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Why Would a Christian Consider the Jewish Holidays?

by David Black

Art by R. Chanin

Several years ago I worked with a Jewish man named Joel, who asked me what my favorite Holiday was. To his surprise I responded, "Well, it’s hard for me to say, you see, they all have so much meaning, but if I had to choose…I guess Passover would be my favorite."

"Passover?" Joel replied. "I hate Passover! I hate all the fuss, the relatives that still think you're 13 years-old, the bickering and complaining, my aunts pinching my cheeks, and the monotony of the reading, all to eat a meal that’s over too quickly. Then to top it all off, you have to go the next 8 days without bread, only matzah. I hate matzah! Do you go the entire 8 days eating only matzah? Hey wait a minute, I didn’t know you were Jewish."

"I’m not," I said.

With a look of confusion he asked, "Then how is it that Passover is your favorite holiday…and why? And what other holidays were you referring to when you said that they are all so meaningful?"

"Well," I said with a grin, "the other holidays that I love would include the one weekly holiday and the seven yearly holidays that God ordained for His people." [Leviticus 23] "You know," I told him, "the Sabbath being the holiday that comes once a week. Then the yearly holidays being Passover, The Feast of Unleavened Bread, The Feast of First Fruits, and The Feast of Weeks that are celebrated in the springtime. Then in the fall there is The Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, and The Feast of Tabernacles." Joel’s eyes became wide and his mouth slightly dropped as I continued on, "My family also celebrates Hanukkah [John 10: 22, 23] and Purim [Esther] as well as observing the solemn days of remembrance within the Jewish calendar." With that I went on to explain to him why I considered Passover as my favorite holiday.

Joel was just like many people, either Jewish or Christian, who look at these biblically holy days with very little thought of their significance. Even though we may read about them in the scriptures, the majority of us never wonder why these days would be so important to God. We seldom consider that they may hold importance for us or what these days may be trying to teach us about God. These days were set within the calendar, by God for His people, to act in a similar fashion as billboards or mile markers would along a highway. God has ordained them to be signs along a highway of time. The observance and celebration of these days were commanded by God to be eternal ordinances (rules that do not change, period) and holy convocations (gatherings). Well, if these days have both a holy and eternal significance, then maybe all of us need to look at them a little closer? I have found that these holy days actually point to God’s desire for mankind in regard to salvation, redemption, righteousness, holiness, repentance and a personal relationship with Him.

For many Jewish people, these days have little significance beyond tradition. "We are Jews and this is what Jews do," would be the common reasoning behind any type of celebration within a lot of homes. Now, don’t get me wrong, for some Jewish people, these days are days of great joy or solemnness, depending upon the day and its appropriate context. For those in the Jewish community that hold these days very close to their hearts and truly desire to honor God, I have great admiration. Believe me, I would be among the first to say that it is very good for us to remember what God has done, His faithfulness to His people, from where He has brought us, the cost and value of what we have. It is also good to count the many blessings that He has given us. Remembering is a good thing, an important thing to do, and we are the ones who are better off for doing so. We gain immense benefit and blessing whenever we are seeking with our whole hearts to be obedient to God. But these days are for more than just remembering what God has done in the past. They are not just road signs that speak of where we have been, they are signs that tell us where we are and give us direction to where we yet need to be.

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To most Christians, these biblical days have little significance beyond Judaic tradition, as well. The standard mantra among the church crowd would be, "We don’t celebrate those holidays, we’re Christians…we’re under grace and not under the Law." Of course we are under grace, God has continually extended His grace to those whom He loves, and we Christians should be jumping at every opportunity to celebrate that love. Though somehow we have become confused in regard to freedom and bondage, Grace and Law. Since when is a joyous celebration an issue of Law; is it because it was commanded? What makes setting aside time to remember what God has done, separate from or in opposition to His grace? In every case these holy days, ordained by God, focus on His loving kindness, mercy, faithfulness, and grace. Each and every one of these days proclaims either the First and/or the Second Coming of the Messiah. Each one of these days, with their individual themes, combined with the corresponding events that fell on those days throughout history, stand as testimonies to the existence and love of an Eternal Creator. Each of these days, announce in part, His plan for the restoration of mankind to Himself, His judgment of sin, and His plan for the renewal of all creation. We, the Church, will never fully understand God’s desire to bless us with a better understanding of Himself and His word if we continue to ignore the Hebraic roots of our faith.

I remember clearly the sense of amazement that I had when I first realized that these days are spoken of within the New Covenant scriptures. Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew), himself, celebrated each of these holidays throughout his entire life. Likewise, I was surprised when I first saw that these holy days are referred to within the scriptures, not just in a historical sense, but in a prophetic sense, as well. Prophecies that still have not yet happened. [Zechariah 14; Luke 22: 15-18] Why is it that the Church, in general, would celebrate holidays that they themselves established, they applied religious significance to, and all the while ignore the very days created and ordained by God? I could possibly understand this if Jesus hadn’t validated these days by His own observance of them, but He did. As a matter of fact, so important were these days to Him that they became the backdrops for his birth, death, resurrection and His coming again. Not to mention the pouring out of the Spirit of God, also, happened on one of these days. This day was called The Feast of Weeks or as the Jewish people refer to it, Shavuot (Pentecost). [Exodus 19; Leviticus 23; Acts 2.]

These holy and sacred days were not made up by Jewish men to play parts in a religious system. They were ordained and set in place by The Most High, Himself. These holy days are not Jewish days but God’s own days. He mandated them, He set them in place within the calendar, He surrounded them in a cloak of mystery and gave them significance. If you were interested in learning about what it is to be an American, then you wouldn’t be able to ignore the American holidays. Who we are, were we have come from, and people of national importance are imprinted upon those holidays. Likewise, if it were important for you to truly know God, then it would be important to examine the days of the year that He set aside as meaningful. Though I would challenge you to go even farther, not just learning of them, though that is a good place to start, but to experience them first hand.

This may be the first place were you start to learn about these Biblical days or you may already have a level of understanding. Either way I would like to challenge you to read these messages and read the scriptures that refer to these days. I would also challenge you to pray and ask God to reveal to you what He would want you to understand in regard to these days. Here are some questions that you can ask yourself as you begin to learn more about God’s holy days:

1. What was God trying to say to His people when He gave them these days?

2. Why would God mandate the celebration of these days as eternal ordinances?

3. Are there any patterns between these days, other events in scripture, and any extra-biblical historical events?

4. What could the correlation of these events mean?

5. If God has given them eternal significance, what should they mean to me?

6. What would God want me to do in regard to these days?

The entire purpose for my challenges is so that you may come to a greater understanding of The Most High and be able to experience new blessings in your life. I pray that The Almighty would reveal Himself to you, through your search.

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