A young man once called us with a question: “Why do you teach that we must keep the Old Testament Feasts? Weren’t they done away, along with the rest of the laws like sacrifices and other rituals?”
His question was not new. Many have the mistaken belief that what is found in the Old Testament is old and dead and faded away. This common misunderstanding completely loses sight of the Covenant Yahweh made with Israel–and still makes with His people– today’s spiritual Israel.
The Old Testament’s promises and expectations are a part of the overall plan of Yahweh, as are those of the New. There are not two different and separate religious requirements: one for Jews and the other for us. John tells us, “…Scripture cannot be broken” (10:35).
The Feasts, similarly, are not just found in the Old Testament. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Several false conclusions are continually drawn concerning the Feast Days:
- The Feasts were only for ancient Israel.
- The Feasts are a part of an old, dead ritualistic law.
- The Feasts were nailed to the torture stake along with all the other laws Yahshua abolished.
Let’s look at each of these allegations one at a time.
Whose Feasts Are They?
Nearly two months before the Old Covenant was ratified and before he scaled Mount Sinai to receive the codified law from Yahweh, Moses was instructed about Passover and the first Feast, Unleavened Bread. Yahweh told Him, “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and you shall keep [it] a feast to Yahweh throughout your generations; you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever” (Ex. 12:14).
We learn first of all that it is a Feast “to Yahweh,” Later in Leviticus, a book that details each of the seven annual Feast observances, Yahweh commands Moses, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of Yahweh, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts” (Lev. 23:2).
He leaves us with no doubt as to whom these observances belong. They are Yahweh’s, not Israel’s and not Feasts just for Jews.
Lest we wonder whether all the Feasts are Yahweh’s or just some of them, He details each one for us in Leviticus 23:5-43. But carefully note how He prefaces the feasts He is about to list (verse 4):
“These are the feasts of Yahweh, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons” (Lev. 23:4). All the Feasts belong to Yahweh.
At the end of the chapter, after Yahweh finished detailing each of the seven observances, we read, “And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of Yahweh” (Lev. 23:44).
It didn’t matter whether you were an Israelite or a stranger, you were required to observe these days. Notice what Yahweh says about the first of the Feasts, Unleavened Bread: “Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eats that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land” (Ex. 12:19).
These special annual times belong to Yahweh and are given to those who seek to know Him and take hold of His promise–no matter which they are. We’ll now look at the next common argument.
Ritual or Spiritual Law?
“Do you mean you keep the ritual law that leads to so much bondage?” one inquirer asked concerning Feast observance. The mistaken assumption many make is in thinking that all law in the Bible is the same. It is not. In fact, we find five different kinds of law in Scriptures:
- Spiritual law
- Commercial-civil law
- Ceremonial-ritual-sacrificial law
- Judicial-criminal law
- Natural law
The Feasts fall into the category of spiritual law, just as the Ten Commandments (which also are judicial). They reveal the spiritual attributes of Yahweh and they transform us spiritually to be more like Yahshua when we observe them.
The change in the law that many mistakenly believe refers to the spiritual and moral law came about in the ceremonial-ritual-sacrificial law. Hebrews 9:9-12 speaks of that change:
“Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Messiah being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
These ritualistic ordinances had been added to the law obligation because of Israel’s continued transgressions (Gal. 3:19). It was imperative that Israel learn the important lesson that sin is a serious thing that separates us from Yahweh and requires bloodshedding for atonement.
Now we rely on the Savior as the ultimate sacrifice, and who now intercedes for us as our High Priest. His blood and not the blood of bulls and goats is the only effective antidote to counteract and blot out sin.
This is the change in the law that the Bible speaks of.
We find nothing here or anywhere else in the Scriptures about a change in our responsibility to keep the spiritual law—meaning either the Ten Commandments or the Feast days. That is because neither the Commandments nor these annual observances are part of the ceremonial-ritual-sacrificial law that was changed with the coming of Yahshua and the institution of another priesthood (Melchizedek).
