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Monday, October 17, 2011

Are The Feasts of Israel for New Testament Christians?

A Question of Feasts

QUESTION:  from a reader:
      Rory, what is the difference between the law of God and the law of Moses?
      In at least 4 places in the Old Testament, we are commanded that the Feast Days are intended to
      be kept "for ever." (Ex. 12:14, 17; Lev. 23:41; 2Chr. 2:4).
      Does the new covenant replace the forever?
She said:
      I pulled this from a site when I was studying on the feasts:
      “If we correctly understand that eternal life is "for ever," then this same term and concept belongs
        to the Feast Days. "For ever" is, in fact, for ever, notwithstanding conflicting theological views about
        the Feast Days.
‎@Reader. Those are good questions. 
    The feasts are from the law as given Israel, in the Old Covenant.
     In order to give a thorough answer, please be patient while we develop the apostle’s doctrine.

Part I    ALL of God's Word is law, including all of the New Testament, which is the Will and testament of Jesus Christ. 

1.  The Feasts and the Law
     The 7 feasts were given under the Old Testament law, to the natural-born people of Israel,
     who were given inheritance in the land.  
2.  “forever” and “everlasting”
      Let’s note there are a number of other matters that are called an "eternal" covenant.
      So before we tackle the feasts we have an example, i.e., circumcision in
Genesis 17:13
     He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised:
     and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an *everlasting covenant*.

This covenant was "confirmed" in the law:
Lev. 12:2
     Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman conceive seed, and bear a man-child,
     ......... (3) And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

Which was upon penalty of loss of salvation under the Old Covenant:
Exodus 12:48      And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee,
                            and will keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised,
                            and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land:
                            but no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
The Law confirmed the “everlasting covenant” God made with Abraham, and circumcision was commanded as an outward seal.
Paul confirmed this truth in Galatians 3:17:
     Now this I say:  A covenant confirmed beforehand by God, the law…..

In Leviticus 17 we have some otherforever’s”:
5    To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, … …  unto the priest,
      and sacrifice them for sacrifices of peace-offerings unto the LORD.
 6   And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the LORD at the door of the tent of meeting,
      and burn the fat for a sweet savor unto Jehovah.
7   and they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices unto the he-goats, after which they play the harlot.
     This shall be a statute forever unto them throughout their generations.

Here is another “forever statute” in Lev. 16: 29

   And it shall be a statute for ever unto you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month,
   ye shall afflict your souls, and shall do no manner of work, the home-born,
   or the stranger that sojourneth among you:
30)   for on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you;
       from all your sins shall ye be clean before the LORD.
31)   It is a sabbath of solemn rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls; it is a statute forever

     Numbers 18:23 But the Levites shall do the service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear their
                              iniquity: it shall be
a statute for ever throughout your generations.

The Passover  was a “forever” ordinance.
     Exodus 12:
     And ye shall observe this thing for
an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.

There are numerous “for ever” and “everlasting” laws given in the (OT) law, not just the feasts, which some would have us focus on their pet “forever” doctrine and ignore the others in the same  law.

Psalms 105:
9)    The covenant which he made with Abraham, And his oath unto Isaac,
10)  And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a statute, To Israel for an everlasting covenant.

3. The Christian Pharisees in Acts 15 attempted to apply the law to Chrisitians

Therefore in Acts 15, the law observant Pharisee Jews that believed, seemed to have legal basis for
imposing the "everlasting covenant" of circumcision from the law...
-and in the law, any male not circumcised was "cut off" from the Covenant, and his family

4.  Circumcision in the New Covenant

Paul reminded the church regarding the “everlasting” law of circumcision in Galatians
    5:1)   For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again  in a yoke of bondage.
   2)  Behold, I Paul say unto you, that, if ye receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing.
   3)  Yea, I testify again ---> to every man that receives circumcision,
         that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
In this passage he reaffirms what the apostles and elders in Acts 15 decreed the churches to observe or not observe.  There was an issue regarding circumcision and the Law of Moses and the churches in Acts 15:5.
see  this writing about Acts 15

5.  The New Testament is a lawful Covenant

 Because ALL of God’s Word is the “law of His lips”,  the scriptures affirmed commands and commandments for the New Testament  (the “Will”  left by the “testator”, Jesus Christ), for the saints as Jesus delivered them to us through the apostles.

Let’s strongly underscore that statement with several of the scriptures from the New Testament:

Acts 1:1 The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do
                and to teach, 2  until the day in which he was received up, after that,
                he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit  to the apostles
2nd Peter 3:2 that ye should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets,
                         and the commandments of the Lord and Savior through your apostles:
1Cor 14:37  If any man thinks himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge
                      of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord.
2nd Thess 3:4    And we have confidence in the Lord touching you,
                                            that ye both do and will do the things which we command.

Now see the legal authority of the New Testament in Hebrews 9:

 15)    And for this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant,
           that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions
           that were under the first covenant, ……
16      For where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him that made it.

Part II   How the OT law was changed.

Because the Covenant was changed, the priesthood changed, and the law was changed.
This includes the 10 commandments, as Jesus changed the spirit and nature of the law.

Hebrews 7:12    For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity
                             a change also of the law

Here are some simple examples of  change to the law:

 -thou shall not commit adultery was changed to:
     " But I say unto you, that every one that looks  on a woman
       to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart
- thou shall not kill is changed to:
      " but I say unto you, that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the

- the law said: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy
   But Jesus said: “I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you

- “thou shall not steal” is changed to:
       And he said unto them, Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness

Colossians 3:5    Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry;

And  that circumcision, part of the great controversy in Acts 15, and in the Galatian churches?
-it also was also changed, even though it was an "everlasting covenant" back in Gen. 17:13:

Romans 2:29    But he is a Jew who is one inwardly;
                           and circumcision is that of the heart,
                           in the spirit not in the letter

-the "letter" was the law that commanded fleshly circumcision that the Pharisee Christians sought
 to impose on the churches.

Phillipians 3:3 for we are the circumcision,  who worship by the Spirit of God,
                          and glory in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh:
And  Colossians 2:11 in whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands,
                                       in the putting off of the Body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ;

We see it was not a fleshly circumcision they received, but a spiritual circumcision of the heart.
Thus we see again the “change” in the law, and of course, the Feasts of Israel were included.
Are the Feasts Literal and for us, or were they “changed” Too?

Now that we have taken an "everlasting covenant" from the Law, and "translated" some of it into the New Covenant, we can look at the feasts.

The feasts were commanded, several were absolutely mandatory upon penalty of being “cut off from Israel” and the Covenant.
1.  Deuteronomy 16:16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before Jehovah thy God
                                          in the place which He shall choose:
                                        - in the feast of unleavened bread,
                                        - in the feast of weeks, (firstfruits)
                                        - in the feast of tabernacles (booths).
The "place" God chose in the OT Covenant to place His Name, was in the temple in Jerusalem.

1Kings 11:36 And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a lamp always
                          before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there.

2.  Now we see God define the "place", and He also defined how the feasts were to be observed.
     Notably, they required all males to appear three times a year in Jerusalem,
     which Jesus did for us as He fulfilled the legal requirement of the OT law.
      (it should be obvious all male Christians cannot go to Jerusalem 3 times a year)

3. The laws regarding the feasts were upon penalty of being "cut off from the children of Israel". 
     (the same penalty as the lawful sabbath observances)
     Exodus 13 … The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep:
                            seven days thou shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee…
For Those that did not obey:

Numbers 15:31 Because he hath despised the word of Jehovah, and hath broken his commandment,
(which includes the laws of the feasts)  that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him
We see to keep a proper feast observance, God was very particular.

4. The feast of "unleavened bread is very interesting.

Exodus 13:7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days;
                             and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee,
                             neither shall there be leaven seen with thee, in all thy borders.
Notice "cut off":   Exodus 12:19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses:
                                                         for whosoever eats that which is leavened,
                                                        that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel,
                                                        whether he be a sojourner, or one that is born in the land.

“Leaven” is yeast. Yeast is found in all sorts of bakery and wheat products, crackers, cookies, cakes, breads, pasta, and the list goes on. The law required 100%,  “ALL leaven”, out of the house for seven days.
We could go on to give many more verses from the law regarding the correct manner of keeping the feasts as God set the order.  Exodus 13, Leviticus 23, and Deuteronomy 23 tell us more about them.

I really wonder how those that maintain we must observe the feasts do so?
- and if they go to Jerusalem three times a year to do so correctly?  If we cannot keep them the way God gave them to the Old Testament Jews, are we then free to invent our own variations?

Part III.   The New Testament and the feasts.

Christ was written of in Galatians 4:4
     But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman,  born under the law 
and we read how in John 5:1
     After these things there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
It was required he keep and fulfill perfectly the Law, which included the feasts.

Since we read where the penalty for breaking them in the law was being a soul "cut off", how can we reconcile the feasts in the New Covenant that were some of the forever’s in the law? ‎

 The church after Pentecost and the feasts.

After the death  of the testator Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost came, it was to "the Jew FIRST
-The temple was still standing; the Levite priests still sacrificed, the Jewish nation was still a political entity. The feasts (and much of the law) were still observed, by both Jewish Christians and unconverted religious Jews.

However the Christian Jews understood and knew that there was no more sacrifices acceptable, that the temple had been declared “desolate” by Jesus, and that there was no need for the Levitical priests and sacrifices because Jesus was now our “High Priest”. 

So for the first 10 chapters in Acts, it was a primarily Jewish church and there was a continuing outward observance of the law because the church was in transition and gentiles would be brought in.  The temple building, the symbol and heart of national Israel yet stood and outwardly appeared as it had before Christ's ministry..... until 70 ad and the annihilation of the Jewish nation, Jerusalem, and the temple.

