Top 5 Reasons for Christians to Keep God’s Holy Days

Today we celebrate Yom Teruah, also called Feast of Trumpets and Rosh Hashanah. But why? After all, I’m Christian and most people think of this as a Jewish holiday. Same goes for Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement, which we’ll observe 10 days from now, and Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles that starts in two weeks.

I believe these festival observances, along with others already completed this year, are for Christians today. When Jesus came to this world, it wasn’t to set up a new religion. He was the next step in God’s plan for the world and these days are part of the covenant He makes with His family. He’s still inviting us to gather for “reunions” at certain times of the year.Top 5 Reasons for Christians to Keep God's Holy Days | marissabaker.wordpress.com

1. They Belong To God

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.” (Lev. 23:1-2)

The holy days aren’t Jewish or exclusively Old Testament. They belong to God Himself. We talk about Leviticus 23 as the chapter where God gives Israel the Feasts, but that’s not quite accurate. God doesn’t say, “Here are your holy days, Israel.” He says, “These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times” (Lev. 23:4).

God called Israel to His feasts and told them how He wanted these days observed. He never relinquished ownership of thee festivals. While some things, like the animal sacrifices, have been fulfilled in Christ, the days still hold significance to God and for spiritual Israel.

2. Jesus Kept Them

While He walked on this earth, Jesus Christ kept God’s holy days. One might say this was just because He was a Jew living pre-new Covenant, but He did challenge certain Jewish traditions and the festivals were not among them. That’s because they aren’t just traditions — they’re holy to His Father.

The gospels specifically reference Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Tabernacles. John’s gospel records Jesus keeping 3 Passovers (1st: John 2:13, 23; 2nd: John 6:4; 3rd: John 11:55; 12:1; 13:2). Other gospels talk about Jesus keeping and up-dating Passover for the New Covenant before His crucifixion (Matt. 26:17-30; Mark 14:1-2, 12-26; Luke 22:1-39; 1 Cor. 11:23-26). These are also the verses that mention Unleavened bread because the two observances are so closely connected.

John 4:45 and 5:1 mention Feasts as well. The one in chapter 4 probably hearkens back to Passover, but in chapter 5 it could refer to any one of the Feast days. John also mentions Feast of Tabernacles by name in chapter 7 and another Feast not found in the Old Testament: “the feast of dedication,” or Hanukkah (John 10:22).

3. They Teach God’s Plan

God’s holy days are rich in meaning. The spring festivals speak of redemption and Messiah’s first coming to pass-over our sins and de-leaven us from iniquity. Pentecost, the Feast of Firstfruits, is when the NT church received the Holy Spirit. The fall holy days point toward Messiah’s second coming and God’s plan for the future.

I’ve covered these rhythms of worship and what they teach us in more detail elsewhere (click to read post). For God’s people, these days are yearly reminders and rehearsals of the gospel we’ve received and God is inviting each of us to participate. He wants us to spend time with Him on His days and learn about what He’s doing with us and the world.

4. They Proclaim God To Others

When we keep God’s holy days, we let everyone around us know where our allegiance lies. Every time you turn-down an invitation that conflicts with Sabbath observance, take time off work for a holy day, or explain to friends and family why you’re taking a week’s vacation for Sukkot (for those of us who travel in this season), you’re saying God’s way is your #1 priority.

Keeping the holy days also means you’re pointing toward Messiah. Colossians 2:16-17 tell us Christ is the substance/reality of these days, “which are a shadow of things to come.” You’re not going to find salvation in a shadow, but you don’t disregard it either. You let it point you, and others, toward the One casting the shadow.

When we keep Passover, we “proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). Keeping Unleavened Bread reminds us to walk as a new, cleansed person in Christ (1 Cor. 5:6-8). Pentecost aligns us with the firstfruits of God. Trumpets wakes us up with a shout, proclaiming “The Bridegroom Cometh!” Atonement speaks of a time when we’re not only washed clean by Jesus (Rom. 5:11) but the cause of sin is also put away (Lev. 16:10, 21-22; Rev. 20:1-3). Tabernacles points toward a joyous time when Christ will rule here on earth (Ezk. 37:26-28; Rev. 20 and 21).

5. God Tells Us To

Top 5 Reasons for Christians to Keep God's Holy Days | marissabaker.wordpress.comThis could have been the first and only point. It’s really all we need to know. When God says to do something that’s important to Him, we should want to joyfully complete His request. And we can’t fall into the trap of thinking this is “just an Old Covenant thing.” He is not a god of the Jews only — He is everyone’s God and His commands are for all of us who choose to follow Him.

Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. (Ex. 31:13)

Leviticus 23 is the chapter that outlines God’s feast days, and it includes 39 “you shall …” commands related to proclaiming and keeping God’s feasts. If that wasn’t enough, we’re told how serious it was when Israel departed from keeping God’s sabbaths (Ezk. 20:11-13) and that His people will keep these Festivals when they’re worshiping Him correctly (Lev. 19:30; Ezekiel 44:23-24). In the New Testament, we have Christ saying “this do in remembrance of me” about the Passover (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24-25) and Colossians saying all the sabbaths and holy days point to Christ.

We are the children of God. We’re being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Like Him, we’re meant to value the things our heavenly Father values. These include the holy days which belong to Him, teach us of His plan, and proclaim His way of life to the world. “Therefore let us keep the feast,” as Paul says about Unleavened Bread (1 Cor. 5:8), not only the Feast of Trumpets today but all the other festivals of God as well.

