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Should Christians Keep the Jewish Feasts?

CHRISTIANS & THE JEWISH FEAST DAYS

INTRODUCTION

This article will attempt to answer the question, Should Christians observe the seven annual religious holy days of ancient Israel, described in Leviticus 23?

The Jewish holy days involved sacrificing animals. The sacrifices and the days were to keep in mind the evil results of sin and point forward to Christ who would take our sins upon Himself and die in our place. This study presents several lines of reasoning which show that Christ has abolished the Jewish holy days and that Christians need not to observe them.

What were the annual Jewish religious days?

There were 7 annual Jewish religious days which are described in Leviticus chapter 23.

(See Margin Note:Ex.23:17; Deut.16:16).

1. Passover(Lev.23:4-5; Ex.12:1-48; Num.9:1-5,

14; Deut.16:1

2. Unleavened Bread(Ex.12:14-17; 23:15; Deut.

16:3-8

3. Firstfruits(Ex.23:16-19; Num.28:26)

4. Pentecost(Deut.16:9-11; Ex.34:22; Num.28:26; [known as:Festival of Harvest/ Festival of Weeks/ Wheat Harvest]

5. Trumpets(Lev.23:23-25; 25:9; Num.29:1)

6. Atonement(Lev.16:29-34; 23:26-32; Ex.30:7-10;

7. Tabernacles(Deut.16:13-15; 31:10-13; [known as Festival of Booths].

All these religious days were ANNUAL CEREMONIAL events that were besides** the WEEKLY seventh day Sabbath of the MORAL Law. As it is written: "These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day: BESIDE the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD." Lev 23:37-38. Some of the ANNUAL HOLY DAYS were also annual sabbaths. See Plural Sabbaths@**http://www.colossians-2-16.net/

Why were the annual Jewish religious days instituted?

Had sin never occurred, there never would have been any annual religious holy days and sacrifices. The annual religious days, sacrifices etc, were instituted only AFTER and because of sin and were to show us how God would deal with the sin problem. They were the Gospel in type. For example, beside commemorating Israel's deliverance from Egypt, (Exo 12:25-27) the Passover also pointed forward to "Christ our Passover." (1Cor 5:7). The First-fruits of the harvest was taken into the sanctuary and waved before God on the day of First-fruits, the third day after Passover. It pointed forward to "Christ… the first-fruits of them that slept" (1Cor 15:20), who presented Himself before the Father in heaven in Heaven's sanctuary on "the third day" after His crucifixion, etc (Matt 17:23; 27:64 etc).

What purpose did the Jewish holy days have?

The holy days were commemorative of events in Israel’s past and, like the animal sacrifices and the entire earthly ministry, they were designed to point forward to Christ’s life, death, and ministry in the heavenly sanctuary (Heb 8:2-5).

The ceremonial ordinances were written in a book by the hand of Moses and were distinct from the moral ten commandments which were written on stone by the finger of God. The moral law defines sin, the ceremonial law explained how Christ was to deal with sin.

Distinction between the ceremonial law and the Moral Law

It is very important to recognize the distinction between the CEREMONIAL laws and the MORAL Law.

Sin is the transgression of the ETERNAL MORAL LAW of God - the Ten Commandments. (see 1 John 3:4 and Romans 7:7)

The annual feasts and holy days were part of the TEMPORARY CEREMONIAL LAW.

The Ten Commandments DEFINE sin. The ceremonial law illustrated how God would DEAL WITH SIN - the innocent would die in the place of the guilty and there would be a certain schedule of events prefigured in the Jewish annual religious days.

The sacrificial system began in Eden with the sacrifices required to clothe Adam and Eve with coats of skins (Gen 3:21). The sacrificial system was expanded, and became the ceremonial law, which included meat and drink offerings, holy days, and annual sabbaths. These things, along with the priesthood and the sanctuary, were to teach people of the work of Christ, our High Priest (Heb 8:1). The priests did "serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things…" Heb 8:5.

Eternal MORAL Law and the temporary CEREMONIAL Law

(a) The ceremonial ordinances, including the Jewish holy days, were written IN A BOOK by the HAND OF MOSES and were distinct from the Moral Ten Commandments, which were written ON STONE by the FINGER OF GOD.

(b) The moral law DEFINES SIN; the ceremonial law explained how Christ was to DEAL WITH SIN.

(c) The moral law, with the weekly Sabbath existed BEFORE SIN (Gen 2:2-3). The ceremonial law, with all the ceremonial holy days and annual sabbaths, was added only AFTER SIN.

(d) The time to keep the annual ceremonial sabbaths was VARIABLE because it was determined by the observation of the Moon, whereas the seventh day Sabbath was FIXED and not variable.

(e) The Moral law consists of ETERNAL Moral principles (thou shalt not - blaspheme, bow to idols, steal, lie etc) whereas the ceremonial laws and sacrifices were TEMPORARY (Sacrifices of sheep, cows, sparrows; eating roasted lamb, waving grain in the sanctuary etc. - these things will not continue for eternity).

(f) The Moral law existed BEFORE sin, whereas the ceremonial law did not exist until AFTER sin.

