The Sabbath and Passover: Leviticus 23:3-5

Leviticus 23:3‑5  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 10
The Sabbath, as we noticed before, is the first feast mentioned in our chapter, though in reality it was not a feast, but rather shows us God’s purpose of rest for the earth. God’s purposes must always come first, and He delights to look on to the rest He has in view for this sin-ruined earth. There is then a second beginning, if we might call it so, with the feast of the Passover. It comes first in the actual feasts, for it typifies Christ as the One who shelters all who believe from judgment, and by whom alone either Israel or ourselves can enter into rest. It is interesting and instructive to notice how God delighted to remind His people Israel, as He does all through the prophets, of the rest He longed to give them. Labor is the result of sin, but “there remaineth ... a rest to the people of God” (Hebrews 4:99There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. (Hebrews 4:9)). Israel’s rest is on earth while ours is in heaven.
But let us look at these seven feasts of the Lord in their order. It is perfect and beautiful, as is everything in the Word. Primarily they refer to Israel — the present church period coming in between the feast of Pentecost and the end of the harvest — but we can also apply much of what we have here to ourselves, for the work of Christ is the ground of all blessing, whether to Israel or the church.
The Passover
First, then, there is the Passover. It must come first, for it typifies what we have just mentioned — the redemptive work of Christ. There could be no blessing, but only judgment, apart from this, for God cannot pass over sin, it must be punished. But once the question of sin has been righteously settled, then God can “pass over” every one who has taken shelter under the blood, for His Word says, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:1313And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:13)).
Surely the goodness of His heart came out in that He Himself warned of the approaching judgment on Egypt and also provided a sure way of escape. And He has done the same for us today, for He has warned of eternal judgment and has Himself provided a Saviour, His own beloved Son, whose precious blood shelters all who believe from this judgment. Love always thinks of its objects and seeks their blessing, and how much greater the love of God than any human love!
The Passover Feast
The Passover feast was to be observed on the fourteenth day of the first month. God had changed their calendar when He told them to take the Passover lamb in Egypt, just as He has “changed the calendar” of everyone who believes now. He makes a new beginning in our lives when we become new creatures in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:1717Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)), and a perfect beginning, too, just as the feast of the Passover was on the fourteenth day of the month — a double seven! It was never to be forgotten, and so each year they kept it again. Of course we know now that the work of Christ, which the Passover typified, is gloriously complete “once for all,” but how gladly we “break bread” on each first day of the week (Acts 20:77And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. (Acts 20:7)) to remember Him in His death — precious privilege — till He comes! It was when the Lord Jesus gathered His own around Himself in that upper room to keep the last Passover that He instituted this precious feast of remembrance, the Lord’s supper. How we who are saved delight to be reminded in this way of His sufferings and death for us.
For Further Meditation
1. What does the Passover typify?
2. Why was it essential that the Passover be mentioned first in the list of offerings? What Bible passages clearly show the meaning that the Passover has for the believer in Christ today?
3. You can get a nice overview of the seven feasts presented in this chapter by studying The Seven Feasts of Jehovah Chart by D. C. Buchanan.