This article is an edited expansion of an article by the late Dr. Herman Hoeh titled 'HOW to Observe God's Festivals' which appeared in the Good News magazine of the Radio Church of God in January 1959--it was originally written for those who were unable to attend services for the festivals. This updated version has many scriptures, edits, links, and original writings and research done by Dr. Bob Thiel, AKA COGwriter that were not in the 1959 article.
This article attempts to show YOU can keep God's festivals even if you live with unconverted relatives.
Some are new to the Church of God and do not know how to observe the biblical Holy Days in the 21st century.
HOW SHOULD you observe the annual festivals if you are at home with unconverted members of the family? How can you keep from offending them? What should you do if you are unable to assemble at any of our local congregations?
Here is a little bit about what everyone of us needs to know about observing God's festivals! A related sermon is also available titled: How to Keep God's Feasts.
God wants us to be happy. The Apostle John wrote:
2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2, NKJV throughout unless otherwise noted).
10b I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
Our Creator is not the stern God He has so often been pictured. One primary way God has provided for our happiness — as well as our growth and development in the true Christian life — is through fellowship with brethren at the annual festivals.
We also know that we are admonished to attend regularly if we can:
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
But not all are able to have this kind of fellowship on a regular basis. The above is NOT condemning those who cannot fellowship, but those that can, but otherwise find excuses not to. Those who feel that all they need to do is to take care of themselves and not fellowship to grow and help others are deluding themselves as that is not what God wants. He wants us to fellowship.
Many hundreds of you brethren are all alone in this world -- except for the spiritual fellowship you have with God and through the weekly Letters to the Brethren which have a suggested Sabbath service format for each week. As well as information related to God's annual festivals.
But many are alone and scattered.
Yet you, too, can have real happiness at every festival if you know what to do and how to be an example to unconverted members of your family. There may be many difficulties, it may take time, but there is a way you can achieve peace and harmony in your home even if all the members of your family are unconverted.
A "festival," or "feast," is a part of time ordained by God for our physical, as well as spiritual, rejuvenation. There is one chapter in the Bible which mentions all the festivals God has ordained — Leviticus 23. Leviticus 23 is the one chapter in the Bible that lists all of God's feasts.
1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. (Leviticus 23:1-2)
While some try to act like these are just festivals for the Jews, notice that God calls them His feasts.
Notice the first one occurs weekly:
3 'Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings. (Leviticus 23:3)
Notice that the first festival mentioned occurs weekly. It is the Sabbath, which occurs every seventh day of the week. It is a period of rest from our usual business and labors and pleasures.
A holy convocation means it is a time to get together for church services if you can physically. And in the 21st century, electronically if you cannot make it physically.
Now, when was that one made?
Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Genesis 2:1-3)
So, the Sabbath was made in the beginning. It was not some later idea that God had for the Jews.
How are you to keep it?
The Bible teaches:
8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11)
13 "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the Lord honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
14 Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the Lord has spoken." (Isaiah 58:13-14)
11 "What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." (Matthew 12:11-12)
We do not participate in carnal work (including secular school/university studies) nor carnal entertainment on the Sabbath (though playing music is fine).
More on how to keep the Sabbath is in the article How to Observe the Sabbath. There is a sermon available titled: The Christian Sabbath and How and Why to Keep It.
The focus of this article, is not the weekly Sabbath, but the annual ones.
While many think that the festivals were made just for the Jews, that is not the case.
It perhaps should be pointed out that the reason that God gave for making the moon in the first book of the Bible was to mark God's annual holy days.
Let’s start with the following from the Book of Genesis showing both a Protestant and a Catholic translation:
14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the sky to separate the day from the night. They will be signs and will mark religious festivals, days, and years. (Genesis 1:14, God’s Word Translation, GWT)
14 God said, 'Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from night, and let them indicate festivals, days and years. (Genesis 1:14, New Jerusalem Bible, NJB)
Although many translations show term for the “religious festivals” as “seasons,” the Hebrew word this originally was, mowed’, and means religious festival as the above translations help demonstrate.
Did you know that the Bible talked about the existence of religious festivals in its very first book? The Book of Psalms also confirms this:
19 He made the moon to mark the festivals (Psalm 104:19, Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Is this something you had heard that before?
The term mowed’ is translated as “festival” six times in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus in the New American Bible (NAB), a Roman Catholic translation and feast(s) six times in the NKJV. Terms for holy day(s) appears eleven times in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus in the NAB. Despite the multitude of times these are in this part of the Bible and elsewhere, most people who claim to be Christian do not truly keep the holy days that God commands.
Let's notice, now, what God reveals about keeping the annual festivals.
The first annual festival is the Passover:
4 'These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. 5 On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord's Passover. (Leviticus 23:4-5)
The Passover is the only festival that is not a sabbath (unless it happens to fall on the seventh day of the week as the weekly Sabbath). But the Passover, as well as every other annual festival, is a COMMANDED ASSEMBLY — a time of convocation. It is a commanded observance for those who are properly baptized in the church age (Jesus only had His disciples with Him for His last Passover, Matthew 26:18,which was the example for the church).
