I am in love with my new bible study! I am digging into the Old Testament and specifically the 7 Feasts from Leviticus 23. There will be a full review of this in a few short weeks, but I wanted to share with you an interview with the author!
About Erin Davis
A popular speaker, author, and blogger, Erin Davis has addressed women of all ages nationwide and is passionately committed to sharing God’s Truth with others. She is the author of many books, including Connected, Beyond Bath Time, and books in the My Name Is Erin series. She also contributes regularly to the True Woman blog. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing down chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.
Why is it important to remember the Bible is a book about Jesus and not a book about us? How does that change how we study the Bible?
As women, we are hardwired to want to be pleasing. It is one of the ways we bear the image of God. We want to be good daughters, good wives, good mothers, good friends, good employees, and good Christ-followers. Often we open our Bibles with that goal, however subconsciously, in mind. We’re looking for ways to make adjustments in order to be better women.
God is gracious to transform us through His Word. He will reshape you as you read, but the Bible is not primarily a self-help guide. Here is a truth I must remind myself of often:
The Bible is not a book about you. The Bible is a book about Jesus.
When we open our Bibles looking for ways to improve ourselves, we will feel frustrated with ourselves and how slow the sanctification process can be. But when we open our Bibles looking for God, we are never disappointed. He is on every page! And a clearer, bigger, more awe-inspiring view of Him, can’t help but change us. We are better able to bear the image of God when we better understand the character of God.
Erin, why do you think so many people skip over books like Leviticus when it comes to Bible study?
Well, let’s be honest, the book of Leviticus can feel a little dry. That is especially true if we see it as a book about a bunch of rules for the Israelites. But our desire to understand the book of Leviticus (and to understand every other book in our Bibles) will grow when we recognize that all of Scripture points to the Gospel. The Gospel is the key that unlocks our Bibles, even the hard to understand books and chapters.
I interviewed a Jewish rabbi during my research for 7 Feasts. I told him that in general, Christians don’t read the book of Leviticus. He said something like, “That’s odd because the sacrificial system is so central to what you believe and that comes straight from the book of Leviticus.” Bingo! In many ways, Leviticus is the blueprint for Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. When we learn to connect the dots between the Old Testament, the New Testament, and our lives as Spirit-filled believers, suddenly streams of living water gush forth from the text and Leviticus isn’t dry anymore!
As we learn about the Seven Feasts, what are the Seven Feasts of Israel?
I’m so glad you asked! The seven feasts are outlined in Leviticus 23. In the broad sense, this was the calendar for the Israelites as they wandered toward the Promised Land. The feasts include:
- The Passover
- The Feast of Unleavened Bread
- The Feast of Firstfruits
- The Feast of Weeks
- The Feast of Trumpets
- The Day of Atonement
- The Feast of Booths
What do the feasts teach us about God?
I’ve spent years studying the seven feasts, and I am still discovering more about God through them. I can’t unpack all of that here, but here are three things the seven feasts have taught me (or reminded me) about God:
- He is aware of our chronic spiritual amnesia and has mercifully established rhythms to help us remember His character. It was such tender mercy for the Lord to give His people an annual calendar that included seven points of remembrance. This helped them focus on the reality of His goodness even as they wandered in the desert. He does the same thing for us. He has given us so many reminders of who He is.
- He calls us into real rest. More than half of the seven feasts include a command to Sabbath. Over and over in Leviticus 23, the Lord is extending this invitation, “Rest in this. Rest in this. Rest. In. This.” The “this” is His sovereignty, His tender care, His mercy, His grace. The seven feasts reveal just how much God cares about the true, soul rest of His people. We really can rest in Him.
- God’s redemptive plan is revealed through the seven feasts. This reality really excites me! Jesus died on Passover. He rested on the Sabbath. He rose on the Feast of Firstfruits. He sent the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost. The seven feasts point forward, with remarkable consistency, to Jesus’s sacrifice for our sins. God was using the feasts to guide His people into a relationship with Him while He was pointing forward to the moment when He would make a way for us to all be in relationship with Him through Jesus’ sacrifice. It’s just so good!
Wow…that is really eye-opening to think about! This leads me to my next question, what do we learn about the importance of Sabbath as we study the feasts?
The concept of Sabbath is essential to the seven feasts. Before God began outlining the feasts to Moses, He described, in detail, the Sabbath. If we boil Sabbath down to it’s essence, Sabbath is a divine invitation to change the pattern.
If we consider the context for Leviticus 23, we see that Sabbath was a relatively new concept for God’s people. They had moved from being slaves, bound to work for their masters all day, every day, to being free. When God handed down the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, Sabbath became a new rhythm for the free people of God and He reminded them of that when He outlined the seven feasts.
The command to Sabbath is repeated in four of the seven feasts and both the feasts and the Sabbath are examples of ways God invites His people to change the pattern—to look up from our work and rest in His work; to stop gazing at ourselves and to gaze at Him instead; to unclench our fists and open our hands for the gifts He has for His children.
Finally, how does understanding creation tie into understanding the Seven Feasts?
The Bible opens with rhythms. God spoke, creation responded. The sunset. The sun rose. Repeat. Whether we are attuned to them or not, our own lives all have rhythms. Years are marked by the passage of seasons. Days lengthen and then shorten, then lengthen again. Months are marked by the cycle of the moon.
Creation points specifically toward the seven feasts. Astronomers recognize four primary moon phases. If we divide the number of days in the average month by the four phases of the moon, what’s the nearest whole number? Seven! A seven-day week is built into the framework of existence. It’s always been a part of God’s plan. The drumbeat established at creation continues through the Jewish calendar outlined in Leviticus 23. The seven feasts mirror the seven days of creation. Again, God speaks and creation responds.
One of the greatest gifts the seven feasts can give us is attention to the rhythms of our lives. God was writing in the planners of His people to help them remember who He is. He was establishing rhythms of work, rest, and worship to keep them tethered to Him, even as they wandered.
As New Testament Christians, we are not bound to a strict observance of the seven feasts, but if we let them, the feasts will reshape our rhythms to shift our focus toward Him. The feasts can help us pay attention to, and participate in the other rhythms God has established for His people.
I want to thank Erin for this interview! If you want to know more about 7 Feasts and what I am learning through this bible study, check back in the beginning of August to read my full review!