THE EIGHT RUDIMENTS OF CELEBRATION
THE EIGHT FEASTS OR FESTIVALS OF ISRAEL
4010: THE BACKWARD LOOK
A shepherd who had been given a position of great honor by one of Scotland's kings would often go alone to a certain room in the palace. The king became suspicious and thought he was plotting a conspiracy. So he asked to look inside this secret room. To his surprise, all that was there was a chair, a shepherd's crook, and an old plaid scarf. "What does this mean?" asked the king. The nobleman answered, "I was a humble shepherd when your Majesty promoted me. I come to this room to look at the crook and the scarf. They remind me of what I used to be--and that I am nothing but what the grace of the king has made me."
Sometimes, we need to look back and remember from whence we have come, and then thank the King for what He has made of us -- through His grace. It is so easy to forget what God has done for us. No wonder Jehovah God admonished the Israelites before they crossed over into the promised the land, in:
Deuteronomy 6:10-12, "Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you shall eat and be satisfied, then watch yourself, lest you forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery."
The act of remembering the deliverance and ministry of God in our lives is certainly a very important practice to cultivate.
If you have missed the last couple of messages, I am preaching a nine message series on the rudiments, skills, or principles of celebration.
God has been showing me that humanity needs celebration.
He has been showing me that celebration is a very important part of the Christian life!
He has been showing me that celebration is of special significance and importance to African-American Christians.
Life is a struggle for everybody, no matter what your color or nationality, but for African-American people life is even more of a struggle because of the residual effects of slavery. We must face more than the average race in terms of subtle discrimination, economic reprisals, educational stereotyping, etc. After we have been beat up and beat down all week; after we have struggled and striven to achieve life through material and earthly means, we need to take a break from the rat race and return to the human race by entering God's presence for a time of celebration. The traditional Black church services have certain elements that facilitate celebration. Celebration is an important aspect of worship.
The importance of celebration is illustrated in the Old Testament in Leviticus the 23rd chapter.
Two weeks ago, we began to deal with the eight feasts or festivals which God commanded Israel to celebrate. These festivals were holy convocations, conventions, or celebrations which God invoked upon His people. There is a major rudiment or skill which is taught in each festival, which will yield a principle that we can learn and apply to our own modern worship celebrations.
Last week we finished the feast or festival of the Sabbath. The major rudiment, skill, or principle of celebration that we covered was resting from our worldly labors.
(Let's move on to the next rudiment to be learned. Would you notice Leviticus 23:4-5 with me please. The next major rudiment of celebration is:)
The Feast of the Passover, we can see from other Scriptures, was for the children of Israel to remember how Jehovah God had delivered them from the bondage of Egypt. This is one of the great celebrations of Israel and it is tied significantly to their history. God's deliverance, wrought in delivering His people from Egypt, began with God's demand of Pharaoh to
"Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness" (Exodus 5:1).
Notice again the importance of these feasts or festivals. They were not thought up nor invented by Israel, but were invoked upon God's people by Jehovah God Himself. In the passage of Scripture that I quoted, again Jehovah God commands Pharaoh to let His people go for the specific purpose of celebrating a feast or festival unto Him. God wants His people to celebrate what He has done!!! We celebrate the Lord's doing, which is marvelous in our eyes, by giving, singing, dancing, shouting praise, etc., with reverence, awe, excitement, joy, and thankfulness.
After God delivered His children from the cruel bondage of Pharaoh and Egypt, the Passover was established as a memorial celebration. They were to remember how God had delivered them from bondage.
Some celebrations were gatherings of men only, but all of the congregation was to celebrate this festival. None was exempt!
The Passover was lost and found repeatedly because of war, sin, and captivity. Yet this function of remembering was so important to the Jewish people, that they also rehearsed their history at other great celebrations. The peril of not having times of remembering is pointed out in
Judges 2:7,10, "And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the Lord which He had done for Israel. And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel."
