In this article I'd like to
discuss some thoughts and ideas on some miscellaneous subjects relating to God's
days that are rarely discussed amongst God's people.
The six subjects that I'd like to cover in this paper are the following :-
• To work or not to work
on the day part of Passover (Nisan 14)?
• Should we abstain from eating leaven on
Passover (Nisan 14)?
• The wavesheaf offering
• Should we have services or Bible studies
on each night of Unleavened Bread?
• Are the Feasts of Unleavened Bread and
Pentecost pilgrimage feasts?
• New moons
Before I offer some thoughts and musings on each of these topics I'd like to lay
a little groundwork by covering some principles we need to keep in mind as we go
through these topics.
Over and Above
In Luke 17:7-10 Jesus gave a parable
in which He said:
“And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him
when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and sit down to eat'? But will
he not rather say to him, 'Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself
and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink'?
Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I
think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are
commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to
Generally we look on this parable of the unprofitable servant as teaching us the
principle of having a good work ethic in our jobs but we should look at it in a
broader way in relation to our obedience to God.
There are those things which are commanded of us to do – what Jesus refers to
in the parable as our duty. Jesus tells us that we should have a heart that
wants to do more than what is simply required of us. We are not merely to keep
the Ten Commandments but go over and above in doing good to others and bear more
of the fruits of the Spirit.
In 1 John 3:22 we read: “And whatever we ask we receive from Him,
because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in
God's preferences when it comes to those things that He steers us to do
personally (eg. guiding us to a certain profession or to a particular person to
marry) are not specifically recorded in the scriptures. There are paths that are
open to us that would please God if we were to choose them.
There are many things in His will for us that are pleasing to Him that are not
specifically recorded in scripture. These things are not a matter of right and
wrong pe see but they are still things that are also God's will and that God
would be pleased with if we were to choose them. Choosing to do those things is
one way that we can go over and above in our obedience to Him.
Remember God is our Father. As parents there are things that we require of our
children to do. They don't have to do more but don't we desire, if we are
parents, for them to go over and above and do things that please us that aren't
required of them to do? When they do good things for us and go over and above it
shows a depth of love that they have for us. How much that they do above what is
required is often a good gauge as to how much they love us and an indicator of
their enthusiasm to please us.
This is very much the case when it comes to how God looks on us. He's very
interested in what's in our hearts and our attitude towards to doing things in
general that are over and above what is required of us show what's in our
One example of this is are offerings. What is required of us is our tenth to God
and to give offerings on the Holy Days (Malachi 3:8-10). We are required
to give a tenth to God of our increase (Leviticus 27:30) and to give an
offering on the Holy Days though the amount we are to give on the Holy Days is
completely up to us (Deuteronomy 16:16-17). God is pleased with and
desires us to give more offerings over and above that but He leaves that up to
us (2 Corinthians 9:6).
Rabbi Miller, a Messianic Jew, encourages messianics and christians when it
comes to the Torah, the laws of the first five books of the Bible, to focus on
what you can do and not on what you can't do in the Torah. When people say,
“Do you have to do that?” in a negative way about some of the more odd
statutes and judgments he says to them in an enthusiastic tone, “No, I GET to
We should keep this in mind when it comes to these topics relating to God's
days. There may not be a requirement to do these things but should we not WANT
to do them as we are able to do them even if circumstances prevent us from doing
so? Sometimes we're not always able to or they are a lot more inconvenient at
some times than other times.
In the church we should foster a positive atmosphere that encourages the
brethren to go and above in the keeping of His laws and His days in a balanced
way. For those of us who are eager to do some of these things above what is
required of us we also need to be careful not to look down on the actions of
others who may not want to do more than what is clearly required.
When Is A Holy Day Not A Holy Day?
That sounds like an odd question doesn't it? When
is a holy day not a holy day? Have you ever thought it a bit odd that what is
regarded as the holiest and most sober festival of all is not on a sabbath day?
The Passover service is not held on a High Day or annual sabbath.
Jews consider Yom Kippor (the Day of Atonement) as the Highest of the high days.
They view Atonement the way that we in the church of God view Passover since
they don't see the personal atonement in the meaning of Passover but celebrate
it as Israel's liberation from the death angel and captivity in Egypt.
In Leviticus 23:4-8 we read: “These are the feasts of the Lord,
holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the
fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord's
Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of
Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. On the
first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on
it. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord for seven days. The
seventh day shallbe a holy convocation; you shall do no customary
The Passover is described as a feast and but there is no set requirement to keep
it as a sabbath and not work on it. It's a feast but it's not a sabbath. The
same is true of days two to six of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and days two to
seven of the Feast of Tabernacles. They are ALL God's days but none of them are
sabbaths. This is a point to keep in mind when we get to the subject of new
The fact that Passover (Nisan 14) is not a sabbath and there is no command to
abstain from leaven on that day has been a factor in why historically the Jews
centuries after the original Passover in Hezekiah's time misunderstood the
scriptures and moved the time to kill the Passover lamb from the beginning of
Nisan 14 to the end of Nisan 14 and began eating the lamb at the beginning of
Nisan 15 instead of Nisan 14.
