Thursday, 20 October 2016

Feast of Tabernacles?

It isn't necessary to observe the "Feast of Tabernacles" this week.
Actually, it isn't possible to, even if you want to!
In fact, even if we were under Moses' Law (the Torah), it would break the Torah to even attempt to do so today.
The Feast involved remembering how one's ancestors lived in booths when they came out from Egypt. My ancestors never came out from Egypt - so I can't comply with that particular requirement of the Feast.
The ancient Feast was also an Autumn feast - but it isn't Autumn here in Australia right now, it's Spring!
Even if we in the Southern Hemisphere decide to keep the Feast in our Autumn instead, we'd still be breaking the Law - because the Torah also demanded that the Feast had to be kept in the Jewish month of Tishri.
So no matter when someone in the Southern Hemisphere decides to keep the Feast, he'd be breaking the Torah on some point.
If the Feasts are still important events on "God's calendar" like some say, then the entire Southern Hemisphere can never be synced with God's calendar!
That alone ought to be enough to tell you that the ancient Jewish Feasts were never intended for Observance globally.
The Feasts can't be carried out in the Northern Hemisphere anymore either - not in the way that was required by the Torah. The Feast of Tabernacles was one of three feasts which involved pilgrimages to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices on the altar, with Levites officiating as priests. Not even Jews can carry-out the Feast in that way anymore.
Throwing a party and labelling it "The Feast of Tabernacles" doesn't make it the Feast of Tabernacles - it's only the Feast of Tabernacles if one did exactly what the Torah required - but that simply hasn't been possible to do since the end of the second-temple era (circa AD70).
It won't be possible to keep the Feast any better in future either - because the Old Testament required priests to prove their descent from Levi by written genealogy, otherwise the priest wasn't allowed to function as a priest. No-one can prove that anymore.
So it's not that the Feast, with all its requirements, has merely been "suspended" until a future time in history when it will again be possible to Observe the Feast properly together with its Levitical priesthood - it won't and can't ever be legitimately reinstated in future.
It's not like some "exile provisions" apply today, legitimising alternative ways of "keeping" the Feast. Keeping the Law was never a "do what you can" proposition - it was all or nothing, literally.
Admittedly Israel couldn't literally carry-out all of the ceremonies of the Law while in exile in Babylon - yet really, the captivity of the Jews and their return from captivity had been a function of the Law itself (a result of the broken Law). They were afterwards able to be legitimately restored to a fully-functional Levitical style of worship, seeing it was still appropriate, seeing the Old Covenant was still in force, seeing it was still possible because the genealogies were still in-tact, and seeing that was precisely what God had said He would do.
The scenario today is different. God Himself, through Christ, on the cross said it was "finished" and inaugurated the "new testament". Not that "exile provisions" apply today - rather, it's because the real thing has already come - JESUS! It was the Lord's doing.
The Prophets had predicted Israel's return from captivity, and foresaw that Israel would resume Feast-keeping once back in the land - they even prophesied that many nations would make pilgrimages to the altar at Jerusalem to keep the Feast with them. The fulfilment of that detail in the prophecy is neither present nor future as many assume - that detail has to be in the past, when the altar still existed, while the Old Covenant still stood. Esther and Daniel provide the history. Acts 2 even shows an example of Jews 'and' proselytes (non-Jews) gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast, exactly as prophesied.
But as for today, the Apostles and elders at Jerusalem and Paul categorically decided that Gentile believers should not be required to begin observing the Law. They were participating in the same salvation as the Jews, yet they were free from the Law. That was good news!
Yes, Paul sometimes brought himself under the Law, to Jews who were under it - not because he had to (and he didn't always do so even though he could have) - but when he did, he did so only in order to remove an avoidable barrier which may have existed in the minds of some Jews towards him and his message.
Just like he also made himself out to be not under the Law, to Gentiles who were not under it, in order to avoid unnecessary obstacles for them coming to faith.
It was decided that Churches among the Gentiles were not to become places where the Law was imposed - any Jewish members who wanted to hear the Law could avail themselves of that opportunity at their local synagogue. But Churches were not places where the Torah was imposed.
Many early believers at Jerusalem were still zealous for the Law - not because they had to be, but because they could. It proved that the Gospel was not something totally incompatible with the Jews' lifestyle, hopes and expectations based on their Scriptures - rather, the Gospel was the natural fulfilment of it.
But when the destruction of the Temple occurred later in that generation, it forever became impossible for even them to keep the Law, the way Moses required. It passed away, as the writer to the Hebrews said it would.
Forms of Judaism which were created after that were not literally compliant with Moses' Law.
The Feasts had been God's Feasts - for them, there, then (for Israel, in Israel, while the Old Covenant still stood) - not for all people, everywhere, for all time.
They were to be a statue "forever in Israel" - not for everyone, everywhere - but in Israel. And the Hebrew word translated "forever" (in the KJV) often implied a finite beginning-point or end-point - it didn't always literally mean infinite. Examples could be given from the Bible itself proving that meaning. So once Jesus came, not even Israel had to continue Observing the Feasts. 
God's calendar today only has two 'days' - the first is simply called 'Today' - the day of salvation; the day which the Lord hath made;
the second, is the day of His coming - which no-one knows, only the Father.
The ancient Feast-days and their required-sacrifices were only shadows - Christ Himself is the real thing. He died once for all!
Jesus Christ fulfilled Promise and Prophecy, and inaugurated salvation - in Israel first, and for Gentiles also - even though we still await the consummation of our salvation at Christ's Second Coming.
Therefore since we all, in one new body, the Church, already live with an Already/Not Yet sense of fulfilment, the Feasts no longer need to be carried-out. We who have believed already experience the promised Kingdom, in an Inaugurated/Not Yet Consummated way.
The only remembrance Jesus instituted, is the Lord's Table - showing forth His death, 'til He come. After He comes we won't need any more remembrances - for we shall see Him as He is.
The message of the cross and resurrection - Jesus is both Lord and Christ. All men regardless of ethnicity are justified/sanctified freely by grace through faith in Jesus Christ without the deeds of the Law.
This is the good news of grace, the good news of the Kingdom - the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! There is no other Gospel, Paul said.
The Gospel took nothing away from Israel - rather it was the highest, purest, ultimate expression of God's goodwill towards Israel - and all nations.
But for those whose conscience and faith is weak, and who feel obligated to honour certain days - that's okay, seeing their motivation, like ours, is to honour the Lord.
They're not really "keeping the Feast" or the Torah though, even though they may think of it as that - all they're really doing is commemorating an ancient Feast.
If their desire is simply to fit in with modern Jewish culture, in order to win some - that's okay too.
If they just enjoy celebrating - great! Every day is a great day to praise the Lord!
So long as we each believe that Jesus "the Word was God" and "became flesh and dwelt among us" and died for us and rose again so that we can be justified from all things from which we could not be justified through the Law of Moses.
Live and let live. It needn't become a divisive issue - seeing spiritually one can't do anything on the day that all believers in Jesus don't already do everyday anyway.
Worship God in spirit and in truth - enjoy Him everyday, 'til He comes.
Then He will come, but Jesus warned even a ruler of the Jews that "except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God".
There is no other Name given among men whereby we must be saved other than the Name of JESUS!

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