Podcast Episode

What Israel's Feasts Teach Us

Are there specific times humans can meet with God in special ways? For ancient Israel, the answer was yes. In this episode, join Tim and Jon as they explore the final movement of Leviticus, talk about the Sabbaths and festivals ancient Israelites celebrated every year, and discuss the significance of rituals and liturgies that allow us to see our time as a significant part of God’s story.

Episode 8
1hr 1m
Jul 18, 2022
Play Episode
Show Notes


The tabernacle represents an actual piece of real estate that belongs to Yahweh, and in that space, he takes up residence, fills it with his presence, and we can go there and meet with him. In the same way, there are set times that are appointed to meet with Yahweh. Yahweh fills that time in a unique way, and we can find God there in that time in a special way … The Sabbath practice that Yahweh invited Israel into as a whole people is now being turned into a guideline, and it’s going to become a guideline not just for a weekly rest and cessation from our work but for a seven-times-over network of annual rhythms by which they rest and do no work. And each one of these is called a mo’ed, a time for meeting with Yahweh.


  • Israel’s appointed feasts and festivals were unique times they would meet with God.
  • All of the Jewish holidays and festivals combine to form an ongoing disruption to the people’s lives, designed to form the way they saw and participated in the world.
  • The liturgies in this section of Leviticus show us that when we intentionally practice and remember their true meaning, liturgies are powerful opportunities for our minds and imaginations to be formed by the story of God in which we participate.

Timeless Truths from Ancient Laws

In part one (00:00-11:49), Tim and Jon review the approach we’ve had to studying the laws within the Leviticus scroll. Namely, the most effective way to interpret the levitical laws is not to cherry-pick certain ones and copy-and-paste them into our modern world, but to look at the system of laws as an ancient and unified whole from which we can derive wisdom for how to live in any era.

In this final movement of Leviticus, we’re tracing the theme of Sabbath through Leviticus 23-27 and exploring the laws that governed Israel’s feasting and rest days. What we do with our time tells a story about where our loyalties lie—a timeless principle that was true for ancient Israel and for us today.

Appointed Meeting Times

In part two (11:49-40:12), Tim and Jon dive into Leviticus 23:1-24:9, three literary units about marking sacred time.

Leviticus 23:2 Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, “Yahweh’s appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations—my appointed times are these.”

What follows is a list of seven appointed times that Israel celebrates every year. The Hebrew word for “appointed time” is mo’ed, which appears for the first time in the seven-day creation story (Gen. 1:14) and literally means “a time or place for a meeting.”

Sabbaths were considered mo’edim (meeting times), and so were the festivals of Passover, Shavuot, Feast of Weeks/Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles/Booths (Sukkot), Feast of Firstfruits, and the Feast of Trumpets. Each mo’ed occurs in some multiple of seven (i.e. the seventh day of the week, seven-times-seven weeks, first day of the seventh month, tenth day of the seventh month, and the 15th-21st of the seventh month).

These appointed feasts and festivals were unique times Israel would meet with God, and they ordered their lives in special ways. For instance, Israel’s calendar started at Passover. After being enslaved for hundreds of years, their day of deliverance became the day their calendars reset—and the day their lives reset too. It was like a day of new creation, when their identities and lives fundamentally changed. The Feast of Weeks remembers Israel’s journey through the wilderness to the promised land. All the mo’edim in succession retell Israel’s foundation story every single year, reminding the people where they’ve been and training them to anticipate Yahweh’s ultimate fulfillment of his promises.

All of the Jewish holidays and festivals combine to form an ongoing disruption to the people’s lives, and this is part of the point. None of us were born into a “neutral” calendar—our calendars are structured by values and a story. How we structure our time forms our values and how we see the world.

Liturgies That Form Imagination

In part three (40:12-01:00:19), Tim and Jon move on to Leviticus 24, which contains instructions for maintaining the seven-headed menorah lamp.

The narrator uses language reminiscent of Genesis 1 to describe the menorah, connecting it to the heavenly lights of the creation story. Here, in the tabernacle, the menorah shines 24/7 on a table holding twelve loaves of bread. The priest would put incense on the bread every Sabbath day. The bread not only signifies Israel’s offering to Yahweh but also mirrors the greater reality the tabernacle accomplishes in the midst of Israel—Yahweh’s light shining on the 12 tribes of Israel.

It might seem strange to us, but this section is like a liturgical play. Liturgies can be empty, and they don’t ensure faithfulness. However, when we forget liturgies altogether, we miss out on a powerful opportunity for our minds to be formed by the story of God in which we participate.

Referenced Resources

  • Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord?: A Biblical Theology of the Book of Leviticus, L. Michael Morales
  • Interested in more? Check out Tim’s library here.
  • You can experience the literary themes and movements we’re tracing on the podcast in the BibleProject app, available for Android and iOS.

Show Music

  • “Defender (Instrumental)” by TENTS
  • "Stomp" by Evil Needle
  • "Movement" by Felty

Show produced by Cooper Peltz. Edited by Dan Gummel, Tyler Bailey, and Frank Garza. Show notes by Lindsey Ponder. Podcast annotations for the BibleProject app by MacKenzie Buxman.

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Scripture References
Leviticus 23-27
Isaiah 1
Leviticus 24:1-4
Daniel 9
Exodus 16
Romans 7-8
Matthew 5:38-48
Leviticus 16
Leviticus 25:23
Leviticus 25
Leviticus 10
Genesis 4
Genesis 8:1
Leviticus 9
Matthew 6:19-21
Leviticus 23:1-24:9
Exodus 23:14-19
Leviticus 23:15-22
Leviticus 23:26-32
Leviticus 23:33-43
Leviticus 23:40
Leviticus 24:5-9
Leviticus 24
Romans 14
Leviticus 23:23-25
Leviticus 21:1-5
Leviticus 21:10-12
Leviticus 22:31-32
Leviticus 24:10-16
Leviticus 19:12
Matthew 12:31
Exodus 7:5
Leviticus 24:17-23
2 Samuel 6:1-11
Jeremiah 33:6-8
Leviticus 26:1-13
Leviticus 26:32-35
Leviticus 26:36-45
Galatians 3:10-14
Deuteronomy 27:26
Deuteronomy 21:3
Luke 24:46-48
1 Corinthians 5:1-13

What Israel’s Feasts Teach Us

Series: Leviticus Scroll E8

Speakers in the audio file: Jon Collins, Tim Mackie

Jon: Israel were slaves in Egypt. God confronts their slave driver, the Pharaoh, with 10 plagues, the 10th of which is called Passover. And celebrating Passover is the first feast that Israel is taught. Passover is celebrated every year, and it marks the beginning of a new year. 

Tim: So let's imagine ourselves into a culture of escaped [00:00:30] Israelite slaves. For many generations, we were there. But then on the night of our deliverance, our leader, Moses, said, "Our calendar resets to today. It's the first day for a whole new creation for us."

Jon: And then, on this new calendar, God gives them a new rhythm. Every week, a weekly Sabbath.

Tim: As you go journeying out into the wilderness, where you're wondering where your food and water is gonna come from, and what you're told is, "Hey, every seventh day, don't go gather any food. [00:01:00] Do no work. Don't do what you need to do to survive." (laughs) 

Jon: And the ritual of Sabbath becomes the center of an entire calendar year.

Tim: It's going to become a guideline, not just for a weekly rest and cessation from our work, but it's gonna turn into a seven times over network of annual rhythms by which we rest and do no work.

Jon: Seven sacred feasts, the first of which is Passover.

Tim: And each of these is called a mo’ed, [00:01:30] a meeting time. 

Jon: As we read about these meeting times in Leviticus, we're struck by how important our calendars are.

Tim: None of us are born into the world with a neutral calendar. Our calendars are structured by values and a story. How we structure our time structures our values and how we see the world. 

