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Mt. Rushmore presidents February 23 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Leviticus 21, 22, 23

Our Lives are a Tribute

The presidential images of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln are sculpted in granite on Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota. They are monumental tributes to their greatness. If we do this as a tribute to mortal men, what should we do as a tribute to our Almighty and Faithful Eternal God? He does not want us to sculpt an image of him—that leads to idolatry. He wants us to remember him in other ways.

We learn in today's Bible reading that the priests are not only to require others to follow the instructions of the LORD to be holy—their lives serve as a tribute to his holiness. They are set apart to God from all sin and uncleanness. They are responsible to present holy sacrifices which are without defect or blemish and offer them in prescribed ways. They need to do things just as God directs so that his name is not profaned (treated with irreverence), and they will not be punished for dishonoring him before the Israelites (Leviticus 21:6; 21:10-12,21-23; 22:2,9,20).

If we are Christians, we also are priests but of a different order—we are not priests by inheritance but by the grace of God.

To him [Jesus Christ] who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father-- to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (Revelation 1:5b-6, NIV)

True believers in Jesus Christ should be tributes to God's holiness, i.e., we are chosen by the LORD and it is our duty to set the example in godly righteousness. How do we honor God before others? Are we careful in how we speak of him? Do we speak in such a way which gives the highest respect, honor and worship to him; or in our speech do we speak of the LORD with reverence on Sunday and with profanity on Monday?

Besides speech, how do we demonstrate holiness in our church, home, and in our work places? Do we show the LORD the highest honor in the way we worship, the way we exercise our gifts, and the way we conduct our personal lives and business? This is what he wants. In this way we honor him and provide good character leadership for others to follow.

Besides the examples of our lives, what other visual ways can we show reverence for the LORD and help people remember his faithfulness? In today's Bible reading we learn that one of the ways Israel does this is by observing feast days. The feasts begin and end with observing a Sabbath (a day of rest from all labor). This is important because it gives the body rest—God does not want his special creation to work themselves to death. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27, NIV; see also Leviticus 23:3). The Sabbath is a day of sacred assembly, and it honors the LORD who instituted it (Exodus 20:8-11). Today, we are under grace, not the law of Moses, and we do not observe an official Sabbath day's rest (Matthew 12:1-13; Romans 14:5-6a); however, a day of rest is still good for our bodies and it honors the LORD.

The first feast on the Hebrew calendar is the Feast of Passover, commemorating Israel's deliverance from bondage. It begins the fourteenth day of the first month of Nissan (or “Abib,” Exodus 34:18). This is in late March or Early April. In the Christian calendar this feast represents Good Friday and Easter. Christ died for us on the cross on Good Friday, delivering us from the bondage of sin. On Easter Sunday he arose from the dead.

The next day after Passover, or the fifteenth day, the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins. It lasts for seven days. The Israelites eat bread without leaven (yeast), commemorating their hasty exit from Egypt (Exodus 12:16-20). It was then that they began a new life with God. In the New Testament, Jesus said to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, meaning false teaching (Matthew 16:12). God uses leaven as a symbol of sin because it increases. When we are delivered like the Israelites, we need to depart quickly from our sin and walk in newness of life (more...).

The next feast is the wave offering or the Feast of Firstfruits. The Israelites bring sheaves from the beginning of their barley harvest and wave them before the LORD. Sacrifices accompany the grain offerings. The Feast of Firstfruits implies more harvest is to come. In thankfulness we should offer the firstfruits of our labor, having faith that God will supply all our needs (Proverbs 3:9-10).

The Feast of Firstfruits also has a spiritual correlation. Jesus Christ later comes to earth as a baby, performs miracles as God's Son, is betrayed and crucified on a cross, then is resurrected to become the first fruit of those who will later arise from the dead with eternal life (1Corinthians 15:20-23).

Fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits is the Feast of Weeks. This is the celebration of the first wheat harvest. Again there is a spiritual correlation between the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) and Jesus Christ. Fifty days after Christ arises from the dead and becomes the first fruit, on the day of Pentecost there is a large harvest of 3,000 souls who are given spiritual life (Acts 2:1-41).

On the first day of the seventh month, Tishri, the Feasts of Trumpets announces the coming Day of Atonement on the tenth. As we said in our February 21 Bible study, this is a time of spiritual cleansing in the fall season (October-November). It is followed by a celebration which we might liken to our Thanksgiving, the Feast of Ingathering (of their harvest).

One day a trumpet blast will sound the coming of Jesus Christ, when he gathers up (raptures) church age believers into heaven (Hebrews 9:27-28).

The Day of Atonement may also foretell the time when Israel will repent and again be God’s chosen and blessed nation. This will happen at the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ (Zechariah 12:9-11 and 13:1).

The harvest celebration continues through the Feast of Tabernacles. On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, the Israelites make decorative booths or tabernacles (small tent like structures) of palm branches. They live seven days in the booths to remember how they lived when God brought them up out of Egypt. For forty years God took care of them in the wilderness, protected them and blessed them. Some day we will celebrate all the ways our Savior has led us home to heaven. Praise God!

Lessons to Live By

  • When we are delivered like the Israelites, we need to depart quickly from our sin and walk in newness of life (more...).
  • Our life is a tribute, and it should be a holy tribute, i.e., we, as true believers in Christ, should set the example in our righteousness. Be holy in your home, your church and your world. Let them see that you serve a holy God.
  • By his grace God has called us to be spiritual priests. We must show him the highest honor by the way we live, worship, and exercise our spiritual gifts.
  • Observe a day of rest to honor God and refresh yourself .
  • Observe Communion Services and our Christian holy days of Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas with reverence and joy. These are visual reminders of God’s grace and blessings in our lives.

Focus Verse

1Peter 3:15 (NIV) “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

note: Many insights into the regulations for priests and the appointed feasts were gained through The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T. by Walvoord and Zuck, © 1985, pp. 204-208.

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A Look Ahead: To be holy requires Discipline, yes, but it also requires Fairness, and Grace. Find out more in our Next Lesson.

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