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We have need of a congruent set of touchstones, the deep roots, if you will, grounded in the story of God’s heart for His people to guide us. But what pattern is there? What is the deep root system that we can draw from in our seasons of worship, intercession and revelation?
The clue to the identity of the deep roots of our faith and practice has come to me in the times of flow and blessing we have fitfully enjoyed in the past years. Many times when God seemed to meet us and there was a special flow in our worship and ministry as a church my wife and I would marvel at how the songs, words, and messages went along with the seasonal emphasis in God’s ancient calendar. This brings us back to one of the central scripture passages describing the work of the founding of the House of Prayer:
"And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve Him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship Him -- all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to My covenant -- these I will bring to My holy mountain and give them joy in My House of Prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house will be called a House of Prayer for all nations" Isaiah 56:6&7.
This passage indicates that foreigners will be brought to the House of Prayer, yes, yet they will be Gentiles who keep the Sabbath, and who hold fast to the covenant God made with His people Israel. This speaks to me of we Gentiles in this day being brought to the task of establishing the House of Prayer, and at the same time being drawn into the spirit and truth of all that God has set forth for His people.
I was dissatisfied with santas and bunnies. Dionne was pregnant with our son, Jonah, and I was seeking God as to what kind of heritage I was to practice and hand down to my children. As I pressed into the presence of God with this issue, God told me, “It’s in the Book!” As I have searched “the Book” He has opened to me much depth of meaning in the celebrations He ordained for His people as “everlasting ordinances”. The seasons of God’s calendar revolve around seven commanded festivals. You can find them in Leviticus 23.
A weekly day of rest beginning Friday at sundown and closing Saturday at sundown.
Leviticus 23:1 The Lord spoke again to Moses, saying,2 "Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, `The Lord's appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations--My appointed times are these:3 `For six days work may be done; but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the Lord in all your dwellings.
Feast of Unleaven Bread on Nisan 14 around March or April is a reminder of God's Protection during plagues in Egypt.
Leviticus 23:4 `These are the appointed times of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at the times appointed for them.5 `In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the Lord's Passover.6 `Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.
Clean out the old leaven...For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 1 Corinthians 5:7
Harvest Offering First day after the Sabbath after Passover (Sunday) Leviticus 23:9
Leviticus 23:7 `On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work.8 `But for seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work.'" 9 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,10 "Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, `When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.11 `And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.12 `Now on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb one year old without defect for a burnt offering to the Lord.13 `Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the Lord for a soothing aroma, with its libation, a fourth of a hin of wine.14 `Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places."
Day of resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus):
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. --1 Corinthians 15:20
Harvest Offering Fifty Days ( hence: Pentecost) after Passover.
Reading of the Book of Ruth "A Harvest"
Leviticus 23:15 `You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths.16 `You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord.17 `You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the Lord.18 `Along with the bread, you shall present seven one year old male lambs without defect, and a bull of the herd, and two rams; they are to be a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their libations, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord.19 `You shall also offer one male goat for a sin offering and two male lambs one year old for a sacrifice of peace offerings.20 `The priest shall then wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering with two lambs before the Lord; they are to be holy to the Lord for the priest.21 `On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.22 `When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the Lord your God.'"
Holy Spirit was given the Day of Pentecost had come...and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit --Acts 2:1-13
The High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to sprinkle blood on the Ark of the Covenant for Israel's sins. In modern Judaism, the elaborate Temple service given by God has been replaced by one day of fasting and synagogue attendance.
Leviticus 23:26 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,27 "On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord.28 "Neither shall you do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God.29 "If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people.30 "As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.31 "You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.32 "It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath."
A future day of atonement during the second coming of the Messiah,
For My sword is satiated in heaven, For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah,... For the Lord has a day of vengeance, A year of recompense for the cause of Zion. Isaiah 34:5-6
Feast of Trumpets The Jewish New Year
The Shofar (Ram's horn Trumpets are blown to proclaim a gathering for worship.
Leviticus 23:23 Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,24 "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, `In the seventh month on the first of the month, you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.25 `You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord.'"
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout,..., and with the (shofar) 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. -- 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
Feast of Tabernacles Temporary Booths are constructed to remind Israel of the Wilderness wandering. A Lulav of Palm Branches is waved ushering in the Kingdom.
Leviticus 23:33 Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,34 "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, `On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the Lord.35 `On the first day is a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work of any kind.36 `For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation and present an offering by fire to the Lord; it is an assembly. You shall do no laborious work. 37 `These are the appointed times of the Lord which you shall proclaim as holy convocations, to resent offerings by fire to the Lord--burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and libations, each day's matter on its own day--38 besides those of the sabbaths of the Lord, and besides your gifts, and besides all your votive and freewill offerings, which you give to the Lord. 39 `On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day.40 `Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.41 `You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month.42 `You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths,43 so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.'"44 So Moses declared to the sons of Israel the appointed times of the LORD.
All the nations that went against Jerusalem will celebrate the Feast of Booths...all of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, there will be no rain on them. ---Zechariah 14:16-17
These festivals are given to us by God so that we can come into an understanding of the purposes of the Messiah, both in the First Century and in these last days. The spring festivals, with the paschal lamb and their culmination in the festival of Pentecost, are a picture of the coming of Jesus as the suffering Messiah: The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. The fall festivals, beginning with the sudden blowing of the trumpet, and culminating in our dwelling with God and celebrating the Word, are a picture of the coming of Jesus as victor and king: the Bridegroom coming for His Bride, the Lion of Judah come to rule and reign. It is a revelation to many believers that God has given His people throughout history a heritage wherein, if we embrace it, our lives become a celebration of the Messiah Jesus -- the lover of our souls!
This is not an appeal to move to a legalistic practice based in old Jewish law. It is a challenge from God to move to a structure for our corporate practice that draws meaning in His way, from His seasons of celebration and remembrance that He has set down for us. The facts are that God instituted His calendar, Jesus lived it, the apostles taught it, and Roman Christianity left it. Further, what other structural root system, what other heritage has God given in His wisdom and love that may give form and meaning to our faith and practice? What better one than the one God has ordained since the beginning for the benefit of His people?
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