BIBLIOTHECA SACRA 147 (1990): 143-54
Copyright © 1990 Dallas Theological Seminary. Cited with permission.
The Purpose of
Timothy K. Hui
Attorney and Counselor
Thompson & Knight,
The feasts of the Lord were days of high importance for Israel.1
They punctuated her calendar with seasons of joyous celebration,
sharing in agricultural abundance, and reprieve from the daily rou-
tine.2 But they were also religious events.3 Their importance is evi-
denced by the fact that three passages in the Mosaic legislation de-
scribe the feasts: Leviticus 23; Numbers 28-29; and Deuteronomy 16.
What was the significance of these annual religious festivals?
Hulbert suggests that their significance was primarily eschatologi-
cal and that they "were types which prophesied God's redemptive
valid, it must have "continuity of truth" in both testaments.5 So for
1 J. Van Goudoever, Biblical Calendars (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1961), p. vii. He intro-
duces "day of 'high importance'" as an appellation for the various festivals.
2 The idea of joyous celebration is particularly strong in the Deuteronomy account.
See the discussion on Deuteronomy 16 in Gilbert George Braithwaite, "The Doctrine of
the Central Sanctuary in Deuteronomy" (ThD diss.,
1978), pp. 125-26. The abundance of the land, represented by the freewill offerings
(Deut. , 17), was to be shared with the unfortunate (vv. 11, 14). For the reprieve
from the daily routine, see the discussion later on the sabbatical rest.
3 The religious nature of these feasts may be seen in the Numbers account. Each in-
dividual feast had its own set of offerings. Furthermore these feasts were said to be-
long to the Lord (hvAhy; ydefEOm).
4 Terry C. Hulbert, "The
Eschatological Significance of
(ThD diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1965), p. i.
5 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 8 vols. (
144 Bibliotheca Sacra / April-June 1990
the annual cycle of feasts to have the eschatological significance
that Hulbert proposes, it must first speak commemoratively
of her past redemption before it can speak typologically of her future
redemption. Hulbert recognizes this, but he gives little attention to
the historical function.6 Both are needed, and the historical signifi-
cance must be considered first. Stated in another way, before an Old
Testament event can have a forward-looking typological function, its
historical and retrospective significance must be seen.
How Do the Feast Passages Differ?
The three passages that describe the feasts differ in their em-
phases. Deuteronomy 16 stresses the pilgrimages to the feasts, Num-
bers 28-29 emphasizes the offerings, and Leviticus 23 focuses on the
feasts themselves. Why are these emphases given?
In Deuteronomy 16 the pilgrimage (gH) occupies a prominent
place.7 That chapter mentions only the three pilgrimage-feasts,
during which attendance before the Lord for all male Israelites was
required.8 "These annual feasts would keep the people aware of the
importance of the central sanctuary and of its role in maintaining
their unique spiritual relationship with" the Lord.9 The recurring
phrases, "the place which the Lord your God chooses" and "(appear-
ing) before the Lord your God," readily identify the organizing prin-
Press, 1948), 7:309.
6 For example he states that "this retrospective idea was certainly valid, for the
feasts involved true memorials, of deliverance from
be confessed, etc." (Hulbert, "'
pp. 3, 109). He adds that from the premillennial point of view one must accord to
these feasts "a genuine historical function" (ibid., p. 17).
7 The verbal root ggH has the meaning of "making a pilgrimage" (Francis Brown, S.
R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament
whose derivative, hajj,
refers to the official pilgrimage to
cal Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. LairQ Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and
Bruce K. Waltke, 2 vols. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), s.v., "ggaHA," by Carl Philip We-
8 The three pilgrimage-feasts are the feasts of Unleavened Bread, Weeks, and
Booths. Even though the Passover is mentioned in this chapter, that feast "and Un-
leavened Bread are in effect the two constituent parts of a single major festival," of
which "the second part. . . [is] the center of attention" (Peter C. Craigie, The Book of
tally this is the same orientation found in Leviticus 23.
