THE FESTIVALS AND SACRED DAYS OF YAHWEH
One of the most controversial issues in the history of Christianity has been the debate over the festivals and sacred days of Yahweh. The contention is not only with regard to which, if any, of these appointed times should be observed but when and how. It is to the resolution of this debate that our three volume study is dedicated. To begin this endeavor, we shall first lay out the issues to be addressed and present a general outline for our research. This effort will serve as a generalized road map highlighting the path upon which our study intends to travel. Then, in our first chapter, we shall provide some initial definitions and explanations for a few of the basic terms that will be used throughout. These definitions and explanations will assist the reader by providing him with the purpose for their use and by adding clarity to our analysis.
It is a historical fact that, while under the Torah (Law) of Moses, the Israelites were required to keep a number of festivals and sacred days dedicated to Yahweh. These special occasions included the holding of sacred convocations and the observances of certain days when one's own work was to cease. The Torah of Moses also required the performance of a number of prescribed sacrifices, offerings, and an assortment of temple services. The debate among Christians arose from the fact that, according to the New Testament, those following the messiah are no longer under the Mosaic Torah but under grace.
It is the precise meaning of the charge that we are no longer obligated to be under the Torah of Moses that has been at the heart of the dispute. Does this mean that any commandment, statute, or law designated in the Torah of Moses is now null and void? Are we now free to commit acts for which those under the Torah of Moses would have received the death penalty, severe punishment, or excommunication? Or does the expression "not under the Torah" simply mean that we are no longer under obligation to perform the fleshly works of the Torah? If that be the case, are we still subject to its various commandments and statutes which are not fleshly works? Would these remaining statutes even include, among other things, a requirement to observe the festivals and sacred days dedicated to Yahweh? Or does our answer still lie beyond any of these solutions?
The subject is further complicated by another factor. Even if one were able to prove that those under grace are still required to observe the festivals and sacred days dedicated to Yahweh, he is still faced with the difficult problem of determining which practices are correct. Indeed, the controversy is an ancient one and has continued to our present time. Disagreements over exactly when and how such days ought to be observed, for example, were already raging among various Jewish factions as early as the second century B.C.E.
The importance of Yahweh's festivals and sacred days for Christians cannot be overstated. The issues surrounding their observance proceed from the very heart and core of Christian doctrine and tend to strenuously test anyone's ability to understand Scriptures. Indeed, the debate over these festivals and sacred days was a major source of conflict among the early Christians. For example, history informs us that—contrary to present-day popular belief—the first Christian assemblies actually observed the festivals and sacred days of Yahweh, including Passover, Pentecost, and the weekly Sabbath day. Nevertheless, by the first half of the second century C.E., these practices became the source of many disputes and resulted in the first schism in orthodox Christianity.
The debate among various early Christian assemblies over which days they should observe and over exactly how and when these festivals should be kept was ongoing for centuries. Indeed, many of the issues faced by Christians during the second and subsequent centuries remain with us to this day. One of the objects of this investigation, therefore, is to get to the bottom of what has caused so much disagreement and confusion.
After providing our introduction, Volume I serves two basic functions: (1) to answer the question of whether or not the festivals and sacred days of Yahweh are required for Christians under grace and (2) to examine the background and controversy surrounding the various practices of Passover (Phasekh) and Pentecost (Shabuath).
Required Under Grace?
Part I of Volume I shall demonstrate whether or not there is any scriptural requirement for Christians under grace to observe the festivals and sacred days of Yahweh. To accomplish this task, we will explore the conditional covenants of inheritance granted by Yahu Yahweh to Abraham and his seed (the messiah). It is by this inheritance that the promise of eternal life is provided to all of those who qualify. This investigation will necessitate a close examination of the mechanism by which one receives eternal life. It shall also be shown how this inheritance of eternal life is connected with the Torah of Moses and with the giving of grace.
Further, in order to deal with the issues involved with the conditions of this inheritance—whether under grace, which is the Torah of Trust (Faith), or under the Torah of Moses—our search demands that we understand what sin is and how sin prevents us from receiving the eternal inheritance. It is also important to fully realize the purpose of the Torah of Moses, why it came into existence, why it still exists, and why it will continue to exist until heaven and earth pass away, this despite the fact that Christians are not under all the conditions of that contract.
The results of this investigation shall demonstrate that the obligation for keeping the festivals and sacred days of Yahweh is still with us. It emanates from those statutes contained in the Abrahamic Covenants of Promise (the Torah of Trust), not from the Torah of Moses. The evidence shall also prove that this requirement will continue until the end of our present world-age—that is, until our present heaven and earth pass away.
Phasekh and Shabuath: Background and Controversy
Part II of the first volume provides the historical and cultural background for the two most controversial festivals of Yahweh—Passover and Pentecost. Various ancient constructs and systems for the observance of these festivals shall be examined, both Jewish and Christian. In this discussion, the historical development and origins of today's popular Jewish and Christian interpretations shall be brought to light. The results will set the stage for our in-depth examination of the evidence from Scriptures to uncover the correct Passover and Pentecost system proclaimed by Yahweh.