4. The Feast of Weeks. Suggested readings, Lev. 23. 15-22; Num. 28. 26-31; Deut. 16. 9-12; Acts 2.1; 1 John 1. 8; James 1. 18.
It has already been stated in the introduction to the feasts that God especially desired the children of Israel to appear before Him three times each year. The first occasion that brought them before Him would be at the feast of passover (called unleavened bread in Exod. 23. 14; Deut. 16. 16; 2 Ghron. 8. 13, but clearly from Luke 22. 1 the feast meant was the passover). The next occasion would be the feast of harvest, or as it is termed in this chapter, the feast of weeks. All the males of Israel would come to the place where God had placed His name and although it necessitated a journey away from their homes and families, their interest in the land during their absence was well protected by God. In fact, despite the hostile nations around, the borders of their land were enlarged; see Exod. 34. 23-24.
The firstfruits of the barley harvest were presented on the sixteenth day of the month Abib (Nisan) and the children of Israel fixed the day for the next feast (weeks) by counting fifty days from the day when the first fruits were offered. During this divinely inspired parenthesis of time apricots began to ripen, but more important the wheat began to ripen. On the fiftieth day, in obedience to the word of God, a new meal offering was presented unto the Lord. This new meal offering consisted of two wave loaves of fine flour (wheaten) which were subsequently baked with leaven. Just as the first fruits of barley waved at the feast of first fruits was representa-tive of the whole barley harvest, so these two loaves of wheat were to be regarded as the firstfruits of the whole wheat harvest.
In applying the law of the meal offering as laid down in Leviticus 6. 17, it is remarkable to find that the law prohibited the meal offering being baken with leaven and yet here in this feast leaven is used and sanctioned by God. On a further comparison with the details found in Leviticus 2, we notice several distinct differences. The antitype of Leviticus 2 is our Lord Jesus Christ in His perfect manhood, untainted by sin, the fine flour being indicative of His moral glory. But here we find a meal offering baked with leaven, and since leaven speaks typically of the workings of evil, these particular firstfruits cannot typify the Person of Christ Himself. What then does this new meal offering typify? The ingredients of the offering were fine flour and leaven; therefore we conclude that this offering typifies those (two being the number of testimony in the Scriptures) who not only have the Christ-like nature but also have known the working of sin in their lives. What can be referred to with this duality of natures but those who form the church which is Christ’s body? It must be understood though that the church is not viewed here as glorified in resurrection without blemish, but viewed as upon the earth where leaven is seen. For clearly the offering of a kid for a sin offering teaches that the cleansing of sin in the life of the believer can only be by the blood of atonement.
This harvest feast typifies the day of Pentecost, the com-mencement of a great harvest – the church. This occurred fifty days after the resurrection of Christ. For forty days the Lord Jesus showed Himself to His disciples, and then from the mount of Olives He ascended back into heaven. Before His departure, however, the Saviour had promised the disciples that the Holy Spirit would descend upon them. Just as Israel would be counting the days to fix the time of the feast of weeks, so the disciples would be happily waiting for the fulfilment of the Saviour’s promise. On the day of Pentecost, according to Acts 2, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, and His mighty work of forming both Jew and Gentile alike into one spiritual body began, and ever since God has been calling out of Jew and Gentile a people for Himself. The fact that every born-again believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit does not mean that sin will not rear its ugly head in Christian experience. The work of the Holy Spirit is not to remove indwelling sin, but He does enable the believer to subdue evil in his life so that sin might no longer have dominion over him. The effects of leaven working in the churches of God can be seen from the day of Pentecost until this present time. How sad to see assemblies in disarray because of sin. May the saints of God strive in these last days to know the power of the Spirit of God, individually and collectively, so that the lusts of the flesh may not be fulfilled in them. May we all “walk in the Spirit”.
Leviticus 23. 22, Gleaning. We have now come to the end of the first section of the chapter. We have dealt with four of the feasts which occurred early in the religious year and it would seem that verse 22 is the natural pivot of the chapter. The next feast after Pentecost was the feast of trumpets, but this did not occur until much later in the year. We suggest that the first four feasts have all been historically fulfilled, never to be repeated again, but the last three feasts are yet to be historically fulfilled. They are:
i.Feast of Trumpets – The rapture of the Church, and
the regathering of Israel, ii.Day of Atonement – The second advent and Israel’s
cleansing, iii.Feast of Tabernacles – The millennial reign of Christ.
Between the feasts of Pentecost and trumpets there is a period of approximately four months, during which time the harvest and the vintage were being gathered in. When the harvest was being reaped, the reaper was to leave some of the harvest for the less fortunate of the nation as well as the stranger from outside the nation. In the book of Ruth we find Ruth gleaning the ears of corn that had been left by the reaper. Here surely is that interlude between Pentecost and the rapture of the Church when God is bringing blessing to both Jew (whether rich or poor) and Gentile (strangers to the covenants of Israel) by means of the message of the gospel. Like Ruth, may more and more find grace in coming to their Lord and Kinsman Redeemer.
