|Does It Matter Which Days We Observe?
HERE is an astounding revelation, making plain which days the inspired New Testament Church observed — revealing when pagan holidays... Sunday, Christmas, Easter, New Year's Day... first crept into the Church!
This is a sequel to Mr. Armstrong's challenging booklet, "Pagan Holidays or God's Holy Days - Which?"
Notice: IT WILL come as a shocking surprise. You probably have never noticed it before, but it is true!
*Please notice the small typographical error which occurred in the publication of this booklet. The first word of the sixth paragraph on page three should read: Listen! instead of Linten!
In the New Testament is amazing proof — almost totally overlooked — that pagan holidays were cleverly introduced into the Christian Church IN THE DAYS OF THE APOSTLES. And proof that the apostles were inspired to FORBID Christians to observe them!
It is time you looked to see WHAT IS RECORDED IN YOUR VERY OWN BIBLE!
How, then, did Hallowe'en, Christmas, Easter, New Year's Day, Sunday — now revealed as ancient pagan holidays celebrated 2000 years before the birth of Christ — creep into the Christianity of this Western World?
And DOES IT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE?
*Listen! Your eternal destiny depends upon the answer! You are soon — very soon — going to stand before the judgment bar of Christ. Do not say carelessly: "Well, here is the way I look at it;" or, "I do not think it makes much difference." God says it does make a difference. God declares there is a way that seems right to a man — to YOU — but the end result are the ways of death (Prov. 14:12).
You will be judged by what God says — not by what you think. Now let us unveil the mystery of which days Christians are to keep.
Notice how plain it is.
Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? Several years ago a perplexed elderly man said to me:
"I have been puzzled and confused all my life. I used to believe that the apostle Paul taught the Church in Galatia not to observe any religious holidays. But recently I read a verse in which Paul apparently told the Christians at Rome [in Romans 14] that it didn't matter which days they observed if they kept them to God.
"Now my question is this," he said, "How can I know what is the real Bible teaching? It seems to me that Paul contradicts himself."
Yes, just HOW CAN WE KNOW?
Millions have been perplexed about this question. They have never heard the real answer!
Thousands are being deceived by a rapidly growing sect which teaches that Christians don't have to observe any days whatsoever. But there are millions of others, just as deceived, who believe that we should observe religious holidays. They claim it doesn't matter which days we observe if we keep them as best we understand by our own human reasoning.
But the question still remains: How can we know what the Bible says?
Esteeming One Day Above Another Let's notice what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 14:5, 6.
"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Romans 14:5, 6).
By taking these verses out of their setting, people make Paul say something altogether different from what he intended. Does he say to observe Christmas, Easter, Lent, Good Friday, Sunday, or the Festival of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven?
Does he say here that Jesus by His death did away with the very days He kept during His whole life?
Does Paul say "God esteemeth one day above another" and "God esteemeth every day alike?" NO! The Scripture says "one MAN esteemeth one day above another." This tells us what certain MEN thought, not what God says!
We are not to be judged by what men think, but by the word of God! John 12:48 reads: "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." Jesus is not going to judge you by what any man believes, but by the words He spoke!
Next, notice that these saints at Rome, having differing opinions, were forbidden to judge one another as unworthy of Christ. "Who are you that judges another man's servant? to his own master he stands or falls. Yes, he shall be helped up: for God is able to make him stand" (Rom. 14:4).
Paul is not sanctioning nor condemning any particular days, but warning the saints not to judge one another and cause strife for having differing opinions about things they did not yet understand clearly.
The Lord was the Judge of their deeds. "He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord." The last part of this sentence — "and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it" — is not in many of the Greek manuscripts.
Continuing, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."
Does this give license to believe whatever you want? God commands: "Lean not unto thine own understanding" (Prov. 3:5). How are you going to be fully assured in your own mind UNTIL YOU KNOW WHAT GOD SAYS IN HIS WORD? "The holy scriptures... are able to make you wise to salvation" Paul wrote Timothy (II Tim. 3:15).
