To Feast Keep or Not?
Col 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
According to many modern-day Feast keepers, NOTHING WAS NAILED TO THE CROSS. They interpret Colossians 2:17 in a way that would demand that the blotting out and nailing to the cross is YET TO COME! They say that the words “a shadow of things to come” did not apply to Christ’s coming and fulfillment, but apply to a shadow of things STILL TO COME IN THE FUTURE. This is tantamount to the belief of most Jews that the Messiah is yet to come!
Here is a verbatim quote from an Adventist Messianic Website that teaches Feast keeping:
“The Biblical Feasts are shadowy types. But, they are not shadowy types that passed away with the death of Christ. Colossians 2:16, 17 states that feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths are shadows of things still to come (future tense), not shadows of things that have come (past tense) with the death of our Savior.”
I will tell you in all surety, if we are to keep the Feasts, NOTHING WAS NAILED TO THE CROSS and the “shadow,” pointing to Christ NEVER OCCURRED; the sacrifice of Jesus Christ NEVER OCCURRED—thus the Sanctuary is GONE, the Atonement is GONE! I’m just being more honest about the beliefs of the Feast-keepers than they care to be. They don’t want to say that they are Judaizers who, by their dogma of Feast keeping, are still looking for the appearance of the Jewish Messiah, but that is what it all reduces to. And some don’t realize that this is the only logical conclusion to their faulty interpretations.
Let's look at Colossians Chapter 2 very closely to see exactly what occurred involving the types as contained in Feasts and Ordinances (Statutes). You can click on any word in the Chapter below in this color, and see its concordance meaning, but here, as well, is the link to the Linked Bible: http://bible.worthwhile.com/bible.php?b=gen&c=1&v=0&d=1&w=0
Let's prayerfully study this chapter together that we may discern exactly what it is saying. Also, below the chapter, I am going to include all of what the SDA Bible Commentary says on Chapter 2.
After clicking on any word in the chapter below for its meaning, merely x out the page to return to the full Bible passage.
2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
SDA Bible Commentary on Colossians Chapter 2
Note by Ron: I'm going to highlight some passages in this color. I will make some comments in this color.
1 He still exhorteth them to be constant in Christ, 8 to beware of philosophy, and vain traditions, 18 worshipping of angels, 20 and legal ceremonies, which are ended in Christ.
1. I would that ye knew. Or, “I wish you to know.” Compare 1 Cor. 11:3. Compare the expression, “I would not have you to be ignorant” (1 Thess. 4:13; cf. Rom. 11:25; 1 Cor. 10:1).
Conflict. Gr. agōn, “contest,” “struggle,” “trial,” here a mental struggle, “solicitude,” “anxiety.” For the related verb agōnizō see on ch. 1:29. Paul’s anxiety, the tears he shed, the agonizing contest against the power of the adversary that he waged—all this, Paul desired the Colossians to know. Little did the believers of Colossae realize the hours Paul had earnestly spent interceding for them.
Laodicea. This town was situated about 10 mi. from the city of Colossae. The state of this church was evidently similar to that of the believers of Colossae. Therefore Paul included them in his devotions.
Not seen. From the language here employed many commentators have drawn the conclusion that Paul was not the founder of the Colossian church, further, that he never visited the church. They believe that the record of the movements of Paul in Acts leaves it very indefinite as to whether Paul ever visited any part of the Lycus Valley, in which Colossae was situated. They do not believe that references to Phrygia necessarily imply a visit to the Lycus Valley, for Phrygia covers a large and vaguely outlined region. The territory is thought to lie considerably to the north and east of the Lycus Valley. On his First Missionary Journey Paul probably came no nearer than 150 mi. (c. 240 km.) from Colossae. On his second and third missionary tours the apostle need not even have approached the region of Colossae. Leaving Galatia to the far north and east, he could have traveled to Ephesus by the Roman road through Sardis. This would have kept him well to the north of the Lycus Valley. Furthermore, on these trips he confined himself to revisiting the churches he had already established, and there is no hint whatever that Colossae was one of them at that early date. Thus the book of Acts leaves the matter of Paul’s visit to Colossae most improbable.
Others contend that Col. 2:1 does not necessarily imply that Paul had never visited Colossae. They maintain that it is highly unlikely that in his two visits to Phrygia (see Acts 16:6; 18:23) Paul could have missed Colossae entirely. They also maintain that since in his epistle to the Colossians he holds such an intimate connection with many members of the church, he had most likely been there. They interpret Col. 2:1 thus: “I have much anxiety, not only for you, but even for those who have never seen me.” By this interpretation the Colossians are placed in one group, in contrast with another group whom Paul has not seen face to face.
Further considerations throw light on this question. In his letter to the Colossians the apostle himself speaks as if he had never visited their city. He describes himself as hearing of their faith in Christ and their love for the saints (ch. 1:4). He recalls the time when he had been encouraged by the recital of their Christian profession and zeal for the principles of the gospel (v. 9; cf. v. 6). Many times during the epistle, Paul had ample opportunity to make reference to his personal contacts with the Colossian believers, but he never does so. He records that they had been taught the principles of the gospel by another, and he also refers to his own preaching. But not once does he couple the two ideas, although the two statements are side by side (cf. chs. 1:5–8, 21–23, 25, 28, 29; 2:5, 6). Had Paul visited Colossae and worked in that city, one would expect a reference in the epistle to some incident connected with the visit. But Colossians contains not a single such allusion. Although the argument of silence cannot be regarded as conclusive, most commentators agree that it is very unlikely that Paul was the founder of the church at Colossae. Though, perhaps, less certainty exists concerning the possibility of a visit there, this too appears unlikely.
2. Hearts. Here meaning the seat of the emotions and of the intellect. Paul wished the whole personality to be satisfied with abiding peace and assurance (cf. on Eph. 6:22).
Comforted. Gr. parakaleō, “to comfort,” “to exhort,” “to cheer,” “to encourage.”
Knit together. Gr. sumbibazō, “to bring together,” “to unite.” Paul desired them to maintain their unity and stability in affectionate regard one for the other, and for God. Compare Eph. 4:16; Col. 2:19.
Riches of the full assurance. Or, “wealth of the firm persuasion.” Compare 1 Thess. 1:5; Heb. 6:11; 10:22. As believers learn the deeper truths of God’s teaching, their assurance becomes firmer. When Christians truly know the Lord’s ways, they cannot but trust. And this trust is based on understanding.
Acknowledgement. Gr. epignōsis, “precise knowledge,” “full knowledge.” Compare Eph. 1:17.
Mystery. Gr. mustērion (see on Rom. 11:25).
And of the Father. Textual evidence is divided (cf. p. 10) among a number of variant readings for the remainder of this verse, but favors the view that “Christ” is in apposition with “the mystery of God” (cf. ch. 1:26, 27), thus reading “mystery of God, even Christ.” This mystery concerning Christ embraces His incarnation and personal ministry (1 Tim. 3:16). It also includes the further purpose of the incarnation in making it possible for all who believe, including Gentiles, to become members of the mystic body of Christ, His church (Rom. 11:25; Eph. 3:4–6). The proclamation of this good news to the world—that all have an opportunity of salvation through the exercise of personal faith in a Saviour who died for all—is a necessary part of making known this mystery (Eph. 6:19).
3. Are hid. Or, “are stored away.” In Christ, in His office and function, in His person and ministry, in the fact that He is both Son of God and Son of man, are embedded the details of the mystery of God. He is the source as He is the treasure house of the blessings of God. Paul desired to lift the minds of the Colossian Christians above and beyond mere human ideas to God’s Son and the eternal virtues and verities revealed in Him. In Christ may be discovered all that God purposes to reveal in blessing for humanity. Why, then, should the Colossians give ear to human speculations (see on v. 4)?
All the treasures. Jesus is the mine from which all true riches come. To those who receive Him, He gives truth in its fullness. Other teachers have given partial and obscure glimmerings of knowledge, but in Christ, the living Word, resides the essential knowledge. See COL 104–114.