Moral Law versus the Ceremonial Law

1. God spoke moral law (ML) (Exo 20:1, 22), Moses Spoke Ceremonial Law (CL)

2. God wrote the Moral Law (twice) (Exo 31:18, 32:16. Moses wrote the CL (Exo 24:4-7, Deut 31:9)

3. ML written on STONE (everlasting) (Exo 31:18). CL written in a BOOK (Exo 24:4,7 Deut 31:24)

4. God gave ML to Moses (Exo 31:18). Moses gave CL to Levites (Deut 31:25,26)

5. Moral Law kept INSIDE the ark (Deut 10:5). Ceremonial Law kept OUTSIDE the ark (Deut 31:26)

6. Moral Law reveals sin (Rom 7:7). CL was temporary regulations and ordinances (Bk of Leviticus)

7. Breaking the Moral Law is SIN (1John 3:4). Not a Sin to NOT KEEP the Ceremonial Law today (Eph 2:15)

8. We are taught to keep the ML (James 2:10). No apostolic command to keep CL (Acts 15:24)

9. We are to be judged by the ML (James 2:12). We are NOT to be judged by CL (Col 2:16)

10. Blessing to observe Moral Law (James 1:25). No blessing to observe CL (Gal 5:1-6)

11. ML is the perfect Law of Liberty (James 1:25). One who observes CL loses liberty (Gal 5:1,3)

12. Moral Law a delight (Rom 7:22). Ceremonial Law a yoke (Gal 5:1, Acts 15:10)

13. Moral Law is the Law that was ESTABLISHED (Rom 3:31). CL was ABOLISHED (Eph 2:15)

14. Christ magnified the Moral Law (Is 42:21). Christ BLOTTED OUT the Ceremonial Law (Col 2:14)

15. The Moral Law is Spiritual (Rom 7:14). Ceremonial Law was carnal (Heb 7:16)

To summarize so far:

There were two laws, the ETERNAL MORAL LAW, the TEN commandments, that DEFINES sin, and the TEMPORARY CEREMONIAL LAW that illustrated how God would DEAL WITH SIN. The annual ceremonial religious days were part of what for convenience we call the 'ceremonial law.'

What relevance do the Jewish sacred seasons have for the Christian?

While the feasts had commemorative value they also pointed forward to Christ:

1. Passover - Commemorated the Angel of death 'passing over' God's people in Egypt. Pointed forward, “...Christ our PASSOVER is sacrificed for us:” 1Cor 5:7. The angel of death will pass over those who have applied the blood of Christ to their lives.

2. Seven days of Unleavened bread - Christ’s holy life. Seven represents completeness and points forward to a life completely free from sin, which was symbolized by leaven. "Let us keep the feast not with old leaven, nether with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincertiy and truth." 1Cor 5:8.

3. Firstfruits - Firstfruits were offered the third day after the Passover. This pointed forward to Christ presenting Himself before the Father on the third day following His crucifixion. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the FIRSTFRUITS of them that slept.” 1Cor 15:20.

4. Pentecost - Thought to have commemorated the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. The day also pointed forward to the outpouring of God’s Spirit. “And when the day of PENTECOST was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place...they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:1, 4.

5. Trumpets - Warned of the coming day of atonement. End-time warning message preceding the judgment.

6. Atonement - A day when the sanctuary was cleansed. The earthly priests ministered unto "the example and shadow of heavenly things" (Heb 8:8). As the earthly sanctuary was cleansed of the sins that had been confessed into it throughout the year, so heaven's sanctuary is to be cleansed by Christ of the sins that have been confessed into it (Heb 9:23).

7. Tabernacles - As the Jews lived in booths or tabernacles for a time during the Feast of Tabernacles before returning home so the church will ascend to be with Christ at His return and tabernacle with Him in heaven for 1000 years before returning 'home.'

The Millennium, when God's people are with Christ in heaven, is the Great Feast of Tabernacles after which the family of God will return home to this world that's cleansed, restored, and made new.

The Ceremonial Law abolished

When Christ, to which they had pointed, died, the holy days, along with the entire Levitical ministry, was abolished.

1. Christ has Abolished the Ceremonial Law and the associated Annual Feast Days.

By His death on the cross, Jesus abolished the ceremonial law that had for thousands of years pointed forward to His life and death. We no longer need to sacrifice (cause to die) certain animals at certain times for certain sins. We no longer need to circumcise or worship at Jerusalem, or keep the annual feast days, as the following verses show:

2. Christ ENDED the sin offerings

Christ made "an end of sins" (Daniel 9:24). The word translated “sins” (Heb. chattah) is frequently(104X)translated “sin offerings.” Christ ended the sacrificial system of sin offerings when He died, the One to whom all the sin offerings pointed. Christ is THE great sin offering to which the animal sacrifices pointed.

3. Christ has caused the sacrifice and oblation TO CEASE

To confirm that Christ ended the sacrifices and offerings we read: “...in the midst of the week [the 70th week of Dan 9] he [Messiah the Prince] shall cause the SACRIFICE AND OBLATION TO CEASE...” Daniel 9:27. Bracketed comments added for explanation.

By His death on the cross Christ caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease. Note: Many of the ceremonial days (Passover etc.) were to sacrifice animals. As the sacrifices are ended so then are the ceremonial days.

4. God Himself showed that the sacrificial system ended when Christ died

When Christ died, God Himself tore the curtain of the temple from top to bottom to show that in Heaven's sight the earthly sacrificial ceremonial system had ceased (Matt 27:50-51; Luke 23:45). The Levitical system was then made redundant. Indeed, it would be an insult to the sacrifice of Christ to continue sacrificing animals that were to point forward to His sacrificial death, which was offered once. (see Heb 9:26-28).

5. When Christ died the ordinances and feast days of the Old Covenant were ABOLISHED.

Ephesians 2:15

“Having ABOLISHED in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ORDINANCES; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace;”

Ordinances” refer to the rites & ceremonies of the Jewish ceremonial law. See Heb 9:10 margin; Exo 12:14-17). Christ abolished the Jewish ordinances, some which only a circumcised Jew could observe, and which had created a wall of partition (Eph 2:14) and an enmity between Jewish and Gentile believers.