By studying the Word of God to prove all things, and by holding fast that which is good (I Thess. 5:21), YOU BECOME FULLY PERSUADED IN YOUR OWN MINDS concerning what God says.
Converts at Rome Were Weak The saints at Rome were weak in the faith, not having acquired perfect knowledge. Paul says: "For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, to the end that you may be established" (Rom. 1:11).
It is so plain. Here were converts at Rome, still weak in the faith, who were divided in their regard of certain days. Paul told them not to sit in judgment of one another, but to follow peace, because God would judge them, after setting them aright through more perfect knowledge which Paul was going to preach to them. In the meantime they were to act in accordance with the best they knew from God's Word, not man's word.
This did not give them liberty to do as they pleased. They were to obey what God revealed. It would be sin if they disobeyed after the knowledge of the truth had come. For to him that knows to do good and doesn't do it, it is sin (James 4:17; John 9:41).
What Were These Days? But what days was Paul referring to? Certainly not the pagan holidays which we shall see he condemned in Galatians 4:10!
Let's read these verses in Romans 14 in their setting, rather than take them out of their context. Notice! Paul is writing to the saints at Rome, both Jew and Gentile. He admonished them to receive those who are weak in the faith (Rom. 14:1) , not to dispute with them over unimportant matters and sit in judgment on them. Some of these recently converted Gentiles, being weak in the faith, refused to eat meats, subsisting on vegetables mainly.
The reason for this is explained in I Corinthians 8. Most meat that could be bought had been offered to idols. Therefore some, with conscience of the idol "ate it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse" (I Cor. 8:7, 8).
There is the simple answer! Some Gentiles at Rome had been converted and had given up idolatry. But they still held superstitious beliefs in their minds, thinking that the idol was something real.
But why did Paul break into his dissertation — about eating meat or refraining from eating it — and mention "days?"
Notice the answer in the Moffatt translation of this passage:
"Then again, this man rates one day above another, while that man rates all days alike. Well, everyone must be convinced in his mind; the man who values a particular day does so to the Lord. The eater eats to the Lord, since he thanks God for his food; the non-eater abstains to the Lord, and he too thanks God" (Rom. 14:5, 6).
Did you catch what Paul wrote? Not only were there weak converts who were afraid of eating meat offered to idols, but there were others also who customarily ABSTAINED FROM PARTICULAR FOODS — THEY SEMI-FASTED — ON CERTAIN PARTICULAR DAYS. STILL OTHERS REFUSED TO PRACTICE A SEMI-FAST OR ABSTAIN FROM FOODS BUT REGARDED EVERY DAY IN THE SAME WAY.
The whole question surrounded the matter of abstention on particular days. It is not a question of pagan holidays or God's Holy Days. It is merely a question of the days upon which many voluntarily abstained from certain foods.
Jesus said that our fasting should be done before God, and not to be seen or known of men unnecessarily (Matthew 6:16). But many Jews and Gentiles both practiced semi-fasts on particular days of each week or month. The Jews customarily fasted "twice in the week" — Monday and Thursday (Luke 18:12). They also fasted during certain months (Zech. 7:4-7). The Jews were divided on this matter. The Gentiles also had their divisions over when to abstain from certain foods. See Hasting's Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics.
In God's sight it does not matter when one abstains or fasts — but it does matter that we do it with a right heart. Paul was going to Rome to straighten the brethren out on when and how to abstain, but for the moment he wanted them to live at peace with one another.
So these days weren't God's days after all!
There is nothing here referring to the Sabbath or the holy days of God which Paul commanded to be observed by the Gentiles.
Gentiles Commanded to Keep God's Festivals In I Corinthians 5:8, Paul says, "Let us keep the feast." This is a command to Gentiles to keep God's festivals! Here and in I Cor. 11:20-34, Paul instructs the Gentile-born Corinthians how to keep the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread.
The Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write in Acts 20:6 that the Days of Unleavened Bread occurred in far off Philippi! The disciples sailed away "after the days of unleavened bread."
In I Corinthians 16:8, Paul told the Gentiles he was intending to be at Ephesus, a Gentile city, the day of Pentecost. But there is nothing in Romans 14 which says we are to observe the pagan holidays — Christmas, Easter, Lent, Sunday — which crept into the apostate churches after the death of the apostles.
But what about Paul's warning to the churches in Galatia against observing "days, months, times and years"? What were these days against which Paul preached? The answer will probably stun you!
The Letter to the Galatians Here is what Paul wrote to the Galatians:
"Howbeit then, when you knew not God, you did service to them which by nature are no gods. But now, after you have known God, HOW TURN YOU BACK AGAIN to the weak and beggarly elements [Gentile traditions] whereunto you desire AGAIN to be in bondage? You observe days, and months, and times, and years" — (Galatians 4:8-11). I am alarmed about you, he concludes!
What is this that Paul is saying?
Read it again! Did he say, "Ye observe the Sabbath and annual Holy Days such as the Passover, Pentecost and Feast of Tabernacles"? No!
Paul said: "Days and months, and times, and years" — something altogether different!
What Days Were These? Notice this entire fourth chapter of Galatians. Paul begins the chapter by addressing the JEWS — not Gentiles, but Jews — who were being beguiled into Judaism. He addresses them as "we," because Paul was also a Jew. He says "we" — the Jews — were redeemed from "under the law" (verse 5).
Beginning with verse 6, Paul ceases to speak to the Jews. He does not say "we," but "you." Notice it! "Howbeit, then, when ye knew not God" — remember, the Jews knew God, but the Gentiles had not known God before the preaching of the gospel! Jesus said to the Gentile Samaritan woman: "Ye" — the Gentiles — "worship ye know not what: we" — the Jews — "know what we worship for salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22).
Continuing with Gal. 4:8: "When ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God... how turn ye again unto the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?"
These converts in the Galatian Churches were not Jews! They were Gentiles by birth. These Gentile converts in times past did not know God, were cut off from Him (see Eph. 2:12) , "were slaves to gods which were no gods at all." They had been serving demons and idols, not the Living God. False teachers were coming among them, perverting the true gospel, beguiling them to turn again to their former ways. Paul was alarmed. They were departing from the gospel and RETURNING to what? "Days, and months, and times and years."
Pagan holidays! — Christmas, Easter, New Year's, Sunday!
They couldn't be returning to God's festivals. They never kept them before Paul preached about them.
What Are "Times"? Next, turn to Leviticus 19:26 and Deuteronomy 18:10, 14. Here Moses, according to the command of God, orders the Israelites not to observe "TIMES!" This is ABSOLUTE PROOF that the days Paul is forbidding are pagan and not God-given. To observe times originally was a heathen practice of divination often attached to the heavenly bodies. In Greece it developed into regular seasons.
Some church leaders today try to make you believe Paul was condemning Jews for returning to the Sabbath and days of God, which they claim were in the Law of Moses. But the Law of Moses forbade observance of "times." Paul was writing to Gentiles who wanted to return to observing the Gentile "days" associated with "times" — pagan "times" or "seasons" — such as the Easter and Christmas seasons!
The Catholic Bishop Chrysostom, who lived in the fourth century, admits that these superstitious times which Paul forbids, were pagan customs practiced by "Christians" in his day, as in the days of old. He says: "Many were superstitiously addicted to divination... upon them... In the celebration of these times [they] set up lamps in the marketplace, and crown their doors with garlands" — as is done at Christmas time today! (From Bingham's Antiquities of the Christian Church, pp. 1123, 1124).
Besides times, the Greeks observed special days in honor of the dead. "The rites took place on the... unlucky days accompanied by complete idleness and cessation of business" (From Rest Days, P. 79). Today several churches celebrate pagan days in honor of the dead, such as all Soul's Day and All Saints' Day [called Hallowe'en by the world]. These are the heathen days Paul forbids Christians to observe!
