Every nation observes patriotic holidays. These special days are reminders of important events in a country's history. They provide continuity between a nation's past and the present.
Usually citizens can understand and explain at least some of the significance of these celebrations. Yet paradoxically, those same citizens seldom understand much about the days on which they worship and honor God. The nonbiblical roots of these religious practices are quietly ignored in their celebration.
As a result, people usually assume that popular observances such as Easter and Christmas serve as true representations of the themes of the Bible. Yet God's Word nowhere commands their observance, nor does the Bible record these holidays being observed by the early New Testament Church. However, God does command other, rarely noticed, festivals in His Word.
Some people realize that the Bible mentions specific days for religious celebration. But only a few can name any of them or explain their significance.
Those aware of these biblical festivals generally believe that they were meant only for ancient Israel and that the need for them ceased following Jesus Christ's crucifixion. They assume these days simply pointed toward Christ, concluding that, since He lived on earth 2,000 years ago, their importance has long since passed. Most people consider these festivals as nothing more than relics of history with no relevance to the modern world.
Believe it or not, the Bible itself clearly contradicts these commonly held views. An objective look at the biblical record reveals that both Christmas and Easter—the two main observances on the traditional Christian calendar —are nowhere to be found (except in Acts 12:4 where the King James Version mistranslates the Greek word meaning Passover as Easter). Surprising to many, the New Testament shows Jesus Christ observing the Holy Days of the Bible, as well as His disciples following His example in observing them many decades after His death, burial and resurrection.
The teachings of the apostles in the years of the first century after the resurrection also differ from most people's assumptions. The apostles' instructions reveal a God who intended that all Christians observe the biblical Holy Days—and for a remarkable reason!
What these Holy Days reveal
Why does God want us to observe His Holy Days? Because He wants us to know about our future, He reveals to us His great purpose for humanity.
He explains why He put us on earth, reveals our ultimate destiny and tells us how we can attain it! The observance of God's festivals provides the key to understanding God's great plan for the future of mankind!
The biblical festivals, and the Holy Days within them, fall during three seasons of the year—the early spring harvest, the late spring harvest and the late summer to early autumn harvest in the land of biblical Israel. The themes these days portray God's spiritual harvest of mankind to eternal life spoken of by Jesus Christ (John 4:35-38).
These observances serve as timeless reminders of how God's plan gives eternal life to mortal man. Our Creator will bring His plan to fruition in spite of man's choices and actions, which have consistently led to separation from God, suffering and death (Proverbs 14:12; Proverbs 16:25; Isaiah 59:1-8; Jeremiah 10:23). These festivals reveal the unfolding of God's plan for humanity and how He will establish His Kingdom on earth. This is the good news, or gospel, Jesus Christ preached (Mark 1:14-15). (For more information, read the Bible study aid The Gospel of the Kingdom.)
God's design to grant humanity eternal life has existed since "the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34). His Holy Days teach humanity about that remarkable plan. The apostle Paul beautifully summed up its essence in his letter to the Ephesians: "He has made known to us his secret purpose, in accordance with the plan which he determined beforehand in Christ, to be put into effect when the time was ripe: namely, that the universe, everything in heaven and earth, might be brought into unity in Christ. In Christ indeed we have been given our share in this heritage, as was decreed in his design whose purpose is everywhere at work" (Ephesians 1:9-11, Revised English Bible).
God's Holy Days help us comprehend His master plan—the way He intends us to truly become His people. Notice this description of our destiny: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God" (Revelation 21:3). Step by step, His Holy Days show us how this beautiful picture will become a reality.
In Leviticus 23 we find a listing of God's festivals. After discussing the weekly Sabbath, the text describes special observances with unusual names, such as the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles—the word "Feast" here translated from the Hebrew chag or hag, specifying a festival or celebration. In giving these occasions, God instructed Moses to make it clear that "these are the feasts of the Lord" (Leviticus 23:4, Leviticus 23:37, emphasis added throughout). The word translated "feasts" in this case is the Hebrew mo'edim, meaning "appointed times"—appointments with God that He wants us to keep.
The Bible teaches that eventually God will teach everyone to observe these days (Zechariah 14:16). In the pages of this booklet you will learn the fascinating purpose of each of God's Holy Days, along with their promise of hope for mankind!