9 Braithwaite, "The Doctrine of the Central Sanctuary in Deuteronomy," p. 125.
The Purpose of
ciple of this passage.10 Verses 16-17 conveniently summarize this
literary unit. The pilgrimages of the people to the central sanctuary
would contribute to national unity.
Numbers 28-29 is a section of the Mosaic legislation whose pur-
pose "is to define the periodical public offerings."11 The inclusion of
the list of the feasts of the Lord is only incidental.12 These two chap-
ters prescribe the kinds of offerings for various occasions--daily of-
ferings (28:3-8), sabbatical offerings (28:9-10), and festive offerings
(28:19-29:39). The literary clue for the whole section (hence also for
the segment governing the feasts of the Lord) is in Numbers 28:2. The
Israelites were instructed to "observe" (rmawA) to present the offerings.
The word rmawA means “to exercise great care over."13 In Deuteronomy
this word is used of the people's careful observance of the Lord's com-
mandments.14 It is clear then that Numbers 28-29 contains an instruc-
tional manual for the priests on the offerings in the feasts of the Lord.
A cursory reading of Leviticus 23 reveals that no such convenient
organizing principle may readily be found. The feasts are treated at
various lengths, and various details are given for each of the feasts,
as seen in this table:
Feasts Passage Length
Passover 23:5 1 verse
Unleavened bread 23:6-8 3 verses
Firstfruits -14 5 verses
Weeks -22 8 verses
Trumpets 23:24-25 2 verses
Day of Atonement -32 6 verses
Booths -43 10 verses
10 For the phrase "the place which the Lord your God chooses" see verses 2, 6-7,11,
15. For the phrase "before the Lord your God" see verses 11 and 16 (without the prepo-
11 George Buchanan Gray, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Numbers, Inter-
national Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1903), p. 402.
12 Ibid., pp. 402-3. "Incidentally it also, and of necessity, contains a list of Jewish
fixed feasts or sacred seasons."
13 Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, s.v. "rmawA," by John E. Hartley, 2:939.
"Secondly it expresses .the careful attention to be paid to the obligation of a covenant,
to laws, statutes, etc. This is one of the most frequent uses of the verb."
14 For a complete list see S. R. Driver, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on
Deuteronomy, International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1895), p.
146 Bibliotheca Sacra / April-June 1990
Even the instructions for the offerings differ in length (compare the
instructions for the Feast of Firstfruits and the Feast of Weeks with
the instructions for the other feasts15).
These differences in length have led critics to conclude that
"this chapter is not a self-contained unity."16 Snaith, for instance,
sees two sources for this chapter.
This chapter is composite, as is clear from the double introduction,
verse 2 and verse 4. Scholars who carry literary analysis into minute de-
tails find they have to speak of more than one P-editor, apart from the
allocation of verses between H and P. It is generally agreed that 1-8, 21,
23-38, 44 belong to P, though of different strata, and that 22, 39-43 are H,
with the rest mixed, basically H but with P-elements of varying degrees
of recognizability. Generally speaking, the agricultural emphasis is
characteristic of H, and the ecclesiastical element of P. Indeed, it is
these differences that are used as criteria.17
Elliger also sees at least two layers of material in this chapter, the
second of which has its own special sources.18
Noth, on the other hand, feels that the various "incongruities
are not easily explained by the literary-critical assumption of dif-
ferent 'sources."'19 He attempts to explain the formation of this
chapter along a historical line. He suggests that verses 9-21 have an
earlier tradition that he calls the
tion is then combined with "the threefold agrarian feasts still pre-
served in Deuteronomy." These all came together about the time of
the Exile and remained so until after the Exile when they became
normative (in Num. 28-29). So the Leviticus list occupies somewhat
a middle position between the other two accounts.20
15 Noth makes this point: "On the one hand there are fairly short regulations for
the celebration of particularly and precisely dated times in the course of the year (so
especially vv. 5-8; also vv. 23ff.); on the other hand there are very detailed precepts
for carrying out festival customs on some not exactly dated occasions (so especially vv.
