Life Hope & Truth

From the January/February 2018 issue of Discern Magazine

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Festivals Jesus Celebrated

Which days will you celebrate this year? Few give this any consideration, but you should. Some little-known holy days can help unlock benefits God wants to give you!

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A little over 60 years ago, my parents were young and raising two small boys—my brother and me—when they learned about the annual holy days of the Bible.

Having grown up attending a mainstream Christian church, they, like most people, had been observing Christmas and Easter. These were the two most important religious holidays for them, and they had no idea that what they were doing might not be exactly what God expects.

Shortly after they learned that the Bible taught the seventh-day Sabbath instead of Sunday, they started worshipping on Saturdays, except for the half day of work every other Saturday that Dad’s job required. (Read more about this in our booklet The Sabbath: A Neglected Gift From God.)

Then they concluded that they needed to be baptized. They decided to drive up from their home in Houston to attend a church service that would be held in East Texas by the radio preacher who had introduced them to the biblical Sabbath.

Never heard of them

After the church service, they began counseling with one of the ministers about being baptized. In assessing their readiness for baptism, the minister asked them whether they knew about the seventh-day Sabbath and whether they were keeping it. “Yes” and “mostly,” they replied.

When Dad realized that he needed to fully keep the Sabbath every Saturday, he made a commitment to do so regardless of what would happen with his job. (As it turned out, his company allowed him to have Saturdays off, and soon everyone in the company had both Saturday and Sunday off.)

So my parents were baptized and then made an interesting discovery. They learned that in addition to the weekly Sabbath, there were also annual Sabbaths and that one of them—Pentecost—would occur the next day. They had never heard of these annual festivals of God. The church they had previously been attending didn’t teach them, and they had no idea that God intended for these festivals to be observed today.

One of the members they met told them, “You can’t go home yet. You need to stay for Pentecost.” Intrigued by this discovery, they stayed for the services and after carefully considering the scriptures showing this festival being observed by the New Testament Church, my parents decided that they needed to start observing the annual holy days as well.

So, one day after my parents were baptized, they attended their first festival of God. From that time forward, my parents began observing all of God’s annual holy days.

Profound benefits

At the time, my parents didn’t realize how profound their decision would be. But over time they learned that observing God’s annual festivals answered some of the most important questions of all. The festivals showed how God works with people, His expectations of them, and His plans for those who obey His commands.

When my parents began observing God’s annual holy days instead of Christmas and Easter, they told us they experienced a much deeper relationship with God and came to a fuller understanding of the purpose for their lives.

My brother and I, and our sister who was born a few years later, were likewise blessed because of our parents’ decision. We, too, learned of the beauty and richness of God’s annual holy days. Having experienced this blessing, none of us will ever go back to observing Christmas and Easter.

Are you ready for a holy day upgrade?

The beginning of a new year is a time when people often take stock of their lives and make resolutions to improve their health, their management of money, their enjoyment of life and their relationships with family and friends. These are good resolutions to make.

People lost sight of a beautiful series of holy days designed by God to remind us each year of His plan to offer salvation to each of us and all mankind.But what about your spiritual health? Are you ready to improve your relationship with God in the coming year? Are you ready to deepen your understanding of His plan for you and others by observing the festivals He commands?

Does it matter?

Perhaps you are wondering why we say Christmas and Easter are not taught in the Bible, and if we are right, how they found their way into mainstream Christianity. And even more, you may be wondering if it really matters which days you observe.

Here are the basic facts:

When it comes to religious celebrations, most people claiming to be Christian today don’t observe the days Jesus did. Instead, they’ve accepted the decision of church leaders long ago to abandon the days of worship that Jesus and the first-century Christians observed in favor of pagan celebrations such as Christmas and Easter that were rebranded with Christian meaning centuries after Christ’s death.

Historians tell us that church leaders made these decisions in order to separate Christianity from Judaism and to make it easier for pagans to convert to Christianity. While this reasoning obviously seemed valid to those who made these decisions, the result was catastrophic.

