14 “Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me.
15 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt. “No one is to appear before me empty-handed.16 “Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the first fruits of the crops you sow in your field. “Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.17 “Three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord.”
Celebrate! That’s what God commanded the people of the exodus after they had received their freedom from captivity in Egypt. Three festivals a year – mandatory! God likes a good party, and God wants us to remember and be thankful.
The first is the Festival of Unleavened Bread or Passover. This commemorates God liberating the captive people. It also annually pledges that God’s people will remember those who are captive now, and work for their freedom because “you were once captives in Egypt.”
The second is the festival of first fruits in the spring, the Holy Land has a longer growing season and there are multiple harvests. This festival happens right after Passover (two days) – it’s kind of like Christmas and New Year. Jesus actually rose on this day; “…Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor. 15:20).
The third prescribed festival is at the end of the season harvest. That’s coming up in September (21st). We are to remember and give thanks for the many blessings and provisions that God has provided.
Most Christians don’t know much about these festivals or observe them. It’s too bad really. It’s one of the impacts that a predominantly gentile church in the world has had on the Christian faith. You can remember, and celebrate what God has done.
Pastor Rob Nystrom