Wisdom and knowledge. Christ is the treasure house of divine wisdom and knowledge (see 1 Cor. 1:22, 24; Eph. 3:9–11). Those who receive Jesus have come to the source of all they need for this life and for the hereafter.
4. This I say. Paul now gives the reason for what he has been saying in vs. 1–3. There must be no mistake about the vital nature of his theme, and about the grave responsibility in neglecting to obtain a full knowledge of the mystery of God, which is Christ (see on v. 2; ch. 1:27).
Should beguile you. Paul now comes to grips with the practical application of his message. The possibility of being deluded is ever present. The Christian must beware of the craft that seeks to lure him away from the straight line of truth.
Enticing words. Literally, “persuasive speech” (cf. Rom. 16:18; 1 Cor. 2:4). This may find lodgment in the minds of the unwary. The smooth arguments and subtly woven ideas may take the Christian off his guard. But within such reasoning lies error. Paul warns the believers to test the arguments and claims of false teachers (cf. Col. 2:8).
5. Absent in the flesh. The apostle would have the believers sense his personal regard for them, even though he is not actually present in person.
With you in the spirit. Paul’s body may be in confinement in faraway Rome, but his heart encompasses the converts he loves. His mind seeks solutions for their problems. His soul is lifted up to their common Father in heaven in thanksgiving and intercession. Thus the apostle draws a contrast between those who would seduce them through sophistries, and their spiritual father, who would, if need be, give his life for them. Those false teachers have ulterior motives; Paul is completely selfless.
Joying and beholding. Epaphras had brought Paul word of the continued faithfulness of the Colossian believers (ch. 1:7, 8). In his mind’s eye in Rome he watched the members in distant Colossae as they went about their tasks of living and witnessing for Jesus.
Order. Gr. taxis, “arrangement.” This is a common military term. It suggests organization, firmness, and well-ordered battle array (cf. its use in 1 Cor. 14:40; Heb. 5:6). Paul had doubtless watched many an army parade, and had seen many a centurion at the head of his well-drilled and perfectly disciplined company. Thus the Colossian church must act against sin.
Stedfastness. Epaphras had done a good work. The Colossian church was a compact spiritual community, moving forward with confidence to meet the common enemy. The battle was joined within the sphere of their faith, their confidence in the things of Christ. Paul is hinting that they should continue in this happy and blessed state.
6. As ye have therefore received. “As” refers to the manner in which they had received the message of salvation preached by Epaphras (ch. 1:7). While the apostle rejoices with them in the measure of faithfulness they already have (ch. 2:5), he kindly, but firmly, admonishes them to hold on to it.
Christ Jesus the Lord. These three titles of the Messiah gather within themselves the fullness of His position and functions. His mission as Saviour is embodied in the name “Jesus” (Matt. 1:21). “Christ” suggests His Messianic office, and “Lord” (see on 1 Cor. 12:3) His identification with, in some instances at least, the Yahweh of the OT.
Walk. Gr. peripateō, “to conduct oneself” (see on Eph. 2:2). Paul urges the believers to keep on continuously conducting themselves and their affairs within the sphere marked out by their trust in Jesus, doing only what He would do, and interesting themselves exclusively in the things that would please Him.
7. Rooted. The form of the Greek word suggests fixity with continued stability.
Built up. In the experience of the Colossian believers the foundation of their spiritual building was Jesus Himself (cf. on 1 Cor. 3:11).
In him. Paul has here gathered three different metaphors into close proximity. The believers are to walk, take root, and be built up as a mighty temple for the Lord. All of these activities are to take place “in him.” Jesus Christ is the pattern according to which they must walk; He is the root from whom they must draw sap and nourishment; He is the living Rock, the sure Foundation, upon whom Jews and Gentiles are alike to build. He is “broad enough for all, and strong enough to sustain the weight and burden of the whole world” (AA 175).
Stablished. Gr. bebaioō, “to confirm,” “to establish.” The form of the verb in Greek shows that Paul is here emphasizing a continuous process of strengthening. Daily the Colossians were to become more firmly established.
As ye have been taught. The efficiency of Epaphras as a “minister of Christ” (ch. 1:7) is here again emphasized. He had instructed them correctly. They had learned in whom to believe and how to live with Him so as to obtain righteousness and eternal life.
Abounding. Or, “being continually abounding.” The word suggests a state of “overflowing.” It is possible for us continually to abound, for Heaven’s resources are greater, much greater than our greatest need. Since the supply is limitless, Christians are to appropriate all that they need. The all-sufficient Christ will give to us “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).
Therein. Textual evidence may be cited (cf. p. 10) for the omission of this word, also for the reading “in him,” referring to Christ.
With thanksgiving. Or, “in thanksgiving.” Progress in the Christian’s experience is possible only as the believer approaches God with a grateful heart. How can one be anything but thankful when surrounded by the boundless resources of Omnipotence? Since Christ is all and in all and with all, what has man to fear? The secret of true happiness is habitual reliance upon Christ. Thanksgiving is the fruit of this reliance.
8. Beware. There was a grave danger confronting the Colossian believers. Paul here calls their attention to it, and in solemn warning recommends that they face it. The crafty adversary was seeking to take from them the benefits they had gained. He was attempting to rob them of their spiritual advantages and to carry them off as a prey, leading them to destruction as deluded captives of error.
Spoil. Gr. sulagōgeō, “to carry off as plunder,” “to rob.” The spoiling may mean two things: the removal of blessings and privileges that the believers enjoy, or the enslavement of the believers themselves by Satan.
Philosophy and vain deceit. That is, philosophy even vain deceit, or philosophy which is vain deceit. The apostle is not condemning philosophy as such, nor is he denouncing philosophers. What he is warning against is philosophy such as the false teachers at Colossae were parading, which was in reality emptiness and vanity, and was promoted by deceit. The context suggests that this philosophy had to do with ceremonial observances, human beliefs, traditions, and materialistic habits and viewpoints, all of which tend away from the gospel of God. It was doubtless also made up of profitless speculation on puerile questions, an empty show of specious arguments devoid of facts. This kind of philosophy fills in the details of difficult questions with plausible theories, which have a tendency to deceive its devotees and to negate the preaching of the gospel of God. The center of this philosophy is the exaltation of man, while God is completely excluded or ignored (see 1T 297). The Christian should be forewarned and forearmed against those who teach it. Its end is eternal death.
Tradition. Gr. paradosis (see on Mark 7:3). Traditions are the habitual patterns of human beliefs and behavior, transmitted from one generation to the next. Traditions may be good or bad. Paul warns against those that are heretical, having a human instead of a divine source. Compare Gal. 1:14. Paul uses the word in a good sense in 2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6.
Rudiments. Gr. stoicheia, “elements” (see on Gal. 4:3). In the language of philosophy stoicheia assumed the technical meaning of elemental matter. Mythologically, the elements were represented by various spirits, so that stoicheia also came to be applied to the spirits themselves. In non-Biblical writings stoicheia is also applied to evil spirits, to stars, and to stellar deities. There seems to have been a well-developed stoicheia cult in Colossae, which through its propaganda was making inroads into the Christian community there. The exact extent of its infiltration is not known. In sounding his warning, Paul uses the terminology of the cult.
After Christ. Literally, “according to Christ.” The norm must always be what Christ would have. Christ is placed in opposition to all deceitful philosophy. The wares of false teachers should be compared with the doctrines of the Master Teacher. Christ, the Creator and Sustainer, is the measuring rod of all true knowledge.
9. In him dwelleth. See on ch. 1:19. Within Christ dwells the sum total of the nature and attributes of God. All the offices and powers of Deity reside continually in Him. All the fullness of God is revealed in Christ.
