Holy Days vs. Holidays

What’s the difference? Well, to be honest, I had never really thought about it. As a matter of fact, I never even knew about Yahweh’s feast days. Growing up, I noticed some odd holidays on the calendar that we didn’t celebrate…those are Jewish holidays I was told. I grew up celebrating the “traditional” holidays…Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and on the list goes. And I learned the “true” meaning of the holidays in amongst all the extra fluff…you know…Santa, the Easter bunny, coloring Easter eggs, all the important traditions that go along with celebrating. And I taught them to my children as all good parents do.

Fast forward to 2010 and I was presented with the fact that some (or even all in some cases) of the holidays and traditions that I had been celebrating came from pagan roots and were not scriptural in the least. Well, let me tell you, that rocked my world. Really…how can that be…that can’t be right…I was happy and comfortable in my traditions…my family’s traditions. But, I also knew I had to investigate for myself. What I found out turned my world upside down. I discovered that it was true! Great…so what do I do now? Well, through much prayer and study, I decided not to celebrate Christmas and Easter. (I had given up celebrating Halloween many years ago…that was a no brainer!) But, I didn’t stop there. I continued to study the bible and pray, which led me to studying about the Feast days.

The first thing that I discovered was that when Yahweh told Moses about His appointed times, they were permanent statutes throughout the generations. The next thing I discovered was that He gave those eternal statutes to the Israelites, the people, that if we claim to be believers in Yeshua, have been grafted into (Romans 11:17)…adopted into His family (Romans 8:14-16). Think about that…if you adopt a child, do you follow the child’s traditions or does he/she become part of your family and take on the teachings and traditions of your family? If we are Yahweh’s children, we are to take on His ways…His traditions. And the Feasts of Yahweh are just that…His appointed times. He did not say they were for the Jews, the Christians, etc. They were His feasts, His appointed times (Leviticus 23:1-2).

But, you cry out, “Those are part of the old covenant which is a shadow. Jesus is the substance.” And I say, “EXACTLY!!!!!” How much more depth and meaning do these appointed times have now that we have the substance of them? Yahweh’s feast days tell the story of Yahweh and His people. It begins when Yahweh called His people to Himself and continues through to the end of time that John saw in his vision and wrote about in the Revelation. They identified special times throughout the year to give glory and honor to Yahweh for specific acts done on behalf of His people. But they also have a spiritual meaning as well.

The first three feasts of Yahweh have been fulfilled through the death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua. Let’s start with Passover as it is the first feast day of Yahweh’s calendar. Passover not only represents the Israelites rescue from Egypt, it is also the day of Yeshua’s sacrificial death. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 tells us, “Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch. You are indeed unleavened, for Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us observe the feast, not with old yeast or with the yeast of malice and evil but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” He is our Passover! This feast has certainly been fulfilled through Messiah Yeshua and is observed on the 14th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. (As a side note, did you know that Christians commemorated the death and resurrection of Christ on Passover until the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, in its quest to rid Christianity of anything Jewish changed the date to coincide with the pagan carnival Easter which celebrated the goddess of fertility Ishtar?)

The next feast, The Feast of Unleavened Bread, has also been fulfilled by Yeshua at his burial in the tomb on Nisan 15. Yeshua is our bread of heaven. John 6:51, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

Next is the Feast of Firstfruits. This was fulfilled by Yeshua at His resurrection. (One thing that I noticed when studying these appointed days, Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits, there is actually three days between the death and resurrection of Christ, unlike Good Friday to Easter.) 1 Corinthians 5:20-23, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ.”

Fifty days from the Feast of Firstfruits, we are to observe the Feast of Pentecost. This feast was fulfilled by the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 2:1-4, “When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech.”

The last three feasts of Yahweh, the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles, have yet to be fulfilled by Yeshua. They represent future events in Yahweh’s master plan. They point to His return, judgment, millennial reign, and final triumph over evil. The last feast, the Feast of Tabernacles (also known as the Feast of Booths or Feast of Ingathering), represents the fulfillment of Yahweh’s plan. The Messiah will return to “tabernacle” with His people. Zechariah sees the ultimate fulfillment of this feast, Zechariah 14:16, “Then all the survivors from the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to celebrate the Festival of Booths.” See also, Revelation 7:9-17, Revelation 21:1, and Revelation 22:5.

But you cry out, “Christmas and Easter don’t mean anything about paganism to me! It’s how I celebrate Christ’s birth and resurrection. God knows my heart.” First of all, the heart is deceitful above all things…(Jeremiah 17:9) Jeremiah 17:5-8 also says, “This is what the Lord says: The man who trusts in mankind, who makes human flesh his strength and turns his heart from the Lord is cursed. He will be like a juniper in the Arabah; he cannot see when good comes but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives. The man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed.  He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.” Colossians 2:8 says, “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.”

