IN CELEBRATION OF GOD

A NATIONAL LAW LIBRARY

holidays celebration
holidays celebration

JEWISH HOLIDAYS FOCUSED ON ONE THING

REJOICE BEFORE THE LORD YOUR GOD FOR SEVEN DAYS (LEVITICUS 23:40)

THE PEOPLE IN EVERY NATION LOVE HOLIDAYS, CELEBRATIONS, AND FEASTS. THE ISRAELITES WERE NO EXCEPTION. LEVITICUS DESCRIBE FIVE FEASTS, ALL FOCUSING ON GOD. EACH WAS MARKED BY SPECIAL SACRIFICES TO GOD AND A SACRED ASSEMBLY IN THE TENT OF MEETING WHERE GOD HAD “PITCHED HIS TENT.” RATHER THEN GIVING GIFTS TO EACH OTHER, THE ISRAELITES GAVE GIFTS TO GOD.

SOMETIMES THEY REJOICED: DURING THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES EVERYONE CAMPED OUT TO “REJOICE BEFORE THE LORD” FOR A SOLID WEEK (REJOICE BEFORE THE LORD YOUR GOD FOR SEVEN DAYS LEVITICUS 23:40). ON OTHER OCCASIONS, SUCH AS THE DAY OF ATONEMENT, THEY WERE SOBER AND SOLEMN (LEVITICUS CHAPTER 16, 23:26-32). BUT ALWAYS THEIR ORIENTATION WAS GOD-WARD.

GOD OVER MONEY

NOBADY WORKED ON ISRAELITE FEAST DAYS, BUT THEIR “DAYS OFF” HAD A DIFFERENT MOTIVE THAN OURS. AN ISRAELITE FARMER NEVER GOT A PAID HOLIDAY. IN FACT, A HOLIDAY COULD COST HIM—IT MIGHT FALL ON A DAY PERFECT FOR HARVESTING. BUT GOD TOOK PRIORITY OVER WORK. THE WEEKLY SABBATH DAY REINFORCED THE SAME IDEA. YOU HAD TO STOP WORKING TO WORSHIP.

GOD MATTERED MORE THAN WEALTH. THIS FUNDAMENTAL BELIEF SHOWED ITSELF EVEN MORE IN THE SABATH YEAR AND IN THE YEAR OF JUBILEE (LEVITICUS CHAPTER 25). EVERY SEVENTH YEAR, PEOPLE DID NOT FARM AT ALL. THEY LIVED OFF  WHATEVER THE LAND PRODUCED BY ITSELF, AND DEDICATED THEMSELVES TO GOD. THIS WOULD BE LIKE OUR CLOSING ALL BUSINESSES AND FACTORIES FOR A YEAR.

AFTER 49 YEARS—SEVEN SABBATH YEARS—THE YEARS OF JUBILEE CAME. THIS TIME, PEOPLE WENT FOR TWO YEARS STRAIGHT WITHOUT PLANTING. ALL LAND BOUGHT OR SOLD DURING THE PREVIOUS 49 YEARS WENT BACK TO ITS ORIGINAL FAMILY OWNERSHIP. SINCE THE LAND HAD ORIGINALLY BEEN EQUALLY DISTRIBUTED, THIS MEANT THAT NO FAMILY WOULD EVER BECOME EITHER TOTALLY DESTITUTE OR OVERWHELMINGLY RICH. ANY ISRAELITES WHO HAD SOLD THEMSELVES AS SLAVES WOULD ALSO BE FREED IN THAT YEAR.

PROSPERITY CAME FROM GOD

HARD WORK AND THE RESULTING ABUNDANCE WERE NEVER SCORNED IN ISRAEL. BUT PROSPERITY ALWAYS CAME ULTIMATELY FROM GOD, NOT FROM HARD WORK OR CLEVER DEALING ALONE. THE FEASTS AND SABBATHS, SET ASIDE AS SPECIAL DAYS, HELPED PEOPLE REMEMBER AND PRAISE THE GOD WHO HAD GIVEN THEM SO MUCH.

SO FAR AS WE KNOW, NO YEAR OF JUBILEE WAS EVER ACTUALLY PRACTICED. SOME OF THE FEASTS WERE FORGOTTEN FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME. BUT SUCH FAILURE IS NOT SURPRISING. AFTER ALL, THINK WHAT WE HAVE DONE TO THE HOLY DAY OF CHRISTMAS! THE FEAST DAYS DESCRIBED IN LEVITICUS GIVE US A GOOD IDEA OF WHAT GOD WANTED ISRAEL TO BE. SADLY, REALITY DID NOT OFTEN MATCH THE IDEAL.

LIFE QUESTIONS

IF SOMEONE EXAMINED THE WAY YOU SPEND YOUR HOLIDAYS AND WEEKENDS, WHAT WOULD HE OR SHE CONCLUDE ABOUT YOUR PRIORITIES?

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