Once again I find myself embroiled in discussions which actually border on arguments regarding the appropriateness of Believers (Jewish or Gentile) celebrating the feasts of the Lord.
For some the celebrations are responses of obedience, for others it is a matter of tradition.
Tradition! The word itself makes me want to sing along with Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof! As he so correctly said, “Traditions tell us who we are and what is expected of us.”
I even suggest that in my book, “Celebrate Jesus!” I write, “Holidays bind us together as we share memories. They unite us as families, communities and even nations.”
However it’s important that we understand what the word actually means.
It comes from the greek word (παραδίδωμι) which means “giving up or giving over into the hands of another, surrender.” In the New Testament is is mostly used in a negative sense, as in giving Jesus over to the authorities. It also carries with it the idea of being held in bondage as to give over to power of another.
In view of this negative connotation consider the words of Jesus to the religious,
Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”
He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? Matthew 15:1-3
Religious Jews are not the only ones in bondage to tradition…even today. Is there a church or a denomination that doesn’t have traditions? The way we do so many things, is usually based on traditions established by loved or respected ones.
So you say, “Are traditions wrong?”
I answer “YES, when they separate us from others. YES when we are identified more by our traditions than as followers of Jesus. YES when our traditions indimidate others. YES when we elevate our traditions over the Word of God.”
Man’s traditions bring bondage and division.
The very reason Tevye considered his traditions valuable, Jesus considers them destructive. The traditions which keep the Jewish people protected and separate are actually walls of imprisonment keeping them from hearing and receiving the Gospel.
Most Jewish traditions are based on what is called “The Oral Law” as opposed to the written Law contained in the Torah. It is believed that Moses received both the Oral and the Written Law at the same time on Mt. Sinai.
Actually the Oral Law began with the expulsion of Israel to Babylon when the Jews were separated from the Temple and the Priestly rituals. Later, when they returned to Israel, they were confronted with challenge of Hellenism, they developed more traditions to protect and defend themselves from assimilation.
Sadly the walls of these traditions not only keep the Jewish people inside, but it keeps the Gospel out!
The traditions of men pervert, defile and disguise who God is. They divide and not unify. They glorify men and not God.
Lastly, traditions often turn into witchcraft. Witchcraft?!!
Witchcraft is ascribing feelings and experiences to things or actions and therefore seeking and expecting a repetition of the feeling or action.
How quickly our prayers and traditions morph into religious rituals.
O God, keep me pure to love and obey. Arguments regarding traditions are senseless. Purge out all vain traditions or magic. Your grace through my faith in Jesus has set me free from the traditions of man. My identity is found in You. I lay aside all religious rituals, prayers, objects to come to you as a child, in simple humility and love. Search my heart and see if there is any wicked or deceptive way.
Thank you for freedom!