Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Did Paul Preach a NEW KIND of Christianity?
So many are asking about Paul’s instruction to converts from the Israelite dispersion. Did Paul teach against the Sabbath and Holy Days? Here is an answer you have probably NEVER seen in print before!
by Herman L. Hoeh
You HAVE been born into a confused world which is filled with confused teaching.
Many of you have been taught that Paul instituted a new kind of Christianity to the Israelites of the Diaspora. You have been told by some that Paul abolished the observance of ALL days. Yet others say that the Messiah commanded “Christian” days for his church.
Who is right? To understand the truth, we must first acquaint ourselves with the inspired practice of Yeshua the Messiah and the true church.
Examples from the Messiah
Paul tells the Israelite converts in Ephesians 5:1 to be “followers of God.” But does the Bible give us examples of HOW to follow YEHOVAH God?
It certainly does. The Father made it clear how each of us of Israel is to live, by appointing Yeshua the Messiah to set us an example. Peter tells us that the Messiah set us an example that we of Israel should follow his steps -- I Peter 2:21. “The man who professes to continue in him is himself also bound to live as he lived” said John (I John 2:6, Weymouth translation).
The first thing to remember is that we must abide in the practices and teachings of the Messiah. We are bound by the Word of YEHOVAH God to follow his example.
New Covenant Minister
Perhaps you have heard that the Messiah spent three years of his ministry preaching an Old Covenant message? That’s not what your Bible says! The law and the prophets were preached until John, and from that time on, the Gospel was preached -- the New Testament message (Luke 16:16).
Yeshua the Messiah is the minister of the new covenant based on better promises than the old (Hebrews 8:6; 12:24). The message the Messiah preached -- the very words of the gospel -- is the way of life the Messiah practiced. The Messiah did not do one thing that we should not be doing today. He condemned those who “say, and do not” (Matthew 23:3). Everywhere we find the Messiah living according to the message he preached, and commanding his disciples to follow his steps. The works he did we are to do also (John 14:12).
The Messiah preached and lived a New Testament message in opposition to the Judahite religious leaders. If we claim to abide in the Messiah, we ought to walk even as he walked -- follow his example!
Which Days ?
Yeshua set the pattern for the way we are to obey the Father. So let’s examine it before we turn to the teaching of Paul to the Israelites in dispersion.
What was the Messiah's custom about observing days?
Luke 4:16 shows the Messiah attending service on the Sabbath day before he began to preach. He had come to “Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” Here we see that from childhood, the Messiah customarily went to the synagogue -- the Judahite name for the church -- on the Sabbath.
Since this article is to explain the teaching of Paul to the Israelite converts in the dispersion, a full explanation of the Messiah’s example need not be given.
There are dozens of scriptures in the Bible where the Messiah showed the people how to keep the Sabbath as YEHOVAH God intended. It is lawful, Yeshua said, to do good on that day, because the Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27).
Remember, the Messiah was setting an example for the New Testament church. The Messiah observed also the Passover, and Festival of Unleavened Bread before he entered his ministry! (Luke 2:41, 42). And he continued to so do afterward (John 2:13, 23 and 6:4). Other festivals of YEHOVAH God are mentioned, as the Festival of Tabernacles, to which the apostle John devoted an entire chapter, the seventh.
Not once did the Messiah tell us we should not observe these days. He set us an example by keeping them. Nowhere can you find he offered sacrifice on these days, either.
But was all this preaching just for Judahites?
Nailed to the Tree?
There are all varieties of arguments by those who “can’t see it.” So you have probably heard that even though the Messiah DID NOT ONCE DURING HIS WHOLE LIFE preach against the days YEHOVAH God instituted, they were abolished by his death.
If that were so, the holy spirit could not have inspired the apostle to say that the day after the death of the Messiah was a high day or annual festival AND the weekly Sabbath (John 19:31) and that this day was still the Sabbath according to the fourth commandment (Luke 23:56).
Then all of the Messiah’s preaching would have been for nothing, and whose example are we of Israel to follow? But, perhaps the apostles changed the days? Did Paul tell the Israelite converts in the Diaspora to keep different days?
The Apostles’ Examples
Here is what Paul told the Israelite converts at Corinth: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (I Corinthians 11:1).