In this age, however, God realizes that many of you are unable to assemble either on the Sabbath or on the annual Holy Days. We are to worship the Father in Spirit and truth no matter where we may be (John 4:21-24). But whenever it is possible to assemble we are commanded to do so. Many brethren who find it impossible to meet on the weekly Sabbath are, however, able to do so on the annual Festivals.
The Passover comes the day before the great spring Festival of Unleavened Bread (Numbers 28:16-17). Since the Passover is not a sabbath day, work may be done on it. That's why the Passover is called a day of preparation in the New Testament in Matthew 27:62.
The Passover is a very serious time of the year. You need to prepare spiritually for Passover:
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come. (1 Corinthians 11:23-34)
Unlike how the Jews observe it, the Christian Passover is not simply a meal. Only a very small amount of unleavened bread and a very small amount of wine (about a thimbel full) is consumed by each participant. Also, the examining of onesself should be done well before Passover (there is a related sermon available on this Preparing for Passover).
Jesus set us an example on the day of his death so that we today might know how to keep the Passover.
For the explanation of how YOU can keep this commanded observance in your own homes, if necessary, follow the steps in the article: Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. We also have a video service: Passover Service.
This is very important so you will know how to observe it properly.
Although the Passover is the day before the Feast of Unleavened Bread, it was customary among the Jews to use only unleavened bread on the Passover day. That is why the Passover is sometimes called a day of Unleavened Bread (Luke 22:7).
No leavened product is ever to be used with the Passover service — which is improperly sometimes called "Lord's Supper" (1 Corinthians 11:20).
The morning after the Passover service, which is still the Passover day (all days start at sunset the previous evening, not at midnight), is probably the most convenient time to remove any leavening agents or leavened bread.
Be sure that all leaven is removed from your premises. Don't store it in some other room. Removing leavened products which cost a few cents or dollars is just one way God has of testing you to see how much you prize obedience above money and the pleasures of this age. By following His will, God has promised to give you more in this life in return for what you give up in loving obedience to Him (John 10:10).
It is wise to arrange your purchases so that when the Passover comes there will be little leaven to discard. Remember, there is nothing inherently wrong with leaven. It is merely used in the Feast of Unleavened Bread as a symbol of vanity and sin.
You do not give the leaven to someone else to give it back to you later. (Note: Brewer's yeast and autolyzed yeast extract are not leavening agents and do not have to be removed--but baking soda, bicarbonate of soda, yeast, and baking powder are leavening agents and they and foods that they are in should be removed.) The removal needs to be complete by the start of the first day of unleavened bread (for details on what should be removed, etc., please see the article Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?).
Humble yourself and remove leaven from your home/office/automobile. More on physical and spiritual aspects of leaven are in the article Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?
Perhaps some of you are wondering what leaven is. A leavening agent is any substance that is used to puff up or produce fermentation causing dough to rise. Yeast, soda, baking powder, cream of tartar when combined with a leavening agent, are such products. Bread, crackers, some prepared cereals and cakes, and some bought pies contain leaven and should be avoided at home and at restaurants during the festival. Homemade unleavened pies, cereals, and unleavened bread are to be used instead, together with all the regular meats, milk, fruits and vegetables you normally eat, for the festival of Unleavened Bread following the Passover. Cakes with beaten egg white used purposely as a substitute for leaven should not be used. But beaten egg white on pies, etc., is not a leavening agent.
Historically, the removal of leaven was done on Passover. This was also the case in the early Christian church. Notice what the Christian leader Polycrates of Ephesus wrote in the late second century about Passover and Unleavened Bread:
We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead ? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. (Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XXIV, Verses 2-7 . Translated by A. Cushman McGiffert. Digireads.com Publishing, Stilwell (KS), 2005, p. 114).
In the 21st century, since many have offices, homes, and vehicles, it is wise to start the process of removing leaven before the start of Passover. For those who begin it earlier, the removal process should remind us that we are to be spiritually examining ourselves before partaking of Passover. Some, however, focus only on the physical removal, while neglecting the spiritual aspect--the spiritual is much more important (Luke 10:38-42), but the physical also should be done (cf. Luke 11:42).
At first it may seem strange to do without leaven in a festival, but once we come to know the mind of God and of Jesus Christ, we see the lesson of obedience it teaches.
"If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them," Jesus said (John 13:17).
As there are many products containing leaven, be sure to examine the labels of all products on your shelves. As will probably happen, there will always be some leavened material that somehow escapes! A very good type of the hidden sins that we don't always discover upon conversion. We must always throw away this forgotten leaven — a type of sin — upon discovering it.
The next Feast of God is the Days of Unleavened Bread. The Bible states:
6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 7 On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. 8 But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. (Leviticus 23:6-8)
As far as the Days of Unleavened Bread, the whole family is commanded to attend whenever possible:
8 Six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a sacred assembly to the Lord your God. You shall do no work on it. ...
11 You shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. ...
16 "Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you. (Deuteronomy 16:8, 11, 16-17)
Here is the great spring festival, midway in the first month of the sacred calendar, when the people of God are to assemble with one another wherever possible and rejoice. The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a seven day period, beginning the day after the Passover.
