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What the Bible says about God's Holy Days
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Leviticus 23:1-3

This opening shot reveals two very important principles to begin our quest to find out how to keep the holy days.

The first, repeated twice in one verse, is that these festivals are God's feasts, not Israel's, not the church's. He is their Source, He set the times, He gave them meaning, and He is their ultimate Object. We could say they are all about Him—and His plan and our part in it with Him. Our observance of these days is to focus on Him and His teaching, and with that comes wonderful spiritual and physical benefits.

The second principle appears in the command to "proclaim [them] to be holy convocations." These divinely appointed times are set apart for calling together. In today's language, a primary purpose of the feasts of God is to bring God's people together, not just for fellowship, but also for instruction and most importantly, to honor and worship God Himself. These holy times, then, contain a vitally important corporate aspect, producing unity in purpose, doctrine, and relationships within the Body of Christ.

The next verse, Leviticus 23:3, presents a third important principle: "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings." Along with the weekly Sabbath, the seven annual holy days—the first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Hag Hamatzot), Pentecost (Shavuot, also called the Feast of Weeks or the Feast of Harvest), the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, also called the Fast), the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth), and the eighth day (often called the Last Great Day)—are also Sabbaths.

Like Sabbaths, they are holy convocations, as can be seen in the ensuing instructions. In most cases, the wording is that the holy day "is a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it" (see Leviticus 23:7-8, 21, 24-25, 35-36). This means that we are not to attend to our normal, weekday work—the kinds of activities that we do on the other six days of the week. This includes not only our paying jobs, but also the ordinary work that we would do around the house, on our cars, in our yards, at the local community center, etc.

In the instructions for keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread, though, God stipulates, "No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you" (Exodus 12:16). Feasting is part of the holy day experience. God wants us to eat and drink of the abundance that He has bestowed upon us in thanksgiving and joy on His appointed times, so He allows us to prepare food on the holy days. Even so, it is still better to prepare as much of the food beforehand, as on a weekly Sabbath, to get the most from the feasts.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
How Do We Keep God's Festivals?

Isaiah 11:11-16

After Jesus Christ returns, the survivors of all the nations will be gathered, and He will appoint the resurrected saints to rule over them. If they initially rebel against His rule, He will cut off all rain until they submit and keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

Staff
Holy Days: Feast of Tabernacles

Amos 4:4-5

Because of their connection to Israel's past, Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba all bore significant religious meaning to the common Israelite. Jeroboam I set up a golden calf at Bethel (I Kings 12:25-31), since the city had religious associations from the days of Jacob (Genesis 28:10-22; 35:1-7). Gilgal's significance sprang from Israel's entrance into Canaan after her forty years in the wilderness and the circumcision of her men there (Joshua 5:1-12). Beersheba had strong connections with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the nation's fathers (Genesis 21:22-34; 22:19; 26:32-33; 28:10).

Even so, Israelite religion displeased God on two counts. First, the Israelites of Amos' day were guilty of following the sin of Jeroboam I, combining the worship of the true God with that of idols. God hates idolatry (Exodus 20:1-6). Apparently, the people were thronging to these pagan shrines and punctiliously offering sacrifices. In all their religious fervor, however, their eyes were not upon the God of heaven. Their religious practice was not done in obedience to God as they claimed, but had been conceived in the mind of a man. In His denunciations of their religion, God tells them that their worship would do them no good because its foundations were in a source other than Himself.

Second, their religion was self-pleasing. Because of their careful observance of their form of worship, Israelites felt good about themselves, but they forgot their social responsibility. They failed to love their neighbors (Amos 8:4). Ritual sexual indulgence was common practice (Amos 2:7). Despite their sincerity, they abandoned all godly standards and values and despised authority and law (Amos 3:10).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)

Amos 5:21-24

It appears that Israel kept God's holy days, or thought they did. These verses contain three essential elements of worship: festivals, sacrifice, and praise. And God in disgust cries, "I don't want any of them!" Their worship, though it was done in His honor and in His name, repulsed Him. It was repugnant to Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism

Amos 5:21-24

Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba were places of pilgrimage, places people went to observe the feasts. But God says, "I hate, I despise your feast days" (verse 21)! Verses 22-23 show that the Israelites loved all the rituals and entertainments of the feasts, but they did not leave the feasts better people (verse 24). They returned to their homes unchanged, unrepentant, after what was supposed to be a rededication of their lives to God!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)

Amos 5:21

There is no indication that the Israelites were not keeping the holy days of God. However, there was something about the festivals that God did not consider them to be His. These days were now "theirs." They were keeping them in a self-centered way, according to their own desires.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Twenty-Three)

Amos 5:21-23

Until his calling by God, Amos lived and worked in Judah. However, God elected him"apparently a Jew and thus from the rival Southern Kingdom"to bear His challenging indictment against the Northern Kingdom's sins, as well as His call for Israel's repentance. Amos prophesied several decades before Isaiah against a nation that was much farther "down the tubes" than was Judah. Israel was very prosperous but already in the moral gutter, wallowing in the filth of her sins. It could easily have been an intimidating assignment, but Amos resolutely fulfilled his responsibilities in denouncing, among other things, Israelite attitudes and the ways they observed God's festivals.

Amos 5:21-23 sounds similar to Isaiah 1:10-17, but it is addressed to Israel. It is not certain if this involved God's feast days since Jeroboam, Israel's first king, changed a number of things in Israel's worship after Solomon died. However, the context indicates that God may have accepted the days they kept and their offerings if everything else in their conduct had been righteous. They may well have been God's feasts because, as in Isaiah, God is not against the days per se, but the attitude, character, and conduct of those keeping them. Whether they were actually God's festivals is less important than the principles contained in the context. The entire chapter revolves around keeping the festivals in a way acceptable to God so that He might bless.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Amos 5 and the Feast of Tabernacles

Mark 2:28

Why do some push to do away with the law and commandments that we now see Christ created? Have we ever wondered what is so terrible about them? What is so bad about honoring one's parents and not murdering, committing adultery, stealing, or lying that they must be done away? Is it because to justify rejecting one commandment a person must reject all?

While most Christians would not outrightly reject nine of the Ten Commandments, there is one that most do—the Sabbath.

In Mark 2:28 and Luke 6:5, Christ says, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” “Lord” here is from the Greek word kurios. Zodhiates defines kurios in this way: “Lord, master, owner, as the possessor, owner, master, e.g. of property.” Christ, as the Creator of the seventh-day Sabbath, is rightly claiming to be the owner of that Sabbath. Nowhere in the New Testament does He trade that day for another. A Catholic cardinal concurs:

But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify. (Gibbons, James Cardinal. Faith of Our Fathers. First published 1876)

Cardinal Gibbons is correct. No such scripture exists that shows the owner of the Sabbath, Christ, ever relinquished ownership over the day nor that the writers of the New Testament ever traded it for another day (nor could they, as they did not have the authority from God to do so).

Therefore, by what authority do some observe a Sunday “Sabbath”? Christ, His disciples, and the first-century Christians kept Saturday, the seventh-day Sabbath. Who authorized a Sunday “Sabbath”? Who made this change? How did it occur?

The law created by Yahweh Elohim, Jesus Christ, included a seventh-day or Saturday Sabbath. Neither Christ nor the apostles sanctioned the change to Sunday. Nearly three hundred years after them, the Church of Rome did. That church and her daughters, the Protestant churches, continue to bow to that church's authority rather than that of Jesus Christ, Yahweh Elohim.

It is interesting that many in Christianity do not know who the God of the Old Testament is, even though the Bible teaches it plainly. It is also interesting to see how that blind spot has colored their view of God's law and commandments, particularly the Sabbath. Finally, it is sobering to realize how that blind spot has led many to unwittingly accept papal authority—human authority—over the authority of the Creator God, the God of the Old Testament, Jesus Christ.

Pat Higgins
The God of the Old Testament

Acts 20:16

About 25 years after Christ's ascension into heaven, Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, hurried to be in Jerusalem in time for Pentecost! Just as the early church kept Pentecost every year, so the true church of God continues to keep it today as a continual reminder of our part in God's great master plan of salvation.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Pentecost

Acts 27:9

Luke, writing this over 30 years after Christ's death, makes it very clear that the early church observed this holy day.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Holy Days: Atonement


 




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