ARE THE FEASTS LEVITICAL?

 

 

Noel Rude

 

Some Sabbatarians draw the line at the Sabbath.  The goyim should keep the Sabbath, they believe, but not the festivals of the LORD (Lev 23:4): “These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.”

 

Why not keep the festivals of the LORD?

 

It doesn’t say that they are feasts of the Jews.  It does call them that in the book of John (John 5:1; 6:4; 7:1), but then maybe there they are being distinguished for an audience in the Diaspora that included Gentiles.  But given that they are “the feasts of the LORD,” does the LORD intend them for Israel only?

 

Some Sabbatarians say so.

 

Where the festivals are all listed in their order in Leviticus 23, they are associated with the sacrifices, the tabernacle, and the priesthood of Aaron.  But what about “the faith once delivered”—meaning the covenant made before the sin of the golden calf—as God recalls in Jeremiah 7?

 

21 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. 22 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: 23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.

 

Were the Holy Days a part of that covenant?

 

The tabernacle and the sacrifices came after the sin of the golden calf, as did the transference of the priesthood from the firstborn of all Israel to that of the tribe of Levi (Numbers 3:45): “Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel...”

 

Exodus 19 and 24 describe the making of the covenant, the one that Israel broke (Jer 31:32), “which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them,” and chapters 20 through 23 of Exodus describe the terms of that covenant.  There is no system of sacrifices, no tabernacle, and no Levitical priesthood there—except that God wanted no alter of cut stones or alter with steps (Ex 20:24-26), nor any leavening with a sacrifice (Ex 23:18).  Sacrificing was voluntary—as it was with Cain and Abel, Noah and the patriarchs.

 

It is not until Exodus 25 that God’s instructions for the tabernacle begin, and not until chapter 32 that we read of the reason for it—which was the sin of the golden calf.

 

The Levitical priesthood is forever (Jer 33:19-22), nevertheless the Holy Days preceded it—as we see in the words of the first covenant “cut” before the sin of the golden calf (Exodus 23):

 

14 Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year. 15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:) 16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field. 17 Three items in the year all thy males shall appear before the LORD God.

 

The Holy Days were commanded before the sin of the golden calf!  Note that there is no mention of sacrifice, tabernacle, or Levitical priest in Exodus 23.  God will yet make new with both houses of Israel that original covenant (Jeremiah 31):

 

31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

 

And the whole world will recognize the calendar and keep the Sabbath (Isaiah 66:23), “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.”

 

And the whole world will send emissaries up to Jerusalem during the fall festival (Zech 14:16), “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.”