Manhattan Cornerstone Presbyterian Church | Why Are We Celebrating Jewish Feasts?


Why Are We Celebrating Jewish Feasts?

01 Oct 2016, Posted by admin in art, Front

It is increasingly common for Christians to celebrate the biblical, Jewish feasts.  Jesus himself in the New Testament celebrated biblical holy days. In fact, it was very important for Jesus to celebrate the seasons of the Lord.

Syriac Lectionary, 1216–20 Syrian, Mar Mattei?, Tempera, gold and ink on paper; 17 1/2 × 13 3/4 in. (44.5 × 35 cm) 264 fols. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, (JER.156)

Syriac Lectionary, 1216–20, Syrian, Mar Mattei?,Tempera, gold and ink on paper; 17 1/2 × 13 3/4 in. (44.5 × 35 cm) 264 fols. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, (JER.156)

The Gospels record that our Lord Jesus not only celebrated the festival, but He took traditional elements of the celebration and applied them to His own life and mission. We find this particularly in John 7 and 8 where Jesus uses two traditional symbols from the Feast of Tabernacles celebration, water and light, to help the people understand who He is and what He offers.  Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles in John 8:12 said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

(1) The biblical holy days are infused with spiritual and prophetic significance. Passover corresponds to Yeshua’s death (1 Corinthians 5:7-8), Firstfruits to His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20), and the Festival of Weeks (Shavu’ot, or Pentecost) corresponds to the giving of the Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). Trumpets points to the Lord’s return with the sound of the trumpet (see Matthew 24:31; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 11:15), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) points to Israel’s final cleansing (Zechariah 13:1, which follows from Zechariah 12:10 ff.), and Tabernacles (Sukkot) points to the final ingathering of the nations (see Zechariah 14:16-19; see also Revelation 7:9 and Leviticus 23:40, for palm branches and Tabernacles).

(2) The biblical holy days have great historic significance. Although the Messianic significance of the biblical holy days is certainly of greater significance to Christians than is the historical significance, the origin and meaning of these holy days in Israel’s history is also important. So, if it is okay to celebrate Thanksgiving and July 4th in America and to remember the events connected with those days, how can it be wrong to remember Israel’s deliverance from Egypt in the Passover? When connecting this season to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it can be very powerful.

(3) Celebrating the biblical holy days is a good way to teach about God’s acts of redemption. Paul freely made reference to the holy days when writing to the Corinthians, making a spiritual application of Passover in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 and possibly referencing Firstfruits directly in 1 Corinthians 15:20; notice also how Luke casually made reference to Yom Kippur (the Fast) in Acts 27:9, assuming his readers would understand.

(4) Celebrating the biblical holy days is a good way to recover the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. It is absolutely clear that everything that God does is summed up in His Son Jesus, that our Messiah and King is to have centrality in every way, and that our fullness is found in Him rather than in celebrating holy days or observing special seasons. That being said, the Church has become so Gentilized, so detached from its biblical, Jewish origins, that an appreciation for the biblical, Jewish calendar-the calendar of Jesus Christ and the apostles-is certainly helpful.