Disclaimer: The post is still under review for English grammar.

There are several reasons why this topic is making a powerful comeback. The primary reason is that in the past 20 years Christian Churches around the globe, represented by almost every major Christian denomination, have become much more aware of the Jewish identity of their Savior and King. This, of course, is a wonderful thing.

The question is usually framed in a very simple way: “Must Christians observe the Jewish feasts?” I would submit to you that there are several problems with how the question is formed.

First, the assumption is that “Christians” are members of a non-Jewish movement, independent in every way from the people of Israel. Knowing what we now know about the Jewish background of the New Testament, we can say with full confidence that this is clearly not the case.

Second, the question refers to the Feasts of the Lord as “the Jewish feasts,” as if these feasts did not belong to God himself as their biblically native terminology clearly implies. Only when we adopt the biblical (rather than theological) categories, can we begin to see that we are asking the wrong question. Wrong questions in turn are known to lead good and godly people to wrong answers.

Third, the inclusion of “must” is problematic as well. It unintentionally advances the question in the context of the Protestant-Catholic, 16th-century divide regarding personal salvation (faith vs. works).

I would restate the question in a way that, while surely more cumbersome in Christian English (the language of our communication), is more fitting to the biblical context:

“Should the follower of the Jewish Christ, who comes from the nations and not from Israel, also mark as holy ‘the Feasts of Lord’”?

I think the answer to this question is clearly – yes. The question is not “if”, but “how” must Gentile followers of the Jewish Christ observe the Feasts of the Lord in covenantal continuity and partnership with Israel, yet with full realization of the powerful implications brought forth by Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension.

It is indeed very interesting to note that Christian Churches, especially in their Catholic and Eastern Orthodox expressions, have never claimed that believers should cease to observe the feasts of the Lord.

In fact, both Christian communities (along with most protestant ones) have regularly marked many key biblical feasts with special worship celebrations. Unfortunately, they have often observed the feasts purposely on different dates and often inventing traditions far removed (and sometimes antithetical) to the original biblical injunctions.

Gentile Christians today are called to reunite with the people of Israel through, among other things, Christ-centered observance of the Feasts of the Lord and in so doing to experience their belonging to the Commonwealth of Israel.

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128 COMMENTS

  1. “Christ” implies deity/God, so the Christ/God is Jew’ish now is He? Your claim as to the feasts violates Gal 1:7-9, 2:15-21, 3, 4:8-31, 5:1-26, 6:11-18.

    • Although I do believe in divinity of Christ, you are mistaken to say that Christ IMPLIES God. It does not in and of itself. Whether my claims violate Galatians or not is a bold claim, which I invite you to prove. Take 1-2 texts and make your point. I will then provide my response. Blessings and peace from the lover of Galatians.

      • These things are a mystery. It is probably true that Christ of himself does not imply God. Or putting it another way one cannot rule out the Father as Jesus taught us to pray to the Father. The mystery remains however that the Father, Jesus and the HS is God.

      • …and thus what is the factual etymology of ‘deity’?

        deity (n.) – c 1300, deite, “divine nature, godhood [1Tim3:16/Col 2:9], attributes of a god;” late 14c., “a god, God, the Supreme Being or self-existing spirit,” from Old French deité, from Late Latin deitatem (nominative deitas) “divine nature,” (continued)

      • .. “divine nature,” coined by Augustine from Latin deus “god,” from PIE *deiwos “god,” from root *dyeu- “to shine,” in derivatives “sky, heaven, god.” From 1580s as “a being to whom a divine or godlike nature is attributed.”
        [etymonline.com]

        So the “Christ”/”Messieh” implies deity/Godhood/God/Supreme Being/Self-Existing Spirit” = I AM

        • I don’t mind disagreeing with Augustine, Lazzaro. I would define “divine” things as those things that find their source in God (like divine providence, divine instructions, divine warning, divine nature, divine Son of God, etc.). They do not imply God, intrinsically. If Jesus implies God, then you need to explain how Jesus prayed to Himself and how God (the bodiless omnipotent life-source, “self existing spirit”) can die, and then – while dead – resurrect Himself. Maybe we have different meanings of “imply”?

      • Thank you very much Dr. Eli for your teaching on God’s festivals. I would say almost every Christian believes that these festivals belongs to Jews because they were taught like that by their Pastors. People don’t read Bible otherwise it would make it clear that these festivals belongs to God

        • One thing that disturbed me when I was going through the trail chain of the comments. that Jesus is not God otherwise why would he pray to God. I am not sure if I got it correct from the above comment. I believe Jesus is God and part of Trinity.

