Christian Churches of God

No. 97

 

 

 

 

The Holy Days of God

(Edition 3.0 19950325-2000022-20070710)

 

This paper deals with the significance and purpose of the Holy Days. The Feasts as part of the Plan of Salvation are explained. The Feasts are also shown to be Law. The early theological argument for the abolition of the Feasts, which were kept by the early Church, is shown to be theologically incorrect. The relationship of the Feasts to the Church and the Temple and sacrifice is also discussed. The Feasts are shown to be central to the Faith and form part of the seal of God.

 

 

 

Christian Churches of God

PO Box 369,  WODEN  ACT 2606,  AUSTRALIA

 

Email: secretary@ccg.org

 

(Copyright ã  1995, 2000, 2007 Wade Cox)

 

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The Holy Days of God

 


Introduction to the Feasts and the Plan of Salvation

 

The Plan and purpose of God is revealed by the structure and sequence of the Feasts laid down as ordinances in the Bible. Modern Christianity does not adhere to these Feasts and consequently is without direction and understanding concerning the biblical Plan. The modern churches are disregarding the instructions which the Bible – the basis of the Judeo-Christian religion – shows were established in the creation narrative in Genesis and were provided by God to Moses and His servants the prophets. These Laws detail the conduct of the Faith and expressly denote His festivals. Assuming that a religious body claims to draw authority from the biblical texts or from Christ, there is a serious philosophical dilemma in the notions of law, causality and consistency involved in dealing with or changing those instructions.

 

We have examined the notion of the abolition of Law (see the papers Distinction in the Law (No. 96) and The Government of God (No. 174)) and it is seen to be related to a specific section of law. We have also seen from an examination of the Dead Sea Scrolls that the body of law referred to by Paul appears to be a specific section of the Traditional or Oral Law, which was concerned with regulations concerning food handling, ritual washing and preparations. This was called The Works of the Law or MMT (see the paper The Works of the Law Text - or MMT (No. 104)). The regulations of Pharisaic and other sectarian Judaism of the first century were as varied as they were tedious. Often the resistance to the Judaic system was not religious but simply anti-Semitism.

 

The Jews had perverted the Feasts and Sabbaths and were condemned by Christ.

 

Mark 7:6-9 And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, `This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' 8 You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men." 9 And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition! (RSV)

 

This text was quoted from Isaiah 29:13.

Isaiah 29:13-16  And the Lord said: "Because this people draw near with their mouth and honour me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men learned by rote; 14 therefore, behold, I will again do marvellous things with this people, wonderful and marvellous; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hid." 15 Woe to those who hide deep from the LORD their counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, "Who sees us? Who knows us?" 16 You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay; that the thing made should say of its maker, "He did not make me"; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, "He has no understanding"? (RSV)

 

The fear of God was turned into traditions that ran counter to the Law as revealed by The God to the prophets. As shown in the paper The Bible (No. 164), the Scriptures referred to by Christ and the Apostles were the Old Testament (Mat. 21:42; 22:29; 26:54,56; Mk. 12:24; 14:49; Lk. 24:27,32,45; Jn. 5:39; Acts 17:2,11; 18:24,28; Rom. 1:2; etc). All Scripture was given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2Tim. 3:16). Scripture must be fulfilled and cannot be broken (Mk. 14:19; Jn. 10:35).

 

The Pharisees had corrupted the Scriptures, teaching the precepts of men. That included the Sabbaths of God. Christ condemned them as we see above. That did not eliminate the Holy Days. It meant that Christ did not approve of the way Pharisaic Judaism kept them. Christ himself kept these Holy Days as they should have been kept. He told the elect not to follow the Scribes and Pharisees.

 

Matthew 5:17-20 "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. 18 For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (RSV)

 

Christ spoke of the Pharisees and condemned them (Mat. 23:1-39). He observed the Feasts, as they all did. They sat in Moses’ seat. They had to be obeyed until their authority was removed with the foundation of the Church. In Matthew 23 Christ spoke to Judah and not to the Church. The authority of the Pharisees was removed, but this did not remove the Laws of God.

 

The Laws governing the Feasts occur in four sequences in the Pentateuch from Exodus to Deuteronomy. The first sequence is found in Exodus over multiple chapters. Exodus 20 deals with the Ten Commandments, which are repeated in Deuteronomy 5. Exodus 21 deals with the question of marriage and households and family responsibility, which amplifies the structure of the Commandments within all types of societies. Exodus 22 deals with the extension of property rights and obligation under the Commandments. Exodus 23 deals with false witness and respect of persons and the extension of the Tenth Commandment. Exodus 23:10ff. then takes the Fourth Commandment and broadens it to show its application in the structure of the society. Not only does it relate to the week but also it involves the Jubilee and the Sabbatical system. Exodus 12 dealt with the Passover (cf. the paper The Law of God (No. L1) and related papers on the Law series (Nos. 252-263).

