Days in Adventism
By Raymond Obomsawin
Based on a challengeable presupposition that there can be only one meaning for a Hebrew word, the position is taken that “the festival calendar was in place before sin… [and] will be in place after sin”. To the contrary, it is apparent that to affirm that this Hebrew term must always and only mean “feast” or “festival” is both indefensible and manifestly absurd. To ascertain a particular meaning for this word’s usage in the holy scriptures, it is vital to take into account the full context. There was only one time related statute designed and established by God at the creation to be observed by humanity for eternity. The weekly memorial Sabbath law was pronounced in the clearest terms by the Creator in Genesis 2: 2-3. As for the annual feast days, the Creation record is understandably silent, and furthermore there is no Biblical or Spirit of Prophecy record of the observance of any of these festivities in either the antediluvian period of earth’s history, or in the time period preceding Sinai.
Furthermore, the question must be posed, how could the annual festivals be designed for a perfect and unfallen world? The formation of our planet and its solar system’s heavenly bodies were conceived as part of a sinless creation that neither presupposed nor anticipated the existence of sin. Since the festivals were typical ceremonies symbolic of various elements and phases of the plan of redemption, their establishment were clearly post-sin and not pre-sin. In retrospection, it is also obvious that there were no baking ovens under the bushes in Eden, for uncooked tree, bush and vine plucked foods composed God’s original design for the human dietary. The cooking of foods - including the baking and frying of bread as we know it in human history - were in consequence of sin. How could a feast of “unleavened bread” be celebrated in a perfect and unfallen paradise?
Additionally, the annual festivals associated with the harvest and ingathering of food would make no sense in an unfallen world. In the perfect creation, throughout the solar year there was a perfect spring-like climate from pole to pole, consequently contrasting seasonal temperature and moisture changes were entirely unknown. Indeed, the natural creation afforded on a daily basis a profusion of ripening foods, that did not require any cooking. This food was gathered day in and day out all year round for immediate consumption, thus precluding the phenomena of both seasonal harvest and post-harvest food storage. An annual time of harvest would not serve any purpose in such a perfect world, and thus did not exist. It is only reasonable to conclude that in the earth made new we will be returned to such pristine conditions, and will thus not be concerned with annual harvest celebrations, cooking stoves, or dishwashers.
As a final point, both the command to observe the “Feast of Harvest” to be held in consequence of the firstfruits of “your labors sown in the field” Exodus 23: 16 and the annual “Feast of Ingathering” “when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field” Exodus 23:16, inescapably allude to God’s post sin pronouncement “Cursed is the ground… in toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life… in the sweat of your face you shall eat bread” Gen 3: 17-19. In the pre-fall world, sweat induced labor was not in any way associated with the production of food for humanity.
A pivotal factor in the acceptance or rejection by Adventists of the reinstitution of Feast Day practice is the perceived posture of the Spirit of Prophecy on this issue. Seventh day Adventists take very seriously the clear admonition “Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thess. 5:20&21 SDAs who conscientiously oppose this movement have understandably raised the point that if God intended these ceremonial observances to be a pillar of truth and practice in the Remnant Church, than why did our Church pioneers – including Ellen and James White – uniformly go wrong by failing to embrace, teach and practice such rites? In response to this obvious objection, a letter that has been widely distributed by a Feast Days advocacy organization called Sabbath More Fully, it is therein propositioned that Ellen White “knew and understood the truth” about God’s intention to restore the “observance of the ancient feasts”. The reason as to why she did not do so is because God’s messenger always let others lead in initiating reformatory measures, and secondly this didn’t happen because God in His wisdom knew that it wasn’t the right time.
These sweeping assumptions strike me as being both unfounded and unproven. This is particularly the case when we consider that all that would have been necessary in order to resolve the matter, was for her to express God’s intentions on this issue simply and clearly in a sentence or two. The idea of a God-fearing prophet knowing what is right and then intentionally not telling anyone in plain language about it, is incongruous. Also, attributing to her the attribute of cowardice as she waited around for someone else to do the right thing is equally absurd. A systematic search of her massively voluminous published and unpublished books, letters and articles reveals that such a revelation, or even such a sentiment does not exist.
Based upon the following inspired statement Feast Day Advocates postulate that God’s messenger at least explicitly called for the reinstitution of the ancient Feast of Tabernacles. They then say that in order to be consistent with inspiration, all three major annual feasts should be observed by Seventh Day Adventist Christians. “Well would it be for us to have a feast of tabernacles, a joyous commemoration of the blessings of God to us as a people.” It sure sounds clear doesn’t it? Well let’s consider the whole statement so that we see it in context.