I will be the first to tell you that celebrating Yahweh’s appointed Holy Days is not a matter of salvation or acceptance by Him. However, as a child of the Most High God, Yahweh, I have been adopted by Him and as such, I am going to follow His ways and His traditions. Since Yahweh says His feasts are to be celebrated forever and He never changes, it is quite clear to me that He still desires to be worshipped the way He has outlined in His Word. “Therefore, let us keep the feast…”

“As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh.” (Joshua 24:15)

Law vs. Grace

So which is it you ask? Law…or grace… So here is my opinion, take it or leave it. I believe the debate/argument about law and grace is the most useless, unprofitable, and worthless debate going on in “Christian” circles today. So there it is, and here is why I believe what I believe.

But…before I proceed, I just want to unequivocally state that I firmly believe no one can be saved by works of the Law. That was never the purpose of the Law…ever. We are saved by grace through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua alone. (Ephesians 2:8-9).  If we try to obtain salvation through works of the Law, we become legalistic which is strongly cautioned against by the church today, and rightfully so. However, many have become so caught up in anti-legalism, anti-Law, that the “church” has swung on the pendulum way too far in the opposite direction.

So, now here it is…why I believe what I believe. The Holy scriptures themselves tell us in several places that the Law of God is eternal: Ecclesiastes 3:14, “I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of Him.” Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.” Matthew 5:18, “For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished.” Luke 16:17, “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter in the law to drop out.”

The Word of God also tells us that when the Messiah came there was a change in the priesthood.  And Hebrews 7:12 says, “For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must be a change of law as well.” Hebrews 9:11-14 then tells us, “But the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come in the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), He entered the most holy place once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?” This was a change in how the Law was manifested, not an exchange of one set of laws for another or to abolish the Law. Messiah’s words in Matthew 5:17 reiterate this point, “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

Here is an example. The Law of sacrifice is still in effect today. The death of Yeshua on the cross did not cancel the sacrificial law. It is true that because of Him we do not need to sacrifice animals to atone for our sin. Yeshua took care of that once for all. However, there is still a definite need for the Law of sacrifice to be in effect today. Romans 12:1 commands us to, “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.” The manifestation of the Law changed…i.e. animals to humans…dead to living…but did not cancel the Law. God’s Laws are eternal.

What about the “Law” of celebrations…Feasts of Yahweh? Some say they are for the Jews only. Some say they were done away with when Yeshua fulfilled them. Well, both of the arguments are not scriptural. When the feasts are commanded by Yahweh he states very clearly they are eternal, permanent statutes throughout the generations. He gave those eternal statutes to the Israelites, the people, that if we claim to be believers in Yeshua, have been grafted into (Romans 11:17).  Not only that, He did not say they were for the Jews, the Christians, etc. They were His feasts, His appointed times (Leviticus 23:1-2). Divine. Godly. The New Testament even shows us that the feasts were kept after the death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 tells us, “Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch. You are indeed unleavened, for Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us observe the feast, not with old yeast or with the yeast of malice and evil but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Yeshua is our Passover. So much more depth and spiritual meaning are added to Yahweh’s appointed times in light of Yeshua. Again, our observance of these biblically appointed times are not a matter of salvation. They are a matter of worship; a time of remembrance and reverence for what He has done for us and is continuing to do. (For more on Yahweh’s feasts see Holy Days vs. Holidays.)

What about the dietary laws? Following them does not lead to salvation, however they are proven to be healthy guidelines to follow…the proper way to treat our “temples of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The bottom line is science can confirm the health benefits of following them. God gives us His Law for our health and benefit.

One of the purposes for Yeshua’s sacrificial death was to change the heart of man, not abolish the Law of God. Ezekiel 11:19-20: And I will give them one heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, so they may follow My statutes, keep My ordinances, and practice them. Then they will be My people, and I will be their God.” Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”

James 2:12 tells us, “Speak and act as those who will be judged by the law of freedom.” I have heard this verse used to “prove” that we are free from the Law of God. The reality is that this verse is speaking entirely to our freedom from sin by the mercy and grace of Yahweh. “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:1-2).To develop a theology that is based solely on grace and nullifies the Law of Yahweh is to commit a gross misunderstanding of the scriptures. To develop a theology that is based solely on the Law nullifies the sacrifice of Yeshua. The conclusion of the matter is this: There is no such thing as law versus grace. You must have both. You can’t have one without the other. It is law and grace.

All the Lord’s ways show faithful love and truth to those who keep His covenant and decrees. – Psalm 25:10