How does the Bible tell us God’s holy days were not just for the Jews?
- Abraham kept all parts of God’s Law 430 years before Sinai and before there were any Jews. Read more.
- God established His calendar on the 4th Day of Creation and at that time He set the lights in the heavens to mark His moed—His set, appointed meeting times. Read more.
- Abram kept a special sacrifice with God on the very night of the Passover 430 years before the Jews came out of Egypt. Read more.
- Cain’s offering of produce would have been acceptable to God at any time except on Passover when a lamb was required. Read more.
- Jesus said the Passover “is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Read more.
- Paul said, “Let us keep the Feast” of Unleavened Bread and he encouraged both Jewish and Gentile believers to keep the Passover as a memorial of Christ’s death until He returns at His Second Coming. Read more.
- Jesus’ work of salvation progresses between His First Coming and His Second Coming. Each of the important steps in that progression are illustrated by the Feasts, beginning with His first work at the Cross, shown by the Feast of Passover, and continuing on throughout the year until His final work of the Resurrection of the Saints, represented by the Last Great Day. This makes the Feasts specifically Christian holy days, rehearsing Christ’s work each year. Read more.
- In Revelation, the First Angel’s Message is a heavenly call to restore the true worship of God. This true worship is God’s Feasts and they are being restored to an end-time people. Read more.
- Worshiping the only true God on His Feasts and Sabbaths forms the Seal of belonging to God. Read more.
- The Book of the Law of Jehovah Elohim is one book, not a divided book between God and Moses. Read more.
- At each time of Revival, Reformation and Restoration, the Lord has called a remnant back to His Law and back to keeping His Feasts. Read more.
- The Feasts are all included in God’s covenant, are written on the Tables of Stone and are called “the Ten Commandments.” If the rest of God’s law is valid for everyone, so are His Feasts. Read more.
Conclusion The first reference to God’s Feast Days is on the Fourth Day of Creation. We find that Abraham was keeping them 430 years before there were any Jews. Paul encouraged both Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ to keep the Feasts as memorials of Christ’s Second Coming—and this more than 20 years after the Cross. And then we see these same Feasts intertwined throughout the Book of Revelation as they point to last-day events. Jesus said that even the Passover will not be fulfilled until His Father’s kingdom. But to top off the reasons why we know they were not given only for Ancient Israel, we find they are written on God’s Tables of Stone, they are called the Ten Commandments and they compose God’s true worship at the foundation of His covenant with mankind. These are eternal concepts that affect everyone who is seeking salvation. Read more.
- Abraham kept all parts of God’s Law 430 years before Sinai and before there were any Jews.
Genesis 26:5 — “Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”
Background information on this verse reveals that this account of Abraham occurred 430 years before there were any Jews. And looking at the Hebrew words reveals that these “commandments, statutes and laws” that Abraham kept are mitzvah, cuqqah, torah. These show us that Abraham obeyed God’s voice and kept all parts of His law long before the Tables of Stone were given to the Jews at Sinai.
- God established His calendar on the 4th Day of Creation and at that time He set the lights in the heavens to mark His moed—His set, appointed meeting times.
Genesis 1:14 — “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons (moed), and for days and years.’”
This word “seasons” is the Hebrew word moed which means “appointed times,” or “meetings” and “Feasts.” God’s Feasts are all meeting times that God planned from the Fourth day of Creation. These did not just spring up at the time of the Exodus. They existed from the foundation of the world.
We find this word moed translated as Feasts 21 times in the Bible. An important place where this is seen is in Leviticus 23 where God lists all of His weekly Sabbaths alongside His yearly Sabbaths. Leviticus 23 starts off with this verse and then goes on to explain God’s Feasts.
“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts (moed) of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are My feasts (moed).” (Leviticus 23:2)
At the end of the chapter, Moses reiterates that these holy meeting times belong to God, not to Moses, and not just to the Jews.
“So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts (moed) of the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:44)
Even though this chapter was part of the Law that Moses recited to the Children of Israel, we can see that God had already determined to have specific meeting times with mankind at Creation. His Feasts were designed from the foundation of the world—before He blessed the weekly Sabbath and even before He made man. This definitely shows us that they were for all mankind and not specifically for the Hebrews who came out of Egypt. And remember, at the end of the fourth day, “God saw that it was good.” [more on the definition of moed.]
The Feasts are sometimes called statutes, Sabbaths, Feasts, solemnities or commandments. But God has declared that all of them are His moed—His appointed meetings. And God also calls them His “holy convocations.” In case you did not know this, a “convocation” is a call to come to worship. So these are both called “holy” and also “My invitation to worship.”
When we combine all this meaning from the Hebrew words, we should see that God has issued a holy invitation to come meet with Him on His appointed dates.
