This morning my children and I were working through the book of Deuteronomy. This is one of my favorite books, because it is a summary book. It is a long sermon by Moses to the children of Israel just before he dies, and they enter into the promised land. He starts out giving them a history lesson, and he finishes with all the instructions that they will need as they enter into God’s promised land.
Over and over through this book, Moses says, be careful to obey all these commands, statues, judgements, and instructions, just as I have given them to you here today, from Yehovah God, Himself.
These are not the instructions for your parents who have died in the wilderness, no these are the instructions for you the people who are entering into the promised land. If you want to live a good, long life then listen to these instructions, he says over and over.
My children and I stopped, and slowed down, as we went through a few chapters, and I thought I would share a bit of our discussion. I want to make something very clear. I do not claim to have all the answers or complete understanding of God and His Word. These following observations and opinions are mine and my children’s. They may not be perfect, but we seek to find truth with all our heart and mind, and we pray you do as well.
In Deuteronomy 12 the children are given a warning about how to worship God, and how not to be like the nations, or people around them that worship false gods.
“These are the statutes and ordinances you must be careful to follow all the days you live in the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess.2Destroy completely all the places where the nations you are dispossessing have served their gods—atop the high mountains, on the hills, and under every green tree. 3Tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars, burn up their Asherah poles, cut down the idols of their gods, and wipe out their names from every place. 4You shall not worship the LORD your God in this way.”
These instructions are clearly for the children of Israel to do when they live in the promised land. We have friends who believe that any verse that says “in the land” means we are not, should not, can not, obey, and/or do these things. This simply can not be true of all the verses that say “in the land.” I respect my friend who claims we are not to keep God’s feast outside of the land because we can not offer sacrifices anywhere expect at God’s chosen place, which is Jerusalem. It is true we can not, and should not sacrifice to Yehovah without His priest, temple, altar in the place where He commands we should sacrifice.
Does that mean we should not observe His feasts? Does that mean the above verses do not apply to us who live outside the land of Israel?
What does it mean?
First, when we read and study God’s Word, we must read it in context and understand it at its very basic meaning. The above verses are clearly to the children of Israel as they entered into the land of Israel and prepared it to be sacred, holy unto God. That is the base meaning of the passage. But secondly, what does this passage mean for us today, who are reading it thousands of years later.
How does it apply?
The answer is pretty clear. God does not want us to worship Him in anyway that pagans worship their false gods.
This is sadly exactly what many of us have been doing all our lives. We have been celebrating our Messiah’s resurrection, by adding false god worship and traditions to our celebration. We even call the day by a pagan goddess name, Easter. Sadly, all the holidays we have chosen to celebrate our God and savior are full of false god worship practices. christmas, easter, halloween, and many other lesser observed days are mixed with traditions we can not find anywhere in God’s Word as appropriate ways to worship Him.
As for me and my house, we have decided to put all things that look like evil aside. We have decided to look into the Word of God and ask, “how does He want us to worship Him and celebrate His love and mercy?”
So, back to the book of Deuteronomy.
He says we are to remember these special days forever no matter where we live. Again, He starts with the weekly sabbath and says this is a continual day of rest and fellowship with me for all time. No matter where you live you are to keep my weekly Sabbath.
I want to make something super clear about this. No matter what you think about the rest of the feast days, and or pagan holidays, this fact is clear through out all scripture the seventh day is a FOREVER commandment of Yehovah, and a gift to us. (This is made clear in the two accounts of the ten commandments in Exodus 20, and Deuteronomy 5.)
In chapter 16 of this book, Moses tells the Israelites when God has already set special days aside each year for them to worship, feast, and celebrate.
What my friend said about not being able to truly keep Passover, and the other feasts is true. We can not keep God’s feast exactly as He commanded in Deuteronomy 16. But, we can have a memorial feast. We can remember His commands, His instructions, His blessings, and we can do the best we can to honor and obey him right where we are.
So, my family will NOT be making sacrifices in our backyard. Nor will we do all the observances exactly as they are written in God’s Word. But, what we will do is set aside the day unto Yehovah, and we will eagerly anticipate Him joining us and keeping His promises to us.
Another thought our family has discussed is when to celebrate God’s feast.
Does it matter what day?
The Bible tells us that God has a set calendar that He keeps, so for our family we do our best to understand and interrupt those passages and figure out the exact date that Yehovah set aside. We choose to use the sighted moon/aviv calendar because we believe it is the closest to what Yehovah instructs us to do. Yet, we are fully aware that we are outside of the land of Israel, and the true Promise Land governed by a descendent of David does not exist at this time. So, we do not argue or debate about when others keep the feasts.
Ultimately, we are hopeful, that more and more Christians will realize that God has beautiful holidays set aside, and instructions on how to keep them right in the Bible. We hope it will make it easier for others to let go of man made holidays, that are full of traditions not found in the Bible.
If you would like to learn more about God’s Biblical Holidays, you can download this book or you can contact me for a hardcopy of it.