God's Holy Days and Salvation, Introduction





God’s Holy Days

And

The Plan of Salvation

Introduction



We are told that God does not do anything before first revealing it to his servants; Surely the Lord Jehovah will do nothing, except he reveal his secret unto his servants the prophets (Amos Chapter 3:7). But one must also realize that this information is spread throughout the Bible and generally not located in one spot. One is required to search the entire written word to discover what it is that God has to say about a particular subject. We find this direction in Isaiah 28:10; For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little… And the reason God conceals things; It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. (Proverbs 25:2 NIV). Through diligent study and reading of God’s written word (i.e. the Bible) we discover God’s truths and bring glory to our self.

Many speak of God’s plan of salvation but few seem to be able to provide an outline of this plan. Has God hidden his plan from the world? Well yes and no. Yes in that it is not clearly outlined in the Bible; not located in one specific spot. But no it is not hidden if one is willing to search, both the Bible and history. A careful examination of the Bible will provide one with a clear outline of God’s plan for all of mankind.

The Plan first revealed

The goal of God’s plan for humanity was initially revealed to Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham in which he promised:


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17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

(Genesis 18:17-18 KJV)

After Abraham demonstrated that he was willing to sacrifice his only son, Issac, to the Lord, God reaffirmed his promise to Abrahma and through him the whole human race.[1]

16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:


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17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

(Genesis 22: 16-18 KJV)

Actually there are a number of levels in God’s promise to Abraham. The first is a physical blessing made unto Abraham’s direct descendents and that is that they will become a great nation. The second and most profound is the spiritual blessing contained in God’s promise and that is through his descendents all of the earth shall be blessed. And we know that the ‘seed’ mentioned in Genesis 22:18 is Jesus Christ[2].

So we have the goal or the reward of God’s plan for humanity but where are the details? Now nowhere does the Bible give a step-by-step outline of the plan of salvation but it does provide a broad outline of the plan and this can be found in the book of Leviticus.

The Book of Leviticus

This outline was given to the Israelites (and in a sense to the whole world) at Mt.Sinai where God presented the Ten Commandments and he and the nation of Israel entered into a covenant, known as the first covenant and/or the Mosaic covenant. It was also at this time that the book of Leviticus was written[3].

The book of Leviticus contains laws and priestly rituals; it is like a user’s manual for the Lord’s Tabernacle and later the Temple. These laws were in use until the destruction of the temple in AD 70. In a wider sense it is about the rules of operation of God’s covenant with Israel established at Mt.Sinai[4]. The book of Leviticus gives the nation of Israel details of the daily law for the people including regulations about their diet, criminal and civil law, these laws also cover relationships and behavior, both for an individual and the community[5].

The first 16 chapters and the last chapter make up the Priestly Code, with rules for ritual cleanliness, sin-offerings, and the Day of Atonement. Chapters 17-26 contain the Holiness Code, including the injunction in chapter 19 to "love one's neighbor as oneself" (the Great Commandment)[6]. It is within this ‘Holiness Code’ that we find the general outline of God’s plan of salvation.

The plan, while not labeled as the “Great Plan of Salvation’, is found in chapter twenty three of Leviticus;

These are My appointed feasts, holy seasons of the LORD, which you are to proclaim at their appointed times

(Lev 23:2)

For the remainder of this chapter the holy days, both weekly and yearly, are listed and explained how and when they are to be observed. It is by examining the details of these holy days; their symbolism and setting, that one can glean an understanding of God’s plan of salvation. Unknowingly we have had this knowledge for almost 3400 years but only a limited few have understood what was being celebrated year after year with these holy days.

While an examination of Leviticus 23[7] will provide one with the general steps of God’s plan of salvation it must also be realized that this is ‘the big picture’. It is the plan of salvation relating to the whole world; the entire human race, one’s reception of salvation is an entirely different matter; a personal matter. The steps or events that lead an individual to salvation are unique to each person; as is the timing and circumstance. It maybe surprising but at this time God’s plan of salvation is not being offered to the whole world but to a relatively small group of people; the elect. This will be seen as we proceed.

