Exodus 23:14-19 – Festivals

Read Exodus 23:14-19

Let’s have a party! Festivals are celebrations for what God has done. There are several different festivals, but only three of the annual ones are mentioned here. This is a brief explanation of what God wanted or expected the people to do to remember him. Again, these are laws that were given to Moses for the people to follow when they reached the promised land.

Jewish tradition would recognize most of these festivals today. I have always found it fascinating. It’s good to understand our faith roots. After all, Jesus was Jewish, and he would have celebrated these festivals. There isn’t a lot of detail here, so I did a little research to help understand these celebrations.

The Festival of Unleavened Bread immediately follows Passover. Both result from what God did in helping the Israelites flee from Egypt. The significance of using no yeast is thought to be because they didn’t have time to let their bread dough rise with yeast as they were in a hurry to leave before Pharaoh changed his mind. For seven days they eat no yeast as a remembrance for God’s rescue from Egypt.

I have also seen references where yeast is often associated with evil. Certainly we want to keep evil far from us. For us today, it is thought we need to keep our congregations pure.

The Festival of Harvest is pretty self explanatory, yet, it is not the same as what I understand a harvest to be. Growing up in Iowa, harvest was in the fall, and all the crops were pulled in at once. Here, the intention is for the first fruits, the best of the best, to be harvested first, early in the season. It is a time to celebrate and thank God for his grace and provision.

Looking to the New Testament, Christ himself is the firstfruit of the power of the resurrection, and his victory over death is the guarantee that believers, too, will experience resurrection ( see 1 Cor 15:20-23 ).

The Festival of Ingathering is also known as the Festival of Booths or Festival of Tabernacles. It says here that it’s the gathering of crops at the end of the of year. I also found references to the remembrance of living in booths or huts to recall the sojourn of the Israelites prior to their taking the land of Canaan. These laws were placed here for future generations.

There will be more details to this festival in other places in the Bible. Suffice it to say that the week was to be a time of joy as a final celebration and thanksgiving for that year’s harvest. Living in booths was a way to remember living in tents after leaving Egypt. We can also look at a tent as our temporary body here on earth. Jesus has gone ahead to prepare our final home of magnificence in heaven.

I realize there is a lot of symbolism here in these festivals beyond what is given in our text today. It’s cool how it all fits together. The bottom line is to remember God and what he has done for us. We don’t necessarily need festivals to do that. We should have thanksgiving on our tongue every day.

How has God blessed you today, this week? Be thankful.

Let’s pray. Lord, thank you for all that you are doing in my life. I am so excited for this new chapter as it unfolds. Help me to be mindful of you and your plan for me. In addition to a wonderful husband and family, I thank you for the provision of our new house, our church family, and a business that is poised to help so many people by giving them hope. Use me today as your instrument of peace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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