14 I want you to celebrate a feast in My honor three times a year. 15 First, celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I instructed you before, you are to eat only bread made without yeast for the seven feast days beginning at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for that is when you fled out of Egypt. During this time, no one is to come before Me without some offering. 16 Second, celebrate the Feast of Harvest in the spring when you bring to Me the first and best of the wheat crop you planted in the field. Third, celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the harvest season when you gather your crops from the fields, orchards, and groves. 17 All of your men must come before the Eternal your Lord, these three times a year.
18 When you make offerings before Me, do not present any bread made with yeast along with an animal sacrifice. Do not let the fat of the sacrifice remain until the next morning. 19 Bring only the best crops from your first harvest into the house of the Eternal your God. You must not boil a baby goat in its mother’s milk.
20 Look! I am going to send a heavenly messenger before you to protect you during your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. 21 Pay attention to all he shows you and obey whatever he tells you. Do not cause him any trouble. He will not forgive you if you rebel against him for he carries My name in him.
The Hebrews follow a lunar calendar that has 11 fewer days than the solar calendar. Since it has only 354 days in the year, an extra month (a “leap” month) is added periodically to bring the dates into alignment with the seasons. Within this annual cycle, God sets aside several great feasts for the people to celebrate. The people are to honor their God by having days of pure rejoicing as they recall their rescue from Egypt and God’s ongoing provision. In keeping with the needs of an agricultural people, these feasts are situated around the harvests: first, the collection of the winter grains; second, the harvest of the other grains 50 days later; third, the gathering of the main crops of the field.
|Date of Celebration
|15-21 Unleavened Bread
|6 Pentecost (Weeks)
|1-2 Rosh Hashanah (New Year)
|10 Day of Atonement
|15 Ingathering (7 days)
|29 or 30
|29 or 30
|25 (8 days) Hanukkah
|29 or 30
* (added 7 of every 19 years)
22 If you are obedient to his voice and follow all of My instructions, then I will be an enemy to all of those who are against you, and I will oppose all those who oppose you. 23 When My messenger moves ahead of you and leads you to the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites—I will annihilate them. 24 Do not bow down to their gods, worship, or serve them in any way. Do not engage in any of their wicked practices. Instead, you must destroy every idol you find and shatter their sacred pillars into tiny pieces.
25 Worship and serve only the Eternal your God, and I will bless you with an ample supply of wholesome food and clean water. I will take away all sickness from you, 26 prevent miscarriages and barrenness, and give you long, productive lives. 27 My fear and My dread will move ahead of you, and wherever you go people will greet you with panic and confusion. I will see to it that all of your enemies turn and run from you. 28 I will unleash hornets ahead of you; and they will drive out the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites from the land before you. 29 Now I will not do all this in a single year, because the land would become a wasteland, overpopulated with wild animals that would roam unchecked. 30 Rather, I will drive them out a little at a time—a few here, a few there—until your numbers grow and you are strong enough to take over the land and its care. 31 I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea west of where the Philistines live and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give to you all those who inhabit the land, and you will drive them all out. 32 But do not make a covenant-treaty with them or agree to serve their gods. 33 They must not be allowed to live in your land; otherwise they will cause you to sin against Me, the only True God. If you serve their gods, you will be trapped and be drawn into sin.
24 Eternal One (to Moses): Come up the mountain to Me, Moses, and this time bring with you Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and 70 elders of Israel. These may come, but you must worship from a distance. 2 Only Moses is permitted to approach Me; but be careful, for the others must stay at a distance. The rest of the people of Israel must stay below; they are not to come up the mountain with you.
3 Moses then went and told the people exactly what the Eternal had said, and he carefully laid out God’s instructions. All the people answered as if they had one, single voice.
People (answering together): We will do all that the Eternal has asked us to do!
4 Moses wrote down in great detail everything that the Eternal had said. Then early the next morning he woke up and constructed an altar at the foot of the mountain and erected twelve stone pillars.[a] Each pillar represented one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
5 Moses directed some of the young men of Israel to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice young bulls as peace offerings to the Eternal. 6 He gathered half of the blood from the animals and filled the basins with it. He sprinkled the other half of the blood against the altar. 7 Then Moses took the book of the covenant—the very instructions spoken to him by God—and read it aloud so all the people could hear.
People (responding): We will do all that the Eternal has said! We will obey every word of His command!
8 Moses took the blood of the sacrifices and sprinkled it on the gathered people.
Moses (to the people): Look! Here is the blood signifying the covenant that God has established with you according to all He has said and all we have promised.
9 Then Moses took Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and 70 of Israel’s elders and went up the mountain. 10 There they saw Israel’s God. Beneath His feet, there appeared to be paving stones of sapphire, as pure and clear as the sky above. 11 But God did not raise His hand against the leaders of Israel to strike them down. They beheld the True God, and they feasted and drank in His presence.