In the opening of the 23rd chapter of Leviticus God clearly tells Moses that these feasts are his (God’s) feasts[8]. They are not Israel’s feasts or as some erroneously call them Jewish feasts; they are not our feasts but God’s! He further states that they are set by him; we do not decide when to hold them but God does. So shall we look to see what God’s Holy Days are and how they illustrate his plan of salvation?

The Weekly Sabbath

Before we begin our examination we need to first examine briefly the subject of the weekly Sabbath. The Sabbath is an important item in our relation with God; it is something that, in God’s eyes, is not to be treated lightly or improperly. In fact it was Israel’s violations of the Sabbath that caused them to be over run and taken into captivity.

As was said the Sabbath is very important to God. The fourth commandment, instructing us to keep the Sabbath day holy, is thirty percent of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments contain 322 words. 98 of those words are about the Sabbath. In fact God made a separate covenant with Israel[9] regarding the Sabbath, both the weekly and the yearly Sabbaths.

The Sabbath, according to God, is:

13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.

(Exodus 31:13 KJV)

So the weekly Sabbath is to be a sign that identifies God’s people. Not only is it a sign but also a test; to see if we will obey God’s laws;

4 Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
5 And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.
6 And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the LORD hath brought you out from the land of Egypt:
7 And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?
8 And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD.
9 And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your murmurings.
10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.
11 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.
13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.
14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.
15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.
16 This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
17 And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.
18 And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.
19 And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.
20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.
21 And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.
22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
23 And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.
25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field.
26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.
27 And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.
28 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?

(Ex. 16:4-28)

Also the weekly Sabbath existed long before the events at Mt.Sinai. In fact the weekly Sabbath has existed as long as mankind has. Notice in Genesis after God has created man and woman he established the Sabbath;

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

(Genesis 1:27, 31-2:1-3 KJV)

Now God didn’t rest because he was tired, what he did was refrain from creating or working and that is what we are directed to do on the Sabbath. The weekly Sabbath is intended to give us a rest from the world; its pressures and burdens and allow us to recharge our batteries. It is a time to be refreshed and is to be used as a time to spend in worshiping God. It is also a weekly reminder as to who our creator is. It is also symbolic of the rest we shall enjoy with Christ after his return and the reestablishment of the Kingdom of God here on Earth; which is also what the holy days illustrate, God’s plan for our reconciliation with him.

An Overview of the Holy Days

“These are My appointed feasts, holy seasons of the LORD, which you are to proclaim at their appointed times”

(Lev. 23:4)

It is important to start with an overview of the Holy Days as a group. There are 7 holidays and there are; Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day[10]. It should be noted that the Hebrew word for seven is shevah from the root word savah, which means to be full or satisfied, to have enough of.

The feasts were divided into two seasonal groups; the spring and fall. The first three feasts (i.e. Passover, Days of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost) occurred during the spring season and the remaining four during the fall season. In Israel there are two rainy seasons called the former and later rain. At the end of the spring rain there is a harvest that was for grain and at the end of the autumn season there is a harvest which was for fruit. But there is also a long hot summer in Israel in between both harvests; agriculturally Israel is reliant on a water supply because it doesn’t rain much in summer.

As we shall see, Christ fulfilled the first three (the spring) feasts during his lifetime here on Earth and the last four (fall) feasts will be fulfilled during and following his second coming. It would appear that we are currently, prophetically speaking, in the dry summer time. We are now in the time of summer preparing for the fall harvest;

“Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”

(John 4:35-36)

Footnotes

[1] Gen. 22:1-10

[2] 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (I Tim. 2:4-5

KJV)

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him

might be saved (John 3:17 KJV)

[3] These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount

Sinai. (Lev. 27:34 KJV)

[4] These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between him and the

children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses. (Lev. 26:46 KJV)

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Leviticus

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Leviticus; Matt. 22: 36-40

[7] Directions are also given in Numbers 28 regarding the proper sacrifices that are to be offered at the different Holy Days. See Appendix A.

[8] Say to the children of Israel, These are the fixed feasts of the Lord, which you will keep for holy

meetings: these are my feasts (Lev 23:2 Basic English Version)

[9] Ex. 31:12-17

[10] Actually the last Holy Day isn’t specifically named; throughout this manuscript it will be referred to as the Last Great Day and the reason for that will be shown later.

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