Celebration in the Old

Yesterday I wrote about celebrating my engagement to Charity with a portion of our family and friends. I ended the post with a passage from Jeremiah 30:19a where it says “Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving, and the voices of those who celebrate.” The inaugurated reality of that verse took place at the party. Did we sing songs? No. Did voices celebrate in praise with words? Yes. When the wedding takes place next March, many who attended the engagement party will have their opportunity to sing praises. The mirth of that day will be glorious.

Now, it seems to me that our little party this past weekend hinted at similar gatherings in the Old Testament. In the book of Leviticus, Moses records several feasts in the twenty-third chapter. The Lord called these feasts holy convocations or worship celebrations. Each of the feasts had been spelled out by the Lord in order to give him the honor due his name. These Old Testament worship celebrations coincided with the agrarian calendar. What this means is that the celebrations were to be held at specific times throughout the year. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthday festivities are the closest modern-day equivalents in the United States to those worship celebrations in Leviticus chapter 23.

Because the engagement party is only a one-time event Charity’s life and mine, we will have an anniversary date for our marriage. It will occur every calendar year on March 1st. For the lack of a better word, this is the appointed time or season to commemorate our union. When we reach particular anniversary, milestones in our marriage, the gathering of family and friends will take place. Those milestone moments will resemble the old testament feasts. There will be laughter, prayer, singing, food and fellowship and solemn moments. Most importantly, these celebratory moments require God at the center because he would be the reason for our union and its benefits. The same held true for the people of Israel in the Old Testament.

If the very first feast or celebration was the Passover meal, then God had a purpose for them in remembering what was done. Despite their great numbers, the Israelites had no power in themselves to break free from Egypt’s grip. In fact, the Lord told Moses and Aaron that he would harden Pharaoh’s heart prior to setting them free. God called Moses and Aaron to perform all of his words to the letter before Pharaoh and his people. When the time came for Israel’s deliverance, the Lord instituted the Passover celebration in order to remind his people of who he is and his works among them. One can only imagine the joy of freedom for God’s people. Shortly thereafter, more feasts had been added to Israel’s calendar.

Why do I mention all of this? I’m seeing the Lord orchestrate events within Charity’s life and mine, which require celebrations to remember who God is and his work in our lives. Just like the Israelites, Charity and I are powerless to affect true change in our lives. We have experienced spiritual growth and healing precisely because of God’s amazing work in Christ by the person and work of the Holy Spirit. He chose to bring us together, to deliver us from bondage to sin…He did those things for his glory and honor. It’s only right to celebrate what God has done. It’s only right to set aside time to give God the honor due his name. The best part about this is that certain events in Charity’s life and mine occur every year during the same month and day. This removes all decision stress for those particular celebrations.

During this Thanksgiving holiday, take the time to read over the twenty-third chapter of Leviticus. This Old Testament book has garnered a bad rap over the years. Because of the intense detail in performing the law, the sacrifices, and the feasts, it’s customary to skip over Leviticus due to sheer boredom. Let this time around be different. When reading over the feasts in Leviticus twenty-three, reflect on the Thanksgiving feast in your home. Will you set aside time to worship, to pray, to feast, to fellowship and to proclaim who God is and what he has done? And remember, each time anyone of those things is done over the course of this weekend, your family is doing something old, something ancient, something that goes back thousands of years…

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