We, like the children of Israel often forget what God has done for us in the deliverance of salvation, because of spiritual warfare, sin, and the bondage of sin. There is arising another generation in The House of the Lord who do not know the Lord, nor the work He has done for The House of the Lord on the other side of Diagonal Road. But, there are two times of redemption that we need remember:
1. First we need to remember our redemption from sin.
I never shall forget that day. Yes, my Lord!
When Jesus washed my sins away. Yes, my Lord!
There's one thing that I did wrong. Yes, my Lord!
I stayed in my sins a little too long. Yes, my Lord!
I believe that this is the problem of many Christians today. They don't remember nor celebrate God’s deliverance from the bondage of sin!!!
We need to remember and celebrate His deliverance from alcohol.
We need to remember and celebrate His deliverance drugs.
We need to remember and celebrate His deliverance from depression.
We need to remember and celebrate His deliverance from a broken marriage.
We need to remember and celebrate His deliverance from lack of meaning in our lives.
We need to remember and celebrate His deliverance from a lack of direction in our lives.
We need to remember and celebrate His deliverance from utter loneliness in our lives.
We need to remember and celebrate His deliverance from materialism.
We need to remember and celebrate His deliverance from being men-pleasers.
We need to remember and celebrate His deliverance from darkness.
We need to remember and celebrate His deliverance the fear of death.
We need to remember and celebrate His deliverance from hell.
2. Secondly, we need to remember how God has delivered this church and us through it many times.
Some of you treat The House of the Lord so shabbily, because you do not understand that as I go and The House of the Lord goes¾so you will go. Be that as it may, we need to remember how He has graciously and miraculously provided five sites for us.
We began in my parents home on 533 Douglas Street. He did not call us because we were many, but because we were few in number.
He miraculously provided our next building at 1525 Thornton Street. (Elder Johnson and I put our hands on the walls and prayed.)
He worked a greater miracle to get us into and out of 783-787 Brown Street. (A second mortgage, greater than the first, by the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church. Split the two buildings and sold them to two different buyers in about a month. We had an escalating mortgage, but I prophesied on going into the church that we would never pay one dime of the escalating portion. We didn’t!)
He opened up some huge doors at the J. C. Penney's building.
And He worked another miracle to bring us to our present location 1650 Diagonal Road. (David Burnham, past pastor of the Chapel, was instrumental behind the scenes.)
If you understand the analogies, let me tell you that from Brown Street to the J. C. Penney's building was our Red Sea experience. We left the onions, leeks, garlic, and flesh pots of Brown Street for the wilderness of J. C. Penney's.
Moving from J. C. Penney's to this present building was our crossing of the Jordan River. We are in the promised land of ten acres of land.
The $1,000,000.00 loan and the parking lot was our Jericho. We marched around the walls of this particular problem until they fell down flat. I pray that where we are now isn't our Ai!
At any rate, we must remember and celebrate what God has done for us! Somebody say, "Hallelujah!" Somebody say, "Praise the Lord!" Somebody say, "Glory!" He brought us from a mighty long way!!!
(Alright, let’s return to our consideration of the Passover in our illustration of the celebration rudiment of remembering.)
The ten plagues that God inflicted upon Egypt were inflicted upon the gods of Egypt. Each plague illustrated the helplessness of a particular god or deity of Egypt. "Egypt's gods had not stopped one of the plagues nor alleviated the sufferings of their worshipers. The tenth and final plague was not only a great tragedy in the social life of Egypt, but it was to be the greatest blow to their religious system, for the Egyptians never accepted death. They abominated the thought of it, and as a result they worshipped everything that symbolized life. They believed in the transmigration of spirits, and so made preparation for the journey of that spirit into its next realm." But God demonstrated to them that their gods were no gods, and the He alone was God. He demonstrated this not only to the Egyptians, but to His own people, the Jews, through the elements of a lamb and its blood.
Notice with me please Exodus 12:1-14.
We are to celebrate the Passover. No, We don't need to keep the ritual of the Passover, but we do need to celebrate the meaning, principles, and spirit of the Passover.
1 Corinthians 5:7-8, "Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
We are not to celebrate the ritual which commemorates the deliverance from Egypt through the blood of natural lambs, but the spiritual Passover or deliverance that we have in Christ, the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world.