Well would it be for us to have a feast of tabernacles, a joyous commemoration of the blessings of God to us as a people. As the children of Israel celebrated the deliverance that God wrought for their fathers, and his miraculous preservation of them during their journeyings from Egypt to the promised land, so should the people of God at the present time gratefully call to mind the various ways he has devised to bring them out from the world, out from the darkness of error, into the precious light of truth. We should often bring to remembrance the dependence upon God of those who first led out in this work. We should gratefully regard the old way-marks, and refresh our souls with memories of the loving-kindness of our gracious Benefactor. Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, November 17, 1885, Article Title: The Grace and Mercy of God
God’s messenger tells us that at the “…Feast of Tabernacles thousands of cattle were slain, and their blood caught by the priests and poured upon the altar”. The following scripture reference alludes to this: "They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required… From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the Lord.” Ezra 3:4-6 Is this what the Lord’s messenger is calling for us to today engage in? Obviously it is important that we let her writings speak for themselves as to what she intended to mean when she placed a call for us to “have a feast of tabernacles” to bring to remembrance God’s leading of us as a people. The following two references speak for themselves.
The forces of the enemies are strengthening, and as a people we are misrepresented; but shall we not gather our forces together, and come up to the feast of tabernacles? Let us not treat this matter as one of little importance, but let the army of the Lord be on the ground to represent the work and cause of God in Australia. Let no one plead an excuse at such a time. One of the reasons why we have appointed the camp-meeting to be held at Melbourne, is that we desire the people of that vicinity to become acquainted with our doctrines and works.… Therefore come to the camp-meeting, even though you have to make a sacrifice to do so, and the Lord will bless your efforts to honor his cause and advance his work. Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, December 8, 1893, Article Title: Come to the Feast
Will our brethren not come up to the feast of tabernacles? How zealously should everyone guard the way that leads to the city of God! …The Lord calls you to put on the armor of righteousness, and come to this second camp meeting to be held in New Zealand. Come, brethren and sisters, if you have to make a sacrifice to do so. The Lord will bless you in your efforts. Manuscript Releases Volume Eleven, page 9, Chapter Title: Ellen White in New Zealand
As exampled above, the Feast Day campaigners have sought to employ a few key statements from the pen of inspiration as a springboard for introducing, rationalizing, and legitimizing this practice within Adventism. However, when we explore the Spirit of Prophecy writings on this issue, a pivotal factor lies in grasping and properly interpreting the meaning intended when Ellen White uses key terms such as judgments, statutes, services, precepts, ordinances, laws, rituals, and ceremonies. Scholars on both sides of the issue have rationalized and debated various meanings and interpretations of these terms. Fortunately, this tug of war is something that we really don’t need to get into. (However, it is essential for us to address the intended meaning of the term statutes in the next section of this article.)
The only full-proof interpretation of E.G. White’s intended meaning would be when she as an inspired author actually defines her own usage of such terms by linking them to the practice of a typical Feast Day, and then employs the very same terms in other passages in addressing the central issue of whether the ceremonial practices - that the terms actually denote - are still binding on us today as God’s people. Fortunately, such a reference exists. When it is linked to and compared with other passages on the subject under consideration the intended meaning becomes crystal clear. In this case, I am referring to her intended usage of the two key terms “ceremonies” and “types” in relation to the seven days feast of unleavened bread, which followed the Passover. (emphases my own)
The Passover was followed by the seven days' feast of unleavened bread. On the second day of the feast, the first fruits of the year's harvest, a sheaf of barley, was presented before the Lord. All the ceremonies of the feast were types of the work of Christ …the unleavened bread, the sheaf of first fruits, represented the Saviour. Desire of Ages, page 77, paragraph 1 Chapter Title: The Passover Visit
Now consider the following passages employing the same two terms i.e. “ceremonies” and/or “types” or “type”.
In this ordinance [foot washing], Christ discharged his disciples from the cares and burdens of the ancient Jewish obligations in rites and ceremonies. These no longer possessed any virtue; for type was meeting antitype in himself, the authority and foundation of all Jewish ordinances that pointed to him as the great and only efficacious offering for the sins of the world….
If his disciples had not needed this, it would not have been left for them as Christ's last established ordinance in connection with, and including, the last supper. It was Christ's desire to leave to his disciples an ordinance that would do for them the very thing they needed, that would serve to disentangle them from the rites and ceremonies which they had hitherto engaged in as essential, and which the reception of the gospel made no longer of any force. To continue these rites would be an insult to Jehovah. Eating of the body, and drinking of the blood, of Christ, not merely at the sacramental service, but daily partaking of the bread of life to satisfy the soul's hunger, would be in receiving his word and doing his will. EGW - Review & Herald, June 14, 1898 paragraphs 16 & 17
The Jews had prided themselves upon their divinely appointed services; and they concluded that as God once specified the Hebrew manner of worship, it was impossible that He should ever authorize a change in any of its specifications. They decided that Christianity must connect itself with the Jewish laws and ceremonies. They were slow to discern to the end of that which had been abolished by the death of Christ… in which type had met its antitype, rendering valueless the divinely appointed ceremonies and sacrifices of the Jewish religion. Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 3 p. 370
There are numerous other similarly worded references which make the same point of abolishment of the “ceremonies” and “types”, and they are appended as Annex II. However, the following two references are included because one issue that some Feast Day proponents make is that the concept and designation of “ceremonial law” as distinguished from “moral law” is aberrant and deviant. This construct is said to have formed the basis of Protestant theology employed against weekly Sabbath observance, and which Adventists today employ against Feast Day observance. To summarize their position, “This theology of the law that attempts to justify the abrogation of festival observance based upon a division of the law of God into two monolithic divisions of ‘moral’ and ‘ceremonial’ was not part of early church theology and was unknown as it is unbiblical.” Apologia, Sabbath Conference Special Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 5&6
What does the Lord’s messenger say?
