Eschatology

Should Christians Start Celebrating Jewish Feast Days?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
Some postmodern Evangelical leaders are now promoting this false teaching, but Scripture delivers a stern warning.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

A reader writes: "I recently saw a video series in which a preacher says that churches should start celebrating some of the Jewish feast days, including the Day of Atonement, in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. Is this correct?"

Some so-called Evangelical leaders are using Good Friday and Easter to promote this false teaching. But the Bible delivers a stern warning: Anyone who teaches a return to any aspect of the Old Covenant has "trampled the Son of God underfoot" and "insulted the Spirit of grace."

One of the Oldest Heresies

Jewish feast-observance by the New Testament church is not a new teaching; in fact, it is one of the oldest heresies. But it has gained new and vocal advocates within the Evangelical church in recent years.

Several cults that gained past prominence taught feast observance. For example, the Worldwide Church of God (WCOG), founded by Herbert Armstrong in 1933 and still in existence, observed the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. The WCOG, after abandoning or softening some of its most deviant doctrinal positions (although it remains heterodox on key issues of sin and salvation), was received into the National Association of Evangelicals a few years ago. Many in the WCOG still observe the feast days.

Feast observance has also been a hallmark of many so-called Messianic Jewish churches, which keep one foot in the Old Covenant while claiming to fully embrace the New Covenant.

But in recent years, men who claim a place within the conservative Evangelical church have advocated a return to observance of some of the Jewish feast days - including the Day of Atonement - as necessary for the church in anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ.

A 21st-Century Cult

Among them is Mark Blitz of El Shaddai Ministries, based near Tacoma, Washington. He has received a good deal of favorable publicity, on the news website WorldNetDaily and elsewhere, for his ministry which is in fact a cult. Blitz has developed a worldwide following for an aberrant theology that calls for, as he puts it, a return to Christianity's "Hebrew roots." WorldNetDaily founder and editor Joseph Farah is a follower of Blitz, and produced Blitz's video series in which he teaches that Christians should keep the Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and the Feast of Tabernacles. Blitz teaches that parts of the Jewish ceremonial law are not yet fulfilled, awaiting fulfillment in the Second Coming of Christ. He calls observance of Old Testament feasts by both Jews and Christians "dress rehearsals for His Second Coming." Also contrary to Scripture (Matthew 24:36), Blitz claims that he knows the day and hour of Christ's coming.

These teachings are undeniably dangerous. God's Word leaves Christians no room for doubt or deviation. Scripture speaks clearly against feast-observance with the most severe warnings. The teachings of Mark Blitz and others like him are the Galatian heresy in 21st-century garb -

"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. But I make known to you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached by me is not according to man." (Galatians 1:6-11)

"O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? - Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1-3)

The Ceremonial Law Has Been Completely Fulfilled

God gave the ceremonial law specifically to the nation of Israel (Leviticus 1:1-2, 4:1-2, 4:13, 7:28-29, 9:1-4, 11:1-2, 12:1-2, 15:1-2, etc.) and to the aliens living among them (Exodus 12:49, Numbers 15:16, 29). All aspects of the ceremonial law - all, including the feasts - pointed to the first coming of Christ.

The ceremonial law was temporary, prefiguring the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ in the redemption of sinners (1 Corinthians 5:7-8, Galatians 4:1-3, Hebrews 9:9, 24). This included the feast days - "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival [feast day] or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ" (Colossians 2:16-17).

The ceremonial law was completely fulfilled by and in Christ (Hebrews 9:1-10:10), as signified by the rending of the veil of the temple at His death (Matthew 27:51, cf. Hebrews 10:19-22).

Abandoning the True Faith

The New Testament's teaching, especially in the books of Galatians and Hebrews, is this: For the church to place itself in any way back under the ceremonial law is to abandon the true faith. Paul under divine inspiration declares it to be a false gospel, as we have seen in Galatians chapter one above.

The writer of Hebrews declares the teachings of men like Mark Blitz to be an insult to God the Holy Spirit, and says that those who advocate a return to the Old Covenant are adversaries of God. After taking the first nine-and-a-half chapters to build the most airtight case possible for the complete fulfillment of the Jewish ceremonial law in the first coming of Christ, the writer of Hebrews delivers the Holy Spirit's severe warning in chapter 10, verses 19-29:

"Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

"For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, [that is, return to the ceremonial law which is completely done away in Christ] there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law [the Old Covenant] dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the [New] covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?"

On this basis, Bible-believing Christians must reject any teaching that places believers, Jew or Gentile, under any aspect of the Old Testament ceremonial law. Don't be caught up in this cultish heresy.

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