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Should we keep the OT ceremonies today?

Query for the Month

of

June 2007

Next up-date: July 1st 2007 (God willing).

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Query:

Is it wrong to literally follow the Old Testament rules and regulations today?  Will doing so cut us off from Christ?

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 Answer:

I don’t know of any verse in the Bible which would say that to keep the ceremonies would be to depart from Christ, for that would be contrary to the principle of the word.  The ancient/ Jews were told to keep the ceremonies to bring them to an understanding of Christ and His work, and if we did that also we would be in good company. 

Most of the early Christians were Jews of course, until Paul came on the scene and began to work amongst the Gentiles (Acts 13:46), and they (the Jewish Christians) all observed the ceremonies diligently as shown below, going to the temple when necessary.

***************(Begin Quote)

Acts 21:

18 And the day following Paul went in with us to James [the LORD’s brother]; and all the elders were present [Peter and John etc.]. 19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry [this was near the end of his work, about 60AD]

20 And when they heard it, they glorified the LORD, and said to him,

“You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe [are Christians]; and they are all ZEALOUS of the law:

21 “And they are informed of you, that you teach all the JEWS which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs [that was his error in their sight, teaching Jewish Christians not to].

22 “What is it therefore?  The multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that you are come. 23 Do therefore this that we say to you: We have four men which have a vow on them; 24 them take, and purify yourself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning you, are nothing; but that you yourself also walk orderly, and keep the law. [We know now that that listening to them and acting on their davice led to his death.]

***************(End Quote)

The Christian Jews knew (or should have known) that there was no NEED to do this and while they appear quite happy for the Gentile Christians not to do it, they wanted to!  It was all decided early in the rise of Christianity as the following record shows.

***************(Begin Quote)

Acts 15:

5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.  

7 And when there had been much disputing [both sides were hot on their being right], Peter rose up, and said to them, “Men and brothers [and sisters], you know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knows the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did to us; 9 and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why tempt you God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the [Gentile] disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

11 But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we [law-keepers] shall be saved, even as they [non observers] . . .    

13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brothers [and sisters], hearken to me . . . my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20 but that we write to them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood . . .

22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brothers [and sisters]: 23 and they wrote letters by them after this manner;

The apostles and elders and brothers [and sisters] send greeting to the brothers [and sisters] which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: 24 forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised, and keep the law”: to whom we gave no such commandment . . .

28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 that you abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if you keep yourselves, you shall do well.  Fare you well.

30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: 31 which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.  

***************(End Quote)

This did not make the Jewish converts any less Christians, although I think it made them less of an example, for it split the church into two camps.

Thus there was a double standard in the early church for quite a while, until the Gentiles far exceeded the Jews in number.

I’d be quite happy to recognise the Passover season (although I don’t) because it would help me to remember what Christ has done for us in the exchange of natures.  However, I believe that the keeping, or not, of such a ceremony means nothing, therefore I wouldn’t urge it on anyone else.  As Paul wrote: “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing [as with all the other ceremonies of the law of Moses, and the customs of the Jews], but the keeping of the commandments of God [is the only thing necessary]”. 1 Corinthians 7:19. 

But I’d rather observe that ceremony than keep Easter, which is wholly a Pagan festival!

Later maybe, I can see that thought of exclusion coming to the front in church history.  The church “fathers” such as Augustine and John Chrysostom would certainly have said such things.  That would be when they thought of such folk as Judaizing Christians and wanted to stop them from recognising the law and the commandment for Sabbath-keeping.

Today it would be good to STUDY the ceremonial law, for it has much to teach us regarding the person of Jesus Christ and His work.  It also lays out for us the sequence of events that occurred immediately before, and after, the crucifixion.  The Passover day was the day Christ died on the cross, the next day was the one He rested on, a ceremonial Sabbath as well as a weekly One, and the day after was the day of first fruits, the day of the resurrection, all part of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Then 50 days later came the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost as we know it, the day of harvest. They have all been fufilled in history.

Now we can look forward to the other group of ceremonial times.  The first will be the Day of Trumpets when the world is to be warned of the impending judgment and advent, the Day of Atonement which is the Day of Judgment of the living, and finally, the Feast of Tabernacles which is the advent and the trip to heaven for a holi- day. 

By taking note of these we could remember the salvation actions of the Son of God, and look forward to His redemptive ones.  We do not need to keep the ceremonies as the Jews did, because they were based on the harvests and moons in Jerusalem, and we are now worldwide, but we can keep them IN THE SPIRIT as they were intended to be kept.

Let us not forget that our prophetic message of the cleansing of the sanctuary and investigative judgment grew out of an intense study of the Day of Atonement by our pioneers.

Conclusion:

Knowing the details of the ceremonies will help in understanding the Christian gospel.  The keeping of them as actual rituals is not at all necessary.  

 oooOooo


Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.

Some of the comments on this page are adapted from books in my library.  No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.

 

Next query. To be discussed from July 1st, 2007.

1 Samuel 15:2-3.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass”.  

Isn't this the LORD telling them to slaughter the Amalekites?

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