These Gentile Galatians were returning to the old pagan days — days which now masquerade under Christian sounding names!
"Many of the holy days in the religious calendar of Christendom were borrowed, as is well known, from the festivals of ancient paganism" (Rest Days, p. 306).
Paul denounces this vain and abominable practice. We are NOT TO LEARN the way of the heathen (Jer. 10).
In connection with the old pagan idolatry, were numerous days observed as idolatrous festivals. These days were consecrated to deities of the state religious cults and were "unlucky" because of the influence of the gods! These civil and religious days were "regarded as unsuitable for many purposes, both public and private: for battles, levies, sacred rites, journeys and marriages. We are told that they owed their unlucky quality to the pronouncement of the Senate and pontiffs." (From Rest Days by Webster, p. 171.)
As many as one third of the days of the old Greek and Roman calendars were marked as "unlawful for judicial and political business... and... on which the state expected the citizens to abstain, as far as possible, from their private business and labour!"
No wonder Paul spoke of "days"!
And how many "worldly" as well as religious people still have similar beliefs today! Such as "unlucky" Friday the thirteenth!
Paul was writing to the Galatians to enlighten their minds so they would give up this foolish regard of heathen days.
Other Heathen Holidays Notice that Paul also condemns the pagan custom of observing "months and years" — another pagan custom!
During the months of the year, heathen festivals were held in honor of the Greek gods, Apolla (April, October), Zeus (February, June), Artemas (April), Bacchus (January) and many others which you can read of in the Encyclopaedia Americana, article "Festival." God never commanded His people to celebrate months.
Also certain years were set aside quadrennially and biennially during which were national idolatrous feasts and the celebration of the Olympic, Ishmaian, Nemean and Pythian games. Every one of these was connected with idolatrous worship and ceremony.
Paul was forbidding the return to these heathen practices by Gentile converts — Paul was not forbidding the days Jesus observed, setting us an example that we should follow His steps. Many of the present holidays of Christendom were celebrated in the heathen world when Paul and Christ were on earth, but they refused to observe them and commanded the Church not to observe them!
But God's Holy Days and Sabbaths Are Mentioned! Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, certainly speaks of the days God instituted. He is not speaking of pagan holidays.
In Colossians 2:16 Paul is thought by many to have abolished God's days. Let's study to see if he did.
First, stop to consider! Is it logical that Paul would have commanded the Gentiles in Corinth and elsewhere to observe God's festivals (I Cor. 5:7-8), and then contradict himself by telling the Colossians not to observe them? Yet most Churches would make Paul just that inconsistent!
The truth is so plain here in Colossians. What is Paul writing to the saints in Colossae? "Let no man therefore judge you... " Does this say "God has abolished these"? Look at the verse again. It says, "Let no man... judge you" concerning these matters. To judge is not to abolish. Paul is warning the Colossians not to let any MAN judge them about certain matters. Why?
"But why do you judge your brother?... for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ... So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:10, 12).
God is the judge. Not man. It is by the Word of God that we are going to be judged, not the ideas of man (John 12:48). Since we are to live as those who are to be judged by the Word of God, then we have to go to other passages of scripture to find HOW GOD WILL JUDGE US with reference to meats, drinks and festive occasions. It doesn't matter what human beings think, but it does matter what GOD THINKS.
So let's examine the scripture to see what God's standard for Christians is.
Traditions of Men Paul begins the second chapter of Colossians with warnings against those who were seeking to beguile the Church after the philosophy and traditions of men (verse 8). Then he mentions that both Jews and Gentiles have been reconciled to God by the death of Jesus Christ and both have become circumcised in the heart. But how could the Gentiles, uncircumcised in the flesh, come into this relationship to God together with physically circumcised Jews?
By the fact that Christ was circumcised for them, thus "blotting out the handwriting of ordinances [in which was the command for physical circumcision] that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross" (Col. 2:14).