Jon: I'm John Collins. This is Bible Project podcast. Today, Tim Mackie and I read the third movement of Leviticus, and we take a deep look [00:02:00] at the seven sacred feast days. We imagine being there, celebrating them, and we discuss the meaning beneath them. Thanks for joining us, here we go. 

Hello, Tim.

Tim: Hey there, John.

Jon: Hello. We are in Leviticus. [00:02:30] And we are, run around the corner here. Getting towards the end of our conversations in Leviticus. Leviticus has three literary movements.

Tim: (laughs) Yep.

Jon: And we are in the third.

Tim: We are.

Jon: Of such movements.

Tim: Yeah, what we would call Leviticus chapter 17 to 27. Or set apart as a coherent, meaningful section within the book. Through all kinds of literary cues for how the book is organized, through repetition [00:03:00] and patterns and so on.

Jon: And if there's some random, ancient Israelite law code that you've heard and thought, "That's funny."

Tim: (laughs)

Jon: There's a real good chance it's in this section.

Tim: (laughs) That's right. Yeah. That's exactly right. Yeah.

Jon: And it's because this section's all about ways that Israel were slaves in Egypt rescued by God out of that empire, are now moving through the wilderness. [00:03:30] And they're gonna get into a new land, where there's other people around with their kind of rituals and customs.

Tim: The Canaanites.

Jon: The Canaanites.

Tim: Yep.

Jon: It's all about how this people can form an identity which shows that they are—they are uniquely set apart for one God, which the Bible claims is the creator and sustainer of all life.

Tim: Yeah, that's right. Named I Am. (laughs)

Jon: I Am.

Tim: Yeah. [00:04:00] The name of the spiritual being is I Am.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: Yeah. Or He Is.

Jon: (laughs)

Tim: Depending on how you say it, yeah.

Jon: And this section begins with Yahweh saying to Moses, to then say to everyone, "Look, the Egyptians have their way of kind of doing things and appeasing their gods and living in community. The Canaanites, where you're heading towards. They have their way." And we also get these kind of get these hints of, like, this wilderness stuff going on.

Tim: Yeah. You mean other spiritual [00:04:30] beings.

Jon: Other spiritual beings that they could, like, worship and give sacrifices to. "But you all are gonna live dedicated to me, and so I'm going to give you rules that are going to establish how you live in community with each other.” That sets you apart from these other nations, but then also will embody Yahweh's wisdom.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: For it means to live in right relationship with each other.

Tim: That's right. In the context of an ancient Near Eastern [00:05:00] tribal network of families.

Jon: Yes.

Tim: Living at the transition of the Bronze and Iron Ages. (laughs)

Jon: Right.

Tim: And the reason why that's important is just the rules given to them very much assume that cultural context. Which doesn't mean that nobody else can learn for them, but what it means is to hear the divine wisdom that God's giving to the Israelites, knowing that ancient context is really important.

Jon: Yeah, because some of them, you just want to copy and paste. Like, we were going through, I think it was chapter 19.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: [00:05:30] And you didn't read it, but at the edge of the screen where we were reading, maybe it was verse 33, yeah. When a stranger resides in your land you shall not do him wrong.

Tim: Yeah, it's the word “ger,” immigrant. 

Jon: Yeah. Treat an immigrant with respect.

Tim: Yeah, actually, here, let's keep reading it. “The immigrant who lives with you shall be treated like the native born among you. You shall love the immigrant as you love yourself. You all were immigrants in the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh,” [00:06:00] implied, “the one who brought you out of slavery, so that you could become your own people.”

Jon: And there's actually a raging debate in our country about what we should do with immigration.

Tim: Yep.

Jon: And so you can go and just like, "Let's just copy and paste this."

Tim: Yeah, yeah.

Jon: But there's wisdom here.

Tim: Yes, immense wisdom.

Jon: It's immense wisdom here.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: But then there's other stuff in here too, like don't get tattoos.

Tim: Yeah, sure.

Jon: And what's the wisdom there?

Tim: Right.

Jon: Likely it [00:06:30] was something that the Canaanites or Egyptians were doing as a ritual to another god. So it's like, "Hey, like, don't do that."

Tim: Yeah. 'Cause the prohibition of tattoos is along with a prohibition of don't make any cuts along your body, and don't round off the side growth of your hair or cut off the edges of your beard. (laughs)

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: And those things had particular meaning and significance in their cultural setting.

Jon: Okay.

Tim: So we won't go down the rabbit [00:07:00] hole. But the point is, we're not approaching these rules with integrity if we just kinda cherry pick some, copy and paste them without reading all of them to see the wisdom that integrates them all together into one statement for Israel, so everywhere can hear the wisdom of God, that he would speak through Scripture to us. 

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: Yeah, that was a big part of our last conversation. Well, we also noted at the beginning and ending of Leviticus 19, which is at the center of little triad of laws setting Israel apart [00:07:30] from the nations, was that honoring the Sabbath, resting on every seventh day, was just as important a way of marking their identity, of reshaping their loyalties, as all of these other commands.

Jon: Take a weekend. (laughs) 

Tim: (laughs) Kinda, I mean, kinda, not really though, 'cause in my social location, a weekend is two days.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: Um, so what I wanna shift our attention to is how the rest of this last [00:08:00] section of Leviticus picks up that Sabbath rest theme and magnifies it.

Jon: There's something about carving out the way we think about time. Is so important for what it means to be able to be in proximity with God. And be at God's service.

Tim: Yeah, that's right. What we do with our time, you could say, is one of the most fundamental categories that tells the story of where our loyalties lie. Time and money. Jesus [00:08:30] named money, you know, where your treasure is.

Jon: Oh.

Tim: There your heart is also.

Jon: And you're saying, he could have done the same thing with time.

Tim: Yeah, at least the wisdom of the Sabbath and what the Sabbath is about. 

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: Is about how our loyalties are revealed by what we dedicate our time towards.

And so the role of the Sabbath, the reason why it is what it is. So we did a whole podcast series. 

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: A couple years ago, on the theme of Sabbath and the seventh day. And we spent some [00:09:00] time in these chapters of Leviticus. So we're gonna come back here again, couple years later, but within the context of where we've been now, I think we'll be able to notice some things.

So we're focused here on Leviticus chapters 23 through 27. So it's the last, what is that? Last five chapters of the book? So there's a block of three literary units that begins the section, in what we call chapter [00:09:30] 23, and then the first nine verses of chapter 24. Three literary units. And it's all about Israel's sacred times.

Then you get a short and very dense, one of these riddle narratives in the Torah, about a guy who's half Egyptian. His dad's an Egyptian, his mom's an Israelite. He gets into a fistfight with an Israelite, and he ends up bringing up the name of Yahweh and [00:10:00] cursing it. And the people are so shocked that they take him before Moses, and Moses asks Yahweh what to do, and Yahweh says, "Execute him outside the camp."

Jon: Boy. 

Tim: So that's that story.

Jon: Oh.

Tim: Then we go back.

Jon: (laughs)

Tim: To three more chapters. Chapter 25, 26, 27, that talk about the Sabbath year, the Jubilee year, and then forecast Israel's time in the land as a time of blessing that will likely result in exile. Seven [00:10:30] times over. And that's the last literary unit of the book. So it's a big triad, like the outer pieces of bread. As you say. On each side of the sandwich are about a hyper dedication of Israel's time on large and small scales everywhere in between to Yahweh. So that what they do with their time tells the story of who they are in the world. And those are sandwiched around a middle little story [00:11:00] about somebody who curses the name of Yahweh. And finds that by cursing the name of their creator leads them unto death.

