Why read the Book of Deuteronomy at the Feast every 7 Years?

Why Read the Book of Deuteronomy at the Feast Every 7 Years?

 

How does the book of Deuteronomy apply to Christians in this New Testament era of the Church?

 

To find the answer we need to familiarise ourselves with the reason why God called out a nation, which he was going to use as an example to reveal His plan of salvation, which will be available to everyone.

 

God promised Abraham 400 years earlier that he would lead the descendants out of captivity and set them in a new land (The Promised Land) Gen 15:13-21. He also called them a kingdom of priests, a Holy Nation (Exod 19: 5-6) when He made the Covenant with them at Mt Sinai.

 

Of course, Israel was to obey the terms of the Covenant, to reap the benefits of the promises he laid with them. They said, “We will do” (Ex 19:8) Unfortunately, Israel did not keep their side of the bargain and disobeyed the laws and ordinances. The result was to wander in the wilderness for the next 40 years as a punishment, Ex 14:20, 30, 33-34. This was because of the mission of the spy’s incident.

 

At the end of the 40 years in the wilderness Moses called the people together on the Plains of Moab and (Deut 1: 1-5) gave them the second set of laws and ordinances which were given BESIDES the one at Sinai (Mt Horeb) Deut 29:1. Moses gave a second Covenant as they prepared to enter the Promised Land and it was different to the first one. Most Covenant article state that they were the same with only a few updates according to the time and travelling adjustments.

 

The answer is that the 2 covenants were for 2 different sets of people. We already know from the Bible and history that the first was for the people God called out, that is, Israel, whom He worked with until they went into captivity. The other covenant recorded in Deuteronomy was for a future people. This is revealed in scripture and we will address that claim now.

This where the question “Why read the Book od Deuteronomy at the Feast every 7 years” is answered!

 

Consider this: at Mt Sinai, the law was given in a dramatic event, there were dark clouds, trembling, smoke, lightening and a piercing sound of blowing like a trumpet, Ex 19:16-19. This experience would have stayed in the minds of those present for a long time. Add to that, Moses wrote it all down on tablets of stone – all very impressive! Conversely, Moses only spoke this second Covenant to the people who had survived the 40 years in the wilderness. These people hadn’t heard the Mt Sinai incident except Joshua & Caleb (who entered the Promised Land) (Num 14:30). The verbal commands Moses spoke could easily be lost.

 

Let’s look at more interesting details – the first Covenant was delivered and ratified with blood by the young men (Ex 24:5-8); the second was NOT…That’s interesting – maybe sometime in the future it will be – actually, it has been! We’ll keep on this point, Moses was commanded to put the testimony (first Covenant) IN the Ark of the Covenant 40 years earlier (Exod 40:3&20) and now on the Plains of Moab (40 years later), Moses tells the Levites to “take this book of the Law and put it BY THE SIDE of the Ark of the Covenant” – a vulnerable place to put God’s word unlike the first – safe in the Ark.

So, let’s recap:

Exodus Covenant

  • ratified with blood (Heb 9:18-22, Exod 24:6-8)
  • nobody can add to or take away from it (Deut 4:2, Deut 12:32)
  • Placed INSIDE the Ark
  • Covenant set

Deuteronomy Covenant

  • Not ratified with blood (not yet at that point)
  • Not part of the Old Covenant
  • Placed at the SIDE of the Ark (Deut 31:26)
  • For others not there that day (Deut 29:10-15)

Before answering the question ‘Why read Deuteronomy every 7 years?’ lets add a few more scriptures: In Deuteronomy 29:10-15 we read that this Covenant being made on the Plains of Moab was for OTHERS who were not here today. Who are the others? God was not working with any other nation at that time, but not so in the future!

 

It would be appropriate to show the promise from God to those who fear Him, (Psalm 25:14) “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him and He will show them His Covenant” This scripture indicates that the Covenant is a secret and the Lord will reveal it to those who are diligently seeking it.

 

This sets the stage for the next topic, what does the Covenant in Deuteronomy contain? In the margins of some Bibles there are footnotes. It is fascinating to see that when reading about the teachings of Jesus, and the apostles, we see that they regularly refer back to Deuteronomy.

 

We know that Jesus’ death ushers in these things:

  • Jesus’ death ushered in a new Covenant (Mat 26:28)
  • It is a better Covenant (Heb 8:6)
  • It abolished the Old Covenant for the New (Heb 10:9)
  • Jesus Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant (Heb 9:15) (Heb 8,9 & 10)

 

Now if all the footnotes in the RSV are recorded and compared with the Deuteronomy Covenant laws and ordinances, we see there are approximately 44 matches. This is amazing, as it indicates that this second covenant reflects the teachings of Jesus! Remember Jesus himself said His parables were hidden to the people except the disciples (Matt 13:11), see the following examples: Matt 5:27 (adultery) and Deut 5:18, and Mat 16:15 (2 or more witnesses) and Deut 17:6.

 

Here is more evidence that the Deuteronomy Covenant was not recorded like the Exodus Covenant on tablets of stone with a smoking mountain, thunder and lightning.

 

Deut 5:1 – Moses was to summon all Israel and tell them the statutes and judgements (verse 1), he was then told to tell the people, in verse 30, ‘return to your tents again’, but Moses was told in verse 31 ‘But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you all the commandment and the statutes and the ordinances which you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess.' So in affect God told Moses what to teach the people while he only was in the presence of God.

In review – What have we learned from the pages of God’s word:

  1. There are two different covenants – given 40 years apart
  2. Old Covenant in Exodus with approx. 70 Statutes and Ordinances, Deuteronomy Covenant has approx. 80, of which 8 are the same and 6 are similar.
  3. Deuteronomy Covenant made with ‘others not here’
  4. Old Covenant placed safely in the Ark of the Covenant; Deuteronomy Covenant placed beside the Ark
  5. Old Covenant ratified with blood (of animals), Deuteronomy Covenant not ratified until Jesus’ came and shed His blood (Matt 26:27)
  6. Jesus’ blood ushered in the New Covenant in his last Passover night
  7. Jesus’ teachings reflected in the Deuteronomy Covenant in the book of Deuteronomy

So, Why read the Book od Deuteronomy at the Feast every 7 years?

 

Deut 31:10-11 states that when God’s people meet at the Feast of Tabernacles, on the seventh year they were to read the Book of Deuteronomy ‘in their hearing’. This meant that they were receiving the teachings of Jesus, unknowingly, two thousand years before He arrived on the scene. It was a witness and something that the prophets longed to see. (Matt 13:17, Luke 10:23, 1 Pet 1:10)

 

So, the instruction God gave to Moses: that you read the Book of Deuteronomy every seventh year at the Feast of Tabernacles ‘in their hearing’ could very well apply to us as we, New Covenant Christians attend the Feast – where we celebrate the return of Jesus Christ when He will set-up the Kingdom of God here on earth to last for 1000 years.

 

What better way to learn about our Saviour and King than to have it expounded at the Feast of Tabernacles and how exciting to know that it has already been revealed in the Book of Deuteronomy years ago.

 

Let’s quote again Psalms 25:14

The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them His Covenant.KJV

The Extra Holy Days

The Extra Holy Days

(Note: this article follows on from our main study - Start Here)

 

Intro: So why were there two extra Holy Days added in the books of Leviticus and Numbers for Israel to celebrate? …..???

 

At this point a controversial subject arises. It has been shown that God has given his people Holy Days to use in the worship of Him. It was shown in the book of Exodus three seasons were allocated for Holy Days. Ex.23:14 says: “Three times……ULB, HARVEST & Ingathering.” These days were integral with the OLD COVENANT given at Mt. Sinai and consecrated with blood of animals by the young men. Once consecrated with blood, nothing could be added or taken away. (Deut 4:2 & Deut 14:32)

 

Now after the priesthood was established in the next year (Lev.8:1 and Lev 40:17) two extra Holy Days are added to the religious order of celebrations. Looking at Lev 16:1-29 and Lev 23:23, it is clear that God included two extra days for the Israelites to celebrate. They are reiterated in Numbers 29:1 & 7. What could the meaning of the addition of these two days represent and to whom do they apply? We need proof from scripture here, not tradition or speculation from other sources.

