NOTE: If You have not read this Study before, you will want to read it from the beginning -- which starts just below all the "Jump To" links. If you are Returning to this study and wish to "Jump" to a particular section of the study -- use the links below. Enjoy!Jump to "Passover Feast"Jump to "Feast of Unleavened Bread"Jump to "Jump to "Wave Sheaf Ceremony"Jump to "Jump to "Pentecost"Jump to "Feast of Trumpets"Jump to "Day of Atonement"Jump to "Feast of Tabernacles"Jump to "Summary and Conclusions"
There are a growing number of people within our Church who feel that we should still be keeping the "feast days" of the Ceremonial Law. Others say that these ceremonial feast days were strictly "Typical" (part of a system of TYPES that pointed forward to, and met their fulfillment in CHRIST and are, therefore, no longer binding and need not be kept). Were these Feast Days established as a "perpetual statute" for "all generations" including BOTH Jews and Christians? Is it "WRONG" to keep them? What should our attitude toward these ceremonial feast days be? There are interesting and convincing arguments made for both sides of this issue and it behooves us to find out what the Bible, Jesus Christ, the Apostles and the Prophets (including Ellen White) have to say about this important issue. We will take a closer look at these Feast Days here.
Before we get into the "Law" of the Feast Days and the issues involving them it is very important that we recognize that there are really THREE LAWS spoken of in the Bible AND that we understand how each of these Three Sets of "Laws" apply to us TODAY. Briefly, these Three sets of Laws are:The "MORAL LAW" which is the Law of God and forms the Basis of His Government. This is the Law contained in the TEN COMMANDMENTS (Ex. 20:2-17 & Duet. 5:6-21)and which are universally binding upon ALL mankind. These Laws are "Written in Stone, if you will (no pun intended), and CANNOT BE ALTERED, CHANGED, or DONE AWAY WITH! The great Moral Law of the Ten Commandments not only describe man's duty to God and man's duty to his Fellow Man -- they also are a description of the very Character of God and reveal the Character of His Children. This Law is stressed as binding upon all mankind and is the Law that points out "SIN. It was the transgression of this Law that resulted in the sentence of death being pronounced upon the human race and that necessitated our need for a SAVIOR. Both Christ and the Apostles emphatically taught that this Law is still binding (Mat. 5:18; Rom. 3:31; James 1:25; Rom. 7:12; etc.) and that this is the Law upon which we will be judged (Lk. 10:25-28; 18:18-20; James 2:10-12; 1Jn 3:4-9; etc.). There should be no question concerning the binding nature of this Law in the minds of anyone. This Law is to be kept by EVERYONE claiming to be a Child of God.The "Law contained in Ordinances" or the "Ceremonial Law". These Laws can be found in Leviticus 23 and are rather intricate ceremonial feasts designed to commemorate AND to point forward the work of CHRIST in the great Plan of Redemption. These "Feasts" (often called "Feast Days" -- even though some were individual "days" and others lasted for "several days") graphical portray the entire plan of Redemption beginning with the Passover (where our Sins are "Passed Over" because our Savior took our sins upon Himself - giving His Life so that we might Live) and concluding with the "Feast of Tabernacles" (which was celebrated after the "Day of Atonement" and which foreshadowed the final consummation of the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan, in which, the Ransomed Saints celebrate and praise their Redeemer for the Victory He has accomplished for them, and in them). Lest we be hasty in concluding that these "Ceremonial Feast Days" are no longer important to us, please consider the following inspired statements: "The significance of the Jewish economy is not yet fully comprehended. Truths vast and profound are shadowed forth in its rites and symbols. The gospel is the key that unlocks its mysteries....Far more than we do, it is our privilege to understand these wonderful themes." (COL p. 133). "We do not half understand the Lord's plan in taking the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, and leading them through the wilderness into Canaan. As we gather up the divine rays shining from the gospel, we shall have a clearer insight into the Jewish economy, and a deeper appreciation of its important truths. Our exploration of truth is yet incomplete. We have gathered up only a few rays of light. Those who are not daily students of the Word will not solve the problems of the Jewish economy. They will not understand the truths taught by the temple service. The work of God is hindered by a worldly understanding of his great plan. The future life will unfold the meaning of the laws that Christ, enshrouded in the pillar of cloud, gave to his people." (Letter 156, 1903 -- Spalding and Magan Collection p. 306:1,2). With that in mind, we will look at these ceremonial feast in more detail in a moment.Finally, there is the Law of Statutes and Judgments. These laws are found primarily in Exodus 21:1 - 23:13 but can also be found scattered throughout the writings of Moses. These "Statutes" served primarily to define and simplify the principles of the Moral Law and to clearly delineate man's duties regarding his own Health and his obligations when interacting with his fellow-men (Note: there are "Statutes" listed in the Bible that have to do with fixed requirements involved in the Priestly functions concerning the OT Tabernacle and its services [e.g. Ex. 27:21 and many of those contained in Leviticus]-- but since these "Statutes" apply specifically to the Priests and those involved in the daily ministration of the Tabernacle services, and not to the people as a whole, it should be understood that the Statutes we are considering here involve only those statutes which were applicable to everyone). These Statute "Laws" do not typify anything -- that is, they do not serve to represent anything else. They are intended to define and clarify exactly how we should behave in particular circumstances when interacting with our fellow men. Since these "Laws" were not a "Shadow" of things to come (they did not Typify anything), and since they were given to specify man's ongoing obligations to his fellow-men, there is NO REASON to believe that they met their fulfillment at the Cross or that they are no-longer binding.
To avoid any undo perplexity, there are a few things that we should note about these "Statutes" and about which ones are still binding, as well as how they are still binding. In other words, we need to understand the principles involved in these statutes -- or -- to put it another way, we need to understand the "Spirit" of these Statutes and not just the "Letter".