9-21; also vv. 40ff.)" (Martin Noth, Leviticus: A
minster Press, 1965], p. 166).
17 Norman H. Snaith, Leviticus and
Numbers, The Century Bible (
Nelson and Sons, 1967), pp, 149-50.
18 These two layers are his Ph3 and Ph4. For the so-called "literary history" see
Handbuch zum Alten Testament (
1966), pp. 311-12.
19 Noth, Leviticus, p. 166.
20 Ibid. Hulbert, on the other hand, puts the Leviticus account as the first historical
account. He considers the other two accounts as "restatements and emphatic reminders
given to the new generation on the plains of
The addition of certain details peculiar to each of the other two accounts was because
of "historical circumstances" (Hulbert,
The Purpose of
Kaiser points out that for hermeneutical exercises such pursuits
of "hypothetical sources" are fruitless. He believes that the task of
an exegete is not to investigate the "pre-history of the text" but to
explain "the meaning of the present text."21 Pursuit of prehistory
often leads to ludicrous dismemberings of the text.22 Wenham warns:
The tentativeness of all attempts to discover sources in Leviticus must
be underlined. Even if one admits their presence it does not necessar-
ily follow that they ever circulated independently of each other. Analy-
ses which purport to distinguish between an original source and the
work of later redactors should be treated more warily still. We do not
know enough about the development of Hebrew language, law, and re-
ligion to make the elaborate analyses offered in some works anything
more than conjectures.23
The presupposition of the present writer is that Moses penned
this chapter as well as the rest of the Pentateuch. Leviticus 23 is an
original composition. From a careful examination of the text itself
one can determine its unifying principle.
Does Leviticus 23 Emphasize the "Appointed Time" or
"Rest" and "Gathering"?
Hulbert, in his typological study of Leviticus 23, suggests that
the emphasis of this chapter revolves around the term "appointed
time" (dfeOm).24 However, that would be a rather weak unifying cen-
ter, as the Hebrew word "frequently designates a determined time or
place without regard to the purpose of the designation."25 This cen-
ter is not only weak lexically, but it also fails to account for most of
the divergences in length and in the amount of details.
A more likely unifying principle is suggested by Wenham. He
states that "the whole emphasis lies on the days that must be ob-
better to say that the differences were due to differing purposes.
21 Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., "Evangelical Hermeneutics: Restatement, Advance, or Re-
treat from the Reformation?" Concordia Theological Quarterly 46 (April-June 1982):
22 See the translation of Leviticus 23 by Elliger. In order to demonstrate the two lay-
ers and the various sources of each layer he employs seven different type faces
(Elliger, Leviticus, pp. 302-3).
23 Gordon J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus (
24 "The Leviticus 23 account, on the other hand, was given in the form of a schedule
of appointed observances. This is borne out by the four pointed occurrences of moadim
in Leviticus 23:2, 4, 37, 44" (Hulbert, "Israel's Annual Feasts," p. 28).
25 Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, s.v. "dfy," by Jack P. Lewis, 1:388.
148 Bibliotheca Sacra / April-June 1990
served as days of sabbath rest."26 This calendrical purpose is sup-
ported by the phrase "in their seasons" (MdAfEOmB;, v. 4). The lack of
clarity as to the beginning of the 50-day period before the Feast of
Weeks militates somewhat against this center.27
Keil states that the annual cycle of feasts has "its centre and
starting point in the Sabbath."28 Wenham interprets Keil as saying
that "the sabbatical principle informs all the pentateuchal laws
about the festivals."29 In this view Leviticus 23:3, set between the
so-called "dual introductions," supplies the controlling idea(s) for
this chapter. The repetition of the demonstrative pronoun hl.,xe
which appears at the end of verse 2 and at the head of verse 4,
indicates that verse 3 is a purposeful insertion.30 The addition of the
phrase "in their seasons" to verse 4 (but not in v. 2) makes that verse,
perhaps, the introduction proper.