      • paul a jew himself and part of the farasees says not to put a burden on the gentile christians with the jewish laws and all. only substain from meat with blood and a few other things. we should celebrate Christ instead and do communion as He told us to do.

        • Hi Adrianus, Yes, Paul delivered the decision of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) everywhere he taught. The decision as Ja’akov/James finalized it was to “not burden Gentiles that are turning to God.”

  2. The ability for modern Christians to reflect back on the Jewish traditions is to be applauded. The knowledge of Christ in the culture he was born in, makes for a most enriching and knowledgeable faith. This does not preclude they have to follow Jewish traditions such as the Passover. The Holy Spirit is not static and works within cultures, transforming the culture as salt in society. God is not wanting to cocoon or coral cultures to imitate Jewish culture. He wants people of faith expressing their lives as believers within the vast variety of worlds cultures. Behold I make all things new.

  3. The comment “Gentile Christians today are called to reunite with the people of Israel through, among other things, Christ-centered observance of the Feasts of the Lord and in so doing to experience their belonging to the Commonwealth of Israel” is… interesting. Who is calling them and who says they are to belong to the Commonwealth of Israel? My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.

  4. I think a Jew is obligated to observe the Biblical festivals as they can, while a gentile is invited to do so.

    • Donald, hi. Naturally one’s interpretation of this message will hinge on one’s hermetical approach. But it is a text to wrestle with nevertheless.

      Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. (Zach.14:16)

      • Yes, Tabernacles will be celebrated by all in the future. One can practice today. In 1 Cor Paul invites all to celebrate the feast, Passover.

  5. Having knowledge of and acknowledging the feast of the Lord will certainly increase our understanding of YeHoVaH’s work and ministry toward those who believe. The sacrifices have been completely satisfied in Yeshua haMashiach. The where and how and exactly when to commemorate and celebrate his great work for our salvation may vary as of now; but I am with you in spirit (and Spirit) If not physically in your time zone etc.

  6. I think that the Greek translations influenced all denominations by inserting or leaving out of Hebrew understanding.

    • Dirk, Greeks never translated any part of the Bible from Hebrew into Greek. Jews steeped in Hebrew did that. Moreover, I am not sure how it is relevant here. Can you please explain?

  7. AMEN! YES! I am grafted in according to Romans 11; gladly a part of Israel, & a believer in Yahshua! Thank you for saying that!

  8. Celebrating the feasts is a blessing but not a “must”. Col. 2:16-17. Paul says no one should be judged on this.

  9. I am in awe of the few Messianic Jews l have met, because you have your Christianity built on its proper foundation. Would it be correct to say that without the Jewish background we have a form of Christianity, but with very shallow roots. For a short while l attended a church led by a Jewish Christian and each time he called Jesus Master (with whom he was so obviously in love), l felt a wave of conviction and even envy because his experience and knowledge came from so much more understanding.

    Through you teaching l hope to learn a little of what that man already knew. Thank you for your knowledge and enthusiasm.

    • Dear sister Marion, it is a true honor to accompany you on your journey of faith. Thank you for your kind words. It is not that people of Jewish background have it all set, they too (just like you) must study to grasp the original meaning of the Scriptures. Being Jewish often helps but it is no guarantee at all.

    • The Vatican teaches “Christianity”, Jesus taught “The Way”. “Christianity” existed at least circa 200 years before God incarnated as Jesus. Those who practised “Christianity” were in the cult of Serapis, an Egypto-Greco theosis cult calling themselves “Christianos” (‘little gods’) which is blasphemous and not what disciples of Jesus are.

      • Correct me if I’m wrong, Lazzaro, but is you’re strongest evidence for this claim the supposed letter from Hadrian (dating to 134 AD, well after Christianity) that says the syncretist Serapists called themselves Christians? If so, then how do you account for the anachronisms in the letter that cause even the most liberal scholars to recognize it as a forgery? If anything the Serapists borrowed from Christianity.

      • ‘God’ was not ‘incarnated as Jesus’!
        “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.”
        The Word. The Word. The Word..

  10. Excellent article. I have been misled long enough by the “Gentile Church and that is very sad. I so need more of this teaching life.

    • Thanks, Tim. I invite you to join our learning community. We are place where you can find a very balanced and high standard teaching.

  11. Romans 14:5 & Galatians 4:10 seem interconnected to me, I’d be interested to hear thoughts on their context. I do, however, consider the feasts important.

