Thursday, March 17, 2016

Being Altogether Joyful


In the midst of Deuteronomy's chapters about the law and punishment for disobedience is a chapter about feasts and parties. The Jewish year began and ended with feasts and celebrations before the Lord.

The first month, known as Abib (the Canaanite name) or Nisan (the Jewish name) is in early Spring. (March/April). In the month of Abib/Nisan, they were to celebrate the Passover. For the Christian, this is a reminder of Christ's sacrifice on the cross for our sins. 

For seven days, they were to eat only Unleavened Bread. All leaven was to be purged from their houses. This was a symbolic purging of sin and represents the importance of not just repenting of our sin but turning from it. It was to be celebrated with a solemn assembly. (A worship service and time of both individual and corporate repentance)

I fear that, as believers, we are often a little like Scarlett O'Hara; not terribly sorry we sinned, but very sorry we were "caught" and have consequences for that sin.

Repentance involves not just saying sorry, but allowing God to remove our sin from us, so that we stop doing the sin of which we have repented.

The Feast of Booths was celebrated at the end of Tishri, after the autumn harvest. The week-long celebration was a reminder of the years of living in tents in the wilderness on the journey from Egypt. I love how this feast is described.

"Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the Lord your God... 
because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce 
and in all the works of your hands, so that you shall be altogether joyful." 
Deuteronomy 16:15 nasb

Over the course of the year, the people would have several feasts that reminded them of their slavery in Egypt, the deliverance of God, and His abundant provision. They would symbolically remember the price of sin and celebrate removing that sin from their lives.

At the end of the year, they would celebrate the deliverance of God and His ongoing provision. 

Remembering the past was done to bring rejoicing for the future. Celebrating the removal of sin prepared the way to rejoice over the purity only God could provide.

They were to plan, in advance, for a celebration of the abundant provision of God because it would be given. They didn't have to worry or be afraid. God promised to bless them in their produce and in every work they did with their hands. 

The blessings of God were not simply to give them enough to eat. The blessings of God were to result in complete and total joy.

Jesus began His ministry on earth at a wedding celebration (a party) and His last time with his disciples before His crucifixion was spent celebrating Passover (another feast/party). 

We serve a God who delights in celebration. In rejoicing. In total joy.

We, as followers of Christ, should be the most joyful of people, for we have much to celebrate. 

Christ has come. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ is coming again.

Let us live as those who have been redeemed, so that the world can see the joy only God can give. Rejoice today, for our God is a Holy, Mighty, Good God and He is able to deliver and provide. 

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