5. The Feast of Trumpets – The rapture of the Church, and the regathering of Israel. Suggested readings. Lev. 23. 24-25; Num. 29. 1-6; 10. 7, 8,10; Psa. 81. 3; 89. 15; 1 Thess. 4. 16-18; 1 Cor. 15. 52; Matt. 24. 31.
The fifth feast known as trumpets was celebrated on the first day of the seventh month of the sacred (religious) year. Since the sacred year and the civil year ran concurrently, it will readily be observed from the Jewish calendar (see paper I) that this feast coincided with the first day of the civil year, and thus the feast was termed according to tradition as a new year festival (Rosh Hash-Shanah). A period of four months separated the celebration of the fourth feast (Pentecost) and this feast. During this long period, the wheat harvest and vintage were being gathered in. We have also suggested that the feast of trumpets is yet to be historically fulfilled, even as the first four feasts have been historically fulfilled. The shadow of this feast is gradually being cast.
The commencement of the new civil year was always at the time of the new moon, and the sounding of the trumpet was therefore synonymous with new year’s day; see Psalm 81. 3. Here was a joyful sound which heralded the arrival of the new year, and the blessings which the nation of Israel were shortly to receive at the feast of tabernacles fourteen days later. The psalmist speaks of the happiness of those people who know the joyful sound, 89. 15, and surely it can be said that this refers to that occasion when the trumpets were sounded on new year’s day. Those who heard that sound walked in the light and reflected that light.
The account of this feast in Leviticus 23 is terse and does not contain the various sacrifices which were to accompany the trumpet blowing. The account in respect of the sacrifices is given in Numbers 29.1-6. But there is one word in Leviticus 23 in relationship to this feast which is not found in Numbers 29, and which gives the key to the prophetic interpretation of the feast. The important word is “memorial”. Notice that the word memorial is only used to describe this feast. The word “statute” is used in connection with four feasts, but we suggest that the usage of the words statute and memorial are not synonymous. The word memorial is found seven times in the book of Leviticus, but on no occasion can it be said that this word signifies something to be done to keep in view a thing past, but rather what is to be done in order to call attention to something yet to come. According to Andrew Bonar, the word “memorial" is a tabernacle term suggesting something just at hand.
If then the blowing of trumpets was to introduce something just around the corner, then this would agree with our thoughts on the joyful sound of Psalm 89. In Numbers 10 we find that Israel throughout their wilderness experience were summoned by the blowing of two silver trumpets. Whether it was to war, or merely to move camp, the trumpet sound was the medium of divine communication which gathered the nation together before God; (compare the use of the trumpet sound to John in Revelation 1. 10).
The sounding of the trumpet speaks then of the gathering of Israel, but God’s earthly people are currently scattered abroad. They are dispersed throughout the nations of the earth and, as the prophet Hosea reminds us, they are “without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice …”, Hos. 3. 4. The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 11 that blind-ness in part is happened to Israel. Israel having forsaken her God, and because of her unbelief, is at present cast aside for the blessing of the Gentiles. But the day is coming when the unconditional promises made to Abraham will be fulfilled (see Genesis 12. 2-3), and the nation of Israel shall once again be regathered to their God when they hear the trumpet sound. This then is the latent prophetic view of the feast. Our Lord Jesus Christ in His discourse in Matthew 24 spoke of that day when the remnant of Israel would be gathered from all parts of the earth by the trumpet sound. The clock of prophecy relating to Israel stopped when the Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cross of Calvary, and that clock will recommence when Israel is regathered by the sound of the trumpet. Until Israel is regathered and restored, the world cannot be blessed through that nation.
Although the primary application of this feast must be to the regathering of the nation of Israel, certain of the New Testament Scriptures speak of another gathering of redeemed people, namely the Church. Before the prophecy of Matthew 24 is fulfilled, the Church will have been raptured (caught up). Every born-again believer, whether dead or alive, will be caught up to meet the Saviour in the air, and so shall they ever be with Him, i Thess. 4. 16-18. The sound of the trumpet will close the dispensation of the day of grace. Paul speaks of this sound as the “trump of God”, 1 Thess. 4. 16, and “the last trump”, 1 Cor. 15. 52.
J. N. Darby says of the last trump, 1 Cor. 15. 52, that it is an allusion to military matters. Josephus’ Wars speak of the order of the breaking up of a Roman camp. At the last trump they all break up and march forward. When the last trump is sounded, the whole Church will have been called out of this earthly scene, later to return as the glorious bride of Christ. The words of the hymn-writer are surely very apt: Until the trump of God be heard, Until the ancient graves be stirred, And with His great commanding Word
The Lord shall come.
Finally, let us all remember that the lives of the children of Israel were once governed by the sound of the trumpet (see Num. 10). They were constantly on the alert for the sound of the trumpet. They would not be indifferent to its call but would respond immediately. May we, as the redeemed of God, daily await the soon return of our Saviour, for shortly we shall hear the trump of God. May we be ready for the Saviour’s return, and may this glorious hope spur us to sanctify our lives day by day.