Pilgrimage Feasts in the New Testament
Reading Acts 18:1-23
In verses 20-21 there is evidence Paul sincerely desired to keep this unspecified fest in Jerusalem but not as an obligation otherwise he would have exhorted the other Jews in Corinth. It is clear from verse 11 that he spent 18 months in Corinth hence kept none of the annual pilgrimage feasts during that time. When he got to Ephesus he spent 2 years there (19:10) and in fact 3 years in total are mentioned (20:31) so while there kept no feasts. When the pilgrimage feast have all been fulfilled in the cross, Pentecost and the water welling up within us, as he tabernacles in us by his Spirit, then they are obsolete. Finally when Paul in I Cor.16:8 stayed in Ephesus till Pentecost, he then went back into Greece (v5) so, as is usual, when these feasts are mentioned they generally just fix the time of year. Rather we see from I Cor.16:1-2 and Acts 20:7 that the first day of the week, the weekly NT sabbath of the Lord’s Day was what was kept by the church. So no more bloody sacrifices but rather that of giving ourselves, our praise and our giving offerings, no more priestly class as we are all kings and priests, and no more special dwelling place of God because we come to the heavenly Zion by faith (Heb.12:23).
Our Bible readings today were 1 Samuel 17 and Acts 9 and providentially they could be linked. David, righteous and bold as a lion fearlessly takes on Goliath and kills him. He providentially comes to the Israelite camp just as Goliath parades about on his fortieth day.
Saul wreaking havoc in the early church is struck down by the risen Christ and converted instantaneously on the road to Damascus, becoming a champion in the spread of the gospel. The dominion of his old man who hated the gospel and God’s people was killed as he become by the Spirit a lover of God and his people.
In both instances the Lord worked by his Spirit powerfully, in the same way the ultimate victory was wrought at the cross when Satan was bruised under Christ’s feet who by the bold sacrifice of himself, destroyed the works of the devil and any claim he had on elect sinners both before and after Calvary.
PILGRIMAGE FEASTS IN N.T.
Sung Psalm 132 (another pilgrimage Psalm)
Readings Acts 12:1-12 and 20:16
Harking back to Acts 2 why were the 120 there at Pentecost? We believe for two reasons, firstly keeping the law and secondly because Christ had commanded them to wait there.
Paul and the apostolic band are in Philippi at Passover (20:6), so they clearly were NOT keeping the O.T. law but DID observe the Sabbath on the first day of the week (v7). In the first instance (Acts 12) around the time Herod killed James, the feast of unleavened bread is mentioned just to give us the date. Secondly in Philippi the same feast is mentioned to again give us the time of year but then why would Paul want to be, if possible, in Jerusalem for Pentecost? This was not a necessity just a preference (he tarried twice vv4,10). This was about 58AD some 28 years after the Cross.
- Teach the Jews and proselytes (to Reform them gradually)
- Keep the Law
- Meet the church (leaders)
- Christian liberty
- Just give us a date.
We believe it was for evangelism (albeit as a prisoner) and to meet church leaders.
Because all the feasts mandated going up to Jerusalem, Mount Sion and the temple these short messages from Hebrews 12:22-24 explain the reality now for all believers who have come and do come to Mount Sion by faith in Jesus Christ. Check out Psalm 24:3-6 and Psalm 2:6! You are come to the Pilgrimage Feasts, Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles in the reality of the Lamb sacrificed, the one who pours out his Spirit and the one who dwells in us in our wilderness wandering and leads us to our heavenly city and the heavenly tabernacle. All the feasts point to Christ and his work and our life in him. Passover justification in the blood, Pentecost the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and Tabernacles glory, the ultimate harvest of all the elect and God’s eternal tabernacle with his glorified people. Passover-the feast of God’s GRACE, Pentecost- the feast of God’s GIFT and Tabernacles-the Feast of God’s GLORY (see 2 Chronicles 5:13-14, Haggai 2:1,9 and John 1:14).God’s OT feasts in Israel and their timing reflect the stages of the Christian life and God’s timing in the history of the world-the Cross and Pentecost about 29AD and the end of the world??!!
