JEWISH CEREMONIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT?

Some Adventists take the following sentence from Ellen White from the book Patriarchs and Prophets, where she wrote that it would be good for us to practice the Feast of Tabernacles, and use it as an argument that Jewish holidays in the Old Testament were not abolished, and that their literal observance is our obligation today:

  • “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. 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.“ {Ellen White: PP, 540.6}

Is it true that God expects us to live in huts for seven days these days, which is one of the characteristics of this holiday? The principle of every point of belief is all or nothing. We cannot take a single sentence out of context to defend our views. When we take Ellen White’s other quotes on the subject into consideration, we can see that her statement was symbolic. Through her prophetic statements, we can understand what the Bible tells us on this topic. Due to fear of persecution by the Jews, Christian converts made a compromise to keep the ceremonial Old Testament law, but this was directly against God’s will. 

In the quotes below, we can read the statements of Ellen White, that the Apostle Paul, through concessions and compromises, drew on Himself the WRATH of GOD. God did not give the Apostle Paul the authority to take a step back toward the Old Testament ceremonies.

  • “The brethren hoped that by this act Paul might give a decisive contradiction of the false reports concerning him. But while James assured Paul that the decision of the former council (Acts 15) concerning the Gentile converts and the ceremonial law still held good, the advice given was not consistent with that decision which had also been sanctioned by the holy Spirit. The Spirit of God did not prompt this advice. It was the fruit of cowardice. By non-conformity to the ceremonial law, Christians would bring upon themselves the hatred of the unbelieving Jews, and expose themselves to severe persecution.“ {Ellen White: The Sketches From The Life of Paul, p. 212.1} 
  • “The disciples themselves yet cherished a regard for the ceremonial law, and were too willing to make concessions, hoping by so doing to gain the confidence of their countrymen, remove their prejudice, and win them to faith in Christ as the world’s Redeemer. Pauls great object in visiting Jerusalem was to conciliate the church of Palestine. So long as they continued to cherish prejudice against him, they were constantly working to counteract his influence. He felt that if he could by any lawful concession on his part win them to the truth, he would remove a very great obstacle to the success of the gospel in other places. But he was not authorised of God to concede so much as they had asked. This concession was not in harmony with his teachings, nor with the firm integrity of his character. His advisers were not infallible. Though some of these men wrote under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, yet when not under its direct influence they sometimes erred. It will be remembered that on one occasion Paul withstood Peter to the face because he was acting a double part. When we consider Paul’s great desire to be in harmony with his brethren, his tenderness of spirit toward the weak in faith, his reverence for the apostles who had been with Christ, and for James, the brother of the Lord, and his purpose to become all things to all men as far as he could do this and not sacrifice principle,—when we consider all this, it is less surprising that he was constrained to deviate from his firm, decided course of action. But instead of accomplishing the desired object, these efforts for conciliation only precipitated the crisis, hastened the predicted sufferings of Paul, separated him from his brethren in his labors, deprived the church of one of its strongest pillars, and brought sorrow to Christian hearts in every land.“ {Ellen White: The Sketches From The Life of Paul, p. 212-214.1} 
  • “When we think of Pauls great desire to be in harmony with other believers, his tenderness toward those who were weak in faith, and his deep respect for the apostles who had been with Christ, it is less surprising that he felt it necessary to depart from the firm course he had followed up to then. But his efforts to satisfy others’ concerns only brought on his predicted sufferings more quickly, separated him from the other believers, and deprived the church of one of its strongest pillars.“ {Ellen White, Unlikely Leaders, p.148.1,2}
  • “Many of the Jews who had accepted the gospel still cherished a regard for the ceremonial law and were only too willing to make unwise concessions, hoping thus to gain the confidence of their countrymen, to remove their prejudice, and to win them to faith in Christ as the world’s Redeemer. Paul realised that so long as many of the leading members of the church at Jerusalem should continue to cherish prejudice against him, they would work constantly to counteract his influence. He felt that if by any reasonable concession he could win them to the truth he would remove a great obstacle to the success of the gospel in other places. But he was not authorized of God to concede as much as they asked.“ {Ellen White: The Acts of the Apostles 1911. p. 405.} 
  • “The ceremonial law was thus given to Moses, and by him written in a book. But the law of Ten Commandments spoken from Sinai had been written by God Himself on the tables of stone, and was sacredly preserved in the ark. There are many who try to blend these two systems, using the texts that speak of the ceremonial law to prove that the moral law has been abolished; but this is a perversion of the Scriptures. The distinction between the two systems is broad and clear. The ceremonial system was made up of symbols pointing to Christ, to His sacrifice and His priesthood. 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.“ {Ellen White: Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 364.3} 

Ceremonial holidays pointed to the history or customs of the Jewish PEOPLE, as well as to Jesus’ first coming and sacrifice, and as such, they lost their function after Jesus’ death. Their literal attitude after that represents the rejection of Jesus ’sacrifice for us! By keeping the Old Testament holidays, the Jews show that the Messiah is yet to come, because so far “He has not come, nor has He died.” God has given us the freedom to choose or reject Christ. Using a few less comprehensible quotes and verses as “evidence” is analogous to interpreting the story of Abraham’s lap as a “confirmation” of life after death.

The Christians who keep these holidays thus replace our Saviour with the shadows that only announced Him. Also, the claims that we should keep holidays that according to that interpretation indicate a heavenly future is incorrect, because NONE of the old Adventists, not even Ellen White, held ANY Jewish holiday, although she wrote in 1892 that we now have a complete truth! One parallel: At the beginning of the 20th century, a group of believers emerged in the Adventist church who began to hold Old Testament rituals, and since they did not meet with the approval of Ellen White and the church, they left the Adventist church together!

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