And to those Israelites born in Philippi, he wrote: “Be followers together of me...so as ye have us for an example" (Philippians 3:17). And to the once pagan Israelite Thessalonians he wrote: “For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus" (I Thessalonians 2:14).
Here are conclusive texts that THE ISRAELITES IN DISPERSION, on being converted, are commanded to follow the examples of the apostle to the dispersed Israelites “as I also am of Christ,” and to follow the example of the churches of YEHOVAH God in Judaea! Those were composed of Judahite members!
Did Paul follow the example of the Messiah?
Could Paul have lived any other way than that of the Messiah? For he himself said: “Christ liveth in me.” And Yeshua the Messiah is the same, yesterday, today and forever! The Messiah doesn’t change. He lives the same kind of life in us as he lived in Paul -- the same life he, himself, lived when preaching the Gospel in person.
But can we be sure we are following the Messiah’s example when we follow the teachings of Paul? Certainly.
It was Paul’s manner to keep the Sabbath just as it was the Messiah’s custom! “But that was to Jews,” many will say (Acts 17:2). Of course, but you read where the Israelites of the Diaspora asked Paul, AFTER THE JUDAHITES HAD GONE OUT OF THE SYNAGOGUE, to preach to them the next Sabbath! Here, as recorded in Acts 13:43-45, was Paul’s great opportunity to tell the Diaspora Israelites to meet him on some different day if the Sabbath were changed!
But what happened? Paul didn’t say any such thing; but, instead, met with them “the next sabbath.” Everywhere Paul followed the example of the Messiah in keeping the Sabbath, even when among the Israelites of the dispersion!
Many of you are right now thinking of several texts where the first day of the week is mentioned. But did you ever stop to notice that in every text it was a common work day?
Did the Israelites of the Diaspora Keep Festivals?
We see now that Paul kept the Sabbath among the Diaspora Israelites, but surely he wouldn’t have taught the Israelite converts to keep the annual festivals of YEHOVAH God? That’s another fable you’ve been told!
After the handwriting of ordinances were abolished, we find the true church filled with the spirit of YEHOVAH God on the annual festival of Pentecost! (Acts 2:1). The Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread were kept by the churches in Judaea (Acts 12:3). And we have read where Paul praised the Israelites in Thessalonica for following the churches of YEHOVAH God in Judaea! -- The Judahite brethren!
But does the Bible record that the annual holy days were held where the Israelites lived in the Diaspora -- long after those rituals that were nailed to the tree were abolished? Yes, indeed.
The holy spirit inspired Luke to write in Acts 20:6 that the Days of Unleavened Bread occurred in far off Philippi! The disciples sailed away “after the days of unleavened bread.”
In I Corinthians 16:8, Paul told the Israelites he was intending to be at Ephesus, a Gentile city with a large Israelite presence, the day of Pentecost. If this is not enough proof, then let’s turn to I Corinthians 5:8 where Paul commanded the Israelite converts to observe one of these festivals.
“For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore...” what? Read it! “Therefore let, us keep the feast, not with old Leaven...but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Here and in I Corinthians 11:20-34, Paul is instructing the Corinthian Israelites how to keep the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. They are commanded not to use leaven on those days. But instead of taking unleavened bread according to the letter of the law as the Judahites did, Paul admonished these Corinthians to obey according to the spirit, by using unleavened bread -- the symbol of righteousness -- with a pure heart in sincerity.
This rapid sketch of the practice of the Messiah and the early church, which was guided by the inspiration of the apostles, shows the PRACTICE of real Christianity as it began.
But what about those three texts that Paul wrote to the Israelite converts in the Diaspora? Don’t they say that these days were abolished? -- And that Christians departed from grace by observing them?
Esteeming One Day Above Another
In spite of the Biblical evidence already presented, many people firmly believe that Paul said it didn’t make any difference which days we keep if we keep them to YEHOVAH God as best we believe in our own human reasoning. Is that what Paul really said? Let’s see.
“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Romans 14:5, 6).
By taking these verses out of their setting, people make Paul say something altogether different. Does he say to observe Christmas, Easter, Lent, Good Friday, Sunday, or the Festival of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven? Does he say here that the Messiah did away with the very days he kept?
