Rituals And Expectations

Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2012 in Old Testament
Tags: , , , , , ,

ImageDeuteronomy 16 (HCSB) “Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, because the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night in the month of Abib… “You are to count seven weeks, counting the weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. You are to celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the Lord your God with a freewill offering that you give in proportion to how the Lord your God has blessed you… “You are to celebrate the Festival of Booths for seven days when you have gathered in everything from your threshing floor and winepress… “Appoint judges and officials for your tribes in all your towns the Lord your God is giving you. They are to judge the people with righteous judgment… “Do not set up an Asherah of any kind of wood next to the altar you will build for the Lord your God, and do not set up a sacred pillar; the Lord your God hates them.

So many festivals and rituals it seems and there is very little room for followers of the Christian God to live outside of this requirement. What was the point of these many festivals and is there any relevance to our lives today?

Each of the festivals listed in today’s chapter deal with key events in the history of the Israelites. God wanted to ensure that His chosen people would never forget God’s goodness to them and in that way, they would continue to walk in the path of righteousness He set before them. In order to keep His name utmost in the lives of His people, He chose key events surrounding their daily lives that would give them cause to pause, remember and acknowledge God’s goodness.

Oftentimes we go through life without a care just doing our own thing and it is in the difficult moments that we wonder where our help might come from. These trying circumstances give us reason to ask the deeper questions of life in terms of our purpose, the meaning of life, whether morality exits and what our destiny is. Only the Christian faith gives us answers to all four of those questions and based on these answers do we have the hope to live.

The first festival is that of the passover. Note that it was to be celebrated in the same month as when the Israelites were brought out of slavery in Egypt. A lamb was to be sacrificed from one’s flock in the place where God wanted His name to dwell. This reminds us that God wants us to come to Him rather than we using God as another excuse in our lives. God wants us to prioritize Him over everything else because He is our creator, saviour and redeemer and nothing or no one else can match up. The unleavened bread eaten with the sacrificed meat was to signify the bread of hardship and this was not great tasting because it would have been hard and difficult to bite. This bread made without yeast signifies the trying moments we went through when God rescued us and we are to never forget them.

In our lives today as Believers, do we remember the hopeless place from where God rescued us and do we pause regularly to remember those times and the circumstances. God wants us never to forget our brokenness from which He rescued us and the trials we endured to enjoy His freedom. We are not called to rejoice in our sinfulness but rather this is a solemn time to reflect on our brokenness and His great redemption.

The next two festivals surrounded harvest. While many of us might not be farmers or in the animal husbandry business, we certainly like the Israelites enjoy the same blessings in terms of the work of our hands. Farmers enjoyed a harvest once a year and God called them to celebrate His bounty to them by bribing their first and best offerings to Him to thank Him. The celebration was with family and the gift was from a heart of gratefulness, not compulsion.

Today we might earn pay checks every day/week/fortnight/month and God is calling us to celebrate that blessing with those dear to us by offering Him the first portion (A tenth) for the extension of His kingdom and the glory of His name. As a practice, my family and I take our tithe and offer it at the church we worship and thank God for His goodness and ask that He continue to bless the work of our hands. The local church we go to is where God wants us to give our tithes in and anything else we give is over and above this tithe, given in the form of an offering. This offering could be to other causes in the body of Christ (the local or global work of Christians) as you feel led.

Then there is the mention of appointing judges and officials. To the Israelites who were beginning life, it made sense that they have a system put in place to live lives honouring God and each other but we already live in an organized society and therefore how does this apply to us? In today’s context, this directive is to help us know that we need accountability and direction in our lives and we can get that by being part of a body of believers who together will help build the name of Christ in the local body. We need to be accountable for our actions, we need correction, direction and we in turn need to do the same for newer believers but this is only possible if we submit to the authority of a local Church.

The final instruction is about forbidden worship. Today we might not build Asherah poles literally but we do build them virtually by placing God among the other priorities of our life. When God, His son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are not given the highest priority in our lives, we face the threat of being weakened in our faith and walking the dangerous path of the world and we are being warned today about it. For example, if we were movie buffs and watched movies with themes that conflict our faith, we would over time begin to question our faith rather than walk away from movies that conflict our faith. Relate this to every area in your life and you will start to notice how the devil has schemed his way into our lives and put God in a lower place.

It’s been months since I wrote devotionals and I apologize but I spent this time dredging the Word of God and soaking in His teaching to prepare my heart for the next phase of this ministry. Thank you for permitting me to speak into your lives and I would be grateful to hear from you, if you feel led.

Praying God’s best in your life as you continue to seek His face and live His ways.

In His Loving Service,
ServantBoy

Comments
  1. Vineet,

    I love your post. Its a firm reminder that festivals and all the requirements the Lord asks of us are only for our own good if we willing follow them. I hope you have been well. My family and I have been doing well and the Lord has been our refuge!

    Blessings,

    Gladwell

  2. ServantBoy says:

    Gladwell,
    Blessings in the name of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your comment and encouragement. I’ve often found the requirements of the law very cumbersome but God revealed it’s significance and helped me relate it to our life today and that was a humbling lesson.
    My family and I have been well and blessed by God’s goodness each new day. Life is full of challenges and God is the sole reason for our joy. Glad to hear you and your family are doing well.
    In Christ,
    Vineet

  3. Debbie says:

    I love how you related it all to your own life . .. and how we can too, dear Vineet! So good to hear from you and know that He is covering you and preparing you for His plans for you! God bless!

  4. ServantBoy says:

    Hi Debbie,
    Thank you for your constant encouragement. Just knowing I would have the support of dear Christian friends like you gives me so much comfort. Hope you are doing well as is your family and praying God’s best in your lives.
    In Christ,
    Vineet

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