Most of the Greco-Roman churches do not keep the biblical holy days that generally occur in the Fall. Yet, these Holy Days portray many pivotal events in God's plan. These all occur in the seventh month of the biblical calendar (cf. Leviticus 23:23-41).
Since the New Testament church began on Pentecost and basically ends when Jesus returns at the last trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:51 - 57), in a sense the period of time between Pentecost and the first Fall Holy Day (the Feast of Trumpets) can be considered as representing the church age--the age we are in now.
The number seven in God's plan signifies completion and perfection. The seventh month of God's calendar (occurs in September and/or October) contains the final four festivals, picturing the completion of God's great master plan for those called and chosen in this age.
Yet many wonder if the early Christians keep the Fall holy days. And if so, when did many professing Christians change and observe things like Halloween, All Saints' Day, the Day of the Dead, All Souls' Day, and/or Christmas instead?
Why did this change occur?
This article will attempt to address those questions.
(To know when the biblical Holy Days are, click on the following: Holy Day Calendar.)
(A related sermon is available and titled Should Christians keep the Fall Biblical Holy Days?)
Although many Greco-Romans who profess Christ see certain value in observing their versions of at least two of the Spring Holy Days (their Easter is supposed to be Passover, though many in the English-speaking world do not know that; and most understand something about Pentecost), they tend to see less value in anything resembling the biblical Fall Holy Days.
However, Jesus and His followers kept them.
Notice the following related to Jesus attending the Feast of Tabernacles:
2 Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. 3 His brothers therefore said to Him, "Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world." 5 For even His brothers did not believe in Him.
6 Then Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. 8 You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come." 9 When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee.
10 But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. 11 Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, "Where is He?" 12 And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, "He is good"; others said, "No, on the contrary, He deceives the people." 13 However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.
14 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. (John 7:2-14 NKJV unless otherwise noted)
Some seem to think that this observance was understandable since Jesus had not yet been killed and resurrected.
Yet, many do not realize that the New Testament shows that the first century Christians observed the Fall holy days, such as the Day of Atonement (called the Fast, Acts 27:9) and the Feast of Tabernacles (possibly the one the Apostle Paul called the Feast, Acts 18:21). And that the fulfillments of the Feast of Trumpets is also described in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18; Revelation 8-11).
Jesus Himself taught on the last of the Fall Holy Days, which we in the Continuing Church of God normally call the Last Great Day:
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:37-39).
The New Testament shows that Jesus kept the Fall Feasts and preached during them.
The Apostles Paul and John wrote:
1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:6)
And that included keeping the Fall Holy Days.
Notice that even after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the importance that the Apostle Paul attached to keeping a Feast in Jerusalem:
21 I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing (Acts 18:21).
The Apostle Paul kept the Fall Holy Days. Paul wrote that he needed to keep the feast (possibly meaning the Feast of Tabernacles; Protestant commentators tend to focus on the one of the Spring Holy Days as this feast, but this is a matter of interpretation that various ones have debated).
Paul also apparently kept the Day of Atonement (known as the Fast):
9 Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them (Acts 27:9).
Hence, Paul kept (after his conversion to Christianity), what are now commonly called the Jewish Holy Days--and also sometimes did it outside of Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:8). Jesus, of course, also kept the Holy Days.
Although the observance of the Feast of Trumpets was not specified as such in the New Testament, both Jesus and the Apostle Paul kept it.
The Bible teaches that Jesus kept the Law and did not sin (Hebrews 4:15), hence He kept all the Fall Holy Days including the Feast of Trumpets.
Notice some statements from the Apostle Paul:
17 ... Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers (Acts 28:17)
4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (Philippians 3:4-6)
Since Paul kept the customs of his people, he, too, kept all the Fall Holy Days including the Feast of Trumpets. If not, he could not have made that statement which is in Acts 28:17 nor the ones about being blameless in the law in Philippians 3:4-6.
Furthermore, Jesus, Paul, and others taught about a future trumpet that Christians were to know about.
...and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matthew 24:30-31).
This is similar to what Paul taught:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
So both Jesus and Paul taught that the saints would be gathered when a particular trumpet sound goes forth. And that Jesus will come with a trumpet blast.
The last trumpet:
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
Jesus and Paul kept the Fall Holy Days, and taught about their meaning.
However, while there are many clear references that the Spring Holy Days such as Passover and Pentecost were observed in the second century, I have not found many clear solid references to the Fall Holy Days in the second century writings I have reviewed (although Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians, Chapter II does discuss part of the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets). But does that mean that they were not observed?
There are at least eight reasons that it can be concluded that the second century church kept them:
1. The original Apostles did (Acts 18:21;27:9).
2. They are mentioned in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.
3. The earliest bishops of Jerusalem through c. 134/135 A.D. were faithful, circumcized Jews who "received the knowledge of Christ in purity" (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book III, Chapter V, Verses 2,3.& Book IV, Chapter 5, Verses 2-4, pp. 45, 71) and they kept the biblical Holy Days (Danielou, Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, pp. 345-346).
4. Polycarp and Polycrates said they followed the practices of the Apostles in regards to holy days (see Passover) as essentially so did Pionius.
5. Polycrates said that Melito of Sardis followed the practices of the Apostles in regards to holy days (see Passover), and Melito wrote that God anointed humanity with His festivals (Melito. On the Prophets).
6. A 3rd century writing attrubuted to Pionius suggests that Polycarp did.
7. There were early Christian meanings for them that even some of the Greco-Romans realized.
8. If they were not being kept, then certain leaders in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches would not have later felt the necessity to drive the observances out.
There is also an indication in an old, but probably corrupted in the 4th century, writing attributed to Pionius that shows Polycarp discussing the Fall Holy Days. Notice:
I will give the narration in order, thus coming down to the history of the blessed Polycarp...