So I wanna do is we'll ponder that story, I think, in kinda the latter of this conversation. But I want to just kind of take each of these units in turn. 'Cause there's just so many little goodies here. 

So [00:11:30] let's start with Leviticus 23, and these are our three sections here. In Leviticus 23:1 [00:12:00] through 24:9. It's three literary units that are all about the marking of sacred time in Sabbath. So chapter 23 is the chapter in the Torah, it's one of two, that lists all of the main feasts of Israel. So here, I'll just read a standard English translation here. New American Standard. 

“Yahweh spoke to Moses saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, [00:12:30] “Yahweh's appointed times, which you shall proclaim as holy convocations. My appointed times are these.”’” And then what follows are a list of seven.

Jon: This feels like legalese, a little bit.

Tim: Yeah, it's a list. Yeah. It's a speech of Yahweh to Moses that is a list. And this was the introduction to a list.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: The appointed times.

Jon: Oh, yeah. The sun, moon, and stars are set in place in Genesis 1.

Tim: Yeah, yeah. 

Jon: To mark [00:13:00] these appointed times.

Tim: Yeah, okay. So the Hebrew word for “appointed time”—

Jon: Me’od?

Tim: So me’od means very much. Me’od. Mo’ed. (laughs) 

Jon: Mo’ed. 

Tim: I love it. I love it, John. You got Hebrew in you.

Jon: (laughs) The Hebrew's coming in.

Tim: (laughs) Mo’ed. So this word appears for the first time in the Hebrew Bible, yeah, in the seven-day creation [00:13:30] story, which you noted. And it's meaningful. Genesis 1, verse 14. God said, "Let there be lamps." It's usually translated lights, but it's the word for “lamp.” Like the lamps that are on the menorah are called the same word, “maor.” “Let there be lamps up in the dome of the skies, to separate day from night. And let them be as symbols, signs, and [00:14:00] for mo’ed, mo’edim.

Jon: Mo’ed, mo’edim. Times.

Tim: Appointed times, and also for days and for years. So this is what's so interesting, is depending on the context. Here, it translated, in our English translations of Genesis 1 of seasons. Which makes us think of the—

Jon: Yeah. Winter, fall, spring.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: Summer.

Tim: Yeah. Which is, you know, that makes sense. 

Jon: The stars are in certain places during certain seasons.

Tim: (laughs) 

Jon: I think, I don't know. 

Tim: So this word mo’ed [00:14:30] comes from the verb ya’ad, which means—

Jon: Those do not sound alike at all.

Tim: Ah. Well, you put a M, a M on the front. And then the yah turns into a O. Then you get mo’ed, ya’ad. 

Jon: (laughs)

Tim: And the reason why, well, anyway.

Jon: Who cares? (laughs) 

Tim: Semitic language awesomeness. The standard meaning of a mo’ed is a time or a place for a meeting. 

Jon: Oh. 

Tim: The time or place you meet up. 

Jon: [00:15:00] Time and place you meet up.

Tim: Yeah, this is like when you—

Jon: That's so great. The reason why I know this Hebrew word is because actively, with our chief operating officer.

Tim: (laughs)

Jon: Working through, what's a good, like, annual rhythm of, like, how we work together? And we started calling it about BibleProject mode.

Tim: Yeah. It's spelled.

Jon: Well, not spelled like this. But influenced from this word.

Tim: (laughs)

Jon: Mo’ed.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: It's how do you meet?

Tim: Yeah, the [00:15:30] time or place for which we come together.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: Yeah, that's right.

Jon: How do we come together?

Tim: How do we come together? So appointed times is a translation that speaks more to the activity that you do to arrange a time or appoint it. That's not quite what it means. It's a time that's appointed for something, that is, for people to meet together. And it's the meeting together that's what the core meaning of the word is. A time for meeting. And it can be a place. [00:16:00] Oh, oh. So this is the name of the tent. The tent of meeting.

Jon: Oh. 

Tim: Ohel mo’ed. This is one of the standard words to refer to the tabernacle. The tent of meeting.

Jon: Oh, interesting, okay.

Tim: So the tent is a Heaven-on-Earth place where God and human meet together. And then what's gonna be here listed in Leviticus 23 are times that are a mo’ed for God and—

Jon: The tabernacle's a place. The feasts are times.

Tim: The feasts are times. So they're just two [00:16:30] ways of thinking about the same thing.

Jon: How do we come together in space/time?

Tim: So if the tabernacle represents an actual piece of real estate. This belongs to Yahweh, and in this space, he will take up residence and fill it with his presence, and I can go there and meet with him. In the same way, there's set times that are appointed to meet with Yahweh because Yahweh fills that time in a unique way, and I can find God there in that time. [00:17:00] In a special way. I think we still have within us a sense that spaces can do this for us.

Jon: Oh, yeah. 

Tim: Translating culturally, for myself here.

Jon: Yeah, walking into an art exhibit or something.

Tim: Yeah, okay. Play that metaphor out. Where are you going with that?

Jon: Oh, well, I mean, I just recently went to the Rembrandt ... Oh, no, I'm sorry.

Tim: Van Gogh. 

Jon: The Van Gogh.

Tim: Yeah. 

Jon: They had the Van Gogh thing here.

Tim: That live, immersive … 

Jon: Yeah, and you just walk into this big [00:17:30] room.

Tim: So amazing. 

Jon: And they're just projecting his paintings that have been, like, kind of animated.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: Just all over.

Tim: But it's on the walls around you and on the floor.

Jon: On the floor, and then on the pillars in the middle of the room.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: Just all mapped on everywhere.

Tim: With the most beautiful music. 

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: Yeah, so there's just this vibe, and you're just swimming through his art, basically. It's a space, but, like, you're kind of transported.

Tim: [00:18:00] Yeah. It's a meeting with Vincent van Gogh.

Jon: Yeah. (laughs)

Tim: In a way.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: I had so many emotions. I was really surprised … 

Jon: Really?

Tim: ... by the—

Jon: Oh, wow.

Tim: Yeah, we're just like a mile from the convention center. And Jessica and I went. Yeah, I was so ... I didn't know what to expect. And so you walk in the center of this room, and the whole experience is on a half-hour loop.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: And we stood there for almost three loops.

Jon: Oh, really?

Tim: Yeah, I was transfixed.

Jon: Oh, wow. You didn't have kids with you.

Tim: No.

Jon: We had our kids with us.

Tim: Oh, no.

Jon: We lasted one loop. (laughs)

Tim: [00:18:30] No, no. This was like a day date while the boys were at school.

Jon: Nice. 

Tim: And yeah, I felt, like I was going to cry. But then, like, just in awe, but then sad. There was this whole section of portraits. He depicted scenes of people who were in poverty or hunger from the European countryside. I think it was a potato famine or something. Anyway, it was a sacred space. And you feel like [00:19:00] you meet the mind of the person who painted all these paintings. Yeah. Thank you for that. That's a good analogy. I was gonna go more bland of just, like, when I go for a hike up on Mount Hood in the summers. See the whole Pacific Northwest.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: That for me is a kind of place.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: That's sacred.

Jon: And we also understand this with time, in terms of, like, there's just something so magical about Christmas Eve. You know? It's just like another winter [00:19:30] night. But just, there's something just about it.

Tim: Filled with meaning.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: Expectation.

Jon: You smell the Christmas tree.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: Like, there's just all the things, and it just creates this moment in time … 

Tim: Yep.

Jon: ... that feels different.

Tim: Yeah, that's it. Okay. So let's imagine ourselves into a culture of escaped Israelite slaves. And for many generations, we were there. But then on the night of our deliverance, our leader, Moses, said he's met [00:20:00] with the God who wants to deliver us, saying, "Our calendar resets to today. This night is the first day of a whole new creation for us. It's the first day of the new year." And so your whole calendar is reset by the night of your deliverance.

