Tag Archives: Law

The Feast of Weeks

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

In the past couple of posts, we’ve been looking at the Feasts of Israel and the Biblical typology that they represent. Yesterday we took a closer look at the Passover feast – today we are going to look at the Feast of Weeks.

Just as the Passover festival served as a commemoration of the Jewish exodus from Egypt, the Feast of Weeks served as a reminder of another important event that occurred not too long after that.  Exodus 19 describes the arrival of the Israelites at Mount Sinai:

In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on the very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

God then commanded the Israelites to celebrate this event with the Feast of Weeks (see Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10, 16).

As we talked about in the first post in this mini-series over the feasts, the Feast of Weeks got its name from the fact that it was celebrated 7 weeks after the waving of the Sheaf of Firstfruits, during the third month on the Jewish calendar. The day after these 7 weeks (the 50th day) was also known as Pentecost (which is the Greek word for fifty). Many Christians are familiar with Pentecost and the events that occurred on that day after Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven.  That story is found in Acts 2, where we find the 120 Christ-followers were all together in one place, when “suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…” (v. 2-4).  It was here that God released His Spirit and placed it inside the believers at that time, just like He does today when we confess Christ as our savior and are converted.

So how does the arrival of the Israelites at Sinai, which is celebrated by the Feast of Weeks, relate to the giving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2? My lesson pointed out 3 ways that God revealed Himself at Mount Sinai, and explained how the day of Pentecost in the New Testament paralleled that:

The Power of God

Exodus 19:16-19 describes God’s power being displayed at Sinai:

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder.

In much the same way, as He released His Holy Spirit on the believers at Pentecost, there was wind, fire, shaking, and miraculous signs (like new languages being spoken).

The Law of Moses

It was here at Sinai that God gave the Law to Moses, writing His holy standard in His own finger on tablets of stone. At Pentecost, the Spirit of God entered the hearts of the believers, and God wrote His only standard on the tablets of their hearts.

An interesting parallel that my lesson pointed out was the number of those affected by the giving of this Law in each situation. In the giving of the Law at Sinai the people were held to a high standard, so that in Exodus 32, when Moses came down the mountain and found them running wild and worshiping the golden calf, he ordered the Levites to “go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.” (v. 27)  The number that died that day was about 3000.  At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit went back and forth through those who were near, and as Peter preached, “those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:41)

The apostle Paul discusses this Biblical type in 2 Corinthians 3, where he says

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! (v. 7-9)

The Pattern of the Tabernacle

As we discussed in a previous post, the Lord gave the Israelites the instructions for building the Tabernacle of Moses along with the Law at Sinai. We concluded that the purpose of the Tabernacle was to provide a dwelling for God to be with His people.  At Pentecost, we see the birth of the Church, and as we discussed previously, this is now where God dwells, inside the hearts of His people by His Spirit.

In the end, the Feast of Weeks was a harvest festival just like the feast of Passover. Whereas Passover was celebrated at the harvest of barley, Pentecost was celebrated at the harvest of wheat. “And in this harvest,” my lesson pointed out, “we see a wonderful picture of the tremendous ingathering of redeemed lives that took place with the birth of the Church. Just as in the Sheaf of Firstfruits, [where] the firstfruits of the barley harvest was waved before the Lord, so on the…Day of Pentecost, the firstfruits of the wheat harvest was waved before the Lord. So the Church of Pentecost became a wave offering of firstfruits, representing the massive harvest of souls that was to come.”

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The Sacrificial System

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

When I was in college I worked part-time for an attorney’s office. One of my various tasks was to take the law book updates that came in daily and to insert them into the books. It wasn’t a hard task – the pages were numbered systematically, so it was usually as simple as finding the pages by page number, pulling out the old ones, and inserting the new ones.  The hard part came when you had to actually read through a part of a page for some reason. It turns out that law books can be extremely boring reading (at least, for a non-lawyer).   Unfortunately, when it comes to reading the Bible, the Old Testament Law is sometimes the same way. We decide we’re going to read the Bible, we start in Genesis, we do well until the end of Exodus, then we call it off 1 or 2 chapters into Leviticus. Number and Deuteronomy never really had a chance.  Even so, there is a lot of benefit to understanding the Old Testament Law, and by skipping through these few books, we miss out of some of the richest Biblical typology to be found.

Today’s lesson from the Online Bible College was over the Biblical typology of the sacrificial system instituted in the Law of Moses. The lesson starts out by making the point that, regardless of whether you are reading the Old Testament or the New Testament, you will find one common question being answered: How can a sinner live in fellowship with a holy God?  In the very beginning of Genesis, with Adam and Eve, we see sin and death enter the world and the huge divide arise between God and humanity. And from that time, the greatest need of humanity is to find a way back across that divide. But humanity couldn’t ever bridge the gap – only God could do that, and the way He demonstrated is “bridge” was through blood sacrifice.

We see the recurring redemptive act of blood sacrifice throughout Scripture, even before the Mosaic law was put into place. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God clothed them with the skins of animals (requiring the animals’ deaths). When Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to the Lord, Abel’s blood sacrifice of an animal was accepted, while Cain’s offering of “fruits of the soil” were not. When Noah left the ark after the Flood, he built an altar and offered burnt offerings to the Lord. Altars were built and animal sacrifices were offered by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And my lesson points out that, though it is clear that sacrifices “were understood to be required by the Lord, Israel is later explicitly instructed by God to offer blood sacrifices, firstly as a part of the Passover ceremony, and then secondly as part of the code of Mosaic Law.”

