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Rising to the Occasion

Read Leviticus 23:1-8

The Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as official days for holy assembly.

“You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of complete rest, an official day for holy assembly. It is the Lord’s Sabbath day, and it must be observed wherever you live.

“In addition to the Sabbath, these are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the official days for holy assembly that are to be celebrated at their proper times each year.

“The Lord’s Passover begins at sundown on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the next day, the fifteenth day of the month, you must begin celebrating the Festival of Unleavened Bread. This festival to the Lord continues for seven days, and during that time the bread you eat must be made without yeast. On the first day of the festival, all the people must stop their ordinary work and observe an official day for holy assembly. For seven days you must present special gifts to the Lord. On the seventh day the people must again stop all their ordinary work to observe an official day for holy assembly.”
(Leviticus 23:1-8)


Festivals played a major role in Israel’s culture. Israel’s festivals were different from those of any other nation because, being ordained by God, they were times of celebrating with him, not times of sex and drunkenness. God wanted to set aside special days for the people to come together for rest, refreshment, and remembering with thanksgiving all he had done for them.

The Festival of Unleavened Bread reminded Israel of their escape from Egypt. For seven days they ate unleavened bread, just as they had eaten it back then (Exodus 12:14-15). This bread made without yeast was an important symbol to the Israelites. First, because the bread was unique, it illustrated Israel’s uniqueness as a nation. Second, because yeast was a symbol of sin, the bread’s lack of yeast represented Israel’s moral purity. Third, the bread reminded them to obey quickly. Their ancestors baked the bread without waiting for the dough to rise so they could leave Egypt quickly.


Much can be learned about people by observing the holidays they celebrate and the ways they celebrate them. Take note of your holiday traditions. What do they say about your values?

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