This sabbatical principle incorporates two ideas: the Sabbath
is to be a time of rest (NOtBAwa tBawa), and the Sabbath is to be a time for
religious gathering (wd,qo-xrAq;mi). If this is a valid center, then one
should expect the literary clues (i.e., the details) of this chapter to
expand these two concepts of rest and holy convocation.
26 Wenham, Leviticus, p. 3.
27 "On the day after the sabbath (vv. 11, 15, cf. v. 16)--the meaning of this phrase
has been the subject of much controversy. Is the sabbath in question the ordinary sab-
bath, i.e., the first Saturday after the beginning of the festival of unleavened bread?
Or is the sabbath the first day of unleavened bread when heavy work was forbidden?
According to the first interpretation 'the day after the sabbath' means Sunday; ac-
cording to the second it means the sixteenth day of the month.
"Orthodox Judaism and most modern commentators favor the second suggestion.
Some Jewish sects, however, and a few modern writers favor the first suggestion. The
exegetical arguments are finely balanced. It seems slightly more natural to equate
'the sabbath' with Saturday than with the first day of the feast. Furthermore, if one
accepts that: Leviticus is based on the Jubilees Calendar, it would seem more likely
that the first sheaf was offered on Sunday (the day after sabbath) than on Thursday
(second day of the feast)" (Wenham, Leviticus, p. 304).
Van Goudoever suggests two additional ways of counting the 50 days: (1) count
from the day after the week of Unleavened Bread, which ends with a Sabbath, or (2)
count from the Sunday after the week of Unleavened Bread (Biblical Calendars, pp.
28 Carl Friedrich Keil, Manual of
Biblical Archaeology, 2 vols. (
29 Wenham, Leviticus, p. 301.
30 Keil feels that the repetition of the title points out the distinction between the
"Sabbath" and the feasts. "As a weekly returning day of rest, the observance of
which had its foundation in the creative work of God, the Sabbath was distinguished
from the yearly feasts in which
evation into a people of God" (C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, The Pentateuch, 3 vols.,
Commentary on the Old Testament [reprint,
Publishing Co., n.d.], 2:438).
The Purpose of
The concept of the sabbatical rest is often associated with Cre-
ation.31 The Lord's rest from His creative activities is the reason be-
the reiteration of this commandment (Deut. ) a different reason
is given: to commemorate
the rest (tbAwa) in Genesis 2:2 and the rest (hHAUnm;) in Psalm 95:11.32 In
other words he associated this rest with the entrance
the Promised Land, which the Israelites (the first generation of the
Exodus) forfeited because of their unbelief. Rest, in this context, was
the repose of the Lord from His completed work; and He shared this
repose with the nation of
Land. The sabbatical rest is then a commemoration of the Lord's fin-
ished work of redemption.
Viewing the sabbath as "a periodical memorial of
the festive Sabbaths cannot fall on the weekly Sabbath. Instead of
having significance in reference to Creation, these festive Sabbaths
point to the completed work of redemption, which is a form of cre-
Of the seven feasts of the Lord described in Leviticus 23, five in-
clude a specific prohibition from work (UWfEta xlo hdAbofE). They are the
first and the seventh days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (vv. 7-
8), the Feast of Weeks (v. 21), the Feast of Trumpets (v. 25), the Day
of Atonement (vv. 28-31), and the first and eighth days of the Feast
of Booths (vv. 35-36). During the Feast of Unleavened Bread the two
Sabbaths are only six days apart. The Feast of Firstfruits takes
place on the day after a Sabbath. The 50th day from that day can-
32 Hebrews 4:1-5. The writer of Hebrews used both the verb and the noun from the
same root: katapau<w and kata<pausij.
