Reviewing GOD’S Annual Festivals
The majority in our world today, at least those who claim to be Christians, either do not know about the annual festivals of God or they think these days have been done away. These religions do not teach what the Bible reveals on them, so most people do not know about them. However, as the fall festivals are approaching for this year, there is ample evidence in the New Testament that these days are commanded and were kept by the early COG. In many cases the same claim of false Christianity is used to ignore the weekly Sabbath, so that is included with this article of review from Scripture. However the catholic religion claimed authority centuries ago for changing the weekly Sabbath to the first day of the week, which is Sunday, and doing away with these Holy Days, (most protestants continue to follow that doctrine of rebellion) which actually gets its origin from ancient paganism and worship of the sun, which is idolatry. (See “The Image of the Beast” booklet for more on this subject.)
Let us go back and review the Scriptures that list these commanded assemblies as they are being kept by the modern day true COG. In Lev. 23:1-2 it says; And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, (Note this, because we will see this command for sacred assemblies again in just a moment, but going on He says;) these are My feasts.” So we see here these were not Moses’ or Israel’s feasts, even though given to them, nor did they later become the Jews feast; they were from the very beginning God’s feasts, which this clearly establishes. These very verses shoot down any claim that these are only Jewish feasts, but are clearly annual Sabbaths and Festival of the Lord our God. During Christ’s time it was the majority of Jews who kept them, simply because the 10 tribes had already been dispersed by captivity into other countries many years previously for disobedience to these Sabbaths and idolatry. (Ezek.20:16-25) Judah, along with some of the Levites and some of Benjamin, is what became known as the Jewish nation are the only ones who continued to keep these days and those people are known today as the tiny nation of Israel.
But now let us notice again, as God has Moses repeat this with the inclusion of the weekly Sabbath; Lev 23:3-4 says; “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. (So here we see the same command for the weekly Sabbath and a “Holy convocation”—SEE study on “Sanctified Time” for more) You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.” So that establishes the weekly seventh day Sabbath as the Sabbath of the Lord, not Sunday. Then we come to verse 4 'These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations (here it is again, including the feasts) which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.” These annual festivals and Sabbaths are commanded and no man has the authority to do away with them, but some today are deceived into believing that Christ did do away with them.
Let us start here; what did Christ say about the Sabbath? Matt 12:8 “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." (This refers directly to the weekly Sabbath, in this context) Mark 2:27-28 says; And He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath." So here we see Him repeating it is His Sabbath and back in Exo.20 & Deut.5, it is the 4th commandment. Matt 19:17 is where Christ told the young man; “if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." He also said in John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Of course these commandments are also the Fathers commandments because He and Christ are of one mind and in harmony on everything. We have already seen the annual Holy days or festivals were also given by the God of the OT and are His feasts, which was the Word God who became Christ (John 1:1-3 & v.14) and He commanded them to be kept at their “appointed times”. The disciples were reminded by Christ after His resurrection that they were to keep His Commandments, so none of these were done away with by Christ. Only the OT blood shedding sacrifices and rituals were to cease after Christ’s crucifixion—but not the Ten Commandments or the festivals and annual Sabbaths.
Luke writes in Acts 1:1-2; “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen,”--- We should remember Matt 28:18-20, which fits into this; ‘And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen So these are some of the commandments He gave the apostles which apply to us today in these last days.
These things were to be taught to all NT Christians who would be called, converted and given the Holy Spirit. What evidence do we find that the NT COG did continue to keep them? Back in Lev. 23, the first annual festival day of God to be kept on a yearly basis was the Passover. It is not an annual Sabbath, but was a commanded assembly for all Israel and is also a commanded ceremony for all truly converted people of today to participate in. Christ kept all the Holy Days and many of them are mentioned in the Gospel accounts—but what about instruction for the disciples to continue to keep them after the resurrection and ascension of Christ?
