Feb. 8 Reading: Leviticus 22-23 Commentary
Below is our Leviticus 22-23 commentary from our Beginning to End Bible reading program. You can find an email link at the end of this page to share your thoughts or comments with us.
“Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, who offers his sacrifice for any of his vows or for any of his freewill offerings, which they offer to the Lord as a burnt offering— you shall offer of your own free will a male without blemish from the cattle, from the sheep, or from the goats.” (Lev. 22:18-19)
God continued to detail conduct for the priests in Leviticus 22. it reads like a broken record with God repeating again that these issues matter because of his holiness. And we see the continuation of the phrase “I am the Lord” from Leviticus 19 repeated again 7 more times (vv. 2, 3, 8, 30, 31, 32, 33).
We also see the wording “cut off” used again in relation to the consequences a priest would experience if they disobeyed the Lord’s commands. In this case, those words do not mean execution or banishment from the camp like they did in Leviticus 19. In this context, if a priest disobeyed, God took away their ability to minister as priest. They would be “cut off from My presence” (v. 3) and denied the privilege of ministering before the Lord.
God laid out specific instructions for certain types of offerings that would not be accepted. Each one had to be done in a special way for it to be approved. Besides the specific details, the most important issue seemed to be this – that your offering be done of your own free will. Lev. 22:18-19 states:
“…Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, who offers his sacrifice for any of his vows or for any of his freewill offerings, which they offer to the Lord as a burnt offering— you shall offer of your own free will a male without blemish from the cattle, from the sheep, or from the goats.”
This speaks to a heart issue. The offerings presented to God were to be done with the proper heart attitude. They weren’t coerced. They weren’t offered begrudgingly or resentfully or reluctantly. Rather, they were given willingly with a heart of gratitude and thankfulness for all God had done.
The same goes for us today. When we present ourselves to God or do things in His name, they should be done with a heart that cares more about his agenda than ours. His glory and his name should be preeminent and supersede any personal motive.
A Gentle Reminder
The final “I am the Lord” phrase serves as a gentle reminder to the people. God does not want the people to forget who he is and what he has done for them. So he concludes this section of commands with these words:
“Therefore you shall keep My commandments, and perform them: I am the Lord. You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord.” (Lev. 22:31-33)
Leviticus 23 lists the various feasts and sacred times the people observed throughout the year. They include:
1. The Sabbath. This occurred every 7th day. It was observed by resting from all work (v. 3).
2. The Passover. This occurred on the 14th day of the first month of the year (Nisan). It was a time to remember how God delivered them from Egypt (Ex. 12).
3. The Feast of Unleavened Bread. People celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the 15th day of the month immediately following the Passover. It lasted until the 21st of the month. It signified the beginning of the barley harvest, which was the first big harvest of the year (Ex. 12:15-20).
4. The Feast of Firstfruits. This feast took place upon the harvest of the first barley harvest and included an offering to God. It took place twice per year, on the 16th day of the first month (Nisan) and on the 6th day of the third month (Sivan). (vv. 9-14).
5. The Feast of Weeks. Also called the Harvest of Pentecost, this happened 50 days after the barley harvest. For this event, the people offered new grain offerings at the tabernacle.
Hooray for the Month of Tishri
The month of Tishri was a busy time on the Jewish calendar. All these special days fell in that month:
6. The Feast of Trumpets. The Feast of Trumpets occurred on the 1st day of the 7th month (Tishri). It included a sabbath days rest, a memorial blowing of trumpets and a holy gathering (vv. 23-25). Today we call this festival Rosh Hashanah.
7. The Day of Atonement. As previously described in Leviticus 16, the Day of Atonement atoned for (or forgave) the people’s sins of the past year. It’s elaborate ceremony included the sins of the people being symbolically place on a goat which was sent out of the camp (see Leviticus 16 commentary for more on the Day of Atonement). It took place on the 10th day of the 7th month (Tishri).
8. The Feast of Tabernacles. This was an 8-day festival which started with a day of rest and included daily offerings at the tabernacle.
Questions to Consider:
How are your motives for serving God today? Are you doing things for the Lord of your own free will or do you feel pressured by outside sources to serve the Lord?
God always cared about heart attitude. Even with the offerings in the Old Testament, he wanted people to give of their own free will with no hidden agenda or ulterior motive. Do you give to God and others because you have to or because you want to?
What activities or special events do you do throughout the year to remember God?
What other points would you want to know about in our Leviticus 22-23 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.