The Israelites who were about to take possession of the Promised Land were all under twenty at the time of the Exodus (except Caleb and Joshua). Only Caleb and Joshua were over sixty years old now as they prepared to settle in this new land. Many of their warriors were born and grew to adulthood in the wilderness, never having experienced slavery in Egypt.
For many, the stories of the plagues, the exodus, and the wonders of God's provision were simply stories they'd grown up hearing. As they entered the land God had promised, it would be easy for those born in the new land to dismiss the reality of God's constant presence and His promises, as well as His commands, once their nation was established.
God set aside these celebrations as times for the people to gather and repeat the stories to their children, and to each other, to remind one another of God's blessings and His commands. He called them to unite in a single location and to include all the people, including their servants and foreigners living among them, because God is the God of all people. While He called the nation of Israel for a special purpose, the central theme of that purpose was to bless all nations through Israel. He called them to do no work, and to have their servants do no work, but to instead enjoy a feast celebrating and giving thanks to God.
When we gather with family, are we reminded of all of God's blessings and of His commands for us - to love others as ourselves, to welcome the poor, the widow, and the orphan, and to seek justice? As we look forward to the holidays we celebrate during the coming months, may we make God and worshipping Him the center of our celebrations.