We should all know, upon reading the Bible, that Christ gave specific instructions on how they would continue to keep the Passover. Note what Paul wrote, many years after Christ had ascended, beginning with the Passover; 1Cor.11:23-25 says; For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; (What night was this? Let us make sure we understand what the Scripture reveals and how Christ set this example in obedience to the OT command. Mark your place here, and let us go back to see this was after the sun had set and the 14th day of the first month on the Hebrew calendar had begun. Note this in Ex 12:6 it says of this Passover lamb; “Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.” Twilight was right after the sun had set and the new day had begun. This is proven by Gen.1:5 and several other verses that God set it up this way during creation week. The setting of the sun begins the day the way God set it up.
Christ kept the Passover with His disciples at its original appointed time, just as Lev.23 commanded. Paul was giving the instructions from Christ on new symbols of keeping it as Christ gave them on that last Passover and that is the way the NT COG has always kept it. Continuing on now with 1Cor.11:24, it says; “ and when He (Christ) had given thanks, He broke it (the bread) and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." So Paul is giving these gentile converts the same instructions that Christ gave the original apostles. V.25 In the same manner He (Christ) also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." So it was to be done this way every Passover—an annual memorial.
Paul also mention the next festival, that started right after the Passover on the 15th of the first month, as seen back in Lev.23; called the days of unleavened bread. The true COG today goes by those instructions in the OT on how to keep the 7 day festival of unleavened bread. (See “Eating of unleavened Bread” for more)Paul records in 1 Cor. 5:8; “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” This particular festival has two annual Sabbaths in it, as seen in Lev.23. and was being kept long after Christ had ascended, showing the NT COG continued to keep these days as they are commanded in the OT. James was actually killed by Herod during these days as Acts 12:3 reveals, so they were still being kept. The book of Acts reveals that they also kept the day of Pentecost, Acts 2: which is easy to see, and many years later Paul was still keeping this feast of Pentecost, as seen by Acts 18:21 (Though the feast is not named here, but it seems that Acts 20:16 refers back to this, which says; “For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.” So there are clear references that show these three festivals continued.
What about the next or fourth festival, which comes on the first day of the seventh month, as our fall season begins? Is that day covered in the NT?
This one becomes a bit of a problem, even for some in the COG it seems. Why?? Because, some seem to shy away from the passage where it is specifically pointed out! Here is a word for word statement from one organization on this; “The feast of Trumpets is not specifically mentioned in the New Testament”--- and another organization has recently confirmed to this author, basically the same thing. What their reasoning is on this is something of a mystery to me, when it seems so clear, so I will spend a little extra time with this.
We find Paul again inspired to write to the new Gentile brethren in Colossi to comfort them and give them guidance about not letting other gentiles judge them, now that they had come into the body of Christ, or the Spiritual organism that makes up the true COG. Note this in the book of Col.2:6 “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: V.7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. V.8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” So this establishes that Paul is writing this to the true converts of Colossi and not the general public. It is to be understood as a letter to the COG and deals with matters of their faith, so now we go to Col.2:16 – reading again from KJV; “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days:” The gentile brethren who had repented and come out of the ways of the world were now keeping the festivals of God. He was telling these brethren not to let anyone else judge them about foods and drink, which most likely included the dietary Laws of clean and unclean foods they were beginning to keep, but it also included all these annual Holy Days and festivals of God.
Paul includes all of the festivals and their annul Sabbaths. To make this even clearer, he mentions “The new moon” as we just read. Now some get tangled up by other translations, which use the term “a new moon” and therefore declare this could be a reference to other new moons that were celebrated in the OT time frame. But let us do a little analyses of our own here.
First off, we can clearly see the wording “an holyday” –the NKJ has “festival” and the margin says “feast day” and the MKJV has it this way; “Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or in respect of a feast, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbaths.” (as you see here “Sabbaths”—being plural, would cover them all, including the weekly seventh day Sabbath.)
For anyone who is keeping these Days, they should know that the only New moon festival Commanded or “appointed” by God is the feast of Trumpets. Let us notice this back in Lev 23:23-24 “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 24 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, (Which was determined by the new moon—actually the term month comes from the ancient referral to the new moon. New moons meant new months. Anyway, on this day it says;) “you shall have a Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.” So here is this command for a Holy Convocation, a Sabbath rest and this is the only “new moon” that is a commanded Sabbath rest, therefore a feast day and is an annual Sabbath. (This particular year, 2015; it comes on the Roman calendar day of Sept, the 14, which begins when the sun sets on the 13th and runs from sunset to sunset.)
