Must Gentile Christians Observe the Jewish Feasts?

jesusinthefeasts

Article by Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

This post was shared with me a week or so ago and I found it very interesting, full of good points. I’ve also written on the subject in the past. If you’d like to read a past article on the matter check out Celebrate Bible-Style.

There are several reasons why this topic is making a powerful comeback. The primary reason is that in the past 20 years Christian Churches around the globe, represented by almost every major Christian denomination, have become much more aware of the Jewish identity of their Savior and King. This, of course, is a wonderful thing.

The question is usually framed in a very simple way: “Must Christians observe the Jewish feasts?” I would submit to you that there are several problems with how the question is formed.

First, the assumption is that “Christians” are members of a non-Jewish movement, independent in every way from the people of Israel. Knowing what we now know about the Jewish background of the New Testament, we can say with full confidence that this is clearly not the case.

Second, the question refers to the Feasts of the Lord as “the Jewish feasts,” as if these feasts did not belong to God himself as their biblically native terminology clearly implies. Only when we adopt the biblical (rather than theological) categories, can we begin to see that we are asking the wrong question. Wrong questions, in turn, are known to lead good and godly people to wrong answers.

Third, the inclusion of “must” is problematic as well. It unintentionally advances the question in the context of the Protestant-Catholic, 16th-century divide regarding personal salvation (faith vs. works).

I would restate the question in a way that, while surely more cumbersome in Christian English (the language of our communication), is more fitting to the biblical context:

“Should the follower of the Jewish Christ, who comes from the nations and not from Israel, also mark as holy ‘the Feasts of Lord’”?

I think the answer to this question is clearly – yes. The question is not “if”, but “how” must Gentile followers of the Jewish Christ observe the Feasts of the Lord in covenantal continuity and partnership with Israel, yet with full realization of the powerful implications brought forth by Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension.

It is indeed very interesting to note that Christian Churches, especially in their Catholic and Eastern Orthodox expressions, have never claimed that believers should cease to observe the feasts of the Lord.

In fact, both Christian communities (along with most protestant ones) have regularly marked many key biblical feasts with special worship celebrations. Unfortunately, they have often observed the feasts purposely on different dates and often inventing traditions far removed (and sometimes antithetical) to the original biblical injunctions.

Gentile Christians today are called to reunite with the people of Israel through, among other things, Christ-centered observance of the Feasts of the Lord and in so doing to experience their belonging to the Commonwealth of Israel.

For more articles like these are various topics, go to the Israel Bible Center website.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters!

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You’re Being Read

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Very few people in the world today actually read the Bible. The above image was taken from Christians….CHRISTIANS! More than 50% of Christians are not familiar with the Bible. Only 20% have actually read the entire thing. This is God’s story. This is the story of humanity. It’s the story of redemption, past, present, and future. It’s the most valuable information we could ever gain. It’s universal in application. It’s faultless. Yet, for so many, it’s collecting dust on people’s shelves or sitting as an unused app on their phones. If this is the case among Christians, you know that far fewer non-believers are reading it. But do you know what they are reading? You and me. If people aren’t reading about who Jesus is, we need to show them. We may be the only image of Jesus they get. What message are the people in your life getting? The message of Christ is not contained when it lives in and through His followers. Let’s show the world the contents of the Bible by how we live and love and the truth that is the banner of our lives.

The Bible is Not the Constitution

There has always been a debate about what God has told mankind. In fact, it started in the Garden of Eden. The serpent tried to confuse Adam and Eve about what God had told them. The words “did God really say” are still being uttered by believers and non-believers alike. Keep in mind that those words are what led the first people into sin. Deception and a muddled interpretation of God’s instructions to His creation are a formula for destruction. We need to consider the source of those things. The serpent is an image of Satan, the one opposed to God and everyone who claims allegiance to Him.