There are two distinct laws brought to view. One is the law of types and shadows, which reached to the time of Christ, and ceased when type met antitype in his death. The other is the law of Jehovah, and is as abiding and changeless as his eternal throne…. Hence the ceremonial law ceased to be of force at the death of Christ. EGW - The Signs of the Times, July 29, 1886, Article Title: Christ and the Law
But there is a law which was abolished, which Christ "took out of the way, nailing it to his cross." Paul calls it "the law of commandments contained in ordinances." This ceremonial law, given by God through Moses, with its sacrifices and ordinances, was to be binding upon the Hebrews until type met antitype in the death of Christ as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. Then all the sacrificial offerings and services were to be abolished. Paul and the other apostles labored to show this, and resolutely withstood those Judaizing teachers who declared that Christians should observe the ceremonial law. EGW - Signs of the Times, Sept. 4, 1884, Article Title: Immutability of the Law of God
In FD Nichols classic book Answers to Objections (pp. 18 & 19) he observes that the Decalogue was not the only law formally set forth by God at Sinai for there was also specified a ritual code known as the “ceremonial laws” that specified the “religious ritual” that Israel should follow. This included “their sacrifices and offerings, their annual feast-days, [and] the duties of the priesthood.” He then points out that there were also a set of “civil laws” designed to govern Israel as a nation, such as laws on “marriage, divorce, slave holding, property” etc. To the extent that the understanding and willingness of Israel allowed, the “Lord caused these civil statutes to reflect the perfect idea expressed in the ten-commandment law”. Since the ceremonial law, and the civil statutes, were written by Moses hand, and by him given to the people, they are generally spoken of in the Bible as "the law of Moses" even though they are obviously distinctive and separate. (Nichols fails to mention that there were as well natural laws articulated through Moses governing diet, hygiene, agriculture, etc.)
In Ellen White’s affirmation of the modern day relevance and validity of the 10 commandment principles as embodied and amplified in the civil and natural law systems written by Moses, she consistently uses the term “statutes” and sometimes “judgments”. The two terms are often used together in scripture, one could say as a form of Hebraic emphasis or repetition. Some E.G. White statements using these terms have been quoted and then misunderstood and misapplied by Feast day proponents as an endorsement of contemporary Feast Day practice.
Also in the letter previously noted as distributed by Sabbath More Fully, the argument is made that the term “statutes” define our duty to God and the “judgments” our duty to man. In this view statutes are spiritual duties, whereas judgments are civil duties. Furthermore, it is argued that the former can and does encompass ceremonial practices - including Feast Days thus legitimizing their modern day practice - whereas the latter are strictly civil in nature. Such an interpretation is patently unjustified and indefensible. For one thing, the Decalogue represents 10 comprehensive statutes that articulately define our spiritual duty toward God, and our civil duty toward man. These divine statutes are the foundation of advanced civil law in most nations of the world today.
In the early chapters of the book Patriarchs and Prophets there are eight separate pre-Sinai historical references (beginning with Lucifer’s rebellion in Heaven) to the divine “statutes” in direct reference to God’s eternal moral law. God’s own testimony respecting His faithful pre-Sinai patriarch is, "Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws." Gen. 26:5 Abraham’s noted observance obviously occurred several centuries before the typical ceremonies were introduced to the people of Israel.
