Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. 2 There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.
3 And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. 4 If he were here on earth, he would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law. 5 They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” (Hebrews 8:1-5, NLT)
Leviticus goes into description about offerings, cleanliness, worthiness. It lists the festivals and holy days, the reasons why and the ways they should be celebrated.
Growing up, holidays were commercial, and the traditions were meaningless, self-serving pleasures. When I read about the how and why of these holy days, they are rich with meaning in a way I was unaware of for at least half my life.
As an adult, I remember one year our friends David and Anita invited us to be guests at their Passover dinner. Anita lined up tables and covered them with beautiful tablecloths, giving an impression of one long table to seat over twenty people. It was spring. The sun set later in the evening and lit the room with a golden glow. I looked around at the faces of their family and friends and felt grateful to be counted among them. They explained the reasons for everything to us, and there were opportunities for each one of us to contribute to the evening’s celebration and remembrance.
When my kids were in their elementary school years, we read a book called All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. Other holidays and traditions came to light in this story–costumes, games, merry making–that, today, in the reading of Leviticus strike a chord of memory and curiosity. Of value and tradition.
I wonder if we sometimes forget the why of tradition in the focus of the what and how. I didn’t have a personal religious context for the Old Testament readings today. But I sat with the outline of what, how and why, and it reached my heart–it spoke of community, worship, honor and gratitude. It spoke of remembrance, celebration, humility and submission. So when Hebrews 8 mentions this is only a copy, a shadow of the real one, I am deeply moved.
Majestic God in heaven, thank you for holy days, tradition, community and worship. Thank you for reminding me that it’s about you, your sovereignty, love and power. Thank you for a challenging read today, to draw me closer to you. Thank you for glimpses of goodness in the copy of now.