Once the Law was handed down from God to Moses, a system was put in place to ensure proper sacrifices were made. There were 5 main sacrifices listed in the Law:

  1. Guilt offering (Leviticus 5:14-19) – a mandatory animal sacrifice to atone for the acts of sin committed by a person
  2. Sin offering (Leviticus 4:1 – 5:13) – a mandatory animal sacrifice to atone for the sinner (the internal, sinful nature of a person)
  3. Fellowship offering (Leviticus 3; 7:11-21) – a voluntary animal sacrifice offered as an expression of thanksgiving to God
  4. Grain offering (Leviticus 2; 6:14-23) – a voluntary offering of the first-fruits of one’s possessions or wealth (not animals)
  5. Burnt offering (Leviticus 1) – a voluntary animal (or grain) sacrifice, as an offering of worship to the Lord

Notice that some of the sacrifices were mandatory, while others were voluntary. The guilt and sin offerings were compulsory because they deal with the sin barrier between a person and God.  Interestingly, these two are not described as producing an “aroma pleasing to the Lord.”  The other 3 sacrifices are all described as “pleasing to the Lord,” and were more positive in nature.

New Testament Fulfillment

As you become more familiar with the sacrifices listed in the Law, it’s not hard to start putting the puzzles pieces together as to how the sacrificial system serves as a Biblical type of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, as well as the daily offerings and sacrifices we are called to give to this day.

The mandatory sacrifices of the guilt offering and the sin offering dealt with sin and sinners. The reason blood sacrifice was required was that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22).  Jesus’ death on the cross also dealt with sin and sinners – his shed blood was better than the shed blood of animals, in that He was a perfect sacrifice, totally without the blemish of sin. “By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14). Because of the perfection of Jesus’ sacrifice, it was a once-for-all sacrifice – we no longer need to make this sacrifice for the atonement of our sin.

The voluntary sacrifices are repeated continuously under the New Covenant. Today, these would include:

  • Praise and thanksgiving (the fellowship offering) – “let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
  • Tithing and give money (the grain offering) – Paul speaks of this kind of offering when he said “I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:18)
  • Our whole lives (the burnt offering) – Paul tells us what this looks like in Ephesians 5:1-2: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

As you can see, the New Testament does not do away with the need for the Old Testament. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. In Christ, the sacrifices required to be made have already been made. And in Him, we can continue to live in a way that offers the sacrifices God truly wants from us even today.

Click HERE to see the next post in this series –>

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Truth: God’s Commands Vs. Human Laws

A pastor was driving down the highway quite fast and somewhat recklessly one evening, when a state trooper pulled him over. When the trooper walked up to the vehicle, he recognized the pastor and said “Good evening, pastor. How are you this evening?” The pastor replied “I’m fffine, shank you.” Noticing the slight slur in his his speech, the trooper asked, “Um, sir? Have you been drinking this evening?” The pastor said that he had only been drinking from this bottle of water, sitting here next to him. The trooper took the bottle, smelled it, and said “Sir, this is wine!” To which the pastor replied, “Oh!!!  What do you know!? Jesus did it again!!!”

The pastor in this story attempts to use his faith or religion to get out of trouble with the trooper. Have you ever done something like this? I don’t mean drinking and driving – hopefully we all know that drinking and driving is wrong, both in the eyes of the law and in God’s eyes. So hopefully no one would use Jesus as an excuse to do something like that in real life. But have you ever found that there’s a conflict between your faith and what the law says you have to do?  I can’t say that I have. But in our passage today, the apostles find themselves in a position to do just that. They have to decide whether to obey God, or to obey human rules and regulations.

To catch you up (if you haven’t been following the last few days), the apostles Peter and John were arrested for preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus. The Sanhedrin (Jewish leaders) demanded them to stop doing this, and made many threats. The Sanhedrin pretty much laid down the law at that time in that area, so when they said to stop doing something, if you chose to disobey, you could be punished by them. Peter and John did not obey, though, saying to them “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). After being released, they joined the other apostles and continued to teach and preach boldly the message of Christ. They are again arrested, but this time an angel breaks them out of prison and commands them to return to the temple and to continue to spread the gospel. They do so, and end up being taken again in front of the Sanhedrin. This is where we pick up in Acts 5:27-32:

Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

At this point, after having been arrested and threatened to stop preaching the gospel, the apostles had little choice – they either had to continue preaching and teaching Jesus as they believed God had commanded them to do, or they had to obey the laws of man. Thankfully, they chose to obey God.

Most of the time (99.9999%), I believe that obeying the laws of the land is right. In fact, Paul taught that we should obey the law:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13:1-7)

Peter, who was the one who had said in Acts 5:29 “We must obey God rather than men!” also taught to obey human law:

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:13-17)

But when it comes down to it, there really is a hierarchy of obedience. First and foremost, we must obey God. Secondly, we should obey the governmental authority that both God has placed in power, and that we voted into power. The only time we disobey the government is when it is in direct conflict with obeying God. Thankfully, this rarely happens to us in America, since much of our law was built around the Old Testament Law in the Bible. But that’s not to say that it is impossible or will never happen. If it does, I hope that I have the boldness to obey God over all else, forsaking anyone and anything for Him. I can’t say that I would for sure, but I do hope that I would.

What about you? Where do think you stand in this hierarchy?

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