Tuesday, February 10, 2015

#80. A dispensational forecast (Leviticus xxiii.).

     This chapter of Leviticus is distinguished from the rest of the book, by the fact that it surveys the typical year of Israel’s fasts and feasts, and sets forth, so far as the people of Israel and those associated with them are concerned, the purpose of the ages.  A reading of the chapter impresses one with the important sabbatic principle that underlies the whole purpose.  The chapter opens with a reference to the weekly Sabbath (verses 1-3), and then proceeds to outline the feasts and fasts that occupy the first seven months of the year.

     It will be remembered that at the Passover, first instituted in  Exodus xii.,  a change was made in the calendar, and Abib became “the beginning of months”.  The seventh month, therefore, and the twelfth month of the respective reckonings would overlap, and so, for the purposes of typical teaching, Israel’s year is limited to the first seven months, the remaining months being allowed to run their course unnoticed.

The   sabbatic   principle.

     The sabbatic principle is not confined to the written revelation of God.  It is found throughout the works of His hand.  All are familiar with the seven-hued rainbow, and most know that in the diatonic musical scale there are seven notes, the sequence being repeated at the eighth or octave.  Turning to the observations of men of science we may mention the periodic law of the elements.  Sir William Crookes said of this law:--

     "I am convinced that whoever grasps the key to the periodic law will be permitted to unlock some of the deepest mysteries of creation."

     Dr. E. J. Pace, in his book The Law of the Octave, shows by a series of diagrams, too complicated to describe and perhaps unnecessary so far as we are concerned, that the elements composing the universe all obey this law of the seven sequence.  Dr. Ethelbert W. Bullinger’s Numbers in Scripture will supply further information of interest.  We are, however, more concerned with the presence of the number seven in the typical and dispensational foreshadowings of Scripture.  We find that there are seven features,  developed in an orderly sequence —  a seven of days,  a seven of weeks,  a seven of months,   a seven of years,  a seven times seven of years,  a seven times seventy of years,  and a period of seven times.

     Here we have orderly and regular progression.

     The only passages that may be questioned in this series are  Daniel ix.  and  Leviticus xxvi.   That  Daniel ix.  implies a period of years we show in the series dealing with Daniel’s prophecy.  That the term “times” is prophetic of a period we discover by studying its usage in Daniel.   Leviticus.xxvi.33,34  suggests that the “seven times” of Israel’s punishment is co-extensive with the period of Gentile dominion (the seven times of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness).  These questions are dealt with more extensively in the series on Daniel.  It is sufficient for our present purpose that we recognize this sabbatic principle at work.

     This series of sevens leads up to the octave, the new beginning, the new heaven and earth “wherein dwelleth righteousness”.  So that we find the seventh feast of the year expanded, and prominence given to one part of it — “the eighth day” (Lev. xxiii. 39).  In this last phase we see, in type, Israel’s wonderful restoration — the steps leading up to it being set out, as we shall see, in strictly historical order.

     The feasts mentioned in  Leviticus xxiii.  are the following:  The weekly Sabbath, Passover, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Tabernacles, and the Eighth Day of the Feast.   Their interrelation may be demonstrated as follows:--

     In the series dealing with the Second Coming of Christ, the expression, “The sunteleia of the age”, used by the disciples in  Matt. xxiv. 3,  is shown to correspond to the feast of ingathering.  Three of these feasts have been fulfilled;  four await fulfillment.  And just as those that have been fulfilled have been fulfilled literally and in historic sequence, so we may confidently expect the remainder to be fulfilled in the same way when the appointed time comes.

The   Passover.

     No reader of the four Gospels, who is taught of God, can fail to see that Christ Himself was the true Passover Lamb.  He was the Lamb of God  (John.i.29;  Exod. xii. 3-5).   He was without spot or blemish  (Heb. ix. 14;  I.Pet.i.19;  Exod. xxii. 5).   And He was most severely scrutinized as was the  passover lamb from the 10th to the 14th day of the month (Luke xxiii. 4, 15, 22, 41, 47).
     The passover was slain “between the two evenings”, and  Lev. xxiii. 32  makes it clear that a day began and ended with an evening — “from even unto even”.  It was therefore possible for the Lord to partake of the passover lamb and Himself be offered upon the 14th Nisan — an impossibility had the Jewish day begun at midnight.

     I Corinthian v. 7  makes it perfectly clear that Christ fulfilled the great type of the passover:  “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us”.  And the typical meaning of the feast of unleavened bread was entered into by the believer:  “Therefore let us keep the feast . . . . . with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (I Cor. v. 8).  Pentecost, too, was fulfilled to the exact day, as  Acts ii.  demonstrates.

