Wednesday 04 May 2016

Bible Book:

“These are the appointed festivals of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall celebrate at the time appointed for them.” (v. 4)

Leviticus 23:1-14 Wednesday 4 May 2016

Psalm: Psalm 85


Chapter 23 of Leviticus sets out the priestly version of thefestival calendar of the Israelite community. It is one of severaldescriptions of the festivals - when they take place and what ininvolved - in the Hebrew Bible. The books of Exodus, Numbers andDeuteronomy also make reference to some or all of the festivalslisted here, but with differing emphasis and detail. What thisreveals is that the pattern of religious observance has evolvedover time, in response to the changing situation of the Israelitepeople. In particular, Leviticus 23 reflects a shift away from anagricultural society towards the urban context of Jerusalem and thetemple. This is evident from the fixing of the calendar dates - nolonger are people wholly dependent on the weather and seasons. Asimilar shift is evident in Christian festivals; for exampleharvest festivals take place in early autumn, irrespective ofwhether all the crops have been gathered in. 

Like the weekly Sabbath, the festivals are set apart fromordinary time. They are times of rest (verses 7-8); the instructionto rest is underlined by the command not to work: the same commandgiven positively and negatively, thus establishing itscompleteness. Understanding festivals as moments of rest connectswell to an understanding of worship as time wasted, unproductive tohuman eyes, yet commanded by God who calls the community of faithto live according to a different rhythm and vision.

These are times of remembrance and reflection. Indeed, what wereonce purely agricultural festivals have been woven into thenarrative of the Exodus and wilderness journey, the experiencethrough which the people of Israel came to know God. Thus God'screative power which brings forth grain and all good things iscelebrated alongside God's saving power which brought forth apeople of faith.

To Ponder

  • Are you someone who enjoys holidays and special occasions, ordo you prefer the ordinary, routine of daily life? Why do you thinkthat is?
  • How easy do you find it to rest? Why?
  • Where do you see God's creative power in the world around youand your own life?
Previous Page Tuesday 03 May 2016
Next Page Thursday 05 May 2016