Question: Regarding your article on replacement theology and Israel in the Q&A of June 2007, since our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and all His disciples kept the Jewish festivals (“With fervent desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer” - Luke:22:15); Paul commands “keep the feast” (1 Corinthians:5:7-8); he hurried to Jerusalem to celebrate another Jewish holiday (Acts:20:16); he told the Colossians that the Jewish festivals were a shadow of the Messiah, good reason to celebrate them (Colossians:2:16-17); the Jewish festivals are “statutes forever” (Leviticus:23:14); and at the last supper Christ declared that He would someday drink the passover cup anew with His followers in His Father’s Kingdom (Matthew:26:29; Mark:14:25); and since neither God nor Jesus makes any distinction between Christian Jews or Gentiles regarding these festivals, could you please explain your statement: “...for a Gentile to keep those [Jewish] feasts today would be a fraud.”
You state that Jewish feasts “are specifically for Jews to keep...,” but I fail to find any Scripture that so states or even so implies. Do you mean that Jesus’s statement at the Last Supper about drinking the cup anew with His followers in His Father’s kingdom only applied to Jewish followers...? I still don’t see where observing the Jewish holidays and feasts is prohibited in the scriptures. Are you saying that it’s ok for Jewish Christians to celebrate Jewish festivals, but not for Gentile Christians to do so? Please explain.
Response: You read your own ideas into Matthew:26:29 and Mark:14:25. Jesus did not say “Passover Cup” but “fruit of the vine” as also in Luke:22:18. Most of your misunderstanding comes from failing to recognize that the Last Supper was not the Jewish Passover but a new remembrance of Himself that Christ inaugurated for the church: it was not in memory of deliverance from Egypt but the deliverance “the Lamb of God” (Jn:1:29) who is “Christ our passover” (1 Cor:5:7) would effect on the Cross, the lamb foretold in Exodus:12:6 that the “whole assembly of the congregation of Israel [would] kill...in the evening.” That is why He called it “this passover” (Lk 22:15)—to distinguish the Old Testament picture from the New Testament reality.
When Paul said “let us keep the feast,” he was not referring to the Jewish Passover but to “this passover” involving “Christ our passover” in remembrance of Himself that Christ initiated at the Last Supper, which was not the Jewish Passover. That idea is a grave misunderstanding. We’ve been over this before in previous TBCs, but here it is again.
John:13:1 says the Last Supper was “before the feast of the Passover.” Had it been the Passover, no one would have thought that Judas went out to buy anything (13:29), for all stores would have been closed on the “high Sabbath” that began the seven-day feast with the Passover supper. Furthermore, the Last Supper couldn’t have been the Jewish Passover because the next morning the rabbis hadn’t yet eaten the Passover (Jn:18:28), and later, that “morning after,” it was still “the preparation of the passover” (19:14).
There was no Passover lamb at the Last Supper because the lambs were not slain until the following afternoon—when Christ was dying on the Cross, as it had to be in fulfillment of Scripture. Christ’s “this do in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19; 1 Cor:11:25) was not a command for Christians to keep the Jewish Passover with a new meaning. Read Exodus 12 again. There is no way the Passover could be given a new meaning for Christians (Jews and Gentiles) while retaining its primary meaning for Jews—and why should it? Never was it said that the wine drunk at the Passover was a symbol of blood, either of the Passover lamb’s or of Christ’s. Christ inaugurated something entirely new, unrelated (except symbolically) to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.
The gospel has nothing to do with keeping Jewish feasts. Though symbolic of much that pertains to the gospel, the feasts are part of the law of Moses, not to be observed by Christians (Acts:15:24-29). They provide pictures of Christ and the gospel but are primarily and eternally related to Israel, the Promised Land, and the coming Messianic kingdom—not to the church. Gentile believers on Christ have no reason to, as Paul put it, go back “to the weak and beggarly elements” (Gal:4:9) of the law.
The Passover was always a remembrance specifically for Jewish persons of the fact that God miraculously delivered their ancestors from Egypt. Those who keep it today (only Jews do, not Arabs or “Palestinians”) prove to the world their descent from those God delivered from Egypt and led into the Promised Land. That land belongs to Jews, not to those who fraudulently claim to be descended from the original “Palestinians” and accuse Jews of occupying their land. It would destroy the proof and change the meaning for Gentiles to keep the Jewish Passover, which does not pertain to them at all!