Obedience to Feasts
Posted October 30, 2022
Lesson 9 Fall Quarter
Lesson Text: Leviticus 23:33-43
Golden Text: Leviticus 23:42-43
Our lesson this week is our last lesson in the second unit of lessons for this quarter which has focused on the children of Israel being obedient in following God’s instructions for worshiping Him. This lesson is going to take a look at the Lord’s instructions for the sacred feasts that the children of Israel were supposed to keep.
The Holy Feasts of God
The primary feast that we are taking a look at in our lesson this week is the Feast of Tabernacles – also known as Sukkot or the Festival of Booths. The Lord instructed Moses and the children of Israel that this celebration festival was to be on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (vss.33-34).
Holy month of feasts
The seventh month of the year, for the Hebrews, was known as Tishri. By our calendar, Tishri falls during the months of September and October. This month was a very holy month for the children of Israel as the Day of Atonement took place on the tenth day of Tishri (Lev. 23:27). Prior to the day of Atonement, the month began with a feast known as the feast of trumpets (Lev. 23:23-25).
The feast of trumpets was celebrated only on the first day of the month with a holy convocation and a memorial of blowing of trumpets; that was a day of sabbath-rest with no customary work being done on that day. As we saw with the Day of Atonement, it was a very solemn and somber day, which again, was a holy convocation. The Feast of Tabernacles, we will see, is quite the opposite in comparison to the Day of Atonement.
The Feast of Tabernacles
The Feast of Tabernacles marked the end of harvest and was the last of the harvest festivals. The harvest feasts essentially kicked off with the Feast of Firstfruits which celebrated the first produce of the field (Lev. 23:9-14). The feast of Tabernacles is very similar to the thought of what our Thanksgiving holiday is supposed to be. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a harvest feast where we should be giving God thanks for our last harvest and all that God gave throughout the season.
The Feast of Tabernacles, we are told in the two opening verses of our lesson, was to last for seven days to the Lord. Let’s note that all of the holy feasts were to be unto the Lord. All offerings made during the feasts – burnt offerings, grain offerings, drink offerings, offerings for vows and freewill were to all be made by first (vss.37-38).
Imagine celebrating Thanksgiving for the whole week! Also imagine Thanksgiving actually being celebrated as a holy day rather than just a day where we eat more food than our stomachs could handle! Frankly, we should give that day as a day of thanks to the Lord because God provides so much to us throughout the whole year. It would honestly be nice to celebrate Thanksgiving for a full week as the children of Israel were instructed to do.
On the first day of the festival, there was to be a holy convocation (gathering) with no customary work taking place on the day (v.35). As is stated a few verses later, we will see that the first day of the festival was to be a sabbath-rest. So, in other words, we will see that the first day of the celebration was to be honored and holy.
There was then an eighth day of this festival and we will see that the eighth day was to be just as the first day – holy. The Lord instructed the children of Israel to make the eight day a sabbath-rest. There was to be another holy gathering on the eighth day as well. So, we can already see quite a bit of uniqueness when it came to the Feast of Tabernacles.
For seven days of the festival, the Lord instructed the children of Israel to offer an offering, again, made by fire (v.36). For seven days, the Lord instructed the children of Israel to have a feast of the Lord (v.39). The children of Israel were to take for themselves the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook on the first day (v.40). Since the first day was to be treated as a day of sabbath-rest, the gathering of these things happened prior to the first day of the feast.
And again, the major difference we see between the Day of Atonement of the Feast of Tabernacle was the rejoicing before the Lord for seven days. Yes, the Day of Atonement was a very sacred day but it was so solemn in the people seeking for God’s forgiveness. The Feast of Tabernacles, though offerings were made, those offerings were all about one’s fellowship with the Lord. Solemness was followed up with great rejoicing.
Festival of booths
The booths portion of this festival was truly special for the children of Israel. Our lesson closes with the children of Israel being instructed to dwell in booths for seven days (vss.42-43). God specifies within these instructions that this part of the festival was only meant for native Israelites. I think this part is pretty important because it implies that the stranger in Israel that we saw in last week’s lesson, also participated in at least the feast portion of the festival.
So, what was the purpose for the Israelites needing to dwell in booths for the seven days? The booths were tents that were made using the palm branches, boughs of leafy trees, and willows. The booths served as a reminder of what the children of Israel dwelt in when they were brought out of the land of Egypt.
Something that I mentioned in a lesson earlier this quarter about the Feast of Passover was how the children of Israel were instructed to keep these feasts as a means to remember what the Lord had done for them. Again in this lesson, we see the Lord instruct Israel that this feast was to be celebrated forever in their generations. The reason being so that future generations would know about God, what He can do, and how gracious He is.
I feel that this is something that is greatly missing when it comes to our Holidays that are supposed to be given to God. Resurrection Sunday (or Easter) is a day that, frankly, is more ignored nowadays than celebrated. When I was growing up, Easter was about getting new suits and dresses, but we were at least taught Easter speeches about Christ. At a point in time there, Easter began to be about candy and eggs, but now it’s mostly just ignored as another day.
As I mentioned earlier, Thanksgiving, by most, is not even thought of as a day of giving thanks to God – it’s just a day about who can cook the best and have the best plate of food. Christmas, a day that, while it is certainly not the day that Jesus was born, is a day that is supposed to celebrate His birth. Instead of celebrating His death, gifts have taken over as the most important part about the day for a lot of people.
The real shame of these days losing their meaning is that it’s hurting future generations in coming to know the Lord. Now, that brings great joy to a lot of people as they desire for there be no faith in the world, yet, this mindset is leading to the great apostasy. Such apostasy is what led to the downfall of Israel and Judah as both kingdoms eventually stopped keeping the sacred feasts.
Honestly, this is a great worry of mine as I see more and more people moving away from the Lord; this is a tragedy for the soul of mankind. What we as genuine believers must do is continue to keep our holidays holy. Regardless of how others may treat our holidays, we must continue to keep these days holy not just for ourselves but also for future generations.