So also he pursued the reading of the Scriptures from childhood to old age, himself reading in church; and he recommended it to others, saying that the reading of the law and the prophets was the forerunner of grace, preparing and making straight the ways of the Lord, that is the hearts, which are like tablets whereon certain harsh beliefs and conceptions that were written before perfect knowledge came, are through the inculcation of the Old Testament, and the correct interpretation following thereupon, first smoothed and levelled, that, when the Holy Spirit comes as a pen, the grace and joy of the voice of the Gospel and of the doctrine of the immortal and heavenly Christ may be inscribed on them. And he said that they could not otherwise receive the impression of the seal which is given by baptism and engrave and exhibit the form conveyed in it, unless the wax were first softened and filled the deep parts. So also he thought that the hearts of the hearers ought to be softened and yield to the impress of the Word. For he said that it unfolded and opened, like closed doors, the minds of recent comers; and accordingly the prophet was bidden by God, Cry out mightily and spare not, Raise thy voice as a trumpet. What must one say, when even He that was gentler than all men so appeals and cries out at the feast of Tabernacles? For it is written; And on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirsteth, let him come to Me and drink. (Pionius, Life of Polycarp (1889) from J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, pp.488-506.)
It appears that although there was a major split in the second and third centuries between the Roman Church and the true Church of God (which was then mainly based in Asia Minor), that some affiliated with the Roman Church still observed many of the same holy days as those in the Church of God did. And this is outside of Jerusalem.
The idea that the Fall Holy Days continued to be kept is further substantiated in a Jewish account (reported in the Talmud), as related by a Catholic scholar. It is recorded that an early second century Christian named Jacob (100-120 AD) with a Jewish scholar discussed the Day of Atonement and the Christian Jacob explained how it helped show "Christ head of the angels" and that we are to be "blameless" in our "conduct" (Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, p.97). One of the things that the Day of Atonement pictures is that the head demon, Satan, will be bound (cf. Revelation 20:1-3).
The Greco-Roman bishop & saint Methodius of Olympus in the late 3rd or early 4th century taught that the Feast of Tabernacles was commanded and that it had lessons for Christians. And he tied it in with the teaching of the millennial reign of Christ:
...these things, being like air and phantom shadows, foretell the resurrection and the putting up of our tabernacle that had fallen upon the earth, which at length, in the seventh thousand of years, resuming again immortal, we shall celebrate the great feast of true tabernacles in the new and indissoluble creation , the fruits of the earth having been gathered in, and men no longer begetting and begotten, but God resting from the works of creation...
For since in six days God made the heaven and the earth, and finished the whole world, and rested on the seventh day from all His works which He had made, and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, so by a figure in the seventh month, when the fruits of the earth have been gathered in, we are commanded to keep the feast to the Lord , which signifies that, when this world shall be terminated at the seventh thousand years, when God shall have completed the world, He shall rejoice in us. For now to this time all things are created by His all-sufficient will and inconceivable power; the earth still yielding its fruits, and the waters being gathered together in their receptacles; and the light still severed from darkness, and the allotted number of men not yet being complete; and the sun arising to rule the day, and the moon the night; and four-footed creatures, and beasts, and creeping things arising from the earth, and winged creatures, and creatures that swim, from the water. Then, when the appointed times shall have been accomplished, and God shall have ceased to form this creation , in the seventh month, the great resurrection-day, it is commanded that the Feast of our Tabernacles shall be celebrated to the Lord, of which the things said in Leviticus are symbols and figures, which things, carefully investigating, we should consider the naked truth itself, for He says, A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: to understand a proverb , and the interpretation; the words Of the wise, and their dark sayings. (Methodius. Banquet of the Ten Virgins (Discourse 9, Chapter 1). Translated by William R. Clark. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/062309.htm>).
Although not all Greco-Roman supporters endorsed or kept the Fall Holy Days, some of the earlier people they claim as saints did.
Various ones in Asia Minor in the 2nd through late 4th century kept the Feast of Tabernacles in Asia Minor, not Jerusalem.
This is confirmed by sources such as the Catholic saint Jerome (Migne JP Argumentum Patrologia Latina Volumen MPL025 Ab Columna ad Culumnam 1415 - 1542A, pp. 922, 930) and research done by the 20th century Cardinal Danielou (Danielou, Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, pp. 345-346)--for quotes, see The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians?
Emperor Constantine was a European Roman emperor in the fourth century. Circa 272 A.D. he was born in the city of Naissus, which is now Niš, Serbia.
Emperor Constantine became a highly devout sun-god follower after he said he saw an apparition of the sun god Sol in a grove of Apollo in Gaul in 310 (discussed in Rodgers, Barbara S. “Constantine’s Pagan Vision,”Byzantion, vol. 50, 1980, pp. 259–78). He also observed the sun-god Mithras’ birthday on December 25th (see also Do You Practice Mithraism?).
He also seems to be have instrumental in getting the Greco-Romans to celebrate December 25th as Jesus’ birthday:
The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336AD, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December. (Why is Christmas Day on the 25th December? http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/25th.shtml accessed 12/07/15)
The eventual choice of December 25, made perhaps as early as 273, reflects a convergence of Origen’s concern about pagan gods and the church’s identification of God’s son with the celestial sun. December 25 already hosted two other related festivals: natalis solis invicti (the Roman “birth of the unconquered sun”), and the birthday of Mithras, the Iranian “Sun of Righteousness” whose worship was popular with Roman soldiers. The winter solstice, another celebration of the sun, fell just a few days earlier. Seeing that pagans were already exalting deities with some parallels to the true deity, church leaders decided to commandeer the date and introduce a new festival.
Western Christians first celebrated Christmas on December 25 in 336, after Emperor Constantine had declared Christianity the empire’s favored religion. (Coffman E. Why December 25? For the church’s first three centuries, Christmas wasn’t in December—or on the calendar at all. Christianity Today, August 8, 2008. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2000/dec08.html accessed 12/07/15)
The sun-god worshiping Emperor Constantine succeeded in getting the Greco-Romans, over time, to mainly agree with his date–the date of the rebirth of the sun-god Mithras.