By His death in the middle of the 70th week (Daniel 9) Christ caused the “sacrifice and oblation TO CEASE.” (v 27).

Christ made an end of sins (Dan 9:24). The word translated “sins” (Heb. chattah) is frequently translated “sin offerings.” Christ ended the sacrificial system when He, the One to whom all the sin offerings pointed, died. To confirm that Christ ended the sacrifices and offerings we read: “...in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation TO CEASE,...” Dan 9:27.

Colossians 2:14-17

“BLOTTING OUT THE HANDWRITING OF ORDINANCES that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday [Gr. heorte, feast, festival], or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days]: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (Col.2:14)

In view of the fact that these holy days, meat offerings, drink offerings, and ceremonial sabbath days [See Lev 23, esp. v 37-38] were only “shadows” pointing to Christ, and as Christ has blotted out these ordinances, Christians are no longer to observe them. We are not to be concerned if others condemn us. Paul and the other apostles labored to show this, and resolutely withstood those Judaizing teachers who declared that Christians were to keep the ceremonial law. Though some continued to keep the Jewish holy days Christians should not. Note: The sabbaths here mentioned were the temporary ceremonial sabbaths which were “besides” the eternal moral seventh day Sabbath (Lev 23:38).

In view of the fact that Christ has abolished the handwriting of ordinances we need no longer be concerned if some judge us for not observing the meat offerings, drink offerings, holy days, new moons and annual sabbath days that were specified in the ordinances.

Ordinances refer to the rites & ceremonies of the Jewish ceremonial law. (See Heb 9:10 margin; Exo 12:14-17).

Handwriting (Greek cheirographon, refers to a manuscript, specifically a legal document or bond. See Strong's Concordance.) The ordinances were written by the hand of Moses (see Deut 31:24), unlike the Ten Commandments, which were written by the FINGER of God (Exo 31:18).

Blotted out a term applicable to the handwritten ceremonial law written in a book. This term is not applicable to the Ten Commandments which were written (engraved) in stone by the finger of God).

The "handwriting of ordinances" refers to the ordinances of the Old Covenant which involved meat and drink offerings, observing holy days, new moons and annual sabbaths.

Note how the following texts refer to the same things that Colossians 2 speaks of as being blotted out.

1. "MEAT offerings and unleavened cakes…And to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the Lord in the SABBATHS, in the NEW MOONS, and on the set FEASTS…" 1Chron 23:29-31.

2. "…burnt offerings and peace offerings…for the burn offering, to whit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings for the SABBATHS, and for the NEW MOONS, and for the set FEASTS, as it is written IN THE LAW OF THE LORD." 2Chron 31:1-2.

3. "For the shewbread, and for the continual MEATS offering, and the continual burnt offering, of the SABBATHS, of the NEW MOONS, for the set FEASTS, and for all the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of God." Neh 10:33.

4. "And it shall be the prince's part to give burnt offerings, and MEAT offerings, and DRINK offerings, in the FEASTS, and in the NEW MOONS, and in the SABBATHS…" Eze 45:17.

These ordinances, written by the hand of Moses, pointed forward to Christ, and when Christ, the One to whom it had all pointed, died, He "took it out of the way nailing it to His cross." Therefore Christians ought not to be concerned if judged by those who think that we must still observe these abolished ordinances.

Some claim that the "handwriting of ordinances" refers to the UNINSPIRED Jewish traditions, but this CANNOT be for the following reasons:

(a) The Apostle Paul called the handwriting of ordinances that was blotted out "a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ." The unbiblical Jewish traditions were never a shadow.

(b) As shown, everything mentioned in Colossians - the meat offerings, drink offerings, Holy days, new moons and annual Sabbaths, are mentioned as being part of the ordinances of God. For example, "And it shall be the prince's part to give burnt offerings, and MEAT offerings, and DRINK offerings, in the FEASTS, and in the NEW MOONS, and in the SABBATHS…" Eze 45:17.

The handwriting of ordinances, which were a shadow of things to come, were the Jewish ceremonial ordinances written by the hand of Moses that pointed forward to the life, death and ministry of Christ.

In what sense were God's ceremonial ordinances "against us"?

According to the Jewish interpretation of the ceremonial laws they made them a "wall of partition" (Eph 2:14) which stood AGAINST the union of Jewish and Gentile believers. Any Gentile wishing to join "the commonwealth of Israel" (Eph 2:12) would find the Jewish interpretation of the ceremonial law a BARRIER preventing them from worshipping the true God. This wall of partition that was against unity Christ has "abolished" (Eph 2:15). (Jn.17:21-23; Gal.3:28-29)

No longer do all circumcised males have to attend Jerusalem twice a year etc. We are not to be concerned if others judge us for no longer observing them. Paul and the other apostles labored to show this, and resolutely withstood those Judaizing teachers who declared that Christians were to keep the ceremonial law. Though some continued to keep the Jewish holy days Christians should not when they see that they had pointed to Christ. For Christians to knowingly participate in the Jewish Feasts is tantamount to denying that Jesus has fulfilled them. Furthermore, if the feasts are not observed as the Old Testament stipulated then we are not observing that which God commanded.

Do the Sabbaths spoken of in Colossians 2 include the weekly Sabbath?

1. The sabbaths mentioned in Col 2 were “SHADOWS of things TO COME” and cannot include the seventh day Sabbath, which is a memorial of creation PAST.

2. The sabbaths that were blotted out were “AGAINST US” (Col 2:14) so they cannot refer to the seventh day Sabbath which Jesus said was made “FOR man.” (Mark 2:27-28).

