No Longer Spectators

Leviticus 23:1 “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: “These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.”’”

Observation: All of Leviticus 23 is given to a description of the feasts God expected His people to observe, on schedule. Most of these are sadly obscure to Christians today, but a short review may lead to something interesting:

Sabbath, a day of rest for people and animals, observed every seventh day

Sabbath Year, a year of rest for the land, observed every seventh year

Year of Jubilee, every fiftieth year, when all debts were cancelled and all slaves freed

Passover, an annual remembrance of God’s delivering Israel from Egypt

Unleavened Bread, an annual remembrance of Israel’s hasty departure from Egypt

Firstfruits, an annual celebration of God’s bountiful provision

Weeks, an annual expression of joy and thankfulness for God’s harvest blessings

Trumpets, an annual day of rest to seek God’s favor for Israel

Day of Atonement, an annual atonement for sins of the priests and the people

Tabernacles, an annual remembrance of the journey from Egypt to Canaan, and thanksgiving for Canaan’s productivity

Sacred Assembly, formal closing of each year’s cycle of feasts

Purim, an annual reminder of the nation’s deliverance in the time of Esther

Application: It is all too easy for me to breeze through this kind of material without thought as to its application to me today. For a moment I must set aside the fact that God proclaimed these celebrations for all time. Set aside, too, the discomfiting fact that our earliest Christian ancestors, including Jesus and the entire early church leadership, faithfully observed these feasts.

What else might God want me to learn about Him and about me from all this? It seems He is a God who loves to gather His people in joyous contemplation of Himself. Is it also possible that He wants to underscore the coming importance of the greatest feast of all, the one at the end of the Book when he will preside over the marriage supper of the Lamb? I will move from being one of the spectators in the stands simply cheering God on and applauding His work in my life. At that feast, I who have loved His Son and trusted in His sacrifice on the cross will become instead an intimate participant. At that feast, His bridal chamber will beckon, and His gaze will melt my heart. Heaven will no doubt stand at attention as He looks with pleasure upon His own beauty adorning His bride. In that moment, both the Spirit and the bride will say, “Come. Whoever is thirsty, come. Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the waters of life” (Rev. 22:17).

Prayer: Father, as important as all the earlier feasts are to You, they are preparatory to the ultimate feast. You are preparing not just the table, not just the meal, but You are also preparing Your bride. Have Your way in my heart, Lord.

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