- Abram kept a special sacrifice with God on the very night of the Passover 430 years before the Jews came out of Egypt.
“Then He said to Abram: ‘Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.’” Genesis 15:13
Exodus 12:40-41 — “Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years—on that very same day—it came to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.”
The Children of Israel left Egypt on the night between the Passover and the first day of Unleavened Bread. Four hundred and thirty years early, on the very same night, Abraham kept a very unusual sacrifice to the Lord. This story is told in Genesis 15:7-18.
“On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates.…’”(Genesis 15:18)
These verses show us that God came to visit Abram with a sacrifice and a covenant on the very night of the Passover 430 years before there were any Jews. This event not only matches the time of the Passover, and the appointed time of the meeting, but also the essential subject of the Passover.
- Cain’s offering of produce would have been acceptable to God at any time except on Passover when a lamb was required.
“And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.” Genesis 4:3-5
Any offering of the produce of your land is acceptable to God. You can offer it as a firstfruit of your harvest or as a thank offering. The only time that produce would not have been acceptable as an offering to God, was on the Passover when specifically a lamb was required. Cain’s first sin was in refusing to keep the Passover in the way that God specified.
- Jesus said the Passover “is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
“Then [Jesus] said to them, ‘With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’” Luke 22:15-16
Jesus made it clear that “it,” the Passover, is not fulfilled until the Kingdom of God.
In this passage, Jesus showed that He was anxious to have the chance, before He died, to show the disciples the change in the Passover symbols from the body and blood of the lamb to the bread and wine representing His body and covenant. He was so anxious to make sure that this happened, that they kept the service of the Passover on the night before the actual day of Passover. We know this because Jesus was killed at the exact moment of the Passover sacrifice and there passed an entire night between His meeting with the disciples and His death.
- It was in A.D. 59 when Paul wrote, “Let us keep the Feast” of Unleavened Bread as he wrote to both Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ at Corinth. He encouraged the brethren of his day to keep the Passover as a memorial of Christ’s death until He returns at His Second Coming.
“And when [Jesus] had given thanks, He broke [bread] and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:24-26
Paul said that as often as we eat the Passover, we continue to proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes! What “coming” was Paul referring to? The Second Coming! This tells us that Paul recognized that the Passover symbols were important all the way until the Second Coming of Christ!
Paul also used the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the concept of the leaven to illustrate a festering sin within the church. (1 Corinthians 5) He urged, “Put away the evil person” (verse 13) just as you put away the leaven during the feast. He said,
“Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” 1 Corinthians 5:6-7
In the pattern of the Feasts, the day after the Passover was the Feast of Unleavened Bread in which the leavening was removed from the home. This leaven is the yeast within a lump of dough that will eventually cause the whole lump of dough to rise. It symbolically shows us that sins which may appear to be small and hidden, will eventually spread and grow. Paul is here saying that, now that Christ has become our Passover offering, we should follow this by living a life without the leaven of sin.
Paul uses this lesson of leaven as a metaphor to help the church understand that it cannot allow the sin of adultery to continue within the church or it will eventually corrupt the whole body of believers. What is important for us to understand here is that a metaphor can only be understood if the subject is common knowledge. This is further proof that the Feast of Unleavened Bread was a commonly understood festival practiced by the church of Corinth in Paul’s day. This allowed Paul to give a deeper understanding of the lesson of the Passover to the New Testament Church.
In fact, the way Paul presents the subject, by saying “Therefore, let us keep the feast, …” shows that this letter was presented to the people at the actual time of their Passover and Unleavened Bread celebrations. He encouraged them to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but to remember the more important lesson and do it with a pure heart.
“Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Corinthians 5:8
- The Feasts are specifically Christian holidays that tell the story of Jesus’ work of salvation. This is more than just a retelling of the heritage of the Jews.
God’s yearly Feasts progress throughout the harvest season of the year. In this way they tell the story of the Plan of Salvation in the form of a harvest parable. “First the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.” Then comes the end of the year when “He shall gather His wheat into His garner.”
In the same way, Jesus’ work of salvation progresses between His First Coming and His Second Coming. Each of the important steps in that progression are illustrated by the Feasts, beginning with His first work at the Cross, shown by the Feast of Passover, and continuing on throughout the year until His final work of the Resurrection of the Saints, represented by the Last Great Day. This makes the Feasts specifically Christian holy days that rehearse Christ’s work in the Plan of Salvation each the year. How much more can we learn about Christ from these yearly rehearsals?
“But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:23-26
The following reference to the month of Abib, the first month of the Bible year, shows us that the Feasts begin on the first month of God’s year and then continue on to the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the harvest and the end of the Bible year.