    • Shaun, hi. Why are we assuming here that we know exactly what Paul means in his letters when 1) we have missing letters, 2) we are missing correspondence that he received, 3) we are eavesdropping on another people’s conversation 2000 years later 🙂 and 4) we read not his letters but English translations of that which he dictated to his scribe. All of this to say is that Gal. 4:10 may not be referring Jewish divisions at all and there are other interpretive options as well.

      • Okay, let’s not presume anything in Paul’s letters; but let’s discuss implications. It is clear from prior chapters that he is talking about Torah observance and “slave vs free woman” (grace vs law)…What else could days/months/seasons/years be referring to? Considering Romans14:5, the implications seem obvious no?

        • Days/months/seasons/years refer to “weak and poor elements” in slavery to false gods (vv.8-9), so they could refer to Pagan elements. Romans 14:5 is referring to an internal Jewish argument as to which days were better to fast on.

      • And to be clear, I think there is amazing value in knowing/understanding the biblical feasts…I think the modern western church have done themselves a GREAT disservice by cutting themselves off from the Jewishness of Jesus and His revolution. To properly understand the kingdom/gospel, the rehearsal feasts are so important.

      • Have you got a link to prior discussions on the “other interpretative options” Dr Eli? I’d love to read them if it’s been a prior conversation. My asking these questions isn’t to justify not celebrating the feasts in their biblical format, it is just to form better/more Jewish thinking.

        • Hi Shaun, Paul says that the Galatians had been enslaved to false gods (v.8), but then after knowing God turned back to slavery to weak and poor elements (v.9). Thus the days, months, seasons, and years probably are not Jewish at all, but Pagan. The reason this passage is difficult is because of vv.4-5, “under the Law”. Once we realize that this means “under the penalty of the Law”, then the passage reads much differently.

  12. The Jewish feasts look back to Exodus so why would Christians keep them? Surely they will keep days that look forwards to Christs new exodus!

    • You are contradicting yourself :-). Both are Exoduses so to speak. Connection is clear. It is not IF, it is HOW.

  13. I believe that if the Bible says we are grafted in, that it means that we belong to the same tree, meaning there are only one tree and one root system. If we are grafted in ‘the olive tree’, we should all bear the same fruit, since if I am correct, the wild branches grafted into the olive tree, bear exactly the same fruit as the genuine branches.
    Also, the first Christian churches celebrated the feasts!!! I don’t understand why there are always arguments about keeping the feasts or not. I rather prefer to keep that which God commanded, than to stick to man-made traditions!!! All the feasts speak about Christ. Celebrate Him.

  14. That question settled in Acts 15:8-22.Non Jews not to keep Jewish traditions. Christians even Jews should hold Breaking of Bread services not Passover anymore.

    • This is not accurate. The four prohibitions in Acts broadly match four categories of prohibitions in Leviticus that were applicable for sojourners. So the decision was an affirmation that Gentile Christians are to be treated as sojourners with Israel.

      • This is a brilliant point to make though Dr Eli! I’d love to read more into implications for provisions made for “sojourners”. Cus I currently understand it to entail making them as members of the same household/treat as if Jewish. Historical Arc shows revolutionary human rights progression for that time!

      • No offence, but you are trying to tie the redeemed believer back to what Jesus freed them from, it is by grace through faith in Jesus’ finished work at the cross that the redeemed believer lives as the New Covenant bears out repeatedly in various explanations.

        • No offense taken, Lazzaro. 🙂 Are you saying that Jesus freed us from Torah observance? Yes, salvation is by grace, but Jesus never exempted anyone from living lawfully; He saved us from “under the Law” which is the “curse [or penalty] of the Law” (Gal.3:13). If you get out of a ticket, do you then speed again? Yeshua gave strong words for someone who teaches others to break even the least commandment (Matt.5:19). See, Grace and Law are not opposed; the opposite of grace is disgrace, and the opposite of law is lawlessness.

  15. With Pentecost near, I was wondering if there is evidence that King David died on Pentecost, as I see in the Jewish Encyclopedia that it is tradition that he did. Can you comment?

  16. I have Jewish ancestry but South Africa parents, yet I have always felt a strong bond with Israel and enjoy learning about your culture.God bless

    • So this means that one of your South African parents trace their roots to Jewish people, right?

  17. Did the early church or churches in Rome, Corinth, etc. celebrate the feast? Which feast are you referring Sir, all? Do we need to observe circumcision as well because it was commanded like celebrating feasts.

