Bible Reading – Exodus 34:18-26; Leviticus 23
Exodus 34:22-23 KJV
22 And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
23 Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel.
In this particular portion of Exodus, we notice God established for Israel three exceedingly significant feasts or holidays that would come to be three annual pilgrimages that every Jew in the world would follow. In so doing, God did not just remind Israel to be grateful for physical and spiritual things that God had done for them, but He was also setting a stage for His plan to ultimately bring the Gospel to the “Jew first and also to the Greek/Gentile” (Romans 1:16, 2:10).
The first of these annual feasts is the feast of the Passover. Every year from this moment in Exodus until Titus destroyed the temple in AD 70, every Jew from all over the world would make the trek to Jerusalem to celebrate their Exodus from Egypt. The blood of the lamb on the doorposts caused the death angel to “Pass over”, the children of Israel were saved and freed from slavery, and they were blessed physically with the riches of Egypt as they departed. While it may not have made sense to Israel historically, God led them to Egypt and even allowed them to be slaves for a very significant and spiritual lesson. Several hundred years later, on the day before the Passover feast (John 18:28, 19:14), Jesus would be slain as the Lamb, and every Jew on earth should have been present in Jerusalem to witness His crucifixion. The blood (and nothing more) of Christ applied, causes the wrath of God to pass over us. In receiving the gift of Jesus, we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3)! The feast of the Passover, the first of three annual pilgrimages, was instituted by God, given here to Moses, so that every Jew would be witness to redemption through the blood of Christ.
The second feast, here called the feast of weeks, is called Feast of Harvest in other places and Pentecost elsewhere. It is called feast of weeks because it was to be celebrated seven weeks after the Passover each year on a Sunday. Physically speaking, the feast of weeks, or Pentecost, was a celebration thanking God for the wheat harvest. Spiritually speaking, it is at this moment in chapter 34 where Moses is meeting with God and receiving His Law and Covenant. Israel became a nation under God. Spiritually, God gave Israel His Word. Every year until AD 70 when Titus destroyed the Temple, seven weeks after Passover, every Jew would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. Significantly, Christ spent three days in the grave and forty days showing Himself alive to the apostles and hundreds of others (Acts 1:3). Acts 1:12 and 2:1 show us that one week later after Christ ascends, now seven weeks after Passover, Pentecost is fully come. God had established a pilgrimage for every Jew to return to Jerusalem, and in Acts 2:14-21, we see that the Holy Spirit comes down as is prophesied in Joel 2:28-32. In Exodus, Israel received God’s Covenant, and in Acts they received the Holy Spirit, the Earnest (promise) of their eternal innheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14) . In Acts, every Jew should have been witness to the reception and indwelling of the Holy Spirit “to the Jew first and also to the Greek/Gentile.” (Romans 1:16, Romans 2:10) God brought the Jews to Jerusalem from all over the world, to receive the Gospel of Christ and the Holy Spirit and to take it back to their homes all around the world.
The third and final pilgrimage feast was the feast of tabernacles (Leviticus 23, John 7). This was a feast for harvest of crops that weren’t wheat. Spiritually speaking, however, this feast was a celebration and remembrance of Israel’s dependence on the will of God. Three feasts established by God, kept by Israelites from all over the world for hundreds of years, so God could ensure that every Jew would see Christ crucified and the Holy Spirit indwelling man. They would be able to take these truths of the Gospel of Christ throughout the entire world, so that all could hear the Gospel! When Joseph was sold into slavery, setting in motion the events that would bring his father and brothers into Egypt, God knew that Israel would become slaves. God had a plan, and His plan was a picture of miraculous redemption! His plan was the Gospel that spans the entirety of Scripture!
— Eli Faulds