Ellen White wrote an exceptionally clear article regarding the "Law (Laws) of God" in the May 6, 1875 Review and Herald which, I believe, is extremely helpful - especially with regard to the "STATUTES and JUDGMENTS" we are discussing here. In this article, Mrs. White states that "The statutes and judgments specifying the duty of man to his fellow-men, were full of important instruction, defining and simplifying the principles of the moral law, for the purpose of increasing religious knowledge, and of preserving God’s chosen people distinct and separate from idolatrous nations." She also states that these statutes "were to govern the everyday life", to "guard the Ten Commandments", and that these statutes were "necessary to a living religion and to govern the people of God". Further, she gets quite explicit as to which statutes continue to be binding on us today: "The statutes concerning marriage, inheritance, and strict justice in deal with one another, were peculiar and contrary to the customs and manners of other nations, and were designed of God to keep his people separate from other nations. The necessity of this to preserve the people of God from becoming like the nations who had not the love and fear of God, is the same in this corrupt age, when the transgression of God’s law prevails and idolatry exists to a fearful extent. If ancient Israel needed such security, we need it more, to keep us from being utterly confounded with the transgressors of God’s law. The hearts of men are so prone to depart from God that there is a necessity for restraint and discipline." FINALLY, she unambiguously states that these statutes "were not shadowy types to pass away with the death of Christ. They were to be binding upon man in every age as long as time should last." I don't know about you, but that really made me sit up and take notice! If you would like to read the the Entire article (and I strongly urge you to do so) you can do so by
My point in spending some extra time in examining Moral Law
(10 commandments) and the Statutes and Judgments
(concerning health, marriage, inheritance, and strict justice in our dealings with one another) -- which are "binding upon man in every age
" including those living before Moses
(see Gen. 26:5) as well as those of us living since the Cross
-- is so that we don't inadvertently mix the "FEAST DAYS"
of the CEREMONIAL LAW
with them and get confused
as to which
Commandments and Statutes we are still under obligation to keep. This distinction should become clearer as we delve into:
The Ceremonial "Feast Days":
There were SIX main "FEASTS", "FESTIVALS" or "DAYS" to be kept involved in the Jewish Economy. They are:The Passover Feast: was actually established just before the Hebrews left Egypt. It was celebrated in the springtime during what GOD declared the Israelite's "first month of the [religious] year" (Ex. 12:2). On the 14th of that month (Abib 14), at twilight (for you good Bible students that would be the beginning of the 15th of Abib wouldn't it?!) the Israelites were to sacrifice an unblemished Lamb, the blood of which they were to put on the outside of the door frame of their houses, and the flesh of which they were to roast and eat with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They were told to eat it "with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste--it is the LORD'S Passover" (Ex. 12:11). They were to be ready to leave! On the night of the 14th of Abib the Lord EXECUTED JUDGMENT and DESTROYED the firstborn of the Egyptians. He "PASSED OVER" any house which had the "blood of the lamb" covering it and those who were inside were spared the destructive judgment of the Lord. This signified the END of their CAPTIVITY and was typical of all Messiah (Christ) believing people's deliverance from the Captivity of Satan and Sin.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread: was intimately related to, and was actually a continuation of what began during the Passover Feast the evening before. It began on the day immediately following the Passover on Abib 15 (when the Israelites were standing and eating the Passover meal they were actually standing in the evening hours - or Beginning - of the 15th of Abib -- the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread [see Gen. 1:5,8,13,19,23,31; etc.) and lasted for seven days. During this feast the Israelites were to eat Unleavened Bread and were to have removed from their homes ANY kind of Leavening. "LEAVENING" represents any kind of defilement (including FALSE DOCTRINE and HYPOCRISY -- see Mat. 6:6,11,12; Mk. 8:15; Lk. 12:1) and Sin. Having been "Delivered" from the captivity of our Sin ("covered" with the Blood of Christ) and having escaped His destructive judgment, we are to Live a life FREE from Sin's defilement. Paul made the application to this in this way: "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Cor. 5:6-8). In other words, Paul saw Christ and our deliverance from Sin through Christ as a fulfillment of both the Passover and the "Feast" of Unleavened Bread. He most certainly indicates a "SPIRITUAL" application to the celebration of the "Feast" since the Death of Christ! The fact that it has become "Spiritual" in its application does NOT mean that it is in any way Less "REAL"! In fact, the Spiritual Application is what actually makes it a Concrete REALITY because it is only in EXPERIENCING these things SPIRITUALLY that a CHANGE is made in our Lives, our Behavior, and our very Being -- "YOU are in fact Unleavened", Paul said. By this, the symbol of the "Bread" is transferred to the Reality to which it points -- which is Christ ("I am the Bread of Life" Jn. 6:35,48,51) - and by application to US when Christ abides in us and we in Him (Jn. 15:4-9; 14:16-20). These are the Spiritual REALITY to which the "TYPES pointed and these are the things that we should be FOCUSING on. The CEREMONIES themselves have NOTHING to offer us if we do not understand the Spiritual Application to which they pointed!
The Wave Sheaf Ceremony: occurred within (or during) the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the second day of the feast (Abib 16). The "Sheaf" that was waved was the First Fruit of the Barley harvest, and was waved in anticipation of the Full harvest yet to be gathered in. The significance of these "First Fruits" has multiple applications but its primary application is to "CHRIST the first fruits" (1 Cor. 15:23), "the firstborn of the dead" (Rev. 1:5 cf. Acts 26:23), "the beginning of the creation of God" (Rev. 3:14), and "the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29). The Full Significance of this should not be lost on us ("upon whom the ends of the world are come" 1 Cor. 10:11). It is even alluded to in the Creation account of Genesis 1:27 where it says that "God created man in His own image". The word "Created" in Genesis 1:27 is in a "tense" that is known as the "Prophet Perfect". The "Prophetic Perfect" is a tense that is used when "something that is absolutely going to happen is spoken of as if it had already happened". Now I am not suggesting that Man was not created in the image of God initially, but the fullness of that image could not be realized (after the fall) until "Man" was re-created in Christ! Paul, speaking of Christ, tells us that "in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead [Deity, or Divinity] bodily" (Col. 2:9). But, it needs to be remembered that in His incarnation Christ had "emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:7). Although He was of "Divine Origin", Christ did NOT come ready equipped with the "fullness of the Godhead" already within Himself. Remember that Christ said "I can of mine own self do nothing" (Jn. 5:30). Christ, in His incarnation, had to "PARTAKE" of the Divine Nature of His Father. This is why John tells us: "the Word [Christ] became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn. 1:14). Ellen White describes it this way: "In His humanity He was a partaker of the divine nature. In His incarnation He gained in a new sense the title of the Son of God." (ST August 2, 1905 or SDA BC vol. 7A; p. 449, par.3). She states that; "He overcame in human nature, relying upon God for power" (SDA BC vol. 7A; p. 447, par. 2), and that "our Saviour relied upon His heavenly Father for wisdom and strength to resist and overcome the tempter. The Spirit of His Heavenly Father animated and regulated His life. He was sinless." (The Youth's Instructor: February 1, 1873).
