5-Minute Bible Studies
PUNCTUALITY – A Five-Minute Study
Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky
Contributed by David and Christine Palmer
Ph.D candidates at Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio
October 20, 2001
BIBLICAL MODEL – The holiness of the appointed time
Time is sacred to God. In fact, He begins the work of creation by establishing day and night so that we can recognize and appreciate the passage of time in our lives. When God sealed a sacred relationship with His people through the covenant at Mount Sinai, He again showed us the importance of time. Through the Torah, Israel was given an entire vision of what it meant to know God and to serve Him in this life. One critical feature of the true worship of God was called “the appointed time.” The “appointed time” was a specific moment in time when God asked Israel to gather before Him for worship. These appointed times were pilgrimage festivals and are respectively called Passover, the Feast of Weeks (or Pentecost) and the Feast of Tabernacles. These appointed times were of different lengths, but each was to be a special moment set apart to share the joy of God with others.
On the one hand, these three festivals mark great moments of salvation history. Passover rehearses the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 1-15). The Feast of Weeks recalls the giving of the Torah from Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-20). The Feast of Tabernacles is associated with the ingathering of all the nations to worship the true and living God (Zechariah 14:16-19). On the other hand, these three festivals mark the turning points of the agricultural year and of the solar year. Passover occurs at the spring equinox and the Feast of Tabernacles at the fall. In both of these aspects, God teaches us that time matters to Him. He marks our days so that we remember his great works of creation and of salvation.
Once we appreciate the value that God places on time, we can apply this to our own lives and our relationships. We should structure our lives with built-in moments to celebrate God with others. We can never forget that our lives do not consist of just one day drudging onto another. On the contrary! God teaches us to fix points in time for rest, for placing relationships above results, and for enjoying the beauty of the world that has been made for us. Just as God calls us to remember important moments in time, we should remember to celebrate important moments in our own lives and those dear to us. Punctuality is the resolved discipline to realize all the benefits which God has set out for us in “the appointed time.”
PUNCTUALITY IN OUR LIVES THIS WEEK–
Some practical evidences of punctuality in our lives are seen in the following “I will” statements:
I will ask God to help me fix “appointed times” in my life.
I will seek to love God myself and with others during these sacred times.
I will express my appreciation for the gift of time by being on time.
I will do my work on schedule.
I will be prepared for all my appointments and responsibilities.
PUNCTUALITY IN MY LIFE THIS WEEK–
Spend a few minutes in personal reflection with God:
Choose an appointed time to spend with God. Ask Him to teach you about the importance and significance of appointed times. Ask for forgiveness where you have failed to remember appointed times of worship or appointed times in the lives of people you care about. Resolve through prayer and the power of His grace in your life to honor God by keeping appointed times in the future.
Divide into groups and discuss:
- What do these appointed times as festivals teach us about God? about ourselves? about our need for special occasions?
- Which are the most important appointed times in your religious calendar? in your personal calendar?
- How can you more fully express your love of God and appreciation for the gift of time this week?
This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.