Monday, October 12, 2015

Since Paul said that the Torah "is spiritual" does that mean we don't have to bother keeping the Feasts?

We don't often post reader comments to The Refiner's Fire on this blog, but this one may be of interest to many!

READER COMMENT:

Hello again! I think you probably have an article that will refute this, but I can't find it.

A friend sent (this link:  http://www.thepathoftruth.com/falsehood-exposed/feast-keeping-that-is-sin.htm) and stated that because we are not living in the land of Israel, we are not to observe the Feasts, that to attempt do so without doing it to a "T" as stated in the Torah, in other words, to try to observe a Feast and not sacrifice animals and things like that, we are disobeying and sinning against God because we are not doing it exactly His way.

That even though Paul and the believers did continue to go to the Temple and do sacrifices (not the one that Jesus fulfilled) and other things, that they couldn't do any of them after the Temple was destroyed, so no one is supposed to be doing them in part, because they are to be done EXACTLY as stated in the Torah, IN the land of Israel, or it is disobedience/sin. She said "the Jews were not required to observe them while in captivity in Babylon--and we find ourselves again in captivity now. It was forbidden in Bethel and Dan and it is forbidden in the US and anywhere else. We keep the Feasts in reality...removing leaven from our hearts....".

Didn't Paul say the Torah IS spiritual. I understand that we are to worship in Spirit and Truth and that the Feasts are a shadow, but they are still spiritual, right?

She believes in keeping Sabbath, but not the Feasts. How can I refute this?  Thanks!

OUR RESPONSE:

You may not be able to "refute" the argument, because as the old saying goes: "One convinced against their will is of the same opinion still."

Part of the problem is that there are many articles just like the one your friend sent you, each denying simple obedience to Torah, each taking scripture out of context, drawing their own conclusions, while at the same time there are many which dispute these claims!  Which site/article to believe? (The owners of the site/link you were given do not like our ministry at all, even listing us in their long list of "False Teachers".  It seems that simply teaching straight from scripture makes us "false"!  As a "false teacher" (at least as declared by the esteemed "The Path of Truth"), your friend certainly won't be inclined to believe us!) 

Sadly, few actually read scripture cover-to-cover to find out what IT says!  So what does scripture say about the feast? It says they are "permanent" ("forever" or "never ending") observances!  If they are "never ending", then one cannot logically conclude observing them today somehow constitutes a "sin"!

Here are the permanent appointments with YHWH:

  • Weekly Shabbat: Exodus 31:13-17
  • Pesach: Exodus 12:14; 12:24
  • First Fruits: Leviticus 23:10; 23:14
  • Feast of Unleavened Bread: Exodus 12:15-20
  • Shavuot: Leviticus 23:21
  • Yom Teruah/Yom Kippur/Sukkot: Leviticus 16:29-31; 16:34; 23:31; Leviticus 23:41

So what are these Feasts? Should we not observe them because 1) we don't live in Israel and 2) there is no Temple? (This is what your friend is arguing.)  Let's look at the Feasts/Moed, and their purposes, and decide if we can observe them or not:

Weekly Moed of Shabbat:

What's it for? A day set-apart for YHWH (Exodus 20:8). It is a day when our labors cease and we spend a holy day with YHWH (Exodus 20:10-11; 31:14-16).

Can we observe the weekly Shabbat?  Most certainly, and wherever we live.

Pesach:

What's it for? It is a remembrance of the exodus, and what YHWH did for His people. Exodus 12:14: "This will be a day for you to remember and celebrate as a festival to Adonai; from generation to generation you are to celebrate it by a perpetual regulation." And Exodus 12:27: "It is the sacrifice of Adonai's Pesach , because [Adonai] passed over the houses of the people of Isra'el in Egypt, when he killed the Egyptians but spared our houses."

Can we observe Pesach? Yes, anywhere we live. The original pass-over was a "one time" event.  From then on, it is a "remembrance", a celebration.  No Temple required, and you don't have to live in Israel. (While Deuteronomy 16:2-6 calls for a "sacrifice" of the Pesach offering "in the place where YHWH will choose to have his name live" and that is understood to be Jerusalem, that is the only part of the annual remembrance which cannot be done today because the Temple is gone, but that part of the observance only applied when the Temple existed, and for those who lived in Jerusalem or could travel to Jerusalem for the annual celebration. But for those who live far away from Jerusalem, they simply observe Pesach without a formal "sacrifice" for their meal.) Saying one need not celebrate or remember Pesach because it "can't be observed to the 'T', is simply folly!

Then there is the direct tie and symbology of the substitution of the Messiah's blood for us as our "sacrifice" which was at Pesach.  We cannot expect to deny the celebration of Pesach, or we deny what YHWH did for us, just as a Israeli in Biblical times would have been denying what YHWH did for them by the blood substitution which saved their lives.

First Fruits:

What is it for?  Presentation of the first of the annual crops to YHWH; a celebration of the beginning of the early spring (barley) harvest (Exodus 23:15; Leviticus 23:4–14).

Can we observe it today?  Well, not in the sense of actually taking a sheaf of our barley to the Temple for the Priest to waive before YHWH!  But let's look at what the Messiah did for us.  He died for us, being our substitution of blood so we could have life that is eternal.  All of us who die now, with His sacrifice for us, follow Him to the Kingdom.  So He was the "first fruits" of the crop! (Note, "first fruits" don't "rise", so insisting that the Messiah "rose on First Fruits" is incorrect.  First Fruits are "presented" before YHWH, and that is what the Messiah did as first fruits.)  So we certainly  can celebrate First Fruits - a remembrance of the Messiah's gift.  And that certainly does not make our observance a "sin".

