Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Festivals on the Extremeter Scale

Since we are in the middle of the Fall Festivals, it is a good time to stop and ask some questions:
1. Why did God institute the seven festivals? In other words, while these holidays and fasts have been identified with the Jewish people, they did not create them; God specifically mentions that He is the creator of them. He made them for “His chosen people”.
2. Are Christians the “chosen people”? Or are we part of the chosen people?
3. How long does God want His people to observe the festivals? It says in Leviticus 23 that “It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.” Does “forever” really mean forever?
4. Did God issue a command that these festivals should no longer be observed?
Having said all that, with the given that Gentile believers DO NO HAVE TO observe the festivals, because their obligation to the Torah is different from Jewish believers (see my earlier post from September 22, 2009 on FFOZ’s position on this matter), which of the following responses do you think is closest to God’s expectation and intention for Gentile believers?: Using the extremeter concept that I introduced several months ago, here are four possibilities. Imagine that we are looking at the top half of the face of a clock. The hour hand can point to one of four positions (9:00, 11:00, 1:00, and 3:00). Note: The "I" in these comments does not refer to me, but represents 4 different viewpoints/people:
9:00  Torah Ignorant
“The church has its own calendar! That Old Testament stuff is..um.. Jewish! (and I’m not!”)”

11:00 Torah Friendly
“It’s good to know about the Jewish Festivals because Jesus observed them and they occur all throughout the Bible. While Paul stated that Gentiles were not to be judged by their observance or non observance of these times, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth following. It’s OK to add Biblical events to the Biblical calendar; after all, Purim was added and so, celebrating the birth of Jesus is fine (though doing so on December 25th is up for debate). Jesus’ most important events from His first coming all occurred exactly on Biblical festivals. I think that prophetically, it’s reasonable to assume that He’ll do the same with the Fall Festivals on His Second Coming. I have attended a few holidays at Messianic synagogues and find them to be beautiful expressions of Biblical truths. At the very least, I think the church should be knowledgeable about them and acknowledge them as they come around.”

1:00 Torah Honoring
“The 7 Appointed Times from Leviticus 23 are God’s Festivals that He gave to His people for their instruction, edification, and enjoyment. They are not Jewish - they are Biblical - and Gentile believers are part of “His people”.  After all, Sukkot is mentioned in the Bible as part of the Millennium and so, I think they are relevant today. I do have some issues with the Church’s calendar too, especially considering where they came from (Catholicism) and the added influences that crept in from paganism. I have a Festival calendar and try to make it to as many services that I can. I still belong to a Church, though I wonder how long it’ll be before I decide to fellowship with believers who take all of the Bible seriously.”

3:00  Torah Observant (Messianic)
“God gave us the Moedim (Appointed Times) so our whole life could follow along in the cycles that He designed: the weekly sabbath, the monthly New Moons, the Festivals, all celebrated in the context of the Torah readings and the salvation in Messiah.”

Some parting quotes:
Zola Levitt: "God has established an infinitely meaningful and profound prophetic system through His choice of seven holy convocations to be held each year by the Chosen people.  He dictated the dates and proper observances to Moses on Mount Sinai, and His instructions are recorded in Leviticus  chapter 23... it is ultimately important for us to comprehend God's calendar in its essence."

Joseph Good: " Like all of Biblical Judaism, the festivals ... teach us about the Messiah.  Leviticus 23 is one of the key chapters for unlocking the entire Bible.  If one can obtain a good working knowledge of the festivals, then we will have in our possession God's blueprint for mankind."

A. What are your answers to these questions? 
B. Where is your extremeter hand pointing?
C. Where does the average Evangelical Church fall on the extremeter scale?

If you have other responses or comments that you’d like to add to these, then please send them to this address: dkananen at gmail dot com. Put “Festival Comments” in the subject line. Or leave a comment in the box below (when you logon to luthersbaggage. blogspot.com).

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