Abandoning the biblical holy days given by God stripped mainstream Christianity of “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). People lost sight of a beautiful series of holy days designed by God to remind us each year of His plan to offer salvation to each of us and all mankind. (Read more in our free booklet From Holidays to Holy Days: God’s Plan for You.)

God’s festivals

Fortunately for us, the festivals of God and their rich meanings are still recorded in the Bible, and there are many people all over the world who have discovered them and observe them.

Here is a brief overview of these masterfully designed days that build upon each other in spiritual significance.

Passover: Jesus and the apostles observed this festival on the evening prior to His crucifixion, and it continues to remind us of Christ’s atoning sacrifice for our sins. This is the foundation of Christianity and begins God’s plan of salvation—a plan that will provide eternal life as members of God’s family to all who respond.

The Days of Unleavened Bread: This festival lasts for seven days and includes holy days on the first and seventh days. Christians observe these days by putting leavening—which is symbolic of sin—out of their homes to remind them of Christ’s instruction that we must put sin out of our lives to please God (Mark 1:15).

Pentecost: This festival pictures the receiving of God’s Holy Spirit, which is given to people when they repent of their sins and are baptized. The Holy Spirit empowers us to obey God’s good and beneficial laws, and it is through the Holy Spirit that we can receive the gift of eternal life.

The Feast of Trumpets: This festival is the pivot point in God’s plan of salvation. This holy day represents Christ’s return to earth, the resurrection and transformation of faithful believers into spirit, and Christ’s forcibly taking control of the nations to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth.

The Day of Atonement: This day is observed by fasting—refraining from eating or drinking to humble ourselves and draw closer to God—and pictures the binding of Satan for 1,000 years. With Satan bound, it will be easier for people who have survived the chaotic events leading up to Christ’s return to understand and choose God’s way of life.

The Feast of Tabernacles: This seven-day festival pictures the millennial reign of Christ on earth. The first day is a holy day. As the effects of Christ’s reign unfold throughout the world, all people will be given the opportunity to respond to God’s calling and enjoy universal peace and prosperity.

The Eighth Day: This concluding festival, commonly called the Last Great Day, marks the culmination of God’s plan to offer salvation to all mankind. People who lived and died prior to Christ’s return and who did not understand God’s way of life will be resurrected back to physical life to be given a full opportunity to learn about God’s plan and respond.

A promised blessing

When you trade in Christmas and Easter for the festivals of God, you’ll put yourself in position to have a richer relationship with God and an enhanced understanding of His plan of salvation for all mankind. Psalm 111:10 offers this amazing promise: “A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.”

We at Discern magazine hope you are ready to start keeping God’s annual holy days—observances that are sure to enhance your relationship with God. If you have questions about how to implement them in your life, feel free to contact us. We would be pleased to be of help.

To learn more about God’s holy days, download our free booklet From Holidays to Holy Days: God’s Plan for You or view our video series Feasts of the Lord.

 

Sidebar: Misunderstandings About God’s Festivals

Some people mistakenly believe that the festivals listed in Leviticus 23 were just for Jewish people and were just part of the sacrificial system. While there were indeed sacrifices offered on these days, we have to remember that sacrifices were offered every day. Additionally, the New Testament shows that Jesus and the early Christians continued to observe the biblical holy days, now with enhanced Christian meaning. The physical sacrifices were understood to have been foreshadowing the sacrifice of Christ.

Far from being outmoded, Paul wrote that God’s festivals provided “a shadow of things to come” (Colossians 2:16)—meaning they give us a glimpse into God’s future plans. The prophet Zechariah, under the inspiration of God, prophesied that the Feast of Tabernacles will continue to be observed after Christ returns (Zechariah 14:16-19).

God’s festivals are for everyone. They aren’t outdated. They have future relevance for every human being. And eventually everyone is going to be observing them.

Why not start observing them now?

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