Notice the following from The Catholic Encyclopedia:
Constantine the Great… Constantine can rightfully claim the title of Great, for he turned the history of the world into a new course and made Christianity…the religion of the State… it is easy to understand that many of the emperors yielded to the delusion that they could unite all their subjects in the adoration of the one sun-god who combined in himself the Father-God of the Christians and the much-worshipped Mithras; thus the empire could be founded anew on unity of religion. Even Constantine…cherished this mistaken belief… Could not Sol Deus Invictus, to whom even Constantine dedicated his coins for a long time, or Sol Mithras Deus Invictus, venerated by Diocletian and Galerius, become the supreme god of the empire? Constantine may have pondered over this. Nor had he absolutely rejected the thought even after a miraculous event had strongly influenced him in favour of the God of the Christians… It is true that the believers in Mithras also observed Sunday as well as Christmas. Consequently Constantine speaks not of the day of the Lord, but of the everlasting day of the sun. (Herbermann C., Georg Gp. Constantine the Great. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908).
Mithraism A pagan religion consisting mainly of the cult of the ancient Indo-Iranian Sun-god Mithra. It entered Europe from Asia Minor after Alexander’s conquest, spread rapidly over the whole Roman Empire at the beginning of our era, reached its zenith during the third century, and vanished under the repressive regulations of Theodosius at the end of the fourth century…Helios Mithras is one god…Sunday was kept holy in honour of Mithra, and the sixteenth of each month was sacred to him as mediator. The 25 December was observed as his birthday, the natalis invicti, the rebirth of the winter-sun, unconquered by the rigours of the season (Arendzen J. Mithraism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911).
The birthday of the sun god Mithras was what Emperor Constantine observed and he wanted his followers to observe. And it ended up getting officially adopted by the Greco-Roman bishops.
Although he is called “the Great” by the Catholics of Rome and a “saint” by the Eastern Orthodox, Emperor Constantine was a follower of the sun god Mithras. And while some claim that he “converted” to “Christianity” after seeing a cross in the sky, having a vision of Jesus, and winning the battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 A.D. (Milvian Bridge Day, Constantine, and St. Jude ), notice a coin he had produced in 317 A.D.:
So, the image of Emperor Constantine is on one side of the coin and the image of the sun god Mithras is on the other side of the coin. Emperor Constantine greatly influenced the religion of the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholics and to this day, many aspects of Mithraism are incorporated into their respective faiths, as well as those of most Protestants.
According to Eusebius' Life of Constantine, Book III chapter 18, the Roman emperor Constantine stated:
Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way.
Constantine convened the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. to attempt to stop people from keeping Passover on the biblical date--he supported those who wanted it to be on a Sunday.
Constantine was a worshiper of the sun-god Mithras and December 25th was Mithras' birthday. He did not wish to drop all the sun-god related observances, and later that birthday became adopted as Christmas (What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Christmas and the Holy Days?).
A few decades after Christmas was adopted by Rome, the Roman Catholic saint John Chrysostom preached the following in 387 A.D.:
The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now...If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies...Does God hate their festivals and do you share in them? He did not say this or that festival, but all of them together. (John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2. Preached at Antioch, Syria in the Fall of 387 AD. Medieval Sourcebook: Saint John Chrysostom (c.347-407) : Eight Homilies Against the Jews. Fordham University. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6.html 12/10/05).
The wicked and unclean fast of the Jews is now at our doors. Thought it is a fast, do not wonder that I have called it unclean...But now that the devil summons your wives to the feast of the Trumpets and they turn a ready ear to this call, you do not restrain them. You let them entangle themselves in accusations of ungodliness, you let them be dragged off into licentious ways. (John Chrysostom. Homily II Against the Jews I:1; III:4. Preached at Antioch, Syria on Sunday, September 5, 387 A.D.).
So also the Law fixed the feast of Tabernacles (John Chrysostom. Homily IV Against the Jews IV:3. Catholic Christians of Antioch Turning to Sabbath and The New Moon Day and Other Holy Days. 387 A.D.).
John Chrysostom preached against the Fall holy days, because some who professed Christ were observing them.
Yet, John Chrysostom wrote in favor about another "festival of the Jews":
When, it says, the day of Pentecost was fully come: that is, when at the Pentecost, while about it, in short. For it was essential that the present events likewise should take place during the feast, that those who had witnessed the crucifixion of Christ, might also behold these...And, it says, there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men. The fact of their dwelling there was a sign of piety: that being of so many nations they should have left country, and home, and relations, and be abiding there...for it was Pentecost. (Chrysostom J. The homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople: on the Acts of the Apostles, Volume 1, Homily IV. John Henry Parker, 1851. Original from Harvard University. Digitized, Apr 12, 2008, pp. 53, 55, 56).
So, he admitted that after the resurrection, the faithful needed to be present at what was then considered to be a "Jewish feast." If God was opposed to all of them, why would the apostles have kept it? The obvious reason is that they were following Jesus' example and had no reason to believe that they were somehow done away. (For more on Pentecost and what John Chrysostom and others wrote about it, please see the article Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2?; for more on John Chrysostum himself, please check out the article John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople and Antisemite.)
It is interesting to note that John Chrysostom must also have realized that the second century church kept Passover the same time as the Jews did (this was even true in the early second century in Rome). And that the Catholic Church still kept Pentecost. Thus by preaching what he did against the holy days, John Chrysostom is preaching against his own church as the Roman and Orthodox Catholics claim to keep both Passover (though on a different date, and with a different name) and Pentecost--as both of those festivals would be part of "all of them together."
It should be noted that the basic reason that John Chrysostom preached against the holy days was due to antisemitism. In demonstrates this in his Homily Against the Jews (of which there are at least eight of) as he calls the Jews by a variety of names. Here are a few of his statements:
But do not be surprised that I called the Jews pitiable. They really are pitiable and miserable (I:II:1).
So the godlessness of the Jews and the pagans is on a par. But the Jews practice a deceit which is more dangerous (I:VI:4).