    • Hi Rogie. Sure, 1Cor.5:8 seems to hint at the congregation at Corinth keeping Passover. But yes, the article is about all of “the Feasts” in general. As for circumcision, passages like 1Cor.7:19 highlight that actions of obedience speak louder than the ritual of circumcision. No one is justified by circumcision, and disobedience negates circumcision, and obedience emulates a circumcised status (Rom.2:26).

  18. The. Jews killed Jesus for not doing as the Law prescribes . The Christians celebrate the Passover in a different way as the Jews by braking of bread as Jesus’s flesh and wine for His blood. Though we part of the Jews we gentiles have a different outlook

    • I disagree Johannes. The Judean leaders killed Jesus because He threatened their supposed righteousness, status and job security; not for a lack of keeping the “Law’s prescriptions”. After all, they had to get false witnesses to try to condemn Him because He was righteous.

      • Joh 5:18  “Therefore the Judahites sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” 

        They sought His death for breaking Law prescription!, so your disagreement is claiming John is a liar!

        • I am calling the Judeans liars, actually. The hypocritical Judean leadership, whom Yeshua regularly criticized for their unrighteousness, who utilized false witnesses to condemn Yeshua in a mid-night kangaroo court, claimed that Yeshua broke the Sabbath, yes. But didn’t Yeshua deftly defended Himself from the Bible, and didn’t Judas and Pilate called Him innocent and righteous? So was the sinless Lamb of God a sinner that broke God’s law, or did He break a man-made tradition and wicked men were just grabbing at straws to somehow justify their condemnation of Him?

  19. Thank you. Occasionally, I commemorate the Feasts of Leviticus to remind myself that they point to Jesus. It’s not about must, but as it was intended to be, a school teacher leading to the Messiah.

    • Thanks, Jean! And after the supervision of the school teacher, we are forever to be under the Master Himself.

  20. Shalom Dr. Eli,
    You have beautifully said what my heart has been instructed by the Ruach and has longed, for years, to hear authoritatively affirmed.
    תדה רבה,
    Marshall Seaborn

    P.S., How about some articles discussing how desiring believers can synchronize to the calendar of HaShem’s moedim and celebrated in the light of Messiah Yeshua.

      • Shalom Dr. Eli, Thank you and waiting prayerfully. In the meantime, do you know of a good resource for this?

        • It really depends on where you are on your spiritual journey, Marshall. Many people will find certain resources to be “too this” or “too that”, So I recommend doing the research yourself. There are lots of resources online, and Yeshua is all throughout the feasts, so it should be a fairly easy and rewarding study. God bless you.

          • Shalom Dr. Eli,
            Thank you for engaging me. I’m 60 years old at this point and I was called by the Lord when I was 13 years old during the early 70’s through an encounter that led me to a Charismatic church. About four or five years ago the Lord opened my eyes through another series of encounters that cause me to understand His desire for me to walk in accordance with His Torah. Since then everything changed. Like the Bereans, I searched the scriptures to see if these things were true and I found them to be true. I embrace the weekly Sabbath, the Scriptural instruction about food and His Feasts. I’m still trying to understand how to incorporate the Feast Days as a believer whose in Messiah Yeshua. I began to learn to read the Hebrew Tanakh (still learning, of course) and even Modern Hebrew (through the Rosen School of Hebrew and others) and started studying with the Israel Bible Center, obviously. As to where I am on the journey, well I’m learning to walk with Him in a new way and I’m seeking to understand the ancient paths.
            Blessing to you for all you do.

          • It’s incredible how many people have stories so similar to yours, and it is wildly encouraging! This can be nothing short of the dawn of the final redemption! Now if you’re interesting in them, the feast days were always meant to be celebrated in community, so that is a good place to start; a community that celebrates them (after reading what Tanakh and the Apostolic writings have to say about them, of course).

  21. Thank you Dr Eli for your gracious and patient replies! I’m thoroughly enjoying the conversational discourse. Grace and peace to you 🙂

  22. It seems like most on here do not recognize YHVH’s commandments and moral statutes vs rabbinical tradition. Those are the “laws” that Yeshua freed us from. They bound heavy burdens on men that they were not willing to bear themselves. The “oral Torah” is a lie! No adding or subtracting!

