Enjoy What God has Given You

Deuteronomy 16


Jerry A Collins



v        What do we do to preserve our spiritual heritage?

v        Does our thanks to God translate into giving to others?

v        How has the Lord provided for you this past year?


In my files I have a letter that I read from time to time that commemorates for me a moment of redemption—a deliverance that I will never forget. The letter is dated June 16, 1976 that allowed me to return to college after being dismissed a year and a half earlier. On December 30, 1974 I had received notice that I was dismissed from college due to a sad academic record. Now I could return after failing miserably. That rescue changed my life. God wants us to commemorate our rescue—our redemption. He wants us to preserve our spiritual heritage—our failure due to our sin and a deliverance due to His salvation—with a life that exemplifies one that has been rescued. As Israel is about to cross the Jordan, Moses commands the nation to observe at least three feasts that will remind them of their spiritual heritage as God’s chosen people. (1) The three feasts are the Passover vs 1; the feast of weeks vs 10; and the feast of booths vs 13. (2) These feasts were national gatherings legislated by God to be observed where ‘the Lord chooses to establish His name vs 2, 6, 7, 11, 15. The difference between the great feasts and the Sabbath is the Sabbath could be observed anywhere in the land—the festivals required the people to travel to the sanctuary to appear together as a nation before the Lord vs 5-6. A. Legislating such national gatherings purpose was:

(1) A holy calendar reminded the people that time belonged to God—the week, the month, the year. Even mornings and evening offerings and praise attested that the days were His as well. So Israel was taught that every time, everything in time belonged to God.

(2) A calendar of agricultural festivals reminded them that all of nature belonged to God and they were to acknowledge the harvest was his at each of these.

(3) A seasonal calendar taught the people that God established times of re-creation. He set the pattern of the seasons with times for sowing and for harvesting, for labor and for rest (Ecc 3:1-8). Each festival provided rest and rejuvenation for the land, the animals, the people.

(4) Thru the requirements of the holy calendar God established and maintained his people as a community of believers. This coming together was important part of shaping that community.

(5) Observing this calendar preserved their heritage. Each festival connected to major events in history of nation and by reliving those events the people preserved their national identity. God said in vs 3 ‘in order that you may remember all the days of your life the day you came out of the land of Egypt’ also vs 12 once a slave. 

(6) The gatherings of whole nation brought greater praise and glory to God. These were high points in worship of Israel—this would invigorate their faith.

(7) The festivals in the year charted the essential aspects of God’s redemptive work. Year by year God’s saving acts were reenacted, beginning in Spring with feasts of deliverance from bondage, purging of corruption for purity, celebration of new life, guidance and instruction to that life—at  end of year came summons to enter His presence with more feasts, followed by removal of all sin by full atonement, finally entering the fulfillment of promises with great joy. One feature of these feasts was the presence of rejoicing, celebration and praise v 11, 14, 15.

B. The Feasts: Passover came in the Spring with barley harvest followed immediately by 7 days of feast of unleavened bread and the beginning of the feast of First-fruits in same week. Next main festival was feast of weeks which came 50 days later early summer wheat harvest. 3 more festivals came together in fall during harvest of summer fruits and olives—New year’s (Rosh Hashanah), Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth) ingathering.  (Ross material)

1. Your life should commemorate redemption and the purity that follows with it.

Passover and unleavened bread marked beginning of Israel’s national feast commemorating deliverance from bondage in Egypt and 1st harvest of the year in Spring. Each participant had to think that he or she was actually in original congregation escaping from bandage. In this was the historical meaning was preserved in each generation even tho prophetically not fulfilled until Messiah brings peace and complete freedom. At time of Exodus the significance attached to eating unleavened bread was that the people were in a hurry to flee. Leaven signifies corruption in the feast and was supposed to be  excluded  &  purged from the houses. The point is that after redemption the unleavened bread reminded everyone that a life of holiness should be pursued. We commemorate death of Christ which brings eternal deliverance from bondage of sin by eating unleavened bread and drinking wine in communion. So a life purged of corruption is evidence of a deliverance begun in that life.

2. We thankfully give to God what we have produced from what he has given to us

 The feast of weeks came 50 days after early summer grain harvests. You brought the 1st barley sheaf to sanctuary just after Passover. 49 days later the last cereal crop ripened but now you brought loaves of bread from wheat—so this festival celebrated what the harvest produced or better what the Lord had produced for them. So this was occasion of dedication and thanksgiving of the people for bounty of Lord they had received. This was an acknowledgment that the Lord had provided for them as well as provision in the fields for the poor who gleaned from corners of the fields left for them. They celebrated the 1st sign of God’s provision-the barley sheaf—and also the finished product—the loaf of bread—from the first-fruits to the full grain harvest. The evidence of gratitude is generosity. The un-harvested parts of the fields allowed the poor to glean and participate as well in God’s provision for them Heb 13:15-16 reminds us of obligation to share with the poor as necessary part of praise.  This also curbed greed. So the harvest was not only for food but treated as a stewardship from God. We are the first-fruits of the new creation and await our full redemption as result of what Christ produces with His death and resurrection!

3. We remember how the Lord provided for us this year recognizing that all we have comes from Him

This festival was the ingathering of the summer crops and fruits at the end of agricultural year Ex 34:22. This booth feast commemorated the wilderness wanderings when Israelites had to live in temporary dwellings. They were reliving the experience of ancestors. At end of week when they emerged from booths they shared in rejoicing of not having to live that way anymore. This reenactment prophetically helped the people to focus on fulfillment pf covenant promises at the end of the age and end of wandering and hope of lasting home.  When the people dwelled in the land and enjoyed God’s bounty—remember the spies return—they could not forget the hardships of the temporary dwellings in the wilderness nor the hardships of their ancestors Ex 23:43. After 7 days in shelters the people appreciated their homes, realize how thankful they should be for their comforts in the land.  This is the only festival where the people are commanded to rejoice vs 15. So we are to be thankful this past year for God’s provision—everything we posses comes from Him. This last day, a great day, filled with joy and celebration because the people came out of the booths—it signified that future permanency when they would all have eternal rest. God expects us to celebrate and rejoice and be joyful with what He has given us. But we must distinguish between that and living in luxury. Living in luxury is what we do on our own away from God. Rejoicing is what we do in the presence of God.