Reflections: Passover and Holy Days, Because of Leviticus 23

Let’s be clear about one thing: I keep the Sabbath and holy days “because” of what it says in Leviticus 23.  In a nutshell, I’m not going to argue with trolls about what “because” means.

I will out and out say it that if you do not keep the Sabbath and holy days because of Leviticus 23, there’s an excellent chance you are missing one of the most vital reasons for keeping them in the first place.

 1And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (Leviticus 23:1, King James Version)

Q: Who is giving the commands listed in Lev 23?

 2Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them…

Aha!  A loophole!  This is just some of that “Old Law” stuff, right?

…Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.

OK, wait a minute!  Whose feasts are these?  The feasts of the Jews?  The feasts of the Israelites?  Can a physical people make anything “holy”?

The Bible goes into a lot of detail outlining what is important to God.  It also goes into a lot of detail outlining what God hates and what God loves.  God owns everything, yet He, because He is love, shares His creation with us, His creatures.  Yet, as Creator, He decides what is to be kept, what is set aside, what is “holy”, or, in other words, what is “His”.

 3Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. (Leviticus 23:3, King James Version)

Again, God decides that a bit of time is “holy” and belongs to Him (“of the LORD”).  Just like tithing, God declares that a portion of resources under our control is to be dedicated to Him.

 4These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. (Leviticus 23:4, King James Version)

Do you think this repetition might indicate some sort of importance?  And, if it is important to God, shouldn’t it be important to us?

In four verses, we get four statements of direct ownership of these days by none other than God Himself!

What is a Christian?

Sometimes, a Christian is defined as a “follower” of Christ.  That’s a decent definition, but “follower” in our vernacular doesn’t do much justice to the concept.  A follower in the ancient world literally followed the teacher around to learn from (“be discipled by”) the teacher, who would have been someone distinguished in their accomplishments and craft.  In the religious world, the master and students would have ate together, travelled together, slept together and the disciples would learn by the master’s example.

What of the master’s example?  How would they learn?  By imitation!

Likewise, children learn by example.  They see their parents and older siblings doing something a certain way, and they imitate those actions.  Children usually want to grow up to be just like their parent.  They develop similar mannerisms, methods of speech and attitudes.

Families do things together.  In a healthy family, the children will want to be with their families and parents will want their children around them for special occasions.

God has outlined special occasions for His family.

 3And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3, King James Version)

We are supposed to give up ourselves completely to His service.  That means, we should strive to do what God wants us to do.  We should place priority upon what God says is important and emphasizes eight times (that I can count) as belonging to Him in one single chapter.

Leviticus 23 stresses the importance of keeping God’s holy days because they belong to Him.  Leviticus 23 is part of God’s Word, and the opening verse states that the outline of the holy days is from God Himself.

I keep the Sabbath and holy days because of Leviticus 23.  I value what our Heavenly Father has set aside for us to do as a family and told Moses to write down in His Word.


  1. John, this is a nice way of saying that you obey God, or at least it is your entention to. That is very commendable–but I would like to go a little further and ask you just what indepth meaning you get out of the Days of unleavened bread? I am not talking about just putting out leaven. Maybe you could thoroughly explain that to your readers.

    Anony Jon

  2. John D Carmack

    @Anony Jon: Good idea! Sounds like a topic for an upcoming article to me.

  3. Hello; I came to this through google and looking for the days of unleavened bread. I ran across this first in an older article; "Passover will soon be upon us. It is about Christ, Who came to be the Lamb, to submit to the Father’s plan, to die for the forgiveness of our sins and was resurrected to give us life eternal. The Days of Unleavened Bread follow on the heels of that. It outlines our responsibility: Put sin out of our lives and take the righteousness of Jesus Christ into ourselves. It is a free gift, but that gift will be lost if we don’t grab onto it. That involves doing things God’s way instead of doing what is right in our own eyes."–which brought me to this one.

    There are some things in this statement above that are puzzling–but I guess the one that most concerns me is "how does someone put sin out of his life and yet it is a free gift? I thought working out our own salvation with fear and trembling is something we have to do–but with the HELP of the Holy Spirit–which is a free gift? what am I missing in what you have said?

