The end…..?

11 03 2011

DAY SEVENTY : Leviticus 23 v. 1 – 24 v. 23; Mark 15 v. 33 – 47; Psalm 32 v. 1 – 11;

LEVITICUS contains God’s plans for a holy people, holy priests, holy buildings, and in today’s passage, holy days. There are seven holy festivals. The Hebrew word translated ‘feast’ here, could be translated ‘convocation’ or a time when God’s people are ‘called together’ for worship, prayer, sacrifice, teaching, direction.

The Feasts
(i) The weekly Sabbath is a day of rest – one day a week set aside to indicate that all our time is God’s.
(ii) Passover and Unleavened Bread – early in the year (March / April), one day celebrated the passover, God’s saving grace in Egypt, and then the feast of Unleavened Bread was a week long feast celebrating God’s provision through the time of the Exodus.
(iii) Firstfruits – as in a harvest festival, the firstfruits (wheatsheaf, unblemished lamb, grain, flour, oil) are presented to God before any of the produce is eaten; symbolically thanking God for the harvest.
(iv) Feast of Weeks – fifty days after the offering of the firstfruits, a fuller harvest celebration; full sacrifices of animals and bread (sin and fellowship offerings). Again there’s a reminder to leave the edges of the harvest field for the poor and needy to find food to eat. ‘Pentecost’ is another name for this festival, used by the Christian church to celebrate the coming of the Spirit fifty days after Easter.
(v) Feast of Trumpets – first day of the seventh month (start of the ‘civil year’), marked by trumpet blasts and burnt offerings.
(vi) Day of Atonement – tenth day of the seventh month, a day of denial / fasting, and no work – the one day when the High Priest would be allowed into the Holiest Place to offer sacrifice for atonement for the whole community.
(vii) Feast of Tabernacles – and five days after the Day of Atonement, this feast week (a whole seven days celebration) involved celebrating the harvest – beginning and ending with a rest day, offering choice fruits, and celebrating the whole week long. Families would live in tents for the week, working in the fields, as a reminder of the tents in the Exodus.

Oil and Bread – Pure olive oil was to be used to keep the holy lampstand lit continually; twelve loaves of bread (representing twelve tribes of Israel – everyone represented!) were maintained in the tabernacle, replaced with fresh each Sabbath and eaten by the priests.

Blasphemers – oops! The son of an Israelite mother and Egyptian father gets into a fight and misuses God’s name. The blasphemy law is introduced which will see this man taken out of the camp and stoned to death by the whole assembly. Horrific. Once again, the desire is for utter respect and holy awe for the name of the Lord.
I noted that there is to be no distinction in the law between a native-born and an alien – no prejudice and unfairness in following these rules. The death penalty for murder, restitution if someone kills an animal, injury claims (eye for eye, tooth for tooth – this far, but no futher in restitution).

How hard if must have been for the Israelites after generations growing up enslaved in Egypt, to cut free, experience liberty and yet learn the constraints of holiness.

MARK
Jesus Dies – three hours of darkness, a cry of desolation – “Why have You forsaken me?” (quoting Psalm 21)
Jesus breathes His last….
The temple curtain is torn in two – the Holy of Holies exposed – God’s presence uncontained, set free. The temple’s sacrificial systems are thus torn and no longer needed.

And only one other voice today – that of the centurion (a Gentile, the first to proclaim Jesus as Son of God).
“Surely this man was the Son of God.”
The only supporters…..the women….watched from a distance.

Jesus is Buried – the two Marys (Jesus’ mother and Mary Magdalene) observe Joseph of Arimathea (one of the very Sanhedrin, ruling council who had condemned Jesus) receive permission from Pilate to bury the body in a new grave, a tomb cut out of the rock, and a large boulder seals the tomb.

perhaps a risky role for Joseph to take on; important for us that there are witnesses to Jesus’ death and to His burial

PSALM
“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long…..
You are my hiding-place;
You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance…
Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
Sing, all you who are upright in heart!” 

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