The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), February 24
Celebrating birthdays reminds each person of their entry into family. Annual events such as Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving remind families of past events that impact their present wellbeing and connect families to the greater community of celebrants.
The Lord requires Israel to set aside days on their annual calendar to commemorate His relationship with them as individuals, families, and community. These annual events are intended to remind them of His activity on their behalf in the past, to establish their personal and communal identity, and to ensure that Israel live with the awareness of their great spiritual need.
The Sabbath (Lev. 23:3), celebrated weekly, is to be a day of blessing and rest to remind Israel of creation, God’s goodness, provision, and their redemption from Egyptian slavery (23:43).
Certain feasts or celebrations are to be held at a specific location in Canaan and attended by all the males in Israel (Jerusalem became that central location during the Kingdom Era):
The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (23:5-14). This celebration begins on the first month of the year with the Passover and a sacred assembly where no work is to be done; during the following six days no unleavened bread is to be eaten. These feasts commemorate Israel’s departure from Egypt.
The Feast of Harvest/Weeks (23:15-22). Seven weeks after the Passover begins the season of harvest where people present the first fruits of the harvest to the Lord along with a sacrifice. This feast acknowledges God’s provision.
The Day of Atonement and The Feast of Ingathering/Tabernacles (23:26-32). On the tenth day of the seventh month of the year Israel must hold a sacred assembly for the annual atonement of sin, the Day of Atonement. Five days later begins the Feast of Tabernacles which lasts for a week. The people are to build temporary “booths” and live in them for that week to commemorate the wilderness wanderings and the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
Why does the Lord instruct Israel to establish these feasts/celebrations as annual events on their calendar?
- People are prone to forget the past.
- Celebrations give parents opportunities to teach their children about the Lord and their heritage.
- Celebrations bind the hearts of individuals to the greater community and build national identity.
- Celebrations acknowledge God’s goodness and provision and demonstrate man’s gratitude to God.
Questions from today’s reading (Leviticus 23:1-25:23):
List the feasts described in Leviticus 23. What would the celebration of these annual feasts do for each succeeding generation?
What was the purpose or intent of the Year of Jubilee celebration?