3. The annual ceremonial sabbaths were “BESIDES*” the eternal moral seventh day Sabbath (See Lev 23:38). *cf. Num.29:39

4. In Colossians the annual sabbaths spoken of are lumped with other ceremonial ORDINANCES (meat and drink offerings etc) that ended at the cross.

5. The sabbaths here spoken of were “BLOTTED OUT.” This terminology of blotting is applicable to the ceremonial sabbaths, which Moses wrote in a book, but it is not applicable to the Moral Law and the seventh day Sabbath, which God engraved in stone. You can blot words out of a book but you cannot blot out words that are engraved in stone.

6. The handwriting was “NAILED” to the cross. This term is also applicable to a book but not to a law written on stone tablets. One could nail a book to a cross but one cannot nail stone tablets to a cross. 7. Feasts OF THE JEWS

“...a feast of the Jews” John 5:1.

“...Passover, a feast of the Jews.” John 6:4.

“...the Jews’ feast of tabernacles.” John 7:2.

The fact that the disciple John said these feasts were “OF THE JEWS,” show that the feasts were JEWISH and NOT CHRISTIAN.

Note the phrase, “King of the Jews,” doesn’t show Christ to be only a Jewish king because the phrase was given by a Roman ruler, not an inspired Christian disciple writing after Calvary. Christ was born a Jew, and He was King of the Jews, but He is also King of kings and Lord of lords; God of the whole world.

His qualification “OF THE JEWS,” indicates that they were NOT of the Christian church. In contrast, the Bible never says that the 7th day Sabbath is “of the Jews.” On the contrary, it presents the weekly Sabbath as being made for ALL MEN. “The Sabbath was made FOR MAN.” (Mark 2:27, 28). In Num 29:39, when speaking to the Jews, God referred to “YOUR set feasts.” The feasts were feasts of the JEWS.

Does it then mean that the feasts of the Jews simply means that they were given to the Jews for all believers to observe today?

No. As shown, the ceremonial laws have been blotted out, abolished, ceased, because they pointed to Christ, and He has come.

Jesus foretold that the Jewish holy days were no longer going to be kept.

A woman said to Jesus, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in JERUSALEM is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall NEITHER in this mountain, nor yet AT JERUSALEM, worship the Father.” (John 4:20-21). According to the Jewish ceremonial law, Jewish males had to worship AT JERUSALEM on three of the Jewish feasts (Deut 16:16; 1Kings 14:21). Jesus’ words, “neither...at Jerusalem” showed that the law of the Jewish feasts, which required male attendance at Jerusalem, was to be abolished. John 4:22-23 shows that this would occur in Christ’s time. Indeed the ceremonial law was blotted out when Christ died and was witnessed to by God tearing in half the Temple veil at that time.

If it isn't done as God required it isn't done at all.

Those who believe we should keep the feasts must attend the feasts at literal Jerusalem, on the day specified, otherwise they are not observing the ceremonial law as given to Moses. If one is not killing Passover lambs etc. one is not keeping the law as Moses gave it. One either does it as Moses specified or one is not doing it at all. On what basis can anyone keep the Jewish feasts while ignoring the rest of the Jewish ceremonial law? The feasts were to offer offerings and sacrifices (Lev 23:37). No sacrifices, then no feasts, because the feasts’ purpose was to offer sacrifices.

See Questions Answered to see that there is no support for Christians observing these annual days.

Paul reveals that the ordinances had PASSED AWAY

In Heb 9:8-10 Paul speaks of the various sacrifices, offerings & ordinances in the PAST TENSE which stood until the time of reformation*. *temporary in nature until a more perfect system(gospel system) shall be introduced. **emanation=process of making a revision.

WHY, asks the Apostle Paul, do some wish to be subject to the ordinances?

“Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ORDINANCES...” Colossians 2:20.

Why continue to observe the type when the antitype has come? Those who believe that Christ fulfilled the ordinances ought not to keep the types. Jesus foretold that the Jewish holy days were no longer going to be kept: A woman said to Jesus, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in JERUSALEM is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall NEITHER in this mountain, nor yet AT JERUSALEM, worship the Father.” (John 4:20-21). According to the ceremonial law Jewish males had to worship AT JERUSALEM on three of the Jewish feasts (Deut 16:16; 1Kings 14:21). Jesus’ words, “neither...at Jerusalem” showed that the law of the Jewish feasts, which required male attendance at Jerusalem, was to be abolished. John 4:22-23 shows that this would occur in Christ’s time. Indeed the ceremonial law was blotted out when Christ died.

How did God show that the sacrifices and oblations were no longer of significance after Christ’s death?

God tore the curtain in the sanctuary when Christ died. (Matt 27:50-51; Luke 23:45). The Levitical system was then made redundant. In Heb 9:8-10 Paul speaks of the various sacrifices, offerings & ordinances in the PAST TENSE.

Note that Paul speaks of the Jewish meat offerings & drink offerings, washings and ordinances as HISTORY and PAST, NOT PRESENT.

(a) The time THEN present, (past tense) but NOT NOW present.

(b) That WERE OFFERED, (past tense).

(c) Which COULD not, (past tense).

(d) Which STOOD, (past tense), but are no longer standing.

(e) UNTIL the time of reformation came and they are now no longer standing.

These holy days were fulfilled on the very day. Christ died as our Passover on the very day of the Passover(14th Nisan) He rested in the Tomb (15th Nisan). He arose as the Firstfruits and presented Himself in Heaven on the very day the Firstfruits were presented on earth (16th Nisan). He also fulfilled the details. e.g. None of His bones were broken, just as with the Passover lamb. (Exo 12:46; John 19:36).

