Vs. 16, “Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed.” We have previously read details of each of these important festivals/feasts. The Passover / Feast of Unleavened Bread (vs. 1-8) recalls how God rescued the Israelites from the hand of the Egyptians. It was the final plague where the firstborn of the Egyptians died, but the Israelites firstborn were spared by the lamb’s blood on the door. God passed over all the Israelites doors. The Feast of Weeks (vs. 9-12) was Pentecost or also known as the feast of harvest, and the day of first fruits. It was celebrated 50 days (Pentecost) after Passover. It marked the beginning of the time when the people were to bring their first fruits to the Lord. The Feast of Tabernacles/Booths (vs. 13-17) helped the people remember how God delivered them from the wilderness. It was also during the fall harvest and it transpired five days after the Day of Atonement. Each of these three main festival / feasts were to rejoice in God’s provision and faithfulness. As you may notice, the last section of our chapter seems to flow better with the following chapter seventeen. Moses had previously assigned leaders at Sinai, but now it was important to ensure this delegation of leadership proceed (vs. 18-20). Also, the Israelites would be entering a land full of idolatry (vs. 21-22) and they should not follow in this pattern.
Regarding application…Giving Back. Vs. 17, “Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.” We are a consumer society. Sadly, I feel that we have become experts in receiving. So much so that it is a rarity to hear stories and testimonies of those who give back. There are touching movies, books and testimonies that will prickle our hearts about giving back. But, often we don’t put ourselves into those extraordinary stories. We cynically scoff at the idea that one person can make a difference. But I really love how the Israelites were to bring a gift in “proportion” to the blessings of God in their life. Question: What does that look like today? We must be givers rather than takers. As John F. Kennedy exhorted on his inaugural presidential speech, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Invest your life in being a part of serving the body of Christ in your community.