 

Exodus 23:10-33  "For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; 11 but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild beasts may eat. You shall do likewise with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard. 12 "Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your ass may have rest, and the son of your bondmaid, and the alien, may be refreshed.

 

It goes to both six years and to six days because they are “times”. The word for the six days and the sabbatical period relates to a sabbatisma, a week or a seven-year period. The seven-year period then precedes the week in Exodus 23, so that the Jubilee system breaks down into the Sabbath day.

 

13 Take heed to all that I have said to you; and make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let such be heard out of your mouth. 14 "Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. 15 You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread; as I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed. 16 You shall keep the feast of harvest, of the first fruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the feast of ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. 17 Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord GOD.

 

It’s not a question of whether we want to go there. Every male (i.e. in terms of a soldier, as the congregation of Israel was really an army) twenty years and up was eligible for military service and the structure was literally as an army of God against the rest of the world. Every person had to appear at the Feasts three times a year because that relates to the Plan of Salvation and the activities and the interaction of God with the world. Therefore, as the army of God the Church takes on all the obligations placed upon the congregation of Israel. These are binding.

 

18 "You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread, or let the fat of my feast remain until the morning.

 

We have to give our offerings at the commencement of the Feast and we are not allowed to let the sacrifices remain until the morning. The fat of the Feast had to be distributed so that the poor could eat at the feast. That happens at the three Feast seasons. That’s why our ingathering service is in the first night of the Feast. See the paper Ingathering (No. 139).

 

19 "The first of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God. "You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk. 20 "Behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared. 21 Give heed to him and hearken to his voice, do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him.

 

So, the name of the living God was in this Angel. This Angel who took Israel through the wilderness was Jesus Christ.

 

22 "But if you hearken attentively to his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. 23 "When my angel goes before you, and brings you in to the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Per'izzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jeb'usites, and I blot them out, 24 you shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces. 25 You shall serve the LORD your God, and I will bless your bread and your water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of you. 26 None shall cast her young or be barren in your land; I will fulfil the number of your days. 27 I will send my terror before you, and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28 And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out Hivite, Canaanite, and Hittite from before you. 29 I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you are increased and possess the land. 31 And I will set your bounds from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphra'tes; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. 32 You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods. 33 They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you." (RSV)

 

God sent His Angel of the Covenant to bring Israel through the wilderness to their inheritance. Obedience to the Laws as given was part of the system of salvation. Salvation was not by the Law but through grace, yet obedience to God and His system was part of that salvation process (see the paper The Relationship Between Salvation by Grace and the Law (No. 82)).

 

Thus, the Commandments are extended to the system of living. The Holy Days or Sabbaths kept by the nation must be from God’s Law. The Sabbaths and the three Feast periods are listed. Following of another system of Holy Days other than that laid down by the Bible is equivalent to idolatry. That’s how serious it is. If we don’t keep the Day of Atonement and the Feasts and we go and work on those days, we are following the god of this world. We are no less worshipping a foreign god by failing to keep these Feasts than we would be if we sacrificed to another god on those Feasts. Christ’s sheep obey his voice and follow him.

 

John 10:27-30  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one." (RSV)

 

That is why the Church has kept these entire systems for two thousand years, following Christ’s voice. They have been persecuted and killed for this obedience (see the papers The Role of the Fourth Commandment in the Historical Sabbath-keeping Churches of God (No. 170) and General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122)).

 

The Church was subverted very early in its history. Some Gnostics attempted to avoid the direction of the Old Testament by divorcing the God of the Old Testament from Christ, ignoring some of the New Testament. Modern-day Christianity misconstrues the teaching of Paul as eliminating the requirements of the Law. This achieves a similar effect, but introduces incoherence in the explanation of the biblical structure and plan, and the explanation of the Problem of Evil, which the Gnostics sought to explain.

 

The Gnostic system has actually triumphed. The system out there that claims to be Christian is actually the inheritor of the Gnostic system. Most of those people claiming to be Christian are not – they are Gnostics.

