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Feast Days in Adventism
Erstwhile Shadows or New Light
?

By Raymond Obomsawin
July, 2004

(Author’s biblical quotes NKJV)

Our Challenge & Opportunity to Reform

As a lifetime member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church I perceive and concede that my beloved Church has made serious compromises with the fallen world system. It is in distress and sadness that I note this. For example, the marvelous health message intended to demonstrate God’s desire to make man whole, and the impressive powers of healing that are harnessed as we understandingly obey the Creator’s natural laws, has been largely supplanted by: the sorcery * (see end note on drugs as sorcery) of poisonous drugging; vaccines which are implicated in impairing the precious brain-nerve complex and immune systems of our children; unwarranted radiation poisoning; and much unnecessary surgery and associated mortality. 

Our educational institutions intended of God to be potent centers of missionary training in the inculcation of life giving truths and light distinctive from the world system, have instead considerably emulated and compromised with that very system in order to secure and retain accreditation status, and acquire broader public acceptance. Problems such as rationalized moderate drinking and escalating divorce now plague our Church. In a desperate attempt to halt the massive hemorrhaging of young SDA believers that are being seduced by the world, the world’s drug culture music is being increasingly brought into the sacred precincts of our churches and camp meetings. 

God’ clear and inspired counsels that have served as a bedrock in making this Church a prophetically identified and coherent world movement are still verbally acknowledged by Church leaders, educators and most members as the measuring rod of our lives and of our mission.  However, for far too many of us the unpalatable and disagreeable portions of God’s counsel - whether biblical or Spirit of Prophecy - are tossed aside in our daily lives and professional/institutional practices, as if inspired counsel is now largely irrelevant and of little value in our age of unparalleled innovation and sophistication. As we give pious lip service to the truth, our insubordination and the shameless belying of our prophetically demarcated mission tends to be veiled. Indeed, our compromises with the world have led us down the long road of the delayed advent, thus prolonging the great misery that is in our world. It is as clear as the day: “We must follow the directions given through the Spirit of Prophecy. We must love and obey the truth for this time. This will save us from accepting strong delusions… If we disregard them, what excuse can we offer?” Testimonies Vol. 8, pp. 296-298  

As a further point, God’s special messenger to the Remnant has given us fair warning and promise:  

If in defiance of God’s arrangements the world be allowed to influence our decisions or our action, the purpose of God is defeated. However specious the pretext, if the Church waver here, there is written against her in the books of heaven a betrayal of the most sacred trusts, and treachery to the kingdom of Christ. The Church is firmly and decidedly to hold her principles before the whole heavenly universe and the kingdoms of the world; [this] steadfast fidelity in maintaining the honor…of God will attract the notice and admiration of even the world.  Testimonies to Ministers, p. 17. 

This long needed return to fidelity remains as our greatest challenge and most pressing opportunity.

A Proposed Solution & Unanswered Questions

 The purpose of this paper is not to address the sad failings of ourselves and of our Church, which have kept us Adventists wandering and dying in this sinful wilderness for much longer than the 40 years of ancient Israel. (Despite this protracted delay, many who’ve died and will yet die in the message will be saved and rise in either the special, or the first resurrections.) Instead it will focus on what is today being proposed by some members and even a few thought leaders in our Church as the panacea that will effectively bring us back into God’s special favor as His chosen people, and thus hasten our Lord’s glorious return. 

It is postulated by some inter alia that an outright rejection in practice by the Seventh Day Adventist Church of the Feast Days embodied in the ceremonial law system as given through Moses, poses a primary act of insubordination which - alongside the other serous compromises of the Church - have brought down upon contemporary Adventism God’s frown and disfavor. Consequently, it is implied that an effectual and widespread reform in this one area of disobedience, will in turn serve as a primary catalyst to usher in the long needed reforms in all other areas. 

Logically a few questions must be posed here. Did the practice of these ceremonial feasts and associated rites serve as a potent force to ensure that theocratic Israel and in turn kingly governed Judah and Israel would not engage in compromises with and accommodation of the pagan practices that surrounded them as a people? Anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of Old Testament history knows very well that generally such was not the case. And when the King of glory walked upon the pathways of Palestine engaged on His mission of mercy to fallen humanity, did the assiduous practice of the Feast Day ceremonies ensure that the church of Israel embraced and honored her Messiah? We all know very well what happened to the divine-human Son of God. 

This leads us to pose a set of basic thought questions seeking an understanding on the role that the prospective restitution of Feast Day ceremonies could play in ensuring or actualizing the following needed reforms in Adventism: 

ü      How will it actualize the long delayed reformation in our medical and educational systems?

ü      How will it expel the relentless beat of rock music from many of our churches and camp meetings?

ü      How will it reverse the all too common use of flesh foods, and other critical violations of the health message, including the use of fermented wines by “liberated” Adventists? 

ü      How will it heal our church of selfishness, the loss of dress standards and obsessive materialism?

ü      How will it free us from the growing fixation with pleasure-seeking, and the demands for unbroken entertainment that now dominate our lives by day and by night?

ü      How will it eliminate the break up of homes and restore the lives broken thereby?