Do you see that demons dwell in their souls and that these demons are more dangerous than the ones of old? (I:VI:7).
Since it is against the Jews that I wish to draw up my battle line, let me extend my instruction further. Let me show that, by fasting now, the Jews dishonor the law and trample underfoot God's commands because they are always doing everything contrary to his decrees. When God wished them to fast, they got fat and flabby (VI:IV:2).
Indeed, the fasting of the Jews, which is more disgraceful than any drunkenness, is over and gone (VIII:I:5).
But the facts are that the Holy Days were kept by Jesus, the New Testament Church, and those faithful to their teachings. And the other fact is that no where in the Bible do we see hatred against the Jews. Jesus taught we were to love our neighbor (and most the of "neighbors" He was then talking to were Jewish).
Furthermore, the New Testament calls one of the so-called “Jewish” holy days “great”. Notice the following from both a Protestant and a Catholic translation:
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out (John 7:37, NKJV)
And in the last, the great day of the festivity JESUS stood, and cried (John 7:37, Rheims New Testament).
So who is right?
Those who follow Jesus' practices or those who condemn them?
Recall that John Chrysostom, in this case, somewhat correctly stated,
"If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies."
So which days should be observed? Which days are lies?
Perhaps it might be helpful to realize that Catholics do admit that early Christians did observe the Feast:
St. Jerome (PL 25, 1529 & 1536-7) speaking of how the Judaeo-Christians celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles…tells us that they gave the feast a millenarian significance...Jews and Judeao-Christians celebrated the same feasts (Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, pp.202,203).
We in the Continuing Church of God also keep the Feast of Tabernacles and believe that it foreshadows the coming millennium. Additionally, comments by Epiphanius near that time concerning the Nazarene Christians would also seem to support that those who kept the Fall Holy Days were located in several areas at that time (see Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes?).
Now, John Chrysostom made the following claim that many still falsely believe as true:
THE WICKED AND UNCLEAN FAST of the Jews is now at our doors. (John Chrysostom. Homily II Against the Jews, Section I, Part 1, Verse 1)
The best starting point for the demonstration will be their observance with regard to the place. For God led them out of the whole world and confined them in a single place, Jerusalem. And in no other place were they permitted to fast, to sacrifice, to celebrate festivals or tabernacles, or indeed to read the Law, at the time when the Law was in force. And if back then, whenever these rites were conducted outside Jerusalem, the procedure constituted transgression, all the more so now. If you wish, I will read the laws that were set down for them concerning these matters. First, let me recite the law set down concerning the festival of Passover: "For you shall not be able to celebrate the Passover in any of the cities which the Lord your God gives you, but at the place which the Lord your God chooses for his name to be called there—meaning Jerusalem (for his name had been called over that city, as Daniel also made plain when he prayed and said, "Look at the destruction of us and of your city, upon which your name has been called over it"). He used this term for the city not because God has a city—of course not!—but in order to make the place more awesome by virtue of the fear inherent in the appellation. So then, this law is one that prohibits them from carrying out the sacrifices of the Passover [anywhere outside Jerusalem], not only in Syria and Cilicia and among other peoples, but even in Palestine itself. "For you shall not be able to celebrate the Passover in any of the cities which the Lord your God gives you"—and the cities he gave were in Judaea. Do you see how they have been forced out, not out of the world, but out of the [rest of the] province itself, into one single place? Again, concerning the festival which is now imminent, he warns, "For seven days you shall celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, when you gather in from your threshing-floor and your wine-vat." (John Chrysostom. Homily II Against the Jews, Section III, Part 9)
No, the Jews kept Passover in the wilderness and other places for centuries as they did not take and hold Jerusalem until after King David captured it (2 Samuel 5:6-7).
Christians kept the Passover outside of Jerusalem. Notice what Polycrates wrote related to leaders in Asia Minor:
We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? ... And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XXIV, Verses 2-7 . Translated by A. Cushman McGiffert. Digireads.com Publishing, Stilwell (KS), 2005, p. 114).
They also were keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread outside of Jerusalem as Polycrate's testimony indicates.
In at least two places in the New Testament, we see that the Days of Unleavened Bread were to be kept in Gentile areas (1 Corinthians 5:7; Acts 20:6).
Also, a third century document called the Life of Polycarp teaches the Apostle Paul also kept Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost outside of Jerusalem Pionius, Life of Polycarp, Chapter 2. Translated by J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, 1889, pp.488-506). While it is not scripture, it provides ancient support for that view. Canon 38 of the Council of Laodicea of the fourth century (c. 363-364) prohibited the observation of the Days of Unleavened Bread (Synod of Laodicea. Translated by Henry Percival. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 14. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1900), which would have been unnecessary if professors of Jesus outside of Jerusalem were not keeping it.
Jesus taught that worship was not limited to Jerusalem (John 4:19-24; cf. Matthew 10:23).
The Bible shows the Feast of Tabernacles can be kept in cities other than Jerusalem (Nehemiah 8:15; cf. Deuteronomy 14:23-24). During the second temple period (530 B.C – 70 A.D.), Jews often kept it elsewhere (Hayyim Schausse noted, “Sukkos was a great festival even outside of Jerusalem.” Schausse H. The Jewish Festivals: A Guide to Their History and Observance, 1938. Schocken, p. 184).
It may also be of interest to note Polycarp of Smyrna in the 2nd century (Life of Polycarp, Chapter 19.) and certain others in Asia Minor in the late 4th century kept the Feast of Tabernacles in Asia Minor, not Jerusalem. This is confirmed by sources such as the Catholic saint Jerome (Patrologia Latina Volumen MPL025 Ab Columna ad Culumnam 1415 - 1542A) and research done by the 20th century Cardinal Jean Danielou (Danielou, Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, pp. 343-346).
