This week's portion of scripture is one with a lot of depth. It comes from Leviticus 21:1 through 24:23. It opens with detailed instructions to the Priest regarding his holiness. The previous reading in the regular cycle dealt with the holiness of the nation; this week is for you and for me. For we are the Priests unto the L-rd, and more is expected of us than of those who merely travel with us and are, perhaps like Nabal. I will teach you more about this issue at another time, but for now, suffice to accept that these are foolish followers of the G-d of Israel who do not do what He commands, but are at least accepted among those who do. Probably your church is filled with such as these; I pray that you are not among them.
Chapter 23 deals with the "times of the L-rd." Not the Jewish holidays, but appointed times established by G-d for His people to observe throughout their generations. That means forever! The first one given is the Sabbath. Although most people consider Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement the most holy day among these, most Orthodox Jews would correctly identify Shabbat a the most sacred of all days. You see, G-d commands us to come into His Presence in the place chosen by Him three times a year, to observe seven annual appointments, He comes to where we live each week. The first song sung in traditional Jewish homes to welcome the Sabbath invites the Bride of Sabbath into our homes and to welcome the angels of G-d to grace our table with their presence as He comes among us.
Then begins the list of the annual times in which we are called to remember and to observe His appointed times. I know that many feel that since these are not taught by Jesus that they are not for us. Oh, dear ones, Jesus taught at each of these iin such a way as to establish their priority for us forever. The first is the Passover, then Unleavened Bread and First Fruits. These three comprise the first pilgrimage time in ancient Israel and are referred to as "The Passover." It was at Passover that Y'shua revealed Himself to be our Passover Lamb. He was buried at the beginning of Unleaved Bread so He could come forth from the earth on First Fruits and be seen as the Bread of Life.
From the Sabbath of Passover, we are commanded to count for ourselves seven Sabbaths and the day after the seventh Sabbath is the Feast of Weeks. Today, it is called Pentecost because in Greek that means count fifty. On Pentecost, Jewish people gather from the time the third star appears in the sky until it is fully light the next day to remember the giving of the Torah on Sinai. They read and discuss the text all night. So it was that in Jerusalem one Pentecost night, as the third star appeared, and the day of Pentecost fully came, that the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit came and filled 120 Jews who were gathered as they did every year and continue to do to this day. You see, they were trying to uncover the deepest meaning of the text, but without the Spirit of G-d, it is impossible to discern the ways of G-d. So, at the appointed time, G-d gave them His Spirit to lead them into all of the truth of His word. This day is the second pilgrimage for all of Israel. Beloved, if G-d expected all of Israel to go up to Jerusalem three times a year, why would we think that He would not expect us to at least observe His appointed times in our homes and in our communities? These are appointments made by G-d Himself and He says that they are for His people to keep forever.
Then comes summer; there are no Feasts during this time. It is the time to be laboring in the fields. So it is that we are now in those days. Now, the fields are ripe unto harvest, but the laborers are few. Now, we must work while it is day for soon the night will come when no man may work. It is interesting to note that it is in this part of Leviticus 23, in verse 22 that we read, "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 L-rd your G-d." You see this deals with how we are to treat those who have less than we do as we are going about the work to which the L-rd has set our hands.
Then, in verse2 23-26, He tells us of a time yet to be fulfilled. It is called theYom Teruach, or the Day of the Blowing of the Shofar. Today it is best known as Rosh HaShannah, or the Feast of Trumpets. It is the day that signals the end of our labor and the gathering together of G-d's people for His appointed time of rest. It begins ten days of Awe in which all of Israel comes to be reconciled with one another, for we are taught that the Day of Atonement only reconciles us with G-d and that only if we have nothing against our brother. Just as Jesus taught that if you come to the altar and remember anything that separates you from another, you are to leave your offering and go to him before you may become in right standing with G-d. So, when will the L-rd return? No one knows, but we do know that it will be announced with the blowing of the Great Shofar and that soon thereafter will come a time of standing before G-d in judgment. Sounds like this Fall Festival time to me.
Then, after five days we begin the Feast of Tabernacles. This is the time of remembering Israel dwelling in the very Presence of G-d for forty years. Not for one moment did they stray from His Presence lest they die. And so we dwell in booths for seven days as a reminder of the booths in which Israel dwelt. The roof of these portable dwellings is made of thatch so that the Presence of G-d may be seen if in fact it returns during these days. These three fall festivals are together called Tabernacles and are the final pilgrimage required of all Israel each year. Will G-d reveal Himself during this time of year at some time in the future? Well, G-d does nothing except according to His times and these are the appointed times of the L-rd. It was at this time of year that Jesus was transfigured before three of his closest friends. At the time when all of Israel expects the Radiant glory of G-d to be revealed again, it was as the Son of G-d shone like the Shekiniah Glory pillar of fire that led them for forty years and the Cloud of G-d then appeared and from it came the Voice of G-d Himself! These three saw the revelation of the first fulfillment of this desire of Israel. Will we see it again?
Only time and the favor of G-d will tell the answer of this question. In the meantime, I choose not to miss an appointment with the One who led Israel and the One who leads me. What about you?