Exodus 23:14-17. 14 “Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. 15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed. 16 You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. 17 Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord God.
1 Peter 2:9. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
God created us to celebrate! To celebrate God and his life giving grace. We were all made for praise and worship. Worship through our work, but also worship through our rest. Slavery in Egypt messed all that up for the Hebrews. Their work was a twisted worship of man (Pharaoh) and there was no rest. No celebration of God’s grace. But in Christ praise, worship, and celebration have been restored to us.
1 Peter says God saved us so that we could praise him. He possesses us so that we might proclaim his excellencies. The world needs to know that there is a saving God, a God of grace and mercy who wants to rescue them. For the Hebrews it was no different. God saved them from slavery, made them his own people, possession, and priesthood and then said “OK let’s get celebrating!” How? With three really big feasts. The Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering.
These feasts were yearly rhythms of Sabbath rest. Just like the weekly rhythm of Sabbath rest that God built into their lives, these festivals would allow the people to pause and reflect on God and his goodness toward them.
This might help get you in the celebration mood.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread. This Springtime feast was directly connected to Passover, the night God spared the Hebrew people from death when he saw the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. On that night they ate unleavened bread. So now every year for a week they would eat no leaven. This was a celebration of God’s great liberation. But it was also a holiness celebration. During this feast each Hebrew home would be meticulously purged of all leaven – a symbol of sin.
1 Corinthians 5:7-8. 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
I love how Paul says it – cleanse out the old leaven because you really are unleavened. That’s union with Christ! In Christ, our Passover Lamb, we are unleavened. So now clean out your leaven. In Christ you are holy. So now clean out your unholiness. What grace!
Why not pause today and celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread in your heart today. Celebrate your salvation from sin and celebrate the holiness you have been graciously granted in Christ.
The Feast of Harvest. You might know this one as Pentecost. This Summertime feast happened 50 days after Passover. It celebrated the fullness of the harvest. Each year when the “firstfruits” of the harvest came in a sheaf of grain would be waved before the Lord in praise because they knew the full harvest would soon follow. Then seven weeks later the harvest would come and a huge party would follow. It was a joyful time following the somber mood of Unleavened Bread.
Jesus is the “firstfruit.” In his crucifixion the seed was planted. In his resurrection the firstfruit sprung to life. At Pentecost the full harvest of new life came as the Spirit reaped the harvest of the Church.
Christian, you are the Feast of Harvest! Because Jesus was raised (firstfruit) you will be raised (harvest). There is no doubt.
1 Corinthians 15:20. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Why not pause and celebrate the Feast of Harvest in your heart today. Celebrate the new life inside of you and the resurrection life that awaits you.
The Feast of Ingathering. This Fall feast was also called the Feast of Booths. The harvest has all been gathered and the people celebrated by living in tents or booths for a week. I know this one sounds strange but it was meant to remind them of their Exodus experience and their time in the wilderness when they lived in tents. It celebrated how God never left them and guided them with his glorious light in the desert. God even tented (tabernacled) among them as he brought them to a land where they could live in his covenant blessings forever.
Jesus became a booth for us. When he took on flesh he tabernacled or “boothed” among us (John 1:14). Now, through our union with Christ, he is our booth. Our tent. We are IN CHRIST. And, get this, we are his booth. CHRIST is IN US. We are his tent. His temple. Jesus is “boothing” in us until that day when we make our way to the land of promise.
Why not pause and celebrate the Feast of Booths in your heart today? Celebrate that you have been gathered into Christ and that he dwells in you.
“To live is Christ” means that you are the Unleavened Bread of God. You are holy. You are the Harvest of God. You have new life. You are the Booth of God. His dwelling. So celebrate. Celebrate in the wilderness of this life. Celebrate a greater life yet to come.