Fulness. Gr. plērōma (see on Eph. 1:23; Col. 1:19). The encompassing stretch of this term is without limit in time and space and power. Everything that God is, every quality of Deity—dignity, authority, excellency, power in creating and fitting the world, energy in upholding and guiding the universe, love in redeeming mankind, forethought in supplying everything needful for each of His creatures—rests in Christ.
Godhead. Gr. theotēs, “Deity,” “the nature of God.” Compare theiotēs, “the nature of God” (see on Rom. 1:20).
Bodily. Doubtless a reference to the glorified body of Christ (Phil. 3:21), in which He ascended to heaven (cf. DA 832). The fullness of Deity resides in Him corporeally. This affirmation was doubtless to counter the false philosophies gaining acceptance in Colossae (see p. 184).
10. Are complete in him. Literally, “have been made full in him” (cf. Eph. 3:19; 5:18). In the sphere of the Christ, man not only may see his goal of perfection, but may also receive power to achieve it. As we accept His wisdom we become wise. Through daily communion with Him the likeness of the Divine becomes a reality within the human soul. There is nothing for this life or for eternity that man cannot receive through spiritual union with Christ. We may become complete in Him.
Principality and power. Compare on Rom. 8:38; Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16. Paul is here again emphasizing that Christ is the head of all power and authority. His sovereign strength is the fountain of life. The apostle’s implication is that through Christ’s dwelling in us, the same victorious authority and creative power will enable us to triumph.
11. Are circumcised. Rather, “were circumcised.” The implication may be that some of the false teachers were claiming that before Christ is approached, circumcision and the details of the ceremonial law must be carried out (cf. Gal. 6:15). At least some of them may have claimed superiority because of their own state of circumcision.
Made without hands. Although the rite of circumcision was performed by hand, its significance and value lay in the fact of its inner meaning. It was designed to be an outward sign of an inward state of faith and grace. Through it Abraham indicated his belief that it was not he, but God, who had life and could give life to others. This peculiar sign was to distinguish all men of ancient Israel. It pointed to Israel’s complete devotion to Jehovah and obedience to all His requirements. An illustration of its true meaning is found in Israel’s history. At the time of the rebellion of Israel at Kadesh the people rejected God. God in turn, for a time, rejected them. Since they had proved unfaithful to His covenant, they were forbidden to receive the sign of that covenant. For 38 years circumcision was prohibited (see PP 406). When at last, believing and obedient, Israel crossed the Jordan, they were willing again to enter fully into covenant relationship with God; then this rite was once more carried out at God’s command (see Joshua 5:2–9). True circumcision is therefore a matter of the heart (see Deut. 10:16). The circumcision that the Colossian Christians had received was not external in the flesh. It was an inward change in heart and life typified by their baptism (see on Col. 2:12).
Putting off the body. See on Rom. 6:6; cf. Eph. 4:22.
Of the sins. Textual evidence favors (cf. p. 10) the omission of this phrase.
Of the flesh. That is, the carnal nature (see Rom. 7:14–25; 8:1–13).
Circumcision of Christ. That is, the circumcision that Christ performs, not that performed on Him. True spiritual circumcision, the removal and burying of the evil tendencies of the heart, is brought about through the agency of Jesus Christ Himself. His power alone can remove the old life and create a new man. From the ceremony of circumcision Paul draws a spiritual lesson for the Christian.
12. Buried with him. Death precedes burial. Christ laid down His life before He was buried in Joseph’s new tomb. Before the Christian can be buried with Christ, he must have surrendered his life. All the ambitions of his heart and the stirrings and longings of his fleshly passions must be yielded up to his Master. As far as he is concerned, his old nature must die. Baptism is the sign of this self-renunciation, of the death of the old man and of his burial in the watery grave. Compare on Rom. 6:3, 4.
Ye are risen. Baptism not only signifies the separation through death of the sinful nature and the burial of that nature, it also signifies the birth of a new creature in Christ Jesus (see on Rom. 6:4).
Faith of the operation of God. That is, faith in the operation of God.
Raised him from the dead. Compare Eph. 1:19, 20. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead works a transformation in the believer.
13. Dead in your sins. Textual evidence is divided (cf. p. 10) between retaining and omitting the preposition “in.” If it is omitted, the phrase may still be translated, “in your sins,” but may also be rendered, “to your sins.” The expression may thus be understood in two ways: (1) Paul is here describing the former spiritual condition of the Colossian believers. Their hearts and minds and bodies were dead, or insensitive, to all spiritual things (cf. on Eph. 2:1, 5). (2) Believers are now dead to the appeals and influence of their sinful propensities (cf. on Rom. 6:2). This thought is an extension of what Paul has said in the previous verse. The Colossians, having put off their sinful ways by accepting Christ into their hearts, and having witnessed to this change by being baptized, may now be considered as being dead to their sins. They have by faith paid the penalty of death through Christ.
Uncircumcision of your flesh. This expression shows that those to whom Paul writes, and of whom he speaks as having true circumcision (v. 11), are Gentiles. It also describes the normal state of all mankind. Everyone is born into the world outside the covenant of grace (Eph. 2:12). The two ideas “dead in your sins” and “uncircumcision of your flesh” embrace both what man has personally deserved through the exercise of wrong choice or deliberate rebellion against God, and the natural state of condemnation into which all are born. Through Jesus Christ, cultivated and hereditary tendencies to sin are overcome.
Quickened together with him. Compare on Eph. 2:5. As the Father raised up Jesus Christ, even so may all believers be raised up as new creatures. This statement is descriptive of the mystery of the new birth. Divine power brought Jesus out of the tomb into eternal life. Within the realm of man’s heart and mind, the same divine power, working through the perfectly surrendered human will, raises man into the wonders of the new life of victory.
Having forgiven you. Textual evidence attests (cf. p. 10) the reading “having forgiven us.” The forgiveness of God precedes the quickening.
Trespasses. Gr. paraptōmata, literally, “fallings aside” (see on Matt. 6:14). The word may be used to describe an arrow dropping to one side of the target, or a soldier dropping out from the ranks of his marching company. Men have fallen from their ideals. The forgiveness of sins includes a restoration, for fallen man, of the privileges and position that he has forfeited.
14. Blotting out. Gr. exaleiphō, “to wipe off,” “to wipe out.” The word is used in classical Greek for wiping out a writing. The form of the word appearing in the present verse should be translated “having blotted out.”
Handwriting. Gr. cheirographon, “a document written by hand.” The word occurs only here in the NT. Elsewhere the word is frequently used of handwritten documents often of a legal character, such as a bond signed by a debtor. Compare Philemon 19. The “blotting out” of such a certificate of indebtedness was carried out only after the debt had been paid and the conditions of the note had been completely met. It was often done by placing an “X” over it, as shown by papyri examples. Also, the water-soluble ink on papyrus could be washed off or rubbed away, and new writing placed upon the material. Some commentators hold that the apostle is telling the Colossian church that their regeneration through the resurrection power of God, the restoration within them of His image, was carried out by God’s blotting out, or canceling, the indebtedness of the bond they were due to fulfill. Others see a more general reference to the Mosaic law, especially as interpreted by the Jews. The latter view seems to be more in harmony with the succeeding context. The similarity with the language of Eph. 2:15 and the parallel nature of these two epistles suggest strongly that the “handwriting of ordinances” is the same as the “law of commandments contained in ordinances” (see on Eph. 2:15).
Ordinances. Gr. dogmata, “decrees,” “statutes.” This refers to the various laws and decrees of the Jewish legal system such as terminated at the cross (see on Eph. 2:15).
Against us. As shown grammatically by the Greek, what is “against us” and “contrary to us” is the “handwriting.” Some have understood this as referring to the note of indebtedness that is against all, both Jew and Gentile; others, as referring to the Jewish legal system. For the manner in which the latter was contrary to both Jew and Gentile see on Acts 15:10; Eph. 2:15.
Took it out of the way. That is, the “handwriting.” “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness” (see on Rom. 10:4). Now that Christ has come, men are no longer under a schoolmaster (see on Gal. 3:25; Eph. 2:15).
