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Are God's Festivals to be Observed FOREVER?
Good News Magazine
March 1959
Volume: Vol VIII, No. 3
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Are God's Festivals to be Observed FOREVER?
Herman L Hoeh   
Church of God

Born: 1928
Died: November 24, 2004
Ambassador College: 1947
Ordained: December 20, 1952
Office: Evangelist

Granted that the Holy Days were commanded to be kept forever. But were not physical sacrifices also commanded forever? and they are not being done today? Read here the surprising answer!

   WE HAVE heard all our lives that Israel was commanded to observe physical sacrifices and various ablutions forever.
   But is this true? Were both the annual festivals and physical sacrifices and ablutions commanded to be kept by the people forever?

The Surprising Answer

   It is time we opened our Bibles once again to see what the Scriptures actually say. Most of us, of course, are familiar with the many texts which declare God's festivals are to be "observed by a statute FOREVER."
   Read them! "And this day" the passover "shall be unto you for a MEMORIAL; and ye shall keep it a feast [the word "festival" is a better translation] to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by a statute ["ordinance" is not the correct translation] FOR EVER" (Ex. 12:14).
   "And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore [as a MEMORIAL] shall ye observe this day in your generations by a statute ["ordinance" is not correct] FOR EVER" (Ex. 12:17).
   In this same chapter, verse 24, the passover is again referred to: "And ye shall observe this for a statute to thee and to thy sons FOR EVER"!
   In Exodus 13:10 the feast of unleavened bread is commanded to be observed "in his season from year to year." As long as a new year occurs this festival is to be observed!
   Notice what the Bible states about the day of atonement: "And this shall be a statute FOR EVER unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work" (Lev. 16:29). And verse 31: "It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute FOR EVER."
   Concerning the feast of Pentecost: "And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you, ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute FOR EVER in all your dwellings throughout your generations" (Lev. 23:21). Israel's generations are still continuing. Most of you are of Israel!
   Again, "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a MEMORIAL of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation {verse 241. Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement {verse 271. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute FOR EVER throughout your generations in all your dwellings" (Lev. 23:31).
   The feast of tabernacles is mentioned in verse 41 of this same chapter: "And ye shall keep it a feast unto the Lord seven days in the year. It shall be a statute FOR EVER in your generations."
   Notice! Here are God's annual festivals COMMANDED FOREVER throughout the generations of Israel. Israel's generations are still continuing. The manner of observing the days is different now than under the Levitical priesthood, but the days are still to be observed still to be kept holy no servile work to be done in them!
   But do these verses mean what they say?
   Are the annual festivals really to be kept forever?
   But many will bring up the argument, "Were not the physical sacrifices, given in the days of Moses until the Seed Christ should come, also commanded by a statute forever? Did not God also command Israel to do those rituals forever? And if forever does not mean forever in one text, then how can we claim it means forever in another verse?"
   The answer is that NOWHERE IN THE BIBLE WERE PHYSICAL SACRIFICES COMMANDED TO DE PERFORMED BY THE PEOPLE FOREVER! We have merely taken for granted that the Bible says so! But it is not true!

Meaning of "Forever"

   But does "forever" mean forever?
   Turn to Psalms 102:12: "But thou, O Lord, shalt endure forever." Does "forever" mean forever in this verse? Certainly!
   And Exodus 15:18: "The Lord shall reign for ever and ever." Does the expression "for ever and ever" mean what it says? Of course! If it does not, then you have no sure guarantee of eternal life! No real proof that you will live forever!
   But what about the sixth verse of Exodus 21 and Deuteronomy 15:17? "Then his master shall bring him unto the judges;... and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him FOREVER." Certainly if the master dies and the servant continues to live, the one is not being served by the other forever!
   The answer is that the words "forever," "perpetual," "everlasting," and similar expressions, mean "continuously, without end so long as the factors involved exist." (See definition in Cruden's Concordance.)
   God is spirit. He cannot die. He does live and rule forever. The factor here is GOD, who is without end. But in the case of the master and the servant, the factors are two mortal human beings. Both will eventually die. So long as both are alive the one is to be served by the other. In Exodus 21:6 the word "forever" clearly means continuously so long as both live.
   Now consider the annual festivals. These festivals are certain days of the year. Do we still have days occurring each year year after year? Assuredly! Then the factors involved still exist! As long as we have day and night, year after year, God's festivals are to be continuously observed FOREVER! Notice what the Almighty declares in Jeremiah 31:35-36:
   "Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for light by night... if those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever."
   If you can stop day and night from recurring year after year, then you can quit observing God's festivals! But SO long as the Holy Days recur as long as the factors involved exist You MUST KEEP THEM!

