"Nobody blogs anymore!" Mom Turner said yesterday. "I keep checking but no one's writing."
She's right about that - at least on my end. I've got a notebook list of blog posts I want to write, so I suppose now's the time to get down to business. It's a quiet evening here and since we've been resting all day I don't feel in any particular hurry to head off to bed any time soon. The baby is doing his evening constitutional (he seems to favor keeping his back partly tilted against my right side so he can drum away with his feet high on my left - it's usually always in the same spot this time of the evening) and Ben is busy with his current translating project (he's through Hebrews and working on Romans) while Grandma is happily buried in her latest Mossy Creek book.
It's been an unusual week because we have three Sabbaths to observe: one on Thursday for the Day of Atonement, one today because it's the seventh day, and one coming up on Tuesday to mark the beginning of the Feast of Booths. That's a lot of resting in one little stretch of time!
One of the things that's often been said to me when other Christians realize that I rest on the seventh day rather than Sunday is, "Well, if you do that, what about all the other holy days? Are you planning on doing those too?" It's usually said a little incredulously, as if I'd be nuts to do such a thing. I have to admit, I've often felt a bit shame-faced to say that no, I haven't come to any particular conviction about observing the other holy days God laid out. Not because I felt it was wrong not to celebrate them, but because it did seem just a touch odd to be cherry-picking what days of rest I was willing to observe and what I wasn't. A lot of people with similar outlook to mine have also settled in their own minds that while the Sabbath is a day that was set apart from Creation, the other holy days were specifically set apart for the Hebrew people and are a covenant with them that we as Gentiles - even Gentile Christians, grafted into God's people by our belief in his Savior - are not really part of keeping them.
Then along came Ben.
For me, I was pretty settled in the things my family had decided to do and not do. For Ben, it's a whole new realm of decisions and he was approaching each one with a fresh perspective. He discovered a facet of the holy days God set apart that I had never considered before: God seems to have set those days apart as practice so that we would recognize his Messiah when he came. Both times, when you look at prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled (Jesus coming as a conquering king, while the Jesus we know came as a humble servant...last time, anyway).
Passover is obvious. Jesus died on Passover to free us from the Angel of Death coming to take our lives. He was the fulfillment of the symbol of the Passover lamb. Most Christians know this pretty well. Slightly less well-known is the coinciding Feast of Unleavened Bread, in which people were commanded to clean all yeast from their homes and not consume any for that week as a way to teach how thoroughly sin must be cleansed from our lives - an impossible task without God's help, since yeast actually lives in our guts and wild in the air, clinging around us just like sin does. And during the Feast of Unleavened Bread - which starts with Passover - is the Feast of First Fruits...which takes place three days after Passover: the very day Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus is called "the First Fruits of all those who have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:20). Pentacost - the day on which Jesus' disciples received the Holy Spirit, the fulfillment of God's promise to "write my commandments on your hearts" - is the anniversary of the giving of the Covenant, the Ten Commandments written on stone tablets rather than living hearts. That particular feast day has come full circle just like Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits, with the meaning suddenly obvious, clear, and fulfilled.
The comparisons go on, but the general gist is that it seems God set aside special days - in Hebrew, the word used translates as "appointed times" - so that his people would be practicing certain things designed to completely illuminate God's plan for our salvation. It was all a memory aid, meant to be so established and practiced that people would smack themselves in the forehead and say, "Of course! This is what God had in mind all along!"
The Feast of Trumpets, for example, starts with everyone spending days out on hillsides scanning the skies to catch the first glimpse of the new moon. Everyone knows about when it should appear, but the Feast doesn't start until it's actually sighted. No one exactly knows the day and the hour when that will be (though they have a good idea by reading the "signs of the times", so to speak), but when the moon is sighted there's a great commotion of shouting and blowing trumpets...just as we're told will happen on the day Jesus returns. We're not going to know the day or hour, but we're supposed to be aware of what time it is and be watching, because he could come back any moment and we're expecting to receive him with shouts and trumpets and a huge commotion just as you would recognize the triumphal return of an Earthly king.
It's true that people celebrated these holy days for years and didn't recognize Jesus when he came the first time. It's also true that some people looked at him fitting right into that pattern with every action he took and said, "This is the one the Law and Prophets spoke of! This must be the Messiah!"
As Christians, I think a lot of us are just as complacent about being able to recognize Messiah when he comes again as the very Scripturally-savvy Jewish sages were of Jesus' day. And my concern - our concern - is that we could be just as mistaken. It sure doesn't seem like we could miss him coming again...but a lot of very religious, dedicated, sincere people missed him the first time around. He stood right in front of them, the fulfillment of every prophecy they'd learned by heart, and they didn't have the foggiest idea who he was.
So are those holy days just for Jewish people to celebrate? Maybe. But does it hurt to set aside God's days of remembrance if there were even the slightest chance that he may have ordained them for the simple purpose of helping his people recognize his Salvation when He came? After all, just as with other things we've been convicted of, if a person happened to overhear a conversation God was having with his favored child and he said, "Now, here are very important things I want you to do without fail"...does it make sense to just shrug and say, "Whew - sure glad I'm not responsible for pleasing God that way!"?
The tricky thing we've discovered as we've begun trying to understand how to celebrate God's Appointed Times is that sometimes God was pretty cryptic in what he wants done. Jewish tradition has often added layer after layer to what God said (and Christian tradition has made it taboo to even consider keeping the days in the first place), and sometimes other pagan traditions have been heavily mixed in as well (same problem that happened with traditional Christian holidays like Christmas). As with the Sabbath, going back to what God actually said and putting it into practice can take a little thought and effort to figure out. You should've seen us trying to figure out what day the Feast of Trumpets actually fell on this year, for instance. It's a strange place to be in, feeling our way and trying to sort out what we should and should not do. Even my years of being a Christian maverick when it comes to things like keeping the Sabbath and not eating pork don't keep me from feeling a little lost and odd trying to understand a whole new set of holidays. At this point, we don't really spend time with anyone who does what we're doing, so it's put us into a whole new level of strangeness even compared to my family.
Ah well. Everyone already knows we're weird anyway. What's a little trumpet-blowing here or there going to change?
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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