(This article was written to a Seventh Day Adventist audience)
Since you are a Sabbath keeper there is no need to
explain to you the importance of Yahweh's laws and obedience to them.
You also should be aware of Yeshua's statement in Mt.5:17,18,"Think
not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come
to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven
and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the
law, till all be
fulfilled ." The "law" referred to
here is not only the ten commandments, but any other law that has not
been totally fulfilled yet. Examples would include dietary laws, and
laws forbidding bestiality, relations with relatives, tattoos,
Among those laws that have not been totally fulfilled are the annual "Feast days" or "Holy days" that were commanded as "statutes forever" (Lev 23:21,31,41). Concerning these Holy days, Ellen G. White wrote, "If the children of Israel needed the benefit of these holy convocations in their time, how much more do we need them in these last days of peril and conflict!" - 6 Testimonies 39,40
Having said that and having a knowledge of the continued existence of the weekly Sabbath, the question must be asked, "Why don't you also keep Yahweh's seven "High Sabbaths" also known as His Holy Feast Days?" The answer lies on page 243 of "Seventh-day Adventists Believe ... A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines." The book quotes Col 2:16,17 and Eph 2:14-16, as well as Gal 4:10,11 on page 254, as proof texts that the so-called ceremonial law, including the seven yearly Holy days, have been "nailed to the cross." Those days, incidentally, are the first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), the Day of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day. These Holy days are spoken of in Lev 23.
The following is the true scriptural understanding of these Holy days, which reveal to Yahweh's people His entire plan of salvation.
Let's begin this study by quoting a passage from the book mentioned above. On page 252 we read,"While the weekly Sabbath was ordained at the close of Creation week for all mankind, the annual sabbaths were an integral part of the Jewish system of rites and ceremonies instituted at Mount Sinai, ...which pointed forward to the coming of the Messiah, and the observance of which terminated with His death on the cross."
First, the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai takes place in Ex 20 whereas the institution of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened takes place in Ex 12. The same false reasoning is used by Sunday keepers to discredit the weekly Sabbath. They say that it was part of the "Jewish" law given at Mt. Sinai and therefore Christians don't have to obey it. However, just as we can show that the Sabbath existed in Ex 16 before the law was given, so too, can we show that Passover and Unleavened existed in Ex 12 before the giving of the law.
We also know that the annual Sabbaths are not Jewish laws just as the weekly Sabbath is not a Jewish law. They are Yahweh's holy laws.
The statement quoted mentions that the annual Sabbaths "pointed forward to the first coming of the Messiah." This can be said about Passover and the Day of Atonement but what about the other five Sabbaths? In what way did they point to Messiahs coming? Yes, they had animal sacrifices on those days that pointed to Messiah but so did the weekly Sabbath (Nu 28:9,10). Just as we don't do away with the weekly Sabbath because of its' associated sacrifices, we shouldn't do away with the annual Sabbaths because of their associated sacrifices. A truth not yet understood by many is that each high sabbath has a future fulfillment at Messiah's second coming.
The statement quoted also states that the annual Sabbaths ended at Yeshua's death. If that is true, why were the Disciples observing the Day of Pentecost (Feast of Weeks) in Acts 2? Were they ignorant of the fact that that Holyday was nailed to the cross over fifty days earlier? Hardly likely. Why do we also see Paul and other brethren observing these days in I Cor 16:8; Acts 27:9 (the fast was on the Day of Atonement); Acts 20:6,16; and Acts 18:21? Sunday keepers will discredit the weekly Sabbath by saying the disciples went to the synagogue to witness to the Jews, not to observe the Sabbath. Will you use the same erroneous logic to discredit the feast days? Were they there only for the purpose of witnessing to the Jews? In Acts 20:16 Paul was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem for the Day of Pentecost. Acts 24:11,12 show us that Paul went to that feast to worship, not to witness to the Jews.