The next quote clearly shows that God’s messenger is employing the term “statutes” to apply to the 10 Commandment Law and speaks of it contextual to safeguarding the integrity of civil society. “The teaching which has become so widespread, that the divine statutes are no longer binding upon men, is the same as idolatry in its effect upon the morals of the people. Those who seek to lessen the claims of God's holy law are striking directly at the foundation of the government of families and nations.” Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 143
That the term “statutes” should not be divorced from the issue of applying civil “judgments” is reflected in the following passage. Moses in assuming the role of magistrate, was overwhelmed by the volume of disputes that arose among the people all of which were referred to him. The Lord’s Messenger tells us:
He had permitted this, for it gave him an opportunity to instruct them; as he said, "I do make them know the statutes of God, and His laws." But Jethro remonstrated against this, saying, "This thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone." "Thou wilt surely wear away," and he counseled Moses to appoint proper persons as rulers of thousands, and others as rulers of hundreds, and others of tens.… These were to judge in all matters of minor consequence, while the most difficult and important cases should still be brought before Moses… Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 301
We are told that God at Sinai commanded Moses to write under His dictation precise:
…. directions in regard to what he required them to perform, and thereby guarded the ten precepts which he had engraved upon the tables of stone. These specific directions and requirements were given to draw erring man to the obedience of the moral law, which he is so prone to transgress. If man had kept the law of God, as given to Adam after his fall… there would have been no necessity of God's proclaiming his law from Sinai, and engraving it upon tables of stone, and guarding it by definite directions in the judgments and statutes given to Moses. Moses wrote these judgments and statutes from the mouth of God while he was with him in the mount. Spirit of Prophecy, pp. 264 & 265, Vol. 1
The following admonition is given to Israel, where in the days of the prophet Amos the true worship of heartfelt obedience to God’s express moral statutes have been compromised and largely forsaken. Because they observe the Feast Days and corresponding sacrifices, the people are at ease in Zion under a false sense of security thinking that their adherence to the typical rituals is well pleasing to God. However, God makes it very clear that His primary concern and priority for His people is moral rectitude, and that He finds their ceremonial observances totally abhorrent. “I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins…for it is an evil time. Seek good and not evil that you may live… I hate, I despise your Feast Days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them.” Amos 5: 12-14 & 21-22.
In describing the sinner’s return to a life of submission to God’s moral statutes and correlative civil obedience Ezekial tells us: "If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die." Ezekiel 33:15
Aside from its obviously bankrupt theological basis in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, there are other areas of practical concern pertaining to the phenomena of Feast Days adoption within Adventism. I raise the following two examples not because I believe that most Feast Day supporters may be taking such extreme positions as these two persons (whom I happen to know) have, but rather because this shows the kind of thinking that being obsessed with these ceremonial practices and their promulgation can lead people into.
A personal friend who drifted into this movement has since become an ardent proselytizer and advocate of the practice. He even goes so far as to claim that Seventh Day Adventists Christians who fail to embrace and practice the Feast Days are thereby forfeiting their eternal salvation. He rationalizes this because to disregard God’s requirements, is to be held liable for the sin of rebellion and the omission of a revealed sacred duty. The question should be posed as to whether this kind of deduction – in the context of adhering to the Feast Day ceremonies - represents a works based view of attaining salvation. In any event, if God does not actually expect or command the post-Calvary practice of these ceremonies among His people, then to promulgate the view that today massive numbers of SDAs are forfeiting their eternal salvation over their negligence to do so is to engage in irresponsible and baseless fear mongering.
Another SDA acquaintance and Feast Days advocate (a health professional with a doctorate – so no moron) has now placed on her agenda the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and has expressed that she is not averse to the reinstitution of animal sacrifices. She also advocates that SDAs need to obtain a Hebrew name and abandon Gentile forms of worship. I know that some ultra-orthodox Jews are pushing for the blasphemous agenda of temple rebuilding and Old Testament prescribed sacrifices, but that at least one “highly educated” Seventh Day Adventist Christian has the same goal is truly incredible. Need I say more?
Another logical concern is the practicality of proclaiming the Three Angels Message. Is this divinely mandated message now going include a call to return to the shadow sabbaths as well as the weekly Sabbath of creation? If this were to become a pre-conditional belief for SDA membership would this not prove for most who are still in the various fallen Christian churches, an overwhelming and insurmountable barrier to joining the end time Advent movement? Could this not put the brakes on the successes being realized in global evangelism? If we were to concede that it is a divinely ordained requirement for all true SDA Christians today, than do we not face the prospective tragedy that millions who otherwise would have accepted the message to come out of Babylon, will fail to do so and end up missing out on the gift of everlasting life?