 

The Feasts as Law

 

The biblical Feasts are found in Leviticus 23. This is a fuller explanation than the extension of Exodus. Thus we see Exodus 23 extends Exodus 20 and Leviticus 23 amplifies Exodus. Numbers 15, 28 and 29 amplify both, including the New Moons, and further reiteration and amplification occurs in Deuteronomy 5 and 14.

 

The creation was established so that the lights in the heavens showed the distinction not only between night and day, but also for signs and for seasons and for days and years (Gen. 1:14). Thus the Sabbaths and the harvest systems are set in the celestial system. The two harvest moons of the northern and southern hemispheres denote the Harvest Months. The times and the Law were set in the creation. The Sacred Calendar was established from the beginning (see the paper God's Calendar (No. 156)).

 

The Feasts were given to Moses by Yahovah (or Jehovah). These Feasts were to be proclaimed as holy convocations. These were Feasts of the Lord and he called them My feasts (Lev. 23:2). They are referred to as the feasts of the Lord in Leviticus 23 and 2Chronicles 2:4. The term your feasts was also used in Numbers 15:3 and 29:39. The term their feasts is used in Isaiah 1:14 and 5:12 in a negative aspect, as below. The Feasts were thus not of secular or earthly provenance. They could not logically be changed or abandoned unless the Plan of Salvation, which they represent, had been changed or abandoned.

 

Given the unchanging nature of God in the execution of His Plan of creation, this argument is absurd. It is suggested that the references in Isaiah 1, especially at 1:14 where the Lord states that he hates the New Moons and the appointed feasts, somehow do away with the Feasts. The chapter refers to the apostasy found on the Feasts and that the Lord will not endure the attitude but he was not able (Heb: Yakol) to do away with the Feasts themselves (Isa. 1:13).

 

Isaiah 1:13-14  Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. (KJV)

 

Yahovah (Jehovah) or the Angel of the Presence was unable to do away with the iniquity found on the Feasts. He would not do away with the Feasts because he (Yahovah) as Elohim of Israel (Ezekiel 11 (see esp. vv. 7-21 for subordination of one to the other)) was given the sequence of the plan as reflected by the Feasts. He was sent by Yahovah of Hosts (Zech. 2:5-13).

 

Zechariah 2:5-13  For I will be to her a wall of fire round about, says the LORD, and I will be the glory within her.'" 6 Ho! ho! Flee from the land of the north, says the LORD; for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, says the LORD. 7 Ho! Escape to Zion, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon. 8 For thus said the LORD of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye: 9 "Behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they shall become plunder for those who served them. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me.

 

This is Yahovah talking to Israel through Ezekiel. He is saying Yahovah (Jehovah) of Hosts sent me.

 

10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for lo, I come and I will dwell in the midst of you, says the LORD. 11 And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in the midst of you, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. 12 And the LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem." 13 Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling. (RSV)

 

Yahovah of Hosts sent Yahovah (of Israel), here translated in the RSV as the Lord, to Israel so that many nations would join themselves to Israel in the end days.

 

Yahovah of Hosts was The Lord, who was his Lord (Ps. 110:1).

 

Psalm 110:1  A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my lord: "Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool." (RSV)

 

He was his Elohim (Mic. 5:2-4).

 

Micah 5:2-4  But you, O Bethlehem Eph'rathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. 3  Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in travail has brought forth; then the rest of his brethren shall return to the people of Israel. 4  And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. (RSV)

 

He was the Elohim who had anointed him as Elohim (Ps. 45: 6-7, requoted in Heb. 1:8-9 as referring specifically to Christ).

 

Hebrews 1:7-9  Of the angels he says, "Who makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire." 8 But of the Son he says, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of thy kingdom. 9  Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, thy God, has anointed thee with the oil of gladness beyond thy comrades." (RSV)

 

Thus, the Holy Days are direct orders to humanity given by Jesus Christ from God the Father who is his God. There can thus be no power to change these Feasts or the Law. The power of Christ relates to the power to keep the Law in the Holy Spirit and, hence, through grace. Christ kept all the Sabbaths, New Moons and the Feasts. The apostolic Church also kept the Sabbaths, New Moons and the Feasts (Col. 2:16) as has the Church over two thousand years (see papers above). The nations in the Millennium will keep these Sabbaths, New Moons and Feasts also (Isa. 66 23; Zec. 14:16-19).