33 Driver, Deuteronomy, p. 85.
34 "The Exodus, too, was a type of creation and thus forms an analogy to the creation
account in Genesis. The Exodus from
as a nation, and the memory of that event was also a reminder to the Israelites of
their total dependence upon God. Whereas atone time the Israelites had been slaves
God's deliverance made them potentially a nation, and the sabbath was to function as
a day of rest in which the deliverance from the former bondage could be remembered
with thanksgiving" (Craigie, Deuteronomy, p. 157).
150 Bibliotheca Sacra / April-June 1990
not possibly be another Sabbath. Thus the Feast. of Weeks would not
be on a weekly Sabbath. Between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day
of Atonement the interval was 10 days; thus one of them could not
fall on a weekly Sabbath. The significance of the sabbatical rest
went beyond the general commemoration of the Lord's repose from
His completed work of creating the world to the specific commemo-
ration of His completed work of redeeming the nation
Two of the seven feasts include no prohibition from work. They
are the Passover and the Feast of Firstfruits. The Passover, accord-
ing to verse 5, is basically an evening event. The next morning begins
the first Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. So the Passover
is, in effect, the beginning of or the introduction to the Feast of Un-
leavened Bread. In the description of Deuteronomy 16 the "Passover
and Unleavened Bread are in effect the two constituent parts of a
single major festival."35
The Feast of Firstfruits took place after a religious Sabbath
(Lev. 23:10-11). There is no mention of a Sabbath observance or a
prohibition from work in the instructions for this feast. There are
some indications that this and the Feast of Weeks should be consid-
ered as "the two constituent parts of a single major festival" like the
Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Feast of First-
fruits marked the beginning, and the Feast of Weeks marked the end,
of the harvest season.36 Both included the wave offering (vv. 11, 17).
In the first case what was waved is the sheaves, but in the second
case what was waved is two loaves of bread baked with yeast
(leaven). It signified the completion of the harvest and the
leisurely preparation of meals. At the Feast of Firstfruits no such
leisure could be offered. It began the harvest and no special time was
taken for rest. A literary parallel to this phenomenon is in Genesis
1:7. At the end of the second day of Creation there was no pronounce-
ment of approval. That did not come till the third day. It is sug-
gested that the work performed on both days should be taken as a
The feasts may be grouped into three units. The first two feasts
belong together, as mentioned earlier. The second two feasts are also
to be taken together. The last three would naturally be taken to-
35 Ibid., p. 242.
36 Van Goudoever, Biblical Calendars, pp. 15-18.
37 "The words it was good were not appropriate at this state, in as much as the work
of water had not yet been completed. The situation was not yet good; for had it been
good, there would have been no necessity for another separation on the third day" (U.
Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, part 1: From Adam to Noah: Genesis
I-VI 8 [
The Purpose of
gether because they are in the seventh month. Some modifications of
this group may be necessary as will be revealed in the study of the
term "perpetual statute" (MlAOf tq.aHu). Only four of the seven are so
designated in Leviticus 23: Feasts of Firstfruits, Weeks, Booths, and
the Day of Atonement. The first two feasts--Passover and Unleav-
ened Bread-are so designated in Exodus 12:14, 17. But the perpetual
statute statement is really not necessary because they were instituted
and kept before the Mosaic Law was given at Sinai. The Feast of the
Trumpets is considered a memorial (NOrkAzi), not a perpetual statute
(Lev. 23:24). It was not equal to the other six, because it was an in-
troductory Sabbath for the Sabbath month (seventh month). Thus
the feasts may be seen as three groups of two, with the third group
having an introductory Sabbath.
