Deuteronomy 16 Commentary

Deuteronomy 16 Commentary: The three Festivals.

The chapter focuses on 3 important festivals: the Passover, the festival of Weeks and the festival of Booths.

Actually, the Passover isn’t a festival but an event. The Passover event happens during the festival of Unleavened Bread. It kick-starts the seven days of unleavened bread – the festival that celebrates Israel’s freedom from slavery. Man is not in a position to remember the goodness of the LORD by himself, so these festivals are memory aids. These events give man a chance to reflect on the LORD’S salvation.

Second is the Festival of Weeks – also called the Festival of the Harvest. “Let man rejoice”, this seems to be the main point here. Let man celebrate the provisions of the LORD. Celebrating the blessings of the LORD goes with giving. It is a natural reaction flowing out of a grateful heart. In the New Testament the Festival of Weeks is called Pentecost. It’s during this period that the Holy Spirit descended on the church, in fulfillment of scripture – Joel 2 verse 28. When read in the context of Joel chapter 2, the Festival of Weeks takes on a wider application which involves general fruitfulness. When you think of the original mandate of increase, fruitfulness and dominion, the Festival of Weeks anticipates fruitfulness of the Spirit within the saved soul. This is so beautiful!

The picture we get is that of a huge party of a happy heavenly community, responding in gratitude for the many gifts that the LORD has given. During this period of giving the LORD decided to bless mankind with the gift of the Holy Spirit!

Third is the festival of Shelters or Booths or Tabernacles. By this festival Israel is drawn back to her experiences in the wilderness. To think of it as negative memory is to miss the point that the focus is on the LORD’S many deliverances. We should not forget. So every year these 3 events must be observed. What comes to mind when you think of the LORD Jesus and His disciples taking shelter under open heavens in the Garden of Gethsemane? The bible has very nice coincidences!  

Chapter 16 closes with a call to worship the LORD exclusively. No Asherah poles or other pillars of worship beside the altar of the LORD. The LORD demands pure worship. This passage speaks to us on the need to appreciate that the worship of the LORD is exclusive. We cannot mix.

Note. You may want to check references to these feasts in the Gospel of John. They convey a truly wonderful experience in the light of salvation. The prophet Joe makes mention of a special harvest from the LORD. And then he quickly switches to yet another even more special harvest. Joel 2 verse 28 points to the day of Pentecost – the Festival of Weeks or Harvest. The special gift or harvest is the Holy Spirit. You may want to read verse 28 of Joel 2 for an expanded understanding. It is truly wonderful!

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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