    I am also now looking forward to see just how you intend to explain your view of this.

  4. John D Carmack

    Anonymous wrote: "I thought working out our own salvation with fear and trembling is something we have to do–but with the HELP of the Holy Spirit–which is a free gift? what am I missing in what you have said?"

    I see nothing wrong with that statement. God gives us various gifts throughout to get us into the Kingdom. He grants us forgiveness, but we must repent. He gives us eternal life, but we must overcome.

    The Holy Spirit also is a gift. It's not the focus of the Days of Unleavened Bread, but the Holy Spirit is the focus of Pentecost, another holy day.

    It's not that the Holy Spirit is unimportant because without the seal of the Holy Spirit, that person "is none of his" (Ro 8:9). It's just that the focus of the DUB are different.

    Each step outlines parts of the process. Passover is symbolic of Christ dying for our sins. The Days of Unleavened Bread symbolize putting sin out. Pentecost symbolizes the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Feast of Trumpets symbolizes the return of Christ and the resurrection of the saints. The Day of Atonement symbolizes the putting away of Satan. The Feast of Tabernacles symbolizes Christ's Millennial rule. Then, there is an eighth day that symbolizes a truth that many do not teach: the second resurrection.

    That's a quick, off the top of my head, explanation. Did I leave anything out?

  5. Okay, I think I understand all that but I guess what I am getting at is that if someone walks up to me and hands me a fistful of money, then says this is a free gift—but here are the things you have to do before it is really yours—that is not really a free gift. A free gift is something you cannot earn–do not deserve—no contitions have to be met to recieve it–there is no way you would ever have it if it was not freely given to you—but yet it is. that is a free gift–one without strings. I do not see how anyone can view the days of unleavened bread in that light. We cannot become sinless without effort–God does not do it all for us–nor does the leavening leave the cupboards by itself–so how is it a free gift?
    (It is a free gift, but that gift will be lost if we don’t grab onto it.)

  6. John D Carmack

    @Anonymous: If someone walks up to you and hands you cash, then I guess it isn't a free gift by your reasoning. You have to hold out your hand and take it.

    Can I "earn" the right to win the lottery? Please tell me how. Buying a lottery ticket only gets you the right to a piece of paper. You cannot earn the right to win a pool of money. Yet, if I have the winning number, what good is it if I don't get off of the couch and cash it in?

    Please see today's post on "What Does It Take to 'Be Saved'?" for another more accurate contemporary example.

    Consider the man who was forgiven of his debt of ten thousand talents. There was no way he could ever repay it, yet he begged the master to be given the chance to do so. He could have worked the rest of his life and never paid it back, though. That amount might have been about $3 billion today.

    Interestingly, the master didn't require him to repay any of it. However, the same servant later forfeited this free gift, did he not?

    Yes, you have to do something, but there is no way you can ever earn salvation. The debt is too huge.

  7. I give up–you are totally not getting this, I am sorry to bother you. to me your reasoning is not logical. The resurrection to eternal life for true believers and true worshipers is a free gift–because they would have died for God and His way anyway–because they love Him–not just to get resurrected. Do you see what I am saying? What are they going to do–wake up!

  8. John D Carmack

    Anonymous stated: "I give up–you are totally not getting this, I am sorry to bother you. to me your reasoning is not logical."

    That's because your mind is closed and already made up. You obviously think certain people deserve salvation. I sincerely think you need to examine yourself to see if you are even saved. You obviously do not even know what you are being "saved" from!

    I would dispute that God will save anyone "just to get resurrected". However, that is what being "saved" is all about. You are saved from the second death by the resurrection to eternal life.

    And, as far as love goes, that much is true. However, even the love – agape – is a GIFT from God.

    Every breath you take, every step you walk, every second of time is a gift from God. You did nothing to deserve it. Even if you give 200% and were to somehow manage to save yourself (an impossibility, I would admit) — it STILL would have come from God.

  9. "Interestingly, the master didn't require him to repay any of it. However, the same servant later forfeited this free gift, did he not?"

    Based on the above thread and comments, I'm assuming John you mean "free gift" = salvation.

