Celebrate The Feasts of the Lord – Revisited
This past month has brought one challenge after another from followers of Jesus regarding celebrating the Feasts of the Lord. There is so much consternation, and I suggest confusion, about the appropriateness of their celebration under the New Covenant. Sadly this issue continues to be a watershed issue bringing division instead of the potential joy and unity if Christians, both Jews and Gentiles, would celebrate Yeshua, Jesus, as the One New Man. So, once again I reiterate my position.
SALVATION IS ONLY THROUGH GOD’S GRACE BY OUR FAITH IN THE ATONING WORK OF YESHUA, JESUS, – HIS DEATH, BURIAL AND RESURRECTION.
Salvation is not dependent on or affected by the celebration of the feasts.
Nevertheless, I firmly believe that God has given us His feasts as times to celebrate…to celebrate Yeshua! Subsequently how can there NOT be a blessing when Believers come together to celebrate and worship their God and King? I contend that the essence and purpose of the feasts is in alignment with God’s purpose for EVERYTHING He has done; and that is to fill the earth with the knowledge of His glory. Then the only possible response to experiencing His glory is worship. ALL of creation was designed to sing God’s praise and worship Him. Consider:
- The stars sing and dance
- The trees will clap their hands
- The clouds are God’s chariot
- The wind and waves obey Him
- The light envelopes and clothes Him
- The sun and the moon complete their circuit as a bridegroom
Yes, everything that has breath will praise and everything else that has been created will join in the chorus!
God has given us the feasts as times of remembrance and celebration.
Every holiday commemorates a specific event in Israel’s history. Each of them reflects a unique aspect of God’s covenant love and purpose for Israel, His chosen nation and His people. But most important each of them points to His ultimate covenant love and purpose – Yeshua the Messiah, Jesus the Christ. Consider:
- Passover commemorates God’s redemption of Israel through the shedding of the blood of the lamb.
- Jesus shed His blood to redeem all who would believe in Him.
- Unleavened Bread commemorates Israel’s deliverance from bondage
- Jesus was buried and separated our sins from us as far as the east is from the west
- First Fruits celebrates the coming into the Promised Land
- Jesus was resurrected on the First Fruits, promise of our ultimate redemption and deliverance
Obviously, these historical events have spiritual significance applicable to Believers in Yeshua, Jesus. Is He and therefore are they not worthy of remembering and celebrating? Why would we NOT want to remember and celebrate Jesus?
The Law versus the Feasts
The argument against Believers celebrating the Feasts is their location in the Old Testament. (I’d rather call it the Hebrew Bible). The argument is that because they were given to Israel and described in Torah, they have no significance to Christians…those under the New Covenant. Further if Christians (both Jews and Gentiles) celebrate these feasts, they are putting themselves under bondage to the Law. Is this true? I could counter with the question, “Does ‘law’ have no significance to Believers?” If you answer “yes” then you are admitting that you are law-less! I doubt you mean that because we are under the law of love and the Torah is actually written on our hearts! May I also point out that the New Covenant was given to Israel and only by God’s grace through faith extended to the Gentiles? Are not the Gentiles grafted into God’s covenant with Israel and receive the blessings of the Commonwealth of Israel? But all that is a digression. Another argument I encountered recently is that we cannot observe the feasts because we no longer have the Temple and the sacrifices. This gets more to the point… the misunderstanding of God’s intention for the feasts. The sacrifices were only part of the WAY they were to observe the holiday. The greater issue was the WHAT and WHO and WHY they were celebrating. The argument allso shows a lack of understanding what is in the heart of so many Christians (both Jews and Gentiles) who are celebrating.
Christians (both Jews and Gentiles) are celebrating the feasts because they LOVE Yeshua and are grateful for what He has done for them.
They are celebrating God’s love which brought them into the New Covenant giving them the same spiritual inheritance He gave to believing Israel. They are celebrating with the full knowledge and understanding of God’s intention for the feasts. So let’s be more specific about God’s purposes for the feasts. His feasts were to:
- Remind Israel of His acts of redemption,
- Provide opportunities for them to focus on celebration and worship,
- Point to their fulfillment through Jesus!
So I ask, “Do God’s intentions and purposes change with the institution of the New Covenant?” And I answer vehemently “NO!” As Yeshua said, “I came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it.”
By denying Christians the opportunity to celebrate the feasts, I suggest we are actually destroying the Law. Those who celebrate the feasts are actually fulfilling the Law by celebrating Jesus in and through the feasts.
From this perspective, let us look at one of the Sacraments of the Church – Communion. Regardless of your theology regarding the bread and the wine (whether is actually becomes the body and blood of Jesus or not), is there any follower of Christ that would reject the practice of Communion? Of course not. Communion is the commemoration of the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua. It is a memorial which He commanded us to do until His return. But remember what Yeshua said as He handed His disciples the bread and the wine, “When you do this, remember Me.” Remember also the context of that event…they were celebrating the Passover! Passover, the commemoration of God’s redemption and deliverance of Israel.
Could it possibly be that the Messiah was expecting His followers to continue celebrating the Passover, but to do so as being fulfilled in and by Him?!
Of course at the moment His words only confused the disciples. But on the third day, and certainly at the next Passover, the fulfillment of every ritual took on new meaning as they commemorated not only their deliverance from the bondage to slavery, but their deliverance to the bondage of sin. Finally another challenge. Consider why you are so quick to celebrate Christmas, a holiday steeped in pagan history and tradition. Why are you so quick to celebrate your country’s Memorial or Independence Day? And yet why do so many refuse or hesitate or worse criticize those who desire to celebrate those holidays based in historical fact and steeped in biblical significance? The feasts of the Lord are beyond every other national or cultural holiday. They were given to the Kingdom of God – both Jews and Gentiles to point to and then to celebrate the One and the ONLY Savior, Redeemer, Deliverer…
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