What day to Celebrate
I wrote this two years back ago and posted it on Facebook on my birthday. With Passover approaching I thought I would share it again.
Recently I made a post on Facebook questioning why we celebrate a holiday (easter) at a different time than Passover if we know that Jesus died at Passover time. Needless to say, it generated some response. Some was positive, some was accusing, and some felt that I was criticizing them because they do not participate in the Jewish feasts and that I don’t see their hearts as being right with God. I want to clarify that I am not trying to come across boastful or proud of what I have learned. I am simply trying to present a side that has been hidden for many years. I am trying to raise questions about why we do what we do, and believe we must ask ourselves, is it really in the Word of God? We have to ask questions. Jesus himself said, ““Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 TLV
I’m not trying to judge anyone, I’m simply asking you to ask…
I know what I say will always have people who disagree. That’s ok with me. However, I want to share what I am learning.
One of the people who responded used the Bible verse in Romans where it states:
“One person esteems one day over another while another judges every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes that day does so to the Lord. The one who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and the one who abstains, abstains to the Lord, and he gives thanks to God.” Romans 14:5-6 TLV
I want to bring some clarity to this. Once the Jewish culture of the day is understood it becomes clear why Paul would write this. Remember, most of the Bible was written to Jewish people. All of these people celebrated the Jewish festivals and the Hebrew calendar. Understanding how that calendar operates is critical in understanding why the authors wrote what they did.
The Jewish calendar follows the cycle of the moon. When God created the earth He said, there was evening and there was morning. The Jewish day actually begins at sundown. Believe it or not, this changes how holidays work. They always begin at sundown the night before. They end at sundown the next day.
The holidays given are also based on the lunar cycle. The Jewish priests would look for the new moon in the sky to know when the new month would begin, which then set the date for the festivals God ordained. As we all know, sometimes there are clouds in the sky and the new moon is not always seen on the first day it appears. This would cause confusion among the different priests and rabbis about when the festival should be observed. And, naturally, this also caused division among the people. Sometimes they celebrated a feast twice “just in case they messed up the day.”
When Paul was addressing the issue of days, and some people esteeming one day above another, he was simply telling them, “It doesn’t matter what day you celebrate the festival, just celebrate it.” Stop bickering about when it happens, but realize that you are doing this for the Lord.
Paul was NOT giving them the opportunity to participate in pagan festivals that were created by man. He was not giving them the okay to celebrate whenever they wanted. There was still a calendar and festival schedule they were to adhere too. It was clearly spoken in the Torah that they were not to take part of anything attached to pagan worship. He was simply telling them to celebrate the feasts and not worry about the day if they missed a new moon, but to make sure their hearts were right before God when they did celebrate.
Paul understands that we are all on a journey and learning different ways. I understand that as well. I did not give up everything right away. God has me on a journey and has gradually revealed things to me. Paul knew that these young believers, especially those who came from the Gentile practices, could not understand the ways of the Jews right away. He was telling the Jews, work with them. Help them see and understand the importance of these holidays, but give them a break while they are learning. So, as God reveals things to Todd and I, we want to share them just like Paul did. We understand that not everyone will grasp it right away, but we want to bring some hidden things to light. Some will want to understand, others won’t. That’s part of the journey.
Now, the question comes in, so what about easter? My personal belief is that it is a pagan holiday and was started by man to remove anything Jewish from Christianity. Man believed that the Jews killed Jesus. Man, seeing the division and quarreling among the Jews about what day to celebrate the festival, decided that the Jews hearts were hard and came up with a day to “settle the matter.” The name man chose was based on a pagan goddess of fertility and totally a different day than the day our Lord resurrected. Because of pressure from those leading the church of the day to separate oneself from anything that had to do with the Jews, the Jewish holidays and festivals became more and more obsolete.
So, back to the Scripture about what day to celebrate the festival. Does it give us the liberty to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus whenever we want? To a certain degree, yes… Paul is making it clear that it’s okay if you miss the day and we shouldn’t argue about when it happens because maybe we missed the new moon cycle. However, I don’t believe that Paul was giving the liberty to celebrate it with pagan observances attached to it, and he still would have expected them to observe it as Passover (or Sukkot, or Pentecost).
If the church chose to celebrate our Lord’s death, burial and resurrection on the same day (right now we have three - the Catholic and Protestant easter, the Orthodox easter and Passover), basing it on what Scriptures tell us, imagine the impact we would have. We wonder why people are walking away from religion, it’s because we’ve made it confusing. One denomination says one thing, one says another… If we returned to what the Bible says and celebrate the anniversary of the day the resurrection occurred, I think it would have a greater impact in our world.
Today also happens to be my birthday. Yes, I can celebrate aspects of my birthday on a different day (on a special vacation, or with family who cannot be with me on the actual day), but as we all know, it is definitely more meaningful when the celebration occurs on the day I was born. It’s the same with a wedding anniversary. I appreciate the remembrance when it occurs on the day it occurred. How much more would it mean to our Lord if we chose to celebrate on the anniversary of His death, burial and resurrection?
I’m not trying to boast that I have all the answers. I’m just attempting to bring things to light that have been hidden. We all have choices to make as to how we respond. I believe we all must go the Lord and ask Him.