Nailing it to his cross. The cross marks the transition from one economy (the Jewish) to the other (the Christian). This same idea is expressed in Eph. 2:16, where reconciliation is represented as taking place on the cross.
Note by Ron: Nothing connected with the ceremonial laws, decrees or statutes, was a cure for sin, but the Holy Spirit of Christ, the soul of His life, after the Incarnation, provided a cure for sin. Therefore, it is not the keeping of feasts, holy days and/or circumcision that cures one of sin and makes one's spirit holy. It is the regenerating power of Christ indwelling the soul that cures it of sin. To hold to the old way that was "against us" because though offering one's best of flock, the perfect sacrifice, that still provided no CURE for sin--JUST PARDON FOR IT. But the Divine Nature of Christ indwelling us provides a cure for sin.
The law is a transcript of His character, so that when we permit Him to indwell us, His law is thereby planted in the heart of man just as the New Covenant provides. So we live under that NEW COVENANT, not the old that could not cure sin in man NO MATTER HOW MAY CEREMONIES, LAWS, STATUTES AND HOLY DAYS WERE/ARE OBSERVED! Any attempt to observe the ordinances that pointed forward to Christ's sacrifice, is an affront to what His sacrifice provided--A CURE FOR SIN AND REGENERATION BACK INTO THE IMAGE OF GOD UNDER THE NEW TESTATMENT COVENANT. Sadly, then, as now, there were those who felt they could improve on the sacrifice of Christ, the highest good, crowing sacrificial gift that heaven can bestow, by reinstating and observing the Old Testament ordinances contained in Holy Days and Feasts, believing that these were necessary as a cure for sin and to achieve holiness. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. NOTHING COULD BE MORE INSULTING TO THE SACRIFICE OF ALL SACRIFICES THAT CHRIST MADE FOR US FOR THE PURPOSE OF SALVATION BY EMPOWERMENT TO OVERCOME SIN AND REGENERATION BACK INTO THE IMAGE OF GOD.
15. Having spoiled. Gr. apekduomai, literally, “to strip off one’s clothes.” Here, perhaps, “to strip off armor,” “to despoil.” There has been much discussion as to the subject of the action. Some hold that it is the Father, inasmuch as He is the subject of “quickened” (v. 13). Others believe that the passage is more suitably applied to Christ. Grammatically there is no way of determining, and the matter must be settled on the basis of the meaning of the passage (see below).
Principalities and powers. These terms may refer to earthly rulers (Luke 12:11; Titus 3:1) or to supernatural beings (see on Eph. 6:12). In the light of false teaching at Colossae, there may be a reference here to the supposed angelic powers and elemental deities (see p. 184; see on Col. 2:8). In reality Christ did triumph in a special sense over Satan and his angels. His death on the cross resulted in a further casting out of Satan from the sympathies of the heavenly world (see on Rev. 12:9). Throughout the ministry of Jesus, Satan was at hand to tempt and annoy Him. The life of Christ was a continual series of conflicts, but in every encounter Jesus proved victorious. Every effort on the part of Satan to destroy Him only further exposed the workings of the deceiver. Christ’s life of victory, culminating in Calvary, spelled the doom of the devil. Satan’s disguise was torn away. His methods of operation were laid open before the angels and the entire heavenly universe. He had exposed his true colors. See DA 123, 761. By His cross Jesus Christ stripped from the principalities and powers of darkness both their robe of office and authority as princes of this world, and their armor of strength in their warfare against right. Thus it seems preferable to regard Jesus as the subject of the action expressed by “having spoiled” (see above).
Note by Ron: Satan still works to get men to feel that they can do something apart from the sacrifice of Christ, to make themselves more holy before Him, and that is his great lie. He gets men to believe they must return to the sacrifices that were against them because he (Satan) knows those sacrifices provided NO CURE FOR SIN. THEY ONLY PARDONED SIN. But now we are proffered the Divine Nature of Christ, whereby we may overcome the lusts of the world. A true understanding of the Godhead and the Incarnation sacrifice of Jesus Christ, would sweep away such foolish attempts by men to establish their own righteousness without the means by which the New Testament Covenant operates in the heart of all who will surrender fully to Jesus' Spirit indwelling the soul.
Made a shew … openly. Or, “made a public example” (RSV). Christ’s cruel death on Calvary caused Satan and his legions to be exposed to the view of the universe for what they are, murderers and fiends.
Triumphing. Gr. thriambeuō (see on 2 Cor. 2:14).
In it. Or, “in him.” The Greek may be understood either way. The “it” could refer to the “handwriting” or to the “cross” (v. 14). The “him” could refer to Christ if the Father is regarded as the subject of the action expressed in the verse (see above on “having spoiled”).
16. Therefore. That is, in view of the fact that the Jewish legal system was at an end, and with it the ceremonial system (see on Eph. 2:15).
Judge. This doubtless points to false teachers who among other things insisted on the binding claims of the Jewish ceremonial system (see p. 184).
In meat, or in drink. Or, “in eating or in drinking.” These words doubtless refer to the meal and drink offerings presented by the Israelites in compliance with the sacrificial system, which was codified in the ceremonial law. Some have erroneously concluded that Paul’s statement implies the abolition of the prohibition against the eating of foods declared as unclean (see Lev. 11). That this cannot be the apostle’s meaning is clear from the following observations:
(1) The meat and drink are declared to be a shadow of Christ (Col. 2:17); that is, they point forward to Christ’s sacrifice and ministry. The ceremonial meal and drink offerings clearly belong in this category, but the prohibition against unclean foods does not.
(2) The prohibition not to eat certain meats antedates the ceremonial law (see on Gen. 7:2). Hence, certain animals are to be viewed as unclean for reasons other than ceremonial. The indulgence of the appetite by eating impure foods frustrates the perfect designs of the Creator (see PP 308; 2T 70). The apostle is not giving permission to the Colossian Christians to eat and drink what they want, disregarding all criticism. What he is saying is that Christians are no longer obliged to carry out the requirements of the ceremonial law. These meal and drink offerings have met their fulfillment in Christ.
Holyday. The ceremonial ordinances contain commandments for the observance of various holy days—the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles (see Lev. 23).
New moon. The first day of each month, or new moon day (see Num. 10:10; 28:11; cf. 1 Sam. 20:5; Isa. 66:23).
Sabbath days. Gr. sabbata. This may represent either a genuine plural of the Gr. sabbaton or a transliteration of the Aramaic shabbata’, a singular form. Hence sabbata, though grammatically plural in form, may and often does represent a singular (Matt. 28:1; etc.). Either form may be adopted here, for the interpretation of the passage does not depend upon whether the reading is “sabbath days,” or “a sabbath.” The type of sabbath under consideration is shown by the phrase “which are a shadow of things to come” (Col. 2:17). The weekly Sabbath is a memorial of an event at the beginning of earth’s history (Gen. 2:2, 3; Ex. 20:8–11; PP 48). Hence, the “sabbath days” Paul declares to be shadows pointing to Christ cannot refer to the weekly Sabbath designated by the fourth commandment, but must indicate the ceremonial rest days that reach their realization in Christ and His kingdom (see Lev. 23:6–8, 15, 16, 21, 24, 25, 27, 28, 37, 38).
17. Which are a shadow. This phrase is the key to the understanding of v. 16. All the items the apostle lists in v. 16 are “shadows,” or types, symbolizing the reality that is Christ. A shadow has no substance; it is cast by something substantial. Compare the use of the word “shadow” in Heb. 8:5 and 10:1. The Jewish ceremonies were shadows cast by heavenly realities. Christ’s life, ministry, and kingdom are the reality. The portrayal of this in the ceremonial law was only the shadow.
Note by Ron: Some misguided individuals misinterpret verse 17, which reads: "Which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ."
