Every seventh day…the first day of each month…the 14th day of the first month…the 16th day of the first month…the first day of the seventh month…the 10th day of the seventh month…the 15th to the 22nd of the seventh month…8 days in the ninth month…the 14th and 15th of the 12th month…the beginning of the barley harvest to the 21st day of the month…50 days after the barley harvest…every seven years…the 50th year. These are the times given to the Jews to turn their attention to God.
New Year’s Day, Presidents Day, Martin Luther King Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, April Fool’s Day, Easter, July 4th, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. These are special days listed on my calendar that grab my attention.
I’m one of those people who like to decorate for the holidays, make special foods, and wish my family and friends a “Happy ___.” I change my desktop theme to include the colors and images related to each holiday. I may wear special clothing with symbols or words expressing my joy for the event. I’ve even been known to make my immediate family wear matching outfits!
How different from the purpose-driven celebrations given to the Jews. What if God had told me, when I became a Christian, that I should take off approximately 144 days from work, give costly offerings at least 11 times per year to the church, and spend hours and days praying, feasting or fasting, living in tents, and even letting anyone off the hook who owed me anything at least every seven years? How would I be different in terms of preparation, celebration, and community participation?
How unlike my funny ways of making a to-do about traditional holidays. You may say, “But what about Christmas and Easter?” Yes, I make a fuss trying to find just the right gift, or more honestly, just buying as many gifts as I have cash in the bank until practically overdrawn. Gifts for family and friends. Someone might say, “Well, doesn’t that mean that you are operating in the ‘spirit’ of the holiday; that is, the spirit of giving?”
Offerings to God or giving gifts to man. Are most of my efforts focused on producing smiles, oohs, and aahs on the faces I love? I know so. Of course, I want to make those I love happy, and I don’t plan to change my desire to do that.
But what if I had to buy a bull, a ram, or a goat, and give it to someone in the church to watch them kill it, bleed it, cut it up keeping some of the meat for themselves, then burning the rest? What would be the point of that???
In the midst of this hullabaloo, I hear God’s voice, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” Obviously, my mind is far removed from the culture, the time period, and the special relationship God had with the Hebrews. I can only reflect on how often, in what ways, and for what purpose do I set aside time and money to offer in thanksgiving and petition to Jesus Christ.
There is not a day that can go by that I cannot heed that Voice. Like Peter, James, and John, I want to add to my holiday experience how “Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.”