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What Are God’s Annual Holy Days?

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What Are God’s Annual Holy Days?

The Bible reveals there are special Holy Days that Christians should observe. What are they? And why are these days so important to God?

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Does the Bible teach there are certain days that God made holy? If so, what are they? And are they still in effect? Did God only intend these special days for ancient Israel? Did Jesus abolish them and exchange them for popular holidays of pagan origin? Many millions observe Christmas, Easter, New Year’s, Halloween, Valentine’s Day and other supposed Christian holidays without knowing why—or where they came from. Most suppose they are found in the Bible because they see the masses keeping them. Surely hundreds of millions of Christians cannot be wrong.

Which days should you keep? Does it matter? Prepare to be shocked by what the Bible really teaches! Sadly, most never ask why they believe what they believe or do what they do. Few seek to understand the origin of things. Most accept common religious practices without question, choosing what everyone else does because it is easy and comfortable. Most follow along as they have been taught, assuming that what they believe and do is right. They take their beliefs for granted and never take time to prove them.

Jesus said this about the world’s popular customs and traditions: “In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men…full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:7, 9).

The Bible does mention Christmas and Easter—and other familiar holidays—but it bluntly condemns them as heathen customs. We will see the proof is overwhelming that these days are traditions and commandments “of men.” Great numbers keep them anyway, seemingly content to worship Christ in vain!

Since the Bible condemns these almost universally observed “Christianized” holidays of men, how did they come into popular practice? You must be willing to open your Bible and honestly accept what it says about men’s holidays—and God’s Holy Days. The world’s churches have almost universally taught that these annual Sabbaths of the Bible have been done away—that they were only for ancient Israel, or “the Jews.” Many have supposed that Jesus “nailed them to the cross”—with most everything else in the Old Testament.

The majority of people stoutly defend what they merely assume is biblical. They read with prejudice anything that contradicts their assumptions.

Seeking Bible Truth

If you are going to take the time to read this Personal, should you not at least do so with an open mind—and without bias? Ask God to guide you—to help you prove what He says in His Word. The Bible is “profitable for…correction” (II Tim. 3:16) for those willing to accept it—those truly wanting to serve and please God.

The Bible is God’s inspired Word—His written Instruction Book to mankind. It answers every important question in life and explains how to live—it reveals the road to salvation!

God commands, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). He expects us to know His Word so that we can act on it.

Proper Bible study leads to approval from God. Both the Old and New Testaments state, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4; Deut. 8:3).

The apostle Paul explained that people are the servants of whoever and whatever they obey: “Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16). People either serve and obey God, and are given eternal life (vs. 23)—or they serve and obey sin, and earn eternal death!

If God commanded certain Holy Days be kept, should you not be certain why you do not observe them? No matter how comfortable a lifelong practice may be, should you not base your decision to continue doing it on proof—hard evidence—instead of assumptions?

God says, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My word” (Isa. 66:2). He commands, “Prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2).

Will you sincerely seek and tremble before the truth of God’s Word about His Holy Days—or go along with the masses and their traditions of men’s heathen holidays?

The churches of this world will often admit to making a half-hearted effort at keeping nine of the 10 Commandments. Typically, they acknowledge it is wrong to steal, kill, covet, bear false witness and commit adultery. They also admit that honoring one’s father and mother, avoiding idolatry and not taking God’s name in vain are good things. However, most professing Christians do a poor job of actually keeping these nine commandments and teach that Christ officially did away with them and kept them for us. But most will tacitly agree that these nine commandments are at least “nice principles.”

Consider. Exodus 20:8-11 shows Sabbath-keeping is the fourth Commandment—and a fundamental law of God! The Sabbath was hallowed—made into holy time—by God at Creation. He never authorized or hallowed Sunday, the first day of the week. Jesus kept the Sabbath (Luke 4:16; Mark 2:27-28). So did Paul (Acts 13:42, 44; 17:2; 18:4), as did the New Testament Church. In Exodus 31, it was ordained forever and to be kept perpetually by all generations of God’s people.