They say: See, THE WORDS "TO COME" mean they shadow things which are YET FUTURE! And that foolish virgin interpretation does total despite to the entire sacrifice of Christ and all that sacrifice provided! They might as well say that the Messiah has not yet come to fulfill the feasts and ordinances that pointed forward to a Messiah. If you will notice, those who lead out in the keeping of the Feasts and Holy Days, are modern-day Jews who are still having trouble omitting what Paul said was nailed to the cross. In this apostasy, they are still rejecting Jesus Christ as the Messiah whether they are cognizant of this fact or not.
On this passage Albert Barnes, Presbyterian commentator, well observes:
“There is no evidence from this passage that he [Paul] would teach that there was no obligation to observe any holy time, for there is not the slightest reason to believe that he meant to teach that one of the ten commandments had ceased to be binding on mankind. … He had his eye on the great number of days which were observed by the Hebrews as festivals, as a part of their ceremonial and typical law, and not to the moral law, or the ten commandments. No part of the moral law—no one of the ten commandments could be spoken of as ‘a shadow of good things to come.’ These commandments are, from the nature of moral law, of perpetual and universal application.”
Note by Ron: Ellen White says that the Ten Commandment law is a transcript of the character of both the Father and Jesus. To nail that law to the cross would be to nail the character of God to the cross! Thus, the law has been extant from time immemorial as a transcript of the character of God.
Body is of Christ. In contrast with the shadow, Jesus is the fullness of reality. It is to Him that every type points, and in Him that every symbol reaches its fullness. In finding Him, Christians turn their backs upon the typical, shadowy outlines, walking now in the fullness of the divine Presence.
In these verses Paul has completely removed the ground from beneath the feet of the Judaizing false teachers. They advocated a return to Judaic ceremonial requirements. The apostle meets their arguments by asserting that the shadows have served their function now that Christ, the reality, has come. In all this argument Paul is in no way minimizing the claims of the Decalogue or of the seventh-day Sabbath. The moral law is eternal and perfect (see on Rom. 14:1; Eph. 2:15).
18. Beguile … of … reward. Gr. katabrabeuō, “to render adverse judgments against,” “to decide against,” “to condemn.” There is a possible reference to the figure of an umpire disqualifying a contestant, since brabeus means “umpire.” The apostle now moves to another source of danger faced by the Colossian believers. He proceeds to handle the peculiar problems resulting from the false teachings advocated among them (see p. 184).
Voluntary humility. The artificial humility practiced to increase merit, self-imposed abasement resulting in unnecessary and unworthy asceticism—these are the results of pride. They are performed to win merit by personal, human effort. In practice they deny the righteousness of Christ, leaving no room for its operation in the human heart through faith. Compare 1T 297.
Note by Ron: Do you get it? Keepers of the Feasts are engaging artificial (false) humility practiced to increase creature merit (self-works), self imposed abasement by unnecessary and unworthy self-mortification and SELF sacrifice, rather than appropriating the benefits of the highest good, crowning sacrifice of Christ, which provided for the indwelling of His Holy Spirit within the souls of men. This is a satanic inspired attempt to climb the ladder some other way.
Hsa 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
Mal 2:3 Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, [even] the dung of your solemn feasts; and [one] shall take you away with it.
Show Spelled[uh-set-uh-siz-uhm] Show IPA
the manner of life, practices, or principles of an ascetic.
the doctrine that a person can attain a high spiritual and moral state by practicing self-denial, self-mortification, and the like.
rigorous self-denial; extreme abstinence; austerity.
Worshipping of angels. These false teachers apparently accepted the guidance of angels, whom they considered to be lower emanations of God. They dwelt upon the weakness of man and his inferiority to and distance from the great and eternal God. This viewpoint was probably an extension of the voluntary humility they advocated. If man’s body was utterly worthless, then he could not approach God; he needed intermediaries. So these they worshiped as being superior to man and, in a sense, extensions of the Deity. Paul warns the Colossians against accepting this philosophy. It runs contrary to the teaching of Christ. Jesus, citing Deut. 6:13, declared, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10). Heavenly angels prohibit adoration of themselves (see Rev. 22:9).
Intruding. Gr. embateuō, literally, “to step upon,” “to stand upon”; also “to enter upon,” as to invade a country; figuratively, “to investigate,” “to pry into.” Embateuō was used as a technical term in the terminology of the mystery religions, as shown in several inscriptions from Asia Minor dated about the 2d century after Christ. The term was thus probably common on the lips of the false teachers, and may have been used for initiation into the mysteries of the cult, in which case its meaning would be “to initiate.”
Things … not seen. Textual evidence favors (cf. p. 10) the omission of the negative, thus reading “things … seen,” meaning, probably, “visions.” Compare the RSV translation of this phrase, “taking his stand on visions.” If the translation “to initiate” is adopted for embateuō (see above on “intruding”), the passage may be translated, “which they have seen while being initiated.”
Vainly puffed up. This indicates a state of self-glorification and self-satisfaction.
Fleshly mind. That is, a mind controlled by the flesh in contrast with a mind controlled by the Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:1–13).
19. Head. That is, Christ (cf. on Eph. 4:15, 16). The ultimate of the philosophy such as the false teachers at Colossae taught was a denial of Christ.
Note by Ron: If you are around Feast keepers long enough, (and it doesn't take long), you will find that they think themselves superior because of their works of Feast keeping. They don’t recognize this in themselves, but others do. But this is evinced by the belief that they are the only ones who will constitute the 144,000. By all they are doing in essence is perpetrating A DENIAL OF CHRIST, AND HIS "HIGHEST GOOD, CROWNING GIFT THAT HEAVEN CAN BESTOW, to wit:
"Christ declared that after his ascension, he would send to his church, as his crowning gift, the Comforter, who was to take his place. This Comforter is the Holy Spirit,--the soul of his life, the efficacy of his church, the light and life of the world. With his Spirit Christ sends a reconciling influence and a power that takes away sin.
In the gift of the Spirit [HIS LIFE--THE SOUL OF HIS LIFE], Jesus gave to man the highest good that heaven could bestow....
The Spirit was given as a regenerating agency, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail....
It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given his Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress his own character upon the church." E.G. White, Review and Herald Articles, May 19, 1904, vol. 5, p. 42.
“Christ had stooped to take upon Himself man’s nature; He was to bear an infinite weight of woe as He should make His soul an offering for sin; yet angels desire that even in His humiliation the Son of the Highest might appear before men with a dignity and glory befitting His character.” E.G. White, The Great Controversy, pp. 313, 314.
Note by Ron: It is by the sacrifice of Christ; the sacrifice which all the shadows pointed to, that the heart is made pure and the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature, as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and whereby His own character is impressed upon the church—NOT FEAST KEEPING.
Joints and bands. As the members of the physical body are held together by means of joints and sinews, all of which are part of the body, so the members of the Christian church, the mystic body of Christ, should be held together. The mystic body receives its strength and is held together by a personal union with the Lord Jesus Himself. Nothing, not even angels, should come between us and our Saviour.
Nourishment ministered. Gr. epichorēgeō, “to supply,” “to provide,” “to support.” The phrase may be translated, “the whole body, supported and knit together through joints and ligaments.”
Knit together. Compare Eph. 4:16; Col. 2:2. The Greek verb form indicates a continuing, developing process.
Increase of God. The mysterious force that brings about growth is the power of God Himself. Without this mighty principle of life, growth would be impossible. The really harmonious character can develop only as divine power unites with human effort. This is the practical outworking of righteousness by faith.
20. If ye be dead with Christ. Literally, “if you died with Christ” (see on Rom. 6:5–8).
Rudiments of the world. Here Paul is using the expression with special reference to the philosophy of the false teachers at Colossae (see on v. 8). In a more general way the “rudiments of the world” may be understood as the elementary things upon which the world depends for its life, the ABC of its structure. “World” is placed in contrast with heaven, and means the age in which we live, with its drives and interests. A man who is alive to the world, who is living according to the ways of the world and its philosophy, is dead to the things of God. The opposite is equally true: He who is “dead with Christ” and now lives by the principles of the kingdom of heaven, has turned his back forever upon the basic rudiments of this world, and is alive unto God.
