cease from their labors. But we're given almost no other information regarding it. Of the seven feasts, it is the biggest mystery to us.

What does the feast point to prophetically? A mysterious day yet future when a trumpet will blow, and God's people will cease from their labors. Paul told the Corinthians,

1Cor. 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

The context of 1Corinthians 15 is that Paul has just told us about glorified, resurrected, changed bodies. And then he reveals a mystery: even though every one of us that are saved will be changed - we will inherit a glorified, eternal body - not all of us are going to have to die to get it.

1Cor. 15:51 ...We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed

One generation of Christians will not have to die to get glorified bodies. The mystery Paul is talking about is what we call the rapture of the church.

What Is The Rapture?

What is the rapture? If you look in a concordance, you're certainly not going to find the word "rapture" used in the Bible. That immediately leads some into confusion. But in 1Thess 4, Paul also speaks of this event we call "the Rapture."

1Ths. 4:17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air

When Paul says "caught up," that word in Greek is "har-PAD-zo." It means "to seize, carry off by force, to snatch out or away." When the Bible was translated from Greek into Latin, the Greek word "har-PAD-zo" was translated into the Latin word "raptus." So we get the English word "rapture" from the Latin word "raptus." We could just as easily have called this event "the catching up," "the great snatch," or "the harpadzo."

So the rapture is, very simply, is that it is a catching up, a snatching up.

This snatching up is accompanied by the blowing of a trumpet.

1Cor. 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

He also told the Thessalonians,

1Ths. 4:13-18 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of {the} archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Again, the trumpet sounding when the church is raptured.

Finally, when we went through the book of Revelation, we saw an incredible division in the book. Jesus dictated to John chapters 2 and 3 the things of the church. Then, after these things, we read,

Rev. 4:1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door {standing} open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like {the sound} of a trumpet speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things."

John was caught up to heaven with the sound of a trumpet. When? After the things of the church, but before the Great Tribulation begins.

Now as most of you know, I am an incurable pre-tribulationist. I firmly believe that rapture will occur before that 7-year period known as the "Great Tribulation." I'm not going to get into a huge discussion on that tonight, for I think it would derail us from our focus on the 7 feasts. But I must point out that Paul said of the rapture,

1Ths. 4:17-18 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The teaching of the rapture is to be a comfort to the church.

My only other point is one which will get us back on track: we must remember that these feasts occur in chronological order, and when we look at the Day of Atonement, we will see that a post-tribulation rapture is impossible, as the tribulation cannot end before the Day of Atonement is fulfilled. This does not eliminate the possibility of the "mid-Trib" view, but certainly eliminates the "post-Trib" view. if you are interested at all in the pre-Trib, post-Trib, mid-Trib discussion, I recommend that you pick up the tape on 1Corinthians 15:50-58, when we discussed this in great detail. Now, on to the Day of Atonement...

23:26-32 The Day Of Atonement

Nine days after the feast of Trumpets came the Day of Atonement. We first learned of this day in Leviticus 16. Historically, it was a day in which the Jews had to humble themselves, confessing their sins against God.

The tabernacle (and later the temple) also had to have atonement made for it - the sanctuary, the tent of meeting, and the altar.

This was a solemn day of confession, a day when they were to "afflict their souls" (Lev 16:29, 31; 23:27, 32; Num 29:7 all KJV).

Prophetically, the day of Atonement points to the climax of the Great Tribulation period, when the Jews are facing complete annihilation against the nations of the world led by the antichrist. At that time, the remnant of Israel will finally realize that Jesus Christ was their Messiah, and that their ancestors killed Him instead of receiving Him. Jesus said in Matthew 23,

Matt. 23:37-39 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'"

When they confess their sin of rejecting Jesus Christ and say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord," then Jesus will come with many thousands of His holy ones - His angels and His church (Jude 14-15; Zech 14:5; Matt 25:31; 2Thes 1:7; 1Thes 3:13).

Zechariah writes of that time,

Zech. 12:8-10 "In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David {will be} like God, like the angel of the LORD before them. And it will come about in that day that I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.

Zech. 13:6 "And one will say to him, 'What are these wounds between your arms?' Then he will say, ' {Those} with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.'

When Israel has their true Day of Atonement, the Lord will saved them. As Paul said,

Rom. 11:26 and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB."

I believe that just like the first 4 feasts were fulfilled on the day they were celebrated that this will happen on the 10th day of Tishrei.

23:33-44 The Feast Of Booths

The Feast of Booths was also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of the Ingathering.

It was (and is) celebrated 4 days after the Day of Atonement, on the 15th day of Tishrei (this year, that's to October 5th at sundown). It was an eight-day-long feast.

On the first day, they were commanded to take the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook and make shelters, or lean-to's, covered with the branches they'd collected.

Then they were to live in those booths for seven days. This was in remembrance of the fact that God had the sons of Israel live in booths when He brought them out from the land of Egypt.

It was on the final, great day of this feast that Jesus stood in the temple and cried,

John 7:37-38 ..."If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'"

We won't get sidetracked there, again the tape of John 7:37-53 is available.

Now prophetically, it points to the time when the Tribulation has ended and the Millennium begins - when God will gather the nation of Israel to Him again. And God will once again tabernacle with Israel here on earth.

Christ will reign for a thousand years - this is mentioned 6 times in Revelation chapter 20 alone. (In Latin, the term it is "mille", meaning "1,000", and "annum", meaning "year". "Mille annum" is where we get the term "Millennium".)

During the Millennium, Israel will finally inhabit the land that was promised to her, and God will tabernacle in their midst again - He will be present on the earth. Isaiah writes,

Isa. 2:2-4 Now it will come about that In the last days, The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways, And that we may walk in His paths." For the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.

Interestingly, during the Millennium, the human race will be continuing. People will be born. People will die. Isaiah tells us,

Isa. 65:20 "No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred shall be thought accursed.

People will also sin. Human beings struggle with temptation to sin from three areas: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world will be a utopia - there won't be any pornographic billboards, no drug pushers downtown. So the world won't be a temptation. The devil will be bound, so that won't be a problem. But men will still be in their flesh, and that will be the source of their temptations. People will still sin, and that is the reason for the rule of the rod of iron. Even during this glorious age, the perfect society, man is still a sinner.

God will have to rule this kingdom with a rod of iron because of man's flesh. The reason I bring this up is that we read that the Feast of Booths will actually continue to be celebrated every year during the Millennial Kingdom. We read in Zechariah:

Zech. 14:16-19 Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. And if the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no {rain will fall} on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.

So unsaved man's fleshly rebellion against God continues in part during the thousand year reign of Christ.

So there we have it, an overview of key history and prophecy given in Leviticus 23:

The Lamb of God, His death, His resurrection, the birth of the church, the Rapture of the Church, Israel's acknowledgement of their true Messiah, and the Lord once again tabernacling among His people! What a plan! Oh, how glorious our God is!

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