Now what was this handwriting of ordinances that was against men? Evidently the same as mentioned in Eph. 2:13-16 which put "enmity between Jew and Gentile." But what is it?
The Ten Commandments? No.
They were NEVER called ordinances. They were written by the finger of God, not by the hand of Moses. They constitute the law of liberty (James 1:25) , holy, just and good (Rom. 7:12). The sabbath, one of its points, was made FOR MAN, not against man (Mark 2:27). This law could not have been meant by Paul because it is not abolished but eternal (Ps. 111:8).
BY IT WE ARE TO BE JUDGED, wrote the apostle James (Jas. 2:12).
Could the handwriting of ordinances against us be the statutes which ordained the Holy Days forever? No! The entire 119th Psalm, the longest in the Bible, and inspired by God, proves that the statutes and judgments of God, which define sin and regulate human relations, are eternal, good, making wise the ignorant. These were not against us but for us. So the laws regulating the Holy Days, as well as the Sabbath, are still in force and by them we shall be judged.
The Passover was instituted as a statute [improperly translated as "ordinance"], and Jesus commanded his disciples to observe it with new symbols forever. Paul commanded the Gentiles at Corinth, as we have seen, to keep this statute! (I Cor. 11:2, 20-34.)
If the commandments, statutes and judgments of God were all made for us, then what was the handwriting of ordinances which were AGAINST us? The ritualistic laws involving physical work "added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made!" (Gal. 3:19). It is a law of works — physical, ceremonial works which only circumcised Jews could perform. It separated Jews from Gentiles — it created a figurative "wall of partition" (Eph. 2:14) because no uncircumcised Gentile could approach God.
Ritualistic Law Added AFTER Holy Days Were Given Here it is at last! The handwriting in ordinances was a group of laws added until a specific time because of transgression. Since there must be a law before there is transgression (Rom. 4:15), it is no wonder that this "handwriting of ordinances" was ADDED. And it was added BECAUSE of transgression, yet it could not justify the person who performed its works! It was a yoke! (Acts 13:39; 15:10). Therefore this handwriting of ordinances was not commanded the Gentiles (Acts 15:24).
Notice Ezekiel 20:25. When Israel was still in the wilderness, God "gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live." Why? As a punishment for transgression, as a reminder of sin! — "because they... polluted My sabbaths," God replies. God's weekly and annual sabbaths were in existence before the ritualistic laws were ADDED. The rituals were added because the Sabbaths and Holy Days were being broken!
Col. 2:16 does not say, as some believe, that the Sabbath is binding but not the holy days and new moons. Whenever the expression "sabbath days" is used with "holy days" and "new moons," the WEEKLY sabbaths are always meant! (I Chr. 23:31; II Chr. 2:4; 31:3; Ezra 3:5; Neh. 10:33.) Col. 2:16 includes both weekly and annual sabbaths!
But what were the specific laws included in these ordinances? Hebrews 9:10-15 has the answer!
These handwritten ordinances of Moses, given to Israel for a limited time only, not forever, "stood only in meats and drinks, and diverse washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them UNTIL the time of reformation." This is a system of physical rituals relating to the Levitical priesthood, drink offerings, sacrifices and physical precepts regulating bathing when unclean. These ordinances were no longer necessary when the sacrifice that could take away sins would be offered. Once a sacrifice purges sin, there is no need of offerings as reminders of past sin (Heb. 10:2). Christ was that sacrifice.
The weekly and annual sabbaths were NOT instituted for the purpose of sacrifice. God says: "For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you" (Jeremiah 7:22, 23).
So we see that Paul is telling the Colossians to know the word of God so thoroughly that they could refute any MAN who would dare to sit in judgment of them for trusting in the sacrifice of Christ typified by the offerings of the law contained in ordinances. These physical offerings could not forgive sin. The Jews, swayed by demons and pagan philosophy, falsely taught that the sacrifices were penance and could pay for sin. Paul wants Christians to recognize the fallacy of this doctrine.
