I am going to take a break from our series on Character Qualities for a while and spend some time focusing on Easter. I have felt for many years that I don’t celebrate Easter as well or as much as I should. As I have been looking at why we celebrate the holidays that we do celebrate I also began to wonder if it is important to celebrate holidays. I have struggled at times with how commercial our Christian holidays have become. It seems that our culture has taken something sacred and made into something that is no longer recognizable any more.
I decided to take a look at the Old Testament and see what holidays/ festivals that the Lord commanded the Israelite people to celebrate and why. We have just finished up the study in Exodus and I think that study is partly why I began asking questions about what God might want for us in the area of holidays.
I wish I could have taken a bit more time looking into these ideas, but I will be thankful for the time I was able to spend. So after just glancing through the book of Leviticus I found a few festivals that God set apart for the Israelites and a small glimpse into why he wanted them to celebrate those days.
Day of Atonement
Leviticus 16: 30 – On this day, atonement will be made for you, and you will be cleansed from all your sins in the Lord’s presence.
This day was a Sabbath rest, and a day of fasting. It is a day for the people to repent and call on the name of the Lord.
This is a day for the people of Israel to remember the night in Egypt when God spared them when the angel came to kill the first-born of all the Egyptians.
Festival of the First Fruits
God required the people to bring and offering to the Lord when the harvest first began to come in. A way of giving back to God what He had given to them.
Festival of the Harvest
God called the people again to sacrifice and bring offerings to the Lord to thank Him for providing them with a good harvest.
Festival of Booths
This is a festival where the people live in shelters outside their homes. It is a reminder to the people to think back to when the people of Israel lived in shelters after they left Egypt.
Reasons for Celebration
Why did God have the people practice these festivals. The Bible tells us there were several reasons but a few I quickly picked out are:
- Giving God the Glory for provision
- Teaching and remembering.
So why should we celebrate the holidays that we do? I think all those reasons still apply. We need to repent before the Lord and confess the sins that so easily entrap us. We need to remember what God has done for us by sending His son to die on the cross for our sins. We need to be thankful that God provides for us in abundant ways especially in providing for us a permanent sacrifice to cover our sins once and for all. And we should celebrate to teach our children what God has done, and to show them what God is doing in our lives.
Easter is a time to remember a powerful even in history. Jesus became the atonement for our sins once and for all. We no longer have to depend on the yearly sacrifice of a lamb to cover our sins. It is important to remember that amazing Gift that God has given to us.