Sunday, December 20, 2009

Feast boldly in His presence

Feast and Feast Boldly

By Don Walker

No, the title is not a misspelling. I am writing about feasting not fasting. I do believe in fasting (though my appearance may be deceiving), but I also believe in feasting. In fact, the Bible has more to say about feasting than it does fasting. I know that that conflicts with our religious, ascetic spirit, but nevertheless it is true. Under the Old Testament Law the Israelites were required to fast one day out of the year (Lev.23:26-32), but God required them to celebrate with feasting 21 days out of the year (Deut. 16:1-17). Three whole weeks out of the year they were to “party.” God even told them that if for some reason they could not make it to the place appointed for the feast, take their “tithe” (one of the three Old Testament tithes) and throw a party at home (Deut. 14:24-26). This tithe is sometimes referred to as the “rejoicing tithe.”

Think about that for a minute, if your income is $40,000 a year that means you would have $4,000 to party with. (I don’t know about you, but I could party pretty good with four grand.) It doesn’t stop there because every 50th year the Israelites were to cease from work and celebrate for the whole year (Lev.25:8ff.). This was the “Year of Jubilee.” [As far as Biblical scholars have been able to ascertain, the Israelites never observed the year of Jubilee. There were all sorts of rationalizations given by the rabbis to try and justify their not observing this aspect of the Law.] 

I do take note that the first miracle that Jesus performed was at a wedding feast, and that He supplied the wine. I might also point out that Jesus was falsely accused of being a “glutton and a drunkard” (Matt.11:19) by the Pharisees due to his appearances at parties. Jesus made reference to feasts frequently in His parables, for instance, the feast that was celebrated when the prodigal returned, or the wedding feast in Matthew 22:1-14. In the first-century church the Lord’s Supper was more than a “cracker and a thimble full of grape juice” (as a friend of mine calls it “a sip and a nip”), it was a true meal known as a “love feast,” celebrating the Resurrection. Need I point out that the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:7-10) is a celebratory feast? You know it seems like feasting is throughout the Bible. In fact, I would have to agree with Tony Campolo, who entitled one of his books: The Kingdom of God is a Party.

Who has a better reason to celebrate than the people of God do? Who has a justification for feasting than those who are living under the blessing of God Almighty? There are better reasons for feasting than the Super Bowl. We ought to be showing the world how to party. (Obviously, within righteous boundaries, not in a decadent way.) We should set the standard for celebration, and show the unbelievers how it ought to be done. We should be provoking the world to jealousy with our rejoicing.

I know that there are battles, struggles, and valleys as we pass through this world. It is at times, as one writer described it, a “vale of tears” that we are passing through. I, like you, have had my share of valleys, and times when the pain of life seems to be overwhelming, but I would agree with Michael Card, “There is joy in the journey.” If I focus on Christ rather than the “valley,” I find reason for celebrating. Celebration is not just an event it’s an attitude. 

At this time of year when we celebrate the birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Lord Jesus Christ, let’s party like we mean it. Let’s feast and feast boldly.

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