The Ceremonial Law abolished

When Christ, to which they had pointed, died, the holy days, along with the entire Levitical ministry, was abolished.

In view of the fact that Christ has abolished the handwriting of ordinances we need no longer be concerned if some judge us for not observing the meat offerings, drink offerings, holy days, new moons and annual sabbath days that were specified in the ordinances.

Ordinances refer to the rites & ceremonies of the Jewish ceremonial law. (See Heb 9:10 margin; Exo 12:14-17).

In Galatians 4:9-11 Paul spoke to those who would continue to observe these shadows saying, “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I AM AFRAID OF [or FOR] YOU, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”

The abolishing of the Mosaic system by Christ was foretold:

Ps 40:6-8 “Sacrifice and offering thou DIDST NOT DESIRE; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book [it is] written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law [is] within my heart.”

Paul explains this in Hebrews: “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, [and] not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered YEAR BY YEAR continually make the comers thereunto perfect...Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and [offering] for sin thou WOULDEST NOT, neither hadst pleasure [therein]; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. HE TAKETH AWAY THE FIRST, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE [FOR ALL]. Heb 10:1-10.

Notice that the YEAR BY YEAR offerings (e.g. The ANNUAL Passover etc.) have been TAKEN AWAY by the ONCE FOR ALL offering of Christ.

Can Christians keep the annual Passover as a memorial and claim that on that day they ‘sacrifice’ Christ as their Passover sacrifice?

First of all, the Passover required that A SHEEP be sacrificed ON THE DAY. As Christ died ONCE for all (Heb 10:10) He cannot be any repeated as an ANNUAL sacrifice for those who continue to keep the annual Passover unless of course you want to be Roman Catholic and offer up Christ as a new sacrifice at every Mass.

The Holy Spirit confirms that the LAW OF MOSES IS ENDED(Acts 15:28)

The Holy Spirit confirms that the Jewish holy days are ended: Certain Jewish converts taught “That it was needful to circumcise them [Gentile converts], and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5, 24). As a result the Apostolic Council sat and concluded that the Gentile converts did NOT need to be circumcised or keep the law of Moses which Peter described as an unbearable “yoke.” (See Acts 15, esp. v 10, 28). Take note that this was the Holy Spirit inspired decision of the Apostles (Acts 15:28).

But the council spoke only of Gentiles, what about Jews? Eventually it was recognized that if the Gentiles could be saved without observing the Jewish feasts, contained in the law of Moses, then so too could Jewish Christians. As one had to be literally circumcised in order to observe the literal Passover (Exo 12:48), and as Christians don’t have to be literally circumcised, it is clear that they don’t have to keep the literal Passover, otherwise they would have to be literally circumcised.

Type met antitype in the death of Christ and to continue with the types is a denial of Christ

The following comments summarize the Biblical evidence presented:

“After the crucifixion, it was a denial of Christ for the Jews to continue to offer the burnt offerings and sacrifices which were typical of His death. It was saying to the world that they looked for a Redeemer to come, and had no faith in Him who had given His life for the sins of the world. Hence the ceremonial law ceased to be of force at the death of Christ.” E.G. White, Signs of the Times, 29 July 1886.

“Christ was standing at the point of transition between two economies and their two great festivals. . . . As He ate the Passover with His disciples, He instituted IN ITS PLACE the service that was to be the memorial of His great sacrifice. The national festival of the Jews was to PASS AWAY forever. The service which Christ established was to be observed by His followers in all lands and through all ages.” E.G. White, The Desire of Ages, 652.

“Christ ate the Passover supper with His disciples just before His crucifixion, and the same night, instituted the ordinance of the Lord’s supper, to be observed in commemoration of His death. Up to this time the Passover had been observed to commemorate the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt. But IN ITS PLACE He now left an ordinance to commemorate the events of His crucifixion.” E.G. White, Signs of the Times, 25 March, 1880.

“When the Saviour yielded up His life on Calvary, the significance of the Passover CEASED, and the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper was instituted as a memorial of the same event of which the Passover had been A TYPE.” E.G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, 539.

“In this ordinance [The Lord’s Supper], Christ discharged His disciples from the cares and burdens of the ancient Jewish obligations in rites and ceremonies. These no longer possessed any virtue; for type was meeting antitype in Himself, the authority and foundation of all Jewish ordinances that pointed to Him as the great and only efficacious offering for the sins of the world... It was Christ’s desire to leave to His disciples an ordinance that would do for them the very thing they needed--that would serve to disentangle them from the rites and ceremonies which they had hitherto engaged in as essential, and which the reception of the gospel made no longer of any force. To continue these rites would be an insult to Jehovah.” E.G. White, 5 Bible Commentary, p1139-1140.

“Paul did not bind himself nor his converts to the ceremonies and customs of the Jews, with their varied forms, types, and sacrifices; for he recognized that the perfect and final offering had been made in the death of the Son of God...” E.G. White, Sketches From the Life of Paul p105.

Church History and Jewish holy days

Truth is determined by the Bible alone. Though some sects may have observed the Passover others did not. The post-apostolic church debated whether Christians needed to observe the Passover. The evidence presented here shows that the non-observance of the Jewish feasts by Christians through the centuries was the correct.

CONCLUSION/Review

(a) The ceremonial holy days were “Jewish” and not Christian (John 5:1; 6:4; 7:2). Christians are not subject to Jewish holy days.

(b) Christians would not honour Christ by observing the Jewish holy days today, as the feasts were to point forward to Christ, not back, and “ceased,” were “abolished,” and “blotted out” when Christ died (Col 2:14-17; Eph 2:15).