I teach US History and American Government at a local high school. I love the US Constitution. It’s one of the most incredible documents in World History. It was crafted in less than three months, in secret, by only 55 people. This small group engineered one of the longest lasting governments this world has ever seen. Have the people in that government always been good? Definitely not. But the system is more than sound. A few years after the document was ratified, amendments were added which became known as the Bill of Rights. Contained within those first 10 amendments are rights that we battle over and fight for to this day. Seventeen more have been added in the 227 years since. This amazing document, as flexible, enduring, and cherished as it may be, is still imperfect. That’s because it was created by imperfect people. They were great minds. No one would argue the contrary. But none of them were perfect.

An amendment is a change made to a legal document. Perfect things never require change. You can’t add to perfection, you can only detract from it. Our government has added 27 changes to the US Constitution because it needed to be changed. Our nation and any other for that matter are made up of imperfect people. We have a history of discrimination, war, and oppression. Each nation has a different story but they’re all fluid. No society is constant because no society bases it’s existence and guidance off of a constant source. The US Constitution of 1787 was not worthy of being left untouched and unaltered. Even with its 27 additions, this document is lightyears away from being the foundation of truth to anyone’s existence.

I see a frightening trend among certain sects of believers who prefer to treat the Bible as though it was the constitution. As though it was imperfect and in need of altering. I hear people claiming to be followers of Christ, second-guessing the very things Christ spoke and stands for. To question the Bible is to question Christ. To question the Bible is to question the Creator of all existence. We cannot approach the Bible as though it needs to be flexible and mold to the times. I have no problem in making God’s word relevant to our time. It does that all by itself. The Bible is a mirror into everyone’s soul. It doesn’t matter if you lived a thousand years ago, a hundred years ago, or are alive today, the Bible speaks to your existence. It doesn’t need to be amended. To believe that it does means that you believe that God is imperfect. We do the society we live in no favors when we utter the same words as the serpent of the garden, “did God really say?” Those words only create an atmosphere ripe for sin to flourish.

We don’t mold the Bible to our worldview. The Bible is our constant, perfect document. We mold our worldview into what the Bible says. Just because the views on certain issues change in society does not mean that the Bible needs to change with them. What the world needs are followers of Jesus who are not ashamed of the truth. People who are willing to stand against deception and the love of sin that is so persistent in this world. The world does not need compromising souls but passionate disciples.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

How do you swing the Sword?

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)

The Bible is sometimes referred to as a sword. That’s because it’s the best weapon a person has against the lies of cultures that are pervasive in every society. The Bible cuts through our selfish motives, pride, deceit, carelessness, and so much more. It shows everyone of us just how much we need a Savior, then introduces us to Him. It shows us the remedy for the ills of life and the purpose for which we were all created. It’s the ultimate source of strength, encouragement, and hope. It is a lifeline for sinking men and women across the globe.

In Ephesians chapter six, the Bible is called the Sword of the Spirit. It is meant to be wielded to crush the enemy lines that seek to spread darkness and chaos throughout humanity. But that enemy is not in the flesh. It’s spiritual power that seeps into every facet of this world. But all too often, this sword is swung at those who need to experience its life changing qualities, not the sting of another’s insult. The Bible is a tool to fight evil, not to fight people. This sword is meant to build bridges not cut down people in its wake. This sword is meant to bring healing, not further injury to those who are already wounded. As followers of Christ, we use His sword to fight for those in our life, not against them.

With one fell swoop of His Sword, God could wipe out fallen humanity. In a moment of real honesty, we’d have to admit that we’d all deserve it. But He doesn’t. God uses His Sword to mold us into what we are actually supposed to be. God doesn’t destroy with this weapon, He creates new life in us. I wish more believers would want to do the same. I know many who do. But I also know of a lot who would just as soon run someone through with the sword than love them. I think it’s pretty obvious who’s been touched by God’s redeeming grace by how they use His Word. His Sword is an instrument of love. Handle with care.