Saturday, September 29, 2012


After my Rosh Hashanah post, several people commented to me that they wanted to study the biblical feasts.  That's great!  Over the years, our family has been blessed to see many develop an interest in God's holidays.

So, the question always arises:  What books do you recommend?  The answer to that is not as simple as it would seem.  I haven't found any books that are perfect.  We have a collection sitting on our bookshelf, of course, but most of them haven't been used.  If I had to recommend one, it would be Celebrating Biblical Feasts by Martha Zimmerman.

There are many books on biblical holidays.  Some are good, some are, well, just crazy- far removed from Scripture and any tradition except the one in the author's head.  (Although I love the internet, based on what I've seen, I'd recommend extreme caution in using websites to research this topic.)  And speaking of tradition, some books rely heavily on Jewish tradition, thus straying from Scripture in that way.  This doesn't mean that extra-biblical tradition is wrong.  Jesus and His disciples had wine at Passover, even though wine wasn't mentioned in Leviticus.  That was a tradition that had already arisen in the first century, and that continues to this day.  Traditions simply need to be evaluated in light of God's Word.

The Levitical feasts are a wonderful way to teach children really deep spiritual truths.  This week, as we celebrated the Day of Atonement, we read through the High Priest's ceremony in Leviticus, as well as the interpretation of the feast by the writer of Hebrews.  We do this every year at this time.  Megan, who's nine, asked, "Wait.  Who gets to go into the Holy of Holies after Jesus comes back?  We're not priests.  Do we get to see inside the Temple in Heaven?"  And so we jumped into a discussion of the priesthood of all believers.  That's not exactly typical fourth grade Sunday school fare, but the question was a natural one for a child who's been celebrating the Day of Atonement since she was born.

Evan, Justin and Carsten play with the Tabernacle model.

Studying the feasts has great value for adults too.  They provide a backdrop for the events of both the Old and New Testament.  If Christians don't understand the feasts, they'll miss out on a good portion of what the Word of God has to say.

Here's the main point, though:  Holidays weren't meant to be studied.  They were meant to be celebrated!

Imagine this:  One July, a woman hears about a holiday and it sounds really fascinating.  It's called "Christmas."  She decides that her family would really benefit from studying it.  They get some books out of the library.  They look at pictures on the internet.  They make a few Christmas recipes.  The kids make model trees out of pipe cleaners and decorate them with beads.  Everyone has a lot of fun.  Has this family experienced the holiday?  Of course not!  Not fully, at least.  In twenty years, the children will have some vague memory of their study, but the impact won't be very deep.

God knows that we humans are forgetful creatures.  That's why He set up holidays with the command to celebrate them EVERY year.  They remind us of what He's done, of who He is, and of what He plans for the future.  As each year passes, the lessons that we glean from celebrating the feasts go a little deeper.

I recommend that if you're interested in the feasts, you just dive right in and celebrate.  Look at a calendar. (Try the one from Chabad.  It includes both Levitical feasts and extra-biblical ones.)  Find out when the next one is.  (Hint: It's Sukkot- starts Sunday night.)  Find someone who's already celebrating and invite yourself over.  (It's happened before, and as long as you offer to bring food, I'm sure you'll be welcome.)  Look for Jewish resources.  God appointed Israel as the keepers of the feasts, and while, like I stated above, not every tradition is worthwhile, Jewish sources will be more accurate.  The Christian parallels in the feasts are so obvious that it's almost not necessary to have a specifically Christian book.  Always go to the true source- the Bible- first and foremost.

I'm more than happy to answer any questions about celebrating the feasts, and to give further resources.    We love sharing the blessing that we feel each year as we worship the Lord through His holidays.

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