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7 thoughts on “Top 5 Reasons for Christians to Keep God’s Holy Days

  • Hi Marissa,
    I think your analysis avoids the very verse that you cite – they are a shadow of things to come. Jesus came so why should we still celebrate the shadow when we have the fulfillment – like John the Baptist said, He must increase, I must decrease.

    The same verses say don’t get caught up in arguments, don’t let anyone judge you about feast days – whether you keep them or not – if we should keep them as Christians then the direction should be different. You are not doing what you are supposed to as a Christian and “don’t let anyone judge you” makes no sense.

    Leviticus also says:

    “Speak to the children of Israel,” – to the children – we are not Jews or Levites and the Levitical system is long gone….it is pictured quite clearly at the Transfiguration — Moses and Elijah disappear and only Jesus remains with the addition of God’s opinion — This is my son, listen to Him..

    If we want to go down this road then your dismissing of animal sacrifices does not hold water – they were also a shadow of what was to come and we should be moving to the Land of Israel and making the Temple and getting the priestly system back up and running. You cannot be a partial law keeper — violate one part, you violate it all.

    I enjoy the feasts, appreciate the meaning, think they have meaning for today and have celebrated some but Jesus either fulfilled them or He did not.

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    • I always appreciate your comments, Thomas. Even when we disagree (and aren’t likely to convince each other), you spark good discussions. So thank you 🙂

      When we talk about Christ “fulfilling,” I think it important to go back to Matt. 5:17 where He said “I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” the law of God. This word, pleroo, means to fill to the fullest extent. Or, as Thayer’s dictonary says, “to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God’s promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfillment.” Some things which are fulfilled are no longer needed (like animal sacrifices) and some are given deeper meaning by being filled to the fullest with spiritual significance (such as commandments like “you shall love your neighbor as yourself).

      Not all the holy days have been fulfilled in the sense of “what they picture has come to pass” (and even the ones that were have been given deeper meaning). Passover pictured Jesus’s first coming (and now we keep it as a memorial, as He commanded). Unleavened Bread pictured putting sin away from God’s people, which Christ did (and now we keep it as Paul said in 1 Cor. 5:8). Pentecost was about firstfruits, and we are the firstfruits of God (and we keep that day as the first century church did). So those days are observed as commemorations of things Jesus has already done and is doing. But the Fall days are more about things Jesus hasn’t done yet: return to claim His Bride (Trumpets), remove Satan (Atonement), set up the Millennium (Feast of Tabernacles), and rule forever and ever (Last Great Day of the Feast). Those haven’t happened yet, they still have significance today, and we can’t say they’ve been “fulfilled.”

      That is not the case with animal sacrifices. The book of Hebrews covers those quite extensively. There was a change of the priesthood along with a change of the law. We’re no longer under the Levitical priesthood (which performed animal sacrifices) because Jesus is our High Priest (and He was the ultimate sacrifice). Animal sacrifices are no longer required because Jesus fulfilled what they pictured. That argument is made clearly in scripture.

      But the argument that the Sabbaths and Feasts are taken away along with the sacrifices isn’t made in the New Testament. And we can’t just say there were part of the old Law. The Sabbath existed from creation and both Passover and Unleavened Bread were instituted before giving the Old Covenant. Those at least would be exempt from a “we’re not under the law” argument.

      You also say we’re not the “children of Israel” because we aren’t Jews or Levites (which were only two of the tribes, not the whole of Israel). But we are grafted into Israel as stated in Romans 11, so that gives support for claiming words to Israel can still apply to us today. The switch from Old to New Covenant wasn’t a switch in which God we worship and He still cares about the same things. I believe that includes the days He described as holy to Him, for all the reasons I talked about in this post.

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      • Hi Marissa – I respect your beliefs and frankly enjoy the fact that people celebrate the feast days and have participated in Seder’s etc in the past. The issue comes when it goes from this is my personal conviction, keeping feasts and Sabbath to “Christians should.”

        If “Christians should” Paul’s words to the Colossians simply make no sense –He would be saying don’t argue with someone not following a clear direction of God to keep His sabbath and feasts that they should keep. You certainly know the importance of keeping the Sabbath in the OT, Israel stopped for the day and stoned people who weren’t. To allow fellow believers to violate the God’s direction without comment would violate Matthew 18, for starters.

        If the feasts continued as alleged, the Apostle to the Gentiles should have directed them to be kept — Paul was their teacher and director in the faith. He says not to dispute about it to a gentile church. Add in Peter and the sheet from heaven in Acts and Peter at Antioch being a law keeping fool and being called out by Paul and we have a pretty clear picture of where Paul stands.

        He says that there should be no argument, they are a shadow with the specific contrast with the coming of the Lord in living body. We don’t focus on shadows once the person has come.

        I agree with you that the remaining Feasts may set out God’s roadmap, hopefully starting with Trumpets, but if we look at Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law and the statements regarding us being no longer under the Law and then go back and try to parse out which parts of the Law we are actually under based on our wisdom, I believe we are doing a disservice to God’s grace. Jesus is our High Priest, the veil is torn, we are no longer under the Law, Jesus fulfilled the Law, no longer Jew or Gentile, the dividing walls are down because all the efforts and observances got us absolutely no where. The high priest and the holy of Holies were the apex of Judaism and they were very clearly removed, why would we look for anything else to remain?

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