Jon: That's cool.

Tim: It's super cool. And then, as you go journeying out into the wilderness, where you're wondering where your food and water's gonna come from. Your God's providing food for you, and what you're told is, "Hey, [00:20:30] every seventh day, don't go gather any food. Do no work. Don't do what you need to do to survive." (laughs)

Jon: Yeah. 

Tim: Like, it's just so counterintuitive.

Jon: Yeah. he's already instituting the weekly Sabbath.

Tim: That's right, and this—

Jon: While they're traveling in the woods.

Tim: Yes, this happened two months into the wilderness.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: No, it, one month in, beginning of the second month after they left. And so now, we're camped out at a mountain, and we're coming up on a year of being here. [00:21:00] And that practice that Yahweh invited us into as a whole people is now being turned into a guideline. And it's going to become a guideline, not just for a weekly rest, and cessation from our work, but it's gonna turn into a seven times over network of annual rhythms by which we rest and do no work. And each one of these is called a mo’ed, a meeting time. And a meeting place. So here's [00:21:30] a little summary here. The first one is the weekly Sabbath. For six days, work may be done, but on the seventh day, there is to be a shabbat shabbatone, a Sabbath Sabbath.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: (laughs) Uh, an ultimate Sabbath, a total Sabbath. And that is a holy convocation.

Jon: Okay, there's that word again. Convocation.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: What is this? What translation is this? What does it mean?

Tim: It's the New American Standard.

Jon: [00:22:00] What is that? Convocation.

Tim: Yes, wonderful. I want to see what other ... Let's see. NIV says “assembly.” There you go.

Jon: An assembly.

Tim: Assembly. Yeah. 

Jon: It's a gathering.

Tim: Yeah, “qara” is the word to call out to or summon.

Jon: Okay. Summoning.

Tim: Summoning. You get everybody together, and it's a holy assembly.

Jon: Okay.

Tim: So now you assemble together throughout the week for all kinds of reasons.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: We're gonna go for a hike. We're gonna go [00:22:30] take the herd to graze up on that hill.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: And so a group will assemble. But this is an assembly that is—

Jon: Set apart.

Tim: Set apart for the presence and loyalty to Yahweh.

Jon: And in what sense are you assembling during the Sabbath?

Tim: Ah, yeah.

Jon: I kind of imagine everyone just going to their homes and just chilling out.

Tim: That's it, yeah.

Jon: (laughs)

Tim: Yeah, you have the Sabbath meal. You light the Sabbath candles. 

Jon: So you're assembling in your homes.

Tim: You assemble in your homes. Yep. And then, the tradition [00:23:00] developed so people assemble in synagogue, you know, in later Jewish tradition. You always do the Sabbath meal as the sun's going down. And then people go to synagogue, which is the equivalent of followers of Jesus going to church on Saturday night or Sunday. 

Jon: Do you think, um, sorry. Do you think the Hebrew version of the Avengers movie, do you think they said, Captain America goes, "Avengers, miqra.”

Tim: [00:23:30] (laughs) Oh, in the modern Hebrew.

Jon: Yeah, in modern Hebrew.

Tim: Assemble.

Jon: Assemble. Is that the word they use?

Tim: Well, uh, miqra is the noun.

Jon: Okay. (laughs)

Tim: So if you are doing a plural command would be qiru.

Jon: Qiru.

Tim: Qiru. Yeah. (laughs) That's funny. I don't know the answer to that. It's probably a thing I should know.

Jon: I just couldn't—I couldn't get that out of my head.

Tim: (laughs) 

Jon: [00:24:00] That's the only way I know the word “assemble” right now.

Tim: Oh, okay.

Jon: Like, when else do I use the word “assemble”?

Tim: Assemble. Well, school assembly.

Jon: Or assembly.

Tim: School assembly.

Jon: Haven't been to a school assembly in years.

Tim: Well, of course, yeah, sure, but you know that they happen.

Jon: That's true.

Tim: At schools all over still.

Jon: That is the first thing that came to my mind.

Tim: School assembly, yeah. But it's a holy assembly. So the first one is Sabbath, it's mentioned. 'Cause that's happening weekly. And so all these others are going to be based off of that basic calendar structure of every seven. [00:24:30] But what remains are six annual mo’edim. And the first three happen within the first six months of the year, the first half of the year. So first is named Passover. And that starts in the first month.

Jon: That kicks off the year.

Tim: It kicks off the year.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: That's right. What happens on the 14th day.

Jon: Okay, so it's not the first day of the year.

Tim: No, on the two times seventh day.

Jon: Okay.

Tim: Of the first month. You pick the lamb that you're gonna have for Passover. [00:25:00] Slaughter it on the 15th. Passover proper. And it kicks off a seven-day mo’ed, meeting time and place, where you eat no bread that has yeast in it. And on the 15th, first of that day, it's a Sabbath. You do no work. And then on the 21st, seven days later, you do no work.

Jon: Which is normal. That would be a normal Sabbath, right?

Tim: Ah, but these float. Just like—

Jon: Oh, I see.

Tim: like Christmas or Easter floats.

Jon: Oh.

Tim: So some [00:25:30] years, the first day of Passover would coincide with—

Jon: The Sabbath.

Tim: Yeah, so it would be like a super Sabbath. Or the times it would float in between, and so you would have the 15th, do no work. And then maybe on the 18th would be the Sabbath. Do not work there. And then on the 21st, you do no work there.

Jon: Got it.

Tim: So that's how it kicks off, with a seven-day feast.

Jon: And this is the feast that we already learned about in Exodus. Because after Moses and Israelites take off, we get all the rules for this feast.

Tim: Yep, that's right. In the exodus story itself.

Jon: In the exodus [00:26:00] story.

Tim: That's right. So here, it's a holy assembly where we retell the story of our re-creation as a people. Yep. So that's the first of six. The next two are linked together, where it just says, "After the Passover, the day after the Sabbath." And what Sabbath that refers to is a deep rabbit hole. Some point in the first day after the Sabbath, after unleavened bread, you offer your firstfruits. So Passover's [00:26:30] always in the spring, March or April.

Jon: Because the new year begins—

Tim: Begins in the spring.

Jon: Okay. 

Tim: Going far back as Passover's been celebrated, which is, like, well over 3,000 years.

Jon: (laughs) Got some roots.

Tim: Pretty amazing, yeah. So what you do is, this is about the first fruits of the early summer or late spring harvest. So you know, my wife's garden, this would be, like, some early lettuce, [00:27:00] some maybe some early strawberries, something like that.

Jon: Okay.

Tim: So you bring a token offering of the firstfruits, and you don't eat your first pick. You bring it to the tent, and you dedicate it to Yahweh. So that’s firstfruits. Then seven times seven days after the first fruits, there is another feast called the feast of Shavuot. 

Jon: This is 49 days later, then.

Tim: 49 days later than on the 50th [00:27:30] day.

Jon: Okay.

Tim: On the plus one, you have a day feast. It's called Shavuot. And again, it doesn't say everything of what you were to do. But, yeah, this is Leviticus 23:15. "You shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath," that is the firstfruits day. "From the day where you brought the sheath of your wave offering." That is the first fruits offering. "Seven complete Sabbaths." So seven times seven.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: Sabbath. “Count 50 days to the day [00:28:00] after the seventh Sabbath, then bring a new grain offering to the Lord.” Whatever is the—

Jon: This is, like, the culminating harvest.

Tim: Like, the grain offering coming that week. Yeah, so this is gonna be your midsummer. Seven weeks after the first fruits, which was a week or two after Passover. So yeah, we're, like, into June here. So this is like a summer harvest.

Jon: Yeah. 