     It is interesting to see that the feasts of Israel are all recognized in the epistle to the Corinthians:--

PASSOVER.—“Christ our Passover” (I Cor. v. 7).
FEAST  OF  WEEKS.—“Let us keep the feast” (I Cor. v. 8).
                                     “On the first of the Sabbaths” (I Cor. xvi. 2).
THE  FIRST-FRUITS.—“Christ the First fruits” (I Cor. xv. 23).
PENTECOST.—“I will tarry . . . . . unto Pentecost” (I Cor. xvi. 8).

     After Pentecost comes the long interval which spans the whole of the period from Israel’s rejection to the sounding of the trumpet that ushers in the day of their ingathering.  One critic has objected to the statement made by the writer that the parable of the sower covers the whole time period from the day of the Lord’s earthly ministry to the future day of the Lord, on the ground that this would include the dispensation of the mystery.  But we must realize that if  Matthew xiii.  or  Daniel ix.  or any other prophecies leap over the present interval, they must necessarily include the actual period now occupied by the manifestation of the mystery.  These prophecies, however, contain no indication of the revelation to be made known during this uncharted period.  So, while it is true that the dispensation of the mystery was never a subject of O.T. prophecy, we can nevertheless see, now that the revelation has been made, that the gap between Pentecost and the seventh month leaves provision for the present dispensation.  The rest of the dispensational purpose as foreshadowed in Israel’s ceremonial year will be fulfilled as surely as were the four feasts from Passover to Pentecost.


     “He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matt. xxiv. 31).

     “We shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump” (I Cor. xv. 51, 52).

     “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God” (I Thess. iv. 16).

     “In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the prophets” (Rev. x. 7).

Day   of   atonement.

     “Ye shall afflict your souls” (Lev. xxiii. 27).
     “I will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications;  and they shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son . . . . . the land shall mourn, every family apart” (Zech. xii. 10-12).
     “Behold He cometh with the clouds;  and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him, and all the tribes of the land shall wail because of Him” (Rev. i. 7).
     “Christ has . . . . . entered into heaven itself . . . . . and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. ix. 24-28).


     “I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.  In that day, saith the Lord of Hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree” (Zech. iii. 9, 10).
     “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares . . . . . they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree;  and none shall make them afraid” (Micah.iv.3,4).
     “I will go up to the land of unwalled villages, I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates . . . . .” (Ezekiel xxxviii., xxxix.).

The   Ingathering.

     “The feast of the ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field” (Exod. xxiii. 16).
     The LXX here reads:  “the sunteleia” where the A.V. reads:  “the feast of the ingathering”.  This is referred to by the disciples in  Matthew xxiv.:  “Tell us when shall these things be?  And what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the sunteleia of the age?”.

The   Eighth   Day   of   the   Feast.

     “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.  He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living waters.  But this He spake of the Spirit” (John vii. 37-39).

     There is a reference here to several prophecies, such as  Ezekiel xlvii.   The last feast is therefore parallel with Pentecost and an expansion of it.  What Pentecost foreshadowed was not the church of the mystery, but the ingathering of Israel and the pouring out upon them of the Spirit as a life-giving stream.  Here, therefore, given to the people of type and shadow, was a sacred calendar, a period of seven months in which was foreshadowed, so far as the earthly side was concerned, the unfolding purpose of the age.

     The creation week, with its six days of work and one of rest, the fact that  Heb. iv. 9  speaks of a rest or Sabbath keeping for the people of God, the fact that the sabbatic principle underlies the whole scheme, lends colour to the Rabbinical view that the ages will conform to the same principles.  The Rabbis taught that the world was two thousand years without the law, two thousand years under the law, and two thousand years under the Messiah.  The Revelation tells us of the thousand years of glory at the close.  The world draws near to the end of its sixth day.

     It is folly to attempt the computation of the time of the end, for at least two reasons.  It transgresses the evident prohibition of  Acts i. 7  &  Matt. xxiv. 36, 44;  and it assumes that chronology since Christ is trustworthy.  At the best we can only say that this present year of grace is approximately A.D.1932.  There is no proof — and we believe the uncertainty to be of God.

     The church of the mystery finds no exposition in Leviticus;  its hope is entirely separated from the hope of Israel.  This does not, however, clash with the obvious deduction, that if the hope of Israel draws near to its realization, how much nearer must our hope be?  Grace now;  and glory soon.  What manner of persons ought we to be?

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