Finally it must be asked: Is this discovery of “new light” introduced to members in our beloved Church from non-SDA Church source(s), nothing more than a brilliant stratagem of the enemy to create further disharmony within the Remnant Church, employing the tried and proven tactic of divide and conquer? We are aptly warned: “Many things will be presented that appear to be true, and yet they need to be considered with much prayer; for they may be specious devices of the enemy.” Testimonies Vol. 8, p. 290
Since the Feast Days were typical ceremonies, and not natural law or civil statute based explications of how to put into daily practice the principles of the eternal moral code, it does not follow that there is any unequivocal basis in either the sacred scriptures or the Spirit of Prophecy for engaging in the practice of these festive and sacrificial focused rites by Christians in the post-Calvary era. Speaking prophetically of His people God says “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, her sabbaths – all her appointed feasts… And it shall be, in that day, says the Lord that you will call Me my Husband, and no longer call me my Master.” Hosea 2: 11 & 16
For those who may have been misinformed or misled on this complex and sensitive issue, God’s messenger in a spirit of loving compassion warns us that “We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed.” Testimonies To Ministers p. 30
End Note on Drugs as Sorcery:
* The system of medicine that today dominates the "Western" world (and increasingly the East as well) is allopathy. It is in many respects a religious belief system, that is actually more theoretical, philosophic and reductionistic in nature than it is empirical and holistic (after all when most allopathic medical practitioners hear about experiential based cases of natural healing success, they dismiss it disparagingly as being merely "anecdotal" evidence). Allopathy proudly traces its lineage back to Aescalapius who is considered the "god of medicine". He was the son of Apollo the sun god and a mortal woman impregnated by this god. The Mediterranean cult surrounding him includes the belief that a Centaur name Chiron became his tutor and mentor in the healing arts. After zapping him to death for charging money to raise the dead, his father's father Zeus made him into a god, transforming Aescalapius into the constellation Ophiuchus (the serpent-bearer, as the snake was used in his healing rituals). Today the staff of a single serpent encircling a staff is called the "staff of Aescalapius" used by some medical associations including the WHO. Many other "medical" organizations (particularly American) use a symbol of a short rod entwined by two snakes and topped by a pair of wings, which is actually called the caduceus or magic wand of the Greek god Hermes, messenger of the gods, inventor of (magical) incantations, conductor of the dead and protector of merchants and thieves. This wand is sold at occult, new age & witchcraft stores with descriptions such as "It's central phallic rod represents the potentiality of the masculine, and is intimately surrounded by the writhing, woven shakti energies of two coupling serpents. The rod also represents the spine, while the serpents conduct spiritual currents along the ida and pingala channels in a double helix pattern from the chakra at the base of the spine up to the pineal gland".
The cult of Aescalapius became very popular during the 4th century BC and the cult centers (called Asclepieion) were used by priests called the Asclepiadae to cure the sick. Invalids also came to the shrines of Aescalapius to find cures for their ailments (in the same fashion pilgrims visit Lourdes today.) The process of healing was known as incubation. The patient would spend the night in a dormitory. During the night they would supposedly be visited by the god Aescalapius in a dream. Priests would then interpret the dreams thereby recommending a remedy, or give advice on how they could be cured.
The pharmaceutical symbol Rx actually used to be an eye with an "x" below it, instead of an "R", and it was called the "Eye of Horus." ."(The eye & lower x is still being used some parts of the world). The Egyptian god Horus was the "father of pharmacy. He was the son of two of the main gods in the Egyptian pantheon, Isis and Osiris. The Eye of Horus (or "udjat") became a powerful symbol in ancient Egypt. It was popularly and superstitiously worn as an amulet to ensure good health and to ward off sickness.
As to the source of the word pharmacy we should go back to the original Koinne Greek Bible text. Pharmakeia is a Greek word found in the New Testament that means pharmacy, magic, sorcery and witchcraft. Its root is pharmakon, which refers to a druggist, poisoner, magician or sorcerer. God clearly states that Pharmakeia (the use of drugs) is a sin in Galatians 5:19-20; "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft/sorcery (pharmakeia)". Revelation 18:23 refers to all of the nations being deceived by pharmakeia. Revelation 9:21 refers to those on whom the plagues fall as not having repented of their "murders, nor of their pharmakeon, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts." Revelation 21:8 states that "...murderers, and whoremongers, and pharmakeus, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.." Revelation 22:15 states that "pharmakos, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." will be outside of the New Jerusalem. It bears noting that a year 2000 Johns Hopkin's report confirms a top estimate of 284,000 deaths annually in the USA caused by allopathic medical treatment. These deaths were primarily the consequence of prescribed treatment modalities, and not accidents. Thus iatrogenesis can be ranked as the 3rd leading cause of death in the nation, i.e. after cardiovascular disease and cancer. (JAMA 2000, 07/26:284-483) It does go without saying that God's "true remedies" (Ministry of Healing p. 127) would have brought to these hundreds of thousands of people life and not death.
Supplemental Spirit of Prophecy Quotations Pertaining
to Hebrew Feast-Day Rites & Ceremonies
They (some Jewish Christians) were slow to discern that all the sacrificial offerings had but prefigured the death of the Son of God, in which type met antitype, and after which the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic dispensation were no longer binding.