(c) The New Testament speaks of the holy days as having a purpose in the past which was to last until Christ came. (Heb 9:8-10).

(d) The apostle Paul asks why Christians would subject themselves to the Jewish ordinances. (Col 2:20).

(e) The apostle Paul feared that he had laboured in vain for those who continued to observe the holy days (Gal 4:9-11).

(f) Jews who keep the holy days look for a Messiah to come. Christians should not appear to be doing the same. (Heb.9:26)

(g) One either observes the Passover etc. as God gave it (including animal sacrifice) or one is not observing it at all. The Passover required that a sheep be sacrificed on the day. As Christ died ONCE for all (Heb 10:10) He cannot be any part of an annual Passover.

(h) The Holy Spirit agreed that the Gentile converts were not to keep the ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic law which Peter called an unbearable yoke. (See Acts 15, esp. v 5, 10, 28).

(i) The Lord gave the new ordinance of the Lord’s supper to replace the old ordinance of the Passover. Unlike the Passover, the Lord’s supper is not an annual event but an occasional memorial of Christians’ continuous feast on the Word and Christ. It may be held as often as we choose. (1Cor 11:25-26).

(j) Both John and Jesus called the feasts "your feasts and the feasts of the Jews."

Jn.5:1; 6:4; 7:2; Num.29:39

In Rom 14:5 we see that some found giving up the literal feast days hard. We can only pray that they see their fulfillment in Christ and find freedom. Praise God that we no longer need to kill innocent animals or go on weary annual pilgrimages as some of the Jewish holy days required. Christ has brought in a better ministry with better ordinances - the very ministry the ceremonial system and holy days foreshadowed.

Does the following indicate that we should observe the Feast of Tabernacles?

"Shall not the people of God more frequently have holy convocations in which to thank God for His rich blessings?” E.G. White, Counsels To Parents, Teachers, and Students, page 343.

Note: Holy convocations simply means holy gatherings. There is no mention of observing Jewish feasts. Obviously the brethren were having holy convocations because the text speaks of having them “more frequently.” The brethren were not observing any Jewish holy days so that which they were to have “more frequently” were not the Jewish holy days but simply holy gatherings.

“Well would it be for us to have a feast of tabernacles, a joyous commemoration of the blessings of God to us as a people.” E.G. White, Patriarchs & Prophets, p540.

Note: “A” feast, not “THE” feast. The context shows that the feast spoken of here was to commemorate the experience of OUR CHURCH just as the feast of tabernacles had commemorated the experiences of Israel. Some believe that the annual church camp meetings would fulfill this counsel.

MISUNDERSTOOD VERSES

The Jewish holy days are sometimes used in the New Testament to give the timing of events(see Acts 2:1; 12:3-4; 27:9 below). Paul attended some of the Jewish holy days where he no doubt showed those attending that the feasts pointed to Christ. No New Testament reference to the Jewish holy days shows that the apostolic church observed them. This is consistent with all the passages showing that Christ has abolished and blotted out the ceremonial ordinances.

One passage sometimes used to argue that the Feasts have not been abolished is Exodus 12: “...ye shall keep it [PASSOVER] a feast by an ordinance FOR EVER...And ye shall observe [the feast of] UNLEAVENED BREAD...by an ordinance FOR EVER.” Exo 12:14, 17.

The word translated “forever,” (Heb. olam*) is used elsewhere in the Bible. The Bible’s use of this word shows that in Scripture it does not always mean without end.*properly concealed

>that is the vanishing point; generally a time out of mind, past or future; also means, "as long as the nature of the subject allows." >> (Strongs).

Jonah was in the whale “for ever,” (Jonah 2:6) i.e. 3 days.

The servant served his master “for ever,” (Exo 21:6) i.e. as long as both parties lived.

Gahazi contracted leprosy “for ever,” (2Kings 5:27) i.e. as long as he lived.

David was to be Israel’s king “for ever” (1Chron 28:4). i.e. as long as he lived.

Aaron and his sons served forever (1Chron 23:13), i.e. as long as they lived

As applied to God “for ever” means as long as God shall live - i.e. eternally. We see that for ever (Heb. Olam) means as long as the nature of the subject allows.

The Passover was to last till Christ. Lambs will not be sacrificed and eaten throughout all eternity! Neither will Christ be repeatedly crucified every year for “Christ died once for all.” (Heb 9:28; 10:10).

Isaiah 66:22-23

"For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me. . . And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith Lord."

Does this mean that we will be keeping the Jewish holy days in the new earth?

It does not mention keeping any Jewish holy days. All that it says is that we will keep the Sabbath and that from one new moon to another (monthly) we will go up to before the Lord, probably to eat the 12 manner of fruits that the tree of life bears.

Acts 2:1 “And when the day of PENTECOST was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”

This does not state that the church is to continue observing Pentecost. The mention of Pentecost is to give the timing of the events. Pentecost, of all the feast days, attracted more pilgrims from distant lands. The dangers of travel by sea and land in early spring (Acts 27:9) resulted in fewer pilgrims from foreign lands attending either the feast of Passover or Tabernacles. The large numbers of foreign pilgrims attending Pentecost made it the perfect time to share the message of Christ with representatives of many nations. Thus on the very day of Pentecost God gave His church the gift of tongues in order to reach those assembled at Jerusalem from many lands.

Acts 12:3-4 “And because he [Herod] saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of UNLEAVENED BREAD.) And when he had apprehended him, he put [him] in prison, and delivered [him] to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter [Gr. pascha, PASSOVER] to bring him forth to the people.”

