LEVITICUS 23 does not list all the festivals, but it does list those Divinely appointed seasons in which there were to be holy convocations of special solemnity (v. 2). The specified times for public worship according to the Law were: (1) the times of the daily morning and evening sacrifices, sometimes called “the continual burnt offering”; (2) the weekly sabbaths; (3) the new moon days; and (4) the “set feasts” (Numbers 29: 39), appointed times of annual observance, of which there were five: the Passover, the day of Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. For each of these occasions special sacrifices were appointed (Numbers 28, 29). Since the daily morning and evening services and the new moons (except the seventh) were not days of special solemn assemblies, holy convocations, they are not included in Leviticus 23.
Antitypically God charged Jesus as His Executive and the Leader of His people (v. 1) to instruct His Gospel Age people (likewise the Christ will be charged to instruct His Millennial Age people) concerning certain blessed conditions, or states, which He had arranged for them to participate in, and which they were exhorted to declare as being specially sacred to Him and having for them blessed mutual privileges and experiences in grace, knowledge and service (v. 2). These include: (1) those of antitypical Israel as a whole throughout the Gospel Age, especially those in the gatherings in its beginning and ending stages – in the Harvests; and (2) those of each individual antitypical Israelite’s whole Christian life, especially its beginning and ending stages.
The Weekly Sabbath
In Leviticus 23 the weekly sabbath is placed before the annual appointed times. It heads the list of holy convocations, for (1) it is basic and common to all of God’s justified people; and (2) the whole series of sacred times was sabbatic in character. The weekly sabbath types our justification rest of faith, the Millennial blessings reckoned to us by faith. The fact and the effects of sin and the curse were to be endured by the race during the six 1,000-year days (v. 3); but during the seventh 1,000-year day, the Millennium, it is to cease from suffering the effects of sin and the curse. For those who in this life gain justification by faith, their antitypical six 1,000-year days have been the parts of the literal six 1,000-year days that preceded their justification, and their seventh 1,000-year day is the period in which their justified humanity enjoys faith justification; for to those who are justified by faith is reckoned the Millennial rest from the curse.
The annual feasts for holy convocations are introduced in v. 4. There were annually, besides the weekly sabbaths, seven days of strict rest and holy convocation: the first and seventh days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (the Passover), the Day of Pentecost (the fiftieth day, v. 16), the day of the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the first and eighth days of the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread
The holy convocations on the first and seventh days (Nisan 15 and 21) of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (vs. 5-14) type the blessed privileges and experiences in the Christian lives of God’s people in the Ephesian and Laodicean periods, with the great joy and peace coming to them in the justified condition from a sense of freedom from the slavery of sin, error, selfishness and worldliness, as they participate in Truth, righteousness, love and heavenly-mindedness.
God charged Jesus to give instructions to His people (vs. 9, 10) regarding His resurrection on the third day (Nisan 16). Jesus did this partially as the Logos in giving pertinent Old Testament Scriptures, especially the one under consideration, but more particularly when He instructed His disciples near the close of His earthly ministry. He instructed them that after they came into the Truth as due and its Spirit after His resurrection, beginning in the Jewish Harvest, they (and the rest of God’s Gospel Age people) were to testify to our Lord as being a resurrected New Creature, the first of the firstfruits of them that slept. Our Lord presented Himself to God as a resurrected New Creature on the third day, from then on to be continually alive and active in His service, and (after His ascension) to be accepted on behalf of the Church, to justify and make intercession for them (v. 11). This offering was very acceptable to God (v. 12) and was accompanied with the preaching of the Truth in its deeper and surface features (v. 13). God’s Gospel Age people are not to partake of the Truth as due since Jesus’ resurrection without acknowledging His resurrection and its importance in God’s plan. This is an arrangement for them throughout the Age, in every epoch of the Church (v. 14). It will also be a Millennial arrangement.
Pentecost, the Feast of Firstfruits
The day of Pentecost was the Feast of the Firstfruits (vs. 15-21), on which the two firstfruit wave loaves were waved before God. It types the whole Gospel Age as the time that the holy spirit is poured out upon the New Creatures of the Little Flock and Great Company, the antitypical firstfruits in the wider sense. But from the standpoint of the afterfruits the day of Pentecost, apart from the wave loaves, in a secondary sense types the Millennial Age, in which the spirit will be poured out for all flesh (Joel 2: 28, 29).
The kind of sacrifices connected with the offerings of the firstfruit wave loaves have their antitype from Pentecost, 33 A.D. until the Great Company leaves the earth. The two wave loaves at Pentecost were not only burnt-offerings with their meat and drink offerings, but also a kid of the goats for a sin-offering and additionally two lambs for a peace offering, WHICH WERE WAVED (vs. 18-20). The one sin-offering proves that only one of the antitypical loaves (the Little Flock) would make a sin-offering, and the two peace offerings prove that both antitypical loaves (the Little Flock and the Great Company) would fulfill vows continually unto death. The two wave loaves were baked with leaven (v. 17) showing that their antitypes were in a more or less corrupt condition in the flesh. The two rams for a burnt-offering (v. 18) type Jesus making the Church and the Great Company acceptable in justification and sanctification.
In v. 24 the antitype of the blowing of the trumpets refers to the proclamations of the Truth message, and the twelve new moons refers to the experiences connected with the development, etc., of the twelve chief graces. Only one new moon day each year, that of the seventh month, was a festival. It was specially important, introducing the month in which occurred the Atonement Day and the Feast of Tabernacles every year and the Jubilee year every fiftieth year. It types for the Gospel Age, Christian privileges as to disinterested love in its various features, the seventh grace in 2 Peter 1: 5-7. God’s instructions (vs. 23-25) through Jesus for His people were that in these privileges they were to have the reckoned Millennial rest from the curse (sabbath), with special proclamations of truth on disinterested love, as a memorial to God, who is love (1 John 4: 8), and who desires this quality to abound in His people, and with blessed mutual experiences for them in grace, knowledge and service.
Atonement Day and Feast of Tabernacles
God’s charge to His people to keep the Atonement Day solemnly and as a holy convocation (vs. 26-28) seems to type His charge to His Gospel Age people to hallow it and to enter into its Sin-offering privileges and share the blessed pertinent experiences in grace, knowledge and service. Special sanctity and observance of the reckoned Millennial rest from the things of the curse were enjoined upon all, with cutting off from one’s standing as the penalty for persistently willful violations (vs. 29-31). For the spirit-begotten this would mean the Second Death. This arrangement was to apply continually (v. 32).
The Feast of Tabernacles in which the Israelites dwelt in booths made of branches of various kinds of trees, and rejoiced greatly is set forth in vs. 34-36, 39-43. The antitype shows the condition of the various eventual class standings of God’s Gospel Age people, especially in the Harvest, as a result of efforts bestowed upon them before God. The standings set forth here are those of the Little Flock (goodly trees, v. 40), the Great Company (palm trees), the Second Deathers (thick trees) and the Youthful Worthies (willows). The holy convocations on the first and eighth days of the feast type for the Gospel Age the mutual blessed privileges and experiences of God’s people of the two Harvests, including especially the Epiphany in their various class standings.