Did God intend for Jews and Christians to have different religions? Did Jesus Christ come to this earth to set up an entirely new religion or was He a continuation of what God had already been doing since the beginning of time? Why do Christians today practice holidays and traditions that are completely different from the holidays and the traditions that the early apostles practiced?
These are very hard and yet very important questions. The reality is that Christianity has gotten very much away from the faith of the first Christians, and the vast majority of churchgoers today do not even realize this.
The truth is that the first Christians kept Sabbath, the kept New Moon and they kept the Festivals. But unfortunately, the leadership of the early church was scattered to the four winds by the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and from that time forward Christianity began to lose it’s Jewish roots. The Jews who had not received Christ as the Messiah went their own way, and Christianity started to become increasingly corrupted by the pagan world of that day, especially after the emperor Constantine legalized (and took much control over) the institutional Christian church in the 4th century.
As Christians, we realize that the majority of the Jews made a grave error by rejecting their Messiah. Indeed every today, most Jews still do not realize that Yahshua (Jesus) is the Messiah that was promised throughout the Scriptures.
However, the vast majority of Christians do not realize that they are disobeying God’s commands and Christ’s specific instructions by not keeping God’s covenant.
But now, on the very edge of the last days, God is raising up a people who now only have the testimony of Yahshua (Jesus) but who also keep the commandments of God. According to Revelation 12:17 and 14:12, these are the things that will characterize the “remnant” in the last days.
But most Christians react very negatively when you try to tell them this.
After all, they argue, can’t we just ignore the commandments of the “Old Testament” now?
Didn’t Yahshua (Jesus) come to set us free from the curse of the Law?
And the answer is, yes, those who have put their faith in the Messiah are free from “the curse of the Law”.
But what exactly is the curse of the Law?
Was it that God cursed the people of Israel by making them follow the Law?
Was that the curse?
That they had to obey His Law?
That would be saying that the Law is a curse, which would only contradict about 1000 scriptures.
No, the truth is that the curse of the Law was not that the people of Israel had to follow it, but rather the curse was that God has given them this great, wonderful, magnificent Law, but none of them could follow it and therefore the Law made all of them guilty.
You see, that is why the Messiah had to come.
He has to come to pay the penalty for our sins and to free us from that curse.
As the Scriptures say, the Law is a school teacher that brings us to the Messiah.
But Yahshua (Jesus) did not do away with the Law.
Rather, He always intended for us to keep God’s Law.
You don’t believe this?
Just read the words of Yahshua (Jesus) for yourself in Matthew 5:17-19…..
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
You see, the vast majority of the time that He was on earth, Yahshua (Jesus) spoke to the people in puzzles and riddles.
However, there were a few times when He was making a point of such absolute importance that He took the time to very slowly and very clearly explain precisely what He meant.
You will notice in the passage above that He makes the exact same point three times in a row.
In each and every sentence in that passage He very clearly makes the point that His followers are to keep the Law.
In fact, that statement by Yahshua (Jesus) in verse 19 is so absolutely crystal clear that it is amazing that so many of us missed it for so many years.
Is there any other explanation for verse 19 than that we are supposed to keep the Law?
Do you read it differently?
Does it not seem crystal clear?
But what about the apostle Paul?
Did he not preach against the Law?
Actually, no…..he did not.
Rather, the apostle Paul preached very strongly against those who said that Christians had to be circumcised or had to follow certain aspects of the Law in order to be saved.
That is what the whole book of Galatians is all about. Some teachers had come in to that church and were teaching them that in order to be saved, they not only needed Jesus, but they also had to be circumcised.
Can you imagine those services?
“Come on up and get saved – we’ve got a knife right here and we’ll take care of you today.”
Of course the apostle Paul preached very strongly against that.
That truth is that we are saved through faith in Christ alone, but that does not mean that we throw out all of God’s commandments.
As we will see, the apostle Paul certainly understood this distinction very clearly.
In Romans chapter 3, the apostle Paul tells us very clearly that salvation is through faith in the Messiah apart from the Law:
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Then later on in Romans chapter 3 the apostle Paul tells us that our faith in Christ in no way nullifies the Law:
Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
So according to the apostle Paul, does our faith in Christ nullify the Law?
Hopefully you can see that the answer is clearly no.
In fact, if Paul believed that Christians should not follow the Law anymore, then why did he keep the Law even to the last days of his life?
Would that not make him a tremendous hypocrite?
The reality is that Paul and all the other early apostles kept the Law and the book of Acts clearly reveals this fact.
Just consider the following scriptures…..
When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.
Then Paul made his defense: “I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar.”
It is also important to keep in mind that Yahshua (Jesus) observed the Law when He was on this earth the first time and the scriptures tell us that the whole world will be observing it after He returns.
Now, if Yahshua (Jesus) intended to do away with the Biblical festivals, then why is He going to be implementing them when He returns?
At the beginning of Zechariah chapter 14, it describes the return of Yahshua (Jesus) to this earth, and then later in that same chapter it describes how Yahshua (Jesus) will REQUIRE the whole earth to observe the Feast of Tabernacles once He has established His kingdom.
Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
Most Christians do not ever think much about what life will be like during the 1000 year reign of the Messiah. But the scriptures do actually have quite a bit to say about it.
One of the most neglected parts of the Bible is the end of the book of Ezekiel. In chapters 40 to 48, it actually describe what life will be like when Yahshua (Jesus) comes back and reigns from Jerusalem.
So what will life be like then?
Well, Ezekiel tells us that Sabbath, New Moon and Passover will all be celebrated during the reign of the Messiah.
Just consider these passages…..
“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: The gate of the inner court facing east is to be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day and on the day of the New Moon it is to be opened. The prince is to enter from the outside through the portico of the gateway and stand by the gatepost. The priests are to sacrifice his burnt offering and his fellowship offerings. He is to worship at the threshold of the gateway and then go out, but the gate will not be shut until evening. On the Sabbaths and New Moons the people of the land are to worship in the presence of the LORD at the entrance to that gateway.”
“It will be the duty of the prince to provide the burnt offerings, grain offerings and drink offerings at the festivals, the New Moons and the Sabbaths—at all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel. He will provide the sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to make atonement for the house of Israel.”
“In the first month on the fourteenth day you are to observe the Passover, a feast lasting seven days, during which you shall eat bread made without yeast.”
In addition, the prophet Isaiah tells us that Sabbath and the New Moon will be celebrated forever and ever…..
“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD. ”
So will the celebration of the Sabbath and the New Moon ever end?
You see, the truth of the matter is that the Lord instituted the Sabbath on the 7th day of creation, and Isaiah tells us that we will be celebrating the Sabbath forever and ever. Nowhere in the scriptures does the Lord ever instruct us that the Sabbath is now to be celebrated on Sunday.
For centuries, most Christians (but not all) were blinded to these things. But now the Lord God is raising up a people who will not only have the testimony of Yahshua but that will also keep the commandments of God.
The remnant of the last days described in Revelation 12:17 and Revelation 14:12 is truly arising.