ü      How will it serve to accelerate and expand the finishing of the Great Commission and thus hasten Christ’s return?  

Relative to these key areas of concern in our Church, I don’t see any logic or reasonable basis to conclude that a widespread restoration of Feast Days among our people is the appropriate and essential remedy that God calls for.  Alternatively, I do believe the answer lies in a simple and humble acceptance of the divine prognosis and prescription as embodied in the message to Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-18), viz. our willing submission and surrender to God’s sovereign Spirit and the particulars of His expressed will. We are aptly warned “It is human pride and self-confidence, mingled with human depravity, that has enfeebled the churches… All resistance of God, all departures from virtue and truth, pervert the faith as well as the morals, while conformity to God’s revealed will always increases faith and knowledge.” Review & Herald Vol. 2 243-244 09/04/1888.  

All ceremony aside, the highest form of worship is a life actuated by the singular purpose of fully honoring and obeying the God whom we claim to serve. This must encompass a daily heartfelt confession and total forsaking of worldly compromises by the laity, educators and leaders of our Church. It will also necessitate an intelligent seeking for and integration of His super-ordinate will, principles and methods in every dimension of our personal lives, and in the corporate service of our Church institutions. This and this alone will permit our longsuffering Creator to fully shower the long delayed blessing of the latter rain upon His Remnant Church. Only then can we be empowered and enabled - fair as the moon, clear as the sun and awesome as an army with banners - to vanquish the kingdom of darkness and in the unwonted power of the Loud Cry finally finish our Master’s work on this sad and sick earth. Indeed, we have this blessed assurance “If the church will put on the robe of Christ's righteousness, withdrawing from all allegiance with the world, there is before her the dawn of a bright and glorious day. God's promise to her will stand fast forever. He will make her an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.”  Acts of the Apostles p. 601 

The Argument of Early Christian Observance

 A few select texts are employed by Feast Day proponents to make a case for New Testament Christian observance of these rituals. However, in the entire New Testament post-Gospel record there is only one explicit reference found in Acts 18:21, to a Christian (the apostle Paul) expressing his intent to “keep” a Feast Day. This statement was made to a group of still unconverted Jews in their synagogue at Ephesus. It is found in Syrian or Majority Text based translations, such as the KJV and NKJV, but is missing in NU based versions such as the NIV. We need to bear in mind Paul’s avowed strategy to win both Jews and Gentiles. He asserts “…to the Jews I became a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those under the law, as under the law, that I might win those under the law, to those who are without the law [Gentiles], as without the law…I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”  I Cor. 9:19-22  This portrays his stratagem to convert Jews and Gentiles by openly fitting into their respective culture systems, without denying Christ in the process. 

He knew of the impending destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, and the soon termination of the Jewish ritual system. Time was swiftly running out for the Jews, and it was not unreasonable that he (and other Jewish Christians looking for practical evangelistic opportunities) would seek to be present at the festivals as an opportunity to maximize their prospective audience. For example, Acts 20:16 speaks of Paul being in a hurry to be at Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost.  Additionally, the following passage intimates that Paul knew that because the full meaning of the ancient rites were now made clear by the Gospel, he could take advantage of such events as an ideal platform to proclaim Christ’s great antitypical sacrifice and high priestly ministry.

Paul had prided himself upon his Pharisaical strictness; but after the revelation of Christ to him on the road to Damascus the mission of the Saviour and his own work in the conversion of the Gentiles were plain to his mind, and he fully comprehended the difference between a living faith and a dead formalism. Paul still claimed to be one of the children of Abraham, and kept the Ten Commandments in letter and in spirit as faithfully as he had ever done before his conversion to Christianity. But he knew that the typical ceremonies must soon altogether cease, since that which they had shadowed forth had come to pass, and the light of the gospel was shedding its glory upon the Jewish religion, giving a new significance to its ancient rites. Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 3 p. 371

Christian Elders at Jerusalem spoke to Paul informing him that Jewish converts “zealous” to defend the law  “…have been informed about you, that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, nor to walk according to the customs.” Acts 21:21 A little further in the narrative in verse 28 we find Jews from Asia uniformly accusing Paul of teaching “all men everywhere” things that are opposed to both the law and the temple. We are certain that he never questioned the immutable authority of the Decalogue, so they are obviously referring to the law of Moses. Since the law transmitted by Moses actually refers to three distinct and separate areas i.e. moral civil conduct, natural law prescription, and typical ceremonies it must have been the latter that he was challenging. When given the clear linkage made by his accusers of his opposing the temple and its services, this is assuredly the only reasonable conclusion. 

Much later upon his arrival in Rome  “Paul called the leaders of the Jews together” and he claimed to have committed nothing against the “customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered as a prisoner from

Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans…. [and] because of the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.Acts 28:17 & 20. In reference to his widespread work of exalting the Christ who is both the foundation and fulfillment of the ceremonial and typical services, Paul could affirm with all good conscience that he was not advocating a violation of the Mosaic “customs”, but rather proclaiming their full and glorious realization.  