Does Paul say “God esteemeth one day above another” and “God esteemeth every day alike”? It doesn’t say “God,” but “one MAN esteemeth one day above another.” This tells us what certain MEN thought, not what YEHOVAH God says!
We are not to be judged by what men think, but by the word of YEHOVAH God! John 12:48 reads: “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” The Messiah is not going to judge you by what any man believes, but by the words he spoke!
Next, notice that these Israelite saints at Rome, having differing opinions, were forbidden to judge one another as unworthy of the Messiah. “Who are you that judges another man’s servant? to his own master he stands or falls. Yes, he shall be help up: for God is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).
Paul is not sanctioning or condemning any particular days, but warning the saints of Israel not to judge one another and cause strife for having differing opinions about things they did not yet understand clearly.
“Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
Does this give license to believe whatever you want? YEHOVAH God commands: “Lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). How are you going to be fully assured in your own mind UNTIL YOU KNOW WHAT YEHOVAH GOD SAYS IN HIS WORD? “The holy scriptures...are able to make you wise to salvation” Paul wrote Timothy (II Timothy 3:15). By studying the word of YEHOVAH God to prove all things, and by holding fast that which is good (I Thessalonians 5:21), YOU BECOME FULLY PERSUADED IN YOUR OWN MINDS concerning what YEHOVAH says.
“Able to Stand Before Him”
YEHOVAH God is able, said Paul, to make these saints of Israel stand before Him in the judgment, by revealing to them the words by which they will be judged. It was for this very reason that Paul was writing to these saints at Rome, some of whom were weak in the faith, not having acquired perfect knowledge. He says: “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, to the end that you may be established" (Romans 1:11).
It is so plain. Here were Israelite converts at Rome, still weak in the faith, who were divided in their regard of days. Paul told them not to sit in judgment of one another, but to follow peace, because YEHOVAH God would judge them, after setting them aright through more perfect knowledge which Paul was going to preach to them. In the meantime they were to act in accordance with the best they knew from YEHOVAH’s word -- not man’s word.
This did not give them liberty to do as they pleased. They were to obey YEHOVAH God, or perish if they disobeyed after the knowledge of the truth had come. For to him that knows to do good and doesn’t do it, it is sin (James 4:17).
What Were These Days?
But what days was Paul referring to?
By reading these verses in their setting, rather than taking them out of their context, let’s determine the answer. Paul is writing to the Israelite saints at Rome -- both Judahites and those of the House of Israel. He admonished them to receive those who are weak in the faith (Romans 14:1), not to dispute with them over unimportant matters and sit in judgment on them. Some of these recently converted Israelites, being weak in the faith, refused to eat meats, subsisting on vegetables mainly.
The reason for this is explained in I Corinthians 8. Most meat that could be bought had been offered to idols. Therefore some, with conscience of the idol “ate it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse" (I Corinthians 8:7, 8).
So here were saints of Israel who had not yet learned that there was no harm in eating meat offered to idols previously by others provided it was done to YEHOVAH God with a clear conscience. These Israelites at Rome had been converted and had given up idolatry, but still held superstitious beliefs in their minds, thinking that the idol was something real.
But why should Paul have broken into his dissertation about eating meat or refraining from eating it?
Because in connection with the old pagan idolatry, were numerous days observed as idolatrous festivals. These days were consecrated to deities of the state religious cults and were “unlucky” because of the influence of the gods! These civil and religious days were “regarded as unsuitable for many purposes, both public and private: for battles, levies, sacred rites, journeys and marriages. We are told that they owed their unlucky quality to the pronouncement of the Senate and pontiffs” (Rest Days by Webster, p. 171).
So These Weren’t YEHOVAH’s Days After All!
As many as one third of the days of the old Roman calendar were marked as ”unlawful for judicial and political business...and...on which the state expected the citizens to abstain, as far as possible, from their private business and labour.” No wonder Paul spoke of “every day”!
Here at Rome were recently converted Israelites who had given up idolatry, but who still believed idols were real beings, and hence would not eat meat offered to them. They also continued to regard superstitious beliefs that certain days were better than others, or that all days were alike -- unlucky. These Christian Israelites no longer observed these days in the old idolatrous manner -- that would have been sin. But they still regarded or judged some days to be above others, as though the day had natural qualities of good or bad about it. It was a common superstition of the time, hard for new Christians to root out.
And how many “worldly” as well as religious people still have similar beliefs today! Such as “unlucky” Friday the thirteenth! Paul was going to Rome to enlighten their honest minds so they would give up this foolish regard of heathen days.
There is nothing here referring to the Sabbath or the holydays of YEHOVAH God which Paul commanded to be observed by the Israelites of the Diaspora. It is merely a plea to tolerate honest beliefs held in ignorance.
The Letter to the Galatians
But what about the festival Paul mentioned to the Israelite converts in Galatia?
Among these people were deceivers, professing great knowledge and philosophy, who deliberately wormed their way into the good graces of the heathen converts trying to turn them backward into their former ways. That is why Paul said in Galatians 4:10, 11: “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”
What is this that Paul is saying?
Read it again!
Did he say, “Ye observe the Sabbath and holydays”? NO! But Paul SAYS you are observing “days and months, and times, and years.”
It does not say the holy days and Sabbath! Nowhere in all the Bible can you find one text calling YEHOVAH’s occasions by the names “days, months, times and years”!
What Days Were These?
Notice the entire chapter -- yes, the entire Epistle to the Israelite Galatians. In the first three chapters Paul speaks to those in the congregation who are beguiled into Judaism which the Messiah condemned as the tradition of the elders. Judaism made the laws of YEHOVAH God of no effect! But in the fourth chapter Paul ceases to speak about Judaizers. He is now writing to the ISRAELITE converts in dispersion, those who “were in bondage under the elements of the world” (Galatians 4:3).
“Howbeit then when you knew not God, you did service to them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that you have known God, now TURN YOU BACK AGAIN to the weak and beggardly elements, whereunto you desire AGAIN to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.” I am alarmed about you, he concludes!
Here were Israelite converts, who in times past did not know YEHOVAH God, who were cut off from Him (See Ephesians 2:12), who “were slaves to gods which were no gods at all.” They had been serving demons and idols, not the Living God. False teachers were coming among them, perverting the true gospel, beguiling them to turn again to their former ways. Paul was alarmed. They were departing from the gospel and RETURNING to what? “Days, and months, and times and years.”
Pagan holidays! They couldn’t be returning to YEHOVAH’s festivals. They never heard of them before Paul preached about them.
These Israelite Galatians were not observing the occasions YEHOVAH instituted, but the old pagan days -- days which were creeping into the church in Paul’s day and now masquerade under Christian sounding names. Paul denounces such vain practices.
Here is the beginning of the observance of pagan days by the church and YEHOVAH’s condemnation of it. “Many of the holy days in the religious calendar of Christendom were borrowed, as is well known, from the festivals of ancient paganism” (Rest Days, p. 306). We are NOT TO LEARN the way of the heathen (Jeremiah 10).
Christian Israelites are here admonished to quit following modernized heathen celebrations that are for no good use or purpose -- counterfeit days that are attempts to fill the void in the lives of religious people.
What Are “Times”?
Turn to Leviticus 19:26 and Deuteronomy 18:10,14 where Moses, according to the command of YEHOVAH God, told the Israelites not to observe TIMES. This is ABSOLUTE PROOF that the days Paul is forbidding are pagan and not God-given. To observe times originally was a heathen practice of divination often attached to the heavenly bodies. In Greece it developed into regular seasons.
Some church leaders today try to make you believe Paul was condemning Judahites for returning to the Sabbath and days of YEHOVAH God, which they claim were in the Law of Moses. But the Law of Moses forbade observance of “Times.” Paul was writing to the Israelites of the Diaspora “who wanted to return to observing the “days” associated with "Times” -- Gentile days -- Sunday, Easter, Christmas, Lent, etc.
The Catholic Church “father,” Chrysostom, admits that these superstitious times which Paul forbids, were practiced by “Christians” in his day, but without the idols as in days of old. He says: “Many were superstitiously addicted to the observance of times, and made divination and conjectures upon them...In the celebration of these times (they) set up lamps in the market-place, and crown their doors with garlands” (Bingham’s Antiquities of the Christian Church, pp. 1123, 1124).