So what does this have to do with the "Wave Sheaf"? Everything! Christ was "the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming" (1 Cor. 15:23). "Christ arose from the dead as the first fruits of those that slept. He was the antitype of the wave sheaf, and His resurrection took place on the very day when the wave sheaf was to be presented before the Lord" (DA p. 785 par. 4). After His resurrection, in the ceremony in HEAVEN, Christ also presented those who were raised with Him as a "Wave Sheaf" (or "First Fruits") of all those who would be raised in the first resurrection at His Second Coming! Ellen White describes this heavenly ceremony this way: "He enters into the presence of His Father. He points to His wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet; He lifts His hands, bearing the print of nails. He points to the tokens of His triumph; He presents to God the wave sheaf, those raised with Him as representatives of that great multitude who shall come forth from the grave at His second coming." (DA 834:2). So Christ was the anti-typical fulfillment of the Wave Sheaf -- and those who were raised with Him were also the anti-typical fulfillment of the Wave Sheaf. I believe that there is yet a Third anti-typical fulfillment of the Wave Sheaf that is yet Future, and it involves
"Christ was the first-fruits of them that slept. It was to the glory of God that the Prince of life should be the first-fruits, the antitype of the wave-sheaf. "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren." This very scene, the resurrection of Christ from the dead, had been celebrated in type by the Jews. When the first heads of grain ripened in the field, they were carefully gathered; and when the people went up to Jerusalem, these were presented to the Lord as a thank-offering. The people waved the ripened sheaf before God, acknowledging him as the Lord of the harvest. After this ceremony the sickle could be put to the wheat, and the harvest gathered. (The Youth's Instructor; November 8, 1898; par. 4). The HARVEST could Not begin until "the first heads of grain ripened" and a "RIPENED SHEAF" could be presented before God. This "Ripened Sheaf" is "Typical" of those who allow Christ to Transform them Fully into His image -- those whom Christ's Spirit indwells fully -- those who have had their sins purged and who can stand before Christ as His Bride -- those whom He has "Sanctified and Cleansed" and those whom He will "present to Himself" as "a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27). Only when the 144,000 are "SEALED" will the Lord "thrust forth [His] sickle, and reap" (Rev. 14:15).
Ellen White has summarized these first three Typical Ceremonies in this way: "The Passover was followed by the seven days’ feast of unleavened bread. On the second day of the feast, the first fruits of the year’s harvest, a sheaf of barley, was presented before the Lord. All the ceremonies of the feast were types of the work of Christ. The deliverance of Israel from Egypt was an object lesson of redemption, which the Passover was intended to keep in memory. The slain lamb, the unleavened bread, the sheaf of first fruits, represented the Saviour." (DA p. 77 -- another excellent summary can be found in GC p. 399).
The "Feast of Weeks" or "Pentecost": "Pentecost" means "Fiftieth" and was celebrated exactly 50 days after the waving of the first-fruit (Barley sheaf - Abib 16). Pentecost was celebrated on Sivan 6 and was the the last feast ceremony of the GRAIN Harvest season. During the Wave Sheaf ceremony only the very first ripened heads of Barley were "Waved" before the Lord (the result of the harvest being yet unknown). At Pentecost (also known as the Feast of Harvest, Ex. 23:16), the result of the Harvest were celebrated and the people were expected to make liberal offerings to the Lord. They were not to offer just a few heads of wheat but were to offer two complete loaves of bread baked - "of fine flour...baked with leaven" (Lev. 23:17) - which were then "Waved" by the priest before the Lord (Lev. 23:20). With this, they were also to offer "seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams...for a burnt offering" and were to "sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings". This was a time of great rejoicing when the people celebrated the abundance of the Lord's blessings and could see the beginning of the completion of the harvest (the results of the ripened grain harvest were manifest and evident to all).
For the people the grain harvest represented the Lord's provision and sustenance for the coming year. I believe that for the LORD it represented the SEED (ripened grain is truly the "Seed") and was symbolic of the "seed", or "First-Fruits", that would eventually result in a great harvest of ripened FRUIT which was symbolized by the "Feast of Tabernacles" (or "Feast of Ingathering" Ex. 23:16 - see below).
It is interesting to me that the "Wave Offering" made at Pentecost was NOT "unleavened". During the Feast of Unleavened Bread - we saw that the Wave Sheaf contained no leavening and was representative of CHRIST. Leaven is consistently used in the Bible as representative of SIN. Christ was "a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Pet. 1:19), wholly "without sin" (Heb. 4:5). But on the Day of Pentecost (the "Feast of Pentecost" lasted only one day), we find the grain offering being made as "Loaves...baked with Leaven"! On the Day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2 the "Early Rain" of the Holy Spirit fell upon those early disciples (the "seed") who were not yet perfected (Peter would still act the double part [Gal.2:11-14], Paul would still be impatient and intolerant of John Mark [Acts 15:35-41], etc.). Ellen White says that it was "when the disciples were gathered together, and were [yet] confessing their sins and offering up petitions to God, that the blessing of God fell upon them in a most wonderful manner" (RH November 12, 1889; par. 4). Could the Loaves made with leaven be representative of Christ's working "in us" by His Holy Spirit even while we are "yet sinners"? Could this be representative of Christ's work of "abiding in us" (and of our being "accepted in Him") while we are yet learning to "abide in Him and surrender to Him fully? Could it be representative of Christ's work of Perfect Love in which ALL FEAR is driven out of us (1 Jn. 4:18) and while we are coming to trust and depend upon Him to work in us "to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13)? Could it be representative of Christ’s Love and POWER being manifested in Fallen and Erring "Christians" who have not yet been made "Perfect" in Christ? But I digress.
