Call to Worship January 19 2020

Deuteronomy 16

“The idea of ‘celebration’ played a prominent part in the worshiping life of the Hebrew people. The people owed more to the Lord than any of them realized. He knew that it would be harmful for them if his mighty acts were allowed to slip from their memories. Yet, the pressure of life was such that, all too easily, the people could forget what he had done for them. Without intending to do so, they would gradually become preoccupied with materialistic things and begin to adopt an ungrateful, selfish and loveless lifestyle. It still happens. When people have plenty they often care little about God. It is when unexpected disaster sweeps down on them that they begin to think about things money cannot buy. Throughout Deuteronomy we constantly hear the plea that the nation ‘remember’ what the Lord has done for them and said to them. It was not only necessary to keep the nation aware of its debt to the Lord but to remind the people also of their responsibilities towards each other. Yet without specific occasions in the annual calendar these things would soon be forgotten. Therefore, the Lord commanded his people to hold three great festivals each year, specially designed to keep the great facts of creation and redemption to the forefront of their minds—the feasts of Passover, Weeks and Booths.

Each of these great national festivals was to be held at the appointed sanctuary, the place which the Lord your God will choose (6, 7, 11, 15), bringing the people together from various tribes and different parts of the country. That, in itself, was no mean blessing. Left in relative isolation, they could easily become indifferent to the needs of others. Primarily, the three festivals would be periods of worship, but they would also be periods of necessary rest and recreation, ‘holy days’ (hence our word ‘holiday’) as well as occasions which gave expression to the solidarity and unity of God’s people. The feasts provided God’s people with special days set apart for spiritual, physical and corporate renewal. These three outstanding festivals would help the people to remember God’s saving deliverance (1–8), abundant generosity (9–12) and continuing faithfulness (13–15)… These three feasts were times for recalling God’s acts (1), enjoying God’s rest (8), obeying God’s word (all your men must appear before the Lord, 16), remembering God’s goodness (the way the Lord your God has blessed you, 17) and sharing God’s gifts (No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed, 16).

Remember God’s saving deliverance (16:1–8)

Passover, the ‘feast of unleavened bread’, lasted a full week. The people were to hold this Spring celebration each year to mark the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt…Everything at the festival was designed to recall the great exodus events—the month (of their redemption, 1), the offering of the passover lamb (2), the food that was eaten (bread without yeast, 3) and the time of the sacrifice (in the evening when the sun goes down.

Jesus kept the Passover before he was crucified and since that time Christians have made the celebration of the ‘Lord’s Supper’ their great ‘Passover’ celebration. We recall a greater deliverance than the exodus from Egypt. When Christ became our Passover Lamb, he was sacrificed for our eternal salvation.”

Raymond Brown, The Message of Deuteronomy: Not by Bread Alone, ed. J. A. Motyer and Derek Tidball, The Bible Speaks Today (England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1993), 171–174.