The Deep Well with Erin Davis Podcast

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Episode 1: Rules for Wandering

Season:  7 Feasts   Buy

Erin Davis: Hey Dree, do you like puzzles?

Dree Hogue: I do. My family currently has a Christmas puzzle on our table that is way above our difficulty level. But we’re going through it anyway and enjoying every moment, even though we are all so frustrated by it.

Yes, we do puzzles all the time.

Erin: Dree, when you said “Christmas puzzle,” I thought people are not going to know that the Hogues are as serious about Christmas as anybody I’ve ever met. 

You guys could be doing Christmas puzzles in July. You do them all the time, year round.

Dree: We persevere. There’s always the one more piece, “Let’s get one more piece before we get up.”

Erin: I love puzzles. My granny loved puzzles. She had a card table set up in the corner of their family room, and whenever we would go to visit there was always a puzzle in process.

It might have been a watercolor scene of Paris or an underwater sea reef. But there was always one in process. She was very meticulous. She would always start with the edges, which I think is the only way to go.

Then she would patiently fill it in until the whole thing was complete. So I have a nostalgic attachment to puzzles. 

Dree: Do you still like to put them together?

Erin: I like the idea of puzzles, but I can find them tedious. We just rented a big house with some friends, and one of the other moms brought a bunch of puzzles. I made it through one puzzle just fine. But we were on puzzle number two, and it was a railroad scene. It was just green puzzle piece after green puzzle piece after green puzzle piece after green puzzle piece, and about midnight I just squished it all up.

Dree: Oh no!

Erin: We didn’t finish it. We were down to like fifty pieces, but I was so frustrated. I need like the 300-piece, easy puzzles.

We’re still friends by the way. Those friends didn’t get too mad at me. I think they were done with the puzzle too. 

Here’s what’s more important than whether or not we finish the puzzles that may or may not be on our tables. I think we can look at the Bible as a kind of puzzle. I don’t mean it’s impossible to understand. I don’t mean that’s frustrating and sometimes you want to squish it up and throw it back in the box. I mean that all the pieces of your Bible connect.

I love helping women turn over a new piece of the puzzle, because when we do, we get a more complete picture of the gospel. 

Dree: Welcome to The Deep Well with Erin Davis, a podcast from Revive Our Hearts. I’m Dree Hogue.

God’s Word is a deep well. You can drop down your bucket down and pull up Truth every single time.

In Season 1 of The Deep Well, Erin’s going to help us drop our buckets down into the book of Leviticus. The truths we explore there will help us see Jesus in fresh ways.

Erin’s teaching is based on a Bible study she wrote called Seven Feasts: Finding Christ in the Sacred Celebrations of the Old Testament. Here’s Erin.

Erin: I am gathered here with a small group of friends, maybe you’re gathered with a small group of friends as you’re listening to this. I hope that you will consider our time together an invitation to flip over a new piece of the puzzle.

For a moment I would like us to picture our Bibles like a boxed puzzle. In the puzzle there are sixty-six pieces. Now they vary a little bit in shape and size, but sixty-six is the number. 

Why sixty-six? Well, I hope you know your Bible well enough to know where that number comes from. But in case you don’t, go ahead and flip to the table of contents. If you put your finger here on Genesis, the first book of the Bible, and if you could count very quickly to Revelation, the last book of the Bible, you will find that there are sixty-six books. And those make up the sixty-six pieces of the puzzle we’re going to talk about together during this series.

And since you already have your Bible handy, why don’t you go ahead and flip through it. And here’s what I want you to look for: where do you see signs of wear? Where does your Bible flip open almost automatically? Because those are the places in your Bible you love so much.

Where are there places in your Bible where there are lots and lots and lots of notes? Maybe you love the hopeful poetry of the Psalms. Maybe you love that profitable habit of reading a Proverb a day, and you love the wisdom of the Proverbs. Or maybe you resonate with Paul’s conviction in the book of Romans. Or maybe you love the righteous reminders in those little books of First and Second Peter.