I would like to conclude this section with a relevant quote from John Wesley: 

The ritual or ceremonial law, delivered by Moses to the children of Israel, containing all the injunctions and ordinances which related to the old sacrifices and services of the temple, our Lord did indeed come to destroy… But the moral law contained in the Ten Commandments, and enforced by the prophets, He did not take away. To this bear all the apostles witness, not only Barnabas and Paul, who vehemently withstood those [Jewish believers] who taught that Christians ought 'to keep the law of Moses' (Acts 15: 5). Not only St. Peter, who termed the insisting on this, on the observance of the ritual law, a “tempting of God”, and “putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers”, said he, “nor we were able to bear” (verse 10). But “all the apostles, elders, and brethren, being assembled with one accord”, declared that to command them to keep this law, was to subvert their souls; and that “it seemed good to the Holy Ghost” and to them “to lay no such burden upon them” (verse 28). This “handwriting of ordinances” our Lord did “blot out”, take away, and nail to His cross. -  Sermons on Several Occasions, Volume 1, Sermon 25 

The Argument of the Sabbath  

One key proponent of the Feast Days has sought to portray the memorial Sabbath instituted at the Creation as an integral part of the ceremonial ritual system. (see: Apologia, Sabbath Conference Special Vol. 2, No. 1) This supposition is primarily derived from the fact that the weekly Sabbath is mentioned in the 3rd verse of Leviticus 23 which chapter subsequently delineates the annual typical feast day observances.  In fact this view is promulgated in order to convince Adventists that they can’t with consistency honor God’s weekly Sabbath, while dishonoring or disregarding the Feast Day typical or shadow sabbaths. It bears noting that the ceremonial sabbaths were fixed days in the annual Jewish calendar, and occurred on the various days of the week, even as modern holidays do in this era. In the holy scriptures God differentiates very clearly between the Sabbath He blessed and sanctified at the Creation, and the complex of typical sabbaths.  (For a complete exegetical overview of this and related issues, please refer to Annex II – Ch 6 excerpt from The True Sabbath By: R. Cottrel) 

On page 9 of their publication, the same proponents state “The Colossians text (2:14-17) doesn’t show the abrogation of the Sabbath; rather it proves that the Sabbath was being observed (with the holy days and new moons)!”  The writer is so determined to place the creation Sabbath into the feast days (as a means of legitimizing them) that he totally confuses Paul’s point in this passage, by erroneously indicating that the apostle is identifying the weekly sabbath as a “shadow” and not the ritual Sabbaths of the ceremonial system. Please excuse my crude language, but this is total unbiblical claptrap. It is indeed accurate to say that the creation Sabbath was being observed by all Jews (whether Christian or not) as well as the Gentile Christians. However, this reference clearly refers to the typical shadow sabbaths, festivals and new moons that were still being assiduously observed by unconverted Jews, who were using the Christian rejection of these festivals as a basis for judgment against Christians and the rejection of Christianity. Additionally, there were apparently some Jewish converts who were still clinging on to these ceremonies, including the need for circumcision, and who were being judgmental toward those who had either abandoned them (Jewish believers) or failed to adopt them (Gentile believers).  

With this background in mind Paul’s letter points out that through the gospel “you were also circumcised…by the circumcision of Christ… [who] has wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us…and He has taken it our of the way, having nailed it to the cross… So let no man judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” Excerpted from Colossians 2: 11-17.  This unfair judgmentalism that Paul addresses, obviously relates to accusations of omission and not commission. Furthermore, in Ephesians 2:15 the apostle Paul reaffirms his point that Christ “abolished…the law of commandments [written by Moses hand] contained in ordinances [ceremonies and rituals].”  

When we really want to believe something it is very easy to self-deceptively read into a reference more than what is intended by the writer. As a rule, unfounded assumptions precipitate poor exegesis. 

Annual Feast Days Established on the Fourth day of Creation? 

It is contended by feast day advocates that the Hebrew word “moed” or “mow’ed” translated “seasons” in the Genesis 1:14 (KJV) account of the creation of earth’s solar system, definitively refers to the establishment of the “holy days” or festivals, and thus the festival calendar. This Hebrew word is actually employed 213 times in the entire Old Testament. It means (in general terms) an appointed time and/or place. In the authorized King James version of the Old Testament it is translated into the following English words the number of times indicated:

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“congregation” 150

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“feast” 23

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“seasons” 13

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 “appointed” 12

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 “assembly” 4

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 “solemnity” 4

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 “solemn” 2

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“days” 1

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“sign” 1

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 “synagogues” 1

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.

Restitution of the Feast Days Condoned by the Lord’s Messenger?

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. 

Did Ellen White Call for a Modern Reinstitution of the Ancient Feast of Tabernacles? 

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  

The Spirit of Prophecy Position Made Clear 

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 lawEGW - Signs of the Times, Sept. 4, 1884, Article Title: Immutability of the Law of God

Clarifying the Meaning of “Statutes” 

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  

Further Practical Concerns & Questions  

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

Conclusion 

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. 

Annex I

 

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 crossAdvent 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 

Annex II

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.) 

Annex III.

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. 

By: Angel Manuel Rodríguez 

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.  

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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).

  1. 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.

  1. 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).

During the 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.
 


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