Nailing Down the Change
“But doesn’t Colossians 2:14 say that all of Yahweh’s laws, including the Feasts, were nailed to the stake when Yahshua died?” some may be asking. Let’s read the main verse in question:
“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 the tree” (Col. 2:14). Here we find that the ordinances that were nailed to the tree were “against us.” Is Yahweh’s law against us? Does not Paul write, “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good?” (Rom. 7:12).
If the law is against us, why does 1John 5:3 say, “For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous”?
In fact, any law, is intended for the good of the people. The commandments sure are, and so are the Feasts.
Therefore, in Colossians 2:14 the “ordinances” that Paul mentions are dogma and mean man-made rules that the Jews imposed. They are mentioned a few verses latter: “(Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men” (Col. 2:21-22).
An example of these man-made tenets in operation is Mark 7:5, where the Pharisees accused Yahshua of breaking their traditional ordinances: “Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, why walk not your disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?”
Feasts Now and Forever
Had Yahshua or Paul told us that under the New Covenant we don’t need to observe the seven annual Feasts, then we would not bother. The reality is, no one in the New Testament said such a thing.
In fact, we find a myriad of passages in the New Testament where people intended to keep them, were keeping them, and would keep them in the coming Kingdom. And these included Yahshua Himself. Here are some:
- “And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.” (The Savior’s parents were in the act of keeping Passover and Unleavened Bread in Luke 2:42.)
- “After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Yahshua went up to Jerusalem.” (Yahshua went to Jerusalem probably to keep Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread, John 5:1.)
- “You know that after two days is [the feast of] the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be impaled.” (Yahshua was to become the Passover sacrifice in Matt. 26:2.)
- “Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Yahshua, saying unto him, where will you that we prepare for you to eat the passover?” (Yahshua always was planing to keep the Passover, Matt. 26:17.)
- “Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand. But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. Now about the midst of the feast Yahshua went up into the temple, and taught.” (Here’s proof that Yahshua kept this fall Feast, John 7:2, 10, 14.)
- “And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast.” (Non-Jews observed Passover in John 12:20.)
- “But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that comes in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if Yahweh will. And he sailed from Ephesus.” (Paul in Acts 18:21 was speaking after the Savior’s resurrection about his intentions to observe the Feast.)
- “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (Paul is telling us to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread with a new emphasis in 1Cor. 5:8.)
- “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Our Savior’s statement promises that He would observe Passover in the Kingdom with the faithful, Matt. 26:29.)
Considering Yahweh’s many commandments to keep His Feasts, as well as patriarchs doing just that, what hinders us to fulfill righteousness as well? Clearly the only holidays in the Bible are those kept by Israel and by the Apostles and our Savior as well. All else is man-made.
They Just Keep Going and Going…
In His instructions to Moses and Israel detailing the Passover and Feast that follows, Yahweh made it crystal clear that this was not a one-time ordeal. Nor was it just for Israel at that time. Yahweh thundered, “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and you shall keep it a feast to Yahweh throughout your generations; you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever” (Ex. 12:14).
No fewer than four times in Leviticus 23–after mentioning the various Feasts–Yahweh declares the Feasts “a statute forever.” If these days were important only in the lives of ancient Israelites, then why do we find them prominent in prophecy of the coming Kingdom? Isaiah deals with the Millennial Kingdom. We find there that when His Kingdom comes to earth, everyone will come to keep Yahweh’s appointed times: “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, says Yahweh” (Isa. 66:23).
And what if they refuse, as many do today? “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, Yahweh of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, Yahweh of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith Yahweh will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zech. 14:16-18).
We’ve already read where Yahshua the Messiah promised to keep Passover in the Kingdom with His disciples (Matt. 26:29,Mark 14:25, Luke 22:18, 30). Does it make any sense that Yahweh would command these Feasts forever–and enforce them in the future Millennial Kingdom on pain of plague–and not have them binding today?
The Feast days hold a wealth of lessons and they unlock important truth. They also are keys to prophetic events as they explain the plan and purpose of the Savior’s coming and His role as our King. It is time for all people everywhere to be obedient to what Yahweh established for the good of His people. Get in line with the annual Feasts of Yahweh and your understanding will multiply many times over.
His Feasts were just as much a part of His law as the Ten Commandments. Let us be like the Apostle Paul, who said, “I must by all means keep this feast.”