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Celebrate the Goodness of God by Susan Barnes 

“… the joy of the Lord is your strength” Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

It has surprised me to read the Old Testament and discover how often God told his people to do no regular work but to celebrate certain festivals and special days. Apart from the Sabbath, there are seven major occasions in the Israelites’ year, and two of these, the Festival of Unleavened Bread and the Festival of Tabernacles lasted for seven days (See Leviticus 23).

This verse from Nehemiah was recorded on the Day of Trumpets, which was a prelude to the Festival of Tabernacles. In the first half, Nehemiah tells them to, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks.” It was during the Festival of Tabernacles that God instructed his people to live in temporary shelters for the week to remind them that God had brought them out of Egypt. Later, in Nehemiah 8, we find the people collecting branches to make tent-like structures. Being a child at that time must have been a lot of fun, I guess it was a bit like sleeping in a tent in your backyard. It was also fun for the adults and in Nehemiah 8:17 we read, “And their joy was very great.”

God obviously thought that celebration was time well spent, yet today we don’t seem to place the same value on rest and celebration as God. Instead, we live in a world that values busyness and this tends to influence our attitude toward rest.

How do you find ways to stop your regular work and celebrate the goodness of God?

Susan, an Australian pastor’s wife, regularly writes devotional thoughts on Bible passages, book reviews and inspirational articles. Contact


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