The Meaning of the Festival Offerings

 

The law commands that the people tithe a tenth of their increase to the Levites who must then tithe a tenth of that to the priests. 

The tithe to the Levites is to support them in their work doing the menial things of the tabernacle – later the temple; and Moses set the Levites as teachers of the people in the synagogue system.  In Psalm 74:8 David prophecies that an enemy will destroy the synagogues from the land, which implies that synagogues existed in the time of David. The synagogue system was created as schools where the Levites could teach the Word of God to all people.  After the Babylonian captivity Ezra restored the synagogue system to Judah. 

In addition such functions as Levitical choirs were also added by David. 

The tithe of the Levites to the priests is to pay for the sacrifices commanded to be offered on behalf of the whole nation including the Daily, the Sabbath and New Moon, and the Festival sacrifices.  In addition the priests were to receive wages for offering sacrifices on behalf of individuals in the form of a portion of the sacrifice. 

David set up courses of priests to serve one by one at the tabernacle, later the temple; and because the vast majority of personal individual sacrifices were made at the Festivals and because of the Festival work load, all priests were to serve at all of the Festivals. 

The tithe from the people was to be a tenth of their increase which means that all expenses incurred to earn that income are to be deducted before tithing. 

For example travel expenses to and from work, work clothes and cleaning – dry cleaning,  education and training, and any other expenses needed to earn the income; like customer entertainment expenses to make a sale, work tools, and raw materials for resale as more finished products. 

Further since God gave each family a plot of land, which many do not have today it is permissible to deduct a reasonable amount for housing costs. 

That covers the Levitical tithe

God also commanded that all who were able, were to journey to the place where God had placed his name, i.e. the tabernacle or temple; three times a year

Deuteronomy 16:16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:

To pay for these three annual journeys to the Holy Place another tithe on our increase is commanded

Deuteronomy 14:22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.

14:23 And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn [grain], of thy wine, and of thine oil [a festival tithe of all of our in crease], and [we are also to bring the first fruits of the particular harvest to the  spring summer and fall Festivals] the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always [The purpose of appearing as a nation before God was to learn of Him; Festival sermons are to be about God, His Word and His Greatness; to bring the people and keep them close to God, and to exhort them to live by every Word of God.

14:24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: 14:25 Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: 14:26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth [lawfully desires] after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,

It is self evident that some people were left at home; the unclean, the very young or very aged, the seriously ill and their care givers and those needed  to care for the flocks and herds, but the intent was and is, that as many as possible attend the three annual pilgrim Festivals.  The three annual Festivals were for the people to appear before the LORD to learn of Him; to worship God and to exalt Him and to rejoice with their God. 

The Festival tithe was to be spent in attending these Festivals and feasting before the LORD as an allegory of a spiritual feast on the Word of God; and in great rejoicing over the physical harvests; as an allegory of feasting on the Word of God and the wondrous spiritual harvests of humanity that these physical harvests represent in the plan of God.

We are to rejoice; NOT because, as some wrongly think, that they will get theirs and dominate others in the Kingdom, but because we shall be laborers bringing in the sheaves of humanity into the family of God!  Saving humanity! 

When someone is well off, they are NOT to spend their Festival tithe on tourist activities and non God centered activities, instead they are to share with their less well off brethren.

14:27 And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.

In addition to our Festival tithes and the sacrifices of the priests on behalf of the whole nation, the people were commanded to bring an offering at each of the three pilgrim festival, that is three times a year.

Deuteronomy  16:17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee. 

These offerings were not gifts of money to be given to the Levites or to the priests, but were Freewill and Thank Offerings of rejoicing to be eaten by the offerer’s and shared with our families and with the Levites [the term Levites includes the priests].  Therefore they are not commanded to be offered on the Fast of Atonement or the Feast of Trumpets, but on the three commanded occasions. 

They may also be offered on occasions of great rejoicing such as the dedication of the temple, but are only COMMANDED for the three Festivals each year.  (See also 2 Chr 31:14 Hezekiah’s reformation, the return from exile: Ezr 1:4-6; Ezr 2:68; Ezr 7:16; Ezr 8:28; Ne 7:70-72 and the Eze 46:11-12 millennial temple).

The meaning of these Freewill and Thank Offerings is far deeper then merely casting some money into a basket. 

These Festival offerings had to be killed in the Temple before God [although they were NOT sacrifices]; they had to be eaten inside the temple; and they had to be shared with family, friends and the Levites! 

The Freewill and Thank Offerings were a physical allegory of a festive spiritual family meal with God the Father at the head of the table, and his family gathered about him; in harmony and at peace and eating in the presence of God as an example of internalizing [eating]  the Word of God!   There is so much more meaning to the Festival offerings than mere mammon!

These Festival Freewill and Thank Offerings are not sacrifices to God; they are  voluntary offerings brought on occasions of celebration or spiritual significance to be eaten WITH God and with the people of God in rejoicing. The animal offered was to be killed in the temple and was then eaten as a festive banquet. 

That is how things are to be done when we have a physical temple, yet today there is no physical temple. Nevertheless the Festivals should be observed today in this New Covenant spiritual dispensation with great rejoicing and an emphasis on spiritual feasting on the Word of God. 

We need to STOP having sermons on how wonderful we are and how wonderful it will be to be the top folks; and we need to start having sermons on the greatness of God and exhorting the brethren to the righteousness of living by every Word of God, we NEED sermons on the Word of God, explaining the spiritual meaning of the commandments and laws of God and glorifying the most awesome Being in the universe! 

In Conclusion

We have no physical temple today and cannot sacrifice or kill and eat our Freewill and Thank offerings before the LORD, yet we can and should feast together on the Word of God.  

Yes, do give an offering of money, but remember that the money offering is only a token of the Thank and Freewill Offerings to be made before the LORD in the temple; and understand that the meaning of the Freewill and Thank Offerings is rejoicing together with God and eating [internalizing] the nature of God, to live by every Word of God in harmonious fellowship with God and all other faithful godly persons! 

After Jesus Christ comes he will build the third Temple and the physical sacrifices and offerings will be renewed.  The descendants of loyal Zadok will be called into the New Covenant of Jer 31:31; and as New Covenant physical priests will officiate in the physical duties of this third Temple.  At that time Jesus Christ will clarify every detail of the Temple service and every detail of the spiritual meaning of that Temple service and God’s sacrificial system. 

In the millennium it will not be possible for every person of the billions on earth to go to Jerusalem three times a year [look at the problems Mecca has with a few million at the Hajj once each year and add to that the sacrifices and offerings], but our LORD will resolve that problem; perhaps by having the nations send different representatives each year to each Festival, while most people in the nations keep the Festivals in their own countries as the Ekklesia does today. 

The Ezekiel study will be updated in early 2017, however the existing material on Eze 40-44 and the Millennial Temple is still very good, full of diagrams and animation links.  Please do visit this link Ezekiel 40-44: The Millennial Temple  and do click through to the animation links at the post to get an idea of this awesome Temple!

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