  23. These are not “Jewish” feasts, but feasts of YHVH Lev 23:2 And though some see them as a burden, they are truly a time of fellowship with our Creator. How great is that? We do not offer blood sacrifices, but rather present our bodies as a living sacrifice holy acceptable

  24. For myself, I feel this is part of “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together”. The Father knows how important fellowship is..with Him and our fellow men. NOW…Shalom, Eli! Thank you for these teachings, I am learning so much and humbly thank you for explaining things so clearly. Be blessed.

    • That is great to hear, Linda. Thank you for engaging in the discussion and sharing your thoughts! God bless you, and Happy Shavuot!

  25. The Feast were and are rehearsals for the real event which Jesus fulfilled. Jesus has already fulfilled the first 3, we are in Feast of Weeks and we are waiting on Rosh Hashanah. I think we should always honor the feast as memorials and to teach our children.

  26. Echo Shaun Mulick’s comment, appreciating your gracious and patient responses, enjoying the discourse, and may G-d’s blessing of grace and peace be upon you, to which I add my gratefulness for your original article. Shalom and chesed in our Machiach!

  27. God called all of Israel, a Chosen people to be a Light to the World, a Royal Priesthood, a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6). God then created a new Mystery, whose members would be grafted into Israel to form one new Man. Let gentiles then observe all that is Israel.

  28. Not as Jew or Gentiles but sons of God in Christ Yeshua, our High Priest, Chief Cornerstone. Obeying the Law in and through the Holy Spirit; in Christ, and walking in Grace and Faith in the Resurrected Messiah. The Feasts and Sabbaths were replaced by Pagan rituals and practices.

  29. Firstly, this issue is more complicated than it seems, for several reasons.

    1) It’s true that there are a couple of Old Testament passages indicating that at least certain festivals (Tabernacles among them) would be observed by the entire world after the Lord comes. So there’s that.
    2) It’s also true that the festivals themselves are symbolic representations of the entire plan of God — including Jesus’ first AND His second coming. (The fall festivals represent His second coming, and His wedding supper, among other things.) These are things that would be very helpful for Gentiles to understand.
    3) It’s also true that, in the first century, Gentile Christians would usually fellowship *together with the Jews*, in synagogues where the Sabbath and Holy Day festivals were observed. So the Gentiles were observing them more or less by default.
    4) However…in Acts 15 and in Acts 21, there was a major discussion within the leadership of the early Church over whether Gentile converts should keep the entire Law of Moses. The ultimate consensus was that no, they did not need to observe all of it, even though Jewish believers continued to keep it. There were a few basic things that Gentile converts needed to observe (Acts 15:20) — and this very short list was relevant to the situation in the first century, when fornication, public nudity, and flagrant debauchery were accepted in Roman society. When sacrificing strangled animals to a pagan god, or eating blood in worship of a pagan god, was just part of everyday culture. (Here’s a thought. What parts of everyday *modern* culture would even Gentile Christians be expected to abstain from?)
    5) Then there’s Galatians, which seems to indicate — to the vast majority of Christians — that the Law of Moses is no longer necessary to observe. But is there a missing nuance, here?

    Look at Galatians 2:7: “On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised.” And in verse 3, we read that Titus — a Greek Christian — wasn’t forced to be circumcised (an outward sign of being obligated to keep the whole Mosaic Law) — despite his conversion. So it seems to be clear that, in line with Acts 15 and Acts 21, there was a DICHOTOMY OF PRACTICE between Gentile and Jewish believers. Jewish believers continued to observe the Law, while Gentile believers were not obligated to do so.

    Furthermore, Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) demonstrates that we shouldn’t make the Mosaic Law into an obstacle to humanitarian mercy and compassion. There’s a “right” way to observe the Law, and a wrong way. The ultimate goal of the Mosaic Law is love for God and for one another, so anything that detracts from that isn’t what God would want.

    Given all of the above, I would suggest that we not FORCE modern Christian believers to keep the Sabbath and the festivals. Rather, we should share insights that we glean from them with other believers, for their benefit.

  30. Thank you Dr for this post. Yes, yes ,yes believers in Yeshua from the nations must celbrate the feslivals of the Lord. All of them point to the redemptive plan Of God through Yeshua. He explain the Passover and the Pentecost to the disciples. They have been fulfilled in Yeshua.

  31. We must celebrate them at the periods prescribed. I don’t think that the rituals are that necessary. While the Jews continue seeing them as in their original meaning, we the believers from every background should see them thru Yeshua and the redemptive plan of God. Shalom

  32. By doing that we shall enjoy the full benefits intended by the Father, But I believe. But Gd is faithful.

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