Deuteronomy 16 The Voice (VOICE)
16 Moses: During the month of Abib at the beginning of spring, celebrate Passover in honor of the Eternal, your True God. In that month, He brought you out of Egypt at night. 2 Take an animal from your herd or flock, go to the place He will choose for His name, and offer a Passover sacrifice to the Eternal your God. 3 Don’t eat any leavened bread with it. Eat unleavened bread during the seven days of this celebration because “suffering bread” is what you made when you quickly left your suffering in Egypt. If you eat it again each year, you’ll always remember the day you left Egypt. 4 For these seven days, no one in the whole country should have any yeast. And none of the meat from the sacrifice you offer on the first night of the celebration should be left over on the next day. 5 Don’t offer the Passover sacrifice in any of the other cities the Eternal your God is giving you. 6 Even if it’s some distance, make the journey to the place He will choose for His name. Offer the Passover sacrifice in that place, in the evening, at sunset—the time when you left Egypt. 7 Cook it, and eat it in the place He chooses. In the morning, you can return to your tents, 8 but you must still only eat unleavened bread for the next six days. On the seventh day, the last day of the celebration, soberly gather together to worship Him. Don’t do any work on that day.
There are a number of celebrations found in the Hebrew Scriptures, but only three great feasts are part of the Mosaic law. They retell the story of their covenant relationship with the Lord and provide occasions to share generously with those in need. They give the people the opportunity to acknowledge publicly that He is the source of their abundance, so they won’t be tempted to think they’ve prospered on their own and forget Him.
Each of the three great celebrations are reminders of the servitude in Egypt. Passover, followed by the week of unleavened bread, is a reminder of God redeeming His people from Egypt and falls within March or April each year. The Feast of Weeks, known as Pentecost to Christians, is 50 days after firstfruits or the beginning of the barley harvest and comes in May or June. They are told to remember that they were once slaves in Egypt. The last of the great celebrations, the Feast of Shelters, comes in September or October. It is a reminder of the provision of God when the nation lived in temporary shelters while wandering in the wilderness.
9-10 Another celebration the Eternal your God wants you to have is the Feast of Weeks. Hold this celebration seven weeks after you first begin to cut and harvest the barley in your fields. Each of you will choose something to contribute out of what He has blessed you with. 11 Go to the place He chooses for His name; and have a celebration there in His presence with your sons and daughters, your male and female slaves, and the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows who live in your city. 12 Remember you were slaves in Egypt, and obey these regulations carefully.
13 Later in the year, at the end of the harvest after you’ve finished threshing all your grain and making all your wine, celebrate the Feast of Shelters for seven days.
The Israelites are to make temporary shelters and live in them for a week to remember how they lived in temporary shelters when they left Egypt.
14 Celebrate with your sons and daughters, your male and female slaves, and the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows who live in your city. 15 Celebrate for seven days in honor of the Eternal your God, in the place the Eternal will choose. The Eternal your God will bless you with abundant produce; He will bless everything you do, and you’ll have a lot to celebrate! 16 Three times each year, every male Israelite must appear before Him in the place He chooses for the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover), for the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and for the Feast of Shelters (Tabernacles). Don’t come empty-handed! 17 Decide what amount you want to contribute voluntarily out of what He has blessed you with, and bring that as a gift.
This next group of laws describes the rights and responsibilities of community leaders in Israel: the judges who will settle disputes, a king who may be chosen to rule the nation, the Levites who will serve at the central sanctuary, and the prophets who will bring the Lord’s word to the people. All of these offices create a balance of power in Israel.
Moses: 18 In each of the cities the Eternal your God is giving you, appoint tribal judges and representatives who will decide cases for the people honestly and fairly.
(to these future judges) 19 Don’t bend the rules for anyone. Don’t favor the rich and powerful, and never take a bribe! A bribe makes people who would decide cases wisely overlook injustice, and it makes people who would be honest give false testimony. 20 Justice! Justice! That’s what you’re after. Then you’ll keep living in the land He is giving you.
21 When you build an altar to the Eternal your God, don’t ever put any kind of sacred wooden pole[a] next to it, 22 and don’t ever set up a monolith or stone pillar. He hates these things!
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