Notice the following from the New Testament:
11 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. (Acts 16:11-12)
6 But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days. (Acts 20:6)
The "we" above was the Apostle Paul, Luke, and others traveling with them. Notice also that they kept the Days of Unleavened Bread for seven days in Philippi, a city of the Roman colony that was in Macedonia. Therefore, one clearly DOES NOT need to go to Jerusalem to keep these days.
Whenever possible, Christians should gather together for the Passover and the holy days during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Festival of Unleavened Bread, although seven days long, has but two annual Holy Days or Sabbaths, occurring on the first and last days of the feast. The intervening days are not sabbaths and ordinary work may be done on them.
Holy Day offerings are also supposed to be given on the Holy Days as Deuteronomy 16:16-17 shows. An offering for the Days of Unleavened Bread is also mentioned elsewhere:
15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); (Exodus 23:15)
If several are present, envelopes to place offerings in are normally handed out. The envelopes are then collected. Many of those in the Continuing Church of God will mail their offering to:
Continuing Church of God, 1036 W. Grand Avenue, Grover Beach, CA 93433 (United States of America).
Others will what to use the Donate button via PayPal on the CCOG Donations page.
The Bible shows that cooking for the festivals may be done on them. But all other forms of ordinary business or work are not to be done:
16 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat — that only may be prepared by you. 17 So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread. (Exodus 12:16-20)
It should be noted that your diet is NOT restricted to ONLY unleavened bread, but that any breads you eat must be unleavened and you should eat at least a small amount of unleavened bread everyday.
Although the intervening days between the first and seventh are not sabbaths and work may be done on them (except, of course, any that would fall on the weekly Sabbath), be sure that the usual routine does not stop you from realizing the purpose of the entire festival. Eat some unleavened bread every day during this festival. Each time you eat it, consider that we are to strive to be without sin:
48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
Eating unleaved bread each day should get you to consider that spiritual perfection should be a personal goal. This festival is also a a time of rejuvenating yourself spiritually and physically. The entire festival is meant to be a special period of happiness. Spend more time in studying and reading your Bible.
In this Feast, no leavened bread should be in your homes for seven days and no leavened products should be eaten. Use UNLEAVENED bread instead, together with your customary meals. If some of you have never tasted unleavened bread before, you have a surprise coming!
My wife seems to do more baking than usual during the Days of Unleavened Bread. She usese familiar recipes, but also normally tries one or more new ones each year. Some of them are in the Letter to the Brethren: April 2, 2015.
Children should be trained by their parents to eat unleavened bread during these days, and also taught the meaning for so doing. This will always be a wonderful experience for them, because most children have never tasted nutritious unleavened bread, which can either be bought, or baked very simply in your own home.
Unleavened products are sold in most all stores near you. Just ask your grocer.
Note: You do not have to have unleavened WHEAT bread. Unleavened bread can be made from many grains, and even most corn tortillas are unleavened bread. For some things you can make yourself, check out the article Unleavened Bread recipes.
If families are divided with only some part of the Church of God, difficulties may arise. Perhaps you are a husband or a wife whose family does not follow the ways of God. Don't let that worry you. Never force your will on others. Don't force them to use unleavened bread against their will. This festival is a matter between you and God.
Where the entire family serves God, all leaven must be removed by the beginning of the Festival. If non-members are in the family, all leaven should be removed if they do not object. But if they object, rather than provoke arguments, it is better to reckon the house as the others' property and not remove the leaven. Doing otherwise would involuntarily impose your religion on those who will not practice it.
However, a wife who does not need to bake can take all leaven from the kitchen where she works and place it elsewhere in the house if no objections would be raised. Allow others their freedom to eat leavened products if they purchase them or demand you bake them.
Sometimes it is necessary to explain to your family if they do not understand. You have to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves" in explaining the matter, however.
If opposition will likely develop, it would be better, before saying anything to pray. You also might wish to delight non-members of your family with unleavened products long before the Feast so that they will not think anything strange when you first mention it. It is surprising how many people know little or nothing about unleavened breads, but who enjoy them from the very first. Perhaps if the non-members really enjoy it, nothing need be said about the Festival and you can use unleavened bread for the entire week.
The first annual Sabbath or High Day of Unleavened Bread is the only other NIGHT convocation that is commanded after the Passover (Exodus 12:42). This happens at the beginning of the Days of Unleavened Bread each year.
So why mention it after mentioning leaven, etc.? Basically because one needs to understand what leaven is first so that one can make an appropriate meal for the The Night to Be Observed for the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Now notice some information about it:
40 Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years — on that very same day — it came to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It is a night of solemn observance to the LORD for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the LORD, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations. (Exodus 12:40-42)
42 It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations. (Exodus 12:42, KJV)
42 This is the observable night of our Lord, when he brought them forth out of the Land of Ægypt: this night all the children of Israel must observe in their generations. (Exodus 12:42, Original Douay Rheims)
3 And Moses said to the people: "Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. 4 On this day you are going out, in the month Abib. (Exodus 13:3-5, NKJV)
15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); (Exodus 23:15)
So, the children of Israel celebrate the night of the 15th for then God brought them out of Egypt. And that was on the 15th as Numbers 33 indicates. The children of Israel were happy that they left and rejoiced. Christians should rejoice when they leave spiritual Egypt (cf. Revelation 11:8).