The Jewish disciples observed the law outwardly, and served the Lord in a way to not cause offense or their Jewish brethren to stumble, except now they preached Christ and they wrote as the Spirit of Christ continued to speak commands and instructions as the testament of Christ.

This is also what Paul practiced in the presence of unsaved Jews, and this is also why he could go to Jerusalem to observe a feast,  compel Timothy to be circumcised, and take a Jewish vow: (Acts 18:18)
1Cor 9:20 And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews;
                  to them that are under the law, as under the law,
                  not being myself under the law,
                  that I might gain them that are under the law.

 As the gentiles were added to the church, the law, the feasts, sabbath observances, and circumcision all became "issues", and now we have come full circle to Acts 15.

Hebrews 7:12 For the priesthood being changed,
                      there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

- which INCLUDED  THE FEASTS statutes.
Since the "law changed" and that included the feast laws, and that we are "complete in HIM",
we see there is no righteousness, no obligation, and no law on New Testament saints regarding the lawful observance of the feasts.

How do we know that?

Simple.  Not once was any church instructed to observe them, keep them, go to Jerusalem three times a year as they had been observed for  hundreds of years, even though at the writing of the New Testament, the temple yet stood.

Paul by the Holy Spirit, chastised those that did so:
Gal 4:10 Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years…. And went on to say in
21)  Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, …….
and especially:
Col. 2:16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink (dietary laws) ,
                or in respect of a feast day  (from the feast laws)
                  or a new moon or a sabbath day.......
            17)  which are A SHADOW of the THINGS TO COME;
                  ....but the body is Christ`s.
20)  If ye died with Christ from the rudiments of the world (the law) ,
        WHY, as though living in the world,
        do ye subject yourselves to ordinances  (from the law).
Here's "WHY" they did so and what they had fallen into, as the apostles settled in Acts 15:
23)    Which things (law observances) have indeed A SHOW of wisdom in will-worship, and humility,
          and severity to the body;
          BUT ARE NO VALUE against the indulgence of the flesh.

Keeping the outward does not cause you to be filled with, or receive the Spirit of God.
-“received you the Spirit of God by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?” Gal. 3:5

BUT the feasts were a "shadow" of what is to come. 
Hebrews 10:1   For the law having a shadow of the good to come

What was to come?
-It was the  “better covenant" which had been prophesied.
Hebrews 7:22   By so much also hath Jesus become the surety of a better covenant.

Let's now show some ways we might observe the feast of "unleavened bread".

Rather than going to Jerusalem to observe the feasts of Unleavened Bread, First fruits, and Tabernacles,
we as citizens of NEW Jerusalem that have an “abiding city”, keep them by abiding in the Words of our Covenant, and abiding in Christ. Jerusalem above is our mother.

Jesus IS our feast of unleavened bread which both the manna from heaven and unleavened bread were a “type” and “shadow” of, Christ is the substance.
John 6:51
I am the living bread which came down out of heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.  

Christ was perfect, without leaven(Sin, religious error and tradition)
We partake of His flesh and blood by eating His “word”, seven days, in others words, every day.
Christ Jesus is our “Passover” feast which was another “forever” statute.
1Corinthians 5:7   Purge out the old leaven that ye may be a new lump,
                                     even as ye are unleavened. For our passover  (another “forever statute)
                                     also hath been sacrificed, even Christ.

Christ IS our feast of First Fruits:

1Cor 15:20 But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of them that are asleep
1Corinthians 15:23      But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits

The Feast of Firstfruits (Weeks) was the shadow for Christ who is the  forever firstfruits who was given to the church on the Day of Pentecost.
The Feast of Weeks, also known as Harvest (Exodus 23:16), Shavuot, the Day of Firstfruits (Numbers 28:26), or Pentecost, was a festival celebrating the completion of the harvest season.

The Feast of Tabernacles:

 The feast of tabernacles called for the feast keeper to build a temporary booth to stay in Jerusalem during the Feast. 
In our covenant, we build our “booth” as a temporary earth-dwelling by abiding in Christ (His Words and Covenant),  and   “but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”, in our personal temple “not built with hands.
2Corinthians 5:1  For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved,
                                we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal,
                                in the heavens

3.  We build our spiritual dwelling place while yet in this mortal body.
      No one else does it for us, and we build it as we grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ,
      by being “doers of the Word”.

Matthew 7:24    Every one therefore that hears these words of mine,
                         and does them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock:

God did not command us to observe any Jewish calendar  dates as the church is a worldwide body and not even keeping the same time zones. There are no dates specified for the church to observe.
Without those instructions, the literal feasts cannot be observed as God gave them under the law.

 In another article we will show the  7 day/ 7 year  prophetic conclusion foreshadowed by the feasts.


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  3. I pray the veil will be lifted or rent, from the hearts of people who do not understand this. Thanks for this wiring Rory. Good bless you brother!