When I think of annual festivities some of the first things that come to mind our birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving here in the United States, Easter and other annual holidays that we get time off at work. But, in this episode we are going to be reading from Numbers chapter 9 and rather than just celebrating that someone got another year older or that another holiday came and went the Lord is instructing them to celebrate a past trip.
Now, if I asked you to celebrate a past trip, my guess is you would celebrate by either retelling stories, sharing pictures and memories from that trip, gathering again with the people who first ventured out on that trip, or you'd go back to that place and reminisce about good times and make some new memories too. But the way the Lord instructs these individuals to remember this trip is a little different than how I think you and I might do so.
Let's go ahead and take a look at Numbers 9:1-14.
Here is just a quick recap of what the Passover was in the last episode: We talked about how Moses led the people out of Egypt, but to get to the point that Pharaoh actually let the Israelites leave Egypt, God went through 10 different plagues (dismissing at least 10 of the idol gods of the Egyptians). Going so far as to kill firstborn sons! The way that the Lord identified believers, and therefore passed over certain homes and didn't killed the firstborn, was if they had killed a lamb and painted it's blood on their doorway. This was part of the feast that they celebrated with unleavened bread as they prepared for their quick departure.
So, in the middle of the night while they were all sleeping the Lord passed over Egypt and any house that had blood on its door frame the Lord passed over, but any house that did not the firstborn son died. Which meant that there was a lot of weeping and tears in Egypt as the Israelites departed.
Pharaoh's heart quickly turned from "Okay, go away! I don't want anything to do with you!" to "I'm really mad at you because you killed my firstborn son" and he pursued them with his armies. The Israelites walked on dry land through the middle of Red Sea and then the waters crashed down on the Egyptians, killing them, and the Israelites were finally free! So they head for the promised land, following God as a pillar of cloud or smoke - depending on the time of the day.
They're so excited! After 430 years, they're finally free!
But as we proceed on, we know that they become afraid of the giants that live in the Promise Land. They doubt God's power and in so doing they'll end up wandering in the desert for 40 years - and right now it's been one year. And the Lord asks them to remember the Passover. To celebrate the fact that they finally got to go on a trip and leave Egypt.
If you're wondering what this celebration it was meant to look like, it is to be celebrated at twilight on the first month of the year on the fourteenth day. (I know the number of months has changed over the past sever centuries, possibly from 10 months to 12, but let's just imagine it as though our calendars align.) So this would be January 14 of the new year at twilight when they're supposed to celebrate the Passover.
They're supposed to eat the lamb with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. They're not to break a bone in the lambs body, which seems like a bit of a daunting task. I don't know about you, but when I we celebrate Thanksgiving and someone cuts into a turkey - we don't really know where the bones are. So, it's not uncommon for someone to cut into or breaks a few bones! But they're not supposed to break any bones in lambs body. I suppose, because they weren't westernized or used to getting their meat from a deli, back in this time period they would have been much more familiar with the innards of the animal and probably could have more easily avoided breaking a limb.
There was offerings and there was celebration and oftentimes there was retelling of the story of how they made it out of Egypt.
Now some people came forward and they said, "We're considered unclean in the eyes of the Lord. We've touched a dead body recently, so we can't be around others and therefore we can't celebrate the Passover. The Lord said, "Okay, that's all right, so in the second month on the fourteenth day you get to celebrate the Passover." That was kind of a nice way to include everyone in this festivities.
The other people that might not be able to celebrate the Passover was anyone traveling on a long journey. Which, have you ever been traveling over the holidays? Over Easter or Christmas? The Lord said that they were not exempt from celebrating the Passover. They were to also celebrate in the second month on the fourteenth day. This gave them time to come back and prepare after their long journey.
The Lord also invites sojourners, foreigners, and slaves to all celebrate with them but they have to follow the exact same customs as the Israelites and practice the Passover in the same way.
Now, we know that this becomes a huge part of their tradition and it goes on for generations! It goes past the time that they make it to the promised land. It is still being celebrate when Jesus walks the earth and many of us know of it as the Last Supper. They were celebrating the Passover because it continued to be an intregral part of Jewish tradition. Even in some Christian circles today, people still practice the Passover. (Usually they have a big meal of sorts and they go over and they have to explain to us what each of the different food elements represent. Tt's kind of one of those traditions and then it leads up alternately to Easter.)
But a lot of Christian circles don't celebrate it anymore because it's been replaced with Easter and the reason for that is the Passover was a representation of what was to come. For instance, they are eating the lamb - it is the sacrifice that allowed their firstborn sons to live. Today we know that Jesus is the Lamb. He is the sacrifice, his body is the bread the blood (like the lambs blood on the doorposts & the unleavened bread prepared for the trip.)
Since Christ has died for our sins and risen again, there is a new standard the old covenant is no longer in effect. There is a new covenant and that is there is only one way to heaven and that is through faith in Jesus. He is the new sacrifice. He is the ultimate sacrifice for all of our sins.
