March 15: Leviticus 23 | Psalm 128-130 | Luke 6
Reading 1 - Lev 23
"The walk of fellowship... relates to the essential festivals that the Israelites were called upon to observe... The festivals are defined as 'set times' appointed by Yahweh. At those times Israel 'met' with God in the various particulars in which He was revealed to the people.
"In addition, the festivals of Lev 23 set forth the purpose of Yahweh as a prophecy foreshadowing developments to be revealed at the 'set times' as He appoints, as follows:
The Sabbath -- with its typical week -- emphasizes the purpose of Yahweh to be consummated at the millennium, the seventh from creation (see Exo 20:11).
The Passover speaks of separation, deliverance, and redemption: the means whereby the millennium can be attained. It is fulfilled in 'Christ our Passover'.
The Feast of weeks commemorates the giving of the Law (Exo 19:1). The antitype of this was the preaching at Pentecost.
The Day of Atonement provides the means of forgiveness when the law was broken, suggesting the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The Feast of Tabernacles introduces the harvest rejoicing, as typical of the ingathering of all the redeemed in the future.
"It is important to notice that the festivals foreshadow the divinely directed steps towards salvation. First there is separation, then acknowledgment of the requirements of law, and obedience, the covering provided on the national day of judgment, and finally rejoicing at the ingathering of the harvest, anticipating the final joy of the future" (HP Mansfield, "Christadelphian Expositor").
Reading 2 - Psa 128
Psalm 128 is right at the heart of these beautiful Songs of Degrees. And right at the heart of the psalm is Christ. Christ is seen in every verse, in every image. What is most wonderful in the contemplation of this psalm is the magnificent way in which the commonplace becomes profound, and the natural becomes spiritual. When the image of Christ is stamped thereupon, the base currency of everyday life becomes the finest gold. The simplest sights and actions glow forth with the most sublime meaning. As in the previous psalms -- where sowing and reaping, sleeping and waking, are transformed into rich parables of faith -- so every detail of these ordinary actions now pulsate with significance.
We seat ourselves at the family table for our evening meal, and suddenly we find that the Master is there. The bread is his body, precious seed cast into the ground to die and bring forth much fruit; we are that fruit! The wine is his blood, the blood of the True Vine, and we are his branches! The oil is the light of that perfect Life; in the darkest of all nights he knelt among the gnarled olive trees of Gethsemane while we slept heedlessly -- he is the tree of life, and we are like him: little olive plants round HIS table!
"So shall no part of day or night
From sacredness be free;
But all our life in every step
Be fellowship with thee."
Step by step, "degree" by "degree", we ascend into the presence of God. Our daily routine is transformed into life on a higher level -- a life lived to the fullest even now, because it is lived in joyful contemplation of eternity with Christ.
Reading 3 - Luke 6:12
"One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God" (Luk 6:12).
First Christ prays -- before making any decision.
"If ever one of woman born might have lived without prayer, it was our spotless, perfect Lord, and yet none was ever so much in supplication as he! Such was his love to his Father, that he loved much to be in communion with Him: such his love for his people, that he desired to be much in intercession for them. The fact of this eminent prayerfulness of Jesus is a lesson for us -- he hath given us an example that we may follow in his steps.
"The time he chose was admirable: it was the hour of silence, when the crowd would not disturb him; the time of inaction, when all but himself had ceased to labour; and the season when slumber made men forget their woes, and cease their applications to Him for relief. While others found rest in sleep, he refreshed himself with prayer.
"The place was also well selected. He was alone where none would intrude, where none could observe: thus was he free from Pharisaic ostentation and vulgar interruption. Those dark and silent hills were a fit oratory for the Son of God. Heaven and earth in midnight stillness heard the groans and sighs of the mysterious Being in whom both worlds were blended.
"The continuance of his pleadings is remarkable; the long watches were not too long; the cold wind did not chill his devotions; the grim darkness did not darken his faith, or loneliness check his importunity. We cannot watch with him one hour, but he watched for us whole nights.
"The occasion for this prayer is notable; it was after his enemies had been enraged -- prayer was his refuge and solace; it was before he sent forth the twelve apostles -- prayer was the gate of his enterprise, the herald of his new work. Should we not learn from Jesus to resort to special prayer when we are under peculiar trial, or contemplate fresh endeavours for the Master's glory?" (CHS).