When it comes to our Bibles, familiar is good. I want you to be familiar with your whole Bible, and especially when we’re talking about familiarity with God’s Word, I can promise you this, the more you know it, the more you’re going to love it.

And so having familiar passages or familiar places you go to over and over in Scripture, that’s a really good habit. But for our purposes, the time has come to go off-road. We are going to look at a place of Scripture that maybe you’ve never spent a lot time studying.

Why? Well because the purpose of Scripture is . . . drumroll please . . . to reveal who God is. Now, God is mysterious. I would never try to say I’ve got Him all figured out. But He has chosen to reveal His character in the pages of his Word. He doesn’t leave us guessing. 

What I want you to know is that the reason we open our Bibles is to know God. So, let's think back to that puzzle for just a moment. If God’s Word is a sixty-six piece puzzle, and there are places in our Bibles that we don’t know, we look at an incomplete view of God.

Picture my red-headed Granny. Imagine that she almost got a puzzle completely finished and she was missing just one little piece, that Eiffel Tower might be missing from the top, or it might be missing a fish in the coral reef. 

And the result when we don’t know our whole Bibles is not necessarily a wrong picture of God, because the things you know about Him from the Scriptures you do know are true. But it could be that you have an incomplete picture of God.

Even if you know several books of the Bible inside and out, you’ve only turned over some of the pieces of what God chooses to reveal about Himself in His Word. 

We commit to being lifelong students of his Word. It’s not something we try to figure out in weeks, or days, or even years we commit ourselves to the lifelong study of the Word of God and to patiently flipping over every single piece of the puzzle and looking for how those pieces interlock with the rest of Scripture.

Isn’t that the fun of building a puzzle? Not just turning over all the pieces, but realizing, “Oh, this goes with this, and this goes with this.”That is how we study the Word of God, and that is how we learn to see the whole picture.

Here’s the piece of the puzzle I want us to flip over in the next few days, “the seven feasts.” I’m going to go out on a limb and say that maybe you’ve not spent a whole lot of time studying the seven feasts of Israel recorded in the Old Testament . . . and that’s because neither had I until several years ago, when I think I had heard of the feasts. 

I had certainly heard of the book of Leviticus, but I had not spent a lot of time discovering that section of Scripture. Several years ago I was on staff at my own church, and I fell in love with the single chapter of the Bible where the seven feasts are recorded. 

I was always on the hunt to get the women of my church to love the Old Testament. Because what I heard very frequently was, “Oh, I love the Bible, but I don’t understand the Old Testament,” or “I love the God of the New Testament. I love Jesus, but I don’t understand how he connects to the God of the Old Testament. That seems like a totally different God.” 

So I was always looking for ways to connect those dots, because I know that a woman who knows and loves her whole Bible is a woman who’s been transformed. Why do I know that? Because I am a woman who knows and loves my whole Bible, and a woman who’s been transformed. 

Not only do I know a woman who knows and loves her whole Bible is a woman who’s been transformed, I know that a woman who knows and loves her whole Bible is a woman who is transforming others. 

That’s what I wanted to see happen in my church. I wanted to see women move beyond those passages that gave them one perception of God so that they could have impact with their children, so they could have impact in their neighborhoods, at work. 

I always kind of had this secret agenda that we would be talking about the Old Testament in my church. One fall as we were planning the fall event, we chose to look at the seven feasts. And we experientially journeyed through these feasts which seem a little bit removed from our modern lives, at first glance. 

During the weeks and months I spent preparing for that event, I became mesmerized by the feasts. I think as you hear me talk about the feasts, you’re going to hear that I just want to jump now when I talk about the feasts, because they’re so fascinating to me.

So we created this little booklet that led women through the feasts at this event. I don’t want you to picture that we created anything fancy. I want you to picture a few pages made in Microsoft Word and run off on the church copier machine, because that’s what it was.

And two years later, two years later, I ran into a woman in the church lobby—you know, as you do and my kids are swirling all around me, and we’re both trying to get our coffee down before we go in for service. Then she says, “Erin, I’m still using that little book every day in my quiet time.” She said, “I just can’t get enough of the feasts.” And I know how she feels. 

