Tuesday after Cantate
Scripture: Leviticus 23:1-22 (NKJV)
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.
3 ‘Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
4 ‘These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. 5 On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 7 On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. 8 But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.'”
9 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the LORD. 13 Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. 14 You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
15 ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. 16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD. 17 You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the LORD. 18 And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be as a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the LORD. 19 Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering. 20 The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. 21 And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
22 ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the LORD your God.'”
The Israelites have a liturgical calendar. Sabbaths are holy and no work is to be done on them so that the Word can be heard and pondered. The Passover is to be celebrated by eating unleavened bread for seven days to remind Israel of her salvation from Egypt. No customary work is to be done on the first and seventh day of Passover. Of course, the Passover lamb, as commanded in Exodus 12, is to be slaughtered and eaten as well. Pentecost arrives and its fifty days culminate with the new grain offering and “with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams.” The liturgical calendar focused upon the sacrificial offerings and the grain/drink offerings. Israel was to seek atonement for her sins in the bloody sacrifices and give thanks to the Lord for His gracious provision in the grain and drink offerings.
The Christian is not bound by Moses, so we are not obligated to refrain from work on the Sabbath. But we are to keep the holy day, which since apostolic times has been Sunday. We keep the holy Lord’s Day by being in the Lord’s house, hearing the Lord’s Word. Our worship also revolves around sacrifice, not the blood of bulls and lambs, but a once-for-all sacrifice of the blood of the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.
Though foreign to us, the liturgical calendar of the Old Testament is much like that of the Church catholic, designed for our benefit, so that we might set aside days and seasons for gathering around the Word and Sacrament of our Passover Lamb, Jesus.