Besides times, the Greeks observed special days in honor of the dead. “The rites took place on the...unlucky days accompanied by complete idleness and cessation of business” (Rest Days, p. 79). During the months of the year, festivals were held in honor of the Greek gods, Apollo (April, October), Zeus (February, June), Artemas (April), Bacchus (January) and many others which you can read in the Encyclopedia Americana, article “Festival.”
Also certain years were set aside quadrennially and biennially during which were national idolatrous feasts and the celebration of the Olympic, Isthmian, Nemean and Pythian games. Every one of these were connected with idolatrous worship and ceremony.
Paul was forbidding the return to these practices by the Israelite converts -- not the days Yeshua observed, setting us an example that we should follow his steps. Many of the present holidays of Christendom were celebrated in the heathen world when Paul and the Messiah were on earth, but they refused to observe them.
Holy Days and Sabbaths
Although speaking of Gentile practices in the two preceding epistles, Paul, in his letter to the Colossian Israelites, certainly is speaking of the days YEHOVAH God instituted. In Colossians 2:16 Paul is thought by many to have abolished these days. Let’s see if he did.
First, stop to consider! Is it logical that Paul would have commanded the Israelites in Corinth and elsewhere to observe these festivals, and then contradict himself by telling the Colossians not to observe them? Yet most Christians would make Paul just that inconsistent!
The truth is so plain here in Colossians. What is Paul writing to the saints of Israel in Colossae? “Let no man therefore judge you...” Does this say: “God has abolished these”? Look at the verse again. It says, “Let no man...judge you” concerning these matters. To judge is not to abolish. Paul is warning the Colossians not to let any MAN judge them about certain matters. Why?
“But why do you judge your brother?...for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ...So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10,12).
YEHOVAH God is the Judge! Not man. It is by the WORD OF YEHOVAH GOD that we of Israel are all going to be judged, not the ideas of man (John 12:48). Since we are to live as those who are to be judged by the word of YEHOVAH God, then we have to go to other passages of scripture to find HOW YEHOVAH WILL JUDGE US with reference to meats, drinks and festive occasions. In Colossians 2:16 Paul does NOT mention anything being abolished. He ONLY says that we are not to let men judge us with regard to these things. It doesn’t matter what human beings think, but it does matter what YEHOVAH GOD THINKS.
So let’s examine the scripture to see what YEHOVAH’s standard for Christian Israelites is.
Traditions of Men
Paul begins the second chapter of Colossians with warnings against those who were seeking to beguile the church after the philosophy and traditions of men (verse 8). Then he mentions that both Judahites and those of the House of Israel have been reconciled to YEHOVAH God by the death of Yeshua the Messiah and both have become circumcised in the heart. But how could the Israelites of the dispersion, uncircumcised in the flesh, come into this relationship to YEHOVAH God together with physically circumcised Judahites? By the fact that the Messiah was circumcised for them, thus “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14).
Now what was this handwriting of ordinances that was against men? Evidently the same as mentioned in Ephesians 2:13-16 which put “enmity between the House of Judah and the House of Israel.” But what is it?
The ten commandments? No.
They are NEVER called ordinances. They were written by the Finger of YEHOVAH God, not by the hand of Moses. They constitute the law of liberty (James 1:25), holy, just and good (Romans 7:12). The Sabbath, one of its points, was made FOR THE ISRAELITE MAN, not against the Israelite man (Mark 2:27). This law could not have been meant by Paul because it is not abolished but eternal (Psalm 111:8) and BY IT WE ARE TO BE JUDGED according to the apostle James (James 2:12).
Could the handwriting of ordinances against us be the statutes which ordained the holy days forever? No. The entire 119th Psalm, the longest in the Bible, and inspired by YEHOVAH God, proves that the statutes and judgments of YEHOVAH God, which define sin and regulate human relations, are eternal, good, making wise the ignorant. These were not against us but for us. So the laws regulating the holy days, as well as the Sabbath, are still in force and by them we of Israel shall be judged.