As it is called a feast and eating was commanded, traditionally, those in the Church of God have tended to have a "potluck" dinner on the Night to be Observed that includes unleavened bread. A dinner that starts, or at least, ends after sunset that night. Someone present should give an appropriate, but not too lengthy, prayer.
Unlike Passover, the night to be observed is open to non-baptized individuals with Church of God interest. So baptized members, their children, other relatives, and those who simply sometimes attend COG services all get together. This night should be a pleasant time.
Normally, which foods will brought by which people will be discussed sometime before, so that there will be a balance of foods. Traditionally, some type of unleavened bread will be part of the meal.
While the evening is not intended to be a completely theological one, some will wonder about the meaning of the evening, so mentioning some of what is in this article can be helpful. Someone should ask for a blessing on the food, the evening, and mention that it is the The Night to Be Observed in that prayer. Some may wish to watch a YouTube presentation about it: The Night to Be Observed.
What could be more pleasant for those of you unable to meet with brethren than beginning a festival with an enjoyable dinner with members of your family in thanks to God?
More on this night can be found in the article The Night to Be Observed. There is also a video available titled The Night to Be Observed.
In Leviticus 23, we also find instructions for the wave-sheaf offering:
9 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 10 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord. 13 Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the Lord, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. 14 You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. (Leviticus 23:9-14)
Notice that the Israelites were not allowed to harvest any of the early grain crop until this day (verse 14). Then, on the day following the weekly Sabbath, which we now call Sunday, in a solemn ceremony of the Levitical priesthood (the rituals were mere substitutes and therefore not practiced today; cf. Hebrews 7:11-28; 10:1-18), the first sheaf of grain was cut. This event always occurred during the days of unleavened bread (see Joshua 5). The sheaf was then brought to the priest. The priest solemnly waved it before the Eternal to be accepted for them.
This ceremony pictures the resurrected Christ ascending to heaven to be accepted by His Father. Jesus was the very first human to be actually born of God the firstfruit of the first harvest!
The wave-sheaf offering occurred on a Sunday after the Passover and during the Days of Unleavened Bread and was used to count until the day of Pentecost, the feast of first fruits (more on the meaning of the wave-sheaf and its connection to firstfruits is included in the article Pentecost: Is It More Than Acts 2?).
Jesus fulfilled this Himself on a Sunday and would not at first allow Himself to be touched. Notice the following:
On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb...Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.' " (John 20:1,16-17)
However, after He ascended to the Father as the wave-sheaf offering, He did allow Himself to be touched:
27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." (John 20:27)
By comparing John 20:17 with Matthew 28:9, you can see that Christ presented Himself before the Father on the morning after His resurrection the previous evening (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15, 18). This fulfillment of the wave-sheaf offering actually occurred on Sunday, the morrow after the Sabbath during the days of unleavened bread.
Just as the wave sheaf was lifted up into the air and waved, symbolizing Christ’s trip to heaven and return, so the wave loaves were lifted up and waved, symbolizing that we too shall for a moment leave this solid earth when we ascend to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) before we return with Him to stand on the Mount of Olives as He begins His millennial rule (Acts 1:11; Zechariah 14:3-4).
Some have stated that some early Christians may have observed it (see What Happened in the 'Crucifixion Week'?).
Yet, because it is NOT a holy convocation nor Sabbath nor listed as a Feast of God in scripture (it is shown mainly as a Levitical practice) AND because Jesus has already presented Himself to the Father, we do not practice the offering of a wave sheaf today (cf. Hebrews 10:1-2). But the date is still used to help calculate Pentecost and can remind us that Jesus did ascend to His Father.
Fifty days after the wave Sunday that occurs during the Days of Unleavened Bread is festival with several names. It is known as the Feast of Weeks, Feast of Firstfruits, Feast of Harvest, or in the New Testament as Pentecost. It usually occurs a few weeks before summer. Pentecost always occurs on a Sunday.
Notice its mention in Leviticus:
15 'And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. 16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. 17 You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord. 18 And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be as a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the Lord. 19 Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering. 20 The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. 21 And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
22 'When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God.'" (Leviticus 23:15-22)
Notice some more about in from the Old Testament:
14 "Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: 15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); 16 and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field. (Exodus 23:14-17).
22 And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year's end (Exodus 34:22).
26 Also on the day of the firstfruits, when you bring a new grain offering to the LORD at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation (Numbers 28:26).
Pentecost is an annual Holy Day in which no work is to be done except for what a person must eat. An offering is normally also taken up.
In local churches there is to be a convocation held on the day, just as we find in the example of the disciples on the day of Pentecost in c. A.D. 31 in the New Testament:
1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)
The above refers to Jesus disciples (cf. Acts 1:13-15). They were together on the Day of Pentecost and were still keeping that day.
Pentecost ends up as a back-to-back Holy Day, meaning that it begins as soon as the weekly Sabbath prior to it ends. Because of that, you should have more time for prayer and Bible study. You also may need to better plan for it.
