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7th Day Rest - Sabbath

The Seven Festivals

The Jewish calendar contains seven sacred feasts that seem confusing to non-Jewish readers. Listen in as Tim shows how each of the feasts points us toward the human quest for eternal rest as seen in our theme of seventh-day rest.
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Episode Details

November 18, 2019
67 min

Episode Details

November 18, 2019
67 min

Show Notes

QUOTE

“The Holy One, blessed be He, created seven ages, and of them all He chose the seventh age only, the six ages are for the going in and coming out (of God’s creatures) for war and peace. The seventh age is entirely Sabbath and rest in the life everlasting.” – Rabbi Eliezer

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The seven festivals or feasts in the Jewish sacred calendar are integral to understanding the theme of the seventh-day rest in the Bible. These feasts have symbolic meaning connecting back to the creation account in Genesis and the story of the Exodus. They are meant to act as a way to remember and teach.

SHOW NOTES

In part 1 (0-16:10), Tim and Jon recap the conversation so far, including the story of God giving Moses the Ten Commandments and instructions for the tabernacle. Interestingly, Tim notes that he isn’t pointing out all the layers of seven in the Bible, just highlighting some of the significant ones. For example, Moses goes up and down the mountain to commune with God seven times in the whole story of the TaNaK.

Tim moves into the next part of the story. God is now dwelling in the tabernacle, also known as the tent of meeting. Unfortunately, God’s presence is so intense that no one can go in.

In part 2 (16:10-25:00), Tim expands on the theme of Sabbath in Exodus.

Exodus 23:9-12

Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.

Tim observes that Sabbath rest isn’t just for the Jews. It’s also rest for the servants, the land, and the animals. All of creation is called to participate in seventh-day rest.

In part 3 (25:00-35:00), Tim looks at a passage from Deuteronomy 15.

Deuteronomy 15:1-6

At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your fellow Israelite owes you. However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.

Cancelling debts would sometimes happen in the ancient world when a new ruler came into power as an act of political and social favor. What’s unique about the Jewish idea in Deuteronomy, Tim notes, is that this release from debts is meant to be observed independently of any kingship or political system.

In part 4 (35:00-44:00), Tim goes back to Leviticus to trace out the appointed feasts.

Leviticus 23:2-4

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.

There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord.

These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times.’”

Here’s a simple way to lay out the sabbath and the appointed festivals.

  1. Sabbath

The seventh day of each week.

Duration: one day

Restrictions: no work

  1. Passover & Unleavened Bread

The first feast of the year.

Duration: one day plus seven days

Restrictions: no work on the first and seventh days

  1. Firstfruits

Held the day after the seventh day of Passover

Duration: one day

  1. The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost)

Seven times seven and one days after Passover

Duration: one day

Restrictions: no work

  1. Trumpets

First day of the seventh month

Duration: one day

Restrictions: no work

  1. Day of Atonement

Tenth day of the seventh month

Duration: one day

Restrictions: no work

  1. Tabernacles

Middle of the seventh month (7/15-7/21)

Duration: seven days

Restrictions: no work on the first and seventh days

(Numbers 5-7 are commonly known as "The Days of Awe")

The Sabbath represented a burst of Eden rest into ordinary time. These seven feasts all participate and develop aspects of the meaning of the original Sabbath.

Passover and Unleavened Bread: redemption from death (new creation) and commitment to simplicity and trust in God’s power to provide food in the wilderness Firstfruits and Weeks: celebrating the gift of produce from the land Trumpets: announcing the sabbatical (seventh) month Day of Atonement: God’s renewing the holiness of his Eden presence among his compromised people Tabernacles: provision for God’s people on their way to the Promised Land. They are to act like they are living in God’s tent for a Sabbath cycle. “And you will take the fruit of the beautiful tree, the branches of a palm, and branches of a tree of leaf and of poplar trees by a river, and you shall rejoice before Yahweh for seven days” (Leviticus 23:40). Israel is called to rest in a mini-Eden tent made of the fruit of a beautiful tree for a Sabbath cycle! The dates of these feasts float independently of the perpetual seventh-day cycle. Occasionally, when a feast falls on the Sabbath, it becomes extra special. For example, passover falls on the Sabbath during Jesus’ week of passion when he is crucified.

In part 5 (44:00-47:45), Tim moves on and discusses the Feast of Firstfruits and the Feast of Weeks / Pentecost.

In part 6 (47:45-end), Tim covers the last three festivals: the Festival of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

Tim notes that there are lots of overlapping calendars in the Hebrew Bible, and it can be difficult to keep them all straight. In modern times we have calendars like “the school year,” “the financial year,” “the sports year,” etc. All of these years and calendars overlay on our actual year in a different way. This is true of feasts in the Bible as well.

These last few feasts are commonly regarded as “the days of awe and wonder” in modern Jewish life. The Festival of Trumpets is now known as Rosh Hashanah. This would have been considered the Jewish New Year. The Day of Atonement is the next holiday where a symbolic goat takes Israel’s sins out of the camp. The Feast of Tabernacles is last. This feast is meant to reenact the Israelite wandering and journey in the wilderness. Israelites are expected to not work for seven days and camp out.

Tim quotes from Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer.

“The Holy One, blessed be He, created seven ages, and of them all He chose the seventh age only, the six ages are for the going in and coming out (of God’s creatures) for war and peace. The seventh age is entirely Sabbath and rest in the life everlasting.”

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Show Music:

Defender Instrumental by Tents Lost Love by Too North For When It’s Warmer by Sleepy Fish Ambedo by Too North Shot in the Back of the Head by Moby Shine by Moby

Show Resources:

Michael Morales, Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord, A biblical theology of the book of Leviticus.

Quote from Rabbi Eliezer can be found in Samuel Bacchiochi, “Matthew 11:28-30: Jesus’ Rest and the Sabbath,” pp. 297-99.

Show Produced by:

Dan Gummel

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