Exodus is all about remembering: remembering where you’ve been, remembering how you were rescued, remembering that you’re set apart for a special purpose, and remembering your hopeful future. Throughout our study of this book, I encourage you to read it with that theme in mind… remembering.
How does that theme show itself in today’s passage? Exodus 23 gives us a glimpse of all the ideas stated above. How would the Israelites see this? Well, here’s a few thoughts. The Law: remembering that you’re set apart. Conquest of Canaan: remembering God’s plan and future for you. The feasts: remembering where you were and how you were rescued. We could unpack this for a while if we had the time.
The main thing I want to highlight today is the value and importance the Lord placed on the sabbath & feasts (v. 10-19). In fact, I think it is a bit disappointing that many Christians don’t have much regard for or even an understanding of the Jewish feasts. You might think to yourself, “Why Todd? We’re not Jewish… we are Christians. We don’t need these feasts.” You make a decent point. We don’t need them. But an argument can be made strongly in the other direction for a few reasons:
- We may not need them, but we can learn a lot from them. They are rich in Biblical history and say much about the past and the future.
- They are fulfilled by or point to Christ. Every feast has a Christ-centered interpretation. Study it sometime. REALLY POWERFUL.
- While Christians have, at times to an unhealthy point, detached from their Jewish roots, we need to remember the tree we were grafted (Romans 8-11) into. Our Savior is a Jewish Carpenter. He’s the Lion from the tribe of Judah. And we worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, Moses, and Jacob (Israel).
So while we may not need a formal sabbath or need to keep the feasts, it would be wise to familiarize ourselves with them. Even the feasts that seem to be mostly agricultural, which are mentioned here, were of huge importance to the Lord and His people. The Lexham Bible Dictionary summarizes:
FEASTS & FESTIVALS OF ISRAEL: Regularly occurring community events that recognized God’s work and presence with His people.
Feasts and festivals were a common component of ancient religious practice. They were celebrations of divine provision or protection. Each major Israelite feast recognized a specific aspect of God’s saving work. Since sharing a table signified peace or fellowship, feasts as religious observances demonstrated a peaceful relationship between God and Israel. The most significant texts regarding the feasts of Israel are Lev 23, describing the festivals, Num 28–29, emphasizing the offerings, and Deut 16, emphasizing pilgrimages.
What did you learn from today’s passage? Do you see the theme of remembering? Do you see other themes in Exodus? We’d love to hear your thoughts & questions in the comments section.
By: Todd Thomas