By Lauren Garner
Student Life camp is a great way for students to worship and learn about God. This year, the theme was Come to the Table, highlighting the feasts and festivals in Leviticus 23. At first glance, they seemed unrelated to each other, and sort of bland. But speaker Ed Newton helped explain the connections and symbolism in a way that made us all drop our jaws in wonder.
There were many feasts, and the ones we spoke about were Passover, The Feast of Unleavened Bread, The Feast of Firstfruits, The Feast of Pentecost, The Feast of Trumpets, The Feast of Yom Kippur, The Feast of Tabernacles and the Sabbath. Each one of these feasts had words to go along and describe the purpose of the feast. When put together, they created a sort of timeline of God working in our lives.
First we learned about justification, which is shown in the feast of Passover. Passover was celebrated to remember the night in Egypt when God sent a death angel to wipe out all the first born children. God spoke to his people, however, telling them to kill a sacrificial lamb, and to smear the blood over their doorframes. This would protect them and hide them from God’s wrath. In justification we learn that Jesus is our sacrificial lamb, pouring out his blood to cover us, so God doesn’t see our sin, but rather the perfection of Jesus. This emphasized the idea of ‘come as you are.’ You don’t have to try to make yourself perfect before coming to know Christ. He has offered the gift to you just as you are.
Then, we followed with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which taught us about sanctification. During this feast, the people would bake bread without leaven, or yeast, which would represent sin. They would also clean out their homes of every bit of leaven, burning it once they found it. This is how we should treat our hearts, rooting out all sin and ridding ourselves of it forever. Sanctification means to be set apart, and exercises the idea that after you have been given salvation, you can’t remain as you were. You must change and rid your life of sin.
The Feast of Firstfruits followed, showing us glorification. During this feast, people would give the first and best parts of their crops as a sacrifice, burning them to make a pleasing aroma for God. This was a feast of gratitude, where the people gave with thanks in their hearts for the many things God had done for them. Here we see that Jesus is our firstfruit, sacrificing himself to cover us and make a pleasing aroma for God. He was also the best God could give us, so he becomes our firstfruits. Glorification follows justification and sanctification, a result of the other two being active in our lives.
The next words were transformation, celebration, propitiation, expiation, and habitation. Transformation occurred after justification, sanctification and glorification as a result of our hearts turning to God. This was shown in the feast of Pentecost, a remembrance of the sacrifice that was given, named for the fifty days after Firstfruits. Because of this transformation, we then celebrate with the feasts of Trumpets, where we were introduced to the shofar, a sort of trumpet that was used in times of trouble and joy. The celebration is a memorial, a remembrance of all the good things God has done, but it is also full of worship and music. This was followed by the ideas of propitiation and expiation. These big words actually mean quite simple things. In the feast of Yom Kippur, two lambs would be brought for sacrifice. One would be killed on the altar, the other sent into the wild far away. This is how Jesus dealt with our sin. He satisfied God with his own sacrifice, and sent our sin far away to never return. Propitiation means to satisfy, while expiation means to send away. The last word used was habitation, which was shown in the festival of Tabernacles, or booths. The booths were set up as temporary housing during the festival to symbolize how things on earth are only temporary. They don’t last. God showed us that we cannot make this earth our home, and invest in all earthly things. In the long run, they have no inherent value. They are worthless. This is where His promise of return makes an appearance, describing how this world will be gone, and a new one to come.
Finally, we addressed the Sabbath. It was created as a time of meditation, of rest that we all need. We were created to have rest, and the Sabbath was set forth to let us reorganize and come closer to God.
All of these feasts connect to each other in a way that exalts God’s plan for his people. We studied these feasts all week and grew closer to God as we realized how much he truly cares for us. Even before Jesus had gone to the cross, the clues were all there, found in the celebrations of the Old Testament. Student Life Camp touched all of the students in a way that has changed us for life.