Troublesome Topic: The Feasts Taught Gratitude

Lesson 2 of 6

God taught gratitude through what are called feasts or festivals. I would like to call them Serious, Happy, Pilgrim Ceremonies,

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but for the sake of brevity, I will simply call them Pilgrim Ceremonies. In the land of Israel there were commonly two distinct harvest times during the year, one for grains and one for the produce of the vine and the branch, namely the grapes and the olives. In Deuteronomy chapter 16 we see that God scheduled Pilgrim Ceremonies for them which corresponded to their times of harvest, a Pilgrim Ceremony at the beginning of the grain harvests, another one at the end of the grain harvests, and another Pilgrim Ceremony after the grapes and olives had been brought in. These three Pilgrim Ceremonies were required for all the men of Israel.

The directive was clear for all three of these feasts that no one was to arrive empty handed (Deut. 16:16).

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The Passover feast was also connected to gratitude. It highlighted their identity by pointing to the foundation of the covenant. Their response was to be one of gratitude, renewed commitment, and continued submission. God was so displeased with ingratitude and being self-absorbed that whoever had opportunity to celebrate the Passover and did not, would be cut off from the people of God (Num. 9:13).

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Being excommunicated, i.e. having no nation to call your own, was pretty much a death sentence in ancient times.

Ingratitude is a very serious sin. Rather than it being a minor offense, it is the first caution flag that indicates there are other spiritual ills present in a heart, even though those other things may not yet be visible to man. God made a big deal about the need for gratitude. Basically He was teaching His people that when someone wishes to draw closer to Him, he must do so with gratitude, not ignoring what God has done.

One of the ways they taught their children about gratitude was through a repetitive children’s song that they sang every Passover (and still do). It is called Dayenu, which means “It would have been enough.”

Verse one says, “If he had brought us out of Egypt, if He had brought us out of Egypt, it would have been enough.”

The Chorus repeats “it would have been enough” several times (in the most enjoyable manner).

Verse two says, “If He had given us the Torah, . . . it would have been enough.”

Verse three says, “If He had given us mana, . . . it would have been enough.”

The idea of “only” or “and nothing more” is implied in each verse of this song, including several more beyond these three.

In this song they recognized that they did not deserve anything from God, therefore everything God had done for them was a demonstration of His mercy and grace. 

What a beautiful way to teach the attitude of gratitude.

What Did This Teach?

Most of the feasts prescribed by the Law were for the purpose of showing God their gratitude. Gratitude was the spiritual principle being taught, and the feasts were the teaching method.

For the short version of this series on covenants, the next lesson is: A Weekly Sabbath Day Taught Faith and Trust.

For the medium and full length versions of this series on Covenants, the next lesson is: The Firstfruits Taught Faith and Trust.



The Hebrew word used here has the primary meaning of “pilgrimage,” but it also carries connotations of “solemn,” on one side, and “dancing in a circle” on the other side. These events often involved sacrifices, which were part of the solemnity. But they were also intended to be times of joy. While food was an important part of some of these ceremonies, it was definitely not a “feast” in the sense of getting stuffed full of one’s favorite foods.

2: Dt 16:16

Three times a year all your males shall appear before YHVH your Elohim in the place which He chooses – at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before YHVH empty-handed.

3: Num 9:13

However, the man who is clean and not on a journey, yet fails to keep the Passover, that living being shall be cut off from among his people because he did not bring the offering of YHVH at the appointed time; that man shall bear the consequence of his sin.