"In Respect of" Is Mistranslation! What does the Apostle mean when he tells the Colossians not to let any man judge them "in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days"?
This verse states ONLY that Christians are not to allow any MAN to judge them "in respect of' these days. The phrase "in respect of," as found in the common versions, is ambiguous. It is not properly translated. It is correctly rendered "in part of" in the margin of the King James Version.
Now what is the real meaning of the ambiguous phrase "in respect of?" The Greek phrase translated "in respect of" literally means "a part"; or "a portion"; or, in this verse, "a sacrificial meat portion"! See Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon.
According to Thayer's Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 401, the original inspired Greek word en merei translated "in respect of" is used "where the writer means to intimate that there are other matters, to be separated from that which he has specified." That is, Paul wrote of a particular matter concerning these days. It is in connexion with the sacrifices held on these days that Paul wrote. It is the sacrificial part of the observance that enters Paul's mind, not the question of whether the days are to be kept holy.
There would be no reason to discuss the sacrificial customs no longer required if the Christians were not observing the days!
Paul is referring to sacrifices and ordinances that were consumated in Christ — no longer in force. Converts are not to offer sacrifices on these days because the ordinances were abolished which regulated the sacrifices on the Sabbath, the new moon and the annual Holy Days.
But that doesn't abolish the days!
No! Because these days began to be instituted BEFORE the ordinances prescribing sacrifices and offerings were ADDED.
God commanded no sacrifices [except the passover, which is still continued under different symbols today] when he revealed the holy days to Israel. (See Jer. 7:22-23.)
Sacrifices and offerings were placed on these days, later, AS ON EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK, EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR, because of transgression (Exodus 29:38). With the sacrifice of Christ having taken place, Paul wants the Christians to know that they are not to be judged by the handwriting of ordinances regulating these rituals! Christians did not have to partake of the offerings on those days — the offerings could not forgive sin, as the Jews contended. They only foreshadowed the body of Christ which forgives sin. The Jews taught that to be forgiven one had to eat and drink the offerings placed on those days. This is a doctrine of Judaism; it is not a doctrine of Moses or of Paul. The Mosaic sacrifices were temporary shadows, not penance offerings.
The days, however, are still to be kept holy because they were instituted as everlasting statutes, not by the handwriting of ordinances, which was abolished with the death of Christ.
The Sabbath day began at creation, and the annual festivals began to be instituted as MEMORIALS OF THE PLAN OF GOD before the old covenant was made and before sacrifices were imposed to teach men the need of Jesus Christ and the power of the Spirit of God.
What Are Shadows? Paul continues his thought in Col. 2:17 by speaking about "a shadow of things to come: but the body is of Christ." What could Paul have meant by "shadows"?
"Shadows" are mentioned in several places in Hebrews. Priests who offer gifts "serve unto the example and shadows of heavenly things" (Heb. 8:5). And again: "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect" (Heb. 10:1).
These two verses show that the shadows were the sacrifices and ritualistic offerings made by the priests according to the law. The BODY that was foreshadowed was Christ. The shadows — the continuous round of offerings, sacrifices and washings — typified Christ and His work. However, they were "not the very image of the heavenly things." The sacrificial shadow was a "lamb," but Christ was a man. Hence the sacrifice in the form of an animal was not in the exact image or did not look like the exact shadow of the man Jesus Christ who was to come.
Much of the misunderstanding comes from the meaning of the word "which" in verse 17 of Colossians 2 — "which are a shadow of things to come." The word "which" does not refer to Sabbaths, new moons, or Holy Days; but to MEAT AND DRINK OFFERINGS, which were daily practiced, and to the SACRIFICIAL PART or PORTION offered weekly, monthly or annually. It would be clearer to translate the verse as follows:
"Let no man therefore judge you concerning daily meat and drink offerings, or concerning the weekly, monthly or annual sacrificial part or portion, which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [which was offered and whose blood was shed] is Christ's."
This makes it very plain, doesn't it?
