Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labours from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labours from the field. Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord God. You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor is the fat of My feast to remain overnight until morning. (Ex.23:14-18).
The human heart loves a party-a celebration. We who have been “made in the image of God,” get this tendency from God. We like to eat, laugh and have fun, because that’s what God likes to do, too.
Communion, one of the celebrations of the New Covenant, is a reflection of this. While there is a serious, reflective aspect of communion which mustn’t be neglected, there is a joyful one, too. We who have been redeemed by the Lord are to rejoice before Him, as His thankful, expectant children.
God is the King who owns the land and who invites His people to join in corporate celebrations with Him. Those who harvest His crops are His judicial subordinates, and they publicly testify to this by their participation in His required feasts. They are to provide God with the first-fruits of the land.
People who rejoice are hopeful, confident and secure. Furthermore, they are expecting that their rejoicing will not be misplaced or futile. And God expects and wants us to be like that with Him. The feast times were to be times for God’s people to be rejoicing before Him.
When Israel went up to the feasts of the Lord, the Lord directed that “You may spend the [tithe] money for whatever your heart desires; for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household” (Deut. 14:26). This was to be some party.
Why was this?
The laws of the festivals are closely associated with the laws of civil justice.
The Psalmist claimed, “I will sing of lovingkindness and justice, to You, O Lord, I will sing praises” (Ps.101:1). The Psalmist’s rejoicing was a “package deal.” His rejoicing in the Lord, along with His justice and mercy seen in His law, and the Psalmist’s participation in the feasts of Israel, were really one and the same.
To be God-honouring and very happy are not mutually exclusive ideas. In fact, they actually go together. Christians have better reason to rejoice than anybody else in the world. The pattern laid out for us here is simple: Obedience-Celebration-Blessing.
In the period between the resurrection and the destruction of Jerusalem, Paul instructed us: “…For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast…” (I Cor.5:7-8).
Of course, “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev.19:9) will be the ultimate celebration for the saints. That is something to look forward to for all of us. But meanwhile, we have many opportunities to “celebrate a feast.” This includes, but is not limited to Communion.