Most churches have special worship services during Christmas and Easter to sing, preach, and dramatize the gospel story. The community and religious life of Israel revolved around prescribed offerings and an annual calendar of festivals or feasts. These events brought people together in obedience, thankfulness, and worship for who God is and what He had been doing in their lives. Like the census and the leadership succession, reviewing the worship schedule and calendar (see Leviticus for more details) represented a vital step in spiritual preparation prior to entering the Promised Land.
Seven items are covered in today’s reading. First, the daily offerings— including the custom of morning and evening prayers that remain a part of some Jewish and Christian traditions to this day—gave off an “aroma” of worship that was “pleasing to the Lord” (28:1–8). Second, the weekly offerings helped set apart the Sabbath as a holy day of rest (28:9–10; Ex. 20:8–11). Third, there were also prescribed monthly offerings (28:11–15).
Fourth, the Passover festival and its symbolic foods commemorated the Exodus from Egypt (28:16–25). Fifth, the Festival of Weeks (or Firstfruits)—called Pentecost in the New Testament—gave thanks for the main harvest (28:26–31). Sixth, the nation celebrated the Festival of Trumpets, which would later become Rosh Hashanah, the new year (29:1–6).
Seventh and finally, that festival led into Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement, a time of self-examination, confession, and repentance. Both individuals and the community should have an attitude of humility and self-denial (29:7–11). After making things right with God, they could together celebrate His atonement and forgiveness!