I love holidays. Weeks before a holiday (even the minor ones), I start planning. I am not particularly big on decorating, but I love the celebration part. Most holidays, I am in the kitchen preparing goodies for family and friends. At Christmas, I am that annoying person who has spent weeks making sure everyone has at least one handcrafted gift. I am also the one taking baked goods or candies to just about every neighbor on our street.
It is not that I necessarily want an extra long to do list several times a year. For me, holidays are a way for me to show the people I care about how much I love them. I want everyone who is special to me to feel special and to know how much they mean to me.
Did you realize God created special holidays for the Jewish people? If you have ever read the descriptions of what the people had to do for each holiday, it sounds overwhelming. A few years ago, I did a series of lessons for children on the Jewish holidays. As I began studying them in depth, I realized something amazing. God created these holidays to remind the Jewish people how much He loved them, not to burden them with extra work.
Even more exciting for us, almost every one of these holidays pointed to the coming Messiah. Once Jesus came, many of these same holidays took on an even deeper meaning.
Passover is an excellent example. The Passover holiday is to remind the Jewish people how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt. If you look back at the original story in Exodus, you will find the people had to kill a lamb and put its blood on their doorposts to protect the life of the oldest born in their family. It was an obvious foretelling of the coming Messiah, whose death on the cross would be the ultimate sacrifice. His blood would save not only the oldest, but all of us. If you remember, Christ was crucified during the Passover time (the holiday actually lasts for several days). Communion is our continuation of a version of the Passover feast that Christ instituted at the last supper. Now we think on Christ’s perfect sacrifice on the cross and how it has saved us from our sins.
One of my favorite holiday findings was Pentecost. In the original list of seven holidays, this was known as Shavuot. It was one of the three major festivals where the people were required to go to the temple in Jerusalem. Also known as the feast of “Weeks” it became for the Jewish people a time to celebrate when God gave Moses the Law on Mt. Sinai. By Jesus’ time the scripture reading for the festival was Exodus 19 and 20. Everything finally clicked for me when I realized how amazing it was for God to choose to begin His new covenant on the Day of Pentecost – the same day the people had gathered at the temple to celebrate His giving of the Old Law!
God’s word is so rich and complete! It never ceases to amaze me how everything in God’s plan fits together so perfectly. How can you doubt God’s plan for you when you can see how amazingly it worked together for thousands of years before you were born? It would be impossible to have faked events to line up as perfectly as they have over thousands of years. Only God could make things work together for the good as He has done.
What better way to teach our children these valuable lessons than to celebrate the Jewish holidays with them? It is not necessarily important you celebrate during the current Jewish calendar for holidays. If you want ideas of how to celebrate, click on additional resources in the left hand column of this website. Over the next few weeks, I will gradually add lesson plans to help you celebrate these holidays with your children.
Have fun learning about the customs, food and stories that go with the holidays. Make sure though, you also teach your children how God gave His people these holidays because He loved them. He wanted them to always remember the blessings He had given them. More importantly, He wanted them to be looking for the Messiah, His son he was sending in the future to give us all an opportunity for eternal life. Now these same holidays still remind us of God’s love, but with the additional blessing of His fulfilled promise. Your child should be so much more open to God’s plan for her own life when she learns how meticulous God is in even the smallest details of His plans!