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I Don't Celebrate Xmess, But I Don't Celebrate the Feast Days Either, Part 1

Are We to Keep the Feast Days?

It's time to address something that I come across all the time in my anti-Xmess community. I have not posted about it in the past, because the feast keepers are often more zealous than the Xmess keepers and I get frustrated with trying to ward off attacks from both sides, so I just went on the Xmess offense and have mostly dealt with that side of the battle. But I think the time has come for me to address the problem with feast keeping.

As a little background, when I began my walk away from Xmess, I had never even encountered the knowledge of the Biblical feasts. Nowhere in my spurious religious "training" as a child had I ever encountered any teaching that even so much as alluded to these feasts in the Bible. But when one begins to engage in the "no-Xmess" community, it is impossible for this ignorance to remain. Many in that community are members of the "Hebrew Roots" (HR) movement who not only practice the feast days, they are adamant that we, Christians, are still required to keep the feast days. But then, there are those who keep the feasts simply because they think the days are God-appointed, and therefore, they offer us more Biblically accurate times of celebration to choose from than the more common unbiblical times (of Xmess and Easter).

For the longest time, I was in a state of suspended animation, if you will, concerning this topic. I really didn't know what to do. And so, since I couldn't determine the right action, I took no action, which is usually how I handle things. I figure, if I'm to wait on God to help me understand something, I'm also going to freeze while I wait in the space that I'm in at the time. But I know now the truth of the matter and so I'm willing to share it with whoever may end up reading this. But I know it'll likely come with a lot of opposition. I'm prepared for that, but I pray that God will allow me to make the case clear enough in this article so that there won't be much left to oppose.

So let me begin with the one passage that we all must keep in mind any time we are trying to figure out how much the NT Christian must be like the OT saint:

Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:

There is a lot of significance in these two verses. First we know from the passage that there will be a New Covenant. Second, we know that new covenant will not be according to the covenant that was made with "their fathers". And third, we are told why there will be a new covenant; because the house of Israel broke the old covenant. You see, the old covenant was a conditional covenant between God and Israel. It was two-sided and both God and Israel had to agree. (Genesis 15) So long as Israel did all that God commanded, the covenant would hold. But we know things didn't happen that way. Israel broke the covenant with their disobedience. So, since they broke the covenant with God, all bets were off, it was time for the new covenant to come forth. But the old covenant was the sign that was daily ingrained on the very lives of the Jews so that when the new covenant arrived (with Jesus Christ), they should have been able to recognize it. Yet, by and large, they weren't. And the reason why is because they were not applying the ordinances of the old covenant properly, which was corrected by Jesus in the sermon on the mount. The law of the old covenant was never a law meant to be simply carried out in action, but it was supposed to bring about spiritual closeness with God. However, instead, it brought about a sense of self-righteous piety. This is why Jesus, in Matthew 5 says repeatedly, "you have heard it said", rather than, "you have seen it written". Because, even though some of the things that had been "said", were things that were written (and some were not), the application of those laws were completely man-made, rather than God-intended. So Jesus had to reiterate the law and explain the true intention of the law. And the true intention of any part of the law was this; love the Lord God with all your heart and love thy neighbor as yourself. And it is this part of the law that still stands today. And it still stands because Jesus explicitly said so. All the other parts of the law were intended for the governance of the city through the temple theocracy and to bring an entire nation of people forward all the way to the time of the Messiah. This is why there were feasts. They were part of a system that does not exist today, and has not existed since the destruction of the last temple in the first century A.D.; just as tithing was strictly a temple requirement and not only is not required today, but neither can it be properly carried out today (if you're concerned with doing it biblically anyway). (There is no temple to bring the tithe to {"in the place where the Lord shall command"} and there are no Levites to receive them {the only people ever given authority to receive the tithe}). So then, as with the end of the temple goes the command of tithing, so with the end of the old covenant go the old covenant feasts. The feasts, per Leviticus 23, were very specific. Requiring certain things to be done, in certain places, at certain times, and in certain ways. Yes, in verse 21 we read the words "it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations," but we must understand that the entire covenant was conditional upon obedience and that "for ever" only applied so long as the covenant still applied.

