In His discourse to Moses, God repeatedly emphasized the point that, “I am the Lord.” He is our Lord and God and demands our reverence and our best. As He outlined the rules for the priests, He stressed the importance of purity of body and soul.
A priest could not have any bodily defects. He was forbidden from coming in contact with a dead body unless it was one of near kin. Unclean animals or birds were to be avoided. Marrying someone other than a virgin was prohibited.
The priests and their immediate families were permitted to eat of certain sacrifices. That was the source of their food. There were certain guidelines also put into place regarding if and when these could be eaten.
As God required priests to be without physical blemishes, He also demanded that sacrificial animals be the best and without any natural defects or injuries. One insults God when he offers anything less than the best.
In addition to a day of rest on the seventh day of each week—Sabbath, the Hebrews were required to observe seven other feasts or appointed times during the year. The purposes of those observances were to remind the people that God had delivered them from Egypt and led them through the wilderness into the Promised Land and to impress upon them an attitude of gratitude and obedience.
The first of these special days was the Passover, which was observed on the fourteenth day of the first month of the year. This feast commemorated the event of the Lord passing over the Israelites in the Land of Egypt at which time the first-born sons of Egypt were killed.
Following the Passover on the next day and for seven days was the Feast of Unleavened Bread. During that period of time no leaven was to be in their houses and no unnecessary work was to be done.
Also on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was the Feast of Firstfruits at which time, the firstfruits of the barley harvest were offered to God.
Fifty days after Passover came the Feast of Weeks, also known as Feast of Harvest and in New Testament times, Pentecost. At that time, thanks for the completed harvest were given in the form of peace offerings.
The fifth of the annual feasts of the Israelites was the Feast of Trumpets. This occasion was observed on the first day of the seventh month.
On the tenth day of the seventh month was the Day of Atonement. At that time the High Priest went into the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle and after making an offering for the atonement of his own sins, he offered for the atonement of the sins of all of the people. That was a very solemn occasion. The people were to afflict themselves. This affliction probably consisted of prayer, fasting and repentance.
The seventh feast observed by the Israelites was the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. It was observed on the fifteenth day of the seventh month and was also known as the Feast of Ingathering to celebrate the year’s harvest. During the seven days of that feast, the people moved out of their houses. They dwelt in booths or tents to commemorate the time that they spent living in tents in the wilderness.
It was required during three of those feasts that all men were to go to the tabernacle for their observance. The required feasts were Unleavened Bread, Weeks and Tabernacles. After the temple was built, they were required to journey to Jerusalem for those feasts.