Christian observances of Jewish holidays
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A small number of Christian denominations - including the Assemblies of Yahweh, Messianic Jews, some congregations of the Church of God (Seventh Day), the World Mission Society Church of God, Hebrew Roots, as well as a variety of COG (Church of God) groups - observe religious holidays inspired by Jewish observances or derived from the Hebrew Bible. The original Jewish holidays may be honored in their original form in recognition of Christianity's Jewish roots, or altered to suit Christian theology. Symbolic and thematic features of Jewish services are commonly interpreted in a Christian light, for example, the Paschal Lamb of the Passover Seder being viewed as a symbol of Christ's sacrifice.
But there are Christian groups - again Assemblies of Yahweh, Messianic Jews, Hebrew Roots, and some congregations of the Church of God (Seventh Day) and the W.W.J.D. MOVEMENT - that celebrate some parts of the Jewish holiday of Passover. The main Christian view seem to present the Passover meal, that was held on the night before Jesus died on on the official lunar calendar of same year, also named Last Supper, as the Evening of New Covenant and generally agree that was on Thursday being observed at Church. The Christian view also seem to present the Day of First Fruit (First day of omer), that was held according the Law in the morrow after Saturday during the feast of unleavened bread, as Resurrection Sunday (also known as Easter). Christian Passover is a religious observance celebrated by a small number of First Century Believers instead of, or alongside, the more common Christian holy day and festival of Easter. The redemption from the bondage of sin through the sacrifice of Christ is celebrated, a parallel of the Jewish Passover's celebration of redemption from bondage in the land of Egypt.
The traditional Christian holiday of Pentecost is based on the Jewish holiday of Pentecost (Hebrew Shavuot) celebrated seven weeks after the start of Passover. Pentecost is part of the Movable Cycle of the ecclesiastical year. According to the Scriptures, Pentecost is always seven weeks after the day after the Sabbath day which always occurs during Unleavened Bread (*Unleavened Bread is a seven day holy day which immediately follows Passover. Those of Rabbinic Jewish persuasion avoid celebration of Shavuot on the day after the Sabbath (the first day of the week). However, Karaite Jews and those of the W.W.J.D. MOVEMENT, celebrate by this holy day according to Scriptural mandate on the day after the Sabbath. This Sunday celebration, in Christian tradition, is calculated as 50 days after Easter (inclusive of Easter Day). In other words, it falls on the eighth Sunday, counting Easter Day (see article on Computus for the calculation of the date of Easter). Pentecost celebrates the birth of the Church, when thousands of Jews were in Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot, and heard Peter and the disciples speaking in their own language. However, Shavuot, is one of the three pilgrimage feasts laid out for the Torah observant Jews, which was the reason for the huge gathering of God-fearing Jewish believers to be in Jerusalem on that same day. Pentecost falls in mid- to late spring in the Northern Hemisphere and mid- to late autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.
Feast of Trumpets
Rosh Hashanah celebration in Christianity is done by W.W.J.D. MOVEMENT, Assemblies of Yahweh, Messianic Jews, some congregations of the Church of God (Seventh Day), some Evangelical Protestant or Neo-Protestant Churches (mainly Baptist) in United States and usually by Seventh Day Pentecostals in Eastern Europe that celebrate some parts of the Jewish holiday. This day of resounding is also known in Judaism by the name "Yom Teruah" and in Christianity as Feast of Trumpets.
Christians and Messianic believers connect hearing "the sound of the trumpet" or shofar, according the First Epistle to the Thessalonians and the Revelation of John, with the events that occur at the Resurrection of the dead ("For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first."1Thess 4:16Revelation 1:10).
Some say this "pivotal event of all human history to which the Feast of Trumpets points is the Return of Christ". Also some evangelical television channels call Rosh Hashanna eve: "Feast of Trumpets" for example at CBN TV that marks the Jewish New Year with a staff gathering for Rosh Hashanah.
