Promises and Secrets
A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.
Keeping the Feasts of God
Should we? Not being Jewish, do we even know how to do that? Those to whom Paul spoke knew because they lived in that culture. How do we "keep" the Festivals?
Paul, speaking to the Gentile church at Corinth, advised them to keep the Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread:
8Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:8)
What do you think?
I can just hear all the Gentiles out there screaming at their monitors, "We don't have to keep the Feasts! That's Jewish! We're not Jews! No way!" And, probably a few things that would be better not to put into print. But, let's see if we can figure out what Paul meant.
Speaking to Gentiles
First, he is speaking to a Gentile church that has been condoning the activities of a man doing something "that even pagans do not tolerate". (1 Corinthians 5:1
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father's wife.
). This simply means that they have allowed God-defying activity in a church that calls itself "Christian". Paul is saying that this acceptance becomes a polluter of the rest of the church, even if only by their tolerance. That pollution becomes sin, hence His reference to yeast in the dough. Sin, if ignored will grow like yeast. Since this is a fairly new church, he reminds them that they are a "new batch" and must remove the sin to remain a church after the manner of Christ. That cleansing attitude is what the Passover meal, and the following Feast of Unleavend bread, represent. He is telling them to consciously remove the sinful attitude of accepting what is unacceptable, expel the offender who claims to be a Christian, but does not act like one, until he repents, and by doing all this, remain a Godly assembly.
"But, why a Jewish festival, we're not Jewish...?"
Don't want to be caught doing something "Jewwiisshh"? Well, you can take the actions of repentance, expel the brother, clean up your act (purge out the sinful acceptance), declare your intended actions against that sort of activity in the future, and then call that process something else, but isn't that the same thing as keeping the Feast? Following the principles of this by treating the holy days of the Feast as God said to do is merely obedience. Paul is looking for their obedience to the will of God, and that will is expressed in the process of keeping the Feast. In that way, you should look at it as honoring and glorifying the Father, not some yucky Jewish Feast that "we Gentiles" don't have to keep. Call it "Spring Cleaning", "Purification Meditation", "Spiritual Sanitation Party" or anything you want, but you will be keeping in line with the will of God, which is the same as keeping the Feast.
These are Festivals of God, not Festivals of the Jews
A Christian, one who follows Christ, is one whose goal is the same as that of Christ - to glorify His Father in heaven (John 12:27-28
27"Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name!"
). To love Christ, but disrespect the Father, is to disrespect Christ. Our goal should be the same as His - "thy will be done" (Luke 22:42
42"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
). His will is in His law and His Festivals. When we keep them, we show our respect for His plan.
What does that mean, keep them?
When you were a child, your parents had rules for you to follow. Some were as simple as "Keep your feet off the coffee table." Now, what did that mean to you? Some thought it means to never put your feet on the table. Some thought that you could put your feet up only when your parents weren't looking. But, then what would happen if you put your feet up while they were gone, but they came home to find shoe scuff marks on the table? Most disobedient children found themselves in various degrees of trouble. The intent of your parents' rules were to teach you respect and prevent damage to their furniture.
So, here "keep" means always do it. Another example is "Keep going to school until you graduate." As long as you don't drop out of school, you will be honoring your parents rules. That is what "keep" means in the context of Paul's statement to the Gentiles. He was telling them that to be a Godly congregation, they should follow the guidelines that would allow them to stay in the will of God. But, how do you "keep" the Festivals, and when are they?
What are the ones God wants "his people" to keep?
Looking at the book of Leviticus, many people wonder why Paul would speak to the Gentiles about something that God clearly said that the Israelites were to celebrate. (Leviticus 23:1-2
1The Lord said to Moses, 2"Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.' "
) Well, He wanted the people He chose to represent Him to the nations to set a good example. Notice that these are not Jewish feasts, but God's appointed Feasts that He wanted His people to keep. Now, the NIV quote I used on this example used the word "sacred" for these assemblies. However, if you go to the Hebrew Interlinear and see the actual word used, you will find the actual statement was "holy convocations":
So, these are something that God has sanctified and made holy. Now if God makes something holy, should we keep it as such? Some say that, since He only told that to the Israelites, we don't have to do that. However, when you read Leviticus 23, it starts out with something that was made holy before there even were Israelites. In fact, it was made when there just barely were any people on the earth. The Sabbath day.