The Passover was instituted as an ordinance, and the Messiah commanded his disciples to observe it forever. Paul commanded the Israelites at Corinth, as we have seen, to keep this ordinance (I Corinthians 11:2, 20-34).
If the commandments, statutes and judgments of YEHOVAH God were all made for those of us of Israel, then the handwriting of ordinances which were AGAINST us must have been the ritualistic laws “added because of transgression, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made” (Galatians 3:19).
Here it is at last! A group of laws added until a specific time because of transgression. Since there must be a law before there is transgression (Romans 4:15), it is no wonder that this “handwriting of ordinances” was ADDED. And it was added BECAUSE OF transgression, yet it could not justify the person who performed its works! It was a yoke! (Acts 13:39; 15:10). Therefore this handwriting of ordinances was not commanded the Israelites of the Diaspora (Acts 15:24).
But what were the specific laws included in these ordinances? Hebrews 9:10-15 has the answer!
These handwritten ordinances of Moses, given to Israel for a limited time only, not forever, “stood only in meats and drinks, and diverse washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them UNTIL the time of reformation.” This is a system of physical rituals relating to the Levitical priesthood, drink offerings, sacrifices and physical precepts regulating bathing when unclean. These ordinances were to cease as soon as the sacrifice that could take away sins would be offered. Once a sacrifice purges sin, there is no need of offerings for sin (Hebrews 10:2).
So we see that Paul is telling the Israelite Colossians to know the Word of YEHOVAH God so thoroughly that they could refute any MAN who would dare to sit in judgment of them for accepting the sacrifice of the Messiah rather than the offerings of the law contained in ordinances.
“In Respect of”
What does the apostle mean when he tells the Israelite Colossians not to let any man judge them “in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days”?
This verse does not say as some hold foolishly that the Sabbath is binding but not the holy days and new moons? Neither does it say that all are abolished?
This verse states ONLY that Christian Israelites are not to allow any MAN to judge them “in respect of” these days. There is no statement here about anything being abolished. The Moffatt version makes this very plain: “So let none take you to task...in connexion with, observance of festivals or new moons or sabbaths.” It does not read: Let none take you to task because these days are abolished. Not at all!
It says just the opposite -- let no person take you to task or judge you “in the matter of” or “concerning” or “in connexion with” the observance of these occasions. It is YEHOVAH GOD who shall judge you in connexion with the observance or “in respect of” these days.
The phrase “in respect of” is used by Paul (according to Thayer’s Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 401) “where the writer means to intimate that there are other matters, to be separated from that which he has specified.” That is, Paul is speaking of a particular matter concerning these days -- “in part” as the marginal reading of the King James Version has it. It is in connexion with the sacrifices held on these days that Paul wants the Israelite Colossians to understand they must not allow men to judge them. It is the manner of observance that enters Paul’s mind.
Paul has just been mentioning the ordinances that were consummated in the Messiah -- no longer in force. Converts are not to offer sacrifices on these days because the ordinances regulating the sacrifices are abolished. But that doesn’t abolish the days!
No! Because these days began to be instituted BEFORE the ordinances prescribing sacrifices and offerings were ADDED.
The weekly and annual sabbaths were NOT instituted for the purpose of sacrifice. YEHOVAH says: “For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you” (Jeremiah 7:22, 23).
YEHOVAH God commanded no sacrifices (except the Passover, which today is continued with added significance minus the sacrificial lamb) when he revealed the holy days to Israel. Israel was then in Egypt, ready to be led out. Sacrifices were placed on these days, later, AS ON EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK, EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR, because of transgression (Exodus 29:38). With the sacrifice of the Messiah having taken place, Paul wants the Christian Israelites to know that they are not to be judged by the handwriting of ordinances regulating these rituals.
But the days are still to be kept holy because they were instituted as everlasting statutes, not by the handwriting of ordinances, which was abolished with the death of the Messiah.
The Sabbath day began at creation, and the annual festivals began to be instituted as MEMORIALS OF THE PLAN OF YEHOVAH GOD for His people Israel before the old covenant was made and before sacrifices were imposed to teach the men of Israel the need of Yeshua the Messiah and the power of the spirit of YEHOVAH God.
Paul continues his thought in Colossians 2:17 by speaking about shadows of things to come; “but the body is of Christ.” What could Paul have meant by shadows?