 

The giving of the law and commandments at Mt. Sinai  was the culmination of a momentous day. The mountain quaked, fire went up and smoke shrouded the area. The sound of blowing made the people tremble as thunder and lightning added to the event. The time this happened was mentioned in Ex19: 1, “on the third moon…..” So the nation was only three months established when this happened. When the day of Trumpets (‘blowing’ Strong’s 8643 ‘sounded like trumpets’) was recorded, it was AFTER the Tabernacle tent was erected and the priesthood instigated!

 

So what was it instigated for? Well obviously God had given the Israelites a memorable day to celebrate the giving of the OLD COVENANT just like we have a memorial day to remember an important event in our nation’s history.

 

The following helps to explain the day and why it was important to them.

 

THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS

 

What is the meaning of the Feast of Trumpets, and who should observe it? Most booklets on this subject explain that this day represents the return of Jesus Christ at the end times. The opening paragraph almost always says, this is the day when we look forward to a time when Christ returns and sets up the kingdom of God on earth. The next sentence usually refers to Leviticus 23 where it says it is a memorial of blowing of trumpets. Numbers 29:1 also mentions it but only says they were to blow trumpets. There is no evidence which points to Christ returning in either scripture only blowing of trumpets. How can a doctrine be established on this evidence or lack of it?

 

Rather than create a meaning to suit a doctrine or idea just because the word trumpet appears, we should get the facts from the Bible itself. It is important to know what the scriptures say in this regard. The meaning of the Hebrew number for ‘blowing of trumpets is’ 8643 ‘teer-oo-aw’ and it means clamour, that is, acclamation, a holy convocation.

 

In Numbers 29:1 it says it is a “day of blowing of trumpets to you”. This word 8643 comes from the Hebrew word ‘ruwa’ (7321) and means ‘to mar, to split the ears (with sound), i.e. to shout, blow an alarm, cry aloud’. Doesn’t include anything to do with a warlike situation, rather a preparation for an announcement.

 

When it says, “a memorial of blowing of trumpets” what does it mean? According to all the booklets (produced by the Churches of God), straightaway they look to the future when Christ returns, but consider the word ‘memorial’. Why look forward instead of looking back, as a memorial does?

 

Let’s look at an example we are all familiar with. In Australia we have a solemn observance, it’s called ANZAC DAY. Using Biblical language, let’s apply this example to Lev. 23. “On the fourth Month, [April] on the 25th day of the Month we shall have a solemn observance. It a memorial of a landing on a beach in Gallipoli in Turkey. There will be a solemn ceremony at all cenotaphs in Australia and New Zealand”. All will be observing ANZAC DAY. This is a very solemn day and to arrive at the meaning of it, all we have to do is look back through military and national history and we can easily find the tragic beach landing in world war one, in Turkey that will be hard to forget.

 

Now let’s look at Leviticus 23, there we have God telling his people to observe a day which is an event which happened in their short history as a nation. Can we find an event in the three months from Egypt that could fit the category of blowing of trumpets (‘clamour, noise, ear splitting sound’) as explained? It is, of course, the day mentioned in Lev 23: 23 – the Day of Trumpets!

 

This Holy Day was to be kept as long as God had a covenant with his chosen people. The story of their infidelity and subsequent divorce is recorded in scripture. But there was a new and better covenant coming. The book of Hebrews tells us that “by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better covenant “ Heb. 7:22 and Heb. 8:13 “In that he said, a new covenant, he had made the first old. Now that which decayed and waxen old is ready to vanish away.”