Yep, in the words of the Lord Himself, the first Feast listed is a Sabbath to the Lord. The seventh day. Not every seventh day, or a day of your choosing, but the seventh day. For those of you who think that there is no way to tell which day that is, just ask a Jew. Ever since the 40 years in the desert, they have known exactly which day He meant. Those who did not take it seriously paid a serious price. (Numbers 15:32-36
32While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35Then the Lord said to Moses, "The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp." 36So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses.
While this seems harsh, and many feel that the Lord no longer intends to punish offenders in the same way, similar statements are made about men who sleep with men and women who sleep with women. They don't disappear in a puff of smoke, but Paul does say that they will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus says that only the one who does the will of His Father in heaven will enter that kingdom as well. So, just because we do not see the punishment happening today, does not mean it will not happen at a time when the offender will have no further opportunity to change his or her ways.
So, is our idea of holy the same as God's?
So, the first Feast of God's people is the Sabbath day. How do we keep it? The statement is clear and simple. It is a day of rest, you are not to do any work, and no one around you is to work.(Exodus 20:8-11
8"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
There is no secret formula. If you think of doing something that you normally would not enjoy doing, that is work. Mowing the lawn, building a shed, laying concrete, paying the bills, even if you love it, is work. If you are doing something for someone else and will receive payment for it, that is work. If you go to a store and buy something, you have caused that salesperson to work. Isaiah 56:1-8 adds a facet that many people try to get around, but the purpose of the day is to accomplish God's will, not your own pleasure. That passage also shows that the Sabbath is for everyone, not just the Israelites:
1This is what the Lord says:
and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand
and my righteousness will soon be revealed.
2Blessed is the one who does this -
the person who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it,
and keeps their hands from doing any evil."
3Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say,
"The Lord will surely exclude me from his people."
And let no eunuch complain,
"I am only a dry tree."
4For this is what the Lord says:
"To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose what pleases me
and hold fast to my covenant -
5to them I will give within my temple and its walls
a memorial and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that will endure forever.
6And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
and who hold fast to my covenant -
7these I will bring to my holy mountain
and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations."
8The Sovereign Lord declares -
he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
"I will gather still others to them
besides those already gathered."
Notice the last half of verse 8 - we Gentiles are those "others". Keeping the Sabbath means showing reverence for the only day of the week that God made holy. It means that you are honoring the will of the Father and not just thinking of your own pleasures like you do the rest of the week.
The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread
Many "Christian" people say that we don't have to keep the Jewish Feasts, even this Passover and Unleavened Bread Feast. Then they turn right around an not only "keep" it, but do so in the wrong way, and change it to the point where what they do with it is a joke and an insult to the Lord. This period is two overlapping annual feasts that lasts one week, somehow condensed by today's churches into a short pause in "Sunday" services whenever they feel like it.
The Passover is supposed to be a meal taken after sundown on Nisan 14, which is actually when Nisan 15 begins.
NOTE: After searching several sites and floundering in confusion about the description of whether the Passover is on Nisan 14 or Nisan 15, I finally settled on a clearly spoken site at Aish.com
called ASK THE RABBI. You can follow this link to see how they explain it. Some of the evaluation of the day of Jesus' "crucifixion" depends on how this is determined. This site declares that the Passover lamb is killed in the late daylight hours of 14 Nisan, so it can be eaten after sundown which is then the beginning hours of Nisan 15, the date of Passover as well as the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
This meal, eaten in the dark hours of the beginning of Nisan 15, is followed by a week of symbolic removal of sin from our lives (unleavened bread is bread made without yeast, the symbol for sin in the Bible). There is only one Nisan 15 in each year. The complete meal and following week-long feast is to be performed in a manner described by the Lord, not ignored after the taking of a cracker and thimble of juice.
