Text: Leviticus 22-24; Proverbs 17:1-14.
Chapter 23 of Leviticus provides a summary of all the appointed feasts for Israel, and include the Passover, Pentecost and the Day of Atonement. In our Christian calendar we observe two biggies – Christmas and Easter. We take them very seriously, as was also required of the Israelites for their regular feasts. We cannot imagine skipping Christmas, or deciding we had more important things that day. That said, it really grabbed my attention that the first of what the Lord calls, “my appointed feasts” is this one (Leviticus 23:3):
“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.”
The Lord regularly prompts me about making sure I keep a weekly day of rest, and I am often asking myself, “Why do we no longer take Sunday – setting apart the whole day that is – as seriously as in prior generations?” In these instructions to the Israelites, the weekly “feast” was first on the list that included the annual biggies. Do we get this principal as it regards our weekly day of rest and worship?
Also included in the Sabbath idea is “a holy convocation”, or “a sacred assembly” (depending on your translation). These words caught my attention. The English “convocation” is a compound of “con”, meaning “together” and “vocation”, meaning “calling.” The idea is that the people are called by God to come together in an assembly – one that is sacred, holy, set apart for God. These sacred assemblies are central to the Lord’s plan for our worship of Him. It sets the pattern we observe even today of Sunday services.
There is power in the togetherness, and the Lord demands that we engage that power. I have heard people say that they “experience” God and are satisfied in their worship of Him as they worship Him all by themselves – maybe with some recorded music or just a quiet, beautiful spot. That is indeed worship, but it is incomplete. Worship is about Him (not me) and our “holy convocations” are about our collective (not individual) identity as His people. We gather that we might be pleasing to Him. We gather that we might be an encouragement to one another in our worship (Hebrews 10:24-25). When we gather together as the household of God we get a foretaste of eternity, when we will all be gathered together as adopted children of the King. It has been difficult to gather during this pandemic. I so look forward to our being able to all be together… soon… because it really matters that we show up on Sunday.
in Him, Mike