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Deuteronomy 16

Talks for Growing Christians

Three of Israel's Annual Feasts

Deuteronomy 16

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Lesson Number 16

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Under the Law, Israel celebrated yearly feasts.
  2. Under the Law, Israel appointed godly leaders.

Practical Application

  1. Remember, there are limits to religious freedom!

Questions

  1. How many feasts were on the Hebrew calendar? Why are part of the feasts highlighted here?
  2. Moses emphasized these feasts were to be celebrated “in the place which God chooses.” Where would this be?
  3. Who was required to celebrate in Jerusalem?
  4. Why were the men of Israel only required to go up to Jerusalem three times a year?
  5. Why did the command concerning bribes need to be included here (verse 19)?

Answers

  1. There were seven feasts celebrated annually in Israel (Leviticus 23 and Numbers 28-29). Here in Deuteronomy 16 the emphasis is on the command for Israel to come up to Jerusalem three times a year to celebrate certain feasts.
  2. When the Children of Israel would cross the Jordan and come into the land, the Lord would choose Jerusalem as the central sanctuary. Here is where the feasts would then be celebrated.
  3. Only the men were required to travel to Jerusalem three times a year, but families were encouraged to go as well (verses 11 and 14).
  4. 1. God was gracious, since coming up to Jerusalem took time and money.
    2. These three feasts included sacrificial meals that the people would participate in at the Tabernacle.
    3. By coming up to Jerusalem for these three feasts, they would actually be there for five feasts, since several were close together.
  5. This command was given before any Judeo-Christian tradition that is intrinsic to our culture. It was not so obvious to them and certainly counter-intuitive to many Middle Eastern cultures. But Israel was to be different as God’s people.

Discuss/Consider

  1. Observe the three branches of government in Deuteronomy 16:18-19. God was the perfect legislating authority because He made the laws. Here the people were to appoint judges and officers to ensure that justice was maintained.
  2. Discuss religious freedom in our country today. Are there limits to religious freedom? Are these limits good or bad?

Challenge

  1. The men of Israel were to gather in Jerusalem three times a year for corporate worship. Do you enjoy the fellowship of other believers on a regular basis? If not, you are missing out on a dynamic part of the Christian life. See Hebrews 10:25.

Key Verses

  • “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed.” Deuteronomy 16:16
  • “You shall not plant for yourself any tree, as a wooden image, near the altar which you build for yourself to the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 16:21

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