Should we work on the day part of Passover day between the Passover service of
the night before and the First Day of Unleavened Bread? Since the Passover is
such an important night of the year and since what Christ did for us is so
deeply meaningful I would say God would be pleased with us if we didn't work on
that day and reflected and studied more into it. It may not be a requirement but
I'm sure that God would be pleased, if in the spirit of the festival of being
cleansed from sin, we gave that extra focus to it if we were able to.
A similar thing could be said of deleavening before the Passover service and
eating unleavened bread and not eating leavened bread on Nisan 14. It is clearly
not a requirement to abstain until the night of Nisan 15 but since we are
keeping the Passover service with unleavened bread would not God be pleased with
us if, in keeping with the spirit of the festival season of being cleansed from
and coming out of sin, we decided to abstain that extra day (Nisan 14) from this
symbol of sin?
The Wavesheaf Offering
During the Feast of Unleavened Bread the
Israelites commemorated the wave sheaf offering on the first day of the week
that fell during the Feast. In Leviticus 23:10-11 we read: “Speak to
the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I
give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the
firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the
Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest
shall wave it.'”
The wave sheaf was the very first sheaf of wheat that was harvested in Israel
during the early harvest which concluded at the feast of Pentecost seven weeks
later. The first harvest was the smaller of the two annual harvests. Pentecost
is also known as the Feast of Firstfruits. The wave sheaf was the first of the
Those of us in the church are the firstfruits of salvation before the latter
great harvest of souls in the millennium. Christ is called the firstborn from
the dead in Colossians 1:18. In 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 we see that
Christ is the first of the firstfruits and the wave sheaf that was waved at the
very beginning of the early harvest represented Jesus Christ.
The Sabbath before the wave sheaf offering is the memorial of the resurrection
of Jesus Christ who rose near the end of the Sabbath. He rose to heaven and was
accepted as the true wave sheaf offering - the first of the firstfruits - on the
Jesus said to Mary Magdalene after she recognized Him: “Do not cling to Me,
for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them,
'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your
God” (John 20:17).
The scene of being accepted by the Father is dramatically described in vision in
Revelation 4 and 5 by the apostle John. Later on the first day of the
week, after He beamed up to heaven and back and was accepted by God, He allowed
the disciples to touch him (John 20:19-29).
As far as determining when the Feast of
Pentecost is there are actually two different counts. One count is seven weeks
only (49 days) and the other is 50 days.
Pentecost is seven weeks (49 days) FROM the day after the Sabbath when
the wave sheaf was offered (Leviticus 23:15, Deuteronomy 16:9-10)AND
fifty days TO the day after seventh Sabbath – a Sunday (Leviticus
23:16). Remember that Christ was resurrected near the end of the Sabbath AND
He ascended to heaven to be accepted by God the Father on the first day of the
week. That is my opinion of why there are two separate counts to Pentecost.
Despite its dramatic importance in the whole plan of God we do nothing as a
church to commemorate the resurrection and ascension to heaven of Jesus Christ.
When we look at the feast instructions of Leviticus 23 we see through the
wavesheaf offering that God made provision for remembrance of these vitally
Not only do we not have a wavesheaf offering in the church today we don't even
so much have a tradition of a message given on the sabbath in the midst of the
Feast of Unleavened Bread to reflect on the vitally important events of the
resurrection and ascension to heaven of Jesus Christ.
There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the command is to give the sheaf to the
priest to wave it and since there is no priesthood the church does not presume
something that is reserved for the priesthood. This is true in the sense that
there is no command for a minister of the church to do what is told a priest
should do in the scriptures.
If the church wanted to wave the first sheaf or grain to God at the beginning of
the wheat harvest on this day as a tradition would God be pleased with this
tradition or would He think we are presuming to do something that is only
reserved for the priesthood?
An interesting case example of this situation is the example of the
abovementioned Rabbi Miller. Where he is from in Texas, they regularly have
droughts one year in every three. He sought permission from the local grain
co-op to wave the first grain before God on wavesheaf Sunday and in the seven
years that he has been doing it they have not had one drought in that time. God
appears to have put His blessing on Rabbi Miller's efforts with this tradition.
In Leviticus 23:14 God says: “You shall eat neither bread nor parched
grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering
[waved the wavesheaf offering] to your God; itshallbe a
statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” In
principle this is similar to giving thanks and acknowledgment to God before we
sit down to eat dinner following Christ's example to ask a blessing before our
meals (Matthew 26:26-27).
The second reason the church does nothing to commemorate the resurrection and
ascension to heaven of Jesus Christ is probably an over reaction to the way in
which the world's churches celebrate Christ's resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Since God has made provision for remembrance of these vitally important events
with the wavesheaf offering, I feel, at the very least, we should have a message
on the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread to remember the
resurrection of Christ which occurred on that day and all that it means for
It would be good to reflect on the events of the resurrection and ascension to
heaven of Jesus Christ and also reflect on the symbolism of not only the
wavesheaf offering but also the symbolism of the other offerings that were made
along with the wavesheaf offering.
