Thursday, February 24, 2005

Why I, a Christian, keep the annual holy days of the law of Moses

I aim to conform my belief and practice to the "faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3) by Christ and his apostles -- as revealed by the Holy Bible, which I regard as divinely inspired Scripture. That faith is “your most holy faith” says Jude (vs. 20).

Congregations founded by Christ and his apostles observed the annual holy days. The Holy Spirit was first given to those observing Pentecost, an annual holy day (Acts 2:1, Leviticus 23:16). Christ's disciples were observing it after his death, resurrection and ascension -- after intense personal encounters with Him in the forty days following His resurrection (Acts 1:3-5). It is also known as "the day of firstfruits" (Numbers 28:26)! Many years later Pentecost is still referred to as a notable continuing observance: "Paul ... hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost" (Acts 20:16). "I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost" (I Corinthians 16:8). Both of these references come after the council of Jerusalem, yet Paul writes to Gentile converts as if the annual holy days are a familiar aspect of their faith.

To the Gentile converts of the congregation in Corinth he refers to Passover and the days of unleavened bread (1 Corinthians 5:6-8, 11:20-34). "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:8). He seems to be writing just before the spring holy days. The annual feast days do not appear to be among things considered to "trouble... them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God" (Acts 15:19).

While the feast of trumpets isn't specifically mentioned in the New Testament, it is called to mind, notably reading: "For 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" (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

After the New Testament church had continued for many years the day of atonement is mentioned in passing (Acts 27:9) indicating its continuing observance.

Prophecy proclaims the feast of tabernacles being kept as a required observance by the people of all nations after the return of Christ (Zechariah 14:16-19) -- a key aspect of the culture of His kingdom! The feast of tabernacles was kept and obviously will be kept -- so it makes no sense that it should not be kept now! John says: "On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.'" (John 7:2, 37).

Regarding the doctrine and practices of the early church we see through a glass darkly, but the annual holy days obviously play a part in the faith and practice of Christ and his apostles and their followers. There is no sign they repudiated them as “slavery to ceremonial laws” annulled by Christ’s sacrifice.

The proclamation inscribed on the Liberty Bell -- to be made on the day of atonement in the year of jublilee is: "proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof" (Leviticus 25:10)! That hardly sounds like slavery to me!

Christians who treasure "the feasts of the LORD" (Leviticus 23:1, 4) find them overflowing with Christological significance. We rejoice in keeping them because of their meaningfulness to our faith and the edifying worship and Christian fellowship we find in honoring the LORD by observing them.

by Jeffrey Caldwell
Believers in Christ Church of God

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