The truth is, these days were not nailed to the cross. That false teaching arose because people didn't understand Col 2:14-17; Eph 2:15; and Gal 4:10. The Apostle Peter was correct when he said that Paul's epistles contained certain things which were hard to understand (II Pet 3:15,16). Couple that difficulty with the erroneous translations of the KJV and it becomes even more difficult to discern the truth.
The following analysis will hopefully enlighten you concerning the true meaning of those verses so that you may understand Yahweh's ways and walk in them.
A Sunday keeper will say that this verse proves
that Paul was condemning the continued observance of the weekly
Sabbath as a form of bondage. Adventist theologians will say that
this verse proves that Paul was condemning the continued observance
of the annual Sabbaths as a form of bondage. Neither belief is true
because both groups take this verse out of context. Paul himself said
that all of Yahweh's laws are holy, just, and good (Rom 7:12). If
that is true, can it be said that any part of Yahweh's holy law was
not good? Even the law of animal sacrifices was good in that it
pointed the Israelites to Messiah. So what did Paul really mean when
he wrote verse 10?
If Paul was writing to the Gentile converts in Galatia, who had been heathen worshipers of pagan deities before their conversion to Yeshua, then his meaning is as follows. He says in verse 8," . . .when you knew not God [Yahweh], you did service unto them which by nature are no gods." In other words they were idolaters who neither served Yahweh nor walked in His laws. They knew nothing of His commandments and laws except what they had heard from Israelites living in their city. But then verse 9 states that after they were converted they began to be known of Yahweh, which prompted Paul's question,"Why do you want to return to the way you were before you were converted? Why do you continue to observe days, months, times, and years that were ordained by pagans? Why do you wish to be slaves to the weak and beggarly elements of pagan so-called holy days?
The holy days that they were returning to are comparable to the false holy days we have today such as Sunday, Easter, Lent, Christmas, Goods Friday, Holy Thursday, Ash Wednesday, all of which were declared holy by the "mother church" in Rome and not by Yahweh. Yahweh declared in Lev 23 which days were His holy days.
If Paul was writing primarily to the Jewish converts in Galatia, then his concern would have been with the attempt to gain favor in Yahweh's sight through the observance of such days. Paul warned them several times not to seek justification by the law or to attain salvation through works. To do so would be to place oneself "under the law" again. The entire epistle is an admonition against such a perverted view as justification by law. So Paul is warning the Galations not to observe these times for the wrong reasons. He is not telling them to forsake observing them altogether. Incidently, the weekly Sabbath would have to be included among the "days" Paul mentions if he was writing primarily to Jewish converts.
Think about it; Why would Paul tell us to keep the Feast of Unleavened in I Cor 5:7,8 and then tell us not to keep any days in Gal 4:10? Why did he desire to keep the upcoming feast in Jerusalem in Acts 18:21(KJV) and then tell the Galatians that they were not permitted to keep any feasts?
Sunday keepers will use these verses to prove that
the weekly Sabbath has been nailed to the cross. Adventist
theologians will use these verses to prove the annual Sabbaths have
been nailed to the cross. Neither view is correct based on several
mistranslations, added words not found in any Greek texts, and poor
Bible exegesis (study).
Let's first determine the context of chapter two. In verses 4 and 8 Paul warns the Colossians about deceivers. Then again, in verse 18, Paul gives his final warning about these same deceivers. In what way were they trying to deceive the Colossians? Verse 8 tells us that they were trying to exalt the traditions of men over the Messiah (verses 8 & 19).
Notice carefully the context; the traditions of men in verse 8, 18, and 22. The verses that occur between 8 and 22 must be understood based on the context of the traditions of men .