As with every holy day when any of you are unable to gather together in an assembled convocation, there should be a great deal of Bible study. If you are keeping this day alone and with opposition from the family, be very considerate of the others. Some might find Bible games and quizzes helpful. There are several at the COGwriter.com webpage.
Give the day a festive atmosphere! Don't withdraw yourself totally from your family. Be happy with your family. Let them all enjoy the bounteous material blessings of God in a dinner with you. Avoid, however, any statements that would precipitate religious strife. Let them see that the Holy Days which God set in motion are so much more enjoyable than the burdensome holidays which our modern society has incorporated from the rites of the ancient pagans by way of an apostate church.
As autumn approaches, there is another single Holy Day--the Day of Trumpets.
The Hebrew scriptures state:
23 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25 You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.'" (Leviticus 23:23-25)
1 'And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work. For you it is a day of blowing the trumpets. 2 You shall offer a burnt offering as a sweet aroma to the Lord: one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year, without blemish. 3 Their grain offering shall be fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for the bull, two-tenths for the ram, 4 and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs; 5 also one kid of the goats as a sin offering, to make atonement for you; 6 besides the burnt offering with its grain offering for the New Moon, the regular burnt offering with its grain offering, and their drink offerings, according to their ordinance, as a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord. (Numbers 29:1-6)
The blowing of the trumpets term is teruw'ah (Strong's #8643). The Jewish Bible translates that word as shofar there and the Tanakh says it is a horn. In Psalm 81, the actual word shofar (Strong's #7782) is used:
3 Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon,
At the full moon, on our solemn feast day.
4 For this is a statute for Israel,
A law of the God of Jacob. (Psalms 81:3-4)
It is an annual Sabbath day when no servile work should be done, except what is necessary for preparation of food on that day. Make this a day of joy for members of your family. And spend time studying the Bible. An offering is also normally taken up on this day.
Historically, we have had our youngest child blow a plastic trumpet on this day. We also sometimes will listen to the sounds of a shofar that nowadays can be found on the internet to remind us that God has many trumpet warnings.
Notice something from Nehemiah:
1 Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. 3 Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. (Nehemiah 8:1-3)
9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep." For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.
10 Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."
11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, "Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved." 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them. (Nehemiah 8:9-12)
Rejoice, despite your imperfections and keep this day. The Feast of Trumpets is considered part of the Feast of Tabernacles' season (cf. Nehemiah 8:2,14-15), and offerings are normally given on it.
More on the Feast of Trumpets can be found in the articles The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? and Feast of Trumpets: Why Should You Keep It?
A most unusual day is this! Imagine God commanding one fast day for His people annually.
The Day of Atonement is a commanded fast. Here is some information from Leviticus:
26 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 27 "Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. 28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath." (Leviticus 23:26-32)
Leviticus 23:28-32 explains that there is no work whatsoever to be done on it. God's people are to congregate whenever possible, as on the preceding Holy Day.
Offerings were expected to be given on it:
7 'On the tenth day of this seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall afflict your souls; you shall not do any work. 8 You shall present a burnt offering to the Lord as a sweet aroma: one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year. Be sure they are without blemish. 9 Their grain offering shall be of fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for the bull, two-tenths for the one ram, 10 and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs; 11 also one kid of the goats as a sin offering, besides the sin offering for atonement, the regular burnt offering with its grain offering, and their drink offerings. (Numbers 29:7-11)
It is to be a holy convocation.
But this Holy Day is unique because of fasting. The expression to 'afflict one's soul,' based on other scriptures has been interpreted that those who can should fast. Notice:
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 "Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. (Isaiah 58:5-8)
The Day of Atonement seems to be referred to as the 'fast of the seventh month' in Zechariah 8:19.
If some of you have never fasted for the first time there might be slight physically uncomfortable reactions. But how small are these compared to the heart-warming benefits that come from doing the will of God!
Since God instructs that no work whatsoever be done on this day, be sure that as much preparation as possible for the day has been previously made so that unconverted members of your family will not have cause to complain. Sometimes a converted wife and mother may have to do certain limited work on this day for her unconverted family.
In writing, the old Radio Church of God once taught that drinking liquids on the Day of Atonement was fine (Hoeh H. HOW to Observe God's Festivals. Good News, January 1959), yet that view changed later. For example, the fast on the Day of Atonement in the old Worldwide Church of God (which had been the old Radio Church of God) involved avoiding both food and water. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, and others who needed to were encouraged to drink water on the Day of Atonement and babies would nurse, etc.
As far as children go, in our family my wife and I tended to ease our children into it, based upon their age and health. First, we always would prohibit any type of desserts and similar snacks on the Day of Atonement. One certainly is not afflicting one's soul by consuming sweets or 'junk food.' We also would tend have them have dinner before Atonement and after Atonement, so they would generally be eating less during the actual Day of Atonement. We later, as they were older, would then prohibit fruits. Finally, when they were ready and basically asked to fast, then they would avoid all food and drink as we, their parents, did.
It never seemed to bother them (or us) to eat 'heavy meals' prior to the sunset for the Day of Atonement. However, I would add that our family tends not to consume caffeine, and those that do tend to have a harder time fasting. Drinking more water the day prior to sunset and the start of the Day of Atonement is a good for many.