Feast of Unleavened Bread:

What is it for? It is also a remembrance of the Exodus, for YHWH had them move in such haste that they did not have time to make bread. (Exodus 12:17; 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:3).  Can we observe it today?  Most certainly!  How hard is it to remove chametz from one's home (chametz represents sin), and spend the week eating matzah with our meals in remembrance of the exodus and of YHWH's importance in our lives?  How hard is it to have a holy day, an assembly on the 1st and 7th days of the Feast? (Leviticus 23:7-8; Deuteronomy 16:8).  Why on earth would such a beautiful symbol of our history be a "sin" by our simply observing it?

Shavuot:

What is it for? Celebration of the late spring (wheat) harvest (Exodus 23:16; 34:22). Can we observe it today?  Absolutely!  The day of Shavuot is rich in meaning and symbology! It is not only the celebration of the late spring harvest, but is exactly the day on which, after the exodus began, that YHWH spoke to all the people and gave them the Torah.  And it is the day the Ruach Hachodesh descended on believers (Acts 2:1-4).  My goodness!  Why would we NOT want to celebrate Shavuot!  And how hard is it to have a holy convocation that day, cease our work, and celebrate?

Yom Teruah:

What is it for? One of the unique things about Yom Teruah is that the Torah does not clearly identify what the purpose of this holy day is! On Yom Teruah we are to have a holy convocation, rest, remember and blow the shofar (Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1). Since it is the only Holy observance at the beginning of the month, and it is the 7th month, the last month of the annual cycle of the designated times.   

Can we observe it today?  Most certainly! There is a huge connection to the annual agricultural cycle give to us by YHWH, and the dates of the annual feasts, and the events of the life of the Messiah.  Something of the Messiah's gift for us is seen in every feast!  When He returns, it will be with the sound of a great shofar (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).  Since there are no instructions for the observance and celebration of Yom Teruah, we most certainly can celebrate with joy that day, and not be concerned that we are somehow "sinning"!

Yom Kippur:

What is it for? It is a most special, holy day of fasting and atoning before YHWH. (Leviticus 23:27-28). Can we observe it today? Certainly! It calls for a day of ceasing one's labors, having a holy convocation, fasting, and spending the day with YHWH to express our desire to be in YHWH's good graces, and blowing the shofar (Leviticus 23:27-32; 25:9).

Sukkot:

What is it for? It is a joyous celebration of YHWH's gift of produce (Leviticus 23:39; Deuteronomy 16:13-15), and a remembrance of the 40 years in the wilderness (Leviticus 23:41-43).

Can we observe it today? Why wouldn't we? Can we not celebrate as YHWH asked of us?  What's so hard about holding the holy convocations on the 1st and last day of Sukkot, and dwelling in Sukkahs for the week to remember and be grateful for our bounty?  We also celebrate the birth of the Messiah which was on Sukkot.  Sure, observing the festival in Israel, in Jerusalem would be wonderful, but simply because we don't live there is absolutely no reason to deny that the celebration applies to us!

You friend says: "The Jews were not required to observe them while in captivity in Babylon"  Not true! The people were captive because of their failure to know YHWH and to live by His commandments.  It is not that they "were not required"; rather they could not!  They were oppressed. Yet many managed to hold dear what the Babylonians tried to take away and they continued to do the best they could to accept their condition and obey to the best of their ability.  Jews in concentration camps in WWII were also prevented from their Holy observances, but they did the best they could.

Your friend went on: "We keep the Feasts in reality...removing leaven from our hearts....".  Oh really?  Assuming she understands that leaven (chametz) represents "sin", just how is she "keeping the Feasts in reality" by saying she is removing the leaven from her heart?  How does she measure leaven (sin)?  Is "sin" what SHE defines it to be?  If so, she is wrong because sin is transgression of Torah.  Period. (1 John 3:4). So if you deny the Feasts, and you deny the other parts of the Torah which still apply to you, then you have no measure of "sin".  One's own definition of "sin" won't cut it.

And one more point to make: Your friend, and these horrible websites which deny our responsibility to obey Torah today, have simply not understood the simplicity of all that YHWH asks of us.  Please read the following verses: 

"So now, Isra'el, all that Adonai your God asks from you is to fear Adonai your God, follow all his ways, love him and serve Adonai your God with all your heart and all your being; to obey, for your own good, the mitzvot and regulations of Adonai which I am giving you today. See, the sky, the heaven beyond the sky, the earth and everything on it all belong to Adonai your God. Only Adonai took enough pleasure in your ancestors to love them and choose their descendants after them — yourselves — above all peoples, as he still does today." 

That's Deuteronomy 10:12-14.  Do not we live on the earth, which belongs to YHWH?  Ask your friend, how is denying the Feasts on grounds that "we can't observe them to a "T", "following all his ways, loving him and serving Adonai with all your heart and all your being"?  I suspect she won't be able to answer.


2 comments:

  1. I appreciate you taking the question and your transparency about the ministry that 'do not like' you. Your opening quote is appropriate: "One convinced against their will is of the same opinion still." One does not have to spend much time at that site to be TOTALLY confused. Thanks for the contrast.
    I appreciate you speaking in clear and concise words: " Here are the permanent appointments with YHWH: Weekly Shabbat: Exodus 31:13-17; Pesach: Exodus 12:14; 12:24; First Fruits: Leviticus 23:10; 23:14; Feast of Unleavened Bread: Exodus 12:15-20; Shavuot: Leviticus 23:21; Yom Teruah/Yom Kippur/Sukkot: Leviticus 16:29-31; 16:34; 23:31; Leviticus 23:41" That, I can understand.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words, PDL!

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