The respectful obedience of keeping this once-a-year meal and unleavened practice is to remember what God did for the Israelites when they prepared to leave Egypt, as well as remember that Jesus was preparing to give His life for us in an attempt to bring believers back to God after we repent and clean up our acts. The meal consists of four cups, each with a special meaning to those who understand its significance. Also, the unleavened bread has a significance referring to the hastiness of the Israelite preparations to leave Egypt, as well as the body of Christ's sinless sacrifice for us and our obligation to follow through for Him. This is a meal that the Lord Himself celebrated on His last human night on earth.
He ate the meal at Passover, broke bread, with His apostles. He did not stand in line to take a piece of cracker and a thimble of grape juice in a five-minute meditation on Sunday, multiple times a year, ignoring the need to think about removing sin in our lives. If you read Leviticus 23:4-8
4" 'These are the Lord's appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: 5The Lord's Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. 6On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord's Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. 7On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. 8For seven days present a food offering to the Lord. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.' "
, you will see that the first day of this one week feast is a Sabbath. Not the seventh-day Sabbath, but another holy day that falls on whatever day Nisan 15 turns out to be. Also, the seventh day of that seven day feast is another Sabbath.
So, for that week, if Passover is on a Friday, then Friday, Saturday, and the next Thursday are all Sabbath days. The only time this will not happen is if Passover or the last Sabbath of the seven days are on the seventh-day Sabbath, bringing the number of Sabbaths down to two. Americans have a real problem with keeping just one Sabbath day in a week, much less two or three of them. Oh they call their Sabbath This is a commitment to the Lord and His will, whether you are Jew or Gentile, by respecting that which He makes holy. Some will make that commitment, some will not. Remember, Paul told a Gentile church to keep it.
The only question here is whether that refusal to obey will matter to a Gentile's salvation. Do believing in Christ and disrespecting God's will go together? (Matthew 7:21
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
In the sequence of the yearly feasts of the Jewish calendar, the third event is called Firstfruits. Physically, this is the offering of the first barley grain of the harvest to the Lord. You can only offer the first grain of this harvest once each year. It is also a symbol of Christ becoming the first to be resurrected from the dead as a promise to believers that they have hope for His eventual return to gather the rest of His believers, living or dead, Jew or Gentile.
This celebration occurs at the end of the first regular Sabbath following Passover, shortly after sundown. Since it is described as a grain offering of the produce of the nation, people who are not farmers have no way to give grain. But since farming is the livelihood of the people, offering to God the first portion of your livelihood would be indicated. We call this a tithe (one tenth) of our income. While we tend to do this once each time we get paid, this annual celebration implies that we should offer the tenth in the first part of the year following the earning, but now we are getting into conjecture. This is actually a recognition of God's part in our blessings, so we should recognize that no matter how we actually perform the ceremony. We might even just make the commitment or promise to God that we will give Him the first portion of every paycheck. This feast is more of a commitment than a measured dance performed to some mystical rhythm.
A final thought on Firstfruits. In the Bible, we see that the Hebrews celebrated all the holy days of God at various times during the year. We Gentiles make up our own and celebrate them when we want. This one celebrates the firstfruits of the harvest and our increase of the blessings from God. Since it was a "holy day" of God, celebrating the first offerings of the harvest (our increase), and incidentally, the first fruits of the saved (Jesus), why would the Gentile Christians, along with the pagans adopt the idea, mix it with pagan symbols, and call it by the name of a fertility goddess? Worse yet, they did not adopt the day from the Hebrews, but took a day of the based the Spring solstice rather than the Passover, and ignore the Passover timing while saying that they are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.
Can you think of a being that would take a day of God, distort it to something unrecognizable, and cause it to be celebrated around the world by Christians and pagans alike? The Bible never tells us to celebrate the resurrection, just respect the God who gave us both blessings by offerings of gratitude. Unlike the Passover meal, shortened by Gentiles to a commercial break in the service, this is actually a short dedication service lasting for a few minutes after sundown, not a fertility party shortly after sunrise that lasts all day.