The Catholic priest and scholar Jerome said that Nazarene Christians kept it outside of Jerusalem and that they believed that it pointed to the millennial reign of Jesus Christ (Patrologia Latina Volumen MPL025 Ab Columna ad Culumnam 1415 - 1542A). This keeping of the Feast of Tabernacles by Nazarene Christians in the late fourth century was also confirmed by the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox saint Epiphanius of Salamis.
During the Middle Ages the fall holidays were observed, though records are limited.
Notice the following report:
Under the name of Passagini, we have the clearest sort of statement that these people, about 1200, observed the whole Old Testament law, including the Sabbath and FESTIVALS! People called Cathars at Cologne, Germany, kept a fall festival, called "Malilosa", even before Waldo began to preach. Compare this unexplained name with Hebrew "melilah" (a harvested ear of grain -- Strong's Exhaustive Concordance) and the Biblical title "Feast of Ingathering" (Ex. 23:16). How much more we might have known about these Middle Ages' Feasts of Tabernacles had not the Inquisitors so zealously burned the records! The three-part division of tithes paid the Waldensian Church is significant. Even in the 1500's the same division continued. "The money given us by the people is carried to the aforesaid general council, and is delivered in the presence of all, and there it is received by the most ancients (the elders), and part thereof is given to those that are wayfaring men, according to their necessities, and part unto the poor" (George Morel, Waldensian elder, quoted by Lennard, "History of the Waldenses"). 1. Compare this practice with Num. 18:21 and Deut. 14:22-25, 28-29. Isn't it exactly what the Bible commands?... Most authors have ASSUMED the "wayfaring men" were the traveling "barbel." But THEIR expenses would have been paid from the money given the elders, at EVERY time of year, for the direct conduct of the Work -- "first" tithe and offerings. Notice that in Numbers 18:21. What Morel then mentions is a "second" tithe, for those traveling to and from the festivals -- wayfaring men; and following it, the "third" to the poor. See the explanation in Deut. 14. Feast goers who had more "second tithe" than they needed shared their excess with those who had need, even as they do today! (LESSON 51 (1968) AMBASSADOR COLLEGE BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place ..." Rev. 12:6).
Furthermore, Sabbath-keepers in Transylvania in the 1500s and later kept the Fall Holy Days such as the Day of Atonement. the Feast of Trumpets (also called Day of Remembrance below and feast on the first day of Tishri), and the Feast of Tabernacles:
The Sabbatarians viewed themselves as converted Gentiles..They held to the biblical holidays...The Day of Atonement was a day of fasting, although they emphasized that pentinence is more easily acheived by a peaceful and quiet meditation on the law and one's life than by fasting. The Day of Remembrance (New Year, which they celebrated in the Fall of the year) was the day on which they thanked God especially for the creation of the universe. There is no mention of circumcision, so it is unlikely that they practiced circumcision (Liechty D. Sabbatarianism in the Sixteenth Century. Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs (MI), 1993, pp. 61-62).
Of the 110 poetical compositions which are to be found in three manuscripts of this old Sabbatarian hymn-book, no less than 44 relate to the Sabbath, which, on account of the special regard in which its celebration was held, gave the sect the name they bear. FIVE songs belong to the NEW MOON, 11 to the FESTIVAL OF PASSOVER, 6 to the FEAST OF WEEKS, 6 to TABERNACLES, 3 to the NEW YEAR, and 1 to the DAY OF ATONEMENT. Besides these, there are 3 funeral hymns, 26 hymns of varied contents, and 5 didactic poems. The foregoing summary shows what position the Jewish festivals occupied in the ritual of the Sabbatarians. They kept, of course, only the festivals enjoined in the Pentateuch ... Although the feast of the first of Tishri is not designated the New Year festival in the Pentateuch, yet they celebrated it as the 'New Year' with special emphasis, as a contrast to the papal invention of the Christian new year.' In attempting to understand this celebration of the Jewish festivals by the older Sabbatarians, it must be remarked as particularly characteristic, that they maintained that, in adhering to these observances, they were following THE EXAMPLE AND TEACHING of Jesus. (Bacher W. The Sabbatarians of Hungary. The Jewish Quarterly Review, Volume 2. Macmillan, 1890, Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized Nov 10, 2008, pp. 473-474)
The old Ambassdor College reported that some of the American Sabbath-keepers may have kept the Feast of Tabernacles back then:
The Church in Rhode Island became the MOTHER CHURCH in the United States. It grew slowly for about 30 years. Then in 1708, the enlarged and geographically widespread Newport congregation was officially constituted into two congregations.
The "Westerly" or "Hopkinton" congregation retained the original records — being recognized as the leading or HEADQUARTERS location.
The reason for this transfer is most interesting. Previous to this time, the "Westerly" or "Hopkinton" site had become the regular meeting place for "a YEARLY MEETING" of members from all over! It was at such a meeting — on September 28 (Gregorian calendar) — that the decision was made to establish the new congregation. Details are lacking, but it is highly significant that this date falls during the Feast of Tabernacles of that year!
The earliest of these annual meetings of which we now have record had been held in late May, 1684. Other annual meeting dates consistently fell either during the fall Holy Day season or near Pentecost ("The Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America", pages 127, 150-152, 174, 602, 614). None of these meetings came at Christmas, Easter, or even in midsummer! This was not mere chance. God's people were, at least in part, attempting to follow the pattern of the Holy Days He had ordained.
In the meantime, a number of other congregations of Sabbath keepers had been formed — mostly of new converts and immigrants from England. And though they recognized their relationship to the mother church in Rhode Island, distance made it necessary for the brethren in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania to gather in annual meetings in their own areas. These assemblies often sent greetings to each other by letters and delegates. At these times, "the Sabbath, with its general communion, was indeed an HIGH DAY" ("The Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America", p. 151, emphasis ours).
It was not until much later that the MAJORITY accepted the Protestant idea that God's Holy Days had been done away. (Lesson 53 - I Will Build My Church, Part 5. Ambassador College Correspondence Course, 1969)
And the Fall Holidays are still observed into the 21st century by many Sabbath-keeping Church of God groups, like the Continuing Church of God.