"Under the figure of the early and the latter rain, that falls in Eastern lands at seedtime and harvest, the Hebrew prophets foretold the bestowal of spiritual grace in extraordinary measure upon God's church. The outpouring of the Spirit in the days of the apostles was the beginning of the early, or former, rain, and glorious was the result. To the end of time the presence of the Spirit is to abide with the true church. But near the close of earth's harvest, a special bestowal of spiritual grace is promised to prepare the church for the coming of the Son of man. This outpouring of the Spirit is likened to the falling of the latter rain; and it is for this added power that Christians are to send their petitions to the Lord of the harvest "in the time of the latter rain." In response, "the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain." "He will cause to come down . . . the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain," Zechariah 10:1; Joel 2:23" (AA pp.54,55).
Following His resurrection, after He had ascended to His Father to make sure that His Sacrifice had been sufficient, Christ appeared to, and continued on in the presence of His disciples for forty days before He ascended to Heaven to be inaugurated as our High Priest and King. It was at the completion of this ceremony in Heaven that the Outpouring of His Spirit was seen on the Day of Pentecost here on Earth. Ellen White describes it this way: "Christ’s ascension to heaven was the signal that His followers were to receive the promised blessing. For this they were to wait before they entered upon their work. When Christ passed within the heavenly gates, He was enthroned amidst the adoration of the angels. As soon as this ceremony was completed, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in rich currents, and Christ was indeed glorified, even with the glory which He had with the Father from all eternity. The Pentecostal outpouring was Heaven’s communication that the Redeemer’s inauguration was accomplished. According to His promise He had sent the Holy Spirit from heaven to His followers as a token that He had, as priest and king, received all authority in heaven and on earth, and was the Anointed One over His people” (AA p. 38). Thus, the celebration of the Feast of Pentecost (Day of Pentecost) foreshadowed Christ’s coronation as Priest/King over His people in which HE would both Live and Act in His people through His Holy Spirit – becoming the “Living Bread from Heaven” (Jn. 6:51) which would provide the Power to create an abundant “Living Harvest”. The very real and tangible results of Christ’s coronation and the bestowal of His Holy Spirit can be seen both in the Power and Boldness of the 120 disciples who were filled with the Holy Spirit on that day AND by the 3,000 souls converted that day! ”The revelation of Christ by the Holy Spirit brought to them a realizing sense of his power and majesty, and they stretched forth their hands unto him by faith, saying, "I believe." Thus it was in the time of the early rain; but the latter rain will be more abundant….It is Christ in his fullness as a sin-pardoning Saviour, that the sinner must see; for the unparalleled love of Christ, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, will bring conviction and conversion to the hardened heart.” (Home Missionary; November 1, 1893; par. 30,31) .
The Day of Pentecost was fulfilled in the coronation of Christ in the Heavenly Sanctuary and in the outpouring of His Holy Spirit upon His disciples here on Earth. Still, just as the "Wave Sheaf" was a "First-fruit" foreshadowing of a larger fulfillment yet to come, I believe that the Day of Pentecost was only a partial fulfillment of the COMPLETE HARVEST (which would include not only the Spring “Grain” harvest, but also the fall “Fruit” harvest) to be accomplished through the outpouring of the “Latter Rain”.
The Lord has told us through Ellen that: "The latter rain, ripening earth's harvest, represents the spiritual grace that prepares the church for the coming of the Son of Man. But unless the former rain has fallen, there will be no life; the green blade will not spring up. Unless the early showers have done their work, the latter rain can bring no seed to perfection" (RH March 2, 1897; par. 2). In other words, you and I must be Partakers of the "Early Rain" before the "Latter Rain" can bring us to "Perfection". In THIS SENSE, that is, in the SPIRITUAL REALITY of the "Type"; we must be still be keepers of the Feast of Pentecost. In other words; "we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter" (Rom. 7:6)!
The "Feast of Trumpets": The first Three Feast Days and the Ceremony of the "Wave Sheaf" were all Springtime feasts. The last Three Feast Days (The Feast of Trumpets; The Day of Atonement; and The Feast of Tabernacles) are all Fall feasts which occurred near, and at the End of the fall Fruit Harvest (Grapes, Olives, etc.) in the month of Tisri (our October). The Feast of Trumpets was celebrated on Tisri 1 (which marked the beginning of the Seventh month of the Jewish calender).
Leviticus 23:24 describes this Feast Day as "a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation", but we are NOT told specifically what it is a "Memorial" to. We can, however, glean something of its significance by looking at how the “Trumpet” was used by ancient Israel, by its described use throughout the Bible (perhaps especially by references to its use in the New Testament), and by its immediate proximity to the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.
Trumpets were sounded in Israel during both times of "Gladness" and in "Solemn Days" as well as at the beginning of each Month (see Num. 10:10). At these times the Trumpets were blown "over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God" (Num. 10:10 -- this, I believe, is "WHAT" the blowing of the Trumpets were a "Memorial" to -- that is, they "Memorialized" the Sacrifice of Christ which was symbolized by the burnt offerings and the peace offerings -- this "Sacrifice" of Christ began LONG BEFORE Man was even Created and involved MUCH MORE than we have traditionally believed - see The Rest of the Story by clicking this link). Trumpets were also sounded to "Sound the Alarm" and to "Call the Assembly" [to gather the Congregation Together] -- the Way in which the Trumpets were sounded distinguished between which Message was meant to be heeded (See Num. 10:1-10)! I believe that this what Paul is referring to when he says; "if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" (1 Cor. 14:8).
If you look in the New Testament at the places where it refers to a Trumpet Sounding you will find that in almost ALL the cases something Big is about to happen! Here are a few:
"And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Mat. 24:31).
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor. 15:52).
" And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. The first angel [Trumpet] sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up." (Rev. 8:6,7).
"And the second angel [Trumpet] sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed." (Rev. 8:8,9).
"And the third angel [Trumpet] sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter." (Rev. 8:10,11).
"And the fourth angel [Trumpet] sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!" (Rev. 8:12,13).
"And the fifth angel [Trumpet] sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men....And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months....One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter." (Rev. 9:1-12).
"And the sixth angel [Trumpet] sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision...and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts." (Rev. 9:13-21).
"And the seventh angel [Trumpet] sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail." (Rev. 11:15-19).