    By looking at the context I would agree that the purpose and intent of Jesus' story and other stories in this chapter are for followers of Jesus – after all his disciple, Peter, asks how he should live out the principle of forgiveness (my words).

    I do not agree that "free gift" here means salvation in the way this thread seems to imply. That, in my opinion, is reading too much into the text and context of the passage.

    No doubt the master's anger was aroused. But I think it is a stretch to say the man forfeited his "free gift" of salvation.

    As I understand the context and what I've studied on the passage, my conclusion is that the purpose of this story teaches us that God takes forgiveness by His servants very seriously (for we have been forgiven a huge amount – maybe even billions as John rightly stated).

    Think of it this way, the servant was totally without any resources of meeting that huge debt. He could never have "paid all that was due." It had already been forgiven him.

    Now the servant falls into another "debt." So the master's anger is aroused. The master will excise this debt through pain and suffering.

    The message is clear: if we as servants don't forgive, the result is torture – bondage. Look at the Greek for "torturer." It is very descriptive – one who seeks to get to the truth of things. That no doubt describes a person who has a purpose not of destroying the servant because of a wrong, but one who desires through pain and suffering to get to the truth (ie "I as a servant had better forgive because I have been forgiven much").

    Torment should not be viewed here as a forfeiting of forgiveness (that's not mentioned in the text). Nor should it be viewed as a loss of salvation or hell, but rather as mental anquish or emotional pain and suffering of a servant resulting from the lack of forgiveness – in other words the chastising of a child of God with the purpose to bring about good (Heb 12:6).

  10. John D Carmack

    @Anonymous: Sorry, but that violates the most basic of rules when interpreting a parable: That is, what is the point of the parable?

    Jesus said, "But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses" (Mk 11:26). To be unforgiven means the second death. Period.

  11. No need to apologize. You nor I either one have the market on truth and interpretation of scripture.

    No doubt unforgiveness of a fellow servant is serious business with God. We are also told to pray that God would forgive us as we forgive our debtors.

    I believe that a Christian, one who is indwelt and led by God's Spirit, is prone to listen to the voice of God when God tells that person he is out of line and trespassing. Therefore since God says he will forgive as we forgive others, or he will not forgive if we do not forgive, then his Spirit says to me, I better forgive. I believe a true follower of Christ is humble enough to forgive, or will be humbled until he forgives.

    Oh, that life would be so simple and black and white as to kill everyone that is unforgiven. Even our carnal court systems realize that to be unforgiven does not automatically mean death, but can mean ranges of punishment.

    The large debt (justification) was paid by the master. The next debt (sanctification) is not so easily forgiven, but must be excised through the master's justice system. I believe Scripture teaches justification is a completed act at the point of becoming a Christian. I do not find in scripture that justification can be undone. Sanctification on the other hand has the intention and purpose of cleansing and making holy, not of destroying.

    The point of the story is how to live the life of a disciple, sanctification. Thankfully the master knows just how much heat, pain and suffering to apply to develop holiness and change my mind. His word will prick my conscious because his Spirit lives within me.

    If you want to believe the master's justice system can undo justification and sentence his own children to eternal death and the loss of salvation, I disagree, but that's up to you.

  12. John D Carmack

    What I want to believe is irrelevant. What the Bible teaches is what is important.

    " 26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

    " 27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

    " 28He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

    " 29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"

    ~ Heb 10:26-29

    " 4For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

    " 5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

    " 6If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."

    Heb 6:4-6

  13. If you want to believe you can fail, that's not my problem. However, even most carnal Americans know that you have to believe in yourself before you can do anything. The Bible asks us to believe in God's power – he who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the Day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6).

    Looking again at the context of Heb 10, the writer has challenged the reader to, "enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus with confidence" (v. 19) and, "in full assurance of faith" (v. 22) and "hold fast…without wavering." (v. 23) He concludes his point in v. 39, "but we (believers) are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the saving or preserving of the soul."