As far as water goes, biblical examples show that fasting means to go without food and water:
9 When I went up into the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the Lord made with you, then I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water. (Deuteronomy 9:9)
15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: 16 "Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!" (Esther 4:15-16)
1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you." 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent. 4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day's walk. Then he cried out and said, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. 6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying,
Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?
10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. (Jonah 3:1-10)
8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:8-9)
Refraining from food and water reminds us that we are physically frail and helps us realize that we do need God's sustenance. The process of fasting helps teach us that we of ourselves are not sufficient--we are not immortal and we cannot save ourselves.
In the New Testament, the Day of Atonement was called 'the Fast' (Acts 27:9).
Why is this day to be kept so solemnly?
28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. (Leviticus 23:28)
What does atonement mean? Webster says to atone means to "set at one." To join in one -- to form by uniting. This day actually symbolizes God and man being set at one: literally the Day of At-one-ment! But God and mankind cannot be fully at one -- in full agreement -- until Satan is restrained.
The greatest and most joyous festival is without doubt the Feast of Tabernacles. What can be more wonderful than, after a hard summer's labor, with much of the winter's store in, that we should rejoice before the Lord of heaven and earth!
Here is some information about it:
33 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 34 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. 35 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. 36 For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.
37 'These are the feasts of the Lord which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day — 38 besides the Sabbaths of the Lord, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the Lord.
39 'Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. 40 And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.'"
44 So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the Lord. (Leviticus 23:33-44)
The Bible teaches that the children of Israel were to have offerings for every day of the Feast. While we in the Continuing Church of God do take up offerings on the First Day of the Feast and the Last Great Day, we do not take up financial offerings on the other days. But one way for you to fulfil what God expects is for you to attend church services each day. Notice something that the Apostle Paul wrote:
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
Attending services, or at least watching the sermons (which you can do online), each day is a way for you to offer yourself as a living sacrifice which is your reasonable service. Some may wonder why attending services is done for all the days at the Feast of Tabernacles and not required for the Days of Unleavened Bread. Well, the scriptural reason is that the command for the Feast of Tabernacles says it will be a "Feast" "for seven days to the Lord" (Leviticus 23:33; Deuteronomy 16:13) and "Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses" (Deuteronomy 16:15). That is not so stated related to the Days of Unleavened Bread (the commands for it says to eat unleavened bread for seven days in Leviticus 23:6 and Deuteronomy 16:3, as opposed to observe the feast of seven days--w make a 'sacrifice' the seven days of unleavened bread by eating unleavened bread on each of the days).
Here is more about the Feast of Tabernacles::
22 "You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. 23 And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. 24 But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, 25 then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. 26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. 27 You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you. (Deuteronomy 14:22-27)
16 "Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you. (Deuteronomy 16:16-17)
Of course, being festive and consuming alcohol does not mean over drinking. The Bible warns:
18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:18-21)
(Dissipation means misuse.) Hymns are song during the Holy Days (see also Praises to Jesus Christ or Biblical Hymns: Which Should Christians Primarily Sing?):
1 Sing aloud to God our strength;
Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.
2 Raise a song and strike the timbrel,
The pleasant harp with the lute.
3 Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon,
At the full moon, on our solemn feast day. (Psalms 81:1-3)
4 When I remember these things,
I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude;
I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast. (Psalms 42:4)
The Festival of Tabernacles is a 'pilgrim feast' (see also Christians are to Be Strangers and Pilgrims?). So sing during it.
The Festival of Tabernacles is a time when we should be separate from the world, rejoicing as in a festive dance, before God who has given us every wonderful material and spiritual gift in the past year.
Although the festival itself is only seven days long — with one annual sabbath at the beginning of the feast — the last annual Holy Day coming immediately after the Feast of Tabernacles makes it customary to refer to all eight days as part of the same festival. On the first and eighth days no work is to be done except what is permitted for meal preparation. If you are alone and unable to journey to one of our Feast of Tabernacles' sites because of some great unforeseen circumstance, be sure to study your Bible, and especially the law, these days.
If you are unable to attend the festival, the intervening six days are to involve sermons and other biblical messages. Work is permitted on them, although God does not intend you to do the usual routine. The Festival was given to relieve you from your normal duties so that you can rejoice with the brethren. It is to defeat the purpose of the Festival if, when you are unable to attend, you merely rest on the two High Days and neglect the entire festival as a whole period of supreme happiness.
Where is the Feast of Tabernacles to be kept?
The Bible teaches "in the place which He chooses" (Deuteronomy 16:16; 31:10-11).
Since God does not physically speak the physical locations for every year, the responsibility for this falls on His ministry (cf. Leviticus 23:1,4,37). In modern times, generally the locations will be near the area where enough Christians live or can travel too. Here is a link to Feast of Tabernacles' Sites for 2015 from the Continuing Church of God.
While some falsely claim that the Feast of Tabernacles from the past through current times must only be kept in Jerusalem, this is in error as the children of Israel were not even in Jerusalem for centuries after the commands for its observance in Leviticus 23 were recorded--hence Jerusalem was not possibly an initial option for them. It should also be understood that since Jesus commanded the Passover to be kept (Luke 22:29; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25), taught that there were Christians in places like Asia Minor (Revelation 2 & 3), and told His disciples to teach all nations what He commanded (Matthew 28:19-20), this shows that He did not restrict the observation of the Holy Days to Jerusalem (cf. John 4:19-24). Nor did the Apostle Paul (Acts 20:6).