Why, as though living. In substance Paul asks the Colossians: “Why, having relinquished false philosophy and the ambitions and fundamentals of this world through having died with Christ, are you living as though still bound by these things?”
Are ye subject to ordinances? Literally, “are you continuing to submit yourselves to decrees?” such as the obsolete ordinances of Judaism (see on v. 16). There may be a reference also to ascetic restrictions and decrees derived from cult sources. The false philosophy at Colossae contained both Judaic and pagan elements (see p. 184). “Now,” Paul says, “why, since you are not obliged to keep these ordinances, are you still concerned with them?”
21. Touch not. Or, “handle not.” The Mosaic ritual was full of prohibitions against touching leprosy, unclean issues, dead bodies, and other unhallowed things (Lev. 12–15; Num. 19:11–22). The lesson taught by these prohibitions was that the true follower of God would keep himself clean and pure from every contamination, moral and physical, that he might glorify his God. The false teachers probably added other taboos.
Taste not. The reference is doubtless to various dietary restrictions largely man made (see v. 8), such as those mentioned in 1 Tim. 4:3–5. See on Col. 2:16 for evidence that Paul is not removing restriction from the use of foods hygienically unclean. The false teachers at Colossae probably urged many taboos in the matter of diet.
Handle not. Or, “touch not.” The Greek verb is practically synonymous with that translated “touch” in this verse. Some commentators suggest the first should be translated “handle” and the last “touch.” The reference is to the various taboos the false teachers urged upon the Colossian Christians, some Judaic in origin and others drawn from Eastern philosophies.
22. All are to perish. That is, the things prohibited all perish. They are thus temporary in nature and of no lasting spiritual or moral value.
Of men. The decrees and taboos of the false teachers, even though to some extent similar to the requirements of the Jewish ceremonial system, were all only human requirements. God did not impose these upon men. The death of Christ had put an end to the ceremonial law, and what was beyond this God had never required.
23. Shew of wisdom. Or, “appearance of wisdom” (RSV). Paul is warning against being deceived and misled by appearances.
Will worship. Or, “self-made religion.” The basis of all man-made diligence in ceremonies is “will worship.” Man relies upon himself; he reveres the personal efforts he puts forth to gain favor with God. In the vigilance he imposes upon himself, in the spiritual tortures self-inflicted, in rituals self-designed in the form of worship contrived by man, his own will and prowess are the factors exalted. In contrast, the Christian philosophy puts human will in an entirely different place. Man’s will should be used only, and constantly, in making the choice for Christ. Christ is then paramount in the human soul, and man no longer exercises his will independently (see on Gal. 2:20). His daily prayer of consecration is the same as was the prayer of his Saviour, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).
Humility. Or, “lowliness.” Paul is here referring to mock humility such as that displayed by the Pharisees and ascetics who were actually guilty of the pride of exhibitionism. Such persons were inordinately proud of their humility, thus proving they possessed none of the genuine quality. Thus it was with the heretical teachers at Colossae.
Neglecting. Literally, “not sparing.” The religious extremists of Colossae apparently looked upon the body as being of itself sinful. Their severity with the body evidently was extreme, and out of harmony with the Christian teaching that the body is the “temple of the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 6:19), and contrary to the instruction to present the body a living sacrifice (see on Rom. 12:1).
Honour. Gr. timē, “price,” “value,” “honor.” The translation “value” is adopted in the interpretation given below.
To. Gr. pros, which in some contexts means “against,” as probably here (cf. Eph. 6:11, 12). For the meaning of the passage when pros is thus translated see below under “satisfying of the flesh.”
Satisfying of the flesh. Literally, “over-indulgence of the flesh.” The last part of this verse has been declared to be the most difficult in the entire epistle. One can only conjecture as to its meaning. A common interpretation is that the carrying out of all these human laws and speculations is of no value against overindulgence of the flesh. The only thing that will achieve this is complete surrender of the heart to Christ and the death of the will to the appeals of the world.
Note by Ron: Compared to the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ provided by His “highest good, crowning gift” sacrifice, Feast keeping is merely satisfying to the flesh and cannot compare to the sin healing gift of the Divine Nature of Christ indwelling the soul.
ELLEN G. WHITE COMMENTS
1–4 AA 473
2–4 GW 305; 8T 295
3 COL 22, 115; DA 465; Ed 13; FE 177, 181; MB 34; ML 360; SC 17, 109; 2T 510; 5T 703
4 AA 474
6 SC 52, 69
6, 7 FE 303
6–8 CH 584; EW 25
6–10 AA 473; GW 305; 8T 295
7 AA 175; FE 231, 304
8 GW 16; 1T 297
8–10 7T 204
9 COL 115; Ev 231, 614; MB 34, 78; PK 597
9, 10 DA 181; FE 306; GW 57; MYP 55; 8T 334
10 CH 369, 593; CT 18, 491; Ed 257; FE 303, 376, 429, 446; GW 113; MB 21; ML 15, 276, 340; MM 41, 219; 6T 167; 7T 248
14 AA 194; EW 33; PP 365
15, 17 DA 165
17–19 6T 235
18 FE 304; 1T 297, 299
19 1T 300
21 Te 289; 3T 561; 5T 360
23 2T 612
Ellen White on Feast Keeping
“They were not conscious that type had met antitype, that an infinite sacrifice had been made for the sins of the world. They knew not that there was no further value in the performance of the ritual service.”—Desire of Ages, 774.
That is why we are told that those who attended the ritual services after Calvary—even one day after—were on the wrong track.
Not only has Pentecost been in operation for nearly 2,000 years, but it will achieve a final climax in the closing up of the Third Angel’s Message (GC 611-612; also read 4T 303; 8T 246; ML 58). The Loud Cry will be the concluding fulfillment of the Pentecostal experience, as the latter rain is poured out upon God’s faithful ones.
Should we then keep Pentecost today? No,—but we should strive to enter into the experience of Pentecost! Put away your sins and seek God for help in ministering to others. Gather together to plead for souls, and dedicate your lives anew to Him. That is always in order—any time of the year. But let us not gather to “keep Pentecost.”
“I was pointed back to the proclamation of the first advent of Christ. John was sent in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way for Jesus. Those who rejected the testimony of John were not benefited by the teachings of Jesus. Their opposition to the message that foretold His coming placed them where they could not readily receive the strongest evidence that He was the Messiah. Satan led on those who rejected the message of John to go still farther, to reject and crucify Christ. In doing this they placed themselves where they could not
receive the blessing on the day of Pentecost, which would have taught them the way into the heavenly sanctuary. The rending of the veil of the temple showed that the Jewish sacrifices and ordinances would no longer be received. The great Sacrifice had been offered and had been accepted, and the Holy Spirit which descended on the day of Pentecost carried the minds of the disciples from the earthly sanctuary to the heavenly, where Jesus had entered by His own blood, to shed upon His disciples the benefits of His atonement. But the Jews were left in total darkness. They lost all the light which they might have had upon the plan of salvation, and still trusted in their useless sacrifices and offerings. The heavenly sanctuary had taken the place of the earthly, yet they had no knowledge of the change. Therefore they could not be benefited by the mediation of Christ in the holy place.”—Early Writings, 259-260.
“Satan led on those who rejected the message of John to go still farther, to reject and crucify Christ. In doing this they placed themselves where they could not receive the blessing on the day of Pentecost, which would have taught them the way into the heavenly Sanctuary. The rending of the veil of the temple showed that the Jewish sacrifices and ordinances would no longer be received.”—Early Writings, 259-260.