Therefore, Paul exhorts the Corinthians to celebrate the feast of the Passover - not the ritual feast of the Passover, but the typical, spiritual feast of the Passover. They were not to celebrate the literal Passover, but the Passover they had in Christ! Is this not hinted at in
John 1:29, "The next day he (John the Baptizer) saw Jesus coming to him, and said, `Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'"
"For years the Jewish nation had offered a lamb from the first Passover night until the days of the New Testament. The lamb had reminded them of God's past deliverance. Now John was pointing out to these same people that before them stood the Lamb of God, the One whom they had long anticipated. God was now turning their shadows into substance, their anticipations into realization, the type into the antitype. Here was the Emancipator, the One who was to pardon all sin."
The spiritual application here is salvation. "There must be a personal acceptance of the blood of Jesus Christ applied to the heart and life, an individual understanding that Christ died for my sin, that His Blood accepted can wash away my sin, and that in so doing the condemnation of death, which is my due, can be removed." The applied blood tells us that "salvation is not our project--it is His provision."
As was stated in the first message, "These festivals make up God's calendar." Keep in mind that we are not counting the Sabbath, because even though it is a festival, it is of a different nature than the other seven. God began His calendar with the shedding of blood during the Passover. Unless you know Jesus Christ as your own Lamb, your Savior, these feasts will have no application to you. You will miss out on the blessing of being God's guest simply because you have never put your faith in Jesus Christ."
The story of the Passover is simple, but powerful. For the Jews to be delivered from bondage:
They needed to follow the Word of Lord Through Moses.
They needed a lamb.
They chose a lamb without spot or blemish.
They slaughtered the lamb.
The put the blood on the door posts and lintels of their houses.
They ate the flesh roasted with fire, with unleavened bread, and bitter herbs.
They were to eat it with their loins girded, their sandals on their feet, and their staffs in their hands.
They were to remember and celebrate their deliverance permanently.
The typology is likewise simple, but powerful. To be delivered from the bondage of sin:
You need to follow the Word of God through His pastor/teacher.
You need a lamb or sacrifice to be delivered.
You must chose the Lamb or God, the only Lamb without spot of blemish.
The Lamb has already been slaughtered upon the cross.
You must apply the shed blood of Jesus to your life by faith.
You must eat of His flesh which was roasted in the furnace of affliction, you must eat of His unleavened flesh which speaks of sinlessness, and you must eat of bitter herbs to remind you of the bitter bondage of sin, all by faith.
You must ingest, or accept internally, the life of Jesus Christ with an attitude of being ready to leave the bondage of sin. You eat with your spiritual girdle on, your spiritual sandals on your feet, and your spiritual staff in your hand. These are clothes for traveling.
You are to permanently remember and celebrate what Jesus did for you.
So, I pray that you can see the importance of celebration to humanity, to the Children of Israel, to the New Testament local church, and to African American Christians in particular. I pray that you see the importance of celebrating what God has done for us. I pray that you will become familiar with the rudiments of celebration, which are honoring God through resting from our worldly labors and remembering God's deliverance from sin.
Celebration adds vibrancy to life!
Celebration adds meaning to life!!
Celebration adds dignity to life!!!
O come and magnify the Lord with me in joyous celebration through giving, singing, teaching, preaching, praise, etc., with reverence, awe, excitement, festivity, and thanksgiving!!!
(Now is the day of Salvation. Come to Jesus, now!)
Call to Discipleship
 C. W. Slemming, Thus Shalt Thou Serve, Christian Literature Crusade, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, 1974, p. 87.
 C. W. Slemming, Thus Shalt Thou Serve, Christian Literature Crusade, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, 1974, p. 89.
 C. W. Slemming, Thus Shalt Thou Serve, Christian Literature Crusade, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, 1974, p. 91.
 C. W. Slemming, Thus Shalt Thou Serve, Christian Literature Crusade, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, 1974, p. 88.
 Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, p. 7.
 Warren W. Wiersbe, Be God's Guest, Back to the Bible, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1982, p. 9.