Significance of the feasts of Old Covenant
There is a wonderful prophecy about Zion and God’s blessings thereto in Isaiah 33:20-24. Whenever the prophetic books refer to “Zion”, we tend to think in terms of the physical Zion that existed in the Israel of the Old Testament days. The devil has blinded our eyes so that we could not see Zion through our spiritual eyes. The devil has made us believe that Zion refers to the future kingdom of Christ or something to be grabbed in the heaven after our death.
Prophet Isaiah exhorted the Old Testament saints to “look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities (appointed feasts)”. Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord have become the children of Abraham by faith and have thus entered Zion. “But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels…” (Heb.12: 22). Though the Old Testament saints saw Zion at a distance, we have come to Zion.
We have the appointed feasts in Zion. The Lord commanded the Israelites to observe three feasts every year. These are Passover (Lev.23: 5-8), Pentecost (called the Feast of the Weeks or Feast of Harvests)( Ex.23:16), and Tabernacle (Lev. 23:34-44). The feasts are not for a season or some particular days but for all the days. Under the New Covenant, it is not a ritualistic festival, confined to seasons. Since grace is given us, we have to observe these feasts daily, in a spiritual manner.
This is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt. The children of Israel were supposed to eat unleavened bread for seven days. Under the New Covenant, Christ is our Passover who was sacrificed for us (I Cor.5: 7). We should “keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth “ (I Cor.5:8). Daily, we should observe the feast of Passover by remembering the great sacrifice made by Jesus Christ for us on the Cross, and seek His forgiveness and cleansing through His blood. We should forsake malice and wickedness but follow sincerity and truth.
Pentecost is the day of the birth of Church, the body of Christ. It is the day when the Holy Spirit was sent to the world in place of Jesus, the Son of God. Daily, we should observe this feast by thanking God for giving us the Holy Spirit, and should seek His filling us of the Spirit so that we are endowed with His power in our ministry. Many Christians boast of their initial baptism in the Holy Spirit and say, “I am filled with His Spirit”. But they do not walk in the Spirit. Nor does the Spirit lead them. They are content with their initial experience. There is no fresh flow of the Spirit power in their lives. They also do not know that it is the feast of harvest. They have to give first fruits of their land to the Lord. They merely expect Him to heal them of their diseases and to perform mighty miracles through the gifts of the Spirit. But they do not give Him the first fruits of their land. This means they do not labor in His vineyard so as to reap the harvests. Why the Holy Spirit baptism was given to them? Is it just to speak in tongues and to show to others that they are some special people? No. If you believe that you have been baptized in His Spirit, you should be in the street preaching the gospel to the poor and should not relax in the comforts of a church building. Many ministers have ended up in palatial church buildings and have relegated evangelism to the background. They take pleasure in worshipping God but do not take pains to proclaim the gospel to the poor and to the lost souls. Pentecost is to witness to the world, and not to gratify the self.
The significance of this feast is that the Israelites dwelt in booths for seven days. “All that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths” (Lev.23: 42). Under the new Covenant, we have to observe the feast of fellowship with the other members of the body of Christ. All of us have to dwell in booths, and not in independent houses. This means that the children of God have to form groups for fellowship and ministry. Geographically, they have to form groups for prayer and fellowship. Universally, they should all join together in the one body of Christ by fellowship. The Tabernacle of God, which consists of many booths geographically, is the Church on the earth. God dwells in the Tabernacle.
If we read the Church history, many servants of God were used mightily but they had fallen by the wayside because they did not believe in the body ministry. They did not want to live in booths. They wanted to be independent ministers. Even now also we find many of such ministers.
JERUSALEM, A QUIET HABITATION
“Thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation…” In the spiritual Jerusalem, there is abundance of peace. It is a quite habitation for us. When the demons assail us in the world, we take refuge in Jerusalem. When the diseases take hold of us in the world, we go to Jerusalem immediately for deliverance. When the people of this world persecute us, we go to Jerusalem for our comfort. The Old Testament saints were beholding Jerusalem at a distance. But we enjoy the fruit of Jerusalem i.e. His abundant peace.
A STRONG TABERNACLE
We have “a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken”. We have a tabernacle in our midst. As we gather together in the body of Christ, the tabernacle of God is formed in our midst. This Tabernacle is formed as the members of the body of Christ are gathered together for fellowship and ministry throughout the world. No gates of hell will and can prevail against this Tabernacle. No ruler or any government on this earth can take down this Tabernacle. The Satan cannot enter this Tabernacle because it is well secured by the Blood of Jesus Christ and by the five-fold ministry of the Holy Ghost. No stakes of this Tabernacle can be removed because it is laid on the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the Chief Corner Stone. The cords of this Tabernacle made of the love amongst the members of His body can never be broken.
