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The author of this article began to observe the biblical Holy Days in 1951, when he was seven years old. Until that time his family had observed Christmas, Easter and Halloween. He eventually came to understand these days are not mentioned in the Bible, but the Holy Days described in Leviticus 23 are commanded in both Old and New Testaments.
When he consulted his Bible, he found ample New Testament evidence that Jesus Christ, His parents, the Apostles and the New Testament Church observed the annual Holy Days (Luke 2:41-43). Jesus observed the Passover throughout His life (Luke 2:41, John 2:13), and in John 7:1-2 He is shown keeping the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day (described in Leviticus 23:33-36), in spite of the fact His life had been threatened (John 7:10). In the same chapter Jesus also explained the true spiritual significance of the Last Great Day (John 7:37-38).
Significantly the Holy Spirit was sent on Pentecost, an annual Holy Day (Acts 2:1). Christ had been with His disciples for 40 days following His resurrection, but He had obviously not taught them they didn't need to observe the Holy Days, otherwise it is doubtful 120 disciples would have been gathered together at that time.
About 13 or 14 years later, Luke wrote about James' martyrdom and Peter's arrest, relating the time of James' murder and Peter's imprisonment to the Days of Unleavened Bread (Acts 12:2-3). Luke repeatedly mentioned the biblical Holy Days in the book of Acts, because the Jews and Gentiles in the New Testament Church observed these days and knew when they occurred.
Other verses in Acts also show the time of events being referred to by the biblical Holy Days, not Roman or Greek festivals. Just two of several references are to the Days of Unleavened Bread in Acts 20:6, and the Day of Atonement in chapter 27:9. "The Fast," according to virtually all biblical scholars, refers to the Day of Atonement, an annual Holy Day, which is described in Leviticus 23:27-32.
More than 20 years after Christ’s crucifixion, about A.D. 55, the Apostle Paul addressed a problem in the Church at Corinth, which consisted of Jews and Gentiles. A man was involved in an immoral relationship, which the church members knew about and some may have even condoned. Paul told them: "Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).
The Corinthians had put leaven out of their homes as part of their observance of the Holy Days of Unleavened Bread, but they had failed to learn and apply the spiritual lesson. Paul tells the Gentile and Jewish Christians to, "…keep the feast," showing the annual festivals of God were being observed by both Jewish and Gentile Christians.
Towards the end of this epistle, Paul states, "But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost" (1 Corinthians 16:8), because he wanted to observe the annual Holy Day of Pentecost with the Christians there before continuing his travels. Many theologians believe Paul removed the obligation to observe these days, but Paul kept the Holy Days and exhorts us: "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Commentaries say these Holy Days continued to be kept from the second to the fourth centuries. Then, as Adam Clarke records they began to be prohibited. By the fourth century, Easter had long since replaced the Passover and Sunday had crowded out the seventh-day Sabbath. (See the previous article in this issue: What Are The Real Origins Of Easter?)
Colossians 2:16-17 is often quoted to discredit the Holy Days: "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ." Paul could not have meant the Holy Days do not have to be observed, when he kept them himself. The Colossians were being enticed away from the proper observance of the Holy Days (verses 18-23), and Paul was telling them not to follow practices of asceticism on these Holy Days by succumbing to the customs and doctrines of men.
Galatians 4:10 is also misunderstood as referring to the annual Holy Days God commands us to observe. The Christians in Galatia were predominantly Gentiles who were returning to their pagan observances. Verses 8 and 9 refer to their practices before they knew the true God. To say that God's laws are weak and beggarly elements is blasphemous. These "days and months and seasons [times] and years" were pagan practices, possibly similar to astrology.
Christ kept all of the annual Holy Days, setting an example for us. They are filled with meaning and spiritual significance, teaching us about God's plan of salvation for mankind. Be sure to read our recommended study guide God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise Of Hope For All Mankind online or call 1800 356 202 and we will mail you your free copy.
The Good News magazine (Mar-Apr 1996)