Saturday, February 27, 2010

Daily Bible Reading - February 26 - Feasts and Faith

As we turn the corner and head to the conclusion of Leviticus, today's reading contained instructions for the feasts Israel was to observe each year (especially Leviticus 23). In addition to the weekly Sabbath day (23:3), Israel was to commemorate the following special days:
  • The Passover (23:4-8), on the 14th day of the first month
  • The Feast of Firstfruits (23:9-14), after the harvest
  • The Feast of Weeks (23:15-22), seven weeks after the sheave offering
  • The Feast of Trumpets (23:23-25), on the 1st day of the seventh month
  • The Day of Atonement (23:26-32), on the 10th day of the seventh month
  • The Feast of Booths (23:33-43), beginning on the 15th day of the seventh month
These various observances reminded Israel of their year-round obligation to be in fellowship with God. Many of these days coincided with the agricultural cycles of Israel, yet unlike their pagan neighbors who worshiped nature and the cycles of planting and harvest, Israel clearly distinguished the one God from nature.

As we will see in the rest of the Old Testament, while these special days should have served as important reminders, Israel often neglected to follow the calendar of holy days. And even when the nation did keep the Sabbaths and festivals, they often did so in a ritualistic fashion, thinking only of the observance and not of the God who was to be remembered.

In the New Testament the only "special day" designated for Christians under the new covenant is the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2). The day of Jesus' resurrection is the day we are to gather to remember Him (this included the very first day of the preaching of the apostles, since the Feast of Weeks - Pentecost - fell on the first day of the week). But like Israel, we can easily take these regular assemblies for granted, viewing them as perfunctory duties to check off rather than reminders of the God we serve.

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