“The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed time (moed) of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt. … And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.” Exodus 34:18, 22
Beginning with the blood of Christ’s Sacrifice on Passover and ending with the day of the Resurrection and the ingathering of the righteous on the Last Great Day, the Feast Days rehearse Jesus’ experience between His First Coming and His Second Coming. The Feasts serve as an important lesson plan that keeps Christ ever before our eyes. They never deny Christ’s sacrifice, but actually work as a memorial of His past work and as a reminder of His future conquests, helping us follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
- In Revelation, the First Angel’s Message is a heavenly call to restore the true worship of God. This true worship is God’s Feasts and they are being restored to an end-time people.
Revelation 14:6-7 — “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’”
The First Angel’s Message in Revelation 14 is an end-time call by a heavenly voice that restores the worship of the True God. God is specifically calling people back to His true worship as part of that message.
We see another piece of this in the description of the 144,000 only two verses earlier. Two of their characteristics are that they “are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins.” (Revelation 14:4) This specifically tells us that they do not have any false doctrines coming from other churches and they have no spiritual adultery in their lives. They have given up all the forms of worship that are directed to the false gods and they worship God fully in Spirit and in truth. In them the true worship of God has been restored. (The opposite of these virgins are seen in Hosea Chapters 1 through 2:13.)
Though these 144,000 are depicted as coming from the twelve tribes of Israel, this message of the true worship of the true God is to be preached to all “those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.” God is looking for His true worship to be restored in everyone—not just the Jews.
- Worshiping the only true God on His Feasts and Sabbaths forms the Seal of belonging to God.
Galatians 3:26-29 — “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
God’s Feasts are His true form of worship and they are His Seal. (Ex. 23:10-17; see point 12 below) Today this Seal of God is available to all who believe and not just to the descendents through Abraham’ lineage. Worshiping the True God in Spirit and in Truth identifies His people and distinguishes them from those who worship other gods. In this way, the Feasts and Sabbaths of God form His seal of ownership when they are combined with faith, obedience and the rejection of false worship.
Here are some accounts from the Bible as to what forms God’s Seal:
“Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.’” (Exodus 31:13)
“Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. … It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the LORD’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season (moed) from year to year.” (Exodus 13:6-10)
“I am the LORD your God: Walk in My statutes, keep My judgments, and do them; hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.” (Ezekiel 20:19-20)
But did the Children of Israel ever accept this seal:
“Notwithstanding, the children rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, and were not careful to observe My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them’; but they profaned My Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the wilderness.” (Ezekiel 20:21)
And in the end, will there be any worshipers of false gods among those who are saved?
“‘I will utterly consume everything from the face of the land,’ says the LORD; … I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, the names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests— those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; those who worship and swear oaths by the LORD, but who also swear by Milcom; those who have turned back from following the LORD, and have not sought the LORD, nor inquired of Him.” (Zephaniah 1:2-6)
“I am Jehovah, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images.” (Isaiah 42:8)
“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.”(Revelation 22:14-15)
- The Book of the Law of Jehovah Elohim is one book, not a divided book between God and Moses.
Deuteronomy 31:24-26 — “So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying: ‘Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you.’”
The Hebrew for this verse says that this “Book of the Law” is sephir torah. (Sephir, scroll, book) (torah, Law, Pentateuch). This book is the Torah Scroll that forms the first 5 books of the Bible or the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. This Torah forms the foundation for the entire Judeo-Christian religion.
Yes, it contains some practices (the sanctuary services) that changed into the work of Christ on Resurrection morning when He took on the role of our High Priest. And yes, there is an extensive history of the Hebrew nation following the work of Creation and the exploits of the Patriarchs.
But contained there is also our most valid record of the Law of God, descriptions of His character and His power and the Covenant that He wants to form with any who will believe. After all, the Tables of Stone are not available to us now. The only account of God’s Law that we have is the Book of the Law that Moses wrote at God’s command.
Throughout the Bible there is only one Book of the Law. It is called the Book of the Law, the Book of the Law of Jehovah, the Book of the Law of Moses, the Book of the Law of the Lord our God, and also the Book of the Covenant. Deut. 31:26; Ex. 24:7; 2 Chronicles 34:15, 30; Neh. 8:1, 3, 8, 18, 9:3)
This one book is often misrepresented as dividing God from Moses when trying to show that the sanctuary services ended at the Cross. But this change in the sanctuary does not impact the true worship of God contained in His Sabbaths. The nagging thought that troubles Christians is NOT A DIFFERENT BOOK OF THE LAW, but the difference between the Oral Law (also called the “tradition of the Jews” or the Talmud) and the Written Law of God (the Torah). There is no division within God’s Law itself.