In the Old Testament, when the Midianites and the Amalekites were Gathered against Israel it is said that "the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abi-ezer was gathered after him. And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered after him: and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them." (Jdg. 6:33-35). Then comes the amazing story in Judges 7 of how God told Gideon that he had too many men, and how God whittled the number down to just 300 men with which Gideon was to go to battle with "all the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east" (Jdg. 6:33). It is worthwhile to note what those 300 men did and what they took with them -- "So the 300 men took the people's provisions and their trumpets into their hands. And Gideon sent all the other men of Israel, each to his tent, but retained the 300 men; and the camp of Midian was below him in the valley....Midianites and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east...as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore" (Jdg. 7:8). Gideon then "divided the 300 men into three companies, and he put trumpets and empty pitchers into the hands of all of them, with torches inside the pitchers. [and] When the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers, they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing, and cried, "A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!" Each stood in his place around the camp; and all the army ran, crying out as they fled. When they blew 300 trumpets, the LORD set the sword of one against another even throughout the whole army; and the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the edge of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath." (Jdg. 7:16,20-22)! Imagine, the entire armies of two nations Defeated by a "Remnant" of 300 men blowing Trumpets!!!
And of course, no-one can forget how the LORD told Joshua to defeat the fortressed city of Jericho: "The LORD said to Joshua, "See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. "It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead." (Josh. 6:2-5). Seven Trumpets blowing the note of Judgment, and the Great City Fell!
Pretty impressive heh?! In the Bible, when Trumpets are Sounding something important is about to happen
The significance of the Blowing of the Trumpet was not lost on many of those who have composed many of our Traditional Hymns. One old favorite hymn goes like this: "Lift up the TRUMPET and Loud let it ring, Jesus is Coming Again!". Another says: "When the TRUMPET of the Lord shall sound and Time shall be no more, And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair; When the saved of earth shall Gather over on the other shore, and the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there." These Christian Composers obviously understood the significance of the blowing of the Trumpet as a herald to the Second Coming of Christ.
Paul relates the Coming of Christ with the Trumpets this way: " For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thes. 4:16-18). The "Shout", the "Voice of the Archangel", and the "Trump of God" that Paul speaks of in 1 Thes. 4:16 are ALL CHRIST'S VOICE (For "Shout" see Jer. 25:30; for "Voice" see Jn. 5:27,28; and for "TRUMP" see Rev. 1:9,10 & 4:1,2)!
The point to be made in all this is that: The Sounding of Biblical Trumpets are NOT something to be Trifled with or Ignored!!
And this is most certainly true concerning the Feast of Trumpets. The Feast of Trumpets Preceded the Day of Atonement (by 10 days) and was intended to ALERT the people to the fact that the Day of Atonement was approaching -- even at hand. It signaled that the people were to make the necessary preparations, that they needed to confess their Sins and get their life in order. It was, in fact, a HERALD to the people to put away their Sins and get right with God. It Typified the Heralding of the Judgment of both God's People and the World as a Whole.
CHRIST is foreshadowed in all this, for CHRIST is the One who came proclaiming "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand" (Mat. 4:17; see also Mk. 1:15). In fact, He said that He was "Sent" for this very purpose: "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose" (Lk. 4:43) -- and He commissioned His Disciples to give this same message: "And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mat. 10:7). Christ also linked this message -- that "the Kingdom of God is at hand" -- to the very END OF TIME: "So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled." (Lk. 21:31,32). Christ also made it clear that the blowing of the Trumpet, this judgment hour message - that the Kingdom of God is at hand - was NOT something that was to take place in some outward ceremony for He said: "behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Lk. 17:21). The message must be Proclaimed, but it must also be internalized by the ones giving the message.
One FINAL NOTE concerning the Feast of Trumpets. As mentioned earlier, the Feast of Trumpets took place 10 Days prior to the Day of Atonement. Is it not something more than a coincidence that William Miller began preaching his message concerning the "Cleansing of the Sanctuary" (Day of Atonement) in 1833/1834 -- exactly 10 years prior to the beginning of the Anti-typical Day of Atonement which began in 1844?! I believe that this was an "end-time" fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets -- that it "Shadowed" a Heavenly Reality as the Angels of God prepared to participate in the Investigative Judgment -- and I believe that the Blowing of the Trumpets is also to be fulfilled by Men, here on Earth, in the proclamation of the 3rd and 4th Angel's Messages of Revelation 14 & 18 -- during the "Investigative Judgment" and PRIOR to the "Close of Probation". I believe that we KEEP the Feast of Trumpets when we are faithfully giving the Final Warning Messages to the World -- NOT by the keeping of a specific, ritualistic day of the year.
I have NO DOUBT that the declaration the Lord made through the Prophet Joel applies to us Today: "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand"....Blow a trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom come out of his room And the bride out of her bridal chamber" (Joel 2:1,15,16).
The "Day of Atonement": This day was regarded as more Sacred than any other day of the Year and more Solemn than any of the other feast days. The Day of Atonement took place on the 10th day of the month of Tirsi and was NOT a Festival. It was a very Somber day of Fasting and of searching one's heart. Leviticus 23:27-29 describes it this way: " "On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble [afflict] your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD. You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the LORD your God. If there is any person who will not humble [afflict] himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people."
The Day of Atonement did not commemorate any event in Israelite history, but it did explicitly demonstrate how God deals with Sin and it was the culminating ceremony of the entire round of services that were daily carried out in the Tabernacle (Sanctuary/Temple) throughout the year. The Services performed on this day Typified, or were a "Pattern" of what Christ was to accomplish in the REAL, Heavenly Tabernacle, where "Christ being come a high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands...For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:...[not that] he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others...but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself...but after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:11,24-27).
While the Hebrew "TYPES" Foreshadowed the Heavenly Reality there is a lag between the Heavenly Reality and the actual Earthly Fulfillment. In other words, the Earthly Ceremonies and Typical Services portrayed, in advance, that which was to take place in Heaven. But the Heavenly Events that were portrayed by the Earthly Ceremonies have to take place in Heaven before they can become an Actual Reality for Us here on this Earth!
Just as the First Fruits of the Wave Sheaf had to take place in Heaven before the Last Fruits of the harvest can be Raised at Christ's Second Coming, and just as Christ's Coronation as our High Priest and King (Pentecost) had to take place in Heaven before the Holy Spirit could be poured out here on Earth -- so The Day of Atonement services must take place in Heaven before the Judgment and the full benefits of Christ's Sacrifice can be realized by us here on this earth.
