COME! LET US CELEBRATE!
Lord, every aspect of Your law is wondrous and full of meaning.
Read LEVITICUS 23:1–14
The Appointed Festivals
23 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.
3 “‘There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord.
The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread
4 “‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: 5 The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. 6 On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. 7 On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. 8 For seven days present a food offering to the Lord. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’”
Offering the Firstfruits
9 The Lord said to Moses, 10 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. 11 He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. 12 On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord a lamb a year old without defect, 13 together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil—a food offering presented to the Lord, a pleasing aroma—and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine. 14 You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
The Jewish religion is full of festivals, with exuberant celebrations. How about ours?
This chapter speaks of seven celebrations, each with its own specific purpose for the children of Israel—and each of them carries some significance for us today. Although our reading includes only three of them, this note treats all seven for completion.
The Sabbath (3) was appointed at creation as the day of rest. We should therefore dedicate one day in seven for rest and for worship. The Passover and Unleavened Bread (4–8) celebrate the event when the angel of destruction passed over the Israelites. They ate unleavened bread, but we celebrate the body and the blood of Jesus Christ in the bread and the wine of Holy Communion. Firstfruits (9–14) takes place in spring, marking the beginning of the harvest. We may not belong to agrarian communities, but God sustains us all with the bounty of the earth. The Festival of Weeks (15–22) comes fifty days later, when the harvest is gathered in. It is celebrated by offerings of the new grain. It is also called the Feast of Pentecost (from the Greek pentēkostē, for “fiftieth”), which we too celebrate as marking the first dramatic ingathering of believers from all nations when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples. The Festival of Trumpets (23–25) arrives ten days before the Day of Atonement and two weeks before the Feast of Tabernacles. It proclaims a solemn preparation for these memorable celebrations in the story of the people of God. The Day of Atonement (26–32) marks God’s annual pardon of his people. The Festival of Tabernacles (33–36) commemorates Israel’s forty years of wandering in the desert after her liberation from Egypt.
Praise God for the Deliverer who “tabernacles” among us, pilgrims and wanderers in the world’s wilderness.
The world has commercialized our main Christian festivals. How do we put true biblical content back into them?
Lord, thank You for communicating Your will through the sacrificial system. Open our eyes to its deeper truths.