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In Case You Missed It -- Leviticus 23-24:9, Psalm 70

Israel kept a calendar in the days of Moses to commemorate God’s great works; Passover, Yom Kippur, and the Sabbath persist as a regular part of Jewish life together over 3,000 years later. In Leviticus, God gave Israel these holidays as disciplines that would place their focus on God and His salvation both weekly and yearly. The day of atonement would draw attention to the gravity of sin and God granting access to His presence. Passover would recall God’s deliverance from Egypt. Sabbath is a cry for God’s people to rest while looking forward to ultimate rest. As Christians, we do well to consider how marking certain days and events also focuses our attention on God. We celebrate Easter and Christmas, but these holidays are, even for believers, often marked more by our typical cultural practices (e.g., shopping, Easter egg hunts) than any focus on God’s salvation. Other calendar highlights, too, can uniquely sharpen our attention towards God’s work. For example, we fast during Lent to prepare for good Friday through consideration of the sacrifice Jesus makes to give us life. Easter then takes on new meaning as we feast in celebration of the new life we experience. During Advent, we consider the longing the Jews had for a messiah and thus pause to consider how Christmas tells us we are to await the messiah’s return again. All these yearly rhythms can transform a people to remember God’s salvation and look forward to His deliverance, just like God intended for Israel. Setting days apart for reflection on Jesus’ work doesn’t necessarily make us better Christians, nor are we commanded to keep particular days. However, when we mark certain days in faith and consider God’s works, this certainly can shape us like these holidays shaped the Jewish people over the centuries.

Jeremiah Vaught