Furthermore, the Bible shows that the Feast of Tabernacles can be kept in cities other than Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 14:23-24) and also seems to indicate that it was (Psalm 74:8; cf. Nehemiah 8:15). Notice also something from a Jewish scholar:
In the time of the second Temple, Sukkos was a great festival even outside of Jerusalem. (Schausse H.The Jewish Festivals: A Guide to Their History and Observance, 1938. Schocken (September 9, 1996), p. 184)
Sukkos or Sukkot are Hebrew names for the Feast of Tabernacles. The Second Temple period in Jewish history is estimated to have lasted between 530 BC and 70 AD.
It may also be of interest to note Polycarp of Smyrna in the 2nd century and certain others in Asia Minor in the late 4th century kept the Feast of Tabernacles in Asia Minor, not Jerusalem. This is confirmed by sources such as the Catholic saint Jerome (Migne JP Argumentum Patrologia Latina Volumen MPL025 Ab Columna ad Culumnam 1415 - 1542A, pp. 922, 930) and research done by the 20th century Cardinal Danielou (Danielou, Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, pp. 345-346).
In the 21st century, Christians have kept the Feast of Tabernacles on all inhabited continents as well as various islands.
Those who can will travel (Deuteronomy 14:23-26) go to a Feast site.
Do you have to live in a palm-branched hut? No, other temporary dwellings like tents, motels, and hotels are acceptable.
Why are tents and motel rooms acceptable ‘tabernacles’ as opposed to only dwelling in palm-branch huts? Here are some items to consider:
Those who cannot travel may wish to consider the possibility to not sleep in their houses during the time of the Feast. If they are physically and financially able, they may wish to try to sleep in some type of temporary dwelling like a hotel, motel, camper, or a tent (including perhaps one in one's own home). In ancient Israel, those who did not travel (as well as native Israelites that did) made 'booths' of branches on top of their roofs (Leviticus 23:40) and slept in them for the seven days of the Feast (Leviticus 23:42), and some slept for the entire eight days (though th e Bible only mentions seven days). Staying in 'temporary dwellings,' of whatever sort, helps convey that this age is temporal and a new millennial age is coming.
The first day of the Feast of Tabernacles is kept like a Sabbath, as it is also a day of rest and a holy convocation as is the eighth day, also known as the Last Great Day (John 7:37). Christians should pray and attend services and/or watch messages on each of the eight days. An offering is normally also taken up on the first and eighth day (cf. Deuteronomy 16:16). But the other days are NOT kept like the Sabbath (unless one is the actual seventh-day of the week), meaning that one can engage in regular physical work on those days.
If you have not yet been able to meet once a year during the Feast of Tabernacles with the brethren, begin now to save your second tithe — which is God's way of providing you an annual vacation in His spiritual presence with all the brethren. Those who do not try to do this truly lack faith. Most people do not trust that God can possibly bless them sufficiently financially, but they are wrong.
Now, I know full well that many are looking for theological excuses to NOT actually attend the Feast of Tabernacles, and this article is NOT intended to do so. Not attending can often be a strong sign of a lack of faith and a misunderstanding of God's plan (God does NOT WANT YOU to be selfish and only concerned about your own health and welfare). There simply is no human substitute to attending.
However, if someone cannot do it because of health or finances, trying to keep it the best one can is the best option.
Before you possibly consider not attending, think about the following:
11 "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience. (Luke 8:11-15)
1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 2 "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, 3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. 4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding."' 5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. 7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' 10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 "But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
14 "For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:1-14)
Are you accepting the call to observe God's festivals? Are you going to be among those that chosen?
For those who wish to be independent, consider the following:
14 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. 16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
20 "So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.' 21 His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' 22 He also who had received two talents came and said, 'Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.' 23 His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'
24 "Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.'
26 "But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
29 'For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' (Matthew 25:14-30)
The Feast of Tabernacles helps picture the Kingdom of God, and those who think that doing it there way and not being engaged in doing the work is enough are deceiving themselves. That is part of what Jesus was teaching.
Understand also that Revelation 17:14 teaches that "those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful." Burying your talents, in other words mainly just trying to not violate God's law without truly supporting His work, is not acceptable to God.
Some may say that I do not understand and am not your judge. While I am not your judge, God is. And it is through His word that those who rationalize around doing what God's want that will be judged--Jesus basically told the Jews the same thing that many 'independents' need to be told (cf. Mark 7:6-13; John 7:16-24).
Some do not believe that they can keep the Holy Days, especially one like the Feast of Tabernacles which normally involves travel.
How does one finance the attendance at the festivals? The Bible enjoins the setting aside a tenth of one's net income for such purposes. This is often called second tithe or festival tithe (information on that is included in the article Is Second Tithe and Third Tithe Still Valid Today?).
My family has been doing this for decades--in both good economic times and bad. Keeping the Holy Days takes faith, but God is faithful.
