Deuternonomy 16:1-8. Feasts and Fidelity. James Dale, audio and text
Freeze Church Sermon
April 28, 2019
I. Recap – Moses First Sermon
II. Restate – Moses Second Sermon
A. Repetition (5-11)
B. Religious (12-21)
II.B. Feasts and Fidelity
Recall that in this section of Deuteronomy, Moses is restating the law and telling them how it is going to impact their religious life in their families and nation. As we read these words several thousand years later on the other side of the cross, we need to keep in mind one major concept. The way that God dealt with Israel gives us a tangible picture of God’s character. You want to know what God is like? Read how He relates to this chosen nation. Furthermore, every aspect of the law is a map of the redemptive work that He was planning to do through His son Christ Jesus.
This thought is going to help us as we approach chapter 16 in Deuteronomy when he refers to the feasts … their national holidays. Listen to this.
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
On a sunny day as you are listening to the sermon here at Freeze Chrurch, has anyone noticed the shadows on the wall behind me? My wife told me that she has seen shadows sometimes and she tries to guess which person is walking around back there. Have you ever done that? Probably not, since my sermons are so riveting. However, that is what is happening here …
Christ is casting a huge shadow in the Old Testament!
This sermon will follow the general approach of Moses by giving only a summary of these feasts. A fuller discussion is found in Leviticus 23, but, as Moses has done throughout the book of Deuteronomy, he refers back to the law in a familiar nod, and then challenges them to obey. We will review half of the 4 main feasts today, and finish with the other two and rest of the chapter next week. Mark is actually thinking about going into more detail of all the feasts at a later date.
Even with our small summary this time, we will see that these feasts are a shadow of the various aspects of the 1st and 2nd coming of Jesus. God’s plan was set in eternity, but He revealed it through the prophets. Paul refers to it as “the mystery” (Eph 3).
Surely the Lord God will do nothing but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
Stand, pray, be seated.
In America, we have federal holidays that we celebrate as a nation … New Year’s, Independence Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. Israel also had national holidays that they all celebrated. There were 7 annual festivals and since they were an agricultural society, they were associated with planting and harvest times. In these feasts, one can see a prophetic map of God’s plan to redeem the world.
The seven feasts are Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. Today with Moses we will highlight the main points of the first two.
I. Passover/Unleavened Bread Verses 1-8
Grain crops were planted between November and January. The first crop to harvest was barley in April. This is when the first month of their year was … it is called Nisan. Since they used a lunar calendar, the new year started between March and April … kind of like our Easter that ranges from March to April each year. The Canaanite name for this month of Nisan was Abib which is the name that Moses uses here.
By the way, isn’t it interesting that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton referred to Christians as “Easter worshipers” when hundreds of people died when Muslims bombed several churches in Sri Lanka on Easter?
A. Read verses 1,2 – Passover
In Exodus 12, we see the story of the first Passover. The people of Israel were slaves in Egypt and God promised to free them. After a series of 9 plagues, Pharaoh refused to let them go. The 10th plague was the death of the first born. When a person killed a lamb as a substitute for the first born and applied the blood on his doorposts, the angel of death passed over that house and the first born did not die.
To commemorate this event, they had a holiday every year. This year, Passover was celebrated on the evening of April 19 to the evening of April 20. When they sacrificed the lamb each year, it was to remember that God redeemed them from slavery by the death of an innocent animal.
The Christian under the New Covenant sees this shadow. What caused the shadow? It pictures the death of Jesus that redeems us from the bondage of sin and death.
“… for even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” I Cor 5:7
B. Read verses 3,4 – Unleavened Bread
Directly after they sacrificed the lamb and had their Passover meal, they had to leave Egypt. In fact, they left so fast that they knew there was no time for their bread dough to rise. Therefore, they used no leaven in the bread. To commemorate this, they remove all leaven from their house once a year and eat only unleavened bread for the seven days following the Passover. As a result, these two holidays are normally lumped together as one holiday and called “Passover”.
