A Handbook of Bible Law - Feasts and observances

Copyright 1991 by Charles A. Weisman. 2nd Edition: Aug., 1992; 3rd Edition: Dec., 1994

Feasts and observances

Comments: A number of feasts were established and commanded by God for the people to keep in recognition of His works (e.g., Passover), or in gratitude for the blessings God had bestowed upon the people (e.g., the Feast of Harvest - the first fruits of your labor). They were God's feasts thus they are called 'feasts of the LORD."

The root idea of the Hebrew word 'feast,' chagag, would most appropriately mean to gather or circle around the table to celebrate by eating. Each feast was to be celebrated at a set time of the year.

The feasts appointed by God were to be a time of "holy convocation" in which no ordinary work was to be performed. The term 'holy convocation' embodies the notion of form and ceremony, where all assembled together for a solemn observance of the time.

Other observances that were commanded to be "kept holy" or solemnly observed include the land and labor Sabbaths and the Jubilee, which were an extension of the festival system. The Sabbath was to be observed every seventh day. Certain economic necessities require the observed day to be set and established throughout the nation. It would be chaotic if buyers, sellers, employees, employers, etc., all observed the Sabbath on different days.

The 'Year of Jubilee' occurred at the end of every seven sabbatical years or 49 years, being proclaimed on the fiftieth year, and was also known as the 'Year of Release.' On the Jubilee all land mortgages were canceled and all lands sold were to be released and returned to the original owner because - "the land shall not be sold forever (permanently)" (Lev. 25:23). The Jubilee thus worked as a safety check to prevent permanent hardships to a family by restoring lands on a periodical system. The Jubilee 'release' did not apply to real estate and homes sold within cities (Lev. 25:30).

9A - Feasts and Special Days

  1. Passover is to be observed. Exod. 12:43-51; Lev. 23:5; Num. 9:2-14; Num. 28:16; Deut. 16:1-5; Ezek. 45:21-25; Luke 22:7-18.
  2. The Passover is to be a solemn observance throughout all generations. Exod. 12:42.
  3. No outsider, sojourner or hired servant shall eat of the Passover meal. Exod. 12:43, 45.
  4. Those unable to keep the Passover at its proper time are to keep it one month later. Num. 9:10-12.
  5. The Feast of Unleavened Bread is to be celebrated the day after Passover (to eat unleavened bread seven days) Exod. 12:15-20; Exod. 13:6-7; Exod. 23:15; Exod. 34:18: Lev. 23:6-8; Num. 28:17,25; Deut. 16:3-4.
  6. Wave Sheaf offering (2nd day after Passover). Lev. 23:10-14.
  7. In the first and seventh day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread there shall be an holy convocation, you shall do no servile work. Exod. 12:16; Lev. 23:7-8; Num. 28:17, 25.
  8. The Feast of Harvest (the first-fruits of thy labor). Exod. 23:16, 19; Exod. 34:22, 26.
  9. The Feast of Ingathering. Exod. 23:16; Exod. 34:22; Lev. 23:39-41.
  10. Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) -Seven weeks to be counted from the time you begin harvest, then on the fiftieth day you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks. Exod. 34:22; Lev. 23:15-16; Deut. 16:9-12.
  11. Feast of Trumpets -a day for blowing the trumpets (To do no work on that day). Lev. 23:24-25; Num. 29:1.
  12. Feast of Tabernacles -you shall keep a feast to the LORD for seven days. Lev. 23:34-36, 39-43; Num. 29:12; Deut. 16:13-15.
  13. You shall celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and wine vat. Deut. 16:13-14.
  14. On the first and eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles you shall have a sacred assembly, you shall do no customary work. Lev. 23:35-36, 39; Num. 29:35.
  15. Day of Atonement - You shall humble your souls and do no work on that day. Lev. 16:29-34; Lev. 23:27-32; Num. 29:7.

9B - Practices and Observances to Follow

  1. Anointing (inauguration ceremony) for new civil leader coming into office. 1 Sam. 10:1; 1 Sam. 16:12-13; 1 Kings 1:39.
  2. The first born of man or animal to be dedicated to God. Exod. 13:2,12; Exod. 34:19-20.
  3. Three times in a year all males shall appear before the God of Israel, and make an offering to provide for the feasts. Exod. 23:14-17; Exod. 34:23; Deut. 16:16.
  4. Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Acts 2:38; Acts 8:12.
  5. Feasts to be published and proclaimed in all the cities and towns in the land. Neh. 8:15.
  6. Partaking of Communion in remembrance of Christ and in celebration of the Lord's supper. Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-19; 1 Cor. 10:16; 1 Cor. 11:23-26.