 

Messiah was indeed the primary and essential part of the harvest of God as portrayed by the Passover and the Wave or Sheaf Offering, but he had a pre-existence as the Elohim of Israel subordinate to his Elohim, who was Eloah. It was in this capacity that he gave the Law to Moses and with whom he spoke face to face. Moses did not speak with God (the Father as Eloah (Allah) or Theon) as John plainly says that no man has seen The God (ton Theon) ever (Jn. 1:18). It was this Elohim that was termed the Angel of the Presence or the Angel of Great Counsel (Isa. 9:6 LXX).

 

The Feasts are thus given by God to Christ and Christ maintains and enforces those structures within his elect and ultimately throughout the nations for the millennial structure. Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Heb. 13:8). God is immutable (Mal. 3:6; Jas. 1:17). Thus neither change and, therefore, the days they hold as sacred for humanity as given by law do not change.

 

Early theological argument for the abolition of the Feasts

 

The reference at Isaiah 1:14 is usually used to justify the keeping of the Chaldean feasts of Easter and the December midwinter festivals as opposed to the biblical ordinances. Indeed, the King James Version at Acts 12:4 has been deliberately mistranslated to read Easter instead of Passover.

 

Acts 12:4  And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. (KJV)

Acts 12:4 4 And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. (RSV)

 

To suggest that Christ would permit the Church to replace the Feasts of the Plan of Salvation with pagan festivals, when the Feasts were instituted by him under instruction from God, appears extraordinary and unsound. Tertullian falls into this error when he argues against Marcion concerning the Sabbath. Not understanding that Messiah was also the Elohim or Angel of Yahovah of the Old Testament, he assumes separate entities and alleges both Yahovah of the Old Testament and Christ in the New Testament hated the Sabbath. Using Isaiah as above for the Old Testament and reasoning thus for Christ that:

 

… even if as being not the Christ of the Jews, He [i.e., Christ of the NT] displayed a hatred against the Jews most solemn day, He was only professedly following the Creator, as being His Christ [Messiah], in this very hatred of the Sabbath; for He exclaims by the mouth of Isaiah: 'Your new moons and your Sabbaths my soul hateth' (Bacchiocchi in From Sabbath To Sunday - A Historical Investigation into the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity, The Pontifical Gregorian University Press, Rome, 1977 quoting Against Marcion 1, 1, ANF, Vol III, p. 271; (but the reference is only to the commencement of the work)).

 

Bacchiocchi's opinion was that Tertullian's arguments in Books 1, 2, 4 and 5 showed that, contrary to what Marcion taught, the type of Sabbath-keeping taught by the God of the Old Testament and that of Christ were identical. The teachings of both Testaments were in harmony. Both derived from the same God, who was God of both dispensations. However, in arguing for the harmony he reduces the Sabbath to an institution that God has always despised (Bacchiocchi, ibid., p. 187, fn. 61).

 

Tertullian claims from Galatians and elsewhere, and quite wrongly, that God despised the Sabbaths and Feasts arguing:

 

'Ye observe days and months, and times, and years' [Gal. 4:10] - the Sabbaths, I suppose, and 'the preparations' [ANF translating 'Coenas puras': as 'probably the paraskeuai [paraskeuai or preparation] of John xix. 31'; see the section 'Passover' for an exposition of this matter] and the fasts, and the 'high days' [John 19:31 also?]. For the cessation of even these, no less than of circumcision, was appointed by the Creator’s decrees, who had said by Isaiah, 'Your new moons, and your sabbaths, and your high days I cannot bear; your fasting, and feasts, and ceremonies my soul hateth' [Isa. 1:13,14]; also by Amos, 'I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies' [Amos 5:21]; and again by Hosea, 'I will cause to cease all her mirth, and her feast days, and her sabbaths, and her new moons, and all her solemn assemblies' [Hosea 2:11]. The institutions which He set up Himself you ask did He then destroy? Yes, rather than any other. Or if another destroyed them, he only helped on the purpose of the Creator, by removing what even He had condemned. But this is not the place to discuss the question why the creator abolished his own laws. It is enough for us to prove that He intended such an abolition, that so it may be affirmed that the apostle determined nothing to the prejudice of the Creator, since the abolition itself proceeds from the Creator.

 

Tertullian shows that Marcion can be first known as a heretic by his separation of the gospel and the Law (Against Marcion, ibid., Ch. XXI, p. 286). Curiously, it is this aspect of the Marcionite heresy that is most prevalent today in Christian justification for removing the requirements of the Law, both from worship and the Feasts, particularly the Sabbath issue. The notion is philosophically unsound for the reasons developed elsewhere (see the papers Distinction in the Law (No. 96) and The Works of the Law Text - or MMT (No. 104)). It becomes obvious from reading Tertullian that he does not comprehend the real issues behind the statements in Isaiah, Amos and Hosea. In those texts the festivals employed by both Israel and Judah were seen to be polluted. It was the lack of justice and righteousness (Amos 5:24) that was the problem, as is evident even by a cursory reading of the texts.

