Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Let's Celebrate!

As I've completed reading through the book of Leviticus recently, I found myself thinking a lot about celebrations. In chapter 23 God reminds Israel that they are to keep a weekly Sabbath day. They are to set aside a day for rest and holy assembly- a day that due to its difference is to turn them from the daily grind of life and lift their hearts heavenward. (The Sabbath is something I'd also like to delve into more, especially after reading ch 25 which talks about the Sabbath Year and Year of Jubilee...so you may find more musings on this later.) After reminding the people that they are to have weekly opportunities to refocus their lives, He then describes several important festivals that they are to celebrate each year.

Passover--------------------celebrated sundown on the 14th of the first month;
special meal
Feast of Unleavened bread-- celebrated 15th of the first month; Lasting 7 days
Eat no bread with yeast, special gifts presented each day, first and last
day no work and official day for holy assembly

First Harvest---------------celebrated first Sabbath after first harvest--special
gifts to God
Festival of Harvest(or Festival of Weeks)-- celebrated 50 days after the First
Harvest Offering--special gifts to God and no work, official day for holy

Festival of Trumpets-------celebrated first day of the seventh month-- special
gifts, no work, official day for holy assembly
Day of Atonmement---------celebrated 10th day of seventh month-- offerings made for
purification, no work, official day for holy assembly
Festival of Shelters (Festival of Booths or Tabernacles, Final Harvest)-- celebrated
five days after the Day of Atonement-- last 7 days, first day no work,
official day for holy assembly, special gifts for 7 days, eighth day
special gifts and no work

As I thought more about these special celebrations, I began to see that God regularly provided His people with celebrations to remind them of Him and their relationship with Him. There are many things in the celebrations that also point to Christ. (So many little things in Scripture mean something, and I'm yearning for God to show me more about what significance these celebrations held.) We are to take time out ROUTINELY to do things that are NOT routine. We are to cease our normal daily running around to be still and know that He is God. We are to seek to understand His ways so that we may know Him and continue to enjoy favor with Him (Ex. 33:12-13).

So what application are we supposed to make of this? Do we have celebrations that allow us to know Him and to learn about our relationship with Him? Do we really celebrate as God commanded his people to, or do we celebrate based on the direction of Hallmark and our culture?

Interesting that God should be speaking about all of this to me last week, because He showed me a bit of application this past Sunday. My family and I had the privilege of being part of an Ordination Ceremony for a couple that we are friends with who will shortly be taking on the roles of Pastor and Pastor's Wife. Our Sunday Worship service became a time to remember what God has already done in their lives and to look forward to what He will continue to do. What a joy it was to hear the words of a charge from a mentor of theirs who spoke with God's wisdom and great love. There were words of encouragement for all of us from our Pastor who reminded us of the responsibilities we all have to be ministering and going about the work that God has prepared for us. And what a time of blessing it was to gather in prayer and pray over this dear couple. This time reminded us of the eternal things of life and took us out of our normal routine. We were refreshed and uplifted as we also thought about God's work in our own lives and focused on Him.

I think I understood a little bit of the reason why God wants us to have celebrations in our lives that are centered around Him as I enjoyed this past Sunday. I am challenged to think of other times that I celebrate and allow him to reveal himself to me. What about you? When will you take sometime to celebrate?

For more study: http://www.mayimhayim.org/Festivals/Feast1.htm

(I'm currently working through this...it's truly wonderful how God has given us so much meaning if we'll only dig deep enough to uncover it.)

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