Keep the Feast

God tells gentile believers in Christ to keep Passover (1Co 5:7-8), the first of seven feasts in God’s annual celebration cycle. (Ex 12:2)

Since this command was initially given to a community living quite a distance from Israel, in an era when international travel was extremely slow and perilous, and since the prescribed location for correctly celebrating Passover is in Jerusalem, and since there’s no mention of them permanently relocating, the command implies there are valid ways to observe God’s feasts imprecisely, outside the Promised Land, apart from Levitical priests and the temple. Simply ask: which parts of each feast are we still able keep in our current circumstance?

Believers scattered abroad throughout the nations can’t keep everything about these feasts exactly as prescribed, but this appears to be inconsequential in the overall scheme of things. God has embedded prophetic pictures and rich symbolism within the rituals of each feast (Col 2:17), and evidently intends to systematically edify us as we engage each other in celebrating them as well as we can.

For example, the Passover Seder has enabled Jews to celebrate Passover for centuries without the temple, a sacrificial lamb or convening in Jerusalem. It enables us to retain the spirit and overall benefit of the feast for ourselves and families as we recount our deliverance from Egypt, God’s provision of blood in the paschal lamb to deliver us from spiritual death, the bitter herbs reminding us of our being freed from bondage to sin and the world (Ro 6:22), and unleavened bread symbolic of God’s call to holiness. (1Pe 1:16)

Christ adds that the unleavened bread of Passover is symbolic of His body, and that the cup of wine traditionally taken after the meal is symbolic of His blood. (Lk 22:20) Thus, He further enhances the meaning of Passover, telling us to continue celebrating this particular feast in remembrance of Him. (19) So, Passover, which is The Lord’s Supper (1Co 11:20), is one key way in which we’re to remember Christ and what He’s done for us. (1Co 11:25)

Similarly, we can keep the feast of Firstfruits in celebrating Christ’s Resurrection (1Co 15:20), and Pentecost to celebrate harvesting souls in God’s eternal redemption plan. (Ac 2:1) It’s no surprise that Christ fulfilled all three of God’s Spring feasts in His first coming. (Mt 5:17)

The Fall feasts evidently await their fulfillment in Christ: Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles are likewise packed with precious insights into God’s Way, work, and eternal plan. There is vast wealth here, the riches of Christ, to be mined through prayerful and obedient celebration of God’s amazing feasts, even though we cannot do this perfectly.

Most all of what God calls us to enjoy in these celebrations does not require a priest or an earthly temple. As we delight in each one with what opportunity we have (Ro 7:22), we align with celestial hosts celebrating with God about the true tabernacle in Heaven. (He 8:2)

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One thought on “Keep the Feast”

  1. Another approach to this topic (link), answering the objection that since we can’t keep the biblical feasts perfectly we shouldn’t bother keeping them at all, is to propose that the Levitical priesthood is obsolete and has been replaced by Yeshua, our Great High Priest. With Him as our priest, we can keep the feasts correctly.

    Though I like the sentiment, I disagree with the reasoning: If Yeshua were to come back to Earth now He couldn’t be a priest since the Levitical priesthood is still relevant. (“For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.” He 8:4-5) This will be the case when He does return: He won’t function as a priest but as a king, with the Levitical priests still in service at the rebuilt temple. (“And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.” Re 11:1)

    In these types of discussions, it is important in to keep Yeshua’s reminder of the enduring nature of all of Torah firmly in view: all of God’s Law will be relevant, and no part obsoleted, until Heaven and Earth pass away and every single prophecy has been fulfilled. (“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Mt 5:18) Most errors I have seen attacking the relevance of Torah start by violating this basic, axiomatic principle.

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