The challenge was obvious; the pastor had been challenging almost everything I had been saying about God’s unique relationship with the Jewish people. I’m sure he was certain that this was the ultimate challenge.
“Where is it written in Scripture that the Gentiles should celebrate the feasts?”
“Nowhere” was my simple reply. “If I taught that, I would be Judaizing the church.”
Should the church celebrate the feasts? Absolutely NO!
Can all Believers, Jewish and Gentile, celebrate the feasts? Sure!”
Maybe at this point some definitions would be appropriate.
The Church: Jews and Gentiles who have been redeemed by God’s grace through faith in the atoning work of Jesus, Yeshua the Messiah. Therefor term Christian is part of the church regardless of denomination. However, the general perception today of “Christian” is limited to Gentiles. But linguistically, biblically and historically that’s not accurate.
Gentile: The word in Hebrew is “goy” which is best translated as “nation.” Therefore anyone who is not Jewish/Israel is considered part of the nations, or Gentile.
Jew: Here the definition is not as simple, but it is biblical clear. A Jew is a direct descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who is culturally and ethnically part of the nation of Israel. Jews have a unique relationship with God which distinguishes them from any and all other nations. When referring to Jews we must include: the people, the land and the unique calling of God (Isaiah 43:10). Biblically and historically Jews are considered Israel regardless of their location.
The One New Man: is synonymous with “the church.” Because the terms church and Christian have been distorted over the years, the One New Man seems to be a more palatable term. Therefore the One New Man by definition must include both redeemed Jews and Gentiles.
THE DANGER OF JUDAIZING
Today there is a growing interest among Gentile followers of Jesus regarding the feasts of the Lord. I believe this is reason to rejoice as God is restoring these wonderful celebrations to His church. But at the same time I’m saddened by the accompanying Judaizing which Paul warned against in his letter to the Galatians.
What is judaizing? Judaizing is the insistence that Gentiles and even Jewish Believers adopt Jewish rituals and customs. Some even claim that these traditions are necessary unto salvation which is a total denial of the Gospel.
Celebrating the feasts isn’t a “MUST” either for salvation or even sanctification. I contend that any celebration of Jesus is a blessing regardless of how it is done. If we are not celebrating Yeshua, Jesus, we are out of order and might be offensive to God Himself. In other words, the key to a God-pleasing celebration is WHO not how we celebrate.
MOSES cf THE NEW COVENANT
I suggest part of the issue is because of a misunderstanding of the New Covenant and the Incarnation of Jesus.
The argument hinges on John 1:14: And the Word became flesh.
The argument continues: “Since “Torah” is the word and the word became flesh, if we are following Yeshua, we must follow Torah.” When asked, “What part of Torah are to follow?” After a few moments of silence, the “must” is reduced to ‘the feasts'”
Of course we do need to recognize that the Torah, as is the entire Tenach, is glorious and good, but Jesus is so much better. In fact, is this not the premise of the entire book of Hebrews?
Yeshua, Jesus, came to fulfill the law and the prophets. While there is much in the prophets that remains to be fulfilled, Yeshua said His words were to be heard, believed and followed.
So as we celebrate, let us ask ourselves what is most important: the HOW or the WHO we are celebrating?
Let us follow and celebrate Yeshua with all our heart, soul and strength
worship Him in spirit, truth, humility and love.
“Celebrate Jesus; the Christian Perspective of the feasts of the Lord.” A simple resource for the One New Man
To order: https://www.novea.org/store/
Creating memories is important. As we enter the final cycle of the annual feasts, let us remind ourselves why God gave us His feasts, the Feasts of the Lord. Everything God does, from Creation to the Resurrection is to bring glory to Himself as He creates a Kingdom of priests to worship Him and fill the earth with their personal knowledge (from experience) of His character and His ways. The Feasts were opportunities for Israel to remember and celebrate and through those celebrations to share their personal experience and knowledge of their God. Continually God commands Israel to “tell your children.” The Psalmists were constantly iterating that they would “declare, praise, tell, speak, proclaim” God’s goodness, especially to the next generation. Is not the act of worship a way of remembering and celebrating God? Sadly many of the Church today consider celebrating the Feasts of the Lord “going back under the Law.” But how can celebrating God and His mighty acts be anything but the joyous response to His Salvation? Celebrating is a honor and a privilege. Recently I heard Ravi Zakarias give an excellent reason for celebrating the Feasts. He was challenging all of us to build in memories within the family through ceremonies and symbols. WOW, I couldn’t say it better. Listen:
‘Maybe we are moving so fast that we cannot pause long enough to see the symbolic nature of some of the things we do. ‘We need to build memories into the lives of our children so that they will go through cetain ceremonies and symbols in their lives that they will miss when they have left home. It will be a memory to them as long as they live. ‘Through these kind of memories, the value of the family goes up. ‘Treasured memories of home buildt around the family room build the kind of ceremonies and opportunities at home where God is being instructed in everything you do. ‘But this will only happen when our own personal devtional life is striaghed out with God.’
