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The weekly Sabbath is a time to assemble together and worship God. The Holy Days - the Days of Unleavened Bread, Passover, Pentecost and others mentioned in Leviticus 23 are also occasions when people come together to worship and honour God (Leviticus 23:1-44)
A frequently asked question here on Beyond Today is a question about, “How do I keep God’s Sabbath day and the annual festivals?” Longtime viewers, and even those who come across our website understand that we keep God’s Sabbath day, the seventh-day Sabbath, and we keep the annual festivals of God that are referenced in the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament. But there’s one chapter in Leviticus, chapter 23, where all are listed and described in a very succinct manner. In Leviticus chapter 23, God says, “Speak to the children of Israel,” in verse 2, “The Feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.” They’re God’s feasts. They were given to Israel. They’re not just Israelite or Jewish festivals – they’re God’s feasts. That’s an important point to remember. Then he goes on in verse 3, and He talks about the Sabbath. “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest,” again He says, “a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is a Sabbath of the Lord in all of your dwellings.”
Verse 4 He says then, “These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.” And the chapter goes on to list all of the festivals of God. Now, the New International Version puts this "holy convocation” and calls it a “sacred assembly”. And I like that because I think that helps to put it in terminology that we can understand. People ask, “How do I keep this? What do I do?” People are used to going to church, but it’s an assembly. The Sabbath day, the weekly Sabbath, is a time for God’s people to assemble. The holy days, the Days of Unleavened Bread, Passover, Pentecost, others that are mentioned in Leviticus 23, they also are times where people come together in an assembly (Leviticus 23:1-44).
Now in Leviticus chapter 23, there are sacrifices that are mentioned there – we don’t do those sacrifices, that’s not part of how we do it today. In the new covenant, in the New Testament, the Bible teaches us that we are to be living sacrifices and we are to worship God. And we see throughout the New Testament that Christ, His church, the apostles, kept and taught to keep the Sabbath day and the festivals – again, all mentioned here in this chapter. When we come together, when we assemble, it is a church service. We have hymns, we have instruction or teaching, we have short messages and also longer messages. There’s fellowship. There is a time of God’s people coming together to worship God. Worship is a critical part of what it means to keep the Sabbath and the festivals, and we keep each of them with the intended meaning. When we keep the Holy Days, we speak from the Bible on each of those days exactly what the Bible teaches about Pentecost, about the Feast of Trumpets. And we come to the Day of Atonement, one of the fall festivals – it’s a day of fasting. We go without food and water on that day, according to the scriptural teaching. We keep the Feast of Tabernacles. We assemble in regional locations and we have services for all of the families on a regular, daily basis during the seven days of the feast of Tabernacles.
Again, how do we keep them? For people who are already churchgoers and used to assembling with others, this is not a new concept, but it should be understood that this assembly, this sacred assembly, is something commanded of God to do with people who feel the same way, who share the same belief, the common values, and want to obey God, want to worship God, and want to learn what these days and the weekly Sabbath all mean in regard to the plan of God and the purpose of salvation.
We can go into a lot more detail about the meanings of the days, but again, to just get to the point of the question of “How do we keep them?”, we keep them by assembling. We keep them by fellowship, by singing hymns, by prayer, and by instruction that is given on each of these days regarding the meaning and the purpose of the days, and all of the meaning that locks into God’s purpose for all of our lives. It may be a step beyond what people are comfortable with, and it may be something new for you, even in your view of religion or life, but it’s not difficult and it can be easily accomplished. Our website – Beyond Today, United Church of God – offers further information about this and our booklets, but also you can find a local congregation of United Church of God near you, where people are doing this on the Sabbath and on the festivals, and can help you then begin to keep them as God commands. I encourage you to do so. It’s a way to find the answer to that question that you have.
Beyond Today Daily