Saturday, October 3, 2015

Let's Celebrate!

It's getting to be that time of year again. We will soon be in the midst of all the hype, decorations, store displays, and sales that surround the coming of Christmas. Although there are some who despise the commercial aspects of the season, most are truly excited to enter into the special peace and joy that Christmas represents. We love the traditions, the smells, the gifts, the sounds, and the time of family sharing that come with the holiday. God made us that way!

But God didn't give us Christmas to satisfy those cravings. Christmas developed around a date that was traditionally celebrated as the birth date of a number of pagan deities. The date of December 25th was specifically chosen in order to co-opt a pagan holiday and somehow turn it into the celebration of the Son of  God's birth. Unfortunately, no matter how you dress up and change the language of pagan idolatry, that day remains corrupted.

But God didn't leave us without days of celebration! In His Word He gave us many feast days to celebrate over the course of the year. All we need to do is turn to Leviticus 23. Here we find the days that we are commanded to observe.

Leviticus 23:1-2 (KJV)
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.

The following are listed: the seventh day (Saturday) Sabbath, Passover, the feast of Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, the feast of Weeks (or Pentecost), the feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonements, and the feast of Tabernacles (booths).

Each one is unique and serves various purposes for celebration. But it is the feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot in Hebrew) that reminds us most of the joy and peace of Christmas.

Leviticus 23:34,40-43 (KJV)
34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD.
40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.
41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths:
43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

This week of celebration comes on the heel of the days of repentance, which is culminated by the Day of Atonements. We are confronted by our failures, our sin, and our wretchedness before God. But then we put up our sukkot (our tent-like booths with branches for roofs). We truly and joyfully celebrate that God forgives His people. We gather with family and friends. We eat and maybe even sleep in our sukkot, watching the stars overhead through the roof. We party and thank our dear God for His blessings and love.

And guess what? It is very likely that Yeshua was born on the first day of the feast of Tabernacles (which falls in September or October). Isn't this when we should celebrate His birth? Plus, when we look to God's future fulfillment of the fall feasts, we find that the feast of Trumpets represents Yeshua's return, the Day of Atonements represents the day of judgment, and the feast of Tabernacles represents the wedding feast of Yeshua and His bride (Israel).

Compare this with Christmas and we find it a poor substitute for the celebrations that God has commanded in His Word. God wants us to celebrate, but let's celebrate what He has provided for us!