Theologians and religionists have long taught that the true Sabbath of the Bible is the seventh day. Saturday, not Sunday, is the seventh day of the week. And the weekly cycle has never changed. However, the ministers of this world have carefully devised “explanations” that dismiss many clear scriptures about God’s plain command to keep His Sabbath. Instead of letting God’s Word change their beliefs to conform with His truths, they change the words or their meanings to make them fit their beliefs! They justify Sunday-keeping—even though God’s Word has never justified Sunday-keeping! The same is true of the annual Holy Days.

God has always said, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8)—never, “Remember the first day (the pagan sun’s day) to keep it holy,” or authorized His Church or mankind to do this. Nor did He ever command or allow His people to keep numerous other pagan festivals and days of worship. He has always commanded against their observance, and the early New Testament Church kept God’s Holy Days for over four centuries—with its remnant still observing them today!

Christmas and Easter have nothing to do with God and are both condemned in scripture in the strongest possible terms. Our booklets The True Origin of Christmas and The True Origin of Easter teach much more about these holidays that men have used to replace God’s true Holy Days.

Examining History

Some important history. Many pagan festivals, including Christmas (the Saturnalia), Easter (the festival of Ishtar), Halloween, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day and worship on the day of the sun, were observed throughout the Roman Empire long before Christ’s First Coming, but by other names. The apostate church simply adopted them into practice and enforced them on all citizens in the empire through the vehicle of the civil government.

The most obvious ways the great false church system has thought to change—and counterfeit—God’s holy times and laws has been by replacing His Sabbath with the pagan sun’s day, thus altering His fourth great law (many speak of Sunday as their sabbath)—and by replacing His annual Holy Days with numerous pagan holidays practiced for centuries by the Romans and the Greeks.

This false system completely changed God’s way of marking time. It starts the year in the dead of winter, while God starts His year in the spring when nature is coming back to life. This church begins days in the middle of the night, while God marks days from sunset to sunset. It begins the workweek on the second day, Monday, while God begins the weekly work cycle on the first day of the week, Sunday.

Pagan Rome devised an unnatural calendar based solely on the sun, thus having varying lengths for its months, while God bases His calendar on the moon and starts months with each new moon.

God’s sacred calendar—generally referred to as the Hebrew calendar—has never been recognized by religionists, scientists, historians and educators. But it is the way God intended to mark and measure time. The Jews did not invent or contrive this calendar from imagination. Its principles go back to the first chapter of the Bible, where the sun and moon were appointed “for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” (Gen. 1:14). No other calendar harmonizes the solar and lunar cycles. Only the Hebrew calendar sanctioned by God does this!

The whole world has been deceived into accepting these and other “changes,” and has been led away from the plain, clear commands of God’s Word. Billions have carelessly remained ignorant of God’s instructions, content to believe customs, practices, days and times that have been spoon-fed to them.

We will learn that obedience to God’s weekly and annual Sabbaths are intertwined—they cannot be separated. Though they stand or fall together, it is not the purpose here to prove which day is the Christian Sabbath. This large subject is covered thoroughly in my book Saturday or Sunday – Which Is the Sabbath? This book answers every conceivable question you could have about whether one must keep the Sabbath, as well as how to keep it. It is impossible to fully grasp the subject of God’s annual Sabbaths without also studying this book. You will also see the weekly cycle has been unchanged since Creation. The arguments and suppositions claiming God’s plain commands are no longer in effect equally apply to weekly Sabbath-keeping and annual Sabbath observance.

Some claim Colossians 2:16-17 does away with the Sabbath and Holy Days, but this is untrue. Others claim the annual Sabbaths were part of Moses’ law. They were not, because they were observed before Moses’ law of ritualistic orders had been given. Still others claim sacrifices were performed on these days—but Numbers 28:3 shows sacrifices took place every day of the year, and physical sacrifices are done away in Christ.