Latter Day Saint Theology
Joseph Smith received the golden plates (which became The Book of Mormon) on the Israelite Rosh ha-Shanah on 22 September 1827. Biblical references and interpretation by Jewish sages through the centuries set this day as the day God would remember his covenants with Israel to bring them back from exile. On this day ritual trumpet blasts signify the issuance of revelation and a call for Israel to gather for God's word of redemption. Set at the time of Israel's final agricultural harvest, the day also symbolizes the Lord's final harvest of souls. Furthermore, it initiates the completion of the Lord's time periods, the Days of Awe, and signifies the last time to prepare for final judgment and the Messianic Age. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is literally fulfilling such prophecies of the day.
Day of Atonement
Christians traditionally do not celebrate the Jewish holiday of the Day of Atonement (Hebrew Yom Kippur). Although the Day of Atonement has theological significance in the New Testament, where the Letter to the Hebrews views the death of Christ as a completion once and for all of the Atonement sacrifice. The New Testament refers to the Jewish Day of Atonement in Acts 27:9, but does not show Christians celebrating it.
Assuming an apostolic practice of observing Yom Kippur, a small number of evangelical Christians observe it today. Roderick C. Meredith, leader of the Living Church of God, believes that the Day of Atonement "pictures the binding of Satan at the beginning of the Millennium and the world becoming at one with God." Many groups affiliated with Messianic Judaism have provided instruction describing the evangelical significance for observance of this day.
Feast of Tabernacles
During his ministry Jesus observed the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles (or Festival of Booths, Hebrew Sukkot) in John 7:1-52, but the feast does not occur again in the New Testament and Christians traditionally make no observance of this feast.
The Szekler Sabbatarians of Transylvania, followers of unitarian nobleman András Eőssi, were one of the few Christian groups to observe Jewish holidays in the pre-modern era. A history by Samuel Kohn, chief Rabbi of Budapest (Sabbatarians in Transylvania, 1894) notes that Sabbatarians in Transylvania observed the Feast of Tabernacles in the early 17th century. The group were later absorbed into Judaism during the 1930s.
The Feast of Tabernacles was formally celebrated in 1900 by the Southern Baptist's at Falls Creek Encampment. There are pictures of the original Falls Creek Tabernacle with the blowing of the shofar to call to service. It was also celebrated heavily among those in the south, know as Bush Arbors, as late as the 1960's. From this movement came the history of tent revivals, which birthed the world-wide evangelist Billy Graham.
Today, The Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles or SUKKOT is celebrated by a growing number of groups, including Messianic Jews, and the W.W.J.D. MOVEMENT. Also among those who celebrate this holy day are churches affiliated with Armstrongism or the Apollo Quiboloy's 'Kingdom of Jesus Christ' church in the Philippines, as well as the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ). They cite God's and the prophets' injunctions in the Old Testament that the Israelites observe the holiday, and accounts in the New Testament of how Jesus and his apostles kept this commandment.
Criticism of Christian observance of Jewish holidays
4th century theologian John Chrysostom said, "The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now."
Such a strong expression of this view, especially if associated with Anti-Judaism, is not common in the contemporary church. However, it is an exaggeration to claim that Christians in general tend to adopt and adapt Jewish festivals.
- The United Church of God
- The Feast of Trumpets at the Restored Church of God website.
- Rosh Hashanah: The Start of the Jewish New Year
- McConkie, Promised Messiah, 432-37; Read, "Symbols of the Harvest," 35-36.
- F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 506.
- "As the Day of Atonement was over, navigation was considered dangerous due to possible winter storms"
- Roderick C. Meredith, The Holy Days—God's Master Plan at www.tomorrowsworld.org.
- The Feast of Tabernacles at the Restored Church of God website.
- From the Fringe to the Fold (Armstrongism),
- Worldwide Church of God and the Feast of the Tabernacles
- Davao sect draws top politicos (Kingdom of Jesus Christ)
- International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem: About the Feast
- "Today there are still Christians faithfully observing the same festivals Christ kept. These annual occasions were instituted to keep God's people, in all ages, aware of the key aspects of the mission and work of the true Messiah." Good News magazine, September/October 1997
- John Chrysostom, Homily 1 in Adversus Judaeos
- Lieske, Bruce J. "Jewish Feasts in Gentile Congregations" http://jewsforjesus.org/publications/lieske/