    Yes he points out that some will fall away, but as the Apostle John clearly states, "they went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest that none of them were of us." 1 John 2:19

    That's crystal clear. The unbelievers will fail, but the believers will make it. No created thing can separate us from the love of God (Rom 8). Peter says, "having been born again, not of corruptible (perishable) seed but incorruptible (imperishable)." (1 Pet 1:23)

    In regards to Heb 6:4-6, again the context is left out. 6:9 "But beloved (that's believers), we are confident (not wavering in doubt) of better things concerning you, yest, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner."

    The writer had to address the fact and truth that people will "come to Jesus" attend church thinking they're saved (thus tasting yet not fully swallowing, partaking of the Holy Spirit through fellowship and the Spirit's great works) and like the parable of the sower, those unbelievers either give up or are choked by the world. They were not planted in good soil, like the ones who brought forth fruit.

    You readers have one decision to make. Do you believe in God's power to save? Do you trust in His name, "Finisher of Our Salvation" (Heb 12) "Savior" (Jesus' name means "The Lord is Salvation") "Everlasting Strength" (Isa 26:4) and many others? Or don't you? Choose this day, whom you will follow. Is God, God? Or is He a timid being wringing His weak hands wondering whether His children will make it or not?

    Either He saves or He doesn't. I don't have time right now to go into literally scores of other scriptures. Either you believe it or you don't. Time will tell.

  14. @anonymous

    You do bring up some crucial questions, " Do you believe in God's power to save? Do you trust in His name, "Finisher of Our Salvation" (Heb 12) "Savior" (Jesus' name means "The Lord is Salvation") "Everlasting Strength" (Isa 26:4) and many others? Or don't you? Choose this day, whom you will follow. Is God, God? Or is He a timid being wringing His weak hands wondering whether His children will make it or not?

    But the introductory sentence does convey the thought you are above the readers.

    " You readers have one decision to make."

    By stating such you have excluded yourself from the making of the same decision. Why is that?

    I believe when expressing oneself to others, especially to other believers is difficult, as James wrote in Jas 3:2, "For in many things 'we' (the inspired writer includes himself!) offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body."

  15. John D Carmack

    Mt 13:3-9 the Parable of the Sower shows one group in which Satan snatches up the seed before it can take root. Those would be the ones who never had a chance to understand and grow. Another group "falls away" because of persecution. They wither and die. They willingly give up their salvation by their own choice. Another group becomes so wrapped up in the cares of this world that they are choked and produce no fruit. Strong's G638 compares it to drowning by water. They too die.

    It is obvious we are not talking about people who out and out rejected Jesus at the beginning and don't repent in the first place, but Christians who through their own neglect and/or choices died spiritually and will die in the Lake of Fire.

    Paul himself sinned and realized he had to be vigilant or he would become a "castaway" (1Co 9:27).

    Jesus said only those who "endured to the end" would be saved (Mt 24:13). Was this warning of Our Savior just empty words?

    There are so many more warnings that Jesus Himself gave. Why give them at all if we are "once saved always saved"?

    Consider these words from HWA:

    "God's Spirit dwelling in you is God's own divine LOVE, which can fulfill God's Law. Thus what GOD has given you by grace may actually make you righteous! That means, put GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS actually within you!

    "NOTICE, I said God's Spirit in you CAN! It MAY put His righteousness within you!

    "BUT — and here is the all-important point — God's Spirit in you will not force you to live righteously. God's Holy Spirit will not POSSESS you — as a demon would if allowed to enter. You remain a free moral agent."

    We were born free moral agents, and God does not take free will away from us.

    We cannot ignore why the unjust servant was forgiven in the first place and the reason he was punished in the end: His attitude. The master forgave him the huge debt because he was broken and contrite and willing to do anything, even as we must come to Jesus broken and contrite and willing to give Him our all. However, the servant wasn't willing to treat others the same way. It was his attitude that got him into trouble. It was the choice that he made to not follow in his master's example.

    He had been forgiven, but then he turned around and refused to forgive.

    I will repeat again what Jesus said to His disciples: Jesus said, "But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses" (Mk 11:26). To be unforgiven means the second death. Period.

  16. Norbert, thanks for the advice. I'll have to remember that. My assumption on this blog is that most of the former worldwide church readers are not confident in their salvation. Looking down on others is not my conscious intent, although pride certainly raises its ugly head.

