As we approach this very special time of the year when we celebrate our Messiah’s resurrection, we often think about the time when Messiah will come again to receive us into His Kingdom; those of us that believe that He was and He is and He will come again. But as I look at Messiah’s time on earth the Bible clearly records that Messiah always worshiped on God’s appointed Sabbaths, as did all His disciples and His followers for several years. We find Him on occasion even reading from Scripture (Old Testament) and even visiting the Jerusalem Temple for special Sabbaths or God’s Moedim (Feasts) as Passover and Sukkot. Messiah followed what God His Father established as the day of rest and worship way back in Genesis chapter 2. Here God created a day (the seventh day of creation) as a day of rest and later, in Leviticus 23:3, God adds the command to have an “assembly” on this day as well. God actually commands us directly to keep His Sabbath some 172 times in the Bible. The fourth Commandment also tells us emphatically to “remember the Sabbath to keep it holy”. This does not include the many times that we see His people in the practice of congregating on the Sabbath day to rest from everyday work and worship. The word Sunday is not in the Bible and the phrase usually translated as “the first day of the week” in the Greek has the word “Sabbaton” in it. Then, why is the word “Sabbath” not in our translations of this phrase? This is what we call translational bias. In Exodus as Israel are wandering in the wilderness with some Gentiles that left Egypt with them, they (all of them) are instructed to collect manna daily with the exception of the day before the Sabbath. That day they were to collect a “double portion” so they would not work gathering manna on the Sabbath. This is interesting in that this is before the Law (Torah) was given to Moses and written down. How did they know what Sabbath was? Well, remember, it was created for them (all mankind) by God in “the beginning” (Genesis chapter 2). How many congregations will our Messiah find with their doors open worshiping on His Father’s Sabbath when He returns? It is interesting that in Ezekiel 46:1-3 we find that when Messiah returns He will lead worship in Jerusalem on the Sabbath. So Messiah has not forgotten which day should be the day of worship has He?
We also know from the Biblical account when our Messiah was nailed to the cross and died for our sins. It was on the “preparation day” called “Passover”. This was the day all the spotless lambs were sacrificed to make preparation for a special meal (after sundown on that day) to begin the week long Feast of Unleavened Bread. Yes, God used His appointed times (Moedim), not man’s, to carry out His salvation plan for all of mankind; the sacrifice of His only Son, the pure Lamb of God. When the High Priest finished the lamb sacrifices at about 3 PM on Passover afternoon he said “it is finished” at exactly the same time our Messiah cried out “it is finished” and died on the cross. We know each year when Passover is on God’s calendar. So the question remains, why don’t we remember the death of our Messiah each year when it really happened? It did not happen on the manmade day called “Good Friday”. How when He returns? When Scripture is so very clear on God’s commanded times as Sabbath and Passover, how have we gotten so far away on our present day church practices? Jesus said himself, “If you love Me you will keep my commandments”. If we really love Him why are we not keeping the commandments of our God? Why do we break the fourth commandment every week if we worship and rest on any other day but God’s Sabbath? The answer might reside in the following passage of scripture from our Messiah Himself when He says:
“’This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! (Mark 7:6-9)
What we have here is a case of a previous generation, a long time ago, changing the Word of God to create its own “tradition” and then generations down the line just accept the change without questioning it. I think it is time that this generation of believers begin to question it! If we truly love our God and His Son then we need to demonstrate that love by keeping His commandments and opening up God’s Word and really reading it. Reading it for what it says and not what others have told you it says. Theologians and ministers are not going to have to give an answer to God for me; if I keep the Sabbath and Passover and what I personally believe. I will be judged based on my own knowledge of God’s truth and my own actions. The theologian and the ministers have only to worry about themselves and what they are teaching others. They cannot save you nor can you save them. We are all responsible for “working out our own salvation”. I do feel that those that teach will be held to a much higher standard. Matthew 5:19 makes it clear that anyone who teaches others to break one of “the least of God’s commandments” will be the “least in the Kingdom of Heaven”.
My prayer and desire for you today is that you seek out a congregation or home group that is willing to really look at Scripture with no doctrinal bias and search with the Holy Spirit’s help for the real truth found in God’s Word. I know that if you rediscover God’s Sabbath, Passover, other Feasts and other living truths in His Word, a whole new world will open up for you and our God will shower you with blessings that you have never thought possible. You will want to tell the world that Messiah has indeed risen from the dead, not on Easter, but three days and three nights (remember Messiah’s prophecy about Himself using Jonah) after His death on Passover, on another of God’s appointed times called “First Fruits”, that occurs during the week of “Unleavened Bread”.
Our traditional Easter today creates another big problem. If Messiah died on “Good Friday” and resurrected on Sunday morning, this is only one full day and two nights, and Messiah’s prophecy concerning His resurrection being like Jonah’s experience in the belly of the big fish could not be fulfilled. But we know that God always fulfills His prophecy! So Messiah had to have been in the earth three days and three nights before He resurrects. Wow, it is amazing how God thought of everything. He established these very important feast days thousands of years ago so He could use them to unfold His amazing plan of salvation through His Son. The big question is, when are we, His children, going to begin remembering God’s amazing plan using God’s appointed days rather than man made traditional substitutes? God’s plan is so much better than any of our “human traditions”, like “Good Friday” and “Easter” (a word, by the way, derived from the name of the pagan goddess Ishtar), that any man could ever contrive to substitute for God’s Biblical truth. I pray that you will this year remember Messiah’s death with me on Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread and celebrate Messiah’s resurrection three days and three nights later on the Feast of First Fruits!
Dr. Scott Oliver, The way Fellowship, 395 Oliver Road, Minford, Ohio.