Now we can understand the key word in Col 2:14, "ordinances." The Greek word for ordinances here is a form of the root word "dogma" which means man-made rules, laws, commandments, precepts, etc. Paul is not talking about Yahweh's ordinances in this verse. He is talking about mans ordinances or traditions. This same word is used in Col 2:20 pertaining to the doctrines and commandments of men; in Lu 2:1 pertaining to a decree from Caesar Augustus; in Acts 17:7 pertaining to a decree from Caesar; and in Eph 2:15, which we will look at later. It always pertains to mans commandments, not Yahweh's. Compare the word dogma with the Greek word that pertains to Yahweh's ordinances, "dikaioma."
This word dikaioma was used in Lu 1:6 pertaining to the ordinances of Yahweh and in Heb 9:1,10 pertaining once again to Yahweh's ordinances.
Therefore, Paul is saying in verse 14 that the traditions and commandments of men are the issue, not Yahweh's laws. But what was nailed to the cross? The Greek construction shows that the "handwriting" was nailed, not the ordinances. At this point I would like you to read an excerpt from the noted Adventist theologian Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi's book entitled, "From Sabbath To Sunday," page 348.
"What did Paul mean by the cheirographon (a term used in antiquity in the sense of a "written agreement" or a "certificate of debt")? Was he referring to the Mosaic Law with its ordinances, thus declaring that God nailed it to the cross? If one adopts this interpretation, there exists a legitimate possibility that the Sabbath could be included among the ordinances nailed to the cross. There are indeed certain authors who hold this view. But besides the grammatical difficulties, "it hardly seems Pauline," writes J. Huby, "to represent God as crucifying the 'holy' (Rom 7:6) thing that was the Mosaic Law."
As Dr. Bacchiocchi stated, the handwriting or, in Greek, the cheirographon was a certificate of debt. Whenever a man sins against Yahweh his sin is imputed against him. When men exalt the traditions of men over the commandments of Yahweh, as the Pharisees did (Mt 15:3,9) for example, they sin against Yahweh. The Messiah became sin for us and when He was nailed to the tree so were the sins that were imputed against us. Yahweh's holy ordinances were not nailed to the tree, the certificate of debt resulting in our death sentence was nailed to the tree. That is why Paul said the Colossians were "dead in your sins" in verse 13. The principalities and powers of verse 15 caused the people to sin by their man-made laws but Messiah was victorious over them.
This brings us to the crucial verse 16. It was the deceivers of verses 4,8, and 18 that were judging the Colossians regarding the things mentioned in verse 16. They had been imposing their man-made commandments and traditions upon the Colossians. Paul told them not to allow anyone to judge them concerning those matters. An important addition was made in the KJV that does not appear in any Greek manuscript. The word "is " in verse 17 was added, which changes the meaning of Paul's statement. Retaining the word "is" implies the thought of shadow vs. reality. In other words, Messiah fulfilled the shadow of the things mentioned in verse 16. However, if you remove the added word "is", it implies that we should not let any man outside the body of Messiah judge us in respect to these things. Indeed that is in line with the context of Paul's previous statements. Notice Col 1:18 & 24 and Col 2:19, all of which teach us that the body of Messiah is the church or all true believers.
There are several other points worthy of mention concerning verses 16 & 17. Verse 17 states that these things "are" a shadow of things "to come" not that they "were" a shadow that was now fulfilled. Paul wrote this epistle approximately 30 years after Yeshua's death and yet he still spoke of them as unfulfilled shadows. Notice also that the word "days" in verse 16 is in italics. This means it was also added as was "is" in verse 17. The sabbath in this verse is the weekly Sabbath since the word "holyday" refers to the annual sabbaths. The proper Greek translation of this word is "feast day."
Adventists always use Is 66:23 to show that the Sabbath is not done away with because it will be kept in the new heaven and new earth. However, this verse also mentions the New Moon in the new heaven and earth. Using the same logic it would mean that the New Moon of Col 2:16 is not done away with as well. Almighty Yahweh created the moon for the very purpose of keeping His Holydays. Ps 104:19 says, "He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down." The Hebrew word for seasons is "Moed" meaning "an appointed time." It is the same word used in Gen 1:14 for "seasons" and Lev 23:2 for "feasts." Each of Yahweh's Holydays are appointed times whose keeping is determined by the New Moon.