I’ve spent years studying the feasts, and I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface of what they reveal of God’s character. Every time I read about the feasts in Scripture, I’m amazed that God’s redemptive plan is mapped so clearly in a little piece of the puzzle that I left in the box for so long. 

So the seven feasts of Israelare found in Leviticus 23. Yes, Leviticus! And together we’re going to explore each feast. As we do, we’re going to find that they are so much more than an antiquated list of rules and rituals from a culture that we are not a part of. 

The feasts were and can be for us constant object lessons on the faithfulness of God. By looking closely at just this one piece of the puzzle, this isn’t even one of the sixty-six pieces, this is a smaller piece, we gain new glimpses into God’s character and precious reminders of faithful He is toward us. 

So as I was studying the feasts, I decided to call every synagogue within 120 mile radius of where I live, that’s a very Erin Davis thing to do. It surprised me that there were a lot of synagogues. Everyone I talked to I said, “Is there Rabbi there that I could talk to about the seven feasts?” Well, one Rabbi called me back.

That is how I found myself in the middle of a Starbucks with a Jewish Rabbi. He is a brilliant man. He has multiple degrees in Hebrew. He brought his Torah; I brought my Bible. He bought me a cup of coffee, and we spent hours talking about the seven feasts.

At one point I kind of leaned towards him and said, “Rabbi Lane, Christians don’t really read the book of Leviticus much.” 

He thought for a minute and he said, “Well, that’s rather odd.” 

And I said, “I think so too, but tell me why you think it’s odd.” 

He handed me his Torah, and he said, “Open it in the middle.”

Well the Torah is made up of the first five books of the Old Testament—that’s Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. That’s five books, and the book in the middle would be, Leviticus. Leviticus is smack down in the middle of the Torah.

When I found it, Rabbi Lane looked at me and smiled. And he said, “We believe that Leviticus is central. It’s located in the middle of the Torah, but we also see it as central to our lives.” He also told me that most devout Jewish five-year-old boys memorize the book of Leviticus. I’ve had many five-year-old boys. They are now a little bit older. I struggle to get them to memorize, I don’t know, like how to write their own names.

He was telling me that devout Jewish boys memorize the entire book of Leviticus. I was telling him that I was on a quest to get Christians to read it at all. You know what he said? 

He said, “Your whole belief system as Christians is based on the sacrificial system. Where do you think that comes from? It comes from the book of Leviticus.” 

As followers of Christ, we see Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as central. It’s true, they are not centrally located in our Bibles. They are located between book thirty-nine and forty-four. But they are central to our lives. Because it’s in those four books that we are introduced to the person of Jesus and where He reveals His Gospel. That’s why those for four books are often called the Gospels. 

I said that to Rabbi Lane in that Starbucks. I said, “We believe the Gospels are central.” We had this beautiful conversation about how you can’t separate the Gospels from the Old Testament. This is not a Messianic Jew. This is a devout Jewish man who understands both pieces of the puzzle matter.

What we’ll discover as we look here in Leviticus 23 is that the feasts, established thousands of years before Christ came to earth, point forward to the gospel with remarkable clarity. Maybe you’ve never looked at the seven feasts before, or perhaps you race through them when you’re reading through the Bible in a year, because they feel like an out-of-date list of celebrations from a foreign culture.

It’s hard to read a book that feels like it doesn’t apply to you. But the feasts are so much more. Every piece of the puzzle matters because all of God’s Word shows us who He is. And the picture on this puzzle is more remarkable than we could ever hope for. 

Leviticus is early in the Old Testament, right after Exodus. So get yourselves to Leviticus 23. I’m going read to us Leviticus 23: 1–2: 

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.” 

So when God says the seven feasts through Moses to the nation of Israel, essentially He was mapping out for them their annual calendar.

The seven feasts were to become the highlights of their year, much like our Christmas and Easter or the 4th of July. Why did the Israelites need such specific calendaring instructions? Well, because they suffered from chronic spiritual amnesia. 

