The Three Annual Festivals
'“Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me. “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt. “No one is to appear before me empty-handed. “Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. “Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field. ' Exodus 23:14-16
What are the Feasts of Israel?
Passover: To honor and recognize God saving the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
Feast of Unleavened Bread: To honor and recognize the hardships that the Israelites faced while escaping Egypt.
Day of Firstfruits: A dedication of the first harvests of Spring to God.
Feast of Pentecost: A dedication of the first harvests of Fall to God.
Day of Trumpets: To honor and recognize the seventh month as a sabbatical month, or a month of rest.
Day of Atonement: To atone, or repent, for the sins of the community once per year.
Feast of Tabernacles: To honor and recognize God protecting and providing for the Israelites as they wandered the wilderness.
Do not let them live in your land or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.” Exodus 23:33
This is interesting because it brings to mind the verse about not letting us be tested or tempted more than we can endure. He is giving them a point blank warning. God warned against the temptations and "snare" they would face while among those of a different faith. This also is a good point to be reminded to love your neighbor, and to live in love, kindness, and patience.
Does this mean God wants us to live separated from non-Christians?
No. This was an instruction relevant to the Israelites in their situation at the time. It is important to recognize that we today are instructed to "be in the world without being of the world."
'They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. ' John 17:16-18
During this time of the Israelites they were still bombarded by the pagan cultures and needed to be isolated so that they could take on the new life, culture, and way of thinking and worshiping that God was revealing to them.