A PLACE OF RIVERS AND STREAMS
“But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby (Vs.21).
This prophecy is more important than the previous ones. Zion does not merely has the Tabernacle in its midst. Though the God Almighty dwells in the Tabernacle, yet the “glorious Lord” is very personal and peculiar to each individual. The Lord is greater than any individual church or ministry. Though Isaiah saw the Lord through his prophetic eyes and said, He “will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams”; Jesus Christ has now become a place of broad rivers and streams unto us. Out of Him flow broad rivers and streams. The power of the Holy Spirit goes all over the world in broad rivers so that the people of this world can drink and live by it. Communist countries, which had closed their doors to the glorious gospel, have now opened their doors. The wilderness becomes a pool of water through the gospel of Christ. The streams go to those places, which cannot be reached, by the broad rivers. In these last days, the power of the glorious gospel touches those people who live in those places, which are not ordinarily accessible to the gospel. We have wonderful television and radio ministries, which go like streams and reach millions.
He is unto us a place of broad rivers and streams. Oh, we need not depend upon buckets of water for our mere survival. We have an abundance of His power and resources for our lives and ministries in this world.
No galley with oars will sail nor majestic ships pass by. We do not require the help of any boat with oars or any big ship for traveling or for fishing in these waters. When God sends revival to our churches, we need not put in our strenuous labor for bringing the lost souls to His Kingdom. Neither a small evangelistic ministry with meager resources nor a big evangelistic ministry with great resources is needed. The fire of revival goes from Zion to the world. In Zion, the Lord Himself is our Provider. We need not strive for earthly blessings. It will come our way once the God-sent revival reaches our towns.
JUDGE, LAW GIVER AND KING
“For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; He will save us” (Is.33:22)
In a democracy, the executive, the judiciary and the legislature are three distinct functionaries. These three functionaries function in an independent manner for the sake of the principles of natural justice. The executive rules the nation. The legislature makes the law. The judiciary interprets and administers the law. But, in Zion, the Lord is our Judge. He is also our Lawgiver. He is also our King. He performs all these three functions i.e. judgment, law making and government in a righteous manner. He does justice and righteousness in Zion.
When we have not got due justice in this world, we have to simply tell Him about the injustices done to us. He, in Zion, will do justice for us. When a nation has passed any law, which was contrary to His law, we have to simply tell Him about this so that His law may supersede the law of the nation concerned. When we have been persecuted in this world, we have to go to our King in Zion for our protection. He saves us from the attacks of any mighty person in this world or the devil.
A GREAT SPOIL
Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail: then is the prey of a great spoil divided: the lame take the prey” (Is.33:.23)
Your tackle is loosed. In the world, you have to make every strenuous effort to do certain thing. For arranging an evangelistic campaign, you have to put in tremendous labor and to spend enormous amounts of money. But, in Zion, your tackle is loosed. They could not strengthen their mast. They could not spread the sail.
If you get a revelation of what you are in Zion, your tackle will be loosed so that the co-workers laboring with you would neither strengthen their mast nor spread the sail. It is neither your labor nor the labor of your co-workers but the power of the Holy Spirit that will accomplish great things for you. When a revival breaks out, the Holy Spirit would set you free from “your tackle” and would take over your ministry. In a heaven-sent revival, it is God who performs every thing for us. We have to simply yield to His leading.
Then the prey of great plunder is divided. In the vineyard of God, we get a great plunder as a result of revival. The resources of this world will be plundered for the kingdom of God. The lame take the prey. Those who are lame in His vineyard will be emboldened to preach the gospel once the revival breaks out.
NO CONFESSION OF SICKNESS
“And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick” the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity” (Is.33:24)
The citizen of Zion shall not say, “I am sick” because the Lord has healed him/her by His stripes and has forgiven all his/her sins through His blood. Even if one of them is really sick, he/she will never confess, “I am sick”. Through the mouth, he/she will confess, “I am healed by the stripes of Jesus Christ”. A dear sister in Christ, while seeking intercessory prayers for her healing, mentioned that her health had gone to the dogs. Let us confess when we are sick that we are healed by His stripes. In Zion, our iniquity is forgiven by God through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. The blood of Jesus continues to cleanse us of all our unrighteousness and sin. We are always holy unto Him.