The clarification and restoration of the Feasts of the Lord as well as of His Commandments, are a very important part of the ministry of all who are of Jewish descent as disciples of Christ.
Many of those who carry the title of Messianic Jew are working to preserve and restore the original Jewish, more precisely the original biblical holidays. Some of us organize events, occasions, gatherings to traditionally celebrate these holidays.
These kind of evnets may also be of great significance and fruitful for some time, but the perpetuation of superficial celebrations deprived of their spiritual content will sooner or later be more harmful than constructive. As a disciple of Christ, what to do with these feasts ordained by the Eternal, for Paul also questions and warns us on this subject: “But now that you know YHWH—or rather are known by YHWH—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces ? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.” (Gal 4:9-11)
By these words of Paul, no one should feel free to go on celebrating all the pagan-rooted disgraceful pseudo-christian feasts imposed by time and the Greco-Roman imperial spirit on original and pure Christianity. It should be obvious to everyone that it is still better to keep the original, even if it is in a Pharisaic and religious way, than keep binding to the false ones in any way.
Of course, no one wants to return to their original roots in a Pharisaic and religious way, as Paul describes it. We will further explain what motivated Paul’s declaration, how he opposes the observance of the feasts, Sabbath days and years, and Jubilee years, while he himself worked to restore YHWH’s full and fulfilled Word.
How to celebrate the Feasts of the Lord then?
I often heard believers complaining that after their conversion and rebirth, they have been very eagerly awaiting and celebrating biblical feasts for some time. Then after a while the enthusiasm fade away slowly and they didn’t really know what to think about this feeling. For many, the phenomenon causes a great deal of remorse, as they feel that something is wrong with them on the spiritual level and many times they even go as far as to judge themselves.
I myself have gone through this state. Especially after I settled my Jewish identity and returned to celebrating exclusively biblical holidays. I had the same feeling as during my childhood while celebrating Christmas and Easter, which, unaware of their falsehood or mixedness, I experienced as a real miracle, as is the case with most children.
I waited with great excitement for the coming of these appointed days, watching the dates to appear in one of the synagogues of Budapest, celebrating the Feasts of the Lord with the local Jewish community. After a few years, I had no more desire to celebrate, go to synagogues and I usually found out the next day that a holiday had escaped my attention again.
Remorse had soon been replaced by a sense of reassurance, not knowing what was really going on, but feeling that it was not disobedience, sin, or any spiritual distortion that caused this feeling, but that I was begining to unconsciously experience what Paul was talking about to the Galatians.
I think this initial feeling and enthusiasm was completely all right and even helped me to be strengthened in spirit and identity. However, it is good that it did not last long and that I moved on in this area as well.
Does fulfillment invalidate?
I began to get a real answer to the question when a member of a church celebrating the Sabbath explained that they were celebrating no feast except of Shabbats and baptisms. In his church, it is believed that when Christ was crucified, when the tapestry in the temple was split in two, all the biblical feasts were fulfilled, so there is no need to keep them any longer. My eyes immediately flashed, though I felt that there were some mistakes and contradictions in what he was saying, yet I felt that the real answer to that question of the meaning of the holidays in the age of Grace is something very close to this one. However, I indicated him the contradiction of their belief since Saturday, as the holidays are considered Shabbat by the Law. The day of the great atonement for exemple, Yom Kippur, in the Old Testament is mentioned as the Sabbath of the Sabbath. I don’t really understand why so much emphasis is often placed on weekly Saturdays, while other holidays are considered outdated? But this is not our topic for the moment.
The two dimensions of the Holidays
I asked the Eternal that instead of wasting my time unnecessarily trying to solve the question with my own human tools, He Himself would open my eyes to what His feasts should mean to us believers, for the Word considers all Feasts to be eternal. Why is it that before, during and after my conversion in my early years as a believer, it was so important and today I don’t realy fell any enthusiasm anymore.
I soon received the answer, when the image of the Holy Tabernacle in the wilderness appeared to me. I recalled that the members of the people only appeared at the courtyard of the Temple during the great Feasts and on the weekly Shabbats. They appeared here in order to meet and make offerings to Elohim. The members of the people came from the outside, out of the wilderness to the courtyard of the Sanctuary. This courtyard was the place where they met the Levites who took their offerings inside.
Knowing that the Tabernacle is the foreshadowing of the Body of Christ, knowing that we who serve Christ are all Levites of this Spiritual Sanctuary, I have understood that Feast are being and must be experienced quite differently by the outsiders compared to the ones serving within. For outsiders, i.e. seekers, superficial believers, religious people, those who still follow traditions, etc, the designated days, the Holidays, are the only moments of the year when they can meet and approach the Eternal. These are the appointed moments when they appear in the courtyard because they are still following laws and traditions that expect them to do so. The Holiness of these days make them fall into a different and deeper state of mind thus they get closer to their Creator within their hearths. They are not members of the Sanctuary, but they appear at its door and come closer to their Savior in spirit. At such times, both their ears and their hearts are more open to the calling and comforting word of the Lord. Preparing for the holidays and appearing in the courtyard is already making them ready for the encounter. In the meantime, for those who are already serving within the Sanctuary by our rebirth, we experience the essence and spiritual content of all the fulfilled holidays in every moment of our life. We no longer need to look at the calendar and expect any spiritual boost or change in our own lives from the holidays and their observance. These days, like the commandments, are fulfilled in us by Christ. This is how we can understand Paul’s words when he rebukes born again believers because they put too much emphasis and expectation on keeping the feasts in the traditional way and did not understand their new spiritual significance and role from the inner side of the Sanctuary. In a word, the Galatians returned to religiously way of celebrating holidays, like traditional non-messianic Jews do. In a word, they returned to the demon of religiositiy.