The Duties of Priesthood "Forever"?

   But, it is often rejoined, the priesthood was given to Aaron and his sons by a statute "for ever"; and in the New Testament the priesthood is "changed." If "a statute for ever" has been changed in the case of Aaron and his sons, how can we be sure that it has not been changed with regard to the annual festivals?
   Let's examine now the places in the Bible where "a statute for ever" is used for things other than the annual holy days. What does the expression "statute for ever" signify in these cases?
   First, Exodus 27:21: "In the tabernacle of the congregation... Aaron and his sons shall order it [the oil in the lamp] from evening to morning before the Lord: it shall be a statute for ever unto your generations." So long as the tabernacle, or the temple, existed, this was to be performed continuously. But there is now no tabernacle or temple in Jerusalem. The factors involved do not now exist. If a tabernacle or temple were there Aaron and his sons would be performing this rite! No one else would be allowed to do it only a son of Aaron!
   God's laws are forever so long as the factors exist! Certainly no abolition of the holy days of God here!
   Now Exodus 28:42-43: "And thou shalt make them linen breeches... and they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place... it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him."
   Is the tabernacle now standing? No! The factor of the tabernacle does not exist! If a tabernacle or temple in Jerusalem did exist. Aaron's sons would have to wear these breeches! (Ezekiel 44:18.) "Forever" means forever so long as the factors exist. But there is now no tabernacle. Again, no abolition of the holy days here!
   Similar laws are given in Exodus 29:9, 28, in 30:21. In each instance the sons of Aaron would have to practice these requirements "by a statute for ever" if there were a temple or if sacrifices were offered at Jerusalem. But neither a temple nor sacrifices exist there today! (See Ezekiel 44:17-21.)
   Now turn to a most important Scripture. Leviticus 3:17: "It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood." Do fat and blood exist today? Indeed! Then we are forbidden by a perpetual statute an everlasting statute to eat blood and fat. Acts 15 confirms this law even on the Gentiles. So long as this physical creation exists, so long as animals are butchered for food this law applies. It is a "perpetual statute."
   Here again is proof that "a statute for ever" means forever for as long as the factors involved exist!
   Continuing: Aaron's children shall have the right to eat of the meal offering by "a statute for ever" (Lev. 6:18). Of course! As long as sacrifices are presented, a portion of them belongs to Aaron's family. It means exactly what it says. No meal offerings are being presented today that's why Aaron's family is not eating of them. If they were being offered, a part of them would be Aaron's!
   Verse 22 declares that it is only the high priest who shall present an offering from the family of Aaron by "a statute for ever." The scripture does not say Aaron's sons must offer the offering forever; it merely states that it is the high priest alone of the children of Aaron who has the continual right to present the offering whenever it is given. No command to observe sacrifices forever here.
   Similar principles are laid down in Leviticus 7:34-36, 10:15 and 24:3, 9.
   The sons of Aaron are forbidden to drink wine or strong drink "when [they] go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it is a statute for ever throughout your generations." This means what it says! If there were a tabernacle in Jerusalem today, no son of Aaron would be allowed to enter it after drinking! It is a statute forever!

