What’s that one thing you can’t wait to try with a friend or partner? I personally have gotten hooked on escape rooms. There is a brand new escape room near me – one I’ve never done before – and I’m just itching to try it with a group of friends. If you live in or near a city, or even if you don’t, it seems like there’s always something interesting or fun to try with someone: virtual reality, funky art museums, farmer’s markets, amusement parks, state fairs – the list goes on! But no matter how flashy or cool the activity, the best part is spending time with someone we care about.
Speaking of time, and lots of it, the Israelites are given something like an event calendar in this chapter. God describes seven, count ’em, seven special days or festivals for the Israelites to observe. There’s the Sabbath, well-known to the Israelites, a weekly day to stop all work and worship God together (verse 3). There’s the Passover and the Day of Atonement, also well-known and well-discussed. Then there are the festivals: the festival of trumpets, the festival of tabernacles, the festival of weeks – it all sounds super joyful! There’s food and services and special offerings and even camping (verse 42). If I were an Israelite, I would have been down! When do we start?!
The Treasures Within:
What Are You Doing This Weekend?
The Bible says that these festivals were “appointed” to the Israelites (verses 2, 44), which sounds ultra formal, as if the Israelites were handed a typed-up itinerary. But I know the Israelites looked forward to these special days. Wouldn’t you, if you lived in a world without smartphones, Netflix, social media, TV, or even bookstores? A seven-day festival sounds like a good time even today (unless it’s in the same sentence as the word ‘Fyre’); imagine how exciting it was back then!
But the festivals weren’t just about getting out of the tent and having some fun. Some of these holidays were very solemn, like the Day of Atonement. Those special days reminded the Israelites of how much they needed God. They reminded them that they were alive because of God’s forgiveness of their sins. Those festivals reminded the Israelites that their lives were not their own. Other days involved quite a bit of work making burnt offerings and drink offerings and grain offerings. These festivals were about giving gratitude to God – for a first harvest (verse 10) or for any harvest (verse 39). But whatever the main event, the important thing was that the Israelites were spending time with God. They were focusing on Him. They were thinking about Him. They were remembering Him. These days were fun, but they were also vital.
And today? When you say ‘festival’, the first thing that pops into mind is Coachella. Or Lollapalooza. Or Stagecoach (BIP fans, anyone?). We don’t do that many special days now. Sure, our churches have revivals and camp meetings and congresses. But what about you and me? What special times do we set apart to spend with God?
It doesn’t normally occur to us to do something special with God outside of our daily devotion and weekly church visits. What more do we need? But what if we took that attitude in our relationships? After all, I see some of my friends every week at church. What more do we need to keep our friendship strong? Or if you’re married, you see your spouse every single day. Isn’t a date night every other week overkill?
Those questions are insane because it’s very clear to us that we should spend time with the people we love. We should take time to strengthen our relationships, show our partners and our friends that we love them, focus on that person and just that person, and let them know that they’re special to us. These things are natural in our human relationships. Why aren’t they natural in our spiritual relationships? Why don’t we dedicate special days to God? Take it from Leviticus 23 – there’s so much to do with Him! The Israelites filled their festivals with offerings (verses 8, 16, 27, 37), special services (verses 8, 27), special music (verse 24), special food (verse 6), asking forgiveness, fasting (verses 27, 32), taking a break from work (verses 8, 21, 25), camping, and just celebrating and relaxing (verses 40-41)! Why not us? Love on God. Celebrate Him. Praise Him. Worship Him. Think about Him. Prioritize Him! Strengthen your relationship with Him. Delight in Him.
God’s Message To Us:
“Don’t forget Me.” Raise your hand if you’ve ever been guilty of putting God in a box. The Sabbath box or the Sunday box. The 15-minutes-every-morning box. The Last Resort box. We do that because we don’t have enough faith. God’s not an accessory. He’s not trending. He’s not a cool hobby we do sometimes. He’s our life Partner. He’s the Air we breathe. He’s our Everything. That means we obey Him, pray without ceasing, and incorporate Him into every part of our lives. But it also means that we should enjoy Him. We should rejoice in Him. We should have date night with Him. Because if God really is the Ruler of the universe, the Savior who died on the cross, and the single Being who loves us completely, thoroughly, and unconditionally; then shouldn’t special time with Him come naturally?
What do you think? What’s a special thing you do with God? What did God want to tell you when He wrote this chapter through Moses?