The drink offering foreshadowed the shedding of Christ's blood. The animal sacrifices foreshadowed the slaying of Christ. No day or sabbath could foreshadow the shedding of blood, but pouring wine as a drink offering was like a shadow of spilled blood. A sacrificial animal was not an exact image of a man, but it foreshadowed the dead Christ.
How plain! The shadows were not the days, but the sacrificial portions [or parts] offered on the days.
The Bible nowhere speaks of the sabbaths, the holy days and the new moons as shadows. They are MEMORIALS of God's Plan which has been established since the world's beginning. See Exodus 12, and Leviticus 23 where they are called memorials. But we do find that the entire book of Hebrews is written to show that the shadowy carnal ordinances once performed by the Levites have been abolished and changed into the spiritual precepts of the priesthood of Melchizedek, in which Christ, as High Priest, is reconciling those who are now called to God.
How clear these verses are in Colossians and Galatians when we understand the Bible as a whole.
It Was Prophesied to Happen! "Why," it is often asked, "did the Bible not warn us that pagan holidays would be substituted for the holy Days of God?"
The answer is that THE BIBLE DOES WARN US! It was prophesied in advance — over 800 years before Paul warned about it in Galatians 4:10.
Turn to the book of Hosea. The prophet had a message for the future — for our day! Notice: "And I" — God is quoted by the prophet — "will punish her" — our people today — "for the FEAST DAYS OF THE BAALS!"
Sunday, Christmas, Easter, Hallowe'en are feast days of Baal!
What could be plainer! Our people "forgot Me, says the Lord" — because they have rejected His holy days. "And in that day" — the very near future when Christ intervenes in world affairs — "I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more" (Hosea 2:13, 17, RSV).
How clear! Israel today — our people — have adopted the feast days of Baal. The greatest of church holidays — Easter — is named after the wife of Baal or Nimrod. God forbids us to honor Him by celebrating these Babylonish feasts. God warns: "Take heed... that thou inquire not... 'How used these nations to serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.' THOU SHALT NOT DO SO UNTO THE LORD THY GOD. For every abomination which He hateth, have they done unto their gods" (Deut. 12:30-31).
These pagan abominations are forbidden by the apostle Paul in Galatians. That is New Testament teaching!
Controversial Texts in the Old Testament God chose Israel for a special mission they have failed to perform. He revealed to them His Sabbath as a sign so they would never forget that He is the Creator. He also gave Israel annual Holy Days, memorials, to commemorate Israel's deliverance from Egypt — a picture for His Church of the plan of God in delivering the world from sin.
But Israel did not remain faithful to these God-given Festivals! They invented days of their own!
Several chapters are devoted by the prophet Ezekiel to a condemnation of Israel for breaking the Sabbaths God had given. This is historical proof that those days were then in existence and that God greatly disapproved their transgression. Take special note of Ezekiel 20:12-26 and 22:26. The punishment inflicted upon the House of Israel was for desecrating the Sabbaths.
What was the extreme evil of Sabbath-breaking? With the desecration of the Sabbaths, idolatry was a natural consequence, and Sunday, Christmas and Easter were introduced. These pagan holidays God calls "abominations"!
Some claim there are texts in the Old Testament in which God says "My" sabbaths and festivals "I hate." This is not true. God said: "I hate, I despise your feast days, and... your solemn assemblies." Notice it. "Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: for they are a trouble unto me" (Amos 5:21; 8:10; Isaiah 1:10-15; Hosea 2:11).
These were not divine institutions, but man-appointed days observed in Israel. These days God despised.
Ancient Israel did not continue to observe the Holy Days of God. They refused His judgments and statutes (Ezekiel 20:18). They copied the heathen idolatrous feasts of surrounding nations. History proves this fact!
The chronicler of ancient Israel preserved a record of just such a change in the laws of God, when the House of Israel separated from Judah.
"And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar... sacrificing unto the calves that he had made... the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart..." (I Kings 12:32, 33).
