The Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol is a classic — one that continues to be retold, most recently in 3-D. The central character is a less-than-loveable old man named Scrooge whose most famous line is “Bah, humbug.”
In my lifetime I have met a few people like Scrooge — those dear folks who delight in raining on the Christmas parade. They are the kind of people who think that being godly means we must shun all signs of joy and steer clear of celebration. They seem to live in constant fear that somebody somewhere may be having a good time.
Okay, we can agree that not all celebration is good. It is true that some will celebrate the season with too much booze and too little sense. Others will go on wild spending sprees, spending money they don’t have for things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.
The problem is not with celebration — rather with how we celebrate. God is a celebratory God. When the universe was created the morning stars sang for joy together and the sons of God shouted for joy. The conversion of one sinner is celebrated by angels in heaven. Jesus joined the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. The prodigal’s return is celebrated with all day singing and dinner on the ground.
The point is — we must learn wholesome ways to celebrate and the best place to learn that is from the Bible. I know that will surprise some people, but even more surprising is the fact that Biblical directives for celebrating are found in the book of Deuteronomy — right smack, dab in the middle of the Old Testament law.
Most everyone knows the Law said, “Thou shalt not kill.” Not everyone knows that it also says, “Thou shalt feast!” In Dt. 16, Israel is commanded (that’s right, commanded) to celebrate:
Feast of Passover (v. 1)
Feast of Pentecost (Feast of Weeks; vv. 9-10)
Feast of Tabernacles (v. 13)
In Israel’s celebrations two ideas were prominent: