Here is the paradox with modern Christianity. While many seek to worship Jesus Christ and proclaim to follow Him, very few rely on the Bible as their sole source for doctrine and religious observances. One denomination claiming 1.2 billion members considers its “sacred traditions” equal to or greater than the Bible. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, ‘does not derive her certainty about revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.’” Catholic Church history proves that its “sacred traditions” have always trumped what the Bible says.
Yet the Apostle Paul taught Timothy that “[a]ll scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Paul knew and emphasized that true Christianity must be based solely on what God has revealed in His Bible. Few understand that Paul is referring to the scriptures commonly known as the Old Testament. The New Testament had not been completed and canonized until a.d. 90.
Following traditions established by men brings dire spiritual curses into a person’s life (Jeremiah 17:5).
Live the Whole Bible
Even the Christians from various Protestant denominations that do advocate Bible study, often focus only on the New Testament. However, Christ, the apostles and the earliest Christians could not have been so selective. The only scriptures in existence while they lived were those of the Old Testament.
And did you know that New Testament writings are founded on the Old Testament? (Ephesians 2:20). Bibles with marginal references clearly show that a majority of the New Testament quotes the Old Testament.
Anyone desiring to be a true Christian must embrace the whole Bible—both Old and New Testaments—as the one true guide to right living. “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” Jesus Christ said to Satan, as that wicked archangel tried to destroy Him (Matthew 4:4). Christ quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 to ward off this temptation from Satan. In fact, throughout this battle, He quoted Deuteronomy to block Satan’s attempts to destroy Him. Anyone not striving to live by the whole Bible is an easy target for the devil’s destructive deceits. True Christians must live and worship God according to the Bible.
The religious festivals a person observes reveals the truth of their Christianity. The Creator of all that is—the angels and the spirit world, the universe, the Earth and man—has revealed in the Bible which days He expects us to worship Him. God’s faithful men, women and children kept them in Old Testament times. Jesus Christ, Peter and the 11 apostles kept them and taught the early Church to carefully observe them. So why don’t all Christians keep them today?
God’s days—the times He created to be holy forever—are listed in Leviticus 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” (verses 1-2). Understanding the historic background of these verses is vitally important.
The book opens one year after the Israelites were set free from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:37; Exodus 40:2). The Israelites had been reduced to a grimy, uneducated and degenerate people. They had lost all rights and freedoms their ancestors had enjoyed while Joseph was alive. They were forced to participate in Egypt’s pagan religion and its sordid religious festivals.
In Leviticus, God restored the truth about how the new nation should worship Him. Essentially, God established His true, Old Testament Church with these descendants of Jacob (Acts 7:38). Since they had been infested with pagan false doctrine, God had to teach them how to properly worship the only true God. God had good reason for doing this. In one month they would embark on their journey to possess the Promised Land (Numbers 10:11-12). God made sure that His people worshiped Him properly by keeping His feasts.
You should study all of Leviticus 23. For the remainder of this article, we will list and briefly describe God’s feasts, as outlined in that chapter. We will also give New Testament scriptures proving that Jesus Christ, the apostles and the early Church kept these same feasts. Longer articles on each festival will be featured on this website as the feast days arrive in their season.
The Weekly Sabbath
The first festival that God requires His faithful people to keep is the weekly Sabbath (Leviticus 23:3). All human beings should perform their work on the first six days of the week, but must rest on the seventh day, Saturday. Jesus Christ the Lord, or the Eternal God of the Old Testament, created the Sabbath when He renewed the Earth as a habitation for man (Genesis 2:2-3). “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath,” Christ taught the people of His day (Mark 2:27-28). As our Redeemer and High Priest, Jesus Christ is still “Lord” or master of the Sabbath. All who worship Him, must worship Him on the seventh day of the week.
The first annual festival of the sacred year is the Passover. Always held in the early spring, the Passover memorializes the deliverance of God’s people from slavery to sin typed by Egypt (Hebrews 11:25-26). Details of how the Old Testament Church kept the Passover is given in Exodus 12 and Deuteronomy 16:1-16. The entire nation slaughtered a lamb at Passover, which pictured the death of Jesus Christ, God’s precious Lamb brutally murdered to take away the sins of the entire world (John 1:29).
