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God's Holy Convocations

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God's Holy Convocations

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Today many people take a casual or informal approach toward their religious assemblies. While some churches give considerable attention to ritual and formality, our society in general seems to have moved away from the formality one might have previously associated with religious assemblies.

This informal trend in society can be seen not only in religious assemblies, but also at social events and in the workplace. It's common for businesses to have what is called "Casual Day." A day, often Friday, is designated, as a time when employees are not required to adhere to the company dress code. Some companies no longer have any dress code; every day is, in effect, "Casual Day." Our society seems to be in the process of dressing down rather than dressing up.

The lessening of formality in society is reflected not only in dress, but also in our manners and attitude. It is a natural tendency for people to embrace the styles, manners, jargon and dress of their society. Members of the Body of Christ can be influenced by society to "dress down" for holy convocations.

Thus it is important for us to reflect on how God approaches things and try to emulate Him. While our spiritual condition is of primary importance, our physical approach to God's Sabbaths can have a great impact on our attitude, as well as on other people.

We know that God is more concerned about our hearts being right with Him, than He is about making a physical show of proper form. But even though our spiritual condition is our primary focus, we still need to keep in mind that we are physical. As long as we are in the flesh, our physical appearance and approach are important, for they affect us spiritually. They also can be powerful tools in positively influencing others.

God commands us to hold "holy convocations" on the Sabbath and the annual Holy Days (Leviticus 23:1-3). These days are appointed times for holy assemblies. God's intent is not for us to keep these days by ourselves. It is not a time to rest at home, as tempting as that may be at certain times. No, the Sabbath and Holy Days are commanded assemblies. God sets them aside as holy times.

What does it mean to keep a holy assembly? God has at various times made many things holy. He made the Sabbath holy. Holy things have God's active presence in them. God set the Sabbath aside, sanctifying it for a special purpose. Jerusalem is referred to as the holy city, because God placed His glory in the temple in Jerusalem. The apostle Peter called the Church a holy nation because God's active presence is in each member. When Moses saw the burning bush, God said, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5).

So, when one enters a "holy convocation," he is coming into God's active presence. How should one dress for such an occasion?

God's Instructions to the Priesthood

How did God instruct ancient Israel and the priests in particular to approach His commanded assemblies? God gave very specific instructions regarding the garments of the priesthood: "You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty" (Exodus 28:2). Throughout the remainder of the chapter, detailed instruction is provided concerning how these garments were constructed. In the final verse of the chapter, it is stated that these garments were worn when Aaron and his sons came into the tent of the meeting.

Not only did God provide these instructions for Israel, He also preserved them for our example today. When the priests were preparing to go before God, they had to give great attention to detail in order to insure they were approaching God's sanctuary with proper honor and respect. While we no longer observe the same rituals and ceremonies that Aaron and his sons did under the Old Covenant, we are commanded to attend holy convocations.

Not only have the rituals and ceremonies of the Levitical priesthood ceased to be in effect, but also the Levitical priesthood itself has been replaced. As Christ warned (Matthew 21:43, 45), the Kingdom of God was taken from physical Israel. The Old Testament congregation failed to become "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6) to God. The New Testament Church of God is called upon to step into the role, as a royal priesthood and ambassadors of Christ (1 Peter 2:5, 9; 2 Corinthians 5:20). Of course, all Israelites were not priests. The point of Exodus 19:6 is that Israelites were to model God's way of life before all people. Similarly, we are to set the proper example to those with whom we come in contact.

God's character and standards do not change. If God required a high standard in such matters as proper preparation and appropriate attire for His commanded assemblies under the Levitical priesthood, would He expect less of us today?

Earlier we noted that God looks on the heart. And yes, our hearts must be right before God, but He is still concerned with how we approach Him and appear before Him in holy convocations. Our physical bodies serve as the temple or dwelling place for the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). In the next verse, we are given the following instruction, "For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's."

Since we are instructed to glorify God in our bodies, with our physical substance, shouldn't this especially be the case when we appear before Him at His commanded assemblies? Those times are occasions when we need to give special attention to doing our best to glorify God. This pertains not only to our spiritual perspective, but also to our physical appearance.

Worshiping God in His Commanded Assemblies

One of the principal reasons we appear before God on His Sabbaths is to worship Him. Showing the proper honor and reverence for God is vital. In order to glorify God as we should, we need to make adequate physical preparation for His holy assemblies.

The issue is not whether we as God's people are meeting a particular dress code. Rather, the issue is whether we are placing the proper emphasis on God's holy Sabbaths. We have to remember we are appearing before God, the Supreme Being of the universe. God's Sabbaths are not "Casual Days." Before we come into God's presence at a worship service, we need to reflect on who He is, what He is and what His purpose is for humankind. If we understand and reflect on His purpose and our relationship with Him, we will want to glorify and honor Him to the greatest extent possible. That desire to respect and honor God should be reflected not only in our attitude, but also in our physical actions and appearance.

So, as we prepare for God's Sabbaths, let's remember we are preparing to appear before our loving heavenly Father for the purpose of worshiping Him and learning of His ways. Our attire, our conversation and our attitude should give honor and respect to our great God. UN