Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ (Col. 2: 16-17).

This is quite startling! Paul was a Jew and had been a fanatical stickler for the Law, and yet he made a radical statement which contradicted everything he had believed in and taught as a Pharisee and a rabbi.

Religious festivals, New Moon celebrations and Sabbaths were the backbone of Jewish life. They were the weekly, monthly and annual festivals which brought the family and the nation together regularly to cement their unity and to express their faith in God and their anticipation of their Messiah. Elaborate rituals were developed around each celebration which were full of symbolism and meaning for God’s people.

Yet Paul was saying that all of these celebrations and rituals were no longer necessary in their family and national lives? Was he not treading on thin ice by contradicting God’s commands? What right had he to tell God’s people that all of these were fulfilled and done away with in Christ?

As a disciple of Jesus, and an apostle appointed by God, Paul had authority to interpret and ‘bind’ Jesus’s yoke on His followers. The ritualistic celebration of special days was part of the old yoke of Judaism which Jesus fulfilled and abolished by His life, death and resurrection. As his understanding grew, Paul clearly recognised that these special days were prophetic of Messiah. To continue celebrating them was to say, in effect, that they were still anticipating the coming of their Messiah when He had already come.

In what way did Jesus fulfil these prophetic actions? This demands a much more detailed study of the meaning of the Sabbath and the annual festivals which God commanded them to celebrate in Leviticus 23 than we can do here.

However, reading Hebrews 3 and 4 will clear up the issue of the Sabbath, for a start. The command to rest from their weekly labour was prophetic of their perpetual rest of faith in Jesus which sets them and us free from the ‘labour’ of trying to be righteous by keeping God’s laws.

The seven annual feasts were prophetic of the major events of Jesus’s first coming and symbolise what will happen when He returns. He fulfilled the first four feasts in order: He was God’s Passover lamb, sacrificed to deliver us from bondage to sin; He fulfilled the Feast of Unleavened Bread by removing our sin from us just as the Israelites were commanded to remove all leaven from their homes; He fulfilled the Feast of Firstfruits by becoming the firstfruits of the resurrection; He fulfilled the Feast of Pentecost by sending the Holy Spirit to begin the ingathering of the harvest – the church.

There are three feasts yet to be fulfilled when Jesus comes again; the Feast of Trumpets – the announcement of His return; the Day of Atonement when sin will be judged and removed forever and Feast of Tabernacles when God will take up residence with His people, not in booths in the wilderness but in an eternal new heaven and new earth where all the effects of Adam’s disobedience will be removed forever.

This brings me to another important topic. If Jesus has fulfilled days, months and annual celebrations, and did away with food taboos, why do some streams in the church still make them obligatory and legalistically hold to them, especially the Sabbath and food taboos? Is this not a denial of what Jesus accomplished on the cross?

Paul said categorically, ‘Do not let anyone judge you . . .’ We cannot help it if people judge us but what we can help is being affected by their judgment. If someone judges us, it comes from their scruples, not ours.

Jesus gave us two sacraments to observe, not as prophetic of what He would do, but as a remembrance of what He has done; the Lord’s Supper is a remembrance of His sacrifice to seal the New Covenant; baptism is a celebration of His death, burial and resurrection which He accomplished for us to set us free from our slavery to sin and death.

Even festivals like Christmas and Easter, which have become nothing more than an opportunity for merchants to peddle their wares – their success in the commercial world is reckoned by their profit, and people to overindulge, are not rooted in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ but in paganism which has been ‘Christianised’ for convenience.

There is no such thing as ‘Put Christ back into Christmas’ which is the hopeless cry of many churches, because Jesus Christ was never in Christmas. How dare we involve Him in the frenzy, overspending, overindulgence, pandering to the demands of children and hypocrisy of the ‘silly season’? There is very little about Christmas or Easter that resembles the Spirit of Jesus. He has been tagged on to paganism to make it acceptable and to hold us in bondage to tradition, and believers the world over have been sucked into these traditions and are enraged by anyone who dares to challenge them,

Come on, church! Let’s get back to the Word of God and to the truth! When you see what goes on at Christmas in the name of Jesus, ask yourself honestly, ‘Is this why Jesus came?’ Does He really identify with Christmas? Even the name of the season, ‘Christmas’ is an insult to Him and trivialises what He did for us. Christ-mass implies the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. How can we wish people a merry sacrifice of Jesus?

If we are true worshippers of the Lord Jesus Christ, let us put Him and His life and death back into perspective. Simplify your life. Live in the wonder of His salvation which we remember in two simple observances, and in the daily reality of the rest He made possible for us by removing our need to satisfy God’s holy requirements.

He is, after all, everything we need!

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Categories: Bible Study Tags: , ,

Luella Campbell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>