Ceremonial Feasts Movement

Feast Days of Israel

This have been gaining momentum lately, again these followers are faithful Christians that want to do anything they can do for the Lord. And again with the Christ delaying His return sometimes we can ask ourselves what must we do different, what system of worship did we miss last time we thought Jesus was coming back?

A lot have been written on this topic and it is impossible to cover everything, here is what we consider are the most important issues in order for us to make clear decisions.

Again truth is the basis of the claims of the feast days. God provided Israel amazing sequences of observances though out the year. Every year the Jews reviewed the whole great controversy through the observance of the feasts. Major lessons of plans of salvation were taught and reviewed every year – how God is handling the controversy and how Satan will be defeated. It was probably one of the greatest teaching tools that God has devised for the Jews (and us). Every new generation would never be ignorant of how God will deal with the issues of the great controversy; the torch of truth would be handed down from father to child, all the way down the line until the Messiah would come.

Due to the apostasy in the Christian church and animosity to everything Jewish these feasts have been forgotten or discarded as the early Christians did not want to do anything that could be considered Jewish, including the Sabbath Day. And the Christian church replaced these teaching tools with Christmas, Easter and even Halloween. Are these better holidays? Do we really need to go back to the feast days? If Christians had remembered to study the feasts, we would understand the dual aspects of the Atonement – one on the cross and one on the day of the Atonement – are different aspects of God’s plan. The reasons for the Judgment and why we need a Judgment, what is happening with Christ’s ministry in the heavenly Sanctuary and what happened after 1844? Righteousness by faith would be clearly understood if we study the sanctuary and the feasts, we would know that it would be an inward change instead of outward, and the purpose of the last Generation and the final atonement.

Little Open Book Ministries
Little Open Book Ministries

The feasts were and are a great teaching tool for us today and may we study them more deeply, the following link leads you into a deeper study of the sanctuary if you are keen to learn more: Little Open Book Ministry.

Now here is the problem

But make no mistake, those promoting the feasts today are saying much more than this, and it is these new claims that I am addressing here. Following are some comments on the feasts. “Those who go through the end, and are translated, will be teaching the statutes and judgments.” “The law is the Ten Commandments and the statutes….It is also the fundamental teaching which the 144,000 must embrace if they are to give the Loud Cry.” “The antediluvians were destroyed for not keeping the statutes and this will be the ultimate factor which brings the end destruction upon mankind.” “The 144,000 will teach the statutes in the last days….The statute message is…the very heart of the message carried in the loud cry to the world.”

Since the feasts are part of the statutes, we are being told that only feast-keepers will be translated, that keeping the feasts are necessary to be part of the 144,000, and that the feast days are the heart of the final message to the world. This is much more than a teaching tool. It has become the final test issue by which the 144,000 will receive the seal of God.

The statutes have become more than a teaching tool it has become a testing truth!

Artist Impersonation of the Assembly in Heaven
Artist Impersonation of the Assembly in Heaven

1 – The claim is made that the feasts were part of the heavenly sanctuary before Lucifer fell, and that they were part of the creation of this earth before sin. This claim is based on the Hebrew word mo’ed. This word can have a number of meanings, such as “appointment, festival, assembly, congregation, appointed time.” It is completely improper to assume that wherever mo’ed is used, it refers to the feasts. The meaning varies according to the context and the subject discussed. In Lam.1:15 the word refers to an assembly of Israel’s adversaries. In Numbers 14:10 the word refers to the congregation of Israel who tried to stone Caleb and Joshua.

The claim is made that since the plan of redemption was laid at the foundation of the world, and the feasts are an unfolding of the plan of redemption, therefore the feasts were established at creation. This is an interesting logical deduction, but there is one problem. There is no inspired evidence that the feasts existed before Sinai. The word mo’ed cannot be used to prove their existence. The Passover began with the tenth plague in Egypt and its purpose was to commemorate their deliverance from slavery. The Day of Atonement began with the yearly cycle connected with the tabernacle and the high priest. The Feast of Tabernacles pointed to their rest in Canaan after their enemies were destroyed. All the feasts were connected with the Hebrew chosen people after Sinai, and there is no evidence of their existence before Moses.

Religious Jews Repent On Yom Kippur Eve
Religious Jews Repent On Yom Kippur Eve

2 – In Genesis 26:5 it says that Abraham kept God’s commandments and statutes and laws. Other than the principles of the Ten Commandments, the only statutes and laws clearly specified at that time were the sacrifices, tithing, and circumcision. There is no hint of feastkeeping in Abraham’s time.

Let us take a quick look at some other statutes and commandments. In Leviticus 7:34 the priests were to receive parts of the animal sacrifices for their sustenance. In Exodus 30:19-21 the priests were to wash their hands and feet when they went into the tabernacle. In Leviticus 19:27,37 the people were not to cut the corners of their beards. In Numbers 15:38,39 the people were to wear a ribbon of blue on the borders of their garments. Exodus 21 regulates the institution of slavery. These were all statutes of the Lord. These statutes were a subset of the moral law. The moral law is eternal, while these statutes began at Sinai, and their specific details ended with the end of the theocracy. The only possible conclusion is that we are not to follow the specific commands here but to look for the principles behind the commands, which are binding as long as time shall last. This conclusion should be applied equally to the feasts. We should look for the principles behind the specific feast day commands, and learn the lessons of the feasts and practice those principles.

