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Jewish Feasts and Festivals – Not for the Church

Dr. Mike Johnston, Editor

Should Christians observe the Jewish festivals as a matter of obedience? The short answer is NO!

Dr. William MacDonald offers this: “All human religions place men under bondage to ordinances, rules, regulations, and a religious calendar. This calendar usually includes annual observances (holy days), monthly festivals (new moons), or weekly holidays (sabbaths). The expression “Therefore let no one judge you” means that a Christian cannot be justly condemned by others if, for instance, he eats pork, or if he fails to observe religious festivals or holy days. Some false cults, such as Spiritism, insist on their members abstaining from meats. The Jewish religious observances were a shadow of things to come, but the substance (or body) is Christ’s. They were instituted in the OT as a pre-picture. For instance, the Sabbath was given as a type of the rest which would be the portion of all who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Now that the Lord Jesus has come, why should men continue to be occupied with the shadows? It is the same as being occupied with a picture when the very person pictured is present.”

Here’s several problems associated with this ruse:

  1. Those who teach the need for observances of Laws, festivals, Sabbath, ad nauseum, fail to acknowledge that the Lord Jesus didn’t come to expand Judaism. He came to fulfill the Davidic Covenant and by establishing the promised Kingdom. When Israel rejected Him and crucified Him, His blood sacrifice became the final offering for sin providing eternal life for both Jews and Gentiles who would simple trust His final work. This in itself fulfilled the requirements of the Law and freed everyone coming to Him from its demands (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15). The Mosaic Covenant was but a shadow (Hebrews 8). The New Covenant, established by our Savior/Messiah, is a fulfillment, not a continuation.
  2. When you study Leviticus 23 explaining the feasts along with Moses’ instructions of how they were to be observed (Exodus 23:14-19) you find the feasts were for Israel pointing her toward her future.
  3. It is impossible for Christians to be obedient to the requirements: (1) Festivals were to be held in Jerusalem at the Temple. (2) they required all Jewish males to attend three times per year for Passover and unleavened bread, Pentecost and Day of Atonement (followed by Feast of Tabernacles). (3) Every man had to appear in the court of the temple and make his offering with gladness (Leviticus 23; Deu_27:7). (4) Since “the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom …” (Matt. Matt. 27:51) and the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, there have been no festivals in Jerusalem.
  4. The Jerusalem council ruled against adding things to salvation that Israel couldn’t fully comply with (Acts 15).
  5. Paul’s epistles warn against this as well. See Galatians and Colossians.
  6. Dangerous heresy: Hebrew Roots and Sacred Name Cult Ruse

An old heresy with a new resurgence is blowing through the church like a foul wind. It’s called the Hebrew Roots movement, the stepsister to the Sacred Name cult. [1]

Gotquestions.org offers this analysis: “The premise of the Hebrew Roots movement is the belief that the Church has veered far from the true teachings and Hebrew concepts of the Bible. The movement maintains that Christianity has been indoctrinated with the culture and beliefs of Greek and Roman philosophy and that ultimately biblical Christianity, taught in churches today, has been corrupted with a pagan imitation of the New Testament gospels. Those of the Hebrew Roots belief hold to the teaching that Christ’s death on the cross did not end the Mosaic Covenant, but instead renewed it, expanded its message, and wrote it on the hearts of His true followers. They teach that the understanding of the New Testament can only come from a Hebrew perspective and that the teachings of the Apostle Paul are not understood clearly or taught correctly by Christian pastors today. Many affirm the existence of an original Hebrew-language New Testament and, in some cases, denigrate the existing New Testament text written in Greek. This becomes a subtle attack on the reliability of the text of our Bible. If the Greek text is unreliable and has been corrupted, as is charged by some, the Church no longer has a standard of truth.”

The Sacred Name Movement errs in many ways. But the primary error is the same as that of the Hebrew Roots Movement. The Sacred Name Movement fails to understand that the Savior did not come to expand Judaism or the Old Covenant. The Savior came to fulfill the Old Covenant and establish the New Covenant. Messiah’s death and resurrection fulfilled the requirements of the Law and freed us from its demands (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15). The Old Covenant was but a shadow (Hebrews 8). The New Covenant, established by our Savior/Messiah, is a fulfillment, not a continuation.
[1] See http://www.gotquestions.org/Sacred-Name-Movement.html

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