Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Traditions and Memorials: Dt 16:3-12

"You shall not eat leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat with it unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), so that you may remember all the days of your life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt... You shall sacrifice the Passover in the evening at sunset, at the time that you came out of Egypt... You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes." (Deuteronomy 16:3, 6, 12)
This passage describes the three feasts that the Israelites were to observe annually. "Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed." (Deuteronomy 16:16) These feasts were to be more than mere traditions, they were to be memorials of what God had done for them and for their ancestors. They were to be remembrances of the goodness of God.

Isaiah warns that our worship of God should never become reduced to sheer observances of tradition. "This people draw near with their mouth, and honour me with their lips, but their heart is removed far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught of men" (Isaiah 29:13 Darby) The New American Standard translation renders this passage, "their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote". Much of what has become tradition to us was at one time a memorial to what God had done, yet our connection to the memory has become lost and the significance of the memorial totally forgotten. When any part of our worship of God becomes void of meaning and significance, it assumes the form of tradition; rituals learned by rote.

God does not want us to exercise mere tradition; a form of worship devoid of its power. Rather, God wants our hearts, minds, and souls to be connected with our worship. It does no good to hold to traditions if our hearts are removed from God. Worship requires our heart's connectedness to the Father. Worship is not what we do by rote, rather it is a whole hearted expression of our love, reverence, and awe of God. Let us leave behind traditions and experience afresh whole hearted worship of God. "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30)

David Robison

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