The Feasts fulfilled in us by the Messiah
First, we have heard YHWH’s inviting voice at our own Yom HaTrua (Rosh HaShana). Then, after our withdrawal from Egypt and the sacrifice of the Lamb of Pessach, the Atonement, the ultimate Yom Kippur in our life, took place. Then we receive the Holy Spirit, the Comforter as the fulfillment of the feast of Shavuot, when the law is not engraved on stone tables anymore, but on the flesh of our hearts, the moment we can say: I no longer live but Christ lives in me.
There is only one holiday left, which is still in progress of fulfillment, the one of the harvest: Sukkoth (the feast of the tabernacle). This feast symbolizes our meeting at the tent court as Levites with those who are not yet members of the Body of Christ. Sukkoth is under fullfilment as we, the Levites are constantly offering new souls to the Lord as the firstfruits of our ministries.
I will talk about Purim, Rosh HaShana, and Hannuka in other teachings, since being non-biblical holidays or a misunderstood and modified version of it.
The Holy Tabernacle as the permanent Holiday
We who serve within are constantly in the presence of YHWH and the High Priest serving above us is Yeshua. We also are temples ourselves, Elohim living in us by the Holy Spirit. Why would we need to pay attention to moments and calendars? Why do we feel the need to experience some extra blessing in our lives through celebrations? Is not the Spirit of the Savior dwelling in us? Have not all the promises contained in the Feasts been fulfilled in us? Anywhere, at any time, we can testify of our own conversion, our Yom HaTrua and our acceptance of the blood of Christ, Pessach after which our final settlement and atonement Yom Kippur led us to receive the ultimate guidance by His Spirit when Shavuot, Pentecost had been also finally fulfilled in our hearts.
Those who are inside and serve in the Sanctuary, the holidays are truly fulfilled and it is dangerous to think that dates and other literal ordinances can do us any good. The same is true here as with the Law. They help us remaining on the narrow path but they are not the goals anymore just signs, reminders. Yet these holidays are eternal, even by date and calendar! They are valid and important on the time dimension because there are moments when outsiders bow to the entrance of the Sanctuary in greater number and more spiritually prepared. On these events, they can meet with us and the Eternal. For us, holidays by date are an opportunity to serve, to testify, and to receive new brethren. Because for them who are living under alien spirit, these days mean more than the common days of the year. Therefore, let us not offend them by not being available at the door when they are coming. But let us not think that these days have more significance for us than others, for we are and must be in a state of eternal Holiday and eternal Sabbath.
Let us then observe the times and feasts, so that we can serve others and give them spiritual food. Let us make our testimony of what the essence of the actual Holiday is towards those who are not yet members of the sanctuary, who are not yet Levites. But apart from the joy that the sight of the ministry and the birth of new lives can bring, let’s not expect anything else for ourselves since we already received everything, the most: His Grace.
Elohim gave the Holidays, as well as the Sabbaths to the world as eternal signs to remind everyone that He is the Creator, Savior, and Lord of the world. We must respect and use these signs for the sake of others. On these days, the unredeemed man has the opportunity to get an insight in the Heavenly Sanctuary receiving an invitation to enter as well. It is a great opportunity for the Levitical priests who serve inside to make the invitation more appealing so that they should accept it.
Let us celebrate with a child’s heart for the sake of children
As a family father, after a few years of latent celebration, I realized the importance of commemorating these occasions in order to fix them in the memory of my children. I realized it would be a very big mistake to deprive them of these, just because their parents had grown up in spirit. The most powerful means of evangelism is to celebrate these days. It teaches a kind of humility and respect to our children, lays the foundation for their faith and, in the case of Jews, establishes their identity. Here, we learn that in our rushed world, we need moments to stop and focus exclusively on Elohim and seek Him. As I also remember the feasts of my childhood, although most of them were false, they still played a very important role in seeking and recognizing the true feasts of the Lord and the Lord Himself.
These celebrations will be signs in the future life of my children, hopefully on their discipleship paths, that they can rely on, that will strengthen them and show them the way. However, they will sooner or later have to move beyond the surface of these signs. It will not be enough for them to appear at the threshold 3 times a year on major holidays or weekly Shabbats, but as members of the Sanctuary, the essence of the feasts and Sabbaths must be engraved in their hearts to become permanent in them.
So let’s keep the holidays for the sake of the children, for those who are children by age, for those those, although physically grown, that are still children in spirit and for those who are not yet born again.
Zeev Shlomo / Richard Sipos / 5/12/2021