Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Feast Week

After some days of busy preparation the Feast of Unleavened Bread is now upon us, dear sisters, and I hope you had a blessed and tasty Passover meal last night.

Now let me say a few things about feasts.

I know that many Christians know that what they usually celebrate - Christmas, Easter, probably Pentecost - are not biblical feasts, but feasts that were introduced by historical Christianity. We know that Jesus was not born towards the end of December for even in Israel the shepherds are not out there at night in the middle of the winter. There is no such thing as Easter in the bible, but peoples have worshiped the sun and fertility goddesses for a long time, and all the symbolism - including sunrise services and eggs, right down to the name of the feast - points not to any biblical feast, but to the pagan origins of Easter. Yes, Pentecost is mentioned in the bible as the occasion on which the Holy Spirit comes down on the disciples, and time-wise it coincides with the biblical Feast of Weeks (50 days after Passover), but there is no biblical indication that Pentecost should be celebrated.

In short, what Christianity does is ignore the biblical feasts, probably for fear of appearing Jewish in some form or fashion, and celebrate their own feasts instead. Jesus is clear about this attitude. He condemns it, saying:
"And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men." And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! " (Mar 7:6-9)
But many Christians seem to be very fearful of giving up their traditional feasts, even if they know that it is not right to cling to them. Especially when it comes to Christmas, they feel as though something very precious and special is taken from them and their life is the poorer for it. They do not want to lose the "magic" of Christmas, so to speak.

Well, you know what ? If we celebrated the Hebrew feasts as they are appointed by Yahweh, they would be as precious to us as Christmas and Easter are to people nowadays, they would hold as much festival atmosphere, and what is more, they would add to our life what Yahweh meant to be added to our life by those feasts. If you look at traditional Christianity's feasts closely, there is not much Christian about them anymore anyway. The important bits are gifts, Easter egg hunts and the like, not what is actually commemorated according to the churches...

To cut a long story short: You don't really have all that much to lose if you give up your pagan (i.e., historical Christian) feasts and celebrate the Hebrew feasts instead, but you have much, much to gain.


  1. Could you recommend some sources for "proper celebration"? I'm all about giving up pagan feasts and have given up all the obvious ones decades ago. I believe we should be obedient to the Word regarding celebrations ordained by God, but don't want to just pick up current Jewish renditions that may be loaded with two-thousand years worth of "other" accumulated traditions of men.

  2. Benjamin,

    I am sorry but other than Scripture, we haven't found a lot of sources for "proper celebration". We don't follow Jewish traditions either, for the same reason you mentioned. Biblical feasts aren't Jewish feasts, even if many perceive them as such and even if the Jews living in Israel have the benefit of enjoying public holidays on their feasts.

    Be that as it may, we feel that besides what Scripture tells us, and what information you can probably glean from dictionaries about Hebrew culture, the particular rituals of a feast will end up being family idiosyncrasies, for a lack of information, mainly.

    Here is, however, a general guideline that helped us shape the biblical feasts in our family, taken from "Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology". I will paste (most of) the first part of the article, to give the particular part that helped us most. A lot more is being said about the individual feasts, but check it out yourself to see if it contains any worthwhile information for your house:

    "Feasts and Festivals of Israel

    The major festivals of Old Testament Israel were, in calendar order, Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles or Ingathering). (...) In addition, the Israelites observed the Sabbath every week and the feast of the New Moon every lunar month.

    Israel's festivals were communal and commemorative as well as theological and typological. They were communal in that they drew the nation together for celebration and worship as they recalled the common origin and experience of the people. They were commemorative in that they kept alive the story of what God had done in the exodus and during the sojourn. They were theological in that the observance of the festivals presented the participants with lessons on the reality of sin, judgment, and forgiveness, on the need for thanksgiving to God, and on the importance of trusting God rather than hoarding possessions. They were typological in that they anticipated a greater fulfillment of the symbolism of the feasts. It is not surprising that each of the major feasts is in some way alluded to in the New Testament. On the other hand, the festivals could become meaningless rituals and were subject to the criticism of the prophets (Isa 1:13-14)."

    Grace and Peace,