July 4, 2021 – Leviticus 23

Lesson Date: July 4, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Leviticus 23:1-10, 14-15, 21, 23-30, 33-36, 42-43

AIM: To lead students to identify the times of corporate worship God required of the ancient Israelites, and to evaluate their faithfulness to times of corporate worship in their church.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Leviticus 23 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Get enough copies of the “Feasts and Holy Days” handout for your anticipated attendance.  Write the lesson title, “Faithful Church Attendance,” on the marker board or chalkboard.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the following story to the class (adapt it as necessary for your class).

Bob is a church member but he seldom comes to church.  He insists that he is a Christian, but when confronted about his lack of church attendance Bob often replies, “I can worship God just as well at home or on the golf course as you can at church – maybe even better!”

Ask: “What do you think of Bob’s reply?  Is it true that you don’t need to go to church to worship God?  Does God expect His children to attend corporate worship services?”

Ask: “How often do you go to church?  Once a week?  Twice a week?  Three times a week?  If there was a special service on a different day of the week, would you attend?  Suppose our church had an eight-day revival meeting – would you be there for every service?”

Tell the students in today’s lesson we are going to identify times of corporate worship God required the ancient Israelites to attend, and evaluate our own faithfulness to church.  The title of today’s lesson from Leviticus 23 is Faithful Church Attendance.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are studying the Old Testament book of Leviticus.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (God wants His people to be holy).
    • Remind the class that the Israelites were still camped at Mount Sinai (locate on the Map of Egypt, Sinai, and Canaan).
    • The Tabernacle was complete and God was teaching His people how to worship Him.
  2. The Sabbath.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Leviticus 23:1-3.
    • Explain the following:
      • Most of the Jewish religious gatherings included special meals, so God referred to them as feasts.
      • A holy convocation was a religious gathering or assembly; it was their worship service.
      • The Sabbath (literally the 7th day) was Saturday.
    • Ask: “What did God command them to do on the Sabbath?” (have a holy convocation; this was their weekly time of corporate worship).
    • Ask: “What were they not to do on the Sabbath?” (work).
    • Give everyone a copy of the “Feasts and Holy Days” handout. Read to them the significance of the Sabbath from that handout sheet.
    • Summarize: God commanded the ancient Israelites to hold a holy convocation and abstain from work every Sabbath day (Saturday).
  3. Times of Worship in the First Month of the Year.
    • Referring to the handout, tell the students that God ordained three special times of worship in the 1st month of the year. Those holy days were Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits.  Explain that the first month of the Hebrew calendar was called Abib; it fell in late March and early April.
    • Read Leviticus 23:4-5.
      • Passover fell on the 14th day of the 1st
      • Ask: “Thinking back to last quarter’s study of Exodus, what did Passover commemorate?” (when the death angel passed over the houses of the Israelites but killed all the firstborn of the Egyptians).
      • Read the significance of Passover from the handout sheet.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Leviticus 23:6-8.
      • Tell the class the day after Passover was the beginning of the feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasted 7 days. They were to have a holy convocation on the 1st day and on the 7th
      • Ask: “What were they not allowed to eat during those days?” (anything leavened, because leaven is symbolic of sin).
      • Read from the handout the significance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
    • Read Leviticus 23:9-10, 14.
      • Explain that the next feast was not to be observed until the Israelites settled in the Promised Land and began raising crops. They were to bring an offering of the First Fruits of the land to the Lord before they ate any of the produce of their fields.
      • Tell the students that just as the ancient Israelites were to give the first of their harvest to the Lord, we should give the first of our income to God in the form of the tithe.
      • Read from the handout the significance of the feast of First Fruits.
    • Note from the handout sheet that in addition to the regular Sabbaths and the offering on the first day of every month (Num. 28:11-15), the ancient Israelites were required to participate in 8 days of special worship in the first month of the year.
    • Summarize: God commanded the ancient Israelites to come together for 8 days of worship in the first month of their year.
  4. The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost).
    • Tell the class the next special time of corporate worship for the ancient Israelites came about two months later, in late May or early June.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Leviticus 23:15, 21.
    • Explain the following:
      • The Feast of Weeks came 50 days after First Fruits.
      • In the New Testament this feast is called Pentecost. The word Pentecost comes from a Greek word that means the 50th
      • It was a 1-day feast that celebrated the beginning of the harvest.
      • The Feast of Weeks included a holy convocation and abstaining from work.
    • Read from the handout the significance of the Feast of Weeks.
    • Summarize: God commanded the ancient Israelites to come together again two months later for the Feast of Weeks.
  5. Times of Worship in the Seventh Month of the Year.
    • Referring to the handout, tell the class that the remaining 3 special times of worship fell in the 7th month of the year (late September to early October).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Leviticus 23:23-25.
      • The Feast of Trumpets came on the 1st day of the 7th
      • Ask: “What did God command them to do on that day?” (have a Sabbath, blow trumpets, hold a holy convocation, refrain from work, and give an offering to the Lord).
      • Read from the handout the significance of the Feast of Trumpets.
    • Read Leviticus 23:26-30.
      • These verses describe the Day of Atonement (which was the subject of our Sunday School lesson 2 weeks ago).
      • Ask: “According to verses 27-28, what were they to do on that day?” (have a holy convocation, afflict their souls through fasting, and offer a burnt offering to the Lord).
      • Read from the handout the significance of the Day of Atonement.
      • Ask: “What was the penalty for refusing to fast or for working on the Day of Atonement?” (death).
      • Stress the fact that God takes a very dim view of those who flippantly choose to ignore His instructions concerning worship.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Leviticus 23:33-36.
      • These verses describe the Feast of Tabernacles.
      • Ask: “What were they to do on the 1st and 8th days?” (have holy convocations).
      • They were not to do any work
      • Read Leviticus 23:42-43.
      • Tell the students that during the Feast of Tabernacles the Israelites were supposed to build booths out of branches and live in those booths for seven days.
      • Read from the handout the significance of the Feast of Tabernacles.
    • Note from the handout sheet that in addition to the regular Sabbaths and the offering on the first day of every month, the ancient Israelites were required to participate in 10 days of special worship in the seventh month of the year.
    • Summarize: God commanded the ancient Israelites to come together for 10 days of worship in the seventh month of the year.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the students that God commanded the ancient Israelites to have a holy convocation every week on the Sabbath (Saturday).  That was 52 days each year.  They were also required to bring special offerings on the first day of each month.  That was 12 or 13 more days each year (their lunar calendar sometimes had a 13th month in the year).  Allowing for some overlap (some Sabbaths might have fallen on the 1st day of the month), that adds up to more than 60 days each year for regular worship.