Scripture records many moments when the people of God just forgot everything that God had done for them. These are the children that God promised to Abraham. These are the people who saw the tablets of stone on which God carved the Ten Commandments with His very own finger. These are the ones who cried out for a deliverer and enjoy God supernaturally taking them out of the land of slavery through those ten terrible, although for the Israelites wonderful, plagues.

Their feet walked across the Red Sea on dry ground. Their bellies had been filled with manna that had rained from heaven and water that the Lord caused to come from a rock. Surely these memories were seared into their hearts. Surely these stories were told around every camp fire. Surely the people of Israel had unshakable faith. Except, of course, they didn’t.

We find them to be a forgetful bunch, chronically drawing a blank about the character of God. And so the feasts are not just days on the calendar, they’re an invitation by a loving God to a forgetful people to praise and remember, praise and remember, praise and remember, all year long.

Through these seven feasts, God was establishing rhythms for their lives. Frequent reminders that He loved them, that He had cared for them, and that He was going to continue to care for them. 

Centuries later, I need those reminders too, because I suffer from chronic spiritual amnesia. The ways the Lord delivered me ten years ago don’t often keep my knees from wobbling right now. His very clear banner of love for my life in the past doesn't always keep me from wondering if He doesn’t love me anymore right now. 

So I need the reminders. One of the greatest gifts that the seven feasts has given me is attention to the rhythms of my life. God here is writing in the planners of His people, to help them remember who He is. He gives them these rhythms of work and rest and worship. Why? So they will be tethered to Him, even as they wandered.

From to Creation in Genesis, to Leviticus, to the Gospels and beyond, God has always established rhythm to help us seek Him. He set the calendar in the sky. He modeled the pattern of work and rest for us, and He gave us rituals to remember who He is. He did that because we get spiritual amnesia too. 

Despite the fact that God has a perfect record of faithfulness, the worries and cares of this world knock us on the head causing concussions, that causes us to forget who God is. And much like the Israelites, we’re all wandering.

I asked Rabbi Lane, “What is the book of Leviticus?”

He said, “It’s rules for wandering.” 

We are all wandering, our broken world is a desert place. We’ve not reached the land that God has promised for us. And as desert wanderers, we’re all prone to forget the goodness of God.

And yet right here in our Bibles on every single piece of the puzzle, we find reminders intended to give us hope in the God who loves us enough to establish divine rhythms, to remind us who He is. 

Let's keep flipping over the pieces of this puzzle together, one piece at a time. 

Dree: I am so excited to keep flipping these pieces over. Here on The Deep Well podcast we will continue exploring these seven feasts described in the book of Leviticus. Erin will take us through this study over the next several episodes.

I hope you’ll dive into this topic by getting a copy of Erin’s Bible study. It’s called Seven Feasts: Finding Christ in the Sacred Celebrations of the Old Testament. 

Earlier this year I needed to quarantine and isolate from my family because of the coronavirus, and so I got to just soak in the Bible study of 7 Feasts. It felt like I had my friend Erin in the room with me, helping me learn about the seven feasts that I’ve never in my twenty-five years of following Jesus have dived into before.

Erin, I want you to tell women what they can expect when they get a copy of this Bible study.

Erin: Dree, I’m so grateful that you had that experience. My hope is that for everyone listening, their mind will be blown. There are so many connections between the book of Leviticus and the life of Jesus.

The seven feasts, even though they’re in the Old Testament, are about the gospel, so you can expect to do a lot of flipping back and forth between Leviticus in the Old Testament and the gospels in the New Testament. 

But I hope when you come to the end of this study, you’re going to be amazed at all that God revealed to mankind through these ancient feasts.

Dree: You can get a copy of the 7 Feasts Bible study by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com/TheDeepWell.

The Deep Well is a brand-new podcast featuring the teaching of Erin Davis. And today we’re actually going to release all eight episodes, so if you really wanted to, you could binge on all of Erin’s teachings on Leviticus in one day. 