“The great Sacrifice had been offered and had been accepted, and the Holy Spirit which descended on the day of Pentecost carried the minds of the disciples from the earthly sanctuary to the heavenly, where Jesus had entered by His own blood, to shed upon His disciples the benefits of His atonement. But the Jews were left in total darkness. They lost all the light which they might have had upon the plan of salvation, and still trusted in their useless sacrifices and offerings. The heavenly sanctuary had taken the place of the earthly, yet they had no knowledge of the change. Therefore they could not be benefited by the mediation of Christ in the holy place.”—Early Writings, 260.
STATEMENT BY VANCE FERRELL
The antitypical trumpets and atonement experience leads to the judgment scene, when the books of record in heaven are examined. Books are opened, names and actions are considered, decisions are made. It is all a very solemn affair. Please, again, read carefully chapters 23, 24, and 28 in Great Controversy. There you will find true theology about the entire process. Because it will affect your eternal destiny, should you not know it well? Should it not become an integral part of your everyday life?
FEAST OF TABERNACLES
Where does this feast fit into the antitypes? It comes after the Day of Atonement, and is a time when all the people live in booths made of tree branches. When would that be? They gather together to rejoice. Why? because the harvest is past. So we have here a yearly gathering which has not yet met its antitype. May we today keep the Feast of Tabernacles?
It is of interest that, in regard to this one feast, we are told that we may observe a gathering like it: “Well would it be for the people of God at the present time to have a Feast of Tabernacles—a joyous commemoration of the blessings of God to them. As the children of Israel celebrated the deliverance that God had wrought for their fathers, and His miraculous preservation of them during their journeyings
from Egypt, so should we gratefully call to mind the various ways He has devised for bringing us out from the world, and from the darkness of error, into the precious light of His grace and truth.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, 540-541.
“This feast was to be pre-eminently an occasion of rejoicing. It occurred just after the great Day of Atonement, when the assurance had been given that their iniquity should be remembered no more. At peace with God, they now came before Him to acknowledge His goodness and to praise Him for His mercy. The labors of the harvest being ended, and the toils of the new year not begun, the people were
free from care, and could give themselves up to the sacred, joyous influences of the hour.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, 540.
“This feast was to be pre-eminently an occasion of rejoicing. It occurred just after the great Day of Atonement, when the assurance had been given that their iniquity should be remembered no more. At peace with God, they now came before Him to acknowledge His goodness and to praise Him for His mercy. The labors of the harvest being ended, and the toils of the new year not begun, the people were
free from care, and could give themselves up to the sacred, joyous influences of the hour.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, 540.
The Feast of Tabernacles was the last feast of the year, and normally occurred in early or middle part of October. The Day of Atonement was past, and all sins and misunderstandings were past. Everything was new. This feast looked forward to the great marriage supper of the Lamb with His people in heaven (Matt 8:11).
It is well to gather together for meetings of mutual encouragement and instruction. “At these yearly assemblies the hearts of old and young would be encouraged in the service of God, while the association of the people from the different quarters of the land would strengthen the ties that bound them to God and to one another.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, 540.
“With those who lived at a distance from the tabernacle, more than a month of every year must have been occupied in attendance upon the annual feasts. This example of devotion to God should emphasize the importance of religious worship and the necessity of subordinating our selfish, worldly interests to those that are spiritual and eternal. We sustain a loss when we neglect the privilege of associating together to strengthen and encourage one another in the service of God. The truths of His word lose their vividness and importance in our minds. Our hearts cease to be enlightened and aroused by the sanctifying influence, and we decline in spirituality.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, 541.
Yet we must not imagine that those particular feasts are still to be kept today. There is no command anywhere in the New Testament to do so. There is no command in the Spirit of Prophecy to do so. We are told that it would be well to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, but we are not commanded to keep it.
“Men and women may study the will of God with profit. Let young men and young women, while the dew of youth is upon them, begin to study the Word of God, which expresses His will. The steps of Christ are certainly marked out in the Word. Go where they can be found today. Do not seek to go back to the land where Christ’s feet trod ages ago. Christ says: ‘He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’ We can know far more of Christ by following Him step by step in the work of redemption, seeking the lost and the perishing, than by journeying to old Jerusalem.
Christ has taken His people into His church. He has swept away every ceremony of the ancient type. He has given no liberty to restore these rites, or to substitute anything that will recall the old literal sacrifices. The Lord requires of His people spiritual sacrifices alone. Everything pertaining to His worship is placed under the superintendence of His Holy Spirit. Jesus said that the Father would send the Holy Spirit in His name to teach His disciples all things, and to bring all things unto their remembrance that He had said unto them. The curse rests upon Jerusalem. The Lord has obliterated those things which men would worship in and about Jerusalem, yet many hold in reverence literal objects in Palestine, while they neglect to behold Jesus as their advocate in the heaven of heavens.”—Review and Herald, February 25, 1896 [Italics ours].
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; “And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come: but the body is of Christ.”—Colossians 2:14-17.
Clearly then, according to Paul, the days are shadows. Second, we remember that the same law that establishes the sacrifices also establishes the days, and that law, the ceremonial law, is done away. This is the message of Colossians 2:14-17 and of Ephesians 2:11-15. It is also the message of many references in Ellen White’s writings. “There are two distinct laws brought to view. One is the law of types and shadows, which reached to the time of Christ, and ceased when type met antitype in His death.”—Signs of the Times, July 29, 1886.
“The Jewish ceremonial law has passed away.”—Review and Herald, October 10, 1899.
“If Adam had not transgressed the law of God, the ceremonial law would never have been instituted.” —1 Selected Messages, 230.
“While the Saviour’s death brought to an end the law of types and shadows, it did not in the least detract from the obligation of the moral law.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, 365.
“When Jesus at His ascension entered by His own blood into the heavenly sanctuary to shed upon His disciples the blessings of His mediation, the Jews were left in total darkness to continue their useless sacrifices and offerings. The ministration of types and shadows had ceased.”—Great Controversy, 430.
“His lessons to His disciples are received by all who would become His disciples, to the end of time. These lessons discharge His followers from the bondage of the ceremonial law, and leave them the ordinance of baptism to be received by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the only One who can take away sin.”—Review and Herald, June 21, 1898.
“When type met antitype in the death of Christ, the sacrificial offerings ceased. The ceremonial law was done away.”—Review and Herald, June 26, 1900.
“After Christ died on the cross as a sin offering, the ceremonial law could have no force.”—Lift Him Up, 147.
“Peter here referred to the law of ceremonies which was made null and void by the crucifixion of Christ.”—Acts of the Apostles, 194.
“Many in the Christian world also have a veil before their eyes and heart. They do not see to the end of that which was done away. They do not see that it was only the ceremonial law which was abrogated at the death of Christ.”—1 Selected Messages, 239.
“This ritual law, with its sacrifices and ordinances, was to be performed by the Hebrews until type met antitype in the death of Christ, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Then all the sacrificial offerings were to cease. It is this law that Christ ‘took . . out of the way, nailing it to His cross.’ Colossians 2:14.”—Pariarchs and Prophets, 365.
“But there is a law which was abolished, which Christ ‘took out of the way, nailing it to His cross.’ Paul calls it the law of commandments contained in ordinances.’ This ceremonial law, given by God through Moses, with its sacrifices and ordinances, . . to be binding upon the Hebrews until type met antitype in the death of Christ as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. Then all the sacrificial offerings and services were to be abolished. Paul and the other apostles labored to show this, and resolutely withstood those Judaizing teachers ho declared that Christians should observe the ceremonial law.—Signs of the Times, September 4, 1884.
“The Feast of Tabernacles was not only commemorative but typical. It not only pointed back to the wilderness sojourn, but, as the feast of harvest, it celebrated the ingathering of the fruits of the earth, and pointed forward to the great day of final ingathering, when the Lord of the harvest shall send forth His reapers to gather the tares together in bundles for the fire, and to gather the wheat into His garner. At that time the wicked will all be destroyed. They will become ‘as though they had not been.’ Obadiah 16. And every voice in the whole universe will unite in joyful praise to God. Says the revelator, ‘Every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honer, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.’ Rev 5:13.” —Patriarchs and Prophets, 541.