The Cleansing of the Sanctuary and the "Investigative Judgment", has to take take place in Heaven before the "Executive Judgment" can take place here on Earth -- and the "Judgment must begin at the house of God" (1 Pet. 4:17). Loyal Angels and the unfallen Worlds must see "Who", amongst those claiming to be Christ's, are actually FIT to become Eternal Citizens in the Kingdom of God. They must understand that it is Safe to allow Bruce Bivens Eternal Life, and this MUST take place in Heaven Prior to MY actually Realizing this reward at Christ's Second Coming ("And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be" Rev. 22:12). During this time of "Investigation", I must be doing that which was foreshadowed by the people of Israel while the High Priest was performing his work in the Typical Sanctuary, namely, I must be "humbling" and "afflicting" myself -- all of my known sins must be confessed and I must be making sure that I am in a "Right" relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That RELATIONSHIP Must also have had a Transforming Effect on my life and caused me to be continually walking in obedience to my Lord's Commandments.
In ancient Israel, the person who refused to do these things was to be Cut-Off from God's people. The services of the Day of Atonement held no benefit for them. It is no different for those of us Today who are living IN the anti-typical Day of Atonement. And, as surely as I Fail to humbly do this work, I WILL find myself "Cut-Off" from the people of God and "without the Camp". There will be no Redemption for me, I must bear the results of my Sin, and I will find myself in that group of people who will be Terrified at Christ's Return and who will be Crying "to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb" (Rev. 6:16).
Eternal REALITIES were foreshadowed in the Day of Atonement and its Ceremonies, and those "Heavenly Realities" must be Experienced by us in a very Real and Spiritual Way as we look by Faith towards the time when our sins, are not only forgiven and covered by the blood of Christ, but are forever REMOVED from the Books of Heaven and from the mind of God!
There is so much contained in the Tabernacle Services and in the Day of Atonement that it is impossible for me to do it justice in this study -- so I will be devoting an entire study to it soon. Suffice for this study though is to recognize that the Day of Atonement symbolized the Work of Christ in the Putting Away of All Sin -- a work that must be accomplished PRIOR to our Lord's Return, and Prior to our being granted entrance into the physical reality of the Kingdom of God in Heaven. We ARE living in the Day of Atonement! It is Happening right now in Heaven and the results of this heavenly work are soon to be realized here on this Earth! And it is in this regard that we should be KEEPING the Day of Atonement in our daily lives NOW.
Which brings up the Problem associated with those who would urge us to "Keep" the Day of Atonement as a specified "Day" and as a specified "Service". How could the "Keeping" of the Day of Atonement -- as a "Specified Service" and on a "Specified Day" -- ever hope to be adequate for the Work we are to be doing every day of our lives (since we are living "IN" the Anti-typical Day of Atonement)? The "Keeping" of ONE DAY would simply be insufficient to "Fulfill" the work that God intends to be realized in our lives while the work of the Final Atonement is being conducted on an continuing and ongoing DAILY basis in the Heavenly Sanctuary! I truly fear that this is one of the Devil's Counterfeits and that it is a very dangerous one at that.
Wouldn't it be something if the Devil could actually get us to think and feel that we are being "Obedient" to God and rendering Him "Faithful Service" by "Keeping" the Day of Atonement at a "Specified Time" (Day) when, in reality, we ought to be Keeping this day EVERY DAY OF OUR LIVES?! Wouldn't it be something if the Devil could get us to Focus on the "Type" and miss out completely on the "Anti-type" (the Reality to which the "Type" pointed)?! Wouldn't it be something if the Devil could convince us to revert back to the Symbol and miss out on the REALITY that was symbolized?! And wouldn't our "Keeping" of the "Type" actually be a Denial of the Present Heavenly Reality? I tell you, the Devil is SLICK and he will, if we are not very careful, "deceive the very elect" (Mat. 24:24). The bottom line is: The "Reality" of the Day of Atonement is NOW, and a reversion back to the keeping of the "Type", whether we realize it or not, amounts to nothing less than a demonstration of our belief that this "Day of Atonement" is yet Future! It effectively denies the fact that Christ is accomplishing this work NOW, and that we are LIVING in the Fulfillment of the Type. If we want to TRULY keep the "Day of Atonement", then let's do it in the only way that is truly acceptable to God -- that is, in our Daily Lives!
The "Feast of Tabernacles": Followed the Day of Atonement and was celebrated from Tisri 15-21 (Lev. 23:34). It was also known as the Feast of Ingathering (Ex. 34:22), and was the LAST FEAST of the Agricultural Year when the Harvest was Finished!
This is going to be a FUN "Feast" to look at because; if, as the Bible says, "the harvest is the end of the World" (Mat. 13:19), then the feast of Tabernacles must be representative of something that will occur after Christ comes back to "gather" His People (His Church)! It is also going to be interesting because this is the ONLY one of the "Feast Days" that Ellen White even remotely hints that we should still be "Keeping". We will look at her statement in a moment. But first we should look at the "TYPE" and at what the Children of Israel did during this Feast.
During the Feast of Tabernacles the Children of Israel were to build makeshift Tabernacles or "Booths" out of "boughs of Godly trees" (Lev. 23:40) and live in them for the Seven Days in which they were to "rejoice before the Lord during the Celebration of this Feast. Most Biblical Commentaries state that this Feast/Festival was Commemorative of the time that Israel lived in tents following their deliverance from Egypt and during their Wilderness wanderings as they were headed for the "Promised Land" -- and this is correct according to Leviticus 23:42-43. However, this Feast was to be a time of great JOY and CELEBRATION (something that much of their "Wanderings" were not). Also, this feast is positioned at the very END of the Yearly Feasts, at the END of the Harvest (when the Fruits of the orchard, the olive grove, and the vineyard were fully ripened and harvested), and at a time FOLLOWING the Day of Atonement - when all sins had been confessed and "Blotted Out" and all the Israelites had been reconciled one to another and to God. All were Happy and their Happiness was expressed in the Celebration of this Feast. In this sense the Feast of Tabernacles could hardly be "Commemorative" only. Indeed, this Feast was much more "TYPICAL" (a Shadow of the Real) then it was "Commemorative". It pointed Forward to the time when the Controversy between Christ and Satan will be settled for the Church, when Their Sins have been Completely "Atoned" for and the assurance given that their iniquity should be remembered no more, and when they are no longer subject to the "Prince of this World" (Satan) but are, instead, headed for their Heavenly Home!