Tim: And it's grain. So, like, wheat or barley, something like that. And so then there are instructions for taking some of that harvest [00:28:30] and bringing it along with some animals, offerings, and bringing them to the tent and offering it up. So that all happens within the first half of the year. You kick it off with Passover, and that lasts seven days. And then you have the first fruits. And then you have seven times seven, then you have the Feast of Weeks, which is also called Pentecost.

Jon: Oh, this is Pentecost. 

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: Okay.

Tim: Yeah, the Feast of Weeks is Pentecost.

Jon: Penta 'cause 50.

Tim: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, in Greek. 

Jon: In Greek, okay.

Tim: Yep. [00:29:00] Those are the first three of the annual mo’edim. The next three all happen in the seventh month. So notice sevens are just in everything. Because you have the first month, seven days. Then you have the one after the Sabbath, on the seventh day. Then you have the Feast of Weeks, which is seven times seven. After seven Sabbaths. Then the next big culmination is the seventh month, and the last three all happen in the seventh month. [00:29:30] So the first day of the seventh month, you mark by blowing trumpets. Total Sabbath rest.

Jon: Extra Sabbath day.

Tim: Yep, extra Sabbath day. First day of the seventh month. Then on the 10th day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement every year.

Jon: Oh, that's when that happens, okay.

Tim: Yeah. So 10 and seven. These are our key numbers back from Genesis 1.

Jon: Yeah, 10 words of creation, seven days.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: Of ordering.

Tim: Yep. So on the first day, then on the 10th day. And [00:30:00] then from the 15th to the 21st of that seven month is the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Feast of Booths.

Jon: Okay. Sukkot.

Tim: Sukkot. It's a seven-day mo’ed. You do no work on the first day and on the eighth day.

Jon: And this is another floating one?

Tim: Uh, yep. Yeah. This one floats. So in terms of the Sabbath could happen on any of those days.

Jon: Right.

Tim: So what's interesting is, Passover, which kicks off a seven day feast [00:30:30] in the first month, on the 15th, the 21st, is matched by Tabernacles, which is celebrated in the seventh month on the 15th and the 21st.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: They're both seven-day festivals where you do no work on the first and on the last day of the feast. And then sandwiched in between those are two pairs. The firstfruits and then the Feast of Weeks.

And then in the seventh month, you have the trumpet blowing, kick off the seventh month, and then you have the Day of Atonement in there. [00:31:00] And then you add those to the weekly Sabbath, and you get the seven mo’edim of Leviticus 23. And so each one of them tells a story. You have the story of the liberation from slavery. You have the story of God blessing us with abundance and produce, and so you give back to God what he's given to you. And then you mark the seventh month especially.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: As this culminating month.

Jon: And this is usually, what? October? 

Tim: Yeah, [00:31:30] mid-October, somewhere in there, yep. And then on the 10th day of the seventh month is the day that God liberates us and saves us from—

Jon: Ourselves.

Tim: Our sins and impurities, and all the death we introduce into the world intentionally and unintentionally.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: It's all—

Jon: Taken care of.

Tim: Taken care of. And then it all culminates in this seven-day retelling of our journey through the wilderness. So matching the liberation story with the [00:32:00] seven-day feast is now how God liberated us from death in the wilderness and carried through on a way to the promised land. And so we live in a tent. 

Jon: Yeah. That's the tabernacle festival.

Tim: That's right. So you have a mo’ed by living in a tent. And what's at the center of the camp is Yahweh's tent. And so it's this image of—

Jon: Everyone creating their little meeting place with God?

Tim: Totally, yes, okay.

Jon: Oh, wow.

Tim: So this is what's rad.

Jon: [00:32:30] Cool.

Tim: At the end, it gives this little description of how you were to make the tent. This is in chapter 23, verse 40. “Now, on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, take for yourselves the fruit of a beautiful tree.”

Jon: (laughs)

Tim: Take the fruit.

Jon: Take the fruit of a tree.

Tim: Of a tree that looks good.

Jon: Oh, wow.

Tim: “Take palm branches and take branches of leafy trees.” You [00:33:00] know, maybe some willow trees that are by a nice stream. “And you shall have joy before Yahweh, your God, for seven days.” I love this. So take the fruit of a tree that looks good to your eyes. (laughs) Make sure it has a lot of leaves on it, and ooh, especially one that's planted by a nice flowing stream. That's ideal. And make sure you make your booth out of stuff from a tree like that. (laughs) [00:33:30] It's a great ... Well, totally, what's occurring to you? 

Jon: Well, it seems like you're pointing us towards the beautiful trees of Eden. But then also there's trees that we desire. Well, there was desirable trees in Eden.

Tim: Yeah, just beautiful trees … 

Jon: They were beautiful trees.

Tim: ... that were good to see. Yeah.

Jon: Yeah. And so we're kind of re-creating Eden.

Tim: Yeah. But this is the material for the tent.

Jon: Oh, this is the material for the tent. So we're going outside of, like, we've got a pretty nice tent probably set up for our family.

Tim: [00:34:00] Yeah.

Jon: We've worked on it.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: 'Cause we're spending every other night in there.

Tim: (laughs) 

Jon: So we're set up this, like, make shift one.

Tim: Yeah, yeah.

Jon: But it's a symbol towards being in a better place. 

Tim: Yeah, yeah.

Jon: Even though, like, you're kind of glamping at this point.

Tim: (laughs)

Jon: Like, you're, like ... You've got a nice bed in your tent.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: You know, like—

Tim: Yeah, totally. Yeah. It's good. 

Jon: But it's to help you imagine that [00:34:30] we're called to be a kingdom of priests. The priests meet God in a tent. We're gonna meet God in this tent. We're gonna celebrate for seven days that God is with us, and it's gonna feel like Eden.

Tim: Yeah, and this is the mo’ed for seven days you celebrate your journey through the wilderness, which means it's unfinished mo’ed 'cause it's all about where we're going. So we're going to the promised land, which is flowing with milk and honey, and ...

Jon: You're gonna celebrate your ... Say that [00:35:00] again.

Tim: So the Feast of Tabernacles.

Jon: Uh-huh.

Tim: Is about retelling the story—

Jon: Of your wilderness journey.

Tim: Of your wilderness journey. Now, it just so happens, for this generation, they're actually in the wilderness journey.

Jon: Yeah. Now they got two tents to deal with.

Tim: Totally. 

Jon: (laughs)

Tim: But then, this is, this whole list of mo’edim is for all the later generations.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: So that they can reenact and relive the foundation story.

Jon: Yeah, 'cause I've actually been around someone when they were doing this, and that was the thing they kept [00:35:30] talking about was like "This is not our home. We're journeying through on a way to a final resting place." Like, that was the meditation for them. 

Tim: Yeah. So in other words, the making of this little beautiful garden tent is your own family's replica of the Eden tent in the middle of the camp if you're an Israelite.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: And—

Jon: Oh, kind.

Tim: It's as if God wants to give each of us for a cycle of seven days, a little Eden [00:36:00] in our own home, for our own family to inhabit. And it's yeah, formative. It's about training our imaginations to see that God gives us many Eden trips along the journey that are truly good in and of themselves, but we should not mistake them for the destination.

They're gifts along the way. And that's what, yeah, all these sacred times are meant to do to us. This is maybe a chapter of [00:36:30] the Bible where certain people who've grown up maybe in some Protestant traditions get a little uncomfortable, 'cause this can sound like rules, you know? Or ritual. And depending on your background, you know, the idea of symbolic ritual may be filled with meaning and really positive associations, for others that may not be. But that is what a chapter like this is. It was a ritual calendar for [00:37:00] Israelites to structure their lives so that big chunks of their time were dedicated to setting aside space and time to meet with Yahweh and to relive our story as a people. 