3 – Paul did keep the Passover with his converts at Philippi (Acts 20:6), and he mentions Pentecost also. Why did he do this? For the same reason he took the purification vow in the temple, that “all may know…that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.” (Acts 21:24) He did it to reach the hearts of faithful Jews. Remember that the council had decided that Jewish converts could keep the Mosaic law if they chose, so Paul kept the Passover with Jewish and Gentile converts as a sign of unity. The years 34-70 A.D. were a transition period between Jewish laws and customs and Christian observances, and Paul kept some Jewish laws which were not mandatory after Christ’s death. Clearly more than the sacrifices are meant here. Paul explained his rationale very well in 1 Corinthians 9:19,20. “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law.”

Some claim that 1 Corinthians 5:7, 8 is a command to keep the Passover. A careful reading of these verses reveals that every aspect of the original feast (leaven, unleavened bread, Passover) has a deeper spiritual meaning. Paul is simply following the practice of finding the real principles behind the ceremonies of the feast and applying them to our spiritual lives. To say that keeping the feast means the literal Passover with its literal ceremonies completely destroys the point of Paul’s instruction.

Trumpeting Yom Kippur

4 – The three primary feasts – First fruits, Trumpets and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) – were required to be observed at the temple, so they could not be observed in captivity. They were closely tied to the Israelite agricultural calendar, with a thirteenth month added when needed, which again meant that they could not be kept in captivity. (Hosea 9:3-5) How then can we keep them in our countries? In addition to this, the first fruits of the harvest would occur six months later in the southern hemisphere.

5 – There is a distinction between the sabbaths and the Sabbath in Leviticus 23. Verse 2 refers to the mo’ed, the appointed times, and verse 3 includes the Sabbath as a holy convocation. But on the Sabbath “no work” is to be done, which means complete rest, while on the feast sabbaths “no servile work” is to be done, which means laborious work in the normal occupations of earning a living. The difference in words here is not just semantical, but is designed to show the difference between the weekly Sabbath and the annual sabbaths. In verses 37-38 the mo’ed, or feasts, are separate from “the sabbaths of the Lord” (the weekly Sabbaths), which phrase is never used to refer to the feast sabbaths.

6- The claim is made that the feasts can be separated from the sacrifices. However, the Hebrew word chaq is one of the words by which all the feasts are called, and it literally refers to the sacrificial victim. (Exodus 23:18) This implies that the feasts were extensions of the sacrificial animals, and could not exist without the sacrifices.

7 – There have been some interesting conclusions drawn by one feast-keeping book regarding our preparation for the close of probation. “Our old natures are taken away and our new natures are given to us….during the Great Tribulation.” “Our new nature is given to us when our sins are blotted out…during the Latter Rain,” referring to the condition of sinlessness in which Adam lived. (p. 26) “Our very nature and being is still sin….Even when we are not wilfully sinning we are in a state of sin.” (p. 39) “Our sinful nature has to be changed before…probation closes forever.” “Our sinful natures have to be changed or we will not be able to stand for one moment after the close of probation without sinning.” (p. 42) “We must reach Adam’s pre-fall nature before the Second Coming.” (p. 43) “The only way they can be holy is if He has given them their new nature.” (p. 44) “As long as we have a sinful nature, we are defiled; therefore, when God’s people are sealed the sinful nature must be removed from them.” (p. 46) “They are no longer tempted by evil.” (p. 48) (Melody and Richard Drake, God’s Holidays).

The Nature of Sin is in it self a large topic, an one we will get into at a later date but please study the following two texts as they will help understand this controversial topic.

1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

James 1:14-15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Conclusion

Jesus the Sacrificial Lamb
Jesus the Sacrificial Lamb

In conclusion, while a study of the feasts will teach valuable lessons about the plan of salvation, and our time would be well spent in studying them in depth, to make them a test of obedience on the same level as the seventh-day Sabbath is placing man-made rules above the law of God in the same way that the Sunday tradition usurps the authority of the Lawgiver. Any human rule which is not clearly stated in inspiration is stealing glory from God and exalting human reason. Life or death issues do not need inferences drawn from words and possible meanings. God always makes these issues crystal clear.

An extended version of this article can be found at www.dennispriebe.com.

Interesting Facts

The Difference between the 7th day Sabbath and the Jewish Festivals:

7th day Sabbath Festivals
Sabbath was created at creation in a perfect and sin-free environment. Genesis 2:2-3 The Passover was created at the time of the Exodus and was a memorial of the passing over of the death angel. How could the Passover exist before this Exodus 12? Without sin there is no need for a Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement could not possibly exist in a sin-free environment.
The authority and reason given for keeping the Sabbath is because of creation Exodus 20:8-11 The authority of Passover is for the exodus Exodus 12
God Blessed the Sabbath day Genesis 2:3 God never blessed any other day
God hallowed the Sabbath day Genesis 2:3 God never hallowed any other day
The Sabbath day is at the heart of the 10 commandments No other days are mentioned in the 10 commandments
The 4th commandment God wrote himself Exodus 31:18 Moses wrote the laws for festivals
The 4th commandment was written in stone. Signifying its permanence. The festival laws were written on papyrus.
The 7th day Sabbath is a “sign” between God and His people that is the Sanctifier and Creator. Exodus 31:12-17 There is no proof that the festivals or anything else for that matter were a sign of sanctification and creatorship.
The 7th day Sabbath will be kept in heaven. Isaiah 66:23 There is no proof that the festivals will be kept in heaven.
The frequency of observance says a lot about how important a day is. The weekly observance of the Sabbath does more for the spiritual, physical, and mental rejuvenation of humans than any other time. Festivals were observed once a year
All work was forbidden on the Sabbath Only the day of atonement had these same stipulations. Naturally. It was the day of judgment.
The Sabbath was given to refresh man and animal. Exodus 31:17 The festivals were not given to refresh man or animal. In fact lambs probably were not refreshed by the Passover.
God himself was refreshed by the Sabbath Exodus 31:17 No such statement is made about any other day.