The Holy Day Chapter

So then, this all-important question now arises: What were the days that God made holy and commanded ancient Israel to observe? A little more critical background is essential to properly approach the subject of God’s seven annual Feast Days. They are introduced in Leviticus 23.

Leviticus 23 is often called the Holy Day chapter. It contains a brief description of each of God’s Holy Days—also called Feasts or Sabbaths, which we will see are interchangeable terms. We will later learn the meaning of these days.

Notice: “The Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say…Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations [commanded assemblies], even these are My feasts” (vs. 1-2). The weekly Sabbath is introduced as one of them in Verse 3: “Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.” Verse 4 introduces the rest: “These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons.” With one exception seen momentarily, Feasts and Sabbaths are the same.

Verse 5 reveals the first of God’s Feasts: “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s passover.”

Next, we see that the seven Days of Unleavened Bread are introduced. On these days, beginning the day after Passover, the Israelites were required to eat unleavened bread: “On the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord : seven days you must eat unleavened bread…in the seventh day is an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein” (vs. 6, 8). The first and seventh days are both Holy Days.

Verses 9-22 give a more detailed description of the next Feast, called Firstfruits—or Pentecost, because one must count 50 days from the weekly Sabbath during Unleavened Bread to determine when it should be kept. This day is observed in late spring. Now read: “It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. And you shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering…shall you number 50 days…You shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves…of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord” ( vs. 14-17).

Verse 21 explains that the Feast of Firstfruits is a commanded assembly and repeats for emphasis that it was ordained by God forever: “It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.”

This passage includes a second emphasis by God about the permanent establishment of these days so that none can misunderstand what “forever” means. Notice Israel was to keep these days “throughout your generations” (repeated twice). There are still generations descended from Israel (or Jacob) alive on Earth today!

The fall season includes the last four Holy Days, beginning with the Feast of Trumpets (also called Rosh Hashanah): “In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall you have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. You shall do no servile work therein” (vs. 24-25).

Next comes the Day of Atonement (or Yom Kippur), which is an annual Sabbath, but not a Feast. This was because no food or drink was permitted: “On the 10th day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and you shall afflict your souls [go without food or drink]…you shall do no work…for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God…it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the nineth day of the month at even [or evening], from even unto even, shall you celebrate your Sabbath” (vs. 27-28, 31-32). Again, notice Atonement was commanded to be observed “forever”—and “throughout your generations.”

Five days after Atonement is the Feast of Tabernacles, which lasts seven days and is followed by the Last Great Day, referred to here as “the eighth day.” Notice: “The 15th day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein…on the eighth day shall be a holy convocation unto you…it is a solemn assembly” (vs. 34-36).

As we have seen, this chapter describes seven Feasts and seven annual Holy Days. Passover is a Feast but not a Holy Day. Atonement is a Holy Day but obviously not a Feast because no food or drink is permitted.

Next let’s read what God intended Israel learn from observing the Feast of Tabernacles: “You shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. And you shall keep it a Feast unto the Lord seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations: you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths [temporary dwellings] seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: that your generations may know that I [God] made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (vs. 40-43).

Ordained Forever

Let’s briefly summarize. Including verse 41, God states four times that His Feasts were ordained forever! Twice He declares they were to be observed throughout Israel’s generations. God is most serious about keeping these days, because verses 29 and 30 state that anyone who did not obey His commands would be “cut off”—“destroyed”—meaning put to death!

Finally notice: “These are the feasts of the Lord” and “the Sabbaths of the Lord” (vs. 37-38, 44). (Verse 39 explains that the first day of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day are also “Sabbaths.”) These are not the “Jew’s feasts” or “Israel’s feasts,” as some who are dishonest with the Scriptures assert.

Get this firmly in your mind! These Holy Days are God’s Sabbaths—they are Feasts of the Lord—not of the Jews!

Israel refused to remain faithful to God’s Sabbaths—annual or weekly—for any extended time. They had periods when they did observe them, before disobeying God and falling back into copying the nations around them.