 

The Christianity of Tertullian was so affected by the Mithras and other Sun cults by his time that he did not correctly comprehend the purpose and Plan of Salvation or the cosmology. Indeed, Tertullian became leader of the Montanist sect some ten years after his conversion. This was prompted by the decadence of the Roman Church. It is of significance that the Horn of Daniel 7, which is the ten-horned kingdom referred to in Revelation, shall "wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws" (Dan. 7:25).

 

This capacity to change times and the Law was rejected as a legitimate concept by Daniel and is logically absurd from the concept of the Law proceeding from the nature of God. Changing times and the Law was held to be the mark of the false world religious and political system, which eventually controls the world, but is destroyed at the return of the Messiah. In dealing with the whole problem of law it may be remembered that the final word is that sin is the transgression of the law (1Jn. 3:4) and this relationship is that which is central to the Problem of Evil.

 

This whole structure was aimed at eliminating the law of the Hebrews and the Law of the God of the Hebrews, so that they could establish Christ as a separate god with a separate system and Romanise him. They wanted to make a Roman god out of Jesus Christ – and that’s what they did.

 

The Feasts as part of the original Faith

 

The Feasts, from the weekly Sabbath to the harvest Feasts, and the Day of Atonement have specific meaning as to the sequence and significance of the Lord’s activities in dealing with mankind. It is as absurd to suggest that God would abrogate the Feasts as it is to suggest that He would abort the redemption of mankind. It would follow that the Passover Lamb had no significance as a redemptive sacrifice and the Messiah of Aaron, awaited by the first-century community in Israel, is without purpose (see the paper The Passover (No. 98) for explanation). The Lamb was sacrificed on the Passover or he was not the Messiah. There were sacrifices every day. Thus, a Lamb sacrificed on the wrong day was not the Passover Lamb. This argument relates to the 14 Nisan sequence and the Timing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (No. 159).

 

We saw from the paper Distinction in the Law (No. 96) that the Reformation failed to restore the original Faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), and they were then prevented from establishing the Holy Days by divine fiat and intervention.

 

The Holy Days and the Sabbaths are impugned deliberately. That is a promise that God Himself had made through the prophets. God spoke through the prophet Amos and likened Israel in the Last Days as a basket of summer fruit (Amos 8:1ff.). The failure to obey God is the key element. The punishment for failure to obey God is that the Sabbaths and the Feasts are turned into mourning. That is followed by the famine of hearing the word of Yahovah (Jehovah) (Amos 8:11-14). Because of the failure to understand the nature of the One True God (Jn. 17:3; 1Jn. 5:20) the people are punished (Hos. 8:5-9). Even the demons know that God is One and tremble (Jas. 2:19). The great things of God’s Law were written for Israel because they counted them as a stranger through their breach of the First Commandment and their proliferation of sin in worship (Hos. 8:11-12 see Interlinear Bible).

 

The nexus between the Feasts and the sacrifices noted in Deuteronomy 12:8-14 was abolished along with the nexus between the sacrifices and the weekly Sabbath. One cannot link the Sacred Calendar and Feasts and the sacrificial Law without applying the same concept to all other aspects of the Law, including the Sabbath. All of the system of God’s government was freed from the sacrificial system including the Sabbath and Holy Day systems. When Christ fulfilled the sacrifice he did not eliminate it; he completed it once and for all. So the sacrifices have been offered but the days are still kept. While the sacrifices were being made in the Temple there were twenty-four divisions of the priesthood on duty at the Feast periods. At home, all of Israel was on duty. When the priesthood was divided up and there was one division on duty, that same division amongst the people was on duty at home for the daily sacrifice. They were offering prayers and sacrifice at home (e.g. Bible studies), and that was in ancient Judah.

 

When the sacrifices were completed these people were still in prayer and Bible study – that is part of the sacrificial system. Only Christ was offered once and for all. We are still required to offer up the daily sacrifice and the Sabbath and Holy Day sacrifices in prayer and Bible study. Christ, as the Passover Lamb, offered once and for all the sacrifices from the Passover all the way through to the weekly Sabbath and the Holy Days, the Festivals and the New Moons. We are all required to be on duty.