In Japan, they have something called “The Golden Week” where several holidays are back-to-back … Constitution Day, Greenery Day, and Children’s day. This year the emperor is stepping down on May 1st giving them an extra holiday making it 10 straight days of holidays.
Practical-minded people look for a reason for this tradition of cleaning out the leaven. Some have suggested that it is a practice that is healthy. For example, the way they normally made bread was to use a piece of dough from the old batch to put in the new batch so it would rise. For example, I make my own kefir and once a batch is made, I keep some of the curds and put it in milk in order to make a new batch. This practice of removing all leaven or yeast at least once a year prevented harmful bacteria from taking hold. This may be true, but don’t miss the bigger picture.
What caused the shadow of this feast? This is a picture of Jesus Christ and his burial.
When I was in college, I spent several summers at Christian training programs. We found a job to work at during the day and did our training in the evenings and weekends. One of the summers we lived in a fraternity on the University of Maryland right next to a fire station. Occasionally, when the fire alarm went off in the middle of the night, I would stand up straight up in the bed with a heart attack. Anyway, it happened to be a Jewish fraternity and they had boxes and boxes of these flat crackers called matzos. Being a naive farm kid from Idaho, I didn’t know that this was the Jewish unleavened bread. I used them with peanut butter and jelly for snacks before I realized what they were used for … the Passover bread.
On this matzah bread are stripes and pierced holes. For 3500 years the Feast of Unleavened Bread has been celebrated without change. Now we understand what it pictured … “Isa 53:5 “by his stripes we are healed” and Zech 12:10 “and they look upon me whom they have pierced”. Leaven is a picture of corruption and sin. After Christ was sacrificed for our sins, he was buried. God made sure that He did not see corruption.
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
C. Read verses 5-8 – Regulations of the feast
To celebrate the Passover/Unleavened Bread feast is a command. This section gives three regulations.
First, (verse 5) “thou mayest not sacrifice the Passover within any of thy gates”
You cannot do this in your own homes. For Thanksgiving, for instance, most of us celebrate in our own homes. The first Passover was in their own homes, but from then on, it had to be a festival that they celebrated together. They had to travel where the tabernacle was (verse 6) and stay there for eight days … the Passover day and the 7 days following.
Look at verse 7 where it says “go unto thy tents”. This is exactly what it means. They traveled to Jerusalem with their tents and pitched it outside of the city at a camp site. It was like a Christian retreat where you take your sleeping bags and stay for a few days.
We learn from this that our life with God is not only about us. There is a facet to Christianity that demands that we do some things together as a body. You cannot be a Christian and stay at home and listen to sermons only. It is not what we get … it is what we give. God’s children are linked in a fellowship … a relationship with other believers in a local church.
Second, verse 6 “the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt”
There is a continual emphasis on remembering. They were never to forget the fact that they were redeemed from slavery. As Christians, we consistently remember that Christ has redeemed us from the bondage of sin. The celebration as New Covenant Christians is the Lord’s Supper that Christ established on the night of Passover.
In all holidays there is something to remember …
Christmas - Christ was born
Easter or Resurrection Day - Christ was raised
Independence Day - Our country’s declaration of Independence
Passover - Christ has redeemed us
Third, verse 8 “thou shalt do no work therein”
This is a time of rest and joy. God commands us to take off work and enjoy ourselves. You will find this same theme in the other two festivals in this chapter.
Next week we are going to have a “festival”. It is called “The Lord’s Supper”. On the night of the Passover, Jesus told His disciples to do this until He comes again. Therefore, New Testament believers come together as a body to consistently celebrate and remember the Lord’s death and burial. As a church body we do this once a month on the first Sunday.
This week I want you to think about this “festival” that is coming. Is there a thought that you would like to share about communion when you remember what Christ has done for you. When you are waiting for the elements to be passed out and you meditate, is there something that you think about that may benefit the rest of us. Think about it this week and I will give a small amount of time next week for us to share together before the communion.