Sung Psalm 1
Reading Joshua 8:30-35
Joshua clearly knew all God’s commands given to Moses. God commanded him personally (1:7) and he writes them and reads them at Mt. Ebal in this portion of Scripture. But was this an instance of keeping the feast of tabernacles fulfilling Deut. 31:9-13 where on the special 7th year (of release ) the law was to be read? The points suggesting it may have been are: that all the people were gathered and the law was read BUT it could not be a celebration of the feast because the land was not yet conquered, or divided, they had not been seven years in it, the people had not yet set up the tabernacle (Shiloh Josh 18:1) and the sacrifices offered here bear no resemblance to those stipulated for the feast.
In fact it was the fulfilling of Deut. 27 and 28 with the recitation of the blessings and cursings, which inevitably would have made a deep impression on the people.
Nehemiah 8:17 is positive proof that Joshua kept the feast, we would surmise somewhere around chapter 22 of his book.
Sung Psalm 81:1-8 (ref to feasts)
Read Deut. 31:9-13, 24-26
We discussed the WRITING of God’s law (Pentateuch) by Moses, it’s PRESERVATION and transmission by copying and it’s READING (subject of vv10-12).
We worked out it would take about 10 hours to read the Pentateuch which could be done over a period of a week 1-2 hours daily, by a number of men simultaneously each with a group of several thousand because the people numbered about 2 million as they entered Canaan. In Nehemiah 8 we read of a similar concourse but with about 50,000 people.
What we do not know is: How many Jews had personal access to the Torah (Law of God, Pentateuch) and how many could actually read it.
So in the seventh year, the year of release, when slaves were freed, no work was done in arable agriculture and debts were remitted, the families would be required to meet in Jerusalem in the seventh month on the fifteenth day, the first day of the feast of tabernacles to remember with thankfulness God’s provision when they dwelt in booths in the wilderness, of the Law, clothes and shoes that lasted extra long, food and water, and furthermore their provision since. (especially in seventh and eighth years).
Sung Psalm 81:1-8 (celebrating Exodus)
Reading Numbers 29:12-40
The Pentateuch displays a progressive revelation of God’s instruction concerning his feasts, with the later books building upon what has been revealed earlier. Deuteronomy (from ancient Greek meaning second law), prepares the people for worship in the land.
It is worth noting that Leviticus 23 gives instructions concerning all the Jewish feasts while Numbers 28-29 outline all the sacrifices to be offered at these feasts.
The sacrifices at Tabernacles
Total 199 offerings.
*all burnt offerings #sin offering
So during this feast in which more offerings were sacrificed than in any other feast, the burnt offerings which were wholly consumed, started with the daily morning offering of a lamb, ended with another evening offering of a lamb and in between consisted the freewill offerings of the people PLUS all those outlined above.
Ezekiel alludes to this feast in Ez.36;37.38 where the increase of the people in Jerusalem will be like the increase of the flock in the city at the time of this feast.
Deut. 16:13-17 concerning this feast lays the emphasis on rejoicing and caring for the poor through sharing.
This emphasis on joy makes me (JK) think of how our Lord Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of this feast in first, his incarnation (tidings of great joy Luke 2:10) and at the end of the world and his second coming at the final joyous ingathering of his elect I Thess.2:19), the tabernacle of God is with men (Rev.21:3).
Sung Psalm 45:1-6
The freewill offering of land to the priests became cash to the value of the seed required to sow that land. If a man wanted to buy it back he had to add 20% of the cash value but at the jubilee it reverted to the priests. If a man devoted land to the priests that was bought from another man then a cash value was calculated to be given the priesthood and the land reverted to the original owner at jubilee.
Related passages: Numbers 36:1-7. To prevent land leaving Manasseh the daughters of Zelophehad married within their tribe. Jer.32:7. II Chron.36:21. Neh.10:31. Ezek.46:16-18 (c.f. I Sam.8:14)
Another aspect of Jubilee: Deut.15:1-16. The non-exaction of debt among the Jews (but not foreigners).