Thereafter Israel altered the new moons and changed the Sacred Calendar. They changed the Sabbaths into idolatrous days for sun-worship — the Sabbath was transferred from Saturday to Sunday. Israel, taking over the feasts of the heathen Baal — sun-worship — turned them into idolatrous rest days according to the statutes of the kings of Israel (II Kings 17:8).
When the House of Israel is next found in history, as the nations of Northwestern Europe, they are keeping the day of the sun! So the Ever-Living God never hated nor abolished His feasts. But He did hate the different days which Israel invented!
Now let us continue with the history of the Jews.
Did Judah Remain Faithful? Consider now what God says about "Jewish" feasts!
Now notice the first chapter of Isaiah. It is addressed in particular to Judah. Like the ancient people of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Jews instituted their own appointed feasts and tampered with the period of the new moon. "Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth," said the Word of the Lord (Isaiah 1:14). This was the beginning of what are customarily called "Jewish feasts." Being instituted by the Jews they were naturally "Jewish."
But nothing is said about the Jews' instituting their own Sabbath! It is not surprising then, that the Jews have preserved the right Sabbath of God to our generation. The house of Israel (the Democratic nations of the Western World) which did not keep the seventh day as the Sabbath, has never observed it since.
Although the Jews added their own appointed feasts and new moons, they also retained the Biblical ones — "the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies." These they turned into abominations and profaned by idolatry and labor. "I cannot endure iniquity," says God, 'along with the solemn assembly.'" No wonder God abhorred THE MANNER in which the Jews treated His holy Sabbath and festivals (Isa. 1:13).
For that sin, especially, they were driven out of Judea and deprived of one of the blessings of God — the opportunity of keeping His days. They became the property of their enemies and "the Lord... caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion" (Lamentations 2:6). Jeremiah does not joy over the abolition of the festivals, but laments over their being forgotten!
Notice that at the return of Christ — when He brings "good tidings" and "announceth peace" — He also commands His feasts to be kept once again (Nahum 1:15).
Jesus Rejects Jewish Traditions Even after having to suffer the privations of war for rejecting the ways of God, the Jews did not fully learn their lesson. Those who returned to Jerusalem made a covenant not to buy on the Sabbath or holy days (Nehemiah 10:31). Yet they continued profaning these hallowed days. (Neh. 13:15-18).
After the death of Nehemiah, they again began to alter the days when the annual festivals were to be held. By the time of Jesus the sects of Judaism were in great confusion over the correct dates of the Passover and Pentecost.
The apostle John shows that the Pharisees were holding the Jewish Passover at a later time than did Christ (John 18:28). The Jews in Judaea no longer observed the Biblical Passover at the beginning of fourteenth of Nisan, as did Jesus and the Galilaeans. They held their sacrifice toward the end of the fourteenth and ate it on the night of the fifteenth which was really the first high day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
To this day, the Jews fail to distinguish between the night of the Passover (Exodus 12:22) and the night after the Passover (Numbers 33:3; Exodus 12:42) when the Israelites left Egypt. The Jews do not keep the real Passover.
The Jews were also divided over the exact date for the celebration of Pentecost — the Feast of Firstfruits (Jewish Encyclopedia, article, "Pentecost"). The Jews' Feast of Firstfruits or Pentecost was celebrated by the Pharisees on a specified day of the month. The Sadducees maintained that Pentecost was on a particular day of the week, since it had to be counted (Lev. 23:15). Neither of them, however, observed it on the right day.
The fall festivals were also corrupted by the orthodox Jews who added an extra day to the Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Tabernacles. This perversion of God's festivals deserved the name given by the gospel writers: "Jewish feasts" (John 6:4; 5:1).
Jesus disregarded these regulations! Jesus abolished these man-made traditions. But He set us an example (I Peter 2:21) by keeping the Sabbath and the Holy Days.
It is time we begin to follow Jesus' example and keep holy the days God made holy, instead of observing pagan holidays which God condemns!