One more point about verse 16. If you believe verse 16 does away with the feastdays and new moons then you also must believe that it does away with eating and drinking to be consistent.
The correct translation of Col 2:16,17 is, "Let no man therefore judge you in eating, or in drinking, or in respect of a feastday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath (which are a shadow of things to come) but the body of Messiah."
The final "proof text" to be considered is Eph
2:15. Again we see the Greek word "dogma" (ordinances) meaning
man-made commandments. Having that in mind let's begin in verses
11-13. Paul explains that before one accepts Messiah as his Savior he
is separated from the commonwealth of Israel, he is without Yahweh,
and he is uncircumcised. However, once he accepts Messiah he becomes
an Israelite, circumcised in the heart, and at one with Yahweh.
Notice what is abolished in verse 15. It is the enmity or the hatred
between the Israelite and the Gentile that was abolished. This hatred
was caused by the commandments and traditions of men. For example,
Paul alludes to a "middle wall of partition" between Jew and Gentile.
This was a literal wall that Paul uses in a figurative sense to make
his point. The Jews decreed, ( they made a dogma), which stated that
if a Gentile crossed over the wall separating the Court of the Jews
from the Court of the Gentiles surrounding the temple, that they
would be immediately killed. This was not a commandment of Yahweh. In
fact, Yahweh never even commanded such a wall to exist. That dogma
created a hatred between the two peoples which Messiah destroyed
creating one new man and so, making peace.
I cannot impress upon you enough the importance that Yahweh places on the observance of all His Holy days. Each has a very special meaning, for example, not only does the Feast of Unleavened picture the putting away of sin from our lives, but it is also a memorial of Yahweh's great deliverance of Israel from Egypt (Ex 13:6-9). Can we, with a clear conscience, say that such a great event no longer needs to be memorialized by observing it in honor of Yahweh's great mercy? We continue to memorialize the Creation by observing the weekly Sabbath don't we?
It is often said by opponents of the annual Sabbaths that they are a "yoke of bondage." Can that be true in light of the following verses: Deut 16:11,14,15; 2 Chr 30:21-23? These days were for rejoicing. They were treated the same way the pagan world treats Christmas. It was something that every Israelite couldn't wait for. The "yoke of bondage" referred to in Gal 5:1 concerns becoming a slave by trying to be justified by law instead of by faith through grace (Gal 5:4).
Is 1:14 is another verse used to abolish these Holydays. The context shows that Yahweh hates the appointed feasts of Israel ("your appointed feasts") because they keep them hypocritically with evil in their hearts (verses 10,16-20). If verse 14 abolishes the feast days, then verse 13 abolishes the sabbath and verse 15 abolishes prayer.
The prophecy of Zechariah reveals that the Feast of Tabernacles will be kept by "everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem" (Zech 14:16-19). In other words, after the battle of Armageddon mentioned in verse 2, Yahweh will destroy those that were directly involved (verse 12). However, after their destruction their will still be people all over the world that did not fight against Jerusalem. They will be obligated to keep the Feast during the millennium or be punished (verse 19).
Spiritual Israelites also face major punishment if they don't keep Yahweh's appointed Feasts. Whoever has leaven in their house or eats leavened food during the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened, "that soul shall be cut off from Israel" (Ex 12:15,19) "whether he is a stranger (Gentile) or born in the land." Anyone who does not afflict his soul (by fasting 24 hours) on the Day of Atonement, or does any work on that day, will be "cut off from among his people" (Lev 23:29,30).
This study is by no means all there is to know about the Feasts. It only supports the continued observance of these days. You have yet to hear of the tremendous importance and prophetic meaning of each Feast.
Time is running out for us to remove the blemishes from our worship of Almighty Yahweh. Please do not put off studying this issue for the cares of this world can easily distract us.