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Christians, Jews and Holy Days

Both Christians and Jews, for entirely different reasons, lost something so significant that it totally altered their understanding of a core biblical truth!

I was surprised today to see that my word processor’s thesaurus lists only one antonym for “evolution”—regression. On the other hand, synonyms include positive words like growth, progress, advancement, development.

I got the message: if you’re not evolving, you’re going backward, degenerating!

Curiosity prompted my thesaurus check. Are there better words than “evolution,” I wondered, to describe the monumental changes that have altered Christianity’s practices over the centuries?

Well, if evolution means progressing and advancing, I’ll find another word. I cannot say, in good conscience, these changes have been good.

What Christianity and Judaism lost

It’s commonly recognized that many of the practices and doctrines of the New Testament Church for the first couple of centuries after Christ are vastly different from what we see today. A prime example is in this issue’s lead article examining how Easter and its observances found their way into the Church. People write about this every year, so you’ve probably seen before its ties to paganism.

What you hear little about, however, is what got lost in all the religious confusion that arose after Christ.

Both Christians and Jews, for entirely different reasons, lost the same thing—something so significant that it totally altered their understanding of a core biblical truth!

After Jesus’ death, the symbolism and meaning of the holy days and festivals God gave Israel in the Old Testament stood to take on far greater clarity and depth by the revelations God would give the Church in the New Testament. They could open a beautiful understanding of how God was working out His salvation for humanity! But something blocked that.

Within a couple of centuries after Christ, fiercely anti-Semitic leaders rose to power in the Christian church. They systematically rejected anything perceived as “Jewish,” in particular, the seventh-day Sabbath and the holy days and festivals that God ordained. These are the days Jesus observed—the days the apostles and early Church kept.

And among the Jews a related problem developed. From the time of Christ, Jewish leaders had vehemently rejected Him as a radical, a dissident, a threat to their power base. His followers, who converted from Judaism to Christianity, were likewise heretics and enemies.

So, while Christianity kept a knowledge of Christ, by rejecting God’s holy days and festivals, it lost understanding of God’s plan. And, while Judaism kept the knowledge of those holy days and festivals, by rejecting Christ, it lost the chance to understand God’s plan.

Adopting these positions deeply affected how both Christianity and Judaism would develop—and it wasn’t progressive evolution! Today both are stuck without fully comprehending God’s plan of salvation—the Jews because they don’t connect Christ with the holy days, and the Christians because they don’t connect the holy days with Christ.

The Jews held onto the biblical holy days, but by pushing Christ out of the picture, they failed to develop deeper understanding of how He revealed the plan of salvation through those festivals. Christians held onto Christ, but by replacing God’s holy days with pagan-originated, empty-of-meaning religious festivals, they totally muddled what God is doing in His step-by-step plan of salvation.

You can find what they lost!

How many of the 2 billion-plus Christians today, would you say, can name more than one or two of the seven festivals that God gave in the Bible and describe their significance?

Likewise, although many of the 14 million-plus Jews steadfastly observe those festivals, how many have any idea of Christ’s role in them?

What about you? If you are not very familiar with the biblical holy days and festivals, I invite you to explore our Life, Hope & Truth website (just type “plan of salvation” in the search box) or download from the website’s Learning Center our booklet From Holidays to Holy Days: God’s Plan for You.

It’s an amazing truth that both Christianity and Judaism lost along the way, but it is waiting for you to rediscover!

Clyde Kilough


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Discern Article Series

Christ Versus Christianity
Walk as He Walked
Christianity in Progress
Wonders of God's Creation