Not only does the value of the family increase, but so does the sense of belonging to the larger community, Kingdom of God. Sharing and celebrating a common history is one of the greatest blessings of the Feasts.
The traditional celebration of Hanukkah includes lighting a candle each of the eight nights of the holiday. A special 9 branch candelabra (called a Hanukkiah) is used.
WHY EIGHT DAYS?
Most people explain the eight candles to celebrate a miracle that didn’t happen. The legend is that when the Macabees came to cleanse the Temple, there was only enough oil to light the Temple Menorah for one day. BUT, miraculously the oil lasted for eight days. Hence the eight days of Hanukkah.
But the real miracle is the victory that God gave the small Jewish army over the powerful Greek army.
Of course, the miraculous victory and the dedication of the cleansed Temple had to be celebrated. The Jews hoped the temple would be ready to be dedicated on the same holiday that the first and second Temples were dedicated – the Feast of Tabernacles, or in Hebrew Succot. But the Temple wasn’t ready. So they created another holiday of dedication but patterned it after Succot.
The new holiday was named, “Succot of Cislev” the winter month correlating to December on the Gregorian calendar.
According to Leviticus 23, Succot was to be celebrated for 8 days…hence the eight days of Hanukkah.
WHY THE CANDLES
Why the candles? By the time of Zechariah the Feast of Tabernacles was associated with the coming of the Messianic Kingdom where there would be everlasting light (Zech.14:6-7) so giant candelabras were lit around Jerusalem. Hence the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah!
The ninth candle is called Shamos or Servant. This candle is lit first and then lights all the others. Here are two very practicial ways to celebrate Jesus through the holiday of Hanukkah.
So is there an application of the Hanukkah menorah to the One New Man?
LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE
When we are lit by the flame of God’s love, the light of Jesus ignites the other fruits of the Holy Spirit as we become the fully lit candelabra of God, shedding His light and love into the dark world:
- Love releases joy;
- Joy releases peace;
- Peace releases longsuffering;
- Longsuffering releases kindness;
- Kindness releases goodness;
- Goodness releases faithfulness;
- Faithfulness releases gentleness;
- Gentleness releases self–control.
REDEDICATE YOUR TEMPLE
Hanukkah is an excellent time to remember that YOU are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Your body is His dwelling place. Hanukkah gives us a unique opportunity to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice” and “to lay aside every sin and weight.”
- Mouth: Romans 10:10; Isaiah 49:2
- Lips: Psalm 34:13
- Tongue: Proverbs 27:2; Psalm 145:21
- Heart: Deuteronomy 6:5
- Mind: Isaiah 26:3
- Feet: Romans 10:15
- Ears: Proverbs 23:12; Psalm 40:6
- Eyes: Ephesians 1:18; Psalm 119:37
For more information see Joanie’s books:https://www.novea.org/store/
Celebrate Jesus! The Christian Perspective of the Biblical Feasts
Celebrate God’s Love: Christmas/Hanukkah: Fact & Fiction
Greetings to you on this Lord’s Day.
I’m writing this in my office where all is quiet as I’m the only one here. For me, Sunday is a wonderful day of celebrating the Resurrection of my Lord and then beginning my work week. Thus the day combines both of my worlds – the spiritual and the physical.
“What about my Sabbath?” you might ask.
For me, the Sabbath is exactly when God said it was – the seventh day of the week. AND I observe it exactly as the Lord commanded – doing no work, resting and making it a hallowed (sacred day.)
I’ve been thinking about the N.T. description of this day as “The Lord’s Day” and how over the years it has become “the” Sabbath. Strange how we can change God’s Word and way to accommodate our lives and traditions.
Celebrating the Resurrection is, without doubt, one of the greatest joys of my life. If Christ had not risen, then my faith would be meaningless. Furthermore, celebrating the wonder of the Resurrection with my brothers and sisters of the Spirit is even more joyous.
But does the fact that the first day of the week is called ‘the Lord’s Day” change what God calls HIS Sabbath? Also interesting is that the first day of the week was named “Sunday” by a man who worshiped the sun!
Consider that there might be a difference between “a” sabbath and “the” Sabbath.
In Leviticus 23, God commands that the beginning and the end of His feasts are to be considered a sabbath upon which the people were to do no customary work and generally have a solemn assembly.
These sabbaths were different from His Sabbath – when we were to do NO work at all.
Perhaps this is a good model for us all. Sunday, Monday or any of the other days could be taken as a personal sabbath. Certainly in our hectic life schedules we NEED at least one day of the week in which we do NOTHING. Maybe we choose to sleep late and not even get dressed. Maybe we choose to make a special breakfast and eat leisurely surrounded by our families. Maybe we choose to read a good book and take a long walk. Whatever we choose, it’s different from the rest of the week and WITHOUT STRESS or SCHEDULES.
Sound like a dream? It’s what God intended for the Sabbath.
Why not have the best of both worlds? Take the gift of the Sabbath when it was intended – the last day of the week – and celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord on the day He rose – the first day of the week!