No Physical Sacrifices Commanded Forever

   Another important verse appears in Leviticus 17:7: "And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils [demons is a better translation), after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute FOR EVER unto them throughout their generations."
   No command here to offer sacrifices forever, but there is a command never to do it to demons who lurk behind idols. This verse means what it says! No sacrifices are ever to be offered to demons whether they be animal sacrifices or money! "A statute for ever" means a statute forever! And if this is perpetual SO ARE THE HOLY DAYS TO BE PERPETUALLY OBSERVED!
   In Numbers 10:8 a statute forever permits only Aaron and his sons to blow the special trumpets on special occasions. By this law no others are ever allowed to do so. This law means what it says. It is a statute forever!
   Now continue with Numbers 15:14-15: "And if a stranger sojourn with you... and will offer an offering...unto the Lord; as ye do, so shall he do. One statute shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, a statute for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord."
   It is an everlasting law that Israelite and Gentile must approach the Lord in the same manner whether, after circumcision, in Old Testament times or through faith in prayer to the Father in New Testament times. This law is forever but there is no requirement to offer sacrifice forever! No abolition of the holy days by this verse!

Levites Have No Inheritance Forever

   As long as the Aaronic priesthood remained faithful they were blessed for carrying out these responsibilities. As the physical ministers of God, it is "a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they [the Levites} have no inheritance" (Numbers 18:24). Their inheritance came from teaching and from the service at the altar (verses 8, 11, 19). I Corinthians 9:13-14 adds: "Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."
   The family of Levi were not permitted the inheritance of vast property for income. They were allowed only their homes in their towns and sufficient lands around to accommodate the stock used in their physical service or to store the tithe till it was taken to Jerusalem. It was the duty of the Levite to teach the people God's knowledge and His law and to trust God for a living from the tithes and offerings of Israel. They were forever forbidden to spend their time making money. Notice Malachi 2:7 on this point. If the Levites had been faithful, they would be God's teachers today serving in a spiritual ministry, having no inheritance but trusting God for income. This law in Numbers 18 is as much binding on Levi's descendants today as it was under Moses. It is a statute forever! Any Levite who violates this law has a mighty stiff penalty to pay in the judgment!
   Here again notice that no proof exists that the everlasting statutes which enforce God's holy days are not binding.
   Also in Numbers 19:10 and 21 notice that everlasting statutes regulate the manner in which rituals were carried out. There is no command to carry out the rituals forever. The only command refers to the manner of their performance. In each instance the rituals given in Moses' day were imposed only "till the seed should come" (Galatians 3:19), "imposed until the time of reformation" (Hebrews 9:10). But the manner in which these rituals would be carried out will always remain constant.
   These temporary rituals given tinder Moses were never originally a part of the everlasting statutes which regulate the annual festivals of God (Jeremiah 7:22-23).

Aarenic Priesthood "Forever"?

   If God's festivals are to be observed by a statute forever, why has the priesthood of Aaron been changed when it, too, is established by a statute forever?
   Let's understand what the Bible does say about the priesthood of Aaron. It does not say what most people believe!
   Open your Bibles to Exodus 40:15: "And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto Me in the priest's office: FOR THEIR ANOINTING SHALL SURELY BE AN EVERLASTING PRIESTHOOD THROUGHOUT THEIR GENERATION." And again Numbers 25:13: "And he [Phinehas, Aaron's grandson] shall have it [the priesthood], and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood..."
   And notice God's promise in Jeremiah 33:17-22: "For thus saith the Lord; David shall never [lack] a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; neither shall the priests the Levites [lack] a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meal offerings, and to do sacrifice continually... Thus saith the Lord; If ye can break My covenant of the day, and My covenant of the night; and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also My covenant be broken with David My servant... and with the Levites the priests, My ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of... the Levites that minister unto Me."
   Notice it! The Levites shall never lack a man "want a man" in the archaic wording of the King James Version to present offerings continually. There will always be Levites available to do the job or God's promise is not true. The Levites have been punished there is now no temple or tabernacle whereupon to present their offerings, but they have never lacked a man who could perform the rituals whenever they might be required.
   In Ezekiel we find that after Christ's return the Levites will still be available to perform the physical duties of the priesthood as a reminder of Israel's failure as a nation to do God's will (Ezekiel 40:46; 43:19; and 44:9-21). The very statutes which were perpetually, established upon the priesthood in Moses' day are still binding during the millennium upon the Levites (Eze. 44:17-25). When God declares a statute everlasting, HE MEANS IT! Read these verses for yourself.
   But what about Paul's statement in Hebrews that the priesthood has been changed that it is not perpetual? How can Ezekiel and Paul both be correct? Is not this a Bible contradiction? Is this not a proof that the festivals of God have also been changed?