Eternal One (to Moses): 12 Come up the mountain to Me and stay here with Me for a while. I will give you stone tablets inscribed with My law and commandments in order to provide instruction and guidance for the people.
13 So Moses and his assistant, Joshua, got up and began the long climb up toward the summit of the mountain of God.
Moses (to the elders): 14 Wait here for our return. Aaron and Hur will stay with you. If anyone has a complaint, then they can speak to them.
15-16 Moses[b] made his way up the mountain. A thick cloud blanketed the mountain because the Eternal’s glory had settled upon it. The cloud stayed there for six days; and when the seventh day arrived, the Eternal spoke to Moses from the cloud.
17 For the Israelites below, the Eternal’s glory appeared to be a consuming fire on the top of the mountain. 18 As Moses walked further toward the top, he was swallowed by the cloud of God’s glory, and he remained there for a total of 40 days and 40 nights.
From above God’s glory appears as a cloud. From below it appears as a fire. As with the burning bush earlier on Mount Sinai, the mountain seems to burn but is not consumed.
25 Then the Eternal spoke to Moses.
Eternal One (to Moses): 2-3 Instruct the Israelites to bring Me a sacred offering. All those whose hearts move them are to make an offering to the One who delivered them from bondage. You should accept only the finest things: gold, silver, and bronze metals; 4 blue, purple, and scarlet thread and fabric; fine linen and goat-hair garments; 5 ram skins (dyed red) and sea-cow[c] leathers; acacia wood; 6 olive oil for the lamps; spices for anointing oil and incense; and 7 onyx and other gems for the ceremonial vestment and the breast piece worn by the high priest.
8 Direct them to build a holy sanctuary in My honor so that I can dwell among them. 9 Instruct the people to follow the pattern I am about to show you for the congregation tent and its furnishings.
10 I want them to build a covenant chest made from acacia wood. It should be 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches high. 11 Overlay it inside and out with pure gold, and decorate it with gold trim around the outside. 12 Cast four gold rings and attach them to the four corners—two rings on each side. 13 Also, make poles out of acacia wood and overlay them with pure gold. 14 Slide the poles through the rings on the chest in order to carry it. 15 The poles must remain in the rings of the chest at all times; they are not to be removed. 16 Inside the chest you are to store the stone tablets that I will give you as a witness to our agreement. 17 Build a cover for the chest out of pure gold. It will be known as the seat of mercy—where sins are atoned—and it should be 45 inches long and 27 inches wide. 18-19 Fashion two winged guardians[d] out of hammered gold, and place them at both ends of the seat of mercy. Put one winged guardian at each end, but have your artisans make them appear as one solid piece with the cover. 20 The guardians must face one another with bowed heads, their wings spread so that they reach up and cover the seat of mercy. 21 After you put the stone tablets that I will give you as a witness to our agreement in the chest, place the seat of mercy—where sins are atoned—as a lid to cover the chest. 22 I will meet with you there. I will speak to you from above the seat of mercy between the two winged creatures that sit atop the covenant chest. From there, I will speak to you about all the commands and instructions I have for the people of Israel.
23 I want you to build a table made of acacia wood. It should be 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 27 inches high. 24 Overlay it with pure gold, and decorate it with gold trim around the edge. 25 Put a three-inch-wide[e] rim around it, and place gold trim around the rim. 26 Then make four gold rings, and attach them to each of the table’s four corners at its four legs. 27 The rings need to be near the rim, so that they can hold the poles that carry the table. 28 Make the poles out of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. You will use them to carry the table.
29 Have your artisans make different kinds of dishes for the table—platters, pans, pitchers, and bowls—out of pure gold. 30 Place the bread of the Presence on the table and keep it before Me at all times.
This table is to be placed in a special room of the congregation tent with the elements symbolic of God’s place among His people. One of the major elements is the bread of the Presence; it is arranged in two rows of six flat loaves representing the twelve sons of Israel. There is also a pan for holding incense and pitchers for fine wine; all these elements remind God’s people of His loving grace. The golden lampstand stands nearby, bathing the room and its contents in warm light. This special room and all it contains stimulate the senses—sight, smell, touch, and taste—and serve to remind those who enter of God’s tangible blessings.
Eternal One: 31 Fashion a lampstand out of pure, hammered gold. Make it and all its parts—its base, trunk, branches, decorative buds and blossoms, and lamp cups—out of one solid piece. 32 Six branches will extend from the trunk’s sides—three on one side and three on the other. 33 Each of the six branches will have three decorative cups shaped like almond blossoms whose buds have just flowered. 34 On the trunk of the lampstand, there are to be four cups shaped like almond blossoms whose buds have just flowered. 35 A single almond bud will sit beneath each pair of branches extending out from the trunk of the lampstand. 36 All the buds and branches are to be crafted out of pure, hammered gold and made to look as one solid piece. 37 Make seven lamps for the lampstand, and position them so that they illuminate the area in front of it. 38 The tools and accessories for trimming the wicks and caring for the lamps are to be made of pure gold as well. 39 The lampstand and all its accessories will require 75 pounds[f] of your finest gold. 40 Be sure that you make the covenant chest, table, lampstand and all their accessories according to the pattern I have shown you on the mountain.[g]
29 And as the prophets have foretold it: after the distress of those days,
The sun will grow dark,
and the moon will be hidden.
