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The observance of these 7 festivals was mandatory but intended to be times of great joy, celebration, remembrance, and community. Each one commemorated something God had done for the Israelites; remembering their deliverance from Egypt (Passover), God's protection over them while living in the wilderness (Feast of Tabernacles), gratitude for the harvest (Firstfruits), Day of Atonement, etc. Two additional celebrations occurred not annually, but regularly. The Sabbath year was observed every 7 years and resulted in the canceling of debts, the freeing of slaves, and the land lying fallow for the year. We will read later that the Israelites never obeyed this command and it led to their deportation to Babylon and Assyria. The land was vacant for 70 years during the babylonian captivity, which corresponds to the 70 Sabbath years that went unobserved between the exodus and captivity.
An even greater celebration occurred every 7th Sabbath year on the Year of Jubilee. During this celebration, slaves were freed and debts were cancelled, but additionally, land ownership was reverted to the original owners. The purpose of this was to teach the Israelites to hold on loosely to their possessions, for none of it actually belonged to them. An Israelite could buy a field, but during the Year of Jubilee it would be taken from him. Verse 25:23 says, "The land must never be sold on a permanent basis, for the land belongs to me. You are only foreigners and tenant farmers working for me". The very same principle applies to us and our worldly possessions, though we hold on to them far too tightly to ever imagine rejoicing at the coming of a Jubilee.
Tomorrow's reading: Leviticus 25:24-26
About Melissa Gibbs:
Melissa is the mother of four boys and the wife of her junior high sweetheart, JD. He is the President of Joe Gibbs Racing and the son of NFL Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs. JD and Melissa have been married 16 years and are actively involved with Young Life, Motor Racing Outreach, their church, and other ministries. Their youngest son Taylor is nearing completion of a 3 year treatment protocol for leukemia, which has been a powerful faith walk for their family. Since his diagnosis, Melissa has been called upon to share their family's testimony with many local churches.
Visit Melissa at http://chronologicalbiblein2010.blogspot.com/
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