The commemorative aspect of the Feast of Tabernacles is mentioned in that passage which hearkens back to the Exodus 20:2 statement, just before the Ten Commandments was proclaimed on Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 16:12-15). 6 - What about the Old Testament statutes? There were both statutes and ordinances. The statutes were given to strengthen the Ten Commandments. These include tithing, health principles, etc.
“In consequence of continual transgression, the moral law was repeated in awful grandeur from Sinai. Christ gave to Moses religious precepts which were to govern everyday life. These statutes were explicitly given to guard the Ten Commandments. They were not shadowy types to pass away with the death of Christ. They were to be binding upon men in every age as long as time should last. These commands were enforced by the power of the moral law, and they clearly definitely explained that law”—Manuscript 12, 1894 (1 Bible Commentary, 1104).
7 - There remains one other interesting fact about the annual feast days. It has been clear that the facts about them fall into three definite and distinct categories:
(1) The typical annual feasts: These occurred at definite intervals throughout the year, beginning in the early spring and ending in the late fall.
(2) The antitypical fulfillments: These occurred in history at different times, in relation to their sequence in the typical year. Calvary; the spread of Christianity begins; the call to the judgment begins; the judgment begins and ends; the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven with His people.
(3) The antitypical application to ourselves: These are experiential fulfillments, which we have already discussed: conversion; evangelism; preparing for judgment; entering the judgment; rejoicing after the final harvest is completed. Can you see it? A great truth is contained in the above patterns. Read again the second (the antitypical fulfillments). Here is this great truth: The correct view of the sanctuary message is this:
Christ died (1-Passover) and, at His resurrection, went to heaven to gain the assurance that His followers would be accepted and empowered to obey
(2-Wave Sheaf). After His ascension, Christ began His ministry in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary and empowered His people to witness throughout the world
(3-Pentecost). At a later time, amid what becomes a worldwide announcement
(4-Trumpets), Christ began the investigative judgment
(5-Atonement). Then probation, and with it the harvest, ends. Shortly afterward (6-Tabernacles) comes the rejoicing in heaven over the harvest past.
We have here a brief historical overview of Christian history, from Christ’s time on down to our own and beyond into eternity. But the incorrect view of the sanctuary message and obedience by faith violates this divinely-given calendar of events. The erroneous view would drastically change the order of events: (1-Passover); (5-Atonement completed); (3-Pentecost); (6-Tabernacles); (only part of the wave sheaf [obedience by faith], and no Trumpets [Three Angels’ call to the judgment]).
THE SPECIAL MESSAGE FOR THIS TIME
At this time in history, we should be focusing our attention on the great truths of historic Adventism. Those are the messages we should be giving to the world at this time. The Bible Sabbath will be the great test, not the yearly feasts!
“The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted. When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not . . While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God.”—Great Controversy, 605. A world is waiting for the historic beliefs, which God has entrusted to us to share with them.
“On the fourteenth day of the month, at even, the Passover was celebrated; its solemn, impressive ceremonies commemorating the deliverance from bondage in Egypt, and pointing forward to the sacrifice that should deliver from the bondage of sin. When the Saviour yielded up His life on Calvary, the significance of the Passover ceased, and the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper was instituted as a memorial of the same event of which the Passover had been a type.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, 539.
The second statement is, if possible, even more striking. The fulfillment of Passover was a great watershed—nay, rather a continental divide—between two different eras:
“ ‘The Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.’ 1 Cor. 11:23-26.
“Christ was standing at the point of transition between two economies and their two great festivals. He, the spotless Lamb of God, was about to present Himself as a sin offering, that He would thus bring to an end the system of types and ceremonies that for four thousand years had pointed to His death. As He ate the Passover with His disciples, He instituted in its place the service that was to be the memorial of His great sacrifice. The national festival of the Jews was to pass away forever. The service which Christ established was to be observed by His followers in all lands and through all ages.
The Passover was ordained as a commemoration of the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage. God had directed that, year by year, as the children should ask the meaning of this ordinance, the history should be repeated. Thus the wonderful deliverance was to be kept fresh in the minds of all. The ordinance of the Lord’s supper was given to commemorate the great deliverance wrought out as the result of the death of Christ. Till He shall come the second time in power and glory, this ordinance is to be celebrated. It is the means by which His great work for us is to be kept fresh in our minds.”—Desire of Ages, 652-653.
But, someone will say, “Attending Passover meetings today is ‘new light.’ Ellen White did not have it all!” But, do you not see that that is what men said in the early centuries? God had given them the Bible Sabbath, yet they thought themselves sufficient to seek out a different day on which to worship their Creator. Eve committed a similar error in Eden, when she decided God did not mean what He said about that tree.
Here are some additional facts about the Passover: The Hebrew word for Passover was pesah, which meant to leap over, or, figuratively, to spare, or show mercy. Although the Passover was only the first day of the seven-day service (the rest of which was the Feast of Unleavened Bread), the entire cluster came to be called the “Passover” by the Jews. Read Exodus 12:1-28 for a full description of its origin. It is of interest that it was not until the Passover occurred that the Jewish nation began. It is not until a soul comes to Calvary that the birth of another Christian occurs.
Not a bone of the Passover lamb was to be broken (Ex 12:46; Num 9:12), and not a bone of Christ’s body was broken (Jn 19:36). The flesh of the lamb was to be eaten (Ex 12:7); so, by faith, we are to partake of Christ (Jn 6:51). The Feast of Unleavened Bread immediately followed the Passover. No leaven was to be used during that time, so we are to renounce and put away the sins we confessed and verbally forsook at conversion (Ex 12:15; 1 Cor 5:8).
The death of the lamb was not enough to assure salvation; the blood must be struck on the doorpost and lintel (Ex 12:7, 22). That alone could avert the stroke of the death angel (Ex 12:23). It is not enough to come to Calvary; the cleansing blood must be applied to the heart. It is not enough to confess our sins at the cross; we must put them away thereafter as we henceforth walk with Christ. Christ is our Passover (1 Cor 5:7), and when God sees the blood sprinkled, He commands His angels to pass over us (Ex 12:22-23). The death of the lamb provided the means of salvation for the people; the application of the blood to their lives and practices made efficacious the means provided (John 6:51). Both were necessary.
By His blood we are saved from death by the destroying angel; by eating His flesh and staying away from leaven we live thereafter. Leaven stands for malice, wickedness (1 Cor 5:8), false doctrine (Matt 16:6; Mark 8:15), greed and injustice (Matt 23:14), hypocrisy (Matt 23:25-28), cruelty (Matt 23:34-36), skepticism (Matt 22:23), and flattery and worldliness (Matt 22:16-21). All this is to be put away if we are to go to heaven.
It is not enough to imagine that “only believe” will save us. It was crucial that, in order to avert the destroying angel, that the all leaven be put away. The house had to be searched. Every nook and cranny had to be examined. Everything had to bear the mark of “holiness to the Lord.”
After Christ came, there could be no more virtue in the Passover. In the communion service, we are to remember the Lord till He come (1 Cor 11:26). The second day after the Passover was to be a special work day. Three men were to go out into the field and get the barley sheaf, which was then to be presented before the Lord (Lev 23:11). On the second day after the Passover, Christ went to heaven to present Himself to the Father on behalf of His people. He did that on a working day, the first working day in the week.
THE FEAST OF PENTICOST
Pentecost is the second major feast in the yearly cycle. The most important Bible passages relating to it are Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:15-22; Numbers 28:26-31; and Deuteronomy 16:9-12. It occurred 50 days after the presentation of the wave sheaf (Ex 23:16; 34:22; Num 28:26-31), on the 6th day of the 3rd month. (Recall that the wave sheaf was offered two days after Passover.) This gathering was called the Feast of Weeks.
All His blessings,
RSV The Holy Bible. Revised Standard Version (New York, 1952)
Nichol, Francis D.: The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 7. Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1978; 2002, S. 198