God’s Law is one Law. The book that Moses placed alongside the Ark of the Covenant is the same book that is called the Book of the Covenant of Jehovah Elohim. (Deut. 31:24-26) It is the duplicate copy that Moses wrote of the Ten Commandments, God’s Covenant, and the Law that God gave from Sinai. (Ex. 24:4-7; Ex. 34:27)
- At each time of Revival, Reformation and Restoration, the Lord has called a remnant back to His Law and back to keeping His Feasts.
When Ezra was restoring the knowledge of the Law of God to the children of Israel after the Babylonian captivity, we read this:
“Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel.” (Nehemiah 8:1)
“Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” (Nehemiah 8:3)
“And they found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written.’ Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim. So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.” (Nehemiah 8:14-18)
Written in the Law of God is found the Feast of Tabernacles. Earlier in the chapter we also find the Feast of Trumpets. On the first day of the seventh month they declared, “This day is holy to our Lord.” (Neh. 7:73, 8:1, 10, 12) And they kept both holy festivals with joy and great gladness.
At each time of revival in the Bible, God has restored His Feast Days. This includes the revival at the founding of the SDA church and it includes the revival of His Law in His remnant people today.
- The Feasts are all included in God’s covenant, are written on the Tables of Stone and called “the Ten Commandments.” If the rest of God’s law is valid for everyone, so are His Feasts.
In this passage, God states His name and then declares that He will make a covenant. He then says not to worship other gods or make molded gods. Then He goes on to declare His Feasts. He begins with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, then the weekly Sabbath, then the Feast of Weeks, Pentecost (the Firstfruits of the Wheat Harvest) and finally the Feast of Ingathering (Tabernacles) at the end of the year. Then God says,
“… According to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” (Exodus 34:27)
God wrote these words on the Tables of Stone and told Moses to make a duplicate copy. This is what is called the Ten Commandments—or in Hebrew, the Ten Dabar, the “Ten Spoken Matters” that God just spoke.
If we believe that God’s Ten Commandments, written on the Tables of Stone, are for more people than the Jews, then we will have to understand that these Tables of Stone also include God’s Feast Days. And these days, when God has called us to come and worship Him, are more than “Just for the Jews.”
The history of the Hebrew nation is often commemorated by the Feasts—the Exodus from Egypt, the Covenant at Sinai, the Day of Atonement in the sanctuary service. But when looked at carefully, the Jews are very unclear about the meaning of most of the holidays. They do not have the correct understanding of Trumpets or the Last Great Day. They often miss the depth of understanding that is built into Pentecost, Tabernacles or even the Passover. And they have lost the important timing of the 50 days between Passover and Pentecost which show the 50 days between Christ’s Resurrection and His Inauguration.
This is because the lessons of the Feasts could not be rightly understood until Christ’s coming added clarity. Also, the Book of Revelation, which was to come long after the Jews, added more depth with the element of time, showing that the Feasts reach far into the future beyond the Jews. Once the Feasts of God are understood, they are found repeatedly throughout the Book of Revelation—a book that is not just for the Jews.
If rightly celebrated, these feasts would have done more for the Jewish people than to celebrate their heritage. The Feasts would have gone far in teaching them about the coming Messiah, His kingdom, His salvation and the end of the world. But they never fully understood the symbolism or the meaning of the Feasts and they were not consistent in celebrating these holy days.
True, there is a memorial element within God’s Feasts. The reason for this is that God has designed His Feast Days to take past events and use them to teach us about God’s ability to save us both now and in the future. This is why He gave the experience of rescue from Egypt and deliverance from Babylon. He wanted to teach us about His great power. These are lessons for us all so that we may learn to look forward to other mighty acts of God’s power as He continues to save us, ultimately from sin and death.
In this way the Feasts are also rehearsals of great acts that are yet to come. Are there not Seven Trumpets in Revelation? That is not a story just for the Jews. And again, aren’t there Seven Last Plagues to come at the close of earth’s history? Again, these are not just Hebrew heritage, but real future events for the entire world.
From the fact that God planned to have meeting days when He created His Calendar, the fact that Abraham was keeping God’s Law long before the same law was recited to the Jews, from the fact that all of the events foretold in the Feasts are still pointing to the future of mankind and from the very specific instructions by Jesus telling us that even the Passover is not fulfilled until God’s kingdom, we should be able to see that these holy days were not just for the Twelve Tribes of Israel as memorials of their history.
- They are God’s are holy convocations in which God invites us to meet with Him.
- They are the outline of His entire Plan of Salvation.
- They are the experience of Jesus between His First and His Second Comings.
- They are rehearsals of God’s mighty power that is to act in the world.
- They are the sign of those who are sealed into God’s service.
- They are written on the Tables of Stone as they form a part of God’s 10 Commandments,
- And they belong to GOD.
This makes it essential that we respect God’s meeting times and use the learning tools that He has built into these days. As Moses said about the entirety of God’s law, it’s not that hard.
“For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-16)