This does not state that the church was observing the day, it merely gives us the timing of the events. The phrase “Then were the days of unleavened bread,” are in parenthesis and give no indication that Peter or any other Christians were observing the day.

Acts 18:21 “But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means KEEP this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.”

(a) This verse (Acts 18:21) mentions a feast that occurred “IN JERUSALEM.” There were three* feasts which required ALL Jewish men to go to Jerusalem, the place God chose (Deut 16:16; 1Kings 14:21). The fact that Paul LEFT THE BRETHREN to go to Jerusalem shows that the Christian brethren were NOT observing the feast. *Passover-unleavened bread/Pentecost/Feast of Tabernacles.

(b) We know that it's not the brethren who would be going to Jerusalem because Paul would have to “return” in order to meet them later. Paul’s return is described in Acts 19:1.

(c) As the Christian brethren were NOT KEEPING THIS JEWISH FEAST we may ask why did Paul say “I must keep it?” There is actually a question over whether Paul said this at all. Some manuscripts omit the phrase, “I must by all means keep this feast that cometh at Jerusalem. For example the R.S.V. translation reads, “But on taking leave of them he said, ‘I will return to you if God wills,’ and he set sail for Ephesus.” Acts 18:21. Several translations omit the phrase, “I must keep this feast,” such as the N.I.V.; R.S.V.; Amplified.

(d) One thing certain is that PAUL DID NOT SAY that “WE must keep it.” This is powerful. Were Christians expected to keep it surely Paul would have said, “WE.” He did not, because we are not.

(e) Even if the disputed phrase is accepted it still fails to teach that Christians observed the Jewish feasts as has been shown. One of the meanings of the word translated “keep” (Gr. poieo) is “to make a thing out of something.” Paul, as an evangelist, was saying to the brethren who were NOT attending the feast, “I Paul, must by all means make something out of this feast that cometh in Jerusalem.” Paul, as his manner was, desired to make an evangelistic opportunity of it. Real Reason is found in 1Cor.9:19-20, 22.

Acts 20:6 “And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of UNLEAVENED BREAD, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.”

This does not state that the church was observing the day(some sects were). The reason they stayed until the festival was over is not stated but it was about this time in the Spring that shipping resumed in the Mediterranean. No doubt they explained to those observing the feasts that the feast pointed to Christ. None of this proves it to be a Christian festival.

Acts 20:16 “For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of PENTECOST.”

This does not state that Paul or the church was observing the day, only that Paul wanted to be there on that day. Just why Paul wished, if possible, to be in Jerusalem is not stated. No doubt Paul would have used the feast as a wonderful evangelistic opportunity revealing that the feasts pointed to Christ. Paul determined to be there but there is no suggestion that the other Christian brethren hasted to be there in order to observe the feast.

Acts 24:14 “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the LAW and in the prophets:”

Paul BELIEVED all the Old Testament, as do we, but this does not show that Paul observed the ceremonial holy days when He said this. The ceremonial law demanded circumcision yet Paul taught that literal circumcision was nothing (1Cor 7:19; Gal 5:6).

Acts 27:9 “Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the FAST was now already past, Paul admonished [them],”

This does not state that the church was observing the day. The mention of the feast is to give the timing of the events here recorded. The fast is evidently the Day of Atonement in late October when approaching winter weather made sailing dangerous in that part of the world. All males had to appear IN JERUSALEM for the feast of Tabernacles (Deut 16:16; 1Kings 14:21) which occurred 5 days after the Day of Atonement (Lev 23:27-34). The fact that Paul was at this time sailing around the Mediterranean indicates that he was not an observer of the feast of Tabernacles.

1Cor 5:8 “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our PASSOVER is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us KEEP THE FEAST, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth.”

This does not state that the church was observing the literal events on the literal day. On the contrary it shows that Christ was the One to Whom all the Passover lambs had pointed. Christians keep the feast in its antitypical form, not on an annual day but continually. Not with literal unleavened bread but with lives unleavened with sin. Not with an annual sacrifice but with the once for all sacrifice of Christ. Not applying blood over literal doors yearly but applying Christ’s blood to our hearts continually. Trusting that in the closing scenes of earth the angel of death will pass over us.

“Let us keep,” or rather “Let us continue keeping,” our lives always free of the leaven of wickedness and malice.

Paul in Rom 14:5 showed that observing the literal feast days was no longer necessary (some found it hard to give up the feast days).

1Cor 16:8 “But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.”

All this states is that Paul wished to tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. It contains no counsel for the brethren to tarry also. No command for Christians to observe the day.

Luke 22:15-16 “And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

Does this show that the Passover will not be fulfilled until the kingdom is set up at the Second Coming? Will Christ keep a Passover in heaven with His redeemed saints?

This Passover was the last Passover and the first Lord’s Supper. What feast will the Lord keep with His redeemed saints in heaven? It is the Lord’s supper that Christ said He will eat with His disciples at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb when the Salvation will be fulfilled completely. Christ will not be serving dead lambs in heaven!

QUESTIONS ANSWERED

The following addresses the verses that are occasionally misunderstood.

Were the Feasts instituted in Genesis 1?

On the fourth day the Sun, Moon and stars were created for days and nights and times and SEASONS. It is stated that this word "seasons" occasionally refers to set feast days. Does this mean that the feast days were instituted in creation week? The feast, such as Passover, were instituted AFTER sin whereas Genesis 1 is describing events BEFORE sin and cannot therefore refer to the beginning of the feasts. The Passover (the first of the annual holy days) didn't begin until the Exodus from Egypt.

Were the Feasts instituted before the time of the Flood?