When you celebrate Easter you are in fact celebrating this annual tradition that Jesus died and rose again 2000 years ago, but we still practice it annually. It's a something that we talk about with our families. It's a tradition that passed on generation after generation just like the Israelites who celebrated the Passover.
Even though generations later, when Jesus's friends were walking the earth, they may have never ever seen Egypt - they definitely had no idea what it was like to be the slaves in Egypt or how truly difficult it was and they don't know what wandering the wilderness was like or their emotions to finally see the promised land. They do know other than the stories that have been passed down.
It's really important to God that this celebration is remembered. So important that He says to the person who's touched a dead body or who traveled super far, you still have the opportunity celebrate the Passover a month later. He doesn't want them to forget where they've come from or who He is. That He took care of them in Egypt, in the wilderness, and that He brought them to the promise land!
The same can be said of Easter and Christmas.
I know there's some of us who are so tempted to be Easter and Christmas Christians, who only go to church twice a year because those are the traditions where we remember significant days of the Lord. But the Lord created worship for us every single week to weekly celebrate who He is.
Jesus went to church it was so important. And if Jesus set the precedence for us, then being in God's house is not just for those 2 big holidays.
As a Christian traveler, I am calling you to remember some other things too. Obviously, remember Easter and Christmas. remember to attend church and to worship while traveling, but I want you to also remember your past trips. And not just that they were these really cool destinations with fun photos - but let's remember what God did on that trip.
If I remember my trip to Europe, my solo trip, one of the first things I remember is how I got there without international cell service and how God caught me safely to my Airbnb. God got me to more than one place with one percent left of my cell phone battery, uncertain as to what lay ahead, but He got me there.
Travel is an act of trust, it is truly uncomfortable. It's putting ourselves out there in a way that can be daunting. And if we annually stop to remember how God shows up, what those stories were, and we retell them - we tell them to future generations. Will they necessarily be talking about these stories 2000 years from now? No. But what they will remember is that God spoke through your life that you set a precedence for them - that your relationship with God is something that they can seek after too. That they can also be see Him in their adventures and their journeys. And that is what God has put on my heart - what travel in our world is...
Technology has made travel seem so simple, so modern, that we are tempted to forget who's truly in charge. We forget to worship and praise Him. We forget that travel is something that we should annually remember because in Philippians 4:8 it says, "finally brothers and sisters whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable. If anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things."
Our world and Satan love to think about the negative things, but God wants us to celebrate the good. Honestly, it might feel like you're just blowing things out of proportion when you get so excited that you got a front row parking spot at the grocery store. It might seem crazy to celebrate that you made it somewhere with a one percent left of your battery. It might seem crazy to celebrate that you got that last spot on the airplane. It might seem crazy to just be exuberantly joyful and praising and remembering those little things in life... but the Lord says that what our minds are meant to focus on.
So I encourage you to follow in those footsteps and annually remember your adventures. Just like the Israelites did when they reflected on the Passover.
Would you pray with me? Dear Lord, thank you for these Christian travelers. Thank you for your mission that you've called us to travel differently. To travel in a way that exults you and that remembers year after year after year. That recalls how you show up time and time again. Because when our mind is focused on you instead of everything that we think is going wrong in this world. We have a hope. We have a joy. We have something greater to live for. And please help us as we recall these things, to tell others, to give them joy and hope and excitement as well! And for them to think of travel in a new and exciting way. I guess Lord, it's not really new because You've been in travel forever and for always - but to them it might just be a new perspective. It might just be a new perspective that they really need. All this we ask in your precious name, Amen.
Well Christian travelers, I'm so glad that you tuned in today I one more thought and question but before you go I want to point you to our website www.christiantravelers.net there you'll find other faith and travel resources. Ultimately we're working on some really cool upcoming trips and we'd love for you to be a part of them, but if you can't afford those trips we also have other resources like a retreat kits: an opportunity for you to take your friends on adventures and share the Bible with them. If you have a ministry group at church that wants to go on a trip and is looking for devotionals and games and other activities this works around any travel or trip itinerary. Additionally, we have great little devotional for solo travelers if you are just doing your own DIY trip, but want to be reflecting on God and be able to recall how He showed up at the end of your trip. We also have this really cool journal that helps you reflect on how the Lord is showing up in your travels and it's a great tool to look back after a year in your in your again that you can continue to remember how God is always present.
So my final thought in question is this: Our world has a modernized some of the big biblical holidays: Christmas & Easter. They've turned them into sales driven things. But as a Christian you know that those things have a deeper meaning and purpose. The way that you celebrate these holidays informs other people so much about who Christ is. So is there an opportunity as we approach this Christmas season, or later on if you listen to this podcast for Easter. Is there a way that you can celebrate these holidays like the Israelites did for the Passover? In a way that recalls the story God's blessings and promises being fulfilled? Is there a way you can do that with your other travel adventures too? I encourage you to ponder this question, think it over. And then go ahead and share it with a friend ! In fact, invite them to whatever celebration you're going to have and I would love to hear about it too! You can always shoot me an message at christiantravelersnetwork at gmail dot com.
Until next time safe travels and God bless!