Before his conversion Paul had regarded himself as blameless "touching the righteousness which is in the law." Philippians 3:6. But since his change of heart he had gained a clear conception of the mission of the Saviour as the Redeemer of the entire race, Gentile as well as Jew, and had learned the difference between a living faith and a dead formalism. In the light of the gospel the ancient rites and ceremonies committed to Israel had gained a new and deeper significance. That which they shadowed forth had come to pass, and those who were living under the gospel dispensation had been freed from their observance. God's unchangeable law of Ten Commandments, however, Paul still kept in spirit as well as in letter. Act of the Apostles pp. 189 & 190
After Christ died on the cross as a sin offering, the ceremonial law could have no force. Yet it was connected with the moral law, and was glorious. Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, April 22, 1902, paragraph 9 - Article Title: The Righteousness of Christ in the Law
The Jewish ceremonial law has passed away. The temple is in ruins. Jerusalem was given up to be destroyed. But the law of the ten commandments lives, and will live through the eternal ages. The need for the service of sacrifices and offerings ceased when type met anti-type in the death of Christ. In him the shadow reached the substance. The Lamb of God was a complete and perfect offering. Types and shadows, offerings and sacrifices, had no virtue after Christ's death on the cross… Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, October 10, 1899, paragraph 9 - Article Title: This Do, and Thou Shalt Live
We have the types and the shadows in the ceremonial laws, and these were to last until they should meet the reality. The sacrificial offerings were continually revealing the fact that Christ was coming to our world, and when type met antitype in the death of Christ, then the sacrificial offerings, typifying Christ, were no more of any value, but the royal law of God could not be changed. … There is no shadow in the precepts of the decalogue. The ten commandments are not a type. Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, July 15, 1890, paragraph 5 - Article Title: Obedience to the Law Necessary
The ceremonial system was made up of symbols pointing to Christ, to His sacrifice and His priesthood. This ritual law, with its sacrifices and ordinances, was to be performed by the Hebrews until type met antitype in the death of Christ, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Then all the sacrificial offerings were to cease. It is this law that Christ "took . . . out of the way, nailing it to His cross." Colossians 2:14. But concerning the law of Ten Commandments the psalmist declares, "Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven." Psalm 119:89. Patriarchs and Prophets, page 365, paragraph 1 Chapter Title: The Law and the Covenants
When the Jews held their services of thanksgiving, after the ingathering of nature's treasure, they offered sacrifices to God. To us it might seem strange that sacrificial offerings should have formed so important a part of the universal rejoicing; and to outward appearance, it was a strange combination to mingle the sacrifice of beasts with the expressions of joy. But this was built upon the true foundation; for Christ himself was the object of these ceremonial services. When, in these festal gatherings, blood was shed, and offerings were made to God, the people were not only thanking him for his present mercies, but they were thanking him for the promise of a Saviour, and by this expressing the truth that without the shedding of the blood of the Son of God, there could be no forgiveness of sins. Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, November 24, 1896, paragraph 5 Article Title: The Right Use of God's Gifts
In instituting the sacramental service to take the place of the Passover, Christ left for His church a memorial of His great sacrifice for man. "This do," He said, "in remembrance of Me." This was the point of transition between two economies and their two great festivals. The one was to close forever; the other, which He had just established, was to take its place, and to continue through all time as the memorial of His death.—Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, June 22, 1897
After the crucifixion, it was a denial of Christ for the Jews to continue to offer the burnt offerings and sacrifices which were typical of his death. It was saying to the world that they looked for a Redeemer to come, and had no faith in Him who had given his life for the sins of the world. Hence the ceremonial law ceased to be of force at the death of Christ. The Signs of the Times, July 29, 1886, paragraph 4 Article Title: Christ and the Law
The whole system of types and symbols was a compacted prophecy of the gospel, a presentation in which were bound up the promises of redemption. The Acts of the Apostles, p. 14
When Jesus at His ascension entered by His own blood into the heavenly sanctuary to shed
upon His disciples the blessings of His mediation, the Jews were left in total darkness to continue their useless sacrifices and offerings. The ministration of types and shadows had ceased. That door by which men had formerly found access to God was no longer open. The Jews had refused to seek Him in the only way whereby He could then be found, through the ministration in the sanctuary in heaven. Christ in His Sanctuary p. 44
The True Sabbath
Excerpts from Chapter 6: The Shadowy Sabbaths (pp. 18-20)
By: Raymond Cottrel (1942)
In New Testament times…disciples of Christ found themselves struggling between two extreme classes of religionists. The orthodox Jews together with many of the converts from Judaism, clung tenaciously to the traditions, superstitions, and ceremonies of their fathers, and zealously sought to force all these upon the early Christians. On the other hand, paganism with its multitude of degrading rites, its subtle arts and gilded pomp, menaced the infant church; and from the hour of its birth stood ready to swallow it up. Between these two opposing systems…the followers of Christ were to walk the straight and narrow way…
Three times each year all Israel was to assemble for worship at the sanctuary in Jerusalem. The Passover, a memorial of the deliverance from Egypt and a forecast of the greater deliverance through the world's Redeemer, was celebrated in the early spring. Fifty days later came the feast of harvest, or Pentecost; and in the autumn, when the year's work in field, orchard, and vineyard was completed, the day of atonement and the feast of tabernacles were observed. In connection with each of these gatherings were annual Sabbaths, hallowed by Jehovah, and concerning which He solemnly charged His people, "You shall do no servile work therein." Leviticus 23:7. See also verses 21,25, & 35.
