Should We as Christians Celebrate the Jewish Feasts of the Old Testament?

from Jan 11, 2014 Category: Articles

Without question the most vexing challenge faced by the early church was understanding how believing Jews and believing Gentiles ought to relate to one another. The theme gets major play in Galatians, Hebrews, Acts, and is even the root of the issue that led to Paul’s stern and public rebuke of Peter. That so much time and attention was paid to this issue might incline us to believe it was settled. Or it just may prove how deep runs the temptation to botch this up.

Let’s start here—we have peace with God by trusting in the finished work of Christ alone. Add anything to that and you have fallen into a false gospel. You do not have peace with God by trusting in Christ and by being circumcised, or by trusting in Christ and keeping the Feast of Weeks. Add anything to the work of Christ, and you lose the work of Christ.

God gave the feasts to point our spiritual fathers toward Christ. They were shadows and He the real thing. The author of Hebrews warns his audience, professing believers who were tempted to go back to the Temple and the Old Covenant shadows, that to go back is to deny that Christ has come.

If we grasp that these were types, shadows that pointed to Christ, we will reach two conclusions. First, they were not bad things. Too often some treat the Old Covenant like it was flawed, something to be thrown aside. But God Himself ordained these feasts, for the good of His people. Second, however, Christ is greater than the shadows. We do not keep the feasts by keeping the feast. Instead we keep the feasts by clinging to Christ. He is our feast.

So should we celebrate these feasts? Not if by “should” we mean we have an obligation to do so. May we? Well, that certainly depends on where our hearts are. The Bible prescribes liberty, Paul telling us:

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks (Romans 14:5-6).

I have no quarrel with a person celebrating these feasts. Instead I have a caution. My concern about some who celebrate these feasts is that while they profess their dependence on the finished work of Christ alone, some seem to believe that feast keeping somehow elevates their Christian walk. All of our sub-culture convictions within the church carry this danger. Whether it be speaking in tongues, observing feasts, modesty, or reciting the prayer of Jabez we are inveterate second blessing seekers. We want to be superior Christians who have glommed on to the secret way. Then we go out with all the zeal of an Amway salesman trying to get our friends all on board.

Paul, however, is far more easy-going. He described his Hebrew roots as dung (Philippians 3:1-8). What matters is that we know Him, and the power of His resurrection.

Should We as Christians Celebrate the Jewish Feasts of the Old Testament? was originally published at