I've always thought this interesting, you know, growing up in America, inheriting a structure of time, has, like, this residue of a Christian calendar with the seventh-day rest but there's two days of the weekend. [00:37:30] Uh, has the residue of advent and resurrection Sunday with Christmas and Easter. But pretty much the rest of it has all been kind of transformed. 

Jon: There's a lot of, like, American holidays.

Tim: Yeah, and fully nationalized.

Jon: Yeah. 

Tim: To a very particular culture's way of telling the story of the world. So there's a liberation day called July Fourth.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: There's a Thanksgiving Day, which, you know, has good and also complicated origins. [00:38:00] Right? And then there's these federal holidays. And so every culture has its own way of structuring time so that it tells a story. Maybe it's just as I've been an adult living here for enough years. And it's true. It structures your imagination.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: How you see the world.

Jon: Sure. 

Tim: And living by this calendar, for example, would seem like such a disruption. 

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: Like, if you just said for a year, what I'm gonna do with my family is none of this American holiday [00:38:30] stuff. I'm just gonna do, like Leviticus 23.

Jon: I have friends who are not Jewish who have … 

Tim: Yes.

Jon: ... done that. They're like, “We're fed up. I feel like this is a hard reset.”

Tim: Yep.

Jon: Let's do the Jewish … 

Tim: Totally.

Jon: ... festivals.

Tim: That's right. And to be a follower of Jesus, to be a Christian, is to be a part of an ancestry of a messianic Jewish movement. So all of the first followers of Jesus.

Jon: They were doing this.

Tim: Lived by this calendar.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: For generations. And many still do today. There are many culturally or ethnically [00:39:00] Jewish followers of Jesus who honor this calendar in detail still today. And it's the way they express their discipleship to Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. So I guess my point is none of us are born into the world with a neutral calendar.

Jon: Right. 

Tim: Our calendars are structured by values and a story. And for me, that's become the wisdom of a chapter like this, is wanting to challenge of those structures, and to disrupt [00:39:30] them with some of these patterns from the biblical story. How we structure our time structures our values and how we see the world. It's just certainly my experience. 

[00:40:00] Okay, so that's Leviticus 23. Can I show you something else that's cool?

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: Okay. After Leviticus 23 ... (laughs) Comes Leviticus 24. Imagine.

Jon: (laughs) 

Tim: (laughs) Just try and imagine. Okay. So Leviticus 24 [00:40:30] begins, “the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell sons of Israel. Command the sons of Israel to bring pure oil from beaten olives for the lamp. To make the lamp go up perpetually.’”

Jon: This is the lamp in the tabernacle?

Tim: Yep, this is the seven-lamp menorah.

Jon: Okay.

Tim: You know, the lamp that's outside the veil of the testimony in the tent of meeting. “And Aaron shall arrange it from [00:41:00] evening to morning before the face of Yahweh, perpetually,” continually. “This is an eternal statute,” or perpetual, ongoing statute, “for all generations on that pure lamp stand. He will arrange the lamps before Yahweh continually.”

Jon: (laughs) 

Tim: (laughs) So this lamp is clearly supposed to be burning all the time. Definitely get that vibe.

Jon: It's coming clear.

Tim: Yep. It is a lamp stand [00:41:30] that exists right in front of the screen that's in front of the holy of holies. 

Jon: Yeah, you mentioned before that you can imagine, if the screen of the holy of holies is like the sky separating the God space.

Tim: Was blue, yes, with sky creatures.

Jon: With the cherubim.

Tim: Cherubim, yep.

Jon: And then you've got the lights. The seven lights right in front of it.

Tim: Yeah, that's right. 

Jon: And you can almost imagine the sun, moon, and stars in the sky.

Tim: Yeah. And though it said, they are to burn continually, [00:42:00] be lit continually, Aaron arranges it continually, then there's this little phrase added, “from evening to morning.” 

Jon: Huh. 

Tim: Which is copy and pasted right out of … 

Jon: Genesis 1.

Tim: … the days of Genesis 1. So these lights signal the shift from evening to morning in front of the sky veil. (laughs) So yeah, we're reflecting here on a light, a perpetual light that's shining. What's it shining on? Well, [00:42:30] the shining in this dark tent room before the sky now.

Jon: It's true. This is the only light in there.

Tim: So here's the next paragraph. “Then you should take fine flour and bake 12 cakes with it. Two tenths of an ephah in each cake, and you shall set them in orders.” So Aaron was to order the lamp. Arrange it and make sure the wicks were nice and straight, keep them all burning. Then, literally, he turns around 180 [00:43:00] and goes to the other wall of the tent, and there's this golden table. And he's to order 12 cakes of bread. Six in a row. Upon that pure table before the face of Yahweh. “And you shall put on each order this frankincense, a memorial portion for the bread and offering by fire. And on the day of Shabbat, and on the day of Shabbat,” which is the Hebrew way of saying every single [00:43:30] Sabbath.

Jon: Frankincense is—

Tim: Incense. 

Jon: So you're putting incense on the bread?

Tim: That's what it says.

Jon: Okay.

Tim: Yeah. And he shall arrange it before Yahweh continually as a perpetual covenant for the sons of Israel. And that bread, it will be for Aaron and his sons. So every time you change it out, every seven days, then the bread that you take out of the tent … 

Jon: You eat.

Tim: … is the bread that the priests get to eat.

Jon: Stale frankincense-flavored bread.

Tim: (laughs) [00:44:00] Yeah, it's most holy bread. So we're focusing in on, we just went through these seven mo’edim, meeting places. And now we get this little picture of what's going on inside the holy place inside the tent. And there's something that happens every evening and morning. And there's something that happens every single Sabbath. So we're working Genesis 1 themes here.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: And there's a daily marking of evening and morning by [00:44:30] the seven lights that sit right in front of the blue-sky veil. But then also in front of the sky veil and opposite the lights. Lights are, like, shining down on the 12. And the 12 are the loaves. So you could take that as, these are the offerings of the priest before Yahweh, like a perpetual gift of food. Like the light. But there's 12, which is interesting. So does it represent their gifts of food to Yahweh? [00:45:00] Or do the loaves represent the 12 tribes of Israel sitting perpetually in the presence of Yahweh. But then you put these two paragraphs together with the light shining on them. So do you remember back to Leviticus, and this is an insight from the scholar Michael Morales. Remember all the way back to Leviticus chapter 9, when Moses and Aaron did the ordination of the priesthood. They inaugurated the tent, and Yahweh [00:45:30] showed up.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: He appeared. And he was seen. And Aaron and Moses went into the tent, and when they came out, they blessed the people, and the glory of Yahweh became visible. What do we know that looks like? Looks like cloud, looks like fire and light. And that's called glory. So that's what comes and takes up residence over and in the tent. So that's chapter 9.

Jon: Okay.

Tim: Then what we also learned in Leviticus 16 [00:46:00] was on the Day of Atonement, the one day when Aaron, the high priest can go in through the veil, he is to put incense on the altar of incense, so that a cloud fills the tent.

Jon: And the altar incense is the other side of the room from showbread?

Tim: Yeah, those three things inside the tent. There's that golden table with bread, there's the golden seven lamp menorah.

Jon: In front of the curtain.

Tim: Yep. And so those [00:46:30] are right there. And then, I guess right by the veil of the doorway, where it would separate, is this golden incense stand that fills it with smoke.

Jon: Oh, so when you walk in, that's the first thing you see, is this golden incense stand. Okay.

Tim: Yeah, so on the day of atonement, high priest goes in, and he lights incense, and so it fills with smoke. Just like Mount Sinai was covered with smoke. Just like the cloud descended over the tent. So then you the high priest, Aaron, and he's in there. And you've got the bread [00:47:00] here. It's filling with smoke and you've got the lights burning over here. Yahweh's light. And it's a ritual re-creation of the day Yahweh graced us with his presence, as it were. With cloud and fire and glory. And then he goes through the sky veil and into it.