9C - Labor Sabbath

  1. The Sabbath as a time of rest from work was instituted by God. Gen. 2:2-3; Heb. 4:4.
  2. The Sabbath to be kept holy. Exod. 20:8; Exod. 31:14; Exod. 35:2; Deut 5:12; Isa. 56:2; Jer. 17:22; Ezek. 20:16, 20.
  3. Six days of the week are to be used for labor, and the seventh day to be a Sabbath of rest in which you shall do no work. Exod. 16:22-30; Exod. 20:9-11; Exod. 23:12; Exod. 31:15; Exod. 34:21; Exod. 35:2; Lev, 23:3; Deut 5:13-14; Neh. 13:15-22; Jer. 17:22; Luke 23:56.
  4. Sabbaths commanded to be kept. Exod. 31:14; Lev. 19:3, 30; Lev. 26:2; Deut. 5:15.
  5. Keeping the Sabbath is a sign of a covenant with God. Exod. 31:139 16-17; Ezek. 20:15, 20.
  6. No buying, selling or marketing is to transpire on the Sabbath. Neh.10:31; Neh. 13:15-22.
  7. No house work to be done on the Sabbath. Exod. 35:3.
  8. No burdens to be carried on during the Sabbath. Neh. 13:19; Jer. 17:21-22, 27.
  9. The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Mark 2:27.
  10. Christ is Lord of the Sabbath. Matt. 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5.
  11. Provide for food needed on the Sabbath in advance so it need not be gathered or bought or cooked on the Sabbath. Exod. 16:51 22-30; Exod. 35:3.
  12. We are not to seek our own pleasure on the Sabbath. Isa. 58:13.
  13. Divine worship to be celebrated on the Sabbath (a time for holy convocation). Lev. 23:3; Ezek. 46:3; Acts 16:13; Acts 18:4.
  14. The Scriptures to be read to the people on the Sabbath day. Acts 13:14-15, 27-44; Acts 15:21; Acts 17:2.
  15. Works connected with religious service are lawful on the Sabbath. Num. 28:9; Matt. 12:5; John 7:23.
  16. Good deeds and works of mercy are lawful on the Sabbath. Matt. 12:11-12; Mark 3:1-5; Luke 6:6-10; Luke 13:10-13; Luke 14:1-4; John 5:8-16; John 9:14.
  17. Acts needed to sustain life may be performed on the Sabbath. Matt. 12:1-5; Mark 2:23-26; Luke 6:1-4.
  18. Acts of necessity may be performed on the Sabbath. Luke 13:15; Luke 14:5; John 7:22-23.
  19. You honor God in observing the Sabbath. Isa. 58:13-14.

9D - Land Sabbath

  1. Six years you shall sow the land and reap its produce, but the seventh year you shall let the land lie fallow. Exod. 23:10-11; Lev. 25:2-4.
  2. Every seventh year to be a Sabbath of rest for the land, you shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. Lev. 25:4.
  3. In the year of the land Sabbath you are not to harvest those crops which grow by its own accord. Lev. 25:5.
  4. The food which grows of itself can be taken by the poor to eat during the land Sabbath. Exod. 23:11.
  5. Food requirement for the year of the land Sabbath and following year will be provided by God with an abundant crop in the sixth year. Lev. 25:20-22.
  6. The land and its fruits are holy to God, and therefore should not be abused. Lev. 27:30; Ezek. 45:1,4; 48:14; Zech. 2:12.

9E - Jubilee

  1. A Jubilee is to be observed at the end of every seven land Sabbaths (every fifty years). Lev. 25:8.
  2. The fiftieth year or the Jubilee is to be hallowed and to be a year of liberty and release throughout the land. Lev. 25:10.
  3. You shall not sow or reap on the Jubilee year but eat the increase gathered in previous years. Lev. 25:11-12, 18-22.
  4. The Jubilee to be holy to you. Lev. 25:12.
  5. On the year of the Jubilee you shall return to every man his property, the field shall return to the one from whom it was purchased, to whom the possession of the land belongs. Lev. 25:10, 13; Lev. 27:24.
  6. All those in service to another are to be released from their contract or indenture of service, and allowed to return to his family. Lev. 25:10, 40-41.
  7. The Jubilee to start and be proclaimed on the Day of Atonement. Lev. 25:9.

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