In addition to those regular days of worship, the ancient Israelites were to set aside 8 more days in early spring, 1 more in late spring, and 10 more in the fall for special times of worship.  When added to the regular weekly and monthly worship times, that meant the Lord required them to set aside more than 80 days each year for worship.  Twice a year they were to set other things aside and come together for more than a week!

Remind the students that attendance at these religious events was not optional: those who ignored or violated them were to be put to death!  Ask: “If that was still the case today, what would that mean for most modern church members?”

Direct everyone’s attention to the lesson title written on the board.  Ask: “Does God still require His children to gather for corporate worship?” (yes).  Read Hebrews 10:25.  Tell the class God warns us not to forsake assembling together with the church, as some people do.  God expects His children to go to church, unless they are physically unable to do so.

Tell the class that we do not execute those who fail to come to church, but there are still penalties for forsaking church attendance.  Read Hebrews 10:26-29.  Those verses describe some terrible consequences of forsaking church.

Ask: “Are you a faithful church attender?  Do you faithfully attend the times of corporate worship set aside by our church?”  Tell the students if they are not faithful church attenders they should confess their sin and start demonstrating their devotion to God by attending church.

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Ask them to silently and privately evaluate their church attendance.  Encourage them to confess their sins and make commitments to God to start attending church faithfully.  Voice a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Hebrews 10:25.  Encourage them to attend church faithfully and to encourage others to do the same.

Two weeks from today is the beginning of our annual South Georgia Bible Conference.  That is a special 4-day time of worship set aside by our church.  Urge everyone to attend as many Bible Conference sessions as their work and health will permit.

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