Jon: Huh.

Tim: And now here for the third time in the book, we have a ritual re-creation of the glory of Yahweh, shinning on his people. But now in the tent. [00:47:30] Does that make sense? 

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: In other words, the narrative of Yahweh inhabiting the tent has happened three times now in the book. The first time, it was just straight up glory fire.

Jon: I'm in. He just comes down.

Tim: Super intense.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: The second time is when the high priest goes in, and he fills the room with cloud.

Jon: And everyone's pretty stoked about this. 

Tim: Yeah, but no one can see him. He's doing it just himself.

Jon: Oh. I thought you meant with the first one, actually, the first time he comes down into the tabernacle at the end of Exodus.

Tim: [00:48:00] Oh, got it. Got it. No, I'm referring to within Leviticus.

Jon: Within Leviticus—

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: The first time you see God's presence is ... Okay.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: Leviticus.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: That's 9?

Tim: Leviticus chapter 9. 

Jon: Okay. 

Tim: And the people fall down and shout for joy.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: And there's blessing, and Yahweh's dwelling in our midst.

Jon: Right.

Tim: Then everything goes wrong.

Jon: Okay.

Tim: So the Day of Atonement is the fix to everything that went wrong. And on the Day of Atonement, Aaron goes in, and he fills the room with smoke. And just, you can picture the scene, [00:48:30] liturgically or symbolically, and then the lamps of the menorah would be shining in there, and then the smoke. It would be like re-creating the thing that happened back in Leviticus chapter 9. And then here we are now in the third, final movement of the book, and we've talked about the seven times where Yahweh will meet with his people. And then here, we get this little picture here of every day there is the cloud, and there is the light shining upon [00:49:00] Israel. This little paragraph in Leviticus 24. It's like a little liturgical play. That is symbolically reenacting what is he happening on a grander scale by the presence of this tent among the people. Something like that. It's just such an interesting little paragraph. 

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: But it's happening through the liturgy.

Jon: Right.

Tim: So this is where our Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters are looking at you and I.

Jon: (laughs) 

Tim: Two [00:49:30] Protestants, who are like, "Whoa, this is so cool." And they're just like, "You guys, we've been doing this for a couple thousand years." (laughs) 

Jon: (laughs) Right.

Tim: But there's power here. Something powerful here that I wasn't taught to value or see. As so important, at least in the tradition I was raised in. It's actually by sitting in the Hebrew Bible for so many years, that it's made me, from my Protestant background, really come to value [00:50:00] what these other parts of the Christian tradition care about so much in the liturgies.

Jon: Yeah. I mean, the prophets will talk later about how liturgies can become meaningless.

Tim: Totally.

Jon: They're not a silver bullet.

Tim: No.

Jon: To practicing a faithful existence.

Tim: Yeah, yeah, you can engage these liturgies. And each Israelite could engage these liturgies. Like Isaiah chapter 1 says, you come, you bring your offerings, but you neglect the poor people sitting out by the city gate. [00:50:30] He's like, "Stop bringing your offerings. I'm not listening to your prayers. Go love your neighbor." Totally, that's one way to forget the meaning of the liturgy. Another way to forget (laughs) the meaning of the liturgy … is just to not do it.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: So your imagination just simply isn't formed by it in any way.

Jon: It's helpful to realize that it's not like, "Hey, either have a liturgy or don't have a liturgy."

Tim: Totally.

Jon: Your life will have a liturgy.

Tim: Yeah, by liturgy, you mean repeated habits that [00:51:00] are shaped by your deep values and a story.

Jon: Yeah, and then in return, shape you.

Tim: That will then in return shape you.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: Yeah, that's exactly right. So the Sabbath principle marked the people of Israel apart from their neighbors. And there were other nations that did things in the seventh month. But no people group has done as many on this type of seven-fold cycle for so many centuries [00:51:30] and millennia. It's just really unique to the story of those people.

Okay. So this is where you gotta back out for the Hebrew Bible as messianic literature. This is wrong scroll in the Hebrew Bible that's also alongside Exodus and Genesis. So if you follow stuff about the leafy trees for tabernacles.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: So what that means is that for me, the reader of this collection of scrolls, this narrative about these liturgies for the [00:52:00] ancient Israelites, fits into a bigger pattern of a story arc, that's about God's desire to bring his people in to the ultimate Eden of new creation. And on the way, they can prepare themselves for new creation by participating in every Sabbath. And I think that's what it means to sit in the little Eden tree tent for seven days a year. That is one way that you could prepare yourself for the new creation. And there [00:52:30] are other ways that you could do that. But this was a way that God asked the ancient Israelites to do it. And we would, I think, be fools not to pay attention to the wisdom that's in there. Though, in the early Jesus movement it became clear that as the Jesus movement became more and more multicultural that the Spirit was leading different followers of Jesus from different cultural backgrounds to begin to adapt all this to their own home [00:53:00] culture. And so these are where the debates about Sabbath—

Jon: Right.

Tim: And holy days.

Jon: And holy days. 

Tim: Come up in Paul's letter to the Romans. The Roman Christians were struggling with this. Galatian Christians were the Christians in Colossae and kind of their own ways. But this was a live debate. But what they're not debating is, we shouldn't structure our time in some intentional way. (laughs) The debate was, which days, and how exactly? And that was the debate. 'Cause we [00:53:30] just by nature are gonna structure our time according to a story.

Jon: Right. Yeah.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: And for the apostles, there's freedom.

Tim: Yeah, that's right.

Jon: So what I hear you saying is, that freedom isn't just to then say, "Oh, well, then I don't need to structure my time." The freedom is in, you might come from a culture that does this. Great, do it. You might from a culture that doesn't do this, and by trying to, like, put all these systems in place, it might actually just kind of miss the [00:54:00] point, and you don't need to force everyone to do this. But that doesn't mean your time isn't sacred and needs to be set apart for God.

Tim: Yeah, that's right. Just as you're talking, Paul's guidance in his letter to the Romans comes into play here. This is Romans chapter 14. And he's talking about, hey, some of you want to live by a kosher diet that's based on the guidelines of Leviticus chapter 11. And Deuteronomy 14. [00:54:30] And so some people are gonna eat vegetarian only, just to honor those guidelines. Other people will be okay eating certain kinds of meat, and what he says is, "Listen, the one who eats one way shouldn't regard with contempt ... shouldn't shame, publicly shame, somebody who chooses not to eat that way. And the person who chooses not to eat shouldn't condemn the person who does eat. For God has accepted everybody.” Clearly, the Holy Spirit is bringing people [00:55:00] from all backgrounds into the family of Jesus. Who are you to stand in judgment over somebody else's servant? So that person's a servant of Jesus. 

Jon: (laughs)

Tim: They’re not your servant; they're Jesus's servant. And so he stands or falls before Jesus, not before you. So then he says, "So one person regards one day super important, another regards—"

Jon: For example, the Passover.

Tim: Yeah, totally. Fill in. Each person should be fully convinced in their own mind. The person [00:55:30] who observes the day observes it for the Lord. Listen to the language of Leviticus here. It's a day dedicated for the Lord. “The person who chooses to eat a certain way does so for the Lord, for he gave thanks to God.” Think of the gift offering of Leviticus 2. “The one who doesn't eat, it's for the Lord that he doesn't eat. And he gives thanks to God. None of us lives for ourselves, none of our dies for ourselves.” He's getting, waxing eloquent here. [00:56:00] “If we live, it's for the Lord. If we die, it's for the Lord. Listen, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”

Jon: Yeah. All of us, all of our time.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: All of our being.