Since the first two feasts are not mentioned as perpetual statutes
because they were established before the giving of the Law at Sinai,
what then is the significance of such a designation for the last two
groups of feasts? One factor that seems to be common to them is that
they could not be properly observed until the nation
the Promised Land. Obviously they could not celebrate the beginning
or the end of the harvest season so long as they lived a nomadic life
in the Sinai wilderness. The feasts of Firstfruits and of Weeks would
be meaningless if
of Booths commemorated the wandering of
tents during that period (Lev. ). Such commemoration would be
unlikely until the wandering itself had ceased and the nation was
dwelling in houses and not tents. The Day of Atonement gives no in-
dication one way or the other. Some sense of permanence seems to be
indicated for the tabernacle in Leviticus 16. Taken together, the
idea seems to point toward the completed redemption. The feasts of
the Lord emphasize not the leaving of
the Promised Land, which completed the Lord's redemptive work for
The second concept of the sabbatical principle relates to the
calling of a holy convocation. The purpose for such gatherings was
religious—“for the worship of Jehovah.”38 They were special occ-
sions for fellowship and communion between a holy God and His
holy people. This concept is conveyed in the details that Leviticus
23 gives for the Feast of Firstfruits and the Feast of Weeks.
The following table summarizes their treatment:
38 Keil and Delitzsch, The Pentateuch, 2:21.
152 Bibliotheca Sacra / April-June 1990
Feasts Offerings Specified Details
Passover None mentioned None
Unleavened Bread Offering (using the Made by fire
general verb braqA)39
Firstfruits Wave offering Sheaves
Burnt offering Yearling male lamb
Meal offering Two-tenths ephah
of fine flour, mingled
with oil, made by fire
Drink offering Fourth of a hin
Weeks Wave offering Two loaves of bread
made of two-tenths
ephah of fine flour,
baked with leaven
Burnt offering Seven yearling lambs
One young bullock
Meal offering Made by fire
Drink offering Made by fire
Sin offering One male goat
Peace offering Two yearling lambs
Trumpets Offering Made by fire
Atonement Offering Made by fire
Booths Offering Made by fire
The third and fourth feasts--the Firstfruits and the Weeks--re-
ceive extended treatment here. The regulations for the offerings dur-
ing the other feasts are recorded in Numbers 28-29. However, one
must consider the reason for singling out Firstfruits and Weeks in
Leviticus 23 and the types of offerings that are prescribed. Four types
of offerings were common to these two feasts. Wave offerings signify
consecration or dedication.40 The concept behind burnt offerings is
multifaceted. In light of the event (harvest), one should consider
39 This verb means basically "being or coming into the most near and intimate prox-
imity of the object (or subject)." But it is also used technically to connote "every step
man performs in presenting his offering to God," but without specifying the type of of-
fering (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, s.v. "braqA," by Leonard J. Coppes,
40 Wenham, Leviticus, pp. 126-27. Rainey sees a communal significance for the wave
offering. But he feels that the "technical term (hpvnt) was applied to offerings other
than communal sacrifices: . . . the sheaf of First Fruits (), the two loaves at the
Feast of Weeks (vv. 17, 20)" (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, S.v.
"Sacrifices and Offerings," by A. F. Rainey, 5:208).
The Purpose of
them as dedicatory.41 The same notion probably also lies behind the
third and fourth types of offering, the meal and drink offerings.42
Numbers 28:26-31 also prescribes offerings for the Feast of
Weeks, called the "Day of the Firstfruits."43 When the two lists are
compared, the last three of the above four types of offerings are
common to both. The portions seem to be more generous in Numbers.44
Leviticus 23 adds mention of sin and peace offerings. In Numbers
28:30 a male goat is specified for the purpose of making atonement.
The type of offering, a sin offering, is not mentioned. Its emphasis is
noteworthy. The concept of the removal of sin, or the requirement of
holiness, on the part of the worshiper is clear. The fact that this
type of offering is followed by a peace offering further clarifies that
only after the removal of sin can one have communion or fellowship
with the Lord.45 This is the only occasion among the seven feasts
when a peace offering was required. It spoke of the special relation-
ship between a sanctified people and their Lord. This is further
supported by requiring observance of the Feast of Booths by "all the
instruct them that they were to have a special relationship with
their Lord (v. 43).