What Paul Really Said!

   Turn to Hebrews 7:11-12: "If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law [of Moses],) what further need was there that another priest should arise after the order of Melchisedic, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law [regarding who receives the tithes]."
   And then verses 15-19: "For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law [of Moses] made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh to God."
   The assumption of most commentators is that God was not faithful to what He said in the Old Testament that God did not mean forever. Notice what Paul is actually writing! In what manner is the priesthood being changed? Is another priesthood taking the place of Aaron's priesthood at the physical altar so that others instead of Aaron's descendants are to present physical sacrifices? Is another physical priesthood substituted for that of Aaron in order to perform the rituals of the law of Moses?
   No! Aaron's priesthood was established for physical ceremonies ON EARTH. But Christ's priesthood is not a physical priesthood to administer ceremonies on earth. Christ, the high priest after the order of Milchezedec, is IN HEAVEN. His is a spiritual priesthood. Turn to Hebrews 5:4-5: "For if He [Christ) were on earth, HE SHOULD NOT BE A PRIEST, SEEING THAT THERE ARE PRIESTS THAT OFFER GIFTS ACCORDING TO THE LAW: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things."
   Do you grasp the significance of this? Christ has not replaced Aaron's family on earth. Aaron's priesthood is the only one which can ever perform the physical priesthood on earth. Aaron's is an everlasting priesthood on earth. But Christ has a greater, an eternal office of high priest IN HEAVEN administering spiritual gifts on behalf of the whole world!
   Look at Hebrews 8:4 again! The earthly priesthood still belonged to the family of Aaron. In the New Testament Church Jesus Christ has not replaced Aaron in the administration of a physical altar in some temple or tabernacle in Jerusalem. One priesthood was not substituted for another to do physical sacrifices on earth!

What the Change Was

   BUT THERE WAS A CHANGE MADE not the kind of change most people believe! The priesthood through which man approached God for forgiveness of sin and for the attainment of perfection has been changed. No longer does man have access to God through the Aaronic high priest. We have access to God through the high priest of the order of Melchizedec! We have access to God through a different priesthood today. But the physical service at an earthly altar still is Aaron's. No Bible contradiction here!
   There was a commandment which required all Israelites from the time of Moses to the time of Christ's crucifixion to be physically reconciled to the Lord through the Levitical priesthood. Jesus mentioned this commandment in Matthew 5:4 after he had cleansed a leper: "Go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them." It is repeated in Mark 1:14 and Luke 5:14.
   Those Levitical priests stood "daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins" (Heb. 10:11). We today do not go to the Levitical priesthood in order to approach God. That has been changed. The priesthood today is different "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way... and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water... And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: NOT FORSAKING THE ASSEMBLING OF OURSELVES TOGETHER, as the manner of some is" (Heb. 10:19-25).

Holy Days Commanded Forever Nine Times

   How plain! The priesthood through which man approaches God has been changed. We have a new and living way through a spiritual priesthood today. And that is all the more reason we should not fail to assemble ourselves together on the weekly sabbath and on the annual festivals which God has commanded by statutes to be observed FOREVER!
   In every one of these scriptures God means exactly what He inspired the writers of the Bible to record for us! When He declares a law to be everlasting HE MEANS IT! In nine specific verses in the Bible mentioned near the beginning of this article the annual festivals of God are COMMANDED TO BE OBSERVED YEAR BY YEAR IN THEIR SEASON AS LONG AS DAY AND NIGHT CONTINUE BY STATUTES FOR EVER!
   Read them again: Exodus 12:14, 17 and 24; 13:10; and Leviticus 16:29, 31; and 23:21, 24, 27, 31 and 41.
   No stronger proof than these nine verses can be given that the Church of God must keep holy these days God made holy! Yet in not one of these places is any mention made of physical sacrifices being commanded forever.
Correction: January Good News, p. 4, col. 1, line 16 should read: "... seen God [the Father] at any time."

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Good News MagazineMarch 1959Vol VIII, No. 3
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