Details on how the New Testament Church keeps the Passover is discussed in Matthew 26:17-30, Luke 22:1-20 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-34.
The Days of Unleavened Bread
Directly associated with the Passover are the Days of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6-7). Specific details of how the Israelites kept this festival are given in Exodus 12:14-20 and Exodus 13:3-10. This festival lasts for a period of seven days. The first and seventh days are annual Sabbaths. No servile work should be done on these high holy days. God’s people gather together for Church services to be reminded of God’s master plan for the salvation of all mankind.
Christ’s sacrifice is only the beginning—not the end—of God’s plan. Human beings have their part as well. All humans must learn how grotesque sin—the breaking of God’s law—truly is (1 John 3-4). For us to be saved from the eternal death penalty brought upon us by our sin, our own Creator—Jesus Christ—had to die for us (Ephesians 3:9). We have the responsibility to put sin, typified by leaven, out of our lives (1 Corinthians 5:6-7).
Leviticus 23:9-22 describes this festival. The Greek word Pentecost means “count 50” (verse 16). The Bible also refers to this one-day feast as the “day of the firstfruits” and “feast of weeks” (Numbers 28:26; Deuteronomy 16:10). God gave the Ten Commandments to Israel on this day (Exodus 19). God also gave His Holy Spirit—the power to keep the Ten Commandments—to His New Testament Church on this day (Acts 2). In fact, the New Testament Church began on this day of Pentecost, which was exactly 50 days after Jesus Christ’s resurrection.
The Feast of Trumpets
This one-day festival is discussed in Leviticus 23:23-25. This holy day is the first annual Sabbath of the fall festival season. Anciently, the priests blew two silver trumpets and one ram’s horn on this holy day (Numbers 10:10). The Feast of Trumpets is best explained with New Testament scriptures. It pictures the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in power and glory (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Christ will take over the rule of this Earth by establishing the Kingdom of God (Revelation 11:15; 19:15-16). The saints of God will be resurrected and changed to spirit to rule with Christ (Daniel 7:27).
The Day of Atonement
The most unusual of God’s festivals is described in Leviticus 23:26-32—the Day of Atonement. God’s people celebrate this festival by afflicting their souls, or fasting for 24 hours from food and water. Why? So they can become at one with God. Leviticus 16 describes the ceremony conducted on the Day of Atonement in colorful detail. Study this chapter. The only way man will ever be at one with God is when Satan the devil, pictured by the Azazel goat, is cast into the wilderness. Satan is the author of all human sin, and he must bear his own guilt (verse 21). Jesus Christ died to redeem men from their sins (verse 15). Satan and his demons must bear the guilt for their sins against God and humanity for eternity. This future event is also discussed in Revelation 20:1-3.
The Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day
The Feast of Tabernacles is the most royal festival of the entire sacred year. It is described in Leviticus 23:33-44 and many prophecies in the Bible. This feast reminds God’s people that Jesus Christ will rule this Earth along with the saints for 1,000 years. During that time, a new age of religious obedience and fervor will be ushered in for mankind. With Satan prevented from swaying mankind, an incredibly close relationship will be built between God and man. Because of man’s obedience and submission to God’s government, the Earth will blossom and produce abundance never experienced during the age of man. Even the animal kingdom will be changed and live in peace and harmony with man (Isaiah 11).
Coming right after the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, is the eighth day, also known as the Last Great Day. This annual high holy day pictures the time when God and Christ open up salvation to all mankind who lived and died not hearing God’s gospel message. Christ discussed this day in John 7:37-38.
This holy day is also known as the Great White Throne Judgment, or the second resurrection (Revelation 20:11-12). This judgment period lasts for 100 years (Isaiah 65:20), and will be a time of unparalleled education. Billions of people will be taught the incredible truth of God from the Bible. They will have ample opportunity to prove to God they want to live life His way.
Look for more detailed articles about God’s feasts in the coming days and months ahead. God has a great plan for you that you can only achieve when you keep these fantastic feasts that God calls, my feasts.