ARE THE SABBATH AND THE HOLY DAYS FOR TODAY’S CHRISTIANS?
Today in our “modern” world, people believe that the Old Testament is not relevant to our daily lives. That God instituted instructions on how to worship Him have been done away with and we are not required to keep these “Jewish” traditions. But are they missing an important part of following after God our Father and His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ? I will look into the area of Biblical instruction concerning God giving His commandments, but more importantly, the focus of this sermon of Why do we keep the Sabbath and Holys, and is it for us today?
I firmly believe that in the history of modern protestant religions, coming out from the Catholic church, and in an effort to distance themselves by using their misplaced intentions of throwing out anything that looked Jewish, because they reason, the Jews killed our Lord. Yes, the Jewish people, according to God’s purpose, along with the Roman’s killed our Lord. But they throw the baby out with the bath water. When focusing on these Biblical contradictions of what men say, and what the Bible says, I submit my will to what the Bible says and remove my preconceived ideas, as the Bible is the final authority. Let’s look at what God’s Word has to say about the question of this sermon.
God has revealed to us, His master plan for man’s ultimate salvation through His Sabbath & Holy Days. In this plan, Jesus Christ is the center of that plan. When I was first discovering and searching for a closer walk with my Lord, my wife introduced me to the blessings of the Sabbath and the Holy Days and I struggled with the concept. I like so many other who have been introduced to the Biblical concept of the Sabbath and the Holy Days, felt is was meant for the Jews only. Not something we had to do in these last days. Right?
I came to understand that we look not at the Sabbath and the Holy Days through the eyes of a Jewish person who keeps Judaism and follows rituals surrounded by traditions of men, but through eyes of the converted, saved Christian who understands it in the unique light of the saving power of Jesus Christ. In the beginning, from Mt. Sinai, when the Sabbath & the Holy Days were given to the Israelites, they were ordained to be kept forever, just as Jesus kept them, and as the apostles kept them. We know from historical accounts that the Israelites didn’t understand them or their spiritual significance, as they had not been given the Holy Spirit, as we have. They were just following rituals that God commanded them to fulfill. We have been given the Holy Spirit to discern this glorious meaning. As Ephesians, chapter three, v. 4 states, “ Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ,
v. 5, Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”
We, as followers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, remember these weekly and annual Holy Days to remind us of His plan of salvation and ultimate victory over sin and man’s eventual inclusion into God’s family. We realize that just as the Israelites came out of bondage and were made free, we are freed from the bonds of sin by the shed blood of our Passover Lamb that shed His own blood that we might come out of sin into the glorious light of the saving power of our Lord and Saviour. Just as they struck blood on the door post and lintels of a slain lamb, we ask and believe the shed blood of our Savior is applied to our lives. He gave us an example to remove sin out of our lives, as practiced for a reminder during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He gave us His Spirit, as was given on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit created the Church, and we wait for His second coming and the beginning of a thousand year reign observed by the Feast of Tabernacles and the Sabbath, as a time of rest. If a person is not shown or understand the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles during this earthly time, this side of the Millennium, he most certainly will understand it during this thousand year reign by Jesus Christ, as King, as Zechariah writes in the 14th chapter, that we all will keep the Feast or face dire circumstances for our disobedience. We, as a people, understand that God is fulfilling His Word by showing us that He has two spiritual harvest.
God’s Spiritual Harvest
In Israel, the yearly harvest was divided into a spring and late summer, followed by a fall harvest. In the same symbolic time of an early harvest of His people into His family, there will be an even larger harvest in the fall, at the end of time. How God will accomplish that is for another sermon, but know that God is nearing completion of His spring harvest and that the spring Holy Days remind us and point to that harvest. The much larger fall harvest is in the near future and knowing the impeccable timing that God has, when using the spring harvest to fulfill His plan, is it not reasonable that He may use the fall feast of Trumpets, Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles to complete His plan on THE day, as He has done in the past? Time will tell, but I wonder each year at the Feast of Trumpets date, “will this be the day of His coming”. The sound of a trumpet blast will sound and announce the King and take His children home? So come, Lord Jesus!
God gave the Commandments for these Feasts
Let’s turn to the original of when God gave these commands to the keepers of His Law, the Israelites…not to just the Jews, but to all the 12 tribes there at Mt. Sinai. Turn with me now to Leviticus 23 and start in verse 1. “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
v.2. Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, concerning the feast of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, EVEN THESE ARE MY FEASTS.” (emphasis mine).
Notice that God proclaims in no uncertain terms, that these feast belong to Him, and not the Israelites. They were the primary recipients and were designed to be the keepers of God’s commands, so they could teach the world, as holy people of Kings and Priests. We know from history that they failed miserably.
Reading on down through this chapter, we will not delve into each and every feast in detail. I will let you read them for yourselves and ponder their meanings. I’m going to focus on several points that will point to the answer of this message. God gave to the people of Israel his road map, His plan for mankind, starting with Passover. Immediately, it goes into the week long observance of unleavened bread. Notice that at the end of this chapter. God re-emphasizes His command by stating again through Moses, Lev. 23:44, “And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feast of the LORD.”
I would like to now focus on two arguments that the Protestant church’s and the church they sprang from, adhere to as giving evidence that the Holy Days, including the Sabbath are not for modern Christianity.
Passover vs. Easter Observance
Anyone searching for the truth of obeying God, can take an encyclopedia and discover for themselves, in a secular publication, and find out the many symbols associated with the term “Easter” and what they mean. One thing I want any Christian who is searching for the true meaning of what God’s Word commands, is that God has a memory. He remembers what pagan symbols stood for and I firmly believe, He does not want us to use symbols used to worship false gods, such as Ba’al, Commosh, or Molech and use those symbols to worship the only true God of the universe. The way we worship, identifies the God we serve, whether he be true, or false.
But the person may think to himself concerning Easter, as they have been taught all their life, “didn’t Jesus become alive on Easter morning, which is Sunday, and come out of His grave?” Isn’t that why we keep Sunday as our day of worship?” Main stream religions believe this, but is it true? Understand, in this evil world we live in, Satan has a counterfeit for everything God does, so that you will follow his lead, instead of following what God has commanded. He is the great deceiver, and imposter. He confuses the mind and makes it all look right, but distracts the person from what is true worship of our God and our Savior.
Main stream religion tries to pass off “good friday” as the day of crucifixion and that Jesus arose on Sunday morning. Some use this deception of the power of main stream religions to change the day of worship from the 7th day Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday, and call it resurrection Sunday. I’ve had conversations with people, including my brother, who tries to justify three days and three nights from Friday evening to Sunday morning. They try and split hairs and say that Jesus was talking about half days. Friday being one day, Saturday being the second, and Sunday morning being the third. But is this analogy correct?
For one, they don’t understand the time element, or the history of the Jewish people during Passover week, or the sign of Jonah. Let’s read the only sign that Jesus gave the He was he true Messiah. Turn with me to Matthew, chaper 12.
v. 38. Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
v. 39, But He answered and said unto them, ‘and evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign: and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
v. 40, For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall he Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
The only sign that Jesus Christ gave to the world that He was the Messiah, was the sign of Jonah. He made no other claim to His identity except this one sign. If He arose any earlier than 72 hours, then this would make Him a fraud. And since we know that He wasn’t a fraud, and that it required 3 full 24 hour days, just as Genesis states in accounting for one day, “the evening and the morning, were the first day”, meaning counting how many hours was daylight and how many hours were night darkness. It requires a full 24 hours times 3 days.
To be in error counting the time of the crucifixion and the time of the resurrection, is to not know the customs and the timing of a culture and the time of Passover is no different. Historical proof reveals that during this year that Christ was crucified, that the day before Passover was a Wednesday. Now Jesus was crucified on or about the 9th hour, which in our time, would be about 3pm in the afternoon, as witnessed in Matthew, chapter 27 starting in v. 46. and about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, says “Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani?” That is to say, “my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” v. 50, Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost”, or His spirit.
So we know that Jesus died about 3Pm in the afternoon. Some erroneously believe that they are talking about Friday, the day before weekly Sabbath. But, understanding Jewish observances of this time, reveals that the next day was a high day, or another Sabbath during the week, in addition to the weekly Sabbath. Knowing from scripture that the Jewish authorities demanded that the victims of the crucifixion, including Jesus be taken down from off the cross before sundown, the start of this High Day, which would have begun between Wednesday & Thursday at sundown, Jesus was taken off the cross and placed quickly in a new tomb close by of a rich man. Sundown would have been approximately 6pm. Now if you take the account of the mainstream religion and try and count from Friday at sundown, then you have Jesus rising on a Monday evening…doesn’t work.
Also remember, the women coming to anoint Jesus body with spices and oils would have to wait a full three day and arrive on the fourth day, as was the custom in those days to wait a full three days and anoint the body on the fourth day, as a sign that the body was indeed dead…not just dead, but dead, dead. (This is why Jesus waited a full three days to go and resurrect Lazarus from the grave to prevent any doubt.) Any earlier, and the people could have said that He survived the cross and His resurrection was a farce. Jesus was laid in the tomb on Wednesday evening before sundown of 6pm and if you count sundown to sundown, (as is their custom to mark the days), Wednesday to Thursday evening, Thursday evening to Friday evening, and Friday evening to Saturday evening, then Jesus would have opened His eyes right before sundown on Saturday, and fulfill His assertion, that He was Lord of the Sabbath.
So this observation that Jesus rose on the Sabbath, destroys the doctrine of a Sunday resurrection, as Jesus was already out of the grave and met with Mary Magdalene in the garden and admonished Mary not to touch Him, as He had not ascended to the Father, to be the offering of the first born of the dead, right on the Sunday observance of the wave sheath offering and the observance of First Fruits. Jesus was the First Fruits of the resurrection of the dead. Jesus was our sacrifice and our first born of the dead to God Almighty as payment for our sins. So belief in a Sunday resurrection, by historical accounts and scripture accounts can not be the day Jesus was resurrected. So why keep Sunday? As a sign of political power and doing what seems right in the sight of men and not in the sight of God. But I’ll let you discover the full reason from the historical perspective in your encyclopedia of why the Catholic church changed God’s Holy Sabbath to a counterfeit day of worship, called the “Lord’s Day” n response to the error in His resurrection timing. Now what about the Holy Days, that the main stream religions say have been done away with, right along with the Sabbath?
HOLY DAYS, GOD’S PLAN FOR MAN
Again, some modern day Christians hold to the idea that this was for the people of Israel. They say, that it has nothing to do with New Testament Christians. For centuries people have tried to find ways of convincing themselves and others that Christians are not required to observe the Sabbath and God’s Holy Days, as they conclude, “have been done away with”. But have they?
These folks point to scripture, by taking it out of context and not knowing the history of what is behind the words and create a whole doctrine out of false interpretation of those scriptures. There are many, but I’ll take on just two passages to prove my point. The first that they point to is in Colossians chapter 2. Let’s go there and let’s start in verse 10:
Col. 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
2:11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
Notice verse 14 that we just read? Some point to this and reason that these ordinances were the Law of God. Since He nailed it to His cross, we no longer need to follow God’s Law or anything that was commanded in the Old testament, as it’s all passed away. When I hear people express this idea, the first thing that pops into my head and it should yours, “I am the same today, yesterday and forever. I CHANGE NOT.” (emphasis mine) Heb. 13:8. So what are these ordinances that Jesus Christ nailed to His cross? Transgressions of the Law of God which we have all sinned against, levels judgment against each and everyone of us and inflicts condemnation for sinning against God’s Holy Law, and requires the death penalty. What did Jesus die for? He died to remove the penalty of death from breaking His perfect Law. He nailed that death sentence to His cross, as that was what it was designed by God for. It was designed to remove the penalty of death from all who believe and follow after the example set by Jesus during His life.
Reading on in the same chapter, picking up in verse 16:
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
2:17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
2:19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
2:21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
2:22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
2:23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
A misinformed reader, not knowing the history behind the verses would concluded that Paul was reporting that certain “Judaizers” in the Colossian church were trying to enforce Jewish practices of clean and unclean meats, observing the Sabbath and keeping God’s Holy Days. They reason that Paul is telling the Colossians that they do not need to do these things anymore and not be concerned about what others say about them. With a more complete study of the historical elements of the time we’re dealing with, reveals that this is not what Paul was advocating that the “law had been done away with”. Understanding the historical background of the passage gives a clearer meaning of what Paul was trying to convey. Remember, to understand scripture, you must understand the history, customs and the practices of the people of who the Bible is speaking to.
THE HISTORICAL SETTING OF THE COLOSSIANS
For the most part, the Colossians were gentiles. Oh, there were a few Jews amongst them, but by and large, the Colossian church members had come out of pagan worship of false gods. These pagan philosophies significantly influenced these people that taught perfection could be achieved through self denial and abstinence from worldly pleasures. As a result, these people tended to be an ascetic community which adhere to a religion of severity and its citizens felt that anyone that did not practice their religion in this way, were in error. This is what hey had come out of and the flesh has a hard time letting go of old practices and to follow the perfect ways of God. But first, what is Asceticism that we just spoke of?
Asceticism is the practice of denying the body of any worldly pleasures, as mentioned, and the practice of this lifestyle is often perceived as virtuous and they achieve a greater spirituality. Many ascetics believe the physical action of purifying the body, helps purify the soul and thus obtain a greater connections with the “divine” or find “inner peace”. This may take the form of self-mortification, ie. whipping yourself with a lash across your back, as do some sects of Muslims, and far east religions, or rituals of renunciations of pleasures. However, ascetics maintain that self imposed constraints bring them greater freedom in various potentially destructive temptations. It’s a sense of spiritual bondage, that a person is required to do something physical on his own to obtain forgiveness from the “divine”.
Many of the people who had come into the church had brought these pagan philosophies with them and started to introduce these ideas into the church at large. This began to have an adverse effect on the entire congregation of Colossae. Paul was correcting their errors by writing this passage concerning these ascetic practices.
CAN SELF DENIAL CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR SALVATION?
From the historical context, it appears that some of the congregation had begun to believe that self imposed asceticism could somehow contribute to their salvation and had begun turning away from trusting in Jesus Christ as the only substitute payment for their sins. They had more faith in their examples of piety, and religious traditions that faith in Jesus, as Paul warned them, as quoted in Col. 2:8, “beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”
Here I must take a moment and provide a warning to anyone who would take the concept of God’s Law, the Sabbath, or the observance of a Holy Day to an illogical extreme. I constantly, speak out about replacing works independent of grace. Grace and works go hand in hand, being fruits of the Spirit as a sign unto others that you are indeed, a child of God. Understand, that on the flip side, a religiosity of keeping the Sabbath and the Holy Days, by themselves can have the same disastrous effect, as these people imposed on the early church. These commandments of God, in themselves, provide blessings and sanctification of the truly converted Christian, but we must hold onto faith in Christ, and focus on His sacrifice as our payment for our sins. Works by themselves, no matter what the form it takes, cannot bring salvation to the sinner, in and by itself. We must focus on the Creator, not the creation, whether it be asceticism, or a focus on keeping the Law perfectly, as the Pharisees tried to do. Both are attempts to justify ourselves apart from the saving power of Jesus Christ!
FREEDOM IN CHRIST, AND OUT OF BONDAGE
Now God had called them out of their pagan, ascetic way of life, which was bondage to most of them. They now had begun to enjoy life in a balanced manner, as God had intended. In other words, He had rescued them from the bondage of self mutilation, self denial to the extreme, and were given freedom in the Lord. This included eating good food, drinking wine and enjoying fellowship with one another during God’s Sabbath and annual festivals, God’s Holy Days. Now they were enjoying life and the people outside the church, and some in the church, began to look down on them and condemn them for their freedom in Jesus Christ. Paul reminds them that they are complete in Jesus Christ and they have no need for pagan philosophies of this world. Let’s look again at Col. 2:9-10. “for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily: and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”
To sum up this passage of scripture in its proper context, v. 11-14, Paul emphasizes that Jesus Christ paid for our past sins, our present sins, and our future sins; when we were in sin and conformed to the lifestyles of this world, as they did, and nailed the penalty of those sins to His cross. Paul tells us in v. 15 that Jesus conquered all of the evil spirits who continue to rule this present, evil world and who inspire pagan philosophies that influenced the church at Colossae, and continue to exert pressure on even us today.
With these powerful words of encouragement as a background, and understanding the historical context, they didn’t need to be concerned of what the surrounding community said about them and neither should we. In these verses I’ve quoted with Paul warning the church at Colossae they should not allow pressures of society that they live in, or that we live in, have any influence on their beliefs or practices and repeats his exhortation for them to look to the church alone for their spiritual nourishment and growth. As they did, so should we!
In conclusion, understanding the historical context behind the timeline of Jesus’ crucifixion and understanding the context of Paul’s admonition to the Colossian church are two of the strongest proofs that the Sabbath and the Holy Days have not passed a way, but continue in full force and have not changed, just as God has not changed.
We learn three important lessons from this study in scripture, that:
- We should not be concerned about what people in the world think about our Christian way of life, or how we follow the literal interpretation of our Bibles and it’s spiritual application. We are called a curious people, and some will think of us as odd, but so they persecuted Jesus Christ, so they will persecute us.
- We should observe God’s Holy Sabbath and annual Holy Days with joy and thanksgiving for his deliverance from this present, evil world.
- We have to decide, do we follow the example and the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, or do we submit to the traditions of man? Each of us have to decide. It comes down to a personal choice of being obedient and showing our love for Him, as He showed His love for us by dying in our place that we may, one glorious day, have immortality and eternal life.
God bless you and keep you. If there is anything I can help you with, email me at Realteam1999@sbcglobal.net. Till we meet at Jesus feet.