August 24, 2012

The Feasts of Israel—A Learning Tradition



Though many people have told me I’m crazy, I have always wished I was born Jewish.  They have such a rich and beautiful culture. Plus, who wouldn’t want to be the apple of God’s eye? In that vein, my hands down all-time favorite movie is Fiddler on the Roof

A theme running throughout the tapestry of the movie is the importance of traditions in Jewish culture. For the lead character, Reb Tevye the threads in his tapestry are slowly being pulled out strand by strand, leaving him feeling off balance.

Why are traditions so important? Maybe it is because they give us a sense of security and belonging. Humans love the familiar. Repeated behaviors also help us to develop new neural connections. In other words, they make us smarter.  Heavenly Father knew that as well. That is why He set up some traditions for the children of Israel to celebrate yearly—the Seven Feasts of Israel. While our calendars merely mark time, the Jewish calendar rehearses the greatness of God as a testimony to His work among His people.

These feasts gave the Jewish people a sense of community and love. Just as we get all warm and fuzzy at thoughts of the Christmas holiday, so they have feelings of love and home when celebrating their traditional holidays. However, God had more in mind than just giving them some party time. Each of the Feasts of Israel laid out in Exodus,  Leviticus, and Deuteronomy also had a role in teaching the children of Israel about the love of God and the coming Messiah.

Beginning with The Passover and ending with the Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles) each holiday gave them a living illustration of the Savior and His future reign.

Using The Passover as an example you’ll get a peek at the way our Father in Heaven found to teach about His love.  This holiday had a two-fold purpose: to remember the Lord’s deliverance and to learn about the future Messiah.

The Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians. Their lives were unpleasant. They did not own themselves. But, Heavenly Father did not leave them that way. After warning everyone, including the Pharoah, of the consequences of disobedience, the Lord sent an angel of death to go throughout the land and kill the firstborn son of each home. However, bereavement wasn’t inevitable. He provided a Savior. Each family who did not want to lose their first-born was instructed to slay an unblemished lamb at twilight and spread its blood across the doorposts of their home. When the angel saw the blood of the lamb he would pass over that home. Thanks be to God for His blessed mercy and deliverance!

When that happened, the Egyptians had decided it was time for the Israelites to leave. They left Egypt en mass, not even having time to let their bread rise, hence the tradition of unleavened bread for their celebratory Passover feast.

Each year, on the 14th day of the 1st month (around the end of March, beginning of April in our calendar) the Israelites around the globe sit in celebration and remembrance of a momentous act of divine intervention.They were delivered from the bondage of Egypt.

How was this a picture of Christ?

Every sacrifice performed for the atonement of the Jewish people stood as a type of Christ. It wasn’t the animal sacrifice that provided their atonement with God. They were forgiven based on faith in the atonement their Heavenly Father had provided for them in the future—the Savior Jesus Christ.

When Jesus finally came for His earthly ministry, He began by fulfilling all righteousness Himself in the waters of baptism. As He approached the waters of the Jordan River, where John the Baptist was leading people to repentance and remission of their sins, John cried out,

“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29, NASB.

Later, the New Testament is even more explicit.

“Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5:7, emphasis added.

Do you see that? Jesus is our Passover Lamb. Like the Israelites, we too were slaves. Instead of Egypt, our masters were Satan and our own sin. We were in bondage, but Christ our Passover lamb delivered us. We were free to begin a new life.

Now we can sit and celebrate with our brothers and sisters from Israel for we have been delivered too!

About now, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with homeschooling. Maybe you’re sitting there thinking, “Well, Annmarie got caught up in her scripture study again, and let her writing deadline sneak up on her.”  Why, yes, I did. However that happens to me every month. Plus, I do have a homeschooling point.

I did not have examples in godly parenting growing up. As a result, I have tried to learn from the only Father in our world who can truly say He has never made a parenting mistake. He was intentional in everything He did with His children. Even their days of celebration were teaching moments. Doesn’t that remind you of His instruction to His chosen people in Deuteronomy 6:7 to teach at all times and in all places?

As you’re teaching your children throughout the day, show them more than academics. Show them the Messiah. Show them His love for them in the way you talk to them. Like the woman in Proverbs 31 who has “the teaching of kindness on her tongue”, let your words be seasoned with love and redemption.

As you’re going through your history lessons, show them His hand in each event. When teaching math, show them they worship a God of order. He even used the Fibonacci sequence to create the flowers.

Above all, celebrate traditions that testify of Him. Go through the feasts of Israel in the Old Testament and learn more about your Savior. Help your children love Him.

We are so fortunate. We’re not limited to school board approved texts. We can truly teach our children richly. Life is about so much more than a good ACT score. I don’t homeschool simply because I want my children to learn more than they could in the public school system, though I feel that they can. I homeschool because I want them to be people with character who make the world a better place because they were in it.

Our Father in Heaven set up a great character curriculum for us in the feasts of Israel. The best part about them is they can be learned on holiday, while actually feasting. Let’s enjoy the learning together.

**Author’s note: I am considering putting to pen ways to use the Feasts of Israel to teach our children about the Savior. If you are interested in such a study, feel free to contact me and I will include your name on the list to receive it when completed.

Annmarie is a single mom and freelance writer who homeschools her four children. You can learn more about Annmarie and read some of her personal thoughts, including her conversion to Mormonism, on her blog

8 comments - Add a comment below -:

Erica said...

I'd love to your thoughts on using the Feasts of Israel. :D

Stacey said...

I would like your ideas of teaching the Feasts of Israel/ THe Lord, too, but form toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners, if possible. I have seen books on Amazon by Latifa Berry Kropf and also the Sammy Spider series that seem to be good books. Any ideas you have would be helpful.
Have a great day!

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Anna said...

I would love a copy of how to use the Feasts of Israel as well, please.

Utahna said...

I LOVED reading every bit of this! Celebrating these feasts that turn us towards Christ is exactly what I want to do with my homeschooling. What neat traditions! We already cellebrate a Joseph Smith Day June 27, Presdent Monson's birthday with a family act of service Aug 21, and a Book of Mormon Day Sept 22, among the normal holidays. I love how traditions can purposefully strengthen our testimonies and unify our families. Please, please, PLEASE include me on your list utahnaalbright(at)gmail(dot)com

momof7 said...

I would also LOVE to learn more about all of this. We have been learning about Passover for a few years, Purim since last year and desire to learn about Hannukah. I don't know if these are really even the feasts you are speaking of, I just really want to understand as much as I can of Jewish religion, culture and celebrations. Thank you, I will look so forward to your information.
Shelly Lutes

Deila Taylor said...

Oh, yes, add me to your list. love this.

honeybee said...

I would love a copy as well. Thank you!!

Day said...

Please send me a copy as well :-) thank you for this post!