The Feast of Tabernacles was a time of NEW BEGINNINGS! It marked not only the End but also the beginning of a New Agricultural Year. When God began His Creation, He did so with the fruit trees laden with ripe Fruit. When His NEW CREATION begins it will do so with the "Ripened Fruit" of the Good Harvest of this Earth (the Redeemed Saints).
Now comes the interesting part, at least to me, concerning this "Feast". The Children of Israel celebrated this Feast of SEVEN DAYS and did so in shelters which were NOT THEIR PERMANENT HOMES. When are WE going to celebrate this Feast? Won't it be immediately following Christ's Return and during the time when we are Traveling to Heaven?! Ellen White describes this time, beginning at the Second Coming, in this way: "Then Jesus' silver trumpet sounded, as he descended on the cloud, wrapped in flames of fire. He gazed on the graves of the sleeping saints then raised his eyes and hands to heaven and cried out, Awake! Awake! Awake! ye that sleep in the dust, and arise. Then there was a mighty earthquake. The graves opened, and the dead came up clothed with immortality. The 144,000 shouted, Hallelujah! as they recognized their friends who had been torn from them by death, and in the same moment we were changed and caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air. We all entered the cloud together, and were 7 days ascending to the sea of glass, when Jesus brought along the crowns and with his own right hand placed them on our heads. He gave us harps of gold and palms of victory." (Day-Star; January 24, 1846; par. 1)! What a time of REJOICING that will be! Free from the Bondage of SIN! Free from the Tempter! Free from the Toil and Misery of this life - Clothed with Immortality! Lifted into the very presence of our Lord and Savior! And Seven Days ascending to our Heavenly Home! Is this not when we will be celebrating the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles)?
So the question naturally arises: If this Feast Day is yet FUTURE, if it has NOT been fulfilled yet (or is not in the process of being fulfilled), shouldn't we STILL be Keeping this Feast? If the "TYPE" has not met its "Anti-Type", why shouldn't we be keeping this Feast?
Mrs. White makes a very interesting statement concerning this "Feast" and its observance, which the people who are urging a return to the Keeping of the Feast Days have latched onto as "PROVING" that we are still to be keeping this Feast. Here it is: "At these yearly assemblies the hearts of old and young would be encouraged in the service of God, while the association of the people from the different quarters of the land would strengthen the ties that bound them to God and to one another. Well would it be for the people of God at the present time to have a Feast of Tabernacles--a joyous commemoration of the blessings of God to them. As the children of Israel celebrated the deliverance that God had wrought for their fathers, and His miraculous preservation of them during their journeyings from Egypt, so should we gratefully call to mind the various ways He has devised for bringing us out from the world, and from the darkness of error, into the precious light of His grace and truth." (PP p. 540; par. 6). That sounds like a pretty good argument for our "Keeping" the Feast of Tabernacles doesn't it?
I believe that it IS a good argument for Keeping this Feast, but I also believe that we need to read this statement carefully because nowhere in this statement does Ellen White say that we should be Keeping THE Feast of Tabernacles. She says that we would do well to have "a Feast of Tabernacles--a joyous commemoration of the blessings of God to them" -- at which times "we gratefully call to mind the various ways He has devised for bringing us out from the world, and from the darkness of error, into the precious light of His grace and truth". Like Paul, I believe that Mrs. White is stressing here the "SPIRIT of the Law", and not "the Letter". In other words, Mrs. White is suggesting that it would be GOOD for us to set aside some special times when we can gather together and joyously commemorate the blessing of God in bringing us out of darkness and error, into the precious light of His grace and truth!
Just such a time was established in the Adventist Church long ago, but it has come to be lightly regarded now and hardly carries the importance that it once had with us as a people -- that time was known as the "CAMP MEETING". This was a time when people would travel from far and near, uniting and reuniting with their Brothers and Sisters in the faith for a time of Renewal and Celebration of the Blessing of God's Grace. It was a time when they would "CAMP" in "TENTS" away from the comforts of their permanent homes. It was a time of REFRESHING and of UNITY! It was a special time of a "SHARED EXPERIENCE". And it was a time of "GREAT BLESSING" from the Lord. I regret that we have LOST both the importance of and the Spirit of this great "Assembly" time. Today, it has become little more than a vacation -- and it is not even that for most. Well might we do to REESTABLISH the importance and the Spirit of the Camp Meeting time!
"Summary and Conclusions": One of the BIGGEST problems associated with the argument that we obligated, and should return to the keeping of the Feast Days is that Every one of them required the offering of a Blood Sacrifice (see Lev. 23:37). The problem with this should be obvious! Should we, could we, return to the offering of Animal Sacrifices and Burnt Offerings without DENYING our Lord (the object to whom all those "Typical" Sacrifices pointed) in the process?! Does anyone really think that we ought to resume these Sacrifices? And if not, then "HOW" could we return to the Keeping of these Feast Days while not, at the same time, performing them as the LORD prescribed? Are we to simply "ALTER" them so as to leave out the SACRIFICES? And if we are free to do that, why shouldn't we Alter any other of the LORD'S Commands? It is a FEARFUL thing to presume to Alter that which the Lord has commanded and claiming the authority to do so smacks of Blasphemy, arrogance, and Pride!
Another problem with our Returning to the Keeping of the Feast Days is that Three of them (The Feast of Unleavened Bread, The Feast of Weeks [Pentecost], and the Feast of Tabernacles) required the Men of Israel to gather at the "place [God} should choose" (Duet. 16:16), which eventually became the Temple in Jerusalem . If we are going to "Keep" the Feast Days as the Lord required, are we going to start making these pilgrimages? And if not, why?
I also believe that those Seventh-day Adventists who would urge a return to the observance of the Feast Days of the Ceremonial Law do so at the risk of tremendous hypocrisy. If we are to Keep the Ceremonial Law “in part” (that is the Feast Days), are we not also obligated to Keep the Law in “WHOLE”? If we are still obligated to keep the Feast Days, are we not also obligated to keep the other Ceremonial Rites, such as “circumcision”? And if this is the case, then aren’t we forced to contradict and set-aside the testimony of Paul: “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised [that is, according to the Law], that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace….For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Gal. 5:3-6). Does not “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9)? If, as Seventh-day Adventist, we believe that God gave inspired testimonies to Ellen White -- Are not those who would urge the return to the Keeping of the Ceremonial Feast Days (or any part of the Ceremonial Law) forced to deny or contradict the clear testimony given to Mrs. White in regard to keeping these things? Ellen wrote: ” “He [Christ] has swept away every ceremony of the ancient type. He has given no liberty to restore these rites, or to substitute anything that will recall the old literal sacrifices.” (RH, February 25, 1896).
