by John Maniatty
- Celebration is as much a part of the American culture as baseball,
Chevrolet, and apple pie. We celebrate births and birthdays, graduates
and graduations. We rejoice in celebration over marriages and anniversaries.
We celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. We even celebrate
sporting achievements and business successes.
Our spiritual forefathers also celebrated. The scriptures record that
Noah, Abraham, Joshua, Gideon, David, as well as many others, all built
an altar in celebration of a meeting with God. When David brought
the Presence of God to his city, we read that he celebrated with
all his might. Celebration is a normal response to the Love of
God being manifested to His children.
The whole nation of Israel celebrated too. They had three feast seasons
which they were required to attend and celebrate each year, each in
anticipation of the coming of the Lord. In looking at these seasons
of feasting we can see that they each encompassed three distinct stages:
preparation, celebration and anticipation.
During the time of preparation, everything had to be readied. It was
a large task to get their houses in order to be able to go to Jerusalem
where the Lord proclaimed that His feasts were to be celebrated as holy
Sometimes satan wants us to think that it was so much easier to leave
everything aside in those days and just go away to be with the Lord.
So, lets consider some of what His people needed to do: they needed
to put aside provisions for the journey; arrangements needed to be made
for the care of their animals and crops while they were away; accommodations
needed to be made so that they could leave their jobs behind; they needed
to begin looking for suitable offerings to bring to present to the Lord;
the minstrels were preparing music; and, of course, they needed to set
aside money to finance all of this. Im quite sure that it took
almost as much time, if not more, to prepare for the feast as the actual
time set aside for celebrating the feast.
During their journey to Jerusalem they would be singing praises and
praying, preparing their hearts for the feast. God has always wanted
us to spend time with Him, and preparing to be with Him is a very important
aspect of this shared time together.
The celebration itself would last from a single day to many, many days.
They worshiped, they sang, they ate, they danced, they offered sacrifices.
They fellowshipped. They enjoyed the Presence of the Lord and the commonness
of purpose that their lives were a reflection of. Undistracted from
the normal everyday demands of life, they communed with the Lord, completely
focused on Him! Jobs were left behind. Problems were forgotten. Sins
were atoned for. This was a time of celebration, of basking in His Presence!
After the time of feasting, everyone would pack up and journey back
home. For some, the journey would take days. During that time I am sure
that they were retelling all that the Lord had said and done during
their time together with Him. It was during this time of reflection,
while basking in the afterglow of the Lord, that anticipation for the
next holy convocation would begin. They undoubtably would begin to think
about what they could change in their lives to make the next feast even
more of a meeting between themselves and the Lord. This anticipation
caused reevaluation of their priorities, of what was most important
in their lives.
Sixteen years ago we celebrated the Love of Jesus with our first feast.
Each year they have come to have a greater importance in all our lives.
No matter how demanding our jobs become, no matter how much we pour
out our lives in service to Him, we know that several times each year
we can leave everything behind and just focus on Him. These feast seasons
are times of awesome refreshment.
We all know that daily communion with Jesus is vital to our spiritual
well-being. As with the nation of Israel, we have also seen the importance
of corporate feasts as well. These feasts are temporal, yet a picture
of the yearning that goes on in our hearts each day as we enjoy His
Presence here, but anticipate the time of face to face devotion with
Him that will be for Eternity!
We look forward with great anticipation to our Summer Camps,
to our Thanksgiving Celebrations, and to Eternity!