 

The Passover itself was introduced before the Law was given at Sinai. The entire process of the introduction of the elect within Christianity is predicated on the Holy Day sequence, right up until the general resurrection. They cannot be abolished until the Last Great Day. Each Feast represents an ongoing part of the Plan of God that is still unfolding. They are, by definition of the harvest system, still extant and unfolding. The Law was the shadow of things to come (Heb. 10:1). The shadow shows the reality; it is not removed from it. That shadow was tied specifically to the sacrifice (Heb. 10:1-10), and not to the Feasts.

 

The Catholic and Protestant churches alike still understand that the early Feasts have to be kept. They have confused the Passover with the pagan Easter system and count Pentecost incorrectly from Easter. However, they do not argue against their necessity. Because of their erroneous understanding of the doctrine of the Kingdom of God and the denial of the physical restoration in the Millennium, and the Second Resurrection, they do not understand the later Feasts.

 

The Bible holds that the blemishes on the Feasts are caused by those in the Body who abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error, and perish in Korah’s rebellion (Jude 11-12). In other words, they teach for hire and they pervert the Feasts and the understanding of the Law and the Testimony. There is no light (Isa. 8:20 KJV) or dawn (RSV) in them. They are twice dead and uprooted. These people, devoid of the Spirit, set up divisions in the Last Days (Jude 19). Korah’s rebellion is thus an ongoing process against the word of God.

 

It is most important that the whole structure of the attitude and the preservation of the Feasts is understood to be on the elect. We have an obligation (each one of us) to Christ, whose head is God, and these Feasts are mandatory upon us and we should honour them regardless of the numbers that meet together. The world will not be able to be harmed until the last of the 144,000 is sealed. That is not very far off. The full number of the 144,000 is almost complete and when that is complete or done, then the end will come. The power of our people will be broken and finally Christ will come.

 

Christ is able to keep the elect from falling and to present them before God the Saviour of us (Jude 24-25 see Marshall’s Interlinear RSV). However, the divisions within the Body of Christ are allowed so that it might be made manifest who has the truth and the approval of God (1Cor. 11:19). The argument that the text of Galatians 3:10 eliminates the Feasts shows an ignorance of the pre-Sinaitic nature of the creation and the Sabbaths. The restoration of the Feasts under penalty of starvation is a necessary adjunct to the commencement of the Millennium (Zech. 14:16-19). The Sabbaths and New Moons will also be re-established (Isa. 66:20-23).

 

The Churches of God, including Christ and the Apostolic Church (Mat. 26:17-20; Lk. 2:41,42; 22:15; Jn. 2:13,23; 5:1; 7:10; 10:22; Acts 18:21(KJV); 19:21; 20:6,16; 24:11,17), have kept the Feasts for two thousand years with the exception of one Church from the nineteenth century that did not keep Tabernacles. The Eastern European Church kept the Sabbaths and the New Moons complete from the sixteenth century. Trumpets was treated as a New Moon in this Church’s hymnal. Elements of the Sabbath-keeping Church in Europe that have failed in the keeping of the Commandments, or have fallen into apostasy, have then lost the Feasts (see the papers General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122) and also The Role of the Fourth Commandment in the Historical Sabbath-keeping Churches of God (No. 170)).

 

Like Christ and the other Apostles and Presbyteri (as Irenaeus terms them), Paul also kept the Feasts, as we have seen from Acts. Also, the Day of Atonement is referred to in Acts 27:9 as the fast or nesteian, which was a point of change in the weather cycle in the Middle East. Paul thus did not, and indeed could not, abolish the Feasts of God.

 

Although Paul sought to return to Jerusalem for the Feast mentioned in Acts 18:21 and 19:21 (see KJV; The Interlinear Bible), the text of Acts 20:6 shows that Paul kept the days of Unleavened Bread at Philippi, being delayed. He then sought to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost (Acts 20:16). The Church at Philippi thus was clearly keeping the Feasts. The records of the Sabbath-keeping Churches in Europe show that the Feasts were central to their worship. An examination of the Inquisition shows that the Feasts were used as the means of identifying heretics (e.g. C. Roth, The Spanish Inquisition, pp. 77ff.). The Feasts are kept to this day in the Eastern European or trans-Carpathian Churches. Both Jews and Christians kept the Feasts in the dispersion.

 

The Temple and the sacrifice

 

The Temple was chosen as a temple of sacrifice (2Chr. 7:12), after the Tabernacles and its sacrifices, both when David was at Hebron and the Tabernacle was at Shiloh. However, the Feasts were not tied to the Temple.