Some people argue that JESUS KEPT THE FEASTS -- so we should too! This argument shows a lack of depth. Jesus DID attend many of the Feasts in Israel -- but He did so PRIMARILY so that He could reach HIS PEOPLE with the TRUTH about HIMSELF. But Jesus did NOT faithfully attend all the Feasts, or even all of the REQUIRED feasts. In "Desire of Ages" Mrs. White reports that "Since the healing at Bethesda He [Christ] had not attended the national gatherings" and that "He Himself seemed to be indifferent to the service" (DA p. 450 -- see also p. 451 "...for many months He had been absent from the feasts). Obviously, if this is true, then this argument can hold no water.
Interestingly, those who urge that the Feast Days should still be kept, also usually urge other uniquely Jewish things upon us – such as referring to God and/or Christ only by their “Proper” Hebrew Names (i.e. usually “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” and sometimes simply “Yah” for the Father, and “Yahshua” or “Yeshua” for Jesus) – something that none of the Apostles did (though all were Hebrew) when they wrote their Gospels and Epistles. They used the Greek names Theos (God) and Iēsoús (Jesus). Jesus Himself often referred to God as “patḗr” or “abbá” (meaning “Father”) and did not stick to a strict use of the Hebrew names for God. Even in the use of the name “Yahshua” there is a problem – no such Hebrew name exists. If one were to be strictly true to the Hebrew one would need to use the name “yehôšua” or “Yahoshua”. This emphasis on returning to the use of Hebrew Names is, quite frankly, simply another way in which many people are getting caught up in the "Letter of the Law" and slipping into a return to the not-so-subtle legalistic Phariseeism of the past. None of the Apostles taught that we should return to Judaism either in Speech or Action. Ellen White also made no such suggestion and, in fact, both the Apostles and Ellen White gave explicit instructions to the contrary. I fear that those who advocate a return to either the Jewish “Rites” or to the strict use of the proper Hebrew names for God and/or Christ, do so only through a denial of inspired testimonies to the contrary. However sincere, this type of denial can only be called Hypocritical. One cannot claim to be being faithful to the Word of Inspiration AND reject Inspiration at the same time!
I am NOT suggesting that if a person uses the proper Hebrew names for God or Christ that they are doing anything wrong. Nor am I suggesting that if one personally finds the keeping of some aspects of the Ceremonial Feasts helpful and edifying that they are wrong to do so (e.g. setting aside specific times for "a joyous commemoration of the blessings of God to them") – as long as they are fully aware of the significance of these things, and so long as they understand that; “of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man….[for] now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises...Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” (Heb. 8:1,2,6,9-13). A person may privately do many things that they find spiritually significant without being “wrong” in doing so (the Lord reads the Heart). But to urge and propagate these things (i.e. the return to the Keeping of the Feast Days) upon others as an obligatory statute of God for His Remnant People most assuredly is wrong. If we were to urge the Keeping of the Ceremonial Feast days (and/or the use of the Proper Hebrew names for God or any other thing) upon others without a clear New Covenant directive to do so, where should we stop? Should we also return to “Stoning” children who are disobedient towards their fathers? Should we return to wearing Jewish attire? Should we start making pilgrimages? Should we all move to Palestine? Should we reconstruct the Temple? Should we return to making blood sacrifices?
I do not doubt the sincerity of those who are urging a return to the keeping of the Feast Days -- but how many "Sincere" Jews were there in Christ's day who rigorously held to the ceremonies and Missed the true meaning of those ceremonies? When we get too caught up in the Symbols and the Rituals and the Ceremonies, we miss the substance to which these things actually pointed. We make the same mistake that the Jews of old did by making the strict and rigid observance of the Type (or Shadow) the important thing when, in reality, the Truth and the POWER are actually found in the Substance of the Anti-type. In other words, it is that which was Symbolized by the Type and that to which the Type pointed that contains the Secret and the Power of the Christian Life. And isn't that why Christ said of the Jews of His day, "And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." (Mat. 13:14,15)?
The bottom line is that there is NO support (Biblical or otherwise) for our returning to the keeping of the Ceremonial Feast Days. Such a “return” would amount to a Denial of Christ and His antitypical fulfillment of these “ordinances”. It pains me to be so brutally straightforward, but any such denial of Christ can only be done at the Peril of one’s soul. “Let every man be persuaded in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5) concerning these things, but let no-one conclude that the celebration of these literal Feast Days in any way makes us more “Faithful” to God – or earns us any favor in His eyes.Paul described these Ceremonial Sabbaths as "shadows of things to come, but the substance is of Christ" (Col.2:17). He also admonished us to "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Gal. 5:1).
Mrs. White also made several strong statements regarding the Ceremonial Feast (besides the one quoted earlier) such as these: "...the ceremonial law ceased to be of force at the death of Christ" (ST July 29, 1886).
She states that the "ceremonial law, given by God through Moses, with its sacrifices and ordinances, was to be binding upon the Hebrews until type met antitype in the death of Christ as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. Then all the sacrificial offerings and services were to be abolished" (ST September 4, 1884).
And this very powerful statement: "...the rites and ceremonies which they [the disciples] had hitherto engaged in as essential...the gospel made no longer of any force. To continue these rites would be an insult to Jehovah" (RH June 14, 1898).
That's pretty clear isn't it??? Having said all this, however, should in no way discourage us from digging deeper into these Typical Ceremonies and Feasts in order to discover the deeper Spiritual meaning and significance that each of these has for us. Since "Christ Himself was the originator of the Jewish system of worship, in which, by types and symbols, were shadowed forth spiritual and heavenly things" (ST January 2, 1893 and 7BC p. 933:1) -- We may safely conclude that we have much to learn. This study has by no means exhausted the meaning or the antitypical fulfillment of the great Ceremonial Feasts – and I am confident that the “Lessons” that they have to teach us will, no doubt, add much to our personal Spiritual walk with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to our understanding of the Great Plan of Redemption.
”Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
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