So far I have only covered the topic from a covenantial point of view, but there are the spiritual implications to consider as well. What was the purpose of the feasts? As was described above, the feasts, just like everything else in the old covenant, were intended to be a sign of the coming Messiah. The first four (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost) were shadows of the first coming of Christ, and the last three (Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles) were shadows of the second coming of Christ. Now, aside from going into the passages in the New Testament, namely Colossians 2 and Galatians 4 (which I'll cover later), that actually speak against observing these times and days, let's consider what we're spiritually doing by observing these feasts. If the first four were shadows of the first coming of Christ, then our keeping of them implies that we do not recognize that he has already come; otherwise, what's the point of keeping them? We don't need the shadow, we have the maker of the shadow. The shadow is now obsolete. But what of the last three, which haven't been fulfilled by Christ yet? The same applies to these as applies to the first four; since Christ has already come, and the Spirit is now inside of us, we do not need to look towards the shadows of his second coming, we have his word and his promise, and his Spirit which now teaches us of these things. I'll say it again, we have no need of the shadows, we have the Christ.

Another thing to consider is the simplicity of our faith. Christ came and freed us from the bondage of the law (because he already paid the required price for our freedom). He freed us from the outward appearances of law-keeping which only led to our downfall through pride and self-righteous spirituality. Christ afforded us a personal relationship with the Father, through the revealing of himself as Son, so we no longer need to count on ritualistic observances in order to please our Father. Now, we look within to the Spirit that dwells in each of us and to the words written in the Holy Scriptures; and while the words of the Old Testament are also scripture, we must understand that they had a purpose that has been fulfilled with the coming of Christ, with the work of Christ, the Messiah. Only those commandments which Christ or his appointed apostles have iterated or reiterated in our new covenant do we need to concern ourselves over; and believe me, there are quite a few things that have been re and iterated as new or carried over commandments that we are still required to obey. For obedience is still an act of obeying God's commands. But we must understand the whole of God's word, and how the two covenants relate to, and compliment each other, before we can begin to figure out how that obedience plays out for us as Christians. But speaking specifically from the old covenant, Christ reiterated, in Matthew 19 and in other places, that which we'd refer to as the moral law or the ten commandments. (I will not get into the issue of the fourth commandment, concerning the Sabbath, in this article.) Furthermore, I'd contend that we are still required look to the words of God to determine how we must worship God. (I'm speaking of active worship, either with a congregation, with one's family, or in personal time of active worship. We cannot worship any way we desire, but how he desires.) That is a requirement that is found all throughout the Old Testament (when we encounter situations like Aaron and the golden calf, Nadab and Abihu offering strange fire, and Uzza who reached out and touched the Arc) as well as the New Testament (as in 1 Corinthians 11 when the Corinthian church was taking the Lord's Supper unworthily and we see that, in verse 30 "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep").

To say that we no longer have a requirement to keep the feasts or work out the law as they did in the Old Testament is not to say that we are no longer required to obey. It's just that we have to understand the scriptures in order to find out how to obey. Obedience no longer looks like a long list of "dos" and "don'ts". Obedience is now written on our hearts and is carried out as a working of the Holy Spirit. We obey because we are his, not because we have a laundry list of ordinances. We keep the commandments because Christ kept the commandments, and when we fail, we no longer need a new sacrifice; Christ made the final, once for all (time) sacrifice.

In part two of this discussion, I will go over various passages in the Old and New Testaments that have been "go to" verses for those who teach that we must still keep the law and feasts (and will give the in-context teaching of those passages), and I will also discuss the passages that teach otherwise.

#FeastKeeping #JewishFeasts

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