Jesus declared that it could be hard to find faithful Christians in the end:
8 Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)
Do you have faith to keep God's Feasts? For more on faith, check out the free online booklet Faith for Those God has Called and Chosen.
The Holy Days themselves each picture aspects of God's plan of salvation. There are articles about the meaning of each:
Is There "An Annual Worship Calendar" In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days. (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: Calendario Anual de Adoración –Una crítica basada en la Biblia y en la Historia: ¿Hay un Calendario Anual de Adoración en la Biblia?
Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread How should Christians keep Passover, especially if they are by themselves. Why does the Church of God not require lambs for Passover? How does one keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? For a step-by-step video for Christians to keep it, check out CCOG Passover Service. Here is a link to a related article in the Spanish language: Guardando la Pascua y los Días de los Panes sin Levadura.
Preparing for Passover The Apostle Paul taught that Christians should examine themselves prior to taking Passover. This YouTube video sermon gives suggestions on how to prepare.
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins? There is also a detailed YouTube video available titled History of the Christian Passover.
The Passover Plot What was the first Passover plot? Which plots have Islam and the Greco-Roman faiths perpetuated about Passover? A sermon video of related interest is The Passover Plots, Including Easter.
Melito's Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well. Here is a related sermon, also titled Melito's Homily on the Passover.
TPM: Passover on the 14th or 15th? While the real COG observes Passover on the 14th, some observe it on the 15th. Why is the 14th correct? A related sermon is titled Is Passover on the 14th or 15th for Christians?
The Night to Be Observed What is the night to be much observed? When is it? Why do Jews keep Passover twice and emphasize the wrong date? Here is a link to a YouTube video titled The Night to Be Observed.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? What is leaven? This article supplies some biblical answers. Here is a YouTube video intended to be viewed for the first day of unleavened bread: Christians and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2? Many "Christians" somewhat observe Pentecost. Do they know what it means? It is also called the Feast of Harvest, the Feast of Weeks, and the day of firstfruits. What about "speaking in tongues" and led by the Holy Spirit? (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: Pentecostés: ¿Es más que Hechos 2? plus one by Herbert Armstrong HWA sobre Pentecostés). Here is a YouTube sermon titled Pentecost: Feast of Firstfruits.
Pentecost is Part of God's Plan. This combines a couple of articles from the 1980s, plus additional scriptures and modern comments about Pentecost. Here is a related sermon: Pentecost Plan.
Should You Observe God’s Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? This is a draft that is planned to be expanded and made into a booklet.
The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not? What does the Feast of Trumpets, which the Jews call Rosh Hashanah, help teach? A related sermon video would be Feast of Trumpets and the Book of Life as well as The Trumpet Release. The article has links to hear shofar blasts.
Feast of Trumpets: Why Should You Keep It? What does the Bible say? What does this festival picture? A related sermon is available: The Trumpet Warnings.
The Day of Atonement--Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians "The Day of Atonement." Does it have any relevance for Christians today? What is the Jubilee? Is fasting healthy? Here is a link to a sermon: Day of Atonement: How Jesus fulfilled His part for the Atonement. Here is a link to a related article in the Spanish language: El Día de Expiación –Su significado cristiano.
The Atonement Plan How does the Day of Atonement tie into God's plan of salvation?
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today's Christians? What is the Last Great Day? What do these days teach? A related sermon video is Feast of Tabernacles from Israel.
The Last Great Day: Shemini 'Azeret What is the 'eighth day' of the Feast? What does it help picture? A sermon on this topic is also available: Shemini Azaret: The Last Great Day.
Christians are to Be Strangers and Pilgrims? Should Christians sojourn? What does the Bible and Feast of Tabernacles teach? A related video sermon is titled Christian Pilgrims.
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time to Learn the Law The Bible teaches that every seven years that the law should be read at the Feast of Tabernacles. This is what I did at the first Feast site were I gave an actual sermon (as opposed to a sermonette) in 2006.
Feast of Tabernacles' Sites for 2015 This is information on the planned Feast of Tabernacles' sites for the Continuing Church of God in 2015. The Feast in 2015 begins the evening of September 27th.
This particular article was to help you better know how to keep them.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:33-34)
If you are not keeping the festivals of God as you should, you obviously are NOT seeking first the kingdom of God. Do you have faith in God?
2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts. (Proverbs 21:2)
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:7-10)
Keeping God's Holy Days shows that you are submitting to God and resisting the pull of Satan to be in the world.
Notice also the admonition in Revelation:
4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. (Revelation 18:4-6)
Christians are to be separate from the world. We do not engage in promoting pagan holidays and practices, but striving to live God's way.
The Apostle Paul declared:
21 I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem (Acts 18:21)
7 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. 8 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 5:7-8)
1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Jesus kept the Feasts (Luke 22:8,14-16; John 7:11-39).
Now that you have information about them, keep the God's Feasts.
A related sermon is also available titled: How to Keep God's Feasts.
See also Feast of Tabernacles' Sites for 2015.
Thiel B. How to Keep God's Festivals. http://www.cogwriter.com/how-to-keep-gods-festivals.htm COGwriter (c) 2015/2016/2017 0228
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