In Part 1, we explored “Who Is God?” In Part 2, we explored “What Is Man?” In Part 3, we saw that “Man Fails the Test”. In Part 4, we explored “What Are Angels and Who Is Satan?” In Part 5, we explored “Why Israel?” If you have missed any of these, I would advise you to go back and read them, as each succeeding part contains information that is built upon from the previous parts. If you have read them, you now know that God is a Family, He has plans to expand that family, and He plans to use human beings to grow that family. However, Adam and Eve failed their first test. They were deceived by Satan into not believing God and disobeying Him. Satan was created as a perfect high-ranking archangel in God’s government, was given charge of the earth to prepare it for human beings, became proud and jealous of God’s plan and ultimately rebelled against God. Since that time, Satan has been in opposition to God and has tried to thwart His plans. Later, God chose a man who would become known as the “Father of the faithful” and renamed him Abraham. Abraham was promised wonderful physical and spiritual blessings, but most overlook the physical blessings that were promised to him. Later, Abraham’s descendants went into Egypt for 430 years, were made slaves, and then God brought them out of Egypt to become His chosen nation. These people voluntarily agreed to God’s covenant with them. The language used was that of a marriage covenant. That’s how close God wanted to be with His people! They were to be an example nation to the world of how God’s way and God’s government truly works. But, they turned out to be a bad example instead of a good one. Throughout history, we have seen that mankind only truly learns from experience. Adam and Eve decided to experience the fruit. People before the Flood decided to go it their own way and, instead of believing God that there were consequences, experience the bad consequences of sin. Israel was no different. People today are no different, either.
In spite of themselves, though, there are a number of things that Israel, esp the House of Judah, did do. God’s writings, His book, His Bible, were transmitted down through generations in spite of their constant apostasy. The Messiah came through the line of David. The beginning of the Christian Church was Jewish. Although Israel did not often keep God’s commandments, they occasionally did. Even during Jesus’ time, there was a set of rules that they faithfully followed (although Jesus did criticize them for some of the added rules the Pharisees put upon it). Jesus Himself kept this set of rules. These rules were something physically carried out. They were acted out, sort of like a bit of theater. The acting out of this set of rules shows a roadmap for God’s plan of salvation of all of mankind! Yet, it shouldn’t be surprising by now to learn that most professing Christians do not keep this same set of rules! In fact, they follow a counterfeit set that masks God’s plan rather than reveal it! It is such a shame, as well, as there is little that is more beautiful than the symbolism of God’s Holy Days.
This is a rather large topic, and there are entire booklets written on just this one subject. I’m going to skim over a lot of things. At the end, I’ll give you some resources that will enable you to study this in more detail. However, the main source of study is always the Bible. Please take your Bible and read the entire chapter of Lev 23.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
~ Lev 23:1-2
Notice Who is speaking here. These are not the “Feasts of Moses”. No, God spoke to Moses and commanded them. Then, God states they are the “feasts of the LORD”. They don’t belong to Moses, to the Jews or to Israel, but to God! He says “these are my feasts.” Don’t let anyone con you into believing these are “Jewish holidays”! These are feasts of God!
The Weekly Sabbath
Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
~ v 3
Interestingly, the first festival that God decrees is a repeat of the one of the Ten Commandments. The Sabbath is declared as a weekly festival and a day of rest. Notice it is a “Sabbath of the LORD”, showing again that these are not Jewish festivals. Jesus proclaimed that “The sabbath was made for man” (Mk 2:27). It was made for everyone! It wasn’t made for the “Jews” but for “man”!
Now, what day is the weekly Sabbath? Sunday? No, it says “the seventh day is the Sabbath”! How deceived most people are to be worshiping on the wrong day! I challenge you to look through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and the word “Sunday” never appears. That was the day set aside for Sun worship on the first day of the week! Furthermore, do the same to look for a change to the day of the Sabbath! You won’t find it! What you’ll find instead is that Gentile Christians were expected to learn the Law on the Sabbath, that Paul taught Gentiles on the Sabbath in the synagogues, and that the author of Hebrews says there remains a Sabbath rest for Christians! Such a change cannot be found!
One of the longest running disputes in the history of Christianity – Saturday vs. Sunday – is having new life breathed into it with a cash reward of up to $1 million toward a resolution.
A. Jan Marcussen, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor in Illinois, is starting with $50,000 of his own money if someone can produce “a verse from the Holy Bible showing that God commands us to keep holy the first day of the week” – Sunday – “instead of the seventh day” – Saturday – “as is commanded in the Bible.”
p style=”margin-left: 36pt;”>~ “Sunday, holy Sunday?”, http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=24908
There have been numerous such rewards in the past, but I’m not aware of any larger ones than this. None have ever been able to claim the reward monies!
What is interesting is that it was the Catholic Church that changed the day of worship from the seventh to the first (sometimes referred to as “eighth”, which also has pagan origins). When Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church, their motto was “Sola Scriptura”, which means “Scripture alone”. They claimed that it was only by the authority of Scripture that doctrine can be established. Yet, by the fact they keep Sunday instead of Saturday shows an allegiance to the authority of the Catholic Church! Surprisingly, few even understand this!
God then in v4 reiterates that these are His feasts, showing once again that these are not “Jewish holidays”, but instructions from God Himself.
Most know the Israelites left Egypt after the firstborn of the Egyptians died. To protect the Israelites, each household killed a lamb, put its blood on the doorposts and mantel of the house and then roasted the lamb.
Jesus is called the “Lamb of God” in several places in the NT. He came to die for our sins. He spilt His blood to pay the penalty for our transgressions.
In the NT, however, sacrifices are no longer required. Jesus did, however, institute a new ceremony of His own. On Passover evening (the night before Passover day; see Ge 1 for how days are measured by “evening and morning” instead of starting at midnight), Christians are to partake of the broken bread (symbolizing His broken body) and the wine (symbolizing His spilt blood). It is to be once a year to commemorate His death.
Days of Unleavened Bread
The Days of Unleavened Bread is a 7 day festival immediately after Passover. During this time, no leaven is to be found in the house. The act of putting out leaven and keeping it out is symbolic of putting sin out of our lives. The first and last days are Holy Days, and we are commanded to assemble together on those days.
Day of Pentecost
This Holy Day has many names. One of the names is “Feast of Weeks” because it is counted from the day after the Sabbath during the week of the Days of Unleavened Bread. 7 weeks plus 1 day are counted out. Pentecost means “fiftieth”. Jewish tradition holds that the Ten Commandments were given on Pentecost. The Book of Acts shows that the Holy Spirit was given on Pentecost. Interesting that Law and Grace would both be tied to the same day. It is also the Holy Day that marks the beginning of the Christian Church. Because of this, this is the only Holy Day that is recognized in some form by some Protestant denominations (although the calculation of the date is often different). Some denominations keep some form of “Whitsunday”.
After our sins are forgiven by the blood of our Passover Lamb, then as we try to put sin out of our lives and keep it out, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables us to walk the righteous walk. It joins with our human spirit to make a new creation.
Feast of Trumpets
On many calendars, this is shown as the “Jewish New Year”, as it marks the beginning of the Jewish secular year. Note, however, that God’s year begins in the spring!
The Feast of Trumpets symbolizes the return of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the saints. The dead in Christ will rise “at the last trump”. Revelation shows there will be 7 trumpets prior to Christ’s return, and the 7th will be the one heralding the actual return.
Day of Atonement
Leviticus 16 holds the key to the meaning of this Holy Day, as well as Rev 20:1-7. The “scapegoat” of the KJV is a mistranslation. Notice that one goat is killed, but the other takes on the sins of the congregation! Furthermore, the “scapegoat” or more properly Azazel goat is taken to the wilderness so it cannot return. When the man who took the Azazel goat out to the wilderness returns, he is “unclean”. This goat cannot be symbolic of Jesus Christ! No, it is symbolic of the putting away of Satan for 1,000 years, during the Millennial rule of Jesus. The blood of the goat that is killed is taken into the Holy of Holies, which means that goat represents Jesus Christ (compare to Book of Hebrews).
Feast of Tabernacles
Once Jesus returns, once His saints have risen, and once Satan has been put away, then the Millennial rule of Jesus can commence. We are instructed to dwell in temporary dwellings during this time. The temporary nature of the dwellings should impress upon us that this life and this earth are physical and temporary. The Millennium is just a precursor to the New Earth that we see in the last 2 chapters of Revelation. The first day is a Holy Day, a day of commanded rest, as the earth can now rest from the evil wrought upon it by Satan.
During the Feast of Tabernacles, we are commanded to rejoice before God. We partake of good food and good fellowship away from the world at large.
The Last Great Day
“The Last Great Day”, as it is traditionally known, or the 8th day of the Feast is a Holy Day in its own right. It isn’t given a name, per se, but it is commanded as an additional day of celebration. After Christ’s Millennial rule, Satan is loosed for a short season, then he is permanently put away. After that, comes the second resurrection. This is a general, physical resurrection (Cf. Eze 37). The dead will be judged from “the books”, that is, the Bible. This will be the first time the Bible is truly opened to them. They will learn the truth and will have to make a decision to keep God’s ways or not. If so, they will live for an indeterminate time (prophecy suggests 100 years) to grow in grace, character and wisdom just as Christians in this era have had to do (but without the influence of Satan). If not, then they will be destroyed forever in the Lake of Fire.
This last doctrine of the second resurrection is unique to the COG theology. While many groups understand portions of this plan, they do not understand the entire plan because they do not keep these Holy Days! Ps 111:10 says, “a good
understanding have all they that do his commandments“. Knowledge acted upon will be rewarded, but if not acted upon, even that little will be taken away (cf. Lk 19:26).
It is a shame that more do not understand God’s plan for humanity. However, they do not understand because they do not keep all of His commandments! God’s Holy Days outline His plan for salvation. Keeping them every year allows us to reflect upon the mercy and logical unfolding of His plan and to draw even deeper meaning from them. Christians can rejoice in God’s plan and understand more fully than the Jews do because He has given us His Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts to understanding.
That dichotomy points to another aspect to God’s plan. Ancient Israel did not have God’s Holy Spirit, but Christians do. The Jews keep many of these Holy Days, but they don’t understand either because they don’t have His Spirit either. Christians are living under the New Testament, but some read that as meaning that the Law, including the Sabbath and Holy Days, no longer apply. Is that true? Part 7 will cover What Is The New Covenant?
I’d encourage the reader to study up on this in more detail. There is a lot of information that I left out for space reasons. Some of the resources available:
Biblical Holy Days (including the Sabbath) at BibleStudy.org
God’s Holy Day Plan at United Church of God’s website
The Holy Days—God’s Master Plan at Living Church of God’s website