The stars will fall from the sky,
and all the powers in the heavens will be dislodged and shaken from their places.[a]
30 That is when the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. All the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming; they will see Him powerful and glorious, riding on chariots of clouds in the sky. 31 With a loud trumpet call, He will send out battalions of heavenly messengers; and they will gather His beloved faithful elect from the four corners of creation, from one end of heaven to the other.
32 Now think of the fig tree. As soon as its twigs get tender and greenish, as soon as it begins to sprout leaves, you know to expect summer. 33 In the same way, when you see the wars and the suffering and the false liberators and the desolations, you will know the Son of Man is near—right at the door. 34 I tell you this: this generation will see all these things take place before it passes away. 35 My words are always true and always here with you. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.
36 No one knows the hour or the day, not even the messengers in heaven, not even the Son. Only the Father knows. 37 As it was at the time of Noah, so it will be with the coming of the Son of Man. 38 In the days before the flood, people were busy making lives for themselves: they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, making plans and having children and growing old, until the day Noah entered the ark. 39 Those people had no idea what was coming; they knew nothing about the floods until the floods were upon them, sweeping them all away. That is how it will be with the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be plowing a field: one will be taken, and the other will be left in the field. 41 Two women will be somewhere grinding at a mill: one will be taken, and the other will be left at the mill.
42 So keep watch. You don’t know when your Lord will come. 43 But you should know this: If the owner of a house had known his house was about to be broken into, he would have stayed up all night, vigilantly. He would have kept watch, and he would have thwarted the thief. 44 So you must be ready because you know the Son of Man will come, but you can’t know precisely when.
45 The trustworthy servant is the one whom the master puts in charge of all the servants of his household; it is the trustworthy servant who not only oversees all the work, but also ensures the servants are properly fed and cared for. 46 And it is, of course, crucial that a servant who is given such responsibility performs his responsibility to his master’s standards—so when the master returns he finds his trust has been rewarded. 47 For then the master will put that good servant in charge of all his possessions. 48 But imagine that the master’s trust was misplaced, that the supposedly responsible servant is actually a thief who says to himself, “My master has been gone so long, he is not possibly coming back.” 49 Then he beats his fellow servants and dines and drinks with drunkards. 50 Well, when the master returns—as certainly he will—the servant will be caught unawares. The master will return on a day and at an hour when he isn’t expected. 51 And he will cut his worthless servant into pieces and throw him out into darkness with the hypocrites, where there is weeping and grinding of teeth.
A song of David. For the dedication of the temple.
1 I praise You, Eternal One. You lifted me out of that deep, dark pit
and denied my opponents the pleasure of rubbing in their success.
2 Eternal One, my True God, I cried out to You for help;
You mended the shattered pieces of my life.
3 You lifted me from the grave with a mighty hand,
gave me another chance,
and saved me from joining those in that dreadful pit.
4 Sing, all you who remain faithful!
Pour out your hearts to the Eternal with praise and melodies;
let grateful music fill the air and bless His name.
5 His wrath, you see, is fleeting,
but His grace lasts a lifetime.
The deepest pains may linger through the night,
but joy greets the soul with the smile of morning.
6 When things were quiet and life was easy, I said in arrogance,
“Nothing can shake me.”
7 By Your grace, Eternal,
I thought I was as strong as a mountain;
But when You left my side and hid away,
I crumbled in fear.
8 O Eternal One, I called out to You;
I pleaded for Your compassion and forgiveness:
9 “I’m no good to You dead! What benefits come from my rotting corpse?
My body in the grave will not praise You.
No songs will rise up from the dust of my bones.
From dust comes no proclamation of Your faithfulness.
10 Hear me, Eternal Lord—please help me,
Eternal One—be merciful!”
11 You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing;
You stripped off my dark clothing
and covered me with joyful light.
12 You have restored my honor. My heart is ready to explode, erupt in new songs!
It’s impossible to keep quiet!
Eternal One, my God, my Life-Giver, I will thank You forever.
24 This is why it is so important that you listen to me, my sons,
and pay attention to all I am telling you.
25 Do not let your mind wonder about her ways;
do not lose yourself and drift down her path,
26 For she’s claimed one life after another,
victim after victim, too many to count.
27 Her house is the gateway to the grave;
every step toward her is a step toward death’s dark chamber.