 

The Jews would have us believe that as fact.  They tried to tie it all into the Temple. They tried to centralise it because money was involved. It is the same argument for sending all our tithes into the headquarters of any church. They wanted to centralise the money supply.

 

The Lord chose Zion for His dwelling (Ps. 132:13-14), but that choice was suspended for the wandering of the Church in the wilderness until the return of Messiah.

 

The Church was to wander for some two thousand years. That is a forty Jubilee period. The symbolism might then be seen in relation to the Sign of Jonah on the year/day/Jubilee allegory. The dispersion of the Church was prefigured by the forty years under the pillar of fire and cloud in the wilderness. That system was a specific indication that Christ would indicate the centre of worship through the elect. This was understood by the Apostles who kept the Feasts in various locations.

 

The Passover/Easter controversy was waged between elements of the Church that had nothing to do with Jerusalem and, in fact, the Temple had been destroyed for a century when the controversy reached its full height (see the paper The Quartodeciman Disputes (No. 277)). Never once was the argument centred around the existence of the Temple sacrifice. The sacrifice was never considered to be the deciding factor. The Feasts are not tied to the Temple. They preceded the Temple and succeeded it. Only the sacrifice is central to the Temple. However, the sacrifice also occurred elsewhere, both while the Temple stood and when the Temple was destroyed during the Babylonian captivity (see the paper God's Calendar (No. 156); cf. Schürer, History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, Vol. II, pp. 292-313).

 

The twenty-four divisions of the people were rostered on duty with the priests and remained at home for daily prayer and Bible study, with their delegates rostered and sent up to Jerusalem (ibid., p. 293). The Temple at Elephantine assumed the duties of the sacrifice until the Temple was rebuilt in the reign of Darius II. The Temple at Elephantine was then destroyed by attack (see Pritchard, The Ancient Near East, Vol. I, pp. 278-282). The Aramaic letters in Pritchard, translated by Ginsberg, show the records of the Passover directive to the empire mentioned in Ezra (see the paper The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 13)).

 

The contributions to the restoration of the Temple are mentioned, as are the circumstances of the destruction of the Temple at Elephantine in the 14th year of Darius II. The Governors of Judah also had policy control of the priests at Elephantine. The texts show that the sacrifice never ceased during the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and was restored to Jerusalem on the rebuilding of the Temple there. The sacrifice ceased with the New Covenant and the last destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem in 70 CE, but the Feasts in the dispersion continued.

 

 The Temple priesthood at Jerusalem tried to reduce the efficacy of the sacrifices at Leontopolis (Schürer, pp. 146-147). At the time of Antiochus V Eupator (164-162 BCE), the priest Onias IV, son of the High Priest Onias III, went to Egypt and found favour with Ptolemy VI Philometor and his consort Cleopatra. They gave him a ruined temple in Leontopolis in the nomos of Heliopolis (hence not in the nomos of Leontopolis proper and thus another area), which had earlier been a shrine of the agria boubastis. It was approximately 24 miles (40 km) north of Memphis in the Delta. It was built on the pattern of the Temple in Jerusalem but was smaller (see Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, Bk. VII, Ch. 10.3, pp. 426-432; cf. Schürer, ibid., p. 146).

 

Formal Jewish temple worship was established there from 160 BCE onwards. That Temple was constructed there in accordance with the direction of God to Isaiah (Isa. 19:19). God set up this Temple for one purpose: To show that His Son would be in Egypt and from out of Egypt he would call His Son. There was a functioning Temple there with a functioning sacrificial system and at no time was Christ ever severed from the communication of the Temple and his God. The Leontopolis Temple was closed by order of Vespasian in 71 CE according to Bullinger (Companion Bible, Appendix 81) or 73 CE according to Schürer (Vol. III, p. 146). This Temple was established in Goshen where the “light” was during the Exodus, so that Messiah could be sheltered there from Herod as a child. The sacrifices there were ordained by God through prophecy.

 

The Jews in the Diaspora kept the Sabbaths, New Moons and the Feasts (Schürer, Vol. III, p. 144). The passage of Horace (Sat. I 9, 69 GLAJJ I no. 129; cf. Schürer, p. 144) shows that the New Moon was referred to as the hodie tricesima sabbata or the thirtieth Sabbath i.e. the Sabbath of the thirtieth day. In Commodian, tricesima is the name for the New Moon (Schürer, ibid.). Whilst the Temple priesthood tried to confine sacrifice to Jerusalem, the sacrificial meals were held throughout the Diaspora (cf. Schürer, ibid.).