Again, the feasts, could not be observed until AFTER the Passover event that occurred at the time of the Exodus.

**A further note on this from Jewish Rabbis:

Actually, in practice we celebrated it even during the actual Exodus, as we were commanded by G‑d to eat the Passover lamb on the night prior to the Exodus.

Your question, however, brings out a very interesting point. During the forty years we traveled through the desert, although the holiday was presumably observed, the only time we brought the Paschal Offering was on the Exodus' first anniversary. The next time the Jewish people brought this offering was 39 years later, when they entered Israel.

"Why?" you ask. Why did the Jewish people not offer the Paschal Lamb for 39 consecutive years? This seems rather unbecoming of a young nation that had itself experienced the great miracles of the Exodus. The biblical commentator Rashi comments on this point, quoting a Midrash which says that this was not one of our proudest memories.

  1. Interestingly, we weren't asked to bring the Paschal Offering throughout those desert years. G‑d commanded us to offer a lamb as a Passover offering on the first anniversary and did not ask of us to do this again until 39 years later. And since we weren't commanded to do so, it would have been forbidden to offer an offering in the Tabernacle that was not requested by G‑d.

What about keeping the weekly Sabbath?

a)The weekly Sabbath is part of God's eternal moral law which God wrote on lasting stone and placed inside the ark of the covenant. MS

6a, 1886 & 1BC, 1109.1

b)The weekly Sabbath is not an annual ceremonial law that was written in the book of Moses and kept on the side of the ark of the covenant.

c)The weekly Sabbath was given to man BEFORE sin whereas all the ceremonial laws were given AFTER sin and served their purpose in pointing forward to Christ.

d)The weekly Sabbath will be observed through all eternity (Isa 66:23) whereas the annual ceremonial Jewish feast and holy days will not.

The Ceremonial Law is distinct from the Eternal Moral Law of Ten Commandments

a)We see “Where no law is there is no transgression...” (Rom 4:15).

b)But, because A transgression occurred in Eden, a law existed in Eden.

c)The law Eve transgressed by coveting, stealing and dishonouring her Father was the moral law of 10 commandments, NOT the ceremonial law of animal sacrifices etc., which did not then exist. (We noted earlier that the sacrifice God provided to clothe Adam & Eve, eventually expanded into the required Ceremonial Law for the Jews to partake in until the reformation>until a more perfect system[gospel system] be introduced-

Heb.9:10.

d)The ceremonial law was only given AFTER sin had occurred.

e)The major distinctions between the Moral Law and the Ceremonial law are that the Ten Commandments define sin (1John 3:4).

f)The ceremonial law illustrated how God would deal with the sin problem.

g)Paul says the law (ceremonial) was “abolished” (Eph 2:15). The law (Moral) was “established” (Rom 3:31).

h)Paul talks of a ritual law; the “handwriting of ordinances (rites and ceremonies),” which specified meat and drink offerings and holy days etc., and says we are not to be judged by this law (Col 2:16).

James, like Solomon, refers to the 10 commandment law, saying that we will be judged by that law. (James 2:9-12; Ecc 12:13-14).

The Ten Commandments existed before the time of Moses.

One might say that as we live since the time of Moses, the law applies to us, and yet we might dismiss the matter. However if we were to admit that the world moved along for centuries without the Ten Commandments.

On the face of any objection, the commandments forbid idolatry, killing, stealing, adultery etc. Could we bring ourselves to believe that such a code of laws was not in force before Moses?

None of the leading denominations thus believe this as the various church creeds show.

The argument might be, before the time of Moses broke the Ten Commandment law because it didn't exist. Any objector would admit that the angels sinned (2 Pet 2:4); that Adam sinned long before the law was written down (Rom 5:12-14); that the Sodomites were sinners (Gen 13) which vexed Lot with their “unlawful deeds” (2 Pet 2:8).

MAN WAS AWARE OF SIN BEFORE THE LAW WAS GIVEN TO MOSES--Gen.3:1-24, Adam & Eve; Gen.4:1-16, Cain; Gen.6:5-12, Noah; Gen.

18:20-23, Sodom & Gomorrah; Gen.20:1-20, Abimelech & Abraham; Gen.26:5-10, Abimelech & Isaac; Gen.39:7-9, Joseph & Potiphar's wife.

The 10 commandments are nothing but love in divided into ten (Rom 13:9-10) and as such are as eternal as love. The two tables show us how to love God and how to love man. Love existed before Sinai and will exist forever. Adam and Eve were created with the law of God written in their minds and hearts.

Paul tells us that the knowledge of God’s requirements was known from earliest times and that those who sinned were “without excuse.” (Rom 1:20). How could they be without excuse unless they had the knowledge of God’s requirements? We only become accountable for sin when we know what we are doing (See James 4:17). Paul adds that even those “having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness. (Rom 2:14-15). The RSV says “They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness...”

We are not left to speculation as to what law defines sin. Sin is breaking the Ten Commandments (See 1John 3:4; Rom 7:7). As sin existed before Sinai the law must have existed before Sinai (See Rom 4:15; 3:20).

The Sabbath commandment within the 10 commandments indicates that the Sabbath was already known because it begins, “Remember the Sabbath day...” Indeed it was obviously known in Exo 16.

James shows that sin is the transgression of the Ten Commandments by quoting from them. (James 2:9-11).

John says “Sin is the transgression of the law” 1 John 3:4 Sin is not the breaking of some undefined law. It is the transgression of the Ten Commandments which have been the standard in all ages even before they were written on stone at Sinai.

What was to occur on the Annual Jewish Holy Days?

All earthly festiva