Erin: In each season of TheDeep Well, a different friend will take over announcing duties. And Dree, I am so excited that you are the announcer for Season 1, because you and I have been friends for many years. I’ll lean on you to be the historian of the friendship. I don’t know how many years, but we’ve walked through some hard things, some fun things, some sweet things, some sour things. We’ve gotten along swimmingly, and some days we haven’t.

I just love your heart for women, for the gospel, for the Word, and I couldn’t think of anybody I would rather spend eight episodes talking about Leviticus with than Dree Hogue. I’m so grateful you’re in the announcer seat this season.

Dree: Thanks, Erin.

Erin Unscripted

Erin: I especially wanted Dree to be a part of this first season because we’re going to have this segment called “Erin Unscripted.” It’s where we’re going to talk about how to apply everything we’re learning to real life.

Dree, what came to mind for you as you were walking through this first chapter of the study?

Dree: One of the things that occurred to me was just identifying some common language and defining some of the things that I think maybe we take for granted. Like when we say, “It points to the gospel.” What exactly do you mean by the gospel?

Erin: Dree, I’m so glad you asked that. It reminds me of a small group several years ago. So my small group’s been together for eight years. We know each other pretty well; we meet twice a month. 

There was a woman in that small group who had been in the group for years and all of the sudden she said, “Time out. You guys talk about your Bibles like you read your Bibles. You say flip to the book of James, and everybody flips to the book of James, and I don’t even know where it is.” 

I think we sometimes can take for granted that everybody knows what we’re talking about. It is important when we’re talking about the gospel. So when I say the gospel, I mean the gospel story, which is that I’m a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior. 

All of us are sinners at our very core, and that’s problematic because God is holy and He can not allow sinners like us in His presence. So Jesus was the required sacrifice to pay the penalty for that sin so that we could be reconciled to God. That gospel grid—creation, fall, redemption, restoration—are the themes of the Bible and the themes of the gospel. 

That is so important. I can take for granted that everybody understands that. When I teach in my own church, I equip the teachers in my own church, and I’ll have each of them articulate the gospel as part of that before they teach the Bible.

Most struggle. Even if they know the gospel, even if the gospel has transformed their lives, articulating that can be a challenge. Part of that is because it's big, it's cosmic, it's supernatural. But part of that is because I think we can be just a little bit rusty.

So when I talk about the gospel in the seven feasts, I’m not talking about Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I’m talking about that big idea that I’m a sinner, Jesus is my Savior, and because of Him I can experience redemption. 

Dree: I think that mutual understanding of what the gospel is really helps us anchor ourselves into that so that when we look back at the Levitus chapter of the seven feasts, we can overlay it on to that good story of Jesus.

The other thing that struck me as I was reading and listening was the story of you reaching out to like every synagogue in so many areas. That is such an Erin Davis story. It’s ridiculous. I laughed out loud when heard, because I was like, “Of course she did.” 

There were two things that struck me about the rabbi’s perspective. One was that Leviticus was central. That really stood out to me, because for us we might say that Jesus is central. So how do those compare? That Leviticus is central and Jesus being central to our gospel story?

Erin: I hope I don’t ever forget that moment with Rabbi Lane, where I said, “Hey, I’m writing this Bible study about the Old Testament because I find Christians don’t read the Old Testament. I specifically want Christians to read Leviticus because Christians don’t read Leviticus.”

He wasn’t judgy. He was very compassionate and grandfatherly. I’d like him to adopt me. But anyway, he said, “Well that’s odd, because the sacrificial system is so central to Christianity.”

Now, this isn’t a Messianic Jew. This is a Jew who doesn't believe that Jesus is the Messiah. But he knew this. He said, “The sacrificial system is so central to Christianity, to what you believe. Don’t you know that’s found in Leviticus?” We do think of Jesus’ sacrifice as central, the linchpin it all hinges on, that is what all of Scripture is pointing towards. That is what our lives are all about. 

And it is outlined in Leviticus. I love that you said that you could overlay them, you can. You can lay what Leviticus teaches about the sacrificial system on top of the gospel or the reverse.

They’re telling the same story, which is that we need a sacrifice on our behalf because of our sins. And the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, reveal that Jesus is that sacrifice, so it really is central.