In 2015. someone emailed me who lives a distance from other Christians, and asked how to basically keep the Fall Holy Days in such circumstances. So, I thought I would share here basically what I emailed him back with.
The Feast of Trumpets is kept like a Sabbath, as it is also a day of rest and a holy convocation. Christians should pray and attend services and/or watch messages for that day. An offering is normally also taken up. We also normally have our youngest child blow some type of a trumpet on that day. When we did not have children, we would listen to a blowing of a shofar over the telephone from a place called 'dial-a-shofar' which stopped working. You may wish to listen to a shofar being blown on the internet. The listening to a shofar reminds us of the big deal that God makes about this Holy Day as shofars tend to be loud--they were intended to get people's attention--although many I have found on the internet are muted. Here is a link to an article on the Feast of Trumpets which has links to let you hear/play shofar blasts: The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? This may help give you more to consider related to this holy day.
The Day of Atonement is kept like a Sabbath, as it is also a day of rest and a holy convocation. Christians should pray and attend services and/or watch messages for that day. An offering is normally also taken up. The Bible says to afflict oneself then (Leviticus 23:27). Those who are physically able fast from sunset to sunset. This means going without any food or drink. Pregnant women, nursing women, infants, and people with various illnesses are considered to already have an affliction and either do not fast or do not completely fast (they might drink water and/or eat something, though less than normal).
The Feast of Tabernacles is different. Those who can will travel (Deuteronomy 14:23-26) go to a Feast site (see also Christians are to Be Strangers and Pilgrims?). They tend to keep a tithe of their increase for this purpose (see Is Second Tithe and Third Tithe Still Valid Today?). Those who cannot travel to a site may wish to consider the possibility to not sleep in their usual locations during the time of the Feast. If they are physically and financially able, they may wish to try to sleep in some type of temporary dwelling like a hotel, motel, camper, or a tent (including perhaps one in one's own home). In ancient Israel, those who did not travel (as well as native Israelites that did) made 'booths' of branches on top of their roofs (Leviticus 23:40) and slept in them for the seven days of the Feast (Leviticus 23:42), and some slept for the entire eight days (though the Bible only mentions seven days). Staying in 'temporary dwellings,' of whatever sort, helps convey that this age is temporal and a new millennial age is coming (see also Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism? and Christians are to Be Strangers and Pilgrims?).
The first day of the Feast of Tabernacles is kept like a Sabbath, as it is also a day of rest and a holy convocation as is the eighth day, also known as the Last Great Day (John 7:37; see also The Last Great Day: Shemini 'Azeret). Christians should pray and attend services and/or watch messages on each of the eight days. An offering is normally also taken up on the first and eighth day (cf. Deuteronomy 16:16). But the other days are NOT kept like the Sabbath, meaning that one can engage in regular physical work on those days.
For more details, check out How to Keep God's Festivals; a related sermon is also available titled: How to Keep God's Feasts.
There are some sermons related to the Holy Days at the link: Holy Day Calendar (this link also has a calendar of when the Holy Days occur).
As we get closer to the Holy Days, a Continuing Church of God Letter to the Brethren tends to have a suggested Holy Day service and links, which should assist those that cannot get to one of our congregations or meeting places. The Letter to the Brethren contains a suggested Sabbath service format each week and suggested service formats for the Holy Days shortly before they occur.
Some claim that Holy Days are a vestige of Judaism that has no real meaning for Christians. Others say that other days, like Christmas, have much more meaning for Christians than the biblical Holy Days.
Some say Paul's writings to the Romans prove that the days do not matter:
5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. (Romans 14:5-9)
The Apostle Paul was referring to times like when someone fasted. The above was NOT a doing away of the biblical Holy Days nor a recommendation to adopt pagan days.
Paul DID NOT want Christians to incorporate pagan practices when it came to biblical Holy Days. Notice the following warning to the Greek Corinthians:
19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? (1 Corinthians 10:19-22)
While an idol is nothing in a sense, Paul warns Christians from using worship practices like those who worship idols.
What should Christians do about observing anything?
They should observe God's Holy Days.
Throughout history, Christians have taught that they should: "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). In addition to the original apostles teaching that, this was also the position of people like the late second/early third century bishop/overseer Polycrates of Ephesus when he was pressured to change the date of Passover to the date of what is now called Easter.
Christians should still do that today.
But the true Holy Days are for more than only obeying God.
Many do not realize that simply accepting the sacrifice of Jesus is not all there is to God’s plan of salvation. Various people keep the beginning of God's feasts of salvation by somewhat recognizing Passover and/or Pentecost (which come in the Spring), but never go on to know the “depth of the riches” (cf. Romans 11:33) of God's grace (2 Peter 3:18) pictured by the biblical feasts that come in the Fall.
Consider that there is a major time gap between the Day of Pentecost and the Feast of Trumpets. Since the New Testament church began on Pentecost and basically ends when Jesus returns at the last trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:51-57), in a sense the period of time between Pentecost and the Feast of Trumpets can be considered as representing the church age.
The number seven in God's plan signifies completion and perfection. The seventh month of God's calendar (occurs in September and/or October) contains the final four festivals, picturing the completion of God's great master plan for us. The festival that falls on the first day of this month, Trumpets, marks the beginning of the final events in God's plan. The world will be affected by Trumpet blasts and at the last trump, Jesus will return and the saints will be resurrected (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).
We will discuss the meaning of all the Fall Holy Days later, but will mention here that the "rest of the dead" are resurrected 1000 years later (Revelation 20:5).
The biblical Holy Days have meaning for Christians that the Greco-Roman substitutes simply do not have. They, and not the Greco-Roman substitutes, lay out properly God's plan of salvation (see also Should You Observe God's Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?).
So, those who want to obey God and are truly interested in what God wants His people to learn will observe His Holy Days.
A holiday that many celebrate in the Fall is All Saint's Day, a day to honor the dead--and John Chrysostom mentioned that one in a positive way (see Is Halloween a Holy Time for Christians? and All Saints' Day, the Day of the Dead, and All Souls' Day). Many today observe Halloween, which happens the evening before it. However, unlike the biblical holy days, none of these are endorsed by the Bible.
