Celebrating BeforeThe Lord
"Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me. Exodus 23:14-17
Celebrating before the Lord always meant you celebrated a special event relating to what God has done affecting the lives of his people. God ordained three times a year every male was to present himself before the Lord. The purpose of the festivals was to recall a distinct event the Lord performed to redeem men and women for his kingdom. At the same time these festivals kept God in the center of Jewish life and in the forefront of the Hebrew minds. These annual feasts speak of a plan of Salvation planned out before the creation of the world. Each of the feasts portrays an important role in our salvation and was planned in such a way to reveal the grace of God found in Jesus Christ.
These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Colossians 2:17
To Israel these festivals became holidays at set times of the Jewish year to focus on a covenant of love that God wanted his people to consider and remember. They also presented an order to our salvation in which every Christian goes through in their service to the Lord. Altogether there were seven feast ordained to remember Godís part to initiate and maintain a covenant relationship with his chosen people. These festive celebrations coincided with a specific divine event to show that the God of Creation was working to establish his chosen people as his unique children through his grace.
The Passover feast commemorated the final judgment on Egyptian gods by putting to death the first born of Egypt but the first born living in houses with the door posts smeared with the blood of a sacrificial lamb were passed over. Egypt represents the sin that holds the sinner in bondage and it is the blood of the sacrificial lamb pays the redemption price. At the same time the blood of Christ is payment in full for our past sins and justifies us before our God. It marks the first step in the plan of Salvation the forgiveness of sin.
The Passover commemorates their redemption of Israel from Egypt and from the bondage of slavery and oppression of sin. God freed Israel through his mighty power and then ordained a lasting ordinance for future generations to celebrate the day God brought Israel out of Egypt.
That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Exodus 12:8
The morning following Passover Moses led Israel out of Egypt at Egyptís demand. On leaving Egypt in haste they celebrated the feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days nothing containing yeast was found in Israelís camp or in their homes in the years following. According to the bible the Passover was celebrated on the fifteenth of the first month. The following morning Israel left in haste with the directive no leaven was to be found in the camp. As they journeyed from Egypt they celebrated the feast of Unleavened Bread until they reached the Red Sea.
On the third day they arrived at the Red Sea where a miracle happened before the eyes of Israel. The Red Sea opened to allow Israel to pass into the Sinai desert and the promise land. In the same way the tomb was opened allowing the resurrection of Jesus from the grave giving us the hope of glory. Now we have the gospel story in the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
In the meantime Egypt realized that they lost their income from their slaves and was in pursuit to regain their services. Egypt pursued Israel to the Red Sea where God parted the sea allowing Israel to escape but became a trap when Egypt followed Israel attempting to enslave them. This act is the judgment of God and the promise that God would punish those who mistreated and held his people captive
In the dessert Israel began to complain for lack of water when their food supply ran out. God responded by supplying manna from heaven and water from the rock at Rephidim. After wandered for a month and a half they arrived at Mt Sinai on the first day of the third month of the Hebrew calendar. According to tradition Moses ascended Mount Sinai where he met with God. God gave this command,
Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites." Exodus 19:5-6
On descending from Mount Sinai Moses commanded Israel to prepare for the third day when God would meet them at the base of the mountain. On the third day God descended on Mount Sinai in awesome pomp causing all Israel to tremble. God presented the Ten Commandments to Israel and according to tradition God presented the Ten Commandments exactly fifty days after leaving Egypt.
Ultimately, the Ten Commandments are the terms of a covenant to establish a relationship with his chosen people. God gave Israel laws to live by and these laws when obeyed restricted his people in ways to demonstrate Godís love. They were laws when obeyed would give one another dignity and the respect each person deserves. To summarize the Ten Commandments it was a covenant to love God with all our heart soul mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.
The significance of Pentecost was that it occurred fifty days after the death of our Lord following Passover. Christians celebrate Pentecost as the upper room experience with the infilling of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of Pentecost was to reinforce the commitment of Christians to obey God and empower the church to be witnesses of Jesus Christ.
And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:27
According to Hebrew tradition this day established Israel as a nation under the leadership of God. At the same time it gave birth to the body of Christ as the church.
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24
God established a New Covenant with mankind to include every human being on earth. The New Covenant was for ďwhosoeverísĒ anyone who called upon the Lord would be saved. Let us consider that these feasts was a way for mankind to remember the grace of God to provide a way so mankind may not remain estranged from God. The feasts portray a picture of the death and resurrection of Christ with the hope of glory.
The feasts were another way for God to illustrate Godís overall plan to redeem mankind. Godís plan gives everyone who partakes of his plan hope for an amazing future, an abundant life that never ends. Everything required for eternal life Ė redemption, forgiveness, and reinstating a relationship with God the Father has been provided for through Jesus Christ.