“Shadows” are mentioned in several places in Hebrews. Priests who offer gifts "serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5). And again: “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect” (Hebrews 10:1).
These two verses show that the shadows were the sacrifices and ritualistic offerings made by the priests according to the law. The BODY that casts the shadow is the Messiah, but the shadows -- the continuous round of offerings, sacrifices and washings -- were “not the very image” “of the heavenly things” which Yeshua the Messiah is now performing for those of us of Israel at the right hand of YEHOVAH God as our High Priest (Hebrews 9:11).
Contrary to what many believe, the Bible nowhere speaks of the Sabbath, the holy days and the new moons as shadows. They are memorials. See Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23 where they are called thus. But we do find that the entire book of Hebrews is written to show that the shadowy physical ordinances once performed by the Levites have been abolished and changed into the spiritual precepts of the priesthood of Melchizedek, in which the Messiah, as High Priest, is reconciling those of Israel who are now called to YEHOVAH God.
How plain these verses are in Colossians when we understand the Bible as a whole!
Feasts to Cease?
There are yet certain texts in the Old Testament often misunderstood on this subject. There are two verses in Lamentations which speak about YEHOVAH God causing the Sabbaths and solemn feasts to be forgotten and unattended (Lamentations 1:4; 2:6). This does not mean that YEHOVAH abolished his festivals because of displeasure with them. Because of the sins of the people of Judah in breaking these days (Ezekiel 20), YEHOVAH was going to punish Judah by taking from her the blessings of having these days.
Far from abolishing them, the Messiah kept them, the early true church did, and Judah and Israel will keep them in the millennium: “O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts” (Nahum 1:15).
Not only will Israel -- both houses -- be observing the festivals of YEHOVAH God, but the GENTILES (NON-ISRAELITE NATIONS) ARE GOING TO BE FORCED TO! -- for their own good. Read Zechariah 14 where heathen nations will have to come before the Eternal of Hosts to keep the Festival of Tabernacles or be smitten with drought and disease.
Gentiles are going to be blessed for keeping the Sabbath in the millennium (Isaiah 56:1-8). And “all flesh (shall) come to worship before Me, saith the LORD" from Sabbath to Sabbath (commanded assembly) and from new moon to new moon (laboring day with voluntary assembly) (Isaiah 66:23).
Whose Sabbaths Does YEHOVAH God Hate?
Some claim that YEHOVAH says that He hates His Sabbath, new moons and festivals!
Where can you find one text where YEHOVAH God says “MY” Sabbaths and festivals “I hate”? Every time “MY” Sabbaths and festivals are mentioned, YEHOVAH rebuked the Israelites for breaking them! (Ezekiel 20:16).
YEHOVAH does not say He hated these occasions in Amos 5:21 and Isaiah 1:10-15, nor in Amos 8:10 and Hosea 2:11! Look again; does it say “MY” feasts and Sabbaths! NO! It reads: “I hate, I despise YOUR feast days, and...YOUR solemn assemblies.” “YOUR new moons and YOUR appointed feasts my soul hateth: for they are a trouble unto me.”
These were not the days YEHOVAH God instituted, but man-appointed ones -- pagan days observed in Israel and “Jewish” days in Judah after the traditions of the elders. Ancient Israel and Judah seldom kept YEHOVAH’s days. He says they “changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and MY STATUTES more than the countries that are round about: for they refused my judgments and my statutes” which commanded the festivals (Ezekiel 5:6).
If anyone doubts that they really did change these days to some of their own making, turn to I Kings 12:13-33: “And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah...even in the month which he devised of his own heart.”
Israel changed YEHOVAH’s calendar of festivals by appointing her own sabbaths, her own festivals and added another day to the new moon. Judah followed Israel’s example and profaned them every way possible And the days that they did not change they perverted. No wonder YEHOVAH God abhorred these counterfeits -- THE SAME AS HE HATES THE COUNTERFEIT DAYS OF CHRISTENDOM TODAY -- Christmas, New Years, Easter, Sunday observance -- days which came from idol worship of the heathen and which caused Paul so much concern.
-- Edited By John D. Keyser.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
Hope of Israel Ministries
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