 

The sects kept the Feasts in similar manner but there were differences. The Sadducees kept the Wave Sheaf on the first day of the week of the Feast (i.e. Sunday) and celebrated Pentecost fifty days later on the Sunday. This was done also in the Church. The Essene kept the Wave Sheaf on the last day of the Feast which was according to the solar calendar and confined to the Wednesday Passover-Tuesday Wave Sheaf (see the papers The Wave Sheaf Offering (No. 106b); The Passover (No. 98); God's Calendar (No. 156) and The Omer Count to Pentecost (No. 173)).

 

The Church has kept the Feasts under persecution for two thousand years.

 

Central issue of the Faith

 

The elect are judged by their knowledge of the One True God. Through the knowledge of God the understanding of the Law flows and becomes entrenched within the mind and heart of the individual.

 

The issue is not the Sabbath, or the Feasts, or the Law. It is the fact that God the Father is the One True God (Jn. 17:3; 1Jn. 5:20) and that He alone is immortal (1Tim. 6:16). One can keep the Sabbath and still be a heretic. If we do not hold fast to this truth we will be removed from the elect and be given over to strong delusion and the belief in a lie (2Thes. 2:11). Marshall’s Interlinear translates this verse as an operation of error so that they believe a lie. They cannot help themselves any longer. They simply are removed from the elect and their understanding is removed. They cannot understand, even if they wanted to see the error.

 

All of the understanding of the elect is predicated upon their relationship with the One True God and their knowledge of God and His Son, Jesus Christ (Jn. 17:3; 1Jn. 5:20). Christ magnified the Law and he becomes the second element of the Faith, but he is not the One True God and, thus, not the object of worship. The breach of the First Commandment ensures that the Feasts are removed. They cannot be kept, even if those in error desire to keep them. God will intervene in the long term. God may allow the Binitarian error, for example, to coincide with the keeping of the Feasts. However, it should be noted that the Passover has not been kept correctly in conjunction with this error. A good example is the Worldwide Church of God’s example of the keeping of the Passover in the 1960s. When the Binitarian error was introduced, the Passover was also altered to an incorrect position and Deuteronomy 16:6-7 was no longer observed. Within thirty years the Church had become Trinitarian. The Feasts were altered to workshops; and the Lord’s Supper becomes variable and multiple communion.

 

For those who keep the Law, the Feasts are a necessary reminder of the Plan of God. Moreover, Christ’s mandatory restoration under his system shows that the Feasts are required and are indeed a blessing for his followers. However, to be a follower of Jesus Christ one has to obey the Commandments of God. The emulation of Jesus Christ entails living as he lived. When he kept Atonement, it symbolised what he would do on his return as King Messiah. That is yet to happen. The planet will be reconciled to God by Christ. The Feasts demonstrate that process.

 

The Feasts as the seal of God

 

The Feasts are dealt with in sequence.

 

The weekly Sabbath is a primary requirement according to the Law for a person, having been baptised and in receipt of the Holy Spirit, to bear the mark of salvation, which is termed the Seal of God. The Passover is the second requirement to demonstrate that the Law of God is in his hand (actions) and his forehead (mind) (Ex. 13:9). The punishment for not keeping the Day of Atonement is to be cut off from our people (see the paper Atonement (No. 138)). Our people are spiritual Israel or the Church.

 

The servants of God are sealed on their foreheads (Rev. 7:3; 9:4) and on their hand (Ex. 13:9). The name of the Father is also borne on the forehead by the elect (Rev. 14:1). The mark of worship (indeed, of all religion) is described as being found on the forehead and hand, even that of the Beast system of the Last Days (Rev. 14:9). The Holy Days that one observes in the service of one’s God sets apart each system and distinguishes the spiritual entities that rule each system.

 

A system that keeps the Sabbath and biblical Feasts is biblically based. A system that keeps the day of the Sun and keeps the feasts of the Sun cults such as the Solstice, together with the Easter festivals, is not biblically based. Indeed, such a system can be seen to be in total opposition to the Laws of God. Christmas is so openly acknowledged to be a pagan festival that the suggestion of any Christian association is a joke, even to the average man in the street (see the paper The Origins of Christmas and Easter (No. 235)). It is difficult to imagine how one could actually construct a system so far from the biblical model in concepts and methods of worship. As we are slaves to whom we serve, adherence to the word of God is critical to the Faith.

 

Each one of us is under a direct obligation to keep the Feasts equally as much as we are under an obligation to keep the Sabbath and the New Moons. The system of God is clear, direct and under the Law.

 

 

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