Tim: Yeah. Yeah, you can watch Paul taking Leviticus 23 here, which is part of the subtext, and he's deriving wisdom from it to give guidance to these house churches in Rome full of cultural, ethnic Jewish followers of Jesus and [00:56:30] people who are, have a different background. Isn’t that interesting?

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: Paul valued chapters of the Bible, like the one we just sat through. 

Jon: Yeah. I mean, he followed it religiously. 

Tim: Exactly. Yeah. It was guidance for his life, but also it was adaptable based on what the spirit was doing. And expanding the family of Messiah. So here you go. That's the wisdom of the Sabbath in those chapters of Leviticus. It leaves the final [00:57:00] part of this final movement. 

Jon: That centerpiece. 

Tim: Well, yeah, we'll get to that. This is about, one, the—

Jon: The half Egyptian. 

Tim: Yeah, the execution of the blasphemer. 

Jon: Yeah. 

Tim: And then that pivots into the final, final part, which is about the year of Jubilee. And then the prediction of that all Israel will become like that blasphemer of the name.

Jon: Ooh.

Tim: And find themselves exiled outside. 

Jon: Okay.

Tim: And what is God gonna do with the people [00:57:30] that perpetually blasphemes his name, that are his own people? Da, da, da, da. Read Leviticus 26, and you'll find the answer to your question. So that's what we'll do next.

Jon: Thanks for listening to this episode of BibleProject podcast. Next week, we finish the scroll of Leviticus. We end by tracing one more theme in the third movement of Leviticus, the theme of bearing God's name. Or more specifically, not defiling [00:58:00] God's name.

Tim: The seven meeting times, the daily lights shining on the Sabbath bread that's renewed every seventh day. It's an ideal, symbolic ritual image of the way Israel is re-created as it basks in the glory of Yahweh's light and experiences rest in Eden throughout the meeting times of the year. And you're like, "Hooray." I mean, we're not back in Eden, but we've got a little Eden outpost among the people, if they live this way. This is great. [00:58:30] What could go wrong? It's sort of like Pavlov's dogs. Right around the time that you're hearing the bells of the seventh-day rest and food and feasting, and you're like, "This is great." By this point in the Hebrew Bible, you know, something's about to go terribly, terribly wrong. And something is gonna go wrong.

Jon: Today's show was produced by Cooper Peltz, edited by Dan Gimmel and Tyler Bailey, and we have Lindsay Ponder with the show notes. Ashlyn [00:59:00] Heise and Mackenzie Buxman provided annotations for the annotated podcast in our app. Bible Project is a crowd funded nonprofit. We exist to experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus. Everything that we make is free because of the generous support of thousands of people just like you. So thank you so much of being a part of this with us.

Chelsey: Hi, this is Chelsey, and I'm from Chicago, Illinois.

Vanessa: Hi, there. This is Vanessa, and I'm from the sunny island of Singapore. I first heard about BibleProject from my social [00:59:30] media feed. I now use BibleProject for my own quiet time. A space where I carve out and reflect on how I live my life.

Chelsey: I first heard about BibleProject through YouTube, and I use BibleProject as a teaching tool for my Sunday school and AWANA kids. My favorite thing about BibleProject is the profound and consistent truth it teaches.

Vanessa: And how we can learn to treat others and ourselves. We believe the Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus.

Chelsey: We're a crowd funded project like people like us. Find free videos, study notes, [01:00:00] podcasts, classes and more—

Vanessa: At bibleproject.com. 

10 Episodes

Episode 10
What Does Leviticus Teach Us About Jesus?
How do you clean a tabernacle? What does “laying of hands” represent? Is the scapegoat a hyperlink to Cain and Abel? How was it even possible for Israelites to follow the law? In this episode, Tim and Jon respond to your questions about the Leviticus scroll. Thanks to our audience for your insightful questions!
59m • Oct 12, 2022
Episode 9
The Law of the Blasphemer
Blasphemy, principles of restitution, jubilee, exile, and the mercy and justice of God—it’s all there in the final lines of the scroll of Leviticus. Join Tim and Jon as they talk about the great gift and responsibility of carrying Yahweh’s name and discuss the wisdom and surprising hope of the Law that’s finally fulfilled in Jesus.
1hr 9m • Jul 25, 2022
Episode 8
What Israel's Feasts Teach Us
Are there specific times humans can meet with God in special ways? For ancient Israel, the answer was yes. In this episode, join Tim and Jon as they explore the final movement of Leviticus, talk about the Sabbaths and festivals ancient Israelites celebrated every year, and discuss the significance of rituals and liturgies that allow us to see our time as a significant part of God’s story.
1hr 1m • Jul 18, 2022
Episode 7
Why Is the Sabbath So Important?
Throughout the Leviticus scroll, Yahweh instructs Israel, “Be holy as I am holy.” But what does that actually mean? As we enter into the third and final movement of Leviticus, we’ll find that living holy lives had everything to do with how Israel treated others and utilized their time, a theme reinforced by the continual command to honor the Sabbath. Join Jon and Tim as they explore the wisdom we can find in these ancient laws.
1hr 9m • Jul 11, 2022
Episode 6
What Is the Day of Atonement?
At the center of the center of the Torah is the Day of Atonement. What is the significance of this day the biblical authors have placed at the heart of the Torah? What does this day accomplish? And what’s with the sacrificial goat and the scapegoat? In this episode, Tim and Jon explore the Day of Atonement and the ultimate atonement accomplished by Jesus on the cross.
1hr 9m • Jul 4, 2022
Episode 5
Purity and Impurity in Leviticus
Childbirth, non-kosher food, sex, death, disease—they’re all considered impure in the book of Leviticus. In this episode, join Tim and Jon as they discuss the levitical laws of purity and impurity and how they create a way for humanity to share in God’s own life and form a surprisingly beautiful backdrop for Jesus’ miraculous healings.
1hr 6m • Jun 27, 2022
Episode 4
The Dangerous Gift of God’s Presence
In the second movement of Leviticus, Aaron and his sons agree to the terms of their covenant with Yahweh, signing up to be the gatekeepers of Heaven and Earth. But then Aaron’s sons offer unholy fire before Yahweh—and then they die. What’s going on here? A seven-day ceremony of consecration and celebration ends with everything going terribly wrong. Join Tim and Jon as they kick off the second movement of Leviticus, discussing the theme of holiness and a very difficult part of the story.
1hr 4m • Jun 20, 2022
Episode 3
What Did the Burnt Offerings Really Mean?
What is the significance of the offerings described in Leviticus? In this episode, join Tim and Jon as they walk through the five offerings ancient Israelites made to Yahweh and see how the purpose of these practices sound a lot like the teachings of Jesus. Even here in Leviticus, Yahweh’s hope for his people is the same: love God and love your neighbor.
53m • Jun 13, 2022
Episode 2
What Is Atonement?
A God who wants nothing more than to dwell with humanity, a way forward to a repaired relationship between Heaven and Earth, atoning sacrifices meant to communicate grace (not punishment)—you’ll find all of this in Leviticus. While the laws governing Israel’s sacrificial system can be some of the most challenging parts of the Bible to read, they’re an integral part of the unfolding story of the Bible. In this episode, Tim and Jon discuss the surprising beauty of sacrifice and atonement in the opening movement of Leviticus.
1hr 14m • Jun 6, 2022
Episode 1
How God Reveals Himself in Leviticus
"Holiness" is a word we frequently associate with the Bible, but what does it mean? As we pick up the story from where we left off in Exodus, we find even Moses unable to enter God’s presence—and a whole bunch of laws about situations many of us have never considered. What is going on in the scroll of Leviticus? And why is it important? In this episode, join Tim and Jon as they dive into the first movement of the Leviticus scroll, where we’ll trace the theme of sacrifice.
1hr 5m • May 30, 2022
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