It’s nearly the fall season! I know it well. The weather changes in small but perceptible ways. You kind of get that “focus” feeling, as if the summer lull ends and the new season pulls you out of a slumber and says, “Get up!”
I learned the seasons growing up in the Ohio Valley. But I think we all learned them going to school because if anything is truly seasonal, it’s school.
Another place I learned the seasons is the Bible. The calendar of the “days of awe” are set in the Old Testament. Beginning with the Feast of Trumpets (not necessarily about marching bands) the fall calendar walks the reader through a celebration of God’s promises.
The traditional reading comes from Genesis 22. That is the story of Abraham answering God’s call to offer his son as a sacrifice. Of course, God intervenes, and the sacrifice is changed from Isaac to a ram. If you are unfamiliar with the story, I would urge you to read it as it is a perfect foreshadowing of what happens when God sent His son, Jesus, to be an atoning sacrifice for all.
Because this story plays such an important role, this season can become one of reflection and gratitude to the One who loved us so much.
After 10 days comes the next fall holiday: the Day of Atonement. On that day followers fast and pray and seek forgiveness for sins.
Again, the focus points us toward the Messiah. He does not wait for us to come to Him with our brokenness. Instead, “while we were still dead in our sin Messiah Jesus died for us” (Romans 5:8).
The Apostle Paul reminds us that all of this is a gift from God so that we may draw near to Him through the love of His Son.
The final holiday is the Feast of Tabernacles. During this time, we connect with the ancient past. The Israelites were wanderers in the wilderness, and they lived in tents, fully trusting in the Lord to be provider (manna, quail and water).
God provided, and they trusted that He would do that until they reached the promised land. It is marked by a harvest celebration where one would remember God as Jireh or Provider. And once again we focus on Messiah Jesus, who provides His grace, forgiveness and peace for all who claim it in His name. It is a gift from God.
All these “days” are found in Leviticus chapter 23. But they are all well expounded by Paul in his letters to the churches.
Paul dearly loved what we call “the promise plan of God.” He saw that God, from the beginning, saw the human condition and set His plan in motion so that all might be saved. What it cost God was His innocent Son bearing our sin. What it cost Paul was everything he once valued.
Philippians 3:7-8 says, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”
Therefore, the question comes to us. In measuring gains and losses, where are you? Living in Christ is a consistent trusting in Him, as the ancients did in the Wilderness. But it is also about becoming who God wants you to be.
May the change of seasons remind you not to stay the same, but instead to reach out and love others the way God loves you.
“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).
Jon Weiner is a community engagement pastor at Southeast Christian Church’s Blankenbaker Campus.