Social status, economic position, health, family structure, skin color, and race were not excluded from this party’s invitation.
Rich and Poor
Powerful and Frail
Old and Young
Masters and Servants
Families and Widows and Orphans
Able and Disabled
Beautiful and Plain
Healthy and Sick
Israelites and Aliens and Foreigners
City Dwellers and Rural Folk
Whether you were one of the privileged or one of the beggars on the street, whether you were surrounded by the love and security of family or were a wayfaring orphan, it didn’t matter. On this day, during this festival, you belonged. You had an invitation. No one was excluded by the command of the Lord Most High.
Fifty days after Passover, the Israelites were asked to follow these instructions:
You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as the Lord your God blesses you; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place where the Lord your God chooses to establish His name. You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes” (New American Standard Bible, Deuteronomy 16: 9-12).
Rescued from Egypt, just fifty days before, the law was given on Mt. Sinai to Moses and to the Israelite nation. These laws were like no other nation’s commandments. These laws brought identity and purpose to this traveling throng. Passover was to be celebrated first; followed fifty days later with the one day celebration called the Feast of Weeks.
Who was to celebrate?
Those who believed they belonged and even those who didn’t were invited to share in this significant time of rejoicing. They were asked to remember the goodness of their God and take stock of their blessings over the course of the year and even before that. Everyone was asked to bring a free-will offering, a gift of acknowledgement, in tribute to their Sovereign Lord. For it was their God, and He alone, who had brought them out of Egypt and had provided them with everything they had.
Do we have such a day of remembrance in our culture and tradition?
Tomorrow is Resurrection Sunday. It is a day to celebrate our Risen Savior and King! This is the day Jesus set mankind free from sin and its depravity Fifty days on from this life-giving day is Pentecost. Pentecost is the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and launched the spreading of the Gospel from Judea to all over the world.
How do we rejoice in remembrance for our salvation from our sin and depravity?
For the Israelites, their celebration of thanksgiving, honor and rejoicing took place before their God. In His Presence, they sung, they danced, they ate, and they remembered all that their God had done for them; together.
Together, they delighted in the blessings they had received. They appreciated the work they had produced. They reveled in the mercies and grace they had been awarded. In turn, the rich and the poor, the master and the servant, the widow and the orphan, the Israelite and the alien all offered their free-will gifts with holy and reverent joy to their God and Redeemer.
Matthew Henry called this a holy kind of joy. He wrote, “Holy joy is the heart and soul of thankful praises; the language and expression of holy joy.”
This kind of rejoicing was set apart for God and was done in His presence and with His presence in mind without judgment, without segregation, without discrimination, without ridicule and without exclusion; with every sort of person imaginable.
Do we celebrate like that?
Do our lives demonstrate and embrace a holy joy and holy love for our God and for others regardless of some one’s social status, health condition, race, possible offense, or economic position? Our God asks us to welcome all to His celebrations and to invite anyone into relationship with Him.
Have you ever considered setting aside Pentecost Sunday as a day to celebrate as you do Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday? Would we want to? Is there a possibility that we have some one near who needs to know they have a place and that they belong? Is our God asking us to recognize the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost Sunday in seven weeks time and invite some one to celebrate God’s goodness? Perhaps this is something to pray about and see what our God has to say!
Could we rejoice with holy joy with whoever God asks us to invite? This is the model we’ve been given by our Savior and Lord. He died for anyone and everyone and invited them into relationship with Him.
It’s what our God commanded of the Israelites thousands of years ago as well. Welcome all and rejoice in the Presence of the Lord. No one shall be excluded. Everyone is invited.
Could we draft a similar kind of invitation?
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