These ceremonial Sabbaths were wholly separate and distinct from the weekly rest day that was established in ancient Eden as a memorial of creation. After enumerating the various annual assemblies and Sabbaths, the divine record continues: "These are the feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day. Beside the Sabbaths of the Lord, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which you give unto the Lord." Leviticus 23:37 & 38.
Note carefully these words of Inspiration. Lest anyone should confuse the two, God Himself makes clear the distinction between the yearly and the weekly rest days, and enjoins Israel to observe all of these holy annual convocations "beside the Sabbaths of the Lord." Again, the ceremonial Sabbaths were fixed days in the annual Jewish calendar, and occurred on the various days of the week, even as the Fourth of July and Christmas do now.
The seventh day Sabbath was instituted in the beginning before the entrance of sin; while the yearly Sabbaths were not appointed until twenty-five hundred years later. (Genesis 2:1-3; Leviticus 23:4-44) The seventh day Sabbath is presented to man as an essential part of the moral law that defines sin; the others were given to Israel as object lessons of God's remedy for sin. (Exodus 20:3-17; Leviticus 16:29-34) The seventh-day Sabbath was proclaimed by the Lord Himself from Mount Sinai, was written by the finger of God on the tablet of stone, and formed a part of the royal law that reposed in the sacred ark of the covenant. The other Sabbaths, being part of the temporary, typical system, were rehearsed to Moses, who wrote of them in a book, which was placed in the side of the ark. (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 4:13,14; 10:1-5; Exodus 24:4,7; Deuteronomy 31:24,26)
The Sabbath of the fourth commandment, as an original precept of the law of God, stands unchanging and eternal; while the annual Sabbaths serving as "a figure for the time then present," "a shadow of good things to come," passed away when Christ offered Himself on Calvary's cross. Type then gave place to antitype. The true Light appeared, and the shadows faded away. (Psalm 111:7,8; Isaiah 66:22,23; Hebrews 9:9-11; 10:1-4.)
Accordingly, disciples and Christians who accepted the Lamb of God as a crucified and risen Savior no longer brought their sacrifices to be offered upon an altar of stone or of brass. They no longer celebrated the feast of unleavened bread, the sprinkling of blood, and the Passover Sabbaths; for, with Paul, they gloried in the knowledge that "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." 1 Corinthians 5:7,8.
No longer with vigils and fasting did they observe the ancient day of atonement and other ceremonial Sabbaths, for they unhesitatingly testified, "We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." Romans 5:11. But the Sabbath of the commandment established before the entrance of sin, and forming no part of the shadowy, ceremonial law, remains the same throughout all generations and dispensations. As Article IV of the "royal law," it is not subject to amendment or repeal. While the apostle to the Gentiles emphatically proclaimed that the Levitical ritual had passed away, he adored the law of God as the very constitution of Christianity. To the Romans, he said: "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Romans 3:31. And again: " The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." Romans 7:12.
With these thoughts in mind we appreciate more fully the significance of those Sabbath days "which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." Those ritual Sabbaths of old with their services and symbols, foreshadowed Christ and taught of Him as the coming Messiah. He was the body, or substance, that cast the shadow. Patriarchs and prophets of old beheld the shadow, and by faith visioned the advent of Christ. Such was the meaning of our Lord's words when He said to the Jews: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad." John 8: 56.
Many times the question is asked, " But what about the law that was nailed to the cross?" It could not have been the moral law of ten precepts, for these define right and wrong, and in their very nature remain the same from age to age. The New Testament, however, tells of another code which was abolished: "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross." Colossians 2:14. Reference is here made, not to the law of God, but to "the handwriting of ordinances" that regulated the sanctuary services, eating, drinking, the annual feasts, and holy days that were "a shadow of things to come." See verses 16,17. Concerning these the Bible speaks: "It came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee." Deuteronomy 31: 24-26.
These laws and ordinances may be found in the last chapters of Exodus, in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and gave specific instruction concerning diet, sanitation, the Levitical priesthood, the temple ritual, and the ceremonial Sabbaths. For example: "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall you have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation." Leviticus 23:24.
All of that service was Israel's kindergarten " for the time then present"; but when Christ came and offered Himself on Calvary, the kindergarten lessons were no longer required. The so-called "law of Moses," or ceremonial law, had served its purpose; and the Redeemer "abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace." Ephesians 2:15.
The sanctuary service and other rites had served as a wall of separation between Jew and Gentile. They had been the occasion for much controversy and enmity; but when Christ as the great antitype died upon the cross, He brought an end to the law of ordinances ' and swept away all spiritual distinction between Jew and Gentile. (Colossians 3: ll.)