In Isaiah 61:1, Jubilee was fulfilled partly when the Jews returned from Babylon but ultimately in the coming of Christ who himself said this Scripture was fulfilled as he read it in the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21). Note it included kindness to Gentiles (widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian).
So the real jubilee came by preaching, by faith and by freeing from slavery to sin and the forgiveness of the debt of sin in the New Testament age, the “now” of II Cor.6:2, in which we no more keep days, months or years (Gal.4:9-10) but resort wholly to the person who brought in real jubilee namely Jesus.
” The benefits of Jubilee were squarely based on the atonement, on the shedding of blood in the stead of Israel. Israel did nothing to atone for itself, did nothing to pay. The benefits were simply bestowed upon Israel by sheer divine grace: slaves were released; debtors were freed;land and people had rest. No one did anything to earn liberation. All simply received it as a pure gift.” Prof David J Engelsma in pamphlet entitled “AD 2000: Year of Jubilee by Papal Indulgence or Reformation Gospel.”
Jubilee ppt (click on view slideshow)
Sung Psalm 72:1-8 (Messianic Kingdom)
Reading Lev. 25:35-55
A Jew come to poverty could be lent money but at no interest. The medieval church adopted this law and so Christians were not allowed to lend and the Jews took it over.
N.T. believers are to give sensibly to those in need especially brothers (job of church diaconate).
Slavery is not, of itself, morally wrong because we have slaves (servants) here in O.T. Israel. The slavery of blacks in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which involved kidnapping, torture and ill-treatment was manifestly evil and even today in many lands, east and west, men ,women and children are enslaved by unscrupulous, greedy, uncaring people. In O.T Israel, strangers (foreigners) could be slaves and along with property, inherited with land (v46).These slaves were not released at year of Jubilee.
If a Jew sold himself to a stranger he was to work as a hired servant (vv47-55). If a Jew sold himself to another Jew he was to be released on the seventh year (Ex.21:1-6) but his wife and children did not go free under this older law. Under Jubilee law they were all freed and according to Deut. 15:12-18 they were to be treated liberally with gifts when set free, one reason being their land would lie fallow for another two years! The reason for these laws God says is that all the Jews are God’s servants (v55) i.e. he is to govern their disposal.
Jeremiah 34:8-22 is noteworthy because firstly it shows that the Israelites probably for centuries ignored these laws and here, with impending defeat and captivity they make a “token gesture” to set slaves free but then renege on it and as a result go into captivity for 70 years to allow the land to have the rest it had missed.
Typology-JK (of which more next week)
- We are God’s willing slaves and freemen (Phil.1:1 bought by the blood of Jesus Christ), cared for by a loving Lord.
- Our redemption was costly (Ps.49:7-8, 15, I Peter 1:18-19).
- The worst slavery is slavery to sin which ends in eternal death (Rom.6:20-23, John 8:34).
- Christ came to bring in this real Jubilee of freeing men (Isaiah 61:1-2, John 8:36).
Sung Psalm 66:1-7
Reading Leviticus 25:23-55
Concerning the LAND (rest), the HOUSES/LAND OWNERSHIP (return) and SLAVES (release).
- The land, which in essence is leased, can be redeemed anytime but the price will vary (25:15), depending on how many years remain till the Jubilee. To enable this law to be enacted careful records would have to be kept. Ruth and Naomi returning to Israel whose land was redeemed by Boaz were an example of this being worked out.
- A house bought in a city could be returned within a year.
- A house in the country reverts to seller in year of jubilee.
- Levitical houses could be redeemed at any time and were returned in year of jubilee.
- Levitical land was theirs in perpetuity.
- These statutes were unique in Israel, prevented greed and encouraged equality. (Isaiah 5:8-10, Micah 2:1-5, II Cor.8:14-15).
Significance and typology of all this?
- All God’s people have a heavenly eternal inheritance kept for us (I Peter 1:4).
- When Christ was born, it was in a certain fixed place (Bethlehem) in Judah in the city of David’s inheritance because both Mary and Jesus’ adoptive father were of the tribe of Judah.