A Roman Catholic writer noted the following (bolding mine):
It should be noted that Halloween is a Catholic holiday. Pope Gregory IV in 835 made it the universal practice in the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1. All Souls' Day follows the next day as the commemoration of all of the faithful who have departed.
“All Hallows’ Even” as the evening before All Hallows’ Day — All Saints’ Day – eventually became shortened to Halloween. Hallow, as in “hallowed be thy name” in the Lord’s Prayer, is an older form of the word “holy.”
It was the Protestant Reformation that rejected the universal practice of devotion to the dead (Martin Luther dropped any references to praying for the dead from his Bible). This Catholic holiday was attacked, much like the church as a whole, for being pagan and evil. Hence I wouldn’t be surprised if this cloud of suspicion hovering over Halloween originated from the spirit of anti-Catholicism.
But Nov. 1st was the day of the Celtic Summer’s End feast of Samhain, the day when the dead returned to the earth. We have retained some of these pagan elements to Halloween, as is true of Christmas and Easter.
Why would a pope put the Catholic celebration of the dead on top of the pagans’ celebrations of the dead? Because the Catholic feasts are in continuity and fulfill the meaning of the pagan ones. This is why C.S. Lewis said that Christianity was the fulfillment of paganism.
So we don’t reject the use of trees at Christmas time because they were pagan, we continue to use them, because as symbols of life they now point to Christ...
So what about the indulgence in the spooky and scary? Skeletons are spooky, but they are also very Catholic. In fact, one couldn’t find a better haunted house for a Halloween pilgrimage than the various “chapel of bones” that can be found across Europe.
(Killian Brian. Halloween, as autumn celebration, reminder God’s name is hallowed. Catholic Online International News. 10/31/06. http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=21818).
Notice that the writer above admits that Halloween did not become a universal Catholic holiday until 835, that he admits that it and Christmas contain pagan elements, and that the Catholic feasts are in continuity and fulfill the meaning of the pagan ones.
The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches that:
Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church...
Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts; Origen, glancing perhaps at the discreditable imperial Natalitia, asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii in Migne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday; Arnobius (VII, 32 in P.L., V, 1264) can still ridicule the "birthdays" of the gods.
(Martindale C. Transcribed by Susanti A. Suastika. Christmas. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).
The Church in Rome did endorse Christmas, however, by the latter half of the fourth century. The World Book Encyclopedia notes,
In 354 A.D., Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered the people to celebrate on December 25. He probably chose this date because the people of Rome already observed it as the Feast of Saturn, celebrating the birthday of the sun (Sechrist E.H. Christmas. World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 3. Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, Chicago, 1966, pp. 408-417).
It should be noted that some scholarly sources believe that the celebration in Rome of Christmas may have began 2-4 decades earlier, but none I am aware of suggest it was prior Constantine in the fourth century.
And it did not become part of the observations in Constantinople until the famous hater of Jews, John Chrysostum, introduced it there:
We may take it as certain that the feast of Christ's Nativity was kept in Rome on 25 December...It was introduced by St. John Chrysostom into Constantinople and definitively adopted in 395 (Thurston. H. Transcribed by Rick McCarty. Christian Calendar. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York ).
What does God teach about using pagan worship practices like trees and other heathen practices. Notice
Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not (Jeremiah 10:2-4, KJV).
When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.' "You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods..." (Deuteronomy 12:29-31).
Should Christians worship God in ways the heathen do? Should they celebrate with ways God hates?
Perhaps it should also be mentioned that the children of Israel under King Jeroboam adopted a substitute for the biblical Feast of Tabernacles. They changed its meaning and moved it to the eighth month of the biblical calendar (1 Kings 12:32-33). That eighth month would be (October/November on the Roman calendar that is now in common use. However, thousands of years ago, that would have normally began in the month called December. However after Julius and Augustus Caesar got their own months, the Roman tenth month (December mean tenth month) got moved to be the twelfth month. Interestingly, in modern times, it could be considered that the 8 days from Christmas to New Years' is an 8 day substitute for the Feast of Tabernacles.
But not a biblically acceptable substitute.
Here are some quotes by someone else who does not believe Christians needs to keep the biblical holy days in the Fall:
Why do Christians not Celebrate Jewish Feasts?April 7, 2015 Eric Jobe
The feasts of the Jewish liturgical calendar are biblical commemorations, either being commanded by God in the Bible to be observed or otherwise commemorating a biblical event. Why then do Christians not celebrate them? ...
The simple answer to this question is two-fold: (1) Christian feasts are fulfillments of the various Jewish feasts, and (2) because of this, they have a distinctively Christ-centered focus. The Jewish feasts, for Christians, were “shadows and types” of what was to come, which have now been fulfilled by Christ. Therefore, by celebrating the distinctive Christian feasts, we celebrate also what the Jewish feasts foreshadowed. For this reason, the Christian feasts include many references and allusions to the Jewish feasts within the liturgical texts. Lets take a look at a few of these Jewish feasts:
Jewish Feasts Fulfilled in Christ
The Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles): This feast is a harvest festival, occurring just after the Fall New Year (which was moved from an earlier Spring New Year at the beginning of the month of Nisan). The custom of constructing and living in a booth or hut commemorates the Israelites’ conditions as slaves in Egypt and their wandering in the wilderness before entering the Land of Canaan. It was to be a reminder to them that God had brought them from being slaves and nomads to being a great nation. This feast does not have a Christian analogue, nor is it “fulfilled” in any one particular Christian feast. However, we have the monastic tradition, which has seen many people living has hermits in caves and hand-made dwellings. Saints such as St. John the Hut Dweller encapsulate a living embodiment of this feast, and through them we are reminded that we are pilgrims in this world, awaiting a New City, the Kingdom of God (Hebrews 11:13-16). https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/departinghoreb/why-do-christians-not-celebrate-jewish-feasts/ accessed 090217
One the one hand, Eric Jobe claims that the pagan holidays, which he calls "Christian feasts" are the fulfillment of the biblical Feasts, yet in his article, he never shows that to be true for any of the Fall holy days. Furthermore, the Bible says that the Feast of Tabernacles is a time to rejoice, not live like monk (cf. Deuteronomy 16:13-14).