The concept behind the holy convocation is not so much the sa-
credness of the occasion but rather the "sacredness" of the people. It
is a holy convocation because of the
"holiness" of the people
ered together. The precision with which they kept these feasts was
not what the Lord sought if they persisted in sin.46 Without a holy
people, there could be no holy convocation.
In this section on the harvest feasts, the poor and the foreigners
were not forgotten (v. 22). Perhaps this is an
needed to be reminded of her own disenfranchisement in Egypt.47 The
41 Ibid., p. 205.
42 Ibid., pp. 206-7.
43 Keil considers that the Day of the Firstfruits is the same as the Feast of Weeks
(Keil and Delitzsch, The Pentateuch, 3:221). The equation is rather evident in that
the Day of the Firstfruits comes at the end of the weeks (Num. 28:26).
44 The Numbers passage mentions two bulls. Numbers has only one ram instead of
two. Numbers has at least five-tenths ephah of fine flour specified, plus several more
tenths not specified.
45 Though the significance of this is disputed, one may agree with Delitzsch, Stade,
and Wellhausen in understanding it to be "fellowship between God and worshipers"
(Brown, Driver, and Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, s.v.
"Ml,w,," p. 1023). This notion is also the first of three given in Theological Wordbook of
thc Old Testament, s.v. "MlewA," by G. Lloyd Carr, 2:930-32.
46 Cf. Amos 5:21-22; Micah 6:6-8.
47 Cf. Deuteronomy 24:19-22.
154 Bibliotheca Sacra / April-June 1990
abundant harvest at the same time reminded them not only of the
harvest's completion but also of the completeness with which the
Lord had redeemed them.
Keil suggests that the Sabbath is the governing principle in the
feasts of the Lord. The annual cycle of feasts, he says, had "its cen-
tre and starting point in the Sabbath."48 The literary clues from
Leviticus 23 vividly demonstrate this point. These feasts were to be
"celebrated by a Sabbath cessation from work, and a special assem-
bling for religious purpose."49 This celebration was retrospective.
The commemoration was made by a holy people who were the bene-
ficiaries of the Lord's completed work of redemption.
Hasel points out that the work of Old Testament theology is not
complete unless it is related to the New Testament.50 One may also
say that an exposition of an Old Testament passage is not quite com-
plete without seeing how it relates to New Testament believers in
their walk with the Lord. Because of the feasts' emphasis on the
sabbatical principle, some may assume that the application is to the
Lord's day--Sunday--and its various activities. However, since the
Sabbaths involved in the Feasts were not the weekly Sabbaths, such
a connection is weakened. The two ordinances of the New Testament
church provide a better parallel. Both baptism and the Lord's Sup-
per commemorate the completed work of redemption of Christ on the
cross.51 The idea of cleansing is embodied in baptism, and the Lord's
Supper calls for self-examination.52 But both also signify an identification
with Christ.53 So whenever believers gather for these events, they should look
back, as a holy people, to the completed work of their Lord.
48 Keil, Biblical Archaeology, 1:470.
50 "The Biblical theologian understands OT theology as being more than the
'theology of the Hebrew Bible.' The name 'theology of the Old Testament’ implies
the larger context of the Bible of which the New Testament is the other part. An inte-
gral OT theology must demonstrate its basic relationship to the NT or to NT theol-
ogy" (Gerhard F. Hasel, Old Testament Theology: Basic Issues In the Current Debate
51 On baptism see Romans 6:1-10 and Colossians 2:11-13, and on the Lord's Supper see
1 Corinthians 11:24-26.
52 On baptism see Acts , and on the Lord's Supper see 1 Corinthians 11:28.
53 On baptism see Romans 6:3, and on the Lord's Supper see 1 Corinthians 10:16.
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