It’s really central to what we believe. It’s found in Leviticus; it’s found throughout all of Scripture. I was blown away that he saw it so clearly, even not being a follower of Christ, and sometimes we struggle to see it. 

Dree: The other thing that struck me that he said to you was that Leviticus was the rules for wandering. It struck me too that we in many ways are in a different season of wandering. We live in the tension of now and not yet. Right? We too are waiting for Jesus to return, post His sacrifice.

I wanted you to talk maybe a little bit about that. About sometimes the tension of the now and not yet. We feel and we see and the weight of it. I know you well enough to know that that tension makes you and me question things.

It makes us struggle with the reality we live in, because a lot of times we feel the not yet more so than the now. 

Erin: Well, Dree, more than most people I know, you long to be with Jesus. You love your family; you love your job; you love your community. You do all of that well, but none of it overrides the fact that you want to be with the Lord.

We’ve both faced some pretty intense challenges in the past decade I’d say, which has a way of untethering you from here, and going, “Oh yes, this actually doesn’t satisfy me. I want to be there.” 

We are all wanderers. That’s all throughout Scripture. We’re not in the Promise Land—the land promised to us is heaven. It’s where the Israelites were led into a physical Promised Land as they’re doing these seven feasts. 

The Promise Land for us is heaven with Jesus. We’re wandering toward that. We may wander for forty years, and we may wander for eight years, and I just want to be there.

You want to be there, but the Lord hasn’t either returned for us, or we’re not with Him yet. So we have to find ways to be here and honor Him and long to be with Him and love others well though we’re here—to be fully present here and long for there.

It does feel very wandery. I can relate to the Israelites who spent all those years in the desert longing for a better country. But physically, they were in a place where they were in the desert, and they needed the Lord to provide all their needs. 

So even as I’m talking about it, it feels wandery, but that’s life, right? It’s just like I want to be with the Lord in that way, where I’m with Him present forever. But I’m not there yet, so I need some guardrails for this wandering down here.

Dree: We forget that we’re part of this bigger story. This bigger narrative that actually started at Creation. The thing that you point out that is very helpful, that I was hoping that you could talk a little more about, is that God’s Word teaches us about who God is.

That in turn changes us, because we know who God is and what He does. It informs us as to who we are and what we do.

Erin: Well, I think that’s the dynamite that blew my relationship with the Word “wide open.” I mean, being a first-born achiever, being female, I think I have sort of an inborn desire to please. For many, many years there was grace in this, but I think for many, many years I opened my Bible to be a better me.

I was always like, “Oh, this passage means I need to do better at this, or I could do more of that.” Those things are true. There is application, but the Bible’s not a book about Erin, the Bible is a book about God. It’s so subtle. You're doing the same things, but your heart response is different. 

You’re still reading the Bible; you’re still thinking about it critically. But the critical question you’re asking yourself is, “What does this tell me about God first and foremost?” All of Scripture is about Him, and it’s also a mirror. It is the only way by which we can really see ourselves.

Because we’re broken people, we can’t see ourselves clearly. But the Bible shines a light on who we really are. I would never separate the two, but Holy Spirit helps me to see the story of God here, who God is here. When we approach it that way, then Leviticus does take on a different hue. It’s not a historical book of things that happened and list of rules, although it is that. But what do those things that happened and those lists of rules tell me about the person of God? 

This is about what God’s doing in this moment on this page of Scripture. But this is about what God’s doing through all the pages and through all of history for all of humanity. It becomes exciting to me in that way. It’s helpful for me when it’s not about me, when it’s about something bigger than me.

Dree: I am excited to keep going down this path, dipping our buckets down into the deep well and pulling up truth and in the next episode we get to wrestle through one of those truths and the sobering reality that you give us. 

Erin: Yes, we’re going to look at the sobering reality of death. But that’s not the end of the story. And we’re going to talk about the hope that we have, next time on The Deep Well. 

The Deep Well with Erin Davis is a production of Revive Our Hearts, calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ!

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Teacher

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.