In Ezekiel, God describes why He gave all His Sabbaths to Israel—and what they did with them: “I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them. But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness: they walked not in My statutes, and they despised My judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and My Sabbaths [plural] they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out My fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them” (20:12-13). Make yourself ask why it would not still be rebellion to ignore days ordained forever?

Think: a sign signifies. The Sabbaths signify who God’s people are, that He is the true Creator God. Israel was unwilling to carry God’s “signature” upon them, and rebelled so they could follow the customs and practices of other gods. All who observe the weekly Sabbath are compelled to remember (through a memorial) the Creation week of Genesis 1 and 2. Creation identifies God and proves His existence—and Sabbath observance forces people every seven days to remember who the true God is. Such people have great difficulty straying into worshiping other gods.

Notice also that God said, “I gave them My Sabbaths.” He called them “My Sabbaths” because He never intended that they be thought of as “Israel’s Sabbaths.” The word Sabbaths is plural because the weekly Sabbath is not the only Sabbath God said was a sign forever between Him and His people.

Though mankind has been rebelling against God’s Sabbaths ever since, they still remain the sign—the proof of identity—between God and His true people today. Make no mistake, the New Testament Church is still commanded to keep these days.

God’s Purpose

The purpose of God’s Holy Days is that they reflect and explain the entirety of God’s Plan for mankind! As they are kept each year in sequence, these annual Sabbaths or Feasts are a kind of rehearsal of events God does not want His people to forget. They are a memorial in advance of things God intends to do throughout the various ages and dispensations of His 6,000-year purpose for humanity.

By keeping these days continually—every year—those who do this are automatically kept in remembrance of what God is doing. They understand that these days symbolize and depict very specific events, including periods of time within God’s Plan.

None of the nations of the world keep God’s Sabbath or Holy Days. As a result, none of the nations of the world understand God’s purpose—or that He even has a purpose. This has been true throughout history. None of the nations of the world know who the true God is—and the result has been that they all serve false gods and idols.

Except that they once had knowledge of God’s Sabbaths, the modern nations populated by the descendants of ancient Israel are no different. They have fallen into idolatry and pagan practices with the rest of the world—because they have forgotten God’s Sabbath and Holy Days. They also lost the understanding of their true identity. Losing God’s sign ensured this would happen. Our crucial book America and Britain in Prophecy tells the fascinating story of who they are and what their future holds. This is a truly life-changing book—unlike anything else you have ever read. And it is free.

The churches of this world are ignorant of the most fundamental aspects of God’s Plan and teachings—all of them! They do not understand the receiving of God’s Holy Spirit, the conversion process, what it means to be born again, the true gospel of the Kingdom of God, what happens at death, the Bible definition of sin, that heaven is not the reward of the saved, that salvation has to do with awesome rulership (which one qualifies for after a lifetime of overcoming sin, the flesh and this world), the purpose of the one Church Jesus built, the commission of that Church, how world peace will come, the origin of human nature, the origin of the devil, the Bible definition of faith, that the immortal soul doctrine is fiction, and so many, many more. Most do not even understand or truly believe that Jesus Christ is going to return—or what this means for the entirety of civilization! These same millions believe that Christ’s crucifixion finished—that it ended—the Plan of redemption. (Actually, the Bible shows His sacrifice only began this Plan.)

If ancient Israel had remained faithful to God’s Sabbaths, their descendants would still today understand the truth of all these doctrines. And if the world would suddenly begin to keep these days, they would come into this knowledge. But God is not calling the world now. He is calling individuals. Any individual who is willing to investigate and prove God’s truth can see unlocked the greatest mysteries now unknown to a deceived, confused and blinded world.

This Personal has established what God’s Holy Days are. But there is much more to learn by examining more of the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, to see whether and where they are referred to, and to fully understand their meaning. Each annual Feast, starting with the Passover, must be carefully studied.

Read my free extensive booklet God’s Holy Days or Pagan Holidays? It brings facts, details and plain scriptural backup from God’s Word that cannot be ignored.

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