Should Christians keep the holy days that are listed in the Bible or the holidays that humans added much later than the Bible?
Notice the teachings of God:
These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD's Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread... Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath...In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation...Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement...The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD...On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation (Leviticus 23:4-6,16,24,27,34,36).
The holidays of the seven month (Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, Last Eighth Day) are the Fall holy days, as the seven month of the Hebrew calendar occurs in what is now called September and October. (To learn the actual dates check out the link to the Holy Day Calendar. This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates.)
Notice something from the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God:
The Feast of Trumpets helps picture the blowing of the seven trumpets in the Book of Revelation announcing events taking place during the ‘Day of the Lord’ (Revelation 8,9,11:15-18; 15:1-8; 16:1-21; 19:1-20). The last trumpet signals the resurrection of the saints, “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52) “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Every seven years, a year of land-rest and debt release begins with this Holy Day (Leviticus 25:1-7; Deuteronomy 15:7-11).
The Day of Atonement, called “the Fast” in the New Testament (Acts 27:9), helps show our own weaknesses and need to be closer to God (Isaiah 58:5,11). This day shows that Jesus was the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10; cf. Leviticus 16:15-16). It also helps picture that Satan has a role in the sins of humankind and that he will be punished by being bound for one-thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3; cf. Leviticus 16:20-26; Isaiah 14:12-16).
The Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-39) which shows a time of abundance, helps picture the millennial kingdom reign (Revelation 20:4-5) of Jesus Christ and His saints on the earth (Zechariah 14; Matthew 9:37-38; 13:1-30; Luke 12:32; John 7:6-14; Acts 17:31; Revelation 5:10, 11:15; 12:9). This future paradise, following the near total destruction that humanity will have brought upon itself through its activities and the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord (Matthew 24:21-31), will help show humanity the advantages of God’s way of life. Every seven years, the law is to be read during this festival (Deuteronomy 31:10-13).
The Last Great Day helps picture that all who ever lived will have a real opportunity for salvation (John 7:37-38; Isaiah 52:10,13-15; 65:20; Luke 3:6)–an opportunity most will accept (John 7:37-39; Romans 11:25-26; Ezekiel 37:11-14; Hebrews 9:27-28). The New Testament name comes from the Apostle John who wrote, “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38).
History provides references that the early followers of Christ, such as the Gentile Polycarp, observed the Sabbath on the seventh day and the other biblical holy days and festivals.
By observing the days that the Bible enjoins, Christians can come to understand more deeply God’s plan of salvation, and some of the steps taken toward salvation. The biblical festivals show that Christ was truly sacrificed (1 Corinthians 5:7) and Christians are to live without the leaven of hypocrisy, malice, and wickedness (Luke 12:1; 1 Corinthians 5:6-13). The biblical festivals also help show that while some are predestined to be called in this Church Age (Ephesians 1:4-12; Acts 2:1-47), there is an age to come (Acts 3:21; Matthew 12:32), and the destiny of all others is to be presented an opportunity for salvation on the Last Great Day (John 7:37-38; 12:47-48; Romans 10:11-21).
(Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God http://www.ccog.org/statement-of-beliefs-of-the-continuing-church-of-god/ accessed 08/30/17)
The Fall Holy Days help picture crucial information about God's plan of salvation that most who do not keep them simply do not understand.
Human tradition stops many from keeping them. Notice some of what Jesus taught about religious people who prefered traditions over the commands of the Bible:
7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
8 "These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:7-9)
The Jewish leaders furthermore did not want Jesus followers to do what He told them to do.
Did the apostles teach that God's ways or man's ways should be obeyed? Notice the account they gave to the Jewish religious leaders of their day:
29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
It is in the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, that we learn which days God wanted celebrated. Jesus kept the Fall Holy Days. Paul and the other early Christians kept the Fall Holy Days. Gentile Christians observed them from the earliest times.
No one professing Christ kept Halloween, All Saint's Day, or even Christmas until hundreds of years after Christ died. The biblical holy days were sadly rejected by people who had anti-semitic feelings and who wanted to endorse pagan practices.
Should you obey the teachings of God as revealed in the Bible and as practiced by the early Christian church or later pagan-based holidays of men?
Items of related interest may include:
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a free pdf booklet explaining what the Bible and history shows about God's Holy Days and popular holidays.
The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not? What does the Feast of Trumpets, which the Jews call Rosh Hashanah, help teach? A related sermon video would be Feast of Trumpets and the Book of Life as well as The Trumpet Release. The article has links to hear shofar blasts.
Feast of Trumpets: Why Should You Keep It? What does the Bible say? What does this festival picture? A related sermon is available: The Trumpet Warnings.
The Day of Atonement--Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians "The Day of Atonement." Does it have any relevance for Christians today? What is the Jubilee? Is fasting healthy? Here is a link to a sermon: Day of Atonement: How Jesus fulfilled His part for the Atonement. Here is a link to a related article in the Spanish language: El Día de Expiación –Su significado cristiano.
The Atonement Plan How does the Day of Atonement tie into God's plan of salvation? A sermon of related interest is titled God's Atonement Plan.
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today's Christians? What is the Last Great Day? What do these days teach? A related sermon video is Feast of Tabernacles from Israel.
The Last Great Day: Shemini 'Azeret What is the 'eighth day' of the Feast? What does it help picture? A sermon on this topic is also available: Shemini Azaret: The Last Great Day.
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :)
Thiel B. Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? www.cogwriter.com (c) 2006/2007/2008/2010/2011/2012/2013/2014/2015/2017/2019 1009. All rights reserved
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