The difference between the two law codes of Scripture is also clear and obvious. The one is that
law which Christ “abolished in His flesh" (Ephesians 2: 15); the other is the law which He did not come to destroy (Matthew 5:17). The one is "the law of commandments contained in ordinances" (Ephesians 2:15); the other law is embraced in the Ten Commandments, which are presented to both Jew and Gentile alike as embracing "the whole duty of man" (Ecelesiastes 12: 13).
THE MORAL LAW THE CEREMONIAL LAW
Is called the "royal law." The law contained in ordinances."
(James 2:8.) (Ephesians 2:15.)
Was spoken by God. Was spoken by Moses.
(Deuteronomy 4:12,13) (Leviticus 1:1-3.)
Was written by "the finger of God." Was written by Moses in a book.
(Ex. 31:18.) (2 Chron. 35:12)
Is " perfect." "Made nothing perfect."
(Psalm 19:7) (Hebrews 7:l9.)
Is eternal and unchangeable. Was nailed to the cross.
(Psalm 111:7,8) (Colossians 2:14.)
Was not destroyed by Christ. Was abolished by Christ.
(Matthew 5:17) (Ephesians 2:15)
Was magnified by Christ. Was taken out of the way by Christ.
(Is. 42:21; Ps. 40:7,8.) (Col. 2:14.)
Is the divine code that defines sin Was instituted in consequence of sin.
(Rom. 3:20; 7:7.) (Lev. 3-7.)
Reinventing Ancient Rituals?
(This article is taken from the Adventist Review, February 10, 2000
under Bible Questions Answered section, p. 21.)
Issued by the Biblical Research Institute - General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Question - Some church members where I live are teaching that it is necessary for Christians to observe Israelite festivals. Is this a biblical requirement?
Answer - Several Adventist scholars have looked into this subject, and the common conclusion has been that the Bible does not expect Christians to observe the Jewish festivals. Let me briefly summarize some of those conclusions.
Festivals and the Sacrificial System: Each of the festivals was characterized by the joy of bringing offerings and sacrifices to the Lord. In Leviticus 23 the different festivals are listed, and their purpose is summarized with the words "These are the Lord’s appointed feasts, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing offerings made to the Lord by fire" (verse 37, NIV). The Hebrew preposition le (for) is used here to express the idea of purpose. There is no indication in the Bible that during the festivals a spiritual sacrifice could take the place of a material one.
Festivals and Centralized Worship: A number of the festivals were to be celebrated at the Temple and not anywhere else in Israel. Three feasts are specifically required to be observed in the Temple, making it necessary for the people to appear before the Lord; namely, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles (Deut. 16:16). Even Passover, which was originally a family celebration, was also centralized and connected with the Temple: "You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the Lord your God gives you except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name" (verse 5, NIV). The Bible does not allow for the celebration of those festivals anywhere else. Any attempt to justify their celebration independent of the Israelite Temple is simply a human determination.
Festivals and the Calendar: Most of the festivals were closely tied to the Israelite agricultural calendar. This was clearly the case with respect to the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was closely connected to the Passover (Lev. 23:5-11); the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost; Deut. 16:9, 10; Lev. 23:15-21); and the Feast of Tabernacles (Ex. 23:16; Deut. 16:13; Lev. 23:33-36). The same applied to the sabbatical years (Ex. 23:10, 11). The implication is that it was impossible for the Israelites to celebrate some of these festivals before they entered Canaan. This was particularly the case with the Feasts of Pentecost and Tabernacles (Ex. 23:16). No exceptions to those regulations are mentioned in the Bible, thus indicating that the celebration of those feasts was restricted to those living in the land of Israel. In fact, Hosea announced that Israel’s exile would make it impossible for them to celebrate the Lord’s feasts (Hosea 9:1-5).
Festivals and Ethnic Identity: The religious and ethnic identity of the Israelites was closely associated with the celebration of some of the festivals, such as the Passover, which was restricted to Israelites and to those who through circumcision became Israelites (Ex. 12:43-50). It may well be that the reason the Judaizers Paul confronted were requiring Christian Gentiles to become Jews by being circumcised (Acts 15:1); otherwise they could not celebrate Passover and other festivals and Jewish rituals.
Festivals and Christians: The New Testament makes clear that the sanctuary services of the Old Testament came to an end through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and through His high-priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. The ceremonial law was "a shadow of the good things that are coming - not the realities themselves" (Heb. 10:1, NIV). We no longer abide by the ceremonial Levitical law; we have a new High Priest who does not belong to the order of Aaron; and "when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law" (Heb. 7:12). This is not the law that regulated priestly lineage; it is rather the law that could not bring perfection (verse 19).
apostolic period Jewish Christians may have observed the festivals, but there is
no biblical evidence to support the conclusion that this was required of Gentile
Christians. On the contrary, the Bible indicates that the celebration of the
festivals had geographical and temporal limitations; their religious function
found its fulfillment in Christ.