    In all sincerity, thanks for the gentle correction. Blessings brother.

  17. John D Carmack

    Anonymous wrote: "My assumption on this blog is that most of the former worldwide church readers are not confident in their salvation."

    Why assume that? Confidence is just a synonym for faith.

    Jesus said no one can snatch His disciples from His Father's hand (Jn 10:29). You have to jump to leave it. Again, it would be a choice.

  18. Peaceful Thinker

    Hey John: too bad my last post got lost in the shuffle. No worries.

    The key to the parable of the sower is the ground the seed falls on. Is the ground a heart prepared by God (good ground) or a ground that is hardened by stubbornness and pride and the cares of the world? The seed that fell in the good ground produced fruit. That ground will be receptive to God’s word. It’s not ground that becomes hardened after the seed falls onto it. And yes, the plant springs up and dies, but Jesus said you would know them, not by their springing up, but by their fruit – as we know, patience is part of that fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit Jesus said.

    1 Cor 9:27 in context is speaking of sanctification (Paul’s calling, gifts and position as a leader), not justification. A castaway = disqualified from preaching, not disqualified from salvation. Colossians is clear who qualifies us – the Father does: “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.” Context there is the work of God.

    You ask, why did Jesus give all those warnings if we’re “once saved, always saved”?

    That’s a great question. The way I see it is we both know the Bible was written not only to Christians, but to non-believers alike. The Words of Christ and the Spirit-inspired Words of God are for the admonition, encouragement and correction of the saints, but the conviction and condemnation of the world, those who think they believe – they attend church, were baptized and they walk in the form of a believer. Looking like they will produce fruit, but they don’t. Jesus’ warnings and the warnings like those of the writer of Hebrews are for a testimony against the unbeliever in the end. Those fakes, frauds and Pharisees will fall away because they are not planted in good soil. It’s only God that makes something good.

    The Apostle John says some great things in his first epistle. He writes it with the purpose of telling believers that they have eternal life (1 John 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know – that’s assurance – that you have eternal life, and that you may continue – that’s encouragement – to believe in the name of the Son of God.”)

    Beloved, we are NOW children of God (1 John 3:2). God does not kill his children, nor does He forsake them. God asks, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. v.16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands (a prophecy of the nail-scarred hands of Jesus)” Isa 49:15-16.

    Finally, the summation of the prophets is this – Your Sin, Your Sin, Your Sin; God’s Faithfulness, God’s Faithfulness, God’s faithfulness. His arm is not too short to save.

    I choose to believe God’s words, that I cannot fail because He has secured me and we know God never fails. He will bring us in. The only other option is believe in our work or a mixture of our works with His. Jesus didn’t just give us a “chance” at salvation. That was done through Israel. Jesus secured our salvation through His nail-scarred hands. That’s why He died.

    • Peaceful Thinker wrote: “Hey John: too bad my last post got lost in the shuffle.”

      Sorry about that. It was quite unexpected.

      If the ground were not prepared sufficiently, would the sower have sown seed there?

      “A castaway = disqualified from preaching, not disqualified from salvation.”

      Strongs says castaway means among other things “unfit for, unproved, spurious, reprobate”. That last word in particular should give one pause.

      Paul uses the same word to describe Jannes and Jambres in 2Ti 3:8. It also means “rejected” in Heb 6:8, referring to thorns and thistles “whose end is to be burned“.

      So, it appears that Paul realized the need to be vigilant, not because of being disqualified to preach. Anyhow, got to go for now.

  19. Peaceful Thinker

    RE: jumping out of His hand. Jesus said He would leave the 99 sheep to go get the one sheep who strayed. If I continue in sin as John says in his epistle, I am not saved and never was. There is a difference in the mind of a believer – I have experienced it. I assume you have, too. If you have you know, sin bothers you. Any time you sin, the Holy Spirit is all over you. We will respond or we will be disciplined until we respond. Our own new spiritual DNA as children of God will not let us fail. I think that’s great news that brings peace, joy and confidence in any situation, don’t you?

Comments are closed