So the statement (MKJV above) “in respect of a feast” would include any and all feasts. Then Paul follows that with “the new moon” which is in the context of festivals of God, and the definition shows it refers to a new moon festival, which would also be specifically the feast of Trumpets, beings there are no other commanded festivals on a new moon, found in Lev.23. Then last of all in this verse, there is the word “Sabbaths” which is plural and also includes the weekly Sabbath and all the annual ones! (Incidentally, I forgot to mention this above, but the NIV translation capitalizes the N&M for new moon in Col.2:16, showing it is a special festival celebration, not just any new moon. There is no doubt in MY mind this includes the feast of Trumpets and is specific in doing so!)
So moving on, what about the next festival, which is called Atonement? This is also found in Lev.23: beginning with V.27. In NT times this day was referred to as the “fast” because it is the only annual Sabbath we are commanded to fast or “afflict our souls” on by not eating and drinking. Paul also acknowledges this day in Acts 27:9, which says; “Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them,” and the story goes on, making clear that this was late in the season; around late September or early Oct. which is the time of keeping the day of Atonement. Another thing to note here, for those who may be contentious on this as well, is that most modern translations capitalize the word “Fast” in acknowledgement that it truly is a reference to a Holy Day. The KJV does not, but the NKJ does as well as many other translations. My Bible (NKJ) even has this noted in the marginal reference that this is the Day of Atonement. All of these Holy Days point to a specific step in the plan of God to bring salvation to mankind and there is no way that Christ would have ever done away with them. (Heb.13:8)
John 7 shows that Christ was speaking to the crowds on the last day of the feast of tabernacles—the sixth festival. Let us note that as we begin to wrap up this review. John 7:14 says; “Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught.” V. 2 shows it was the Feast of Tabernacles, which is also a seven day festival and then down in verse 37 it says; “On the last day, that great day of the feast, (Would have to be a festival of more than one day) Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.”
That leaves one more festival, which is only one day long and comes right after the feast of Tabernacles. It is simply called the eighth Day back in Lev.23:36, the last part and V.39 the last part. It points to the future time of judgement after the 2nd resurrection, found in Rev. 20:11 & 12. This is after seven thousand years have elapsed and enters into the eighth millennial day as the judgment of the “rest of the dead” gets underway. (V.5)
Christ did not do away with any of these commanded festivals, because He as the God of the OT, gave them to Israel to be kept throughout their generations, which are still going on. Abraham, the father of the faithful also kept them as we see in Gen 26:5, which says; “Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws." These festivals will also be kept on earth in the future, under the rule of Jesus Christ and the saints, according to Zech.14 and other OT passages. Paul sends a message to all true Christians, from himself and others, to us today; 2 Thess. 2:13-17 “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, (which we have been seeing about the annual H. Days, which reveal steps to salvation for all true believers) 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. (Old and New Testaments)16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.”
The very reason Peter cried out on the day of Pentecost;— "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 5:32 shows the H. Spirit is only given to those that obey God. He goes on by saying) 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."— was to insure that they (and we today) understood this procedure is what opens the way to salvation!
So the key to being a true Christian is to respond to the truth of God as it is written. Christ says that many are called but few are chosen in Matt.20:16 & 22:14. The chosen ones are the recipients of the Holy Spirit and will be keeping all of these commanded Sabbaths and festivals found in Scripture. It should become clear over time, to all true Bible students and believers, that those who desire to be in the first resurrection, being added to God’s spiritual begotten Family to have eternal life, must go through the procedure of repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands by a true servant of God, as Peter preached—being willing to obey what the Lord has commanded in order to receive the Holy Spirit. We are not Christians without this procedure and the Holy Spirit. (Rom.8:9) That spirit must stay active and lead us from then on, as Rom.8:14 shows. John 16:13 is where Christ tells us that the Spirit will guide us into all truth. God will give us His truth by opening our mind to it, but we have to be willing to accept it, when He does. So I hope this review has been useful to you and you will search out all other articles on this website that are reminders of obeying God in everything. (Editor for TCOGMSO)