 

Now this is where the question must be asked, if the day of Trumpets is a memorial to the making of the OLD COVENANT, to be observed by the participants of that covenant, and the New Testament Christians are under a new Covenant then what is the meaning for us today and why should we observe this day with a new and different meaning? There is no new biblical meaning!

 

Remember, the OLD COVENANT had sacrifices and a day to cover sins annually (Lev.16) so why designate it as the return of Christ and warfare? Just because the word trumpet (and wrongly described) is mentioned, it doesn’t have to refer to Christ’s return. To compare Lev 23: 23 to warfare is incorrect. The Bible clearly explains this day.

 

Most Churches who produce Holy Day booklets do not have a New Testament scripture when they are comparing holy day observance on The Day of Trumpets. That’s because all of the apostles and elders were teaching the NEW COVENANT as taught by Paul, received from Jesus personally.

 

As there are Jewish congregations worldwide it is correct to say that they can keep the DAY OF TRUMPETS while they are under the OLD COVENANT, because they are still in that state of belief, blinded to the fact that the Messiah has come, and they are still waiting for the return. But it seems evident that they don’t observe this day as the giving and the making of the OLD COVENANT either as the Bible shows, but as a day to celebrate the New Year, (Rosh Hashanah) and blow trumpets, whilst adding 10 days of awe, which isn’t Biblical.

 

Observing the day as the return of Christ is inaccurate as there is no future event mentioned in the two scriptures in Lev.23:23 and Num:28.1-7 and it cannot be regarded as a Holy Day today, as it was not included in the Holy Days of Ex.23:14 (not ratified with blood with the rest of the OLD COVENANT) or in the New Covenant in Deuteronomy. (See our main study ‘Secret of the Covenants - Start Here‘) The meaning of the day was a day given to God’s people, at that time, to celebrate the giving of the OLD COVENANT, likened to a Remembrance Day we observe as a national day.

 

DAY OF ATONEMENT

 

Now we must address the other issue which arises; The Day of Atonement was also instigated while Israel was in the wilderness at the same time the Day of Trumpets was added to the Holy Day list. (Lev. 23:1-23 & Num.29:1)

 

Israel had exited from Egypt and was camped at Mt. Sinai in the third month. Whilst Moses spent 40 days on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments and Ordinances, the people became restless and the golden calf incident occurred. God had already known the people were not perfect or sinless even after the incredible miracles they had witnessed so he created a way to atone (cover) them of their sins.

 

So, once a year, they were required to observe the DAY of ATONEMENT. As stated previously, atonement means covering, (for example Noah ‘atoned’ the ark with pitch or asphalt to make it waterproof. Gen.6:14) and this was the method God would instigate for the people so that their sins could be forgiven, albeit temporarily for one year.

 

The procedure was a series of sacrifices representing the cleansing of the high priest, his family, the temple and the congregation. See the  'Leviticus 16 Chart' (a verse by verse map of  the sacrificial ceremony)... The people were able to go to the tabernacle once a year and their sins were covered (Strong’s 3722) and this was forever as long as they were a nation under God’s guidance and obeying His laws, (which they didn’t). Because this day was an extra Holy Day given to the congregation in the wilderness, it had a special meaning for them and still does to this day for the Jews of the OLD COVENANT. Remember, it was not part of the ratified covenant at Sinai and nothing can be added or taken away (Deut 4: 2 & Deut 12: 32)

 

So, what can the meaning be for us today as Christians? Well, while the Israelites were covered for one year, it was a temporary fix for a serious problem. Not so with our merciful God, he offers us a permanent fix, which is forgiveness of sin through accepting Christ as our saviour. The death of Jesus Christ was the ultimate sacrifice for ALL mankind and it only had to occur once and for all! (Heb.9 :26)

 

Therefore the meaning of the DAY of ATONEMENT is clearly shown. It was a day Israel had to celebrate, with fasting, and their sins were covered for one year. For Christians, our sins are forgiven the day we were baptized and our covenant renewed at Passover each year when we recommit our lives to follow Jesus Christ until his return, (1 Thess:16-18). But those who continue observing the Day of Atonement each year shows that they are continually looking for the day when Christ will abolish sin forever. But he did that 2000 years ago!!