Feast of Weeks
Many people are not aware of everything involved in this feast. Most have heard of Pentecost as the day that the Holy Spirit was given to the people of God. Both Gentile and Messianic Jew alike take advantage of the knowledge that we now have the Holy Spirit available to us as long as we do not continue to grieve Him and do try to live in the manner described by Christ. However, not many realize that there is a period of fifty days following the Feast of Firstfruits that leads up to the Feast of Weeks. The reference to this period is mentioned in the Bible as "the weeks". Once again, at that time there is an offering to the Lord, commitment to His righteousness, described by Him in order to participate in the Feast. This is "a lasting ordinance for the generations to come".
However, again, Gentiles, who will not do anything Jewish, claim the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives but will have nothing to do with the mandated Feast and offerings because Gentiles are not Jewish. How do you claim the benefits of something in which you will not participate? You will not do the "work" of declaring your obedience to the Lord, yet you claim that He is with you in Spirit. Christians claim that the Spirit is with them precisely because of what happened on this day - Pentecost - the birthday of the Christian faith. They will celebrate a birthday that is not the birthday of Jesus at "Christmas", but they will not celebrate a real birthday for their own faith. Hmmm.
This is an annual Feast, like the rest of them.
Feast of Trumpets
This one is fairly simple. Gather together on the first day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar (Tishri) commemorated with trumpet blasts. This is a Sabbath day in which we should do no work. Again, this may not be the seventh-day Sabbath, but a feast day made holy by God. Not holy to the Israelites only, mind you, but holy to God. The respect is to recognize the importance of the trumpet blasts, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:16
16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
, when the Lord returns and the dead in Christ come to life and are caught up with the living to reign with Him in the Millennium.
Day of Atonement
On the tenth of that same seventh month (Tishri), there is an eight day feast, the first and eighth day of which are also Sabbath days. (Leviticus 23:26-32
26The Lord said to Moses, 27"The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present a food offering to the Lord. 28Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God. 29Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people. 30I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day. 31You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. 32It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath."
) Again, there will be three Sabbath days in this period unless one of the first and last days fall on a regular seventh-day Sabbath. Then there will be only two.
During this time of worship, we must realize that the Lord is our salvation and only He has atoned for our sins, if we have accepted Him and stay in the will of the Father. There is a call for a sacrifice, but the Lord has done this for us if we are in obedience. Notice that those who miss this one will be cut off from their people. For those of you who think this is only for the Israelites, did Jesus atone for your sins, or just those of the Israelites?
Feast of Tabernacles
This one, again, is in the seventh month of Tishri, on the fifteenth day of the month. It also lasts for eight days. This feast is the one mentioned by Zechariah 14. All the survivors of the battle of Jesus with the kings of the earth and their armies will be required to celebrate this feast every year during the Millennium. Yeah, yeah, I hear you. Just read the chapter.
As the name suggests, this feast requires the Israelites to live in shelters, or booths, for seven days in the fall to help them remember that their ancestors lived in temporary shelters in the wilderness for forty years. Should we live in "tabernacles", or sukkot, as Gentiles? Well, we seem to take advantage of many other blessings only given "to the Israelites", unless we feel it is too Jewish or puts us out of our personal routines. So, I suspect most will not celebrate this festival, at least until the Millennium, when it will be require of those who were not in the first resurrection. That would be those who did not stay in God's will while here on earth (Matthew 7:21
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
Now, what few seem to recognize is that, unless it is changed, this feast requires 198 animal sacrifices, plus any voluntary sacrifices, by the priests for all the people. If you think I am kidding, read Numbers 29:12-40, then add any extra voluntary offerings. And, yes, Moses told this to the Israelites, but read what Zechariah says about who will be required to attend this feast and participate - all the nations, not just the Israelites. Unless the Lord makes changes between now and then, these sacrifices will be required for this feast. For those of you who think this cannot happen, see my justification for this on the Sacrifices page with Biblical references. We would love to hear what you think.
Should we "keep" the feasts, or not?
So, there you have the Sabbath and the seven feasts of God. That's feasts of God, not of the Israelites. These all point to the sacrifice of Christ and salvation for all those who believe in Him and stay in the will of the Father. Many say at this point that we don't have to do anything because we are already saved and are only waiting for Christ to take us up. Few take into consideration that not doing what God expects of His people, or doing what He tells His people not to do, will keep us from being taken up at His coming. That would mean not being saved. By the time we see that happening, it will be too late to do anything about it.
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