Tim, I have been reading your site for a while now and now have a question i hope you could help me with. I was raised in a church that taught we are to keep all of gods holy days and sabbath (WCG). I still believe in sabbath keeping, but not sure about holy days. Are we still to keep them? or were they nailed to the cross?
I don’t belong to this church anymore, they have split into many different churches now. I am really confused about holy days if you have any way to explain this subject to me it would be very welcome. Thank You for your time.
Feasts Nailed To The Cross?
The “nailed to the cross” phrase is from Colossians 2:14. Paul used a metaphor of a debt note from the Roman culture. ESV Study Bible Notes explains:
In the Greco-Roman world, the “record of debt” (Gk. cheirographon) was a written note of indebtedness. Paul uses this as a word picture to characterize each person’s indebtedness to God because of sin. God himself has mercifully resolved this problem for all who put their faith in Jesus by taking this note and nailing it to the cross, where Jesus paid the debt. The image comes from the notice fastened to a cross by the Roman authorities, declaring the crime for which the criminal was being executed (see John 19:19-22).
Thus this “certificate of debt” illustration does not refer to the Torah. It refers to the guilt from sinning against God. Jesus came to cancel that debt, not to do away with Torah. Taking away the Torah would not remove the guilt it had already brought. To be sure, Jesus said he came to fulfill the Torah, not to destroy it (Mt 5:17). He could not destroy it as the Torah would not fade away until heaven and earth passed away (Mt 5:18). Before that time, when the Kingdom comes, the Torah would be required again and be taught by the rulers in the kingdom (Mt 5:19).
In other words, the Torah is prophetic. It must all be fulfilled. My site’s main article talks about this whole topic.
Sabbath And Not Feasts Required Today?
For the second question, it is important to remember that the Torah is an all or nothing proposition. It is not an “a la carte” cafeteria offering. When Israel and Judah were neglecting land sabbaths and worshipping idols, God did not say good job on the 99% you do right, I’ll overlook the rest. He kicked them out of the land. James and Paul express this principle:
James 2:10-11 (HCSB) 10 For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of ⌊breaking it⌋ all. 11 For He who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder., So if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you are a lawbreaker.
Galatians 3:10 (HCSB) 10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written: Everyone who does not continue doing everything written in the book of the law is cursed.
The sabbath is commanded first in Exodus 16. It’s later repeated in Exodus 20 in the Ten Commandments. The Feasts are in Leviticus 23. They are all part of the same Torah, even if sabbath is listed in the Ten Commandments and Feasts are not. Also, Leviticus 23 groups both the sabbath and feasts together as “my appointed times”.
All or Nothing
This is where the problem comes in when people say you have to keep any part of the laws given to Ancient Israel under the Old Covenant such as tithing, sabbath, feasts, unclean meats, etc. They are “all for one and one for all.” You cannot say one is required without acknowledging the rest as required.
I used to always wonder how the WCG could teach requirements of unclean meats, feasts, tithing and sabbath but ignore the sacrifices, stoning of idolaters, witches and disobedient children, laws of niddah, wearing tassles, build sukkahs/tabernacles, and so many other laws. How did they know which ones were for today and which ones were not? Well, I see now they obviously did not know. They were picking and choosing and modifying where needed (hotels = temporary dwellings = sukkahs/tabernacles).
All this to answer your question: if you are convicted you need to keep sabbath, then according to the Bible you should be convicted as well that you need to keep the annual feasts days.
This, I admit, may be not the kind of “help” you wanted as it opens up a can of worms! How are you going to do commanded sacrifices or tithe crops with no temple or Levites and priests around? Or how many men have the funds to travel to Jerusalem three times per year to keep the feasts in the one place where God “placed his name” (Dt 14:23; 16:2; 26:2)? The answers are: You can’t and indeed very few have the funds to keep Torah.
Anyway, this is what the Bible literally teaches on this question and it is up to each of us to determine for ourselves what to do with it. There are no prophets, judges, Levites or priests today with authority over us in these matters to guide us, unlike what Ancient Israel had as part of the Old Covenant to make Torah “not too difficult” (Dt 30:11-14).