 

Hopefully, the explanation of how these two added holy days were part of the Israelite religious system and clearly defined as such and are not part of our Christian walk. We are warned in all four Gospels about putting new wine in old wine skins, (Matt 9: 17, Mark 2: 22, Luke 5: 37)  as in adding OLD Testament practices to NEW Testament directions. You can’t mix old with new! 

 

The OLD COVENANT is still applicable to those who are under it, but the SECRET OF THE NEW COVENANT reveals that the OLD is fading, and one with better promises is replacing it.

 

Go to: Main Study - Start Here

Holy Day Timeline Chart

You may also like:  'When was the Exodus'

and:  'Defining 'BOQER' (Morning)'

What is the New Covenant?

What is the New Covenant?

Where is it?

and What does it contain?

 

As a Christian we accept Christ as our Saviour – but we also enter into an agreement, or Covenant with God – we read in Hebrews 9:15 that Christ is the Mediator of the New Testament.

Heb 9:15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant...

'Testament' can also be translated as ‘Contract', 'Will' or 'Covenant’.

Heb 8:6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 

1Ti 2:5 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 

So now we have a Mediator between God and men, and a Covenant.

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How does it affect our Christian walk - why is it important to know?

As Christians we accept Christ as our Saviour - BUT we also enter into an agreement, or 'Covenant' with God - With any contract or covenant, there are terms, or an agreement, by 2, or more parties.

(Dictionary definition of ‘Covenant’ …. ‘an agreement, usually formal, between two or more persons to do, or not to do, something specified; a formal agreement, contract, or promise in writing, agree by lease, deed, or other legal contract.’
Example – the agreement between God and the ancient Israelites, in which God promised to protect them if they kept His law and were faithful to Him.)

 

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Why was there a need for a NEW or better Covenant?

The Old Covenant was between Israel (consisting of 12 Tribes) and God, delivered at Mt Sinai through Moses. It consisted of The Ten Commandments, 70 Laws and statutes.

Moses read out the terms of the Old Covenant and all the people agreed, the covenant was then sealed (ratified) with the sprinkling of blood -
Exo 24:7-8 Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient."  And Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words." 

It was a physical arrangement with physical rewards. As long as the people kept the laws then God would protect them and fight for them. The people didn’t have direct access to God but through Moses, then the Levitical priesthood.

There was no provision to forgive sin – through the Levitical priesthood there was only a ritual performed as a covering of sin and only once a year on the Day of Atonement.

This arrangement would have been fine if the Israelites were able to stick to God’s laws and not waver, and not sought after other Gods.

God had a plan to offer something better, but it wouldn’t come into effect until later.
Heb 8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second.
Heb 10:4 For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. 

Christ became the ultimate sacrifice, His blood was shed – once and for all for those who believe on him would have their sins not just covered but forgotten!

Heb 10:16 -18  "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds," 
then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their misdeeds no more." 
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. 

It is an incredible promise to those who believe in Christ and accept Him as their saviour - but what about the 'Covenant' part?

Heb 9:15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.

Why talk about a New Covenant if it seems that all you need to do is believe in Christ?

Consider these scriptures in Matthew 5 -
Mat 5:17 - 20 "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.  Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 

And …
John 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

So there is still emphasis on ‘Laws’ and ‘Commandments’. Christ talks about writing His Laws into their hearts and in their minds – what Laws?

The OLD Covenant is written in Exodus – is it possible that the New Covenant is also recorded in the Bible?

Are there TWO Covenants with God’s people in the Bible?

Before we can answer this question we need to become familiar with the content of the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy and the timeline of these four books. See: The first Five Books of the Bible in a Nut Shell, before going into the main Study - Start Here.

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The video below, relating to the Christian Passover, presented by Ronald L Dart from Born to Win, refers to a New Covenant and the relationship Christians enter in to with God through Jesus Christ.