Should we have services or Bible studies
on each night of Unleavened Bread?
During the Feast of Tabernacles we have
services every day, even though there is no such command to do so in Leviticus
23 or elsewhere. The church sees the principle (Deuteronomy 14:22-23)
that the Feast of Tabernacles is a time to intensively learn from God's word and
so has services every day. [As an aside, most church members generally are quite
unfamiliar with the fact that this feast is also called the Feast of Ingathering
in scripture (Exodus 23:16, 34:22)].
Since there is no command to have services every day of the Feast of Tabernacles
and yet we have services every day what about doing something similar as a
tradition for the Feast of Unleavened Bread? When you realize the symbolism of
the Feast of Unleavened Bread is to come out of this world and to be cleansed of
and overcome sin there is even stronger reason by principle to have such a
tradition as compared to Tabernacles.
The church does not go away as a group to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread as
we do Tabernacles. Most church members are usually working during the non-sabbath
days of Unleavened Bread but evenings are free for most members. My suggestion
is that there, at least, be bible studies each night of Unleavened Bread so
members can intensively learn from God's word to help them grow and overcome.
We have to eat unleavened bread every day - seven days shall you eat it (Exodus
12:15). This teaches us our need to come to God seeking His help and power
every day and be renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). Seven is the
number of completeness, teaching us that we need to put sin out of our lives
If we have to take in Christ symbolically for every day of unleavened bread then
we should be intensely studying and learning from His word EVERY day of the
Feast of Unleavened Bread. The church, I feel, should support this by offering
Bible studies every night of the Feast of Unleavened Bread just as we have the
tradition of services each day of Tabernacles.
Are the Feasts of Unleavened Bread and
The meaning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is to come out of the world and
come out of and completely overcome sin. The first night of this feast we keep
as a celebration called the “Night to Be Much Remembered”. In Exodus
12:42 God says: “It is a night of solemn observance to the Lord for
bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the Lord, a
solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their
generations.” This event was exactly 430 years to the day (Exodus 12:40-41)
that Abraham came out of Ur (symbolizing the world) and made his way towards
For Israel the celebration this night commemorated the coming out of Egypt in
Moses' day. For the christian it celebrates coming out of this world and sin.
Far too many Night to Be's I've been to in years past it became just another
dinner party without any real discussion of the Bible or the meaning of the
night. Recently things have improved in that department. One thing that I think
would be a great tradition for the Night to Be Much Remembered is to share our
stories of how God called us out of the world and converted us. The stories of
how we came into the church and into the Truth are some of the most fascinating
and encouraging stories we can share with one another.
Since the Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures us coming out of the world the
question could be asked why don't we “come out of the world” in the same way
we do at the Feast of Tabernacles as a pilgrimage (travel away) feast?
From the years 1955 to 1965 the Worldwide (then Radio) Church of God did, in
fact, keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the same way that we keep the Feast
of Tabernacles today as a pilgrimage or travel-away feast.
There is a clear command to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in temporary dwellings
in Leviticus 23:39-42. There is no such command regarding Unleavened
Bread or Passover. This was the reason given to discontinue the practice of
keeping those festivals as pilgrimage feasts.
One would also suspect economic factors may have played an important part in the
decision. Where I live in Australia we have four weeks annual leave. In America
the standard annual leave is two weeks and this makes asking time off for an
extra week at Unleavened Bread time more difficult.
In Exodus 23:14 God says: “Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in
the year.” The Hebrew word that is used for “times” here is “regel”.
Strong's gives the meaning of “regel” as the following: “From H7270; a foot
(as used in walking); by implication a step; by euphemism the pudenda:
- X be able to endure, X according as, X after, X coming, X follow,
([broken-]) foot ([-ed, -stool]), X great toe, X haunt, X journey, leg, +
The same phrase “three times in the year” is also found in Exodus 23:17,
34:23 and Deuteronomy 16:16. In those verses the word “times” is
translated from the Hebrew “pa'am”. Strongs says this about that word:
“From H6470; a stroke, literally or figuratively (in various
applications): - anvil, corner, foot (-step), going, [hundred-] fold, X
now, (this) + once, order, rank, step, + thrice, [often-], second, this, two)
time (-s), twice, wheel.”
We are told to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in the place where God chooses to
place His name in Deuteronomy 16:13-15. We generally look at that phrase
“the place God chooses to place His name” as implying a place we are
required to travel to. This same phrase is used of Pentecost a few verses
In Deuteronomy 16:10-11 we read: “Then you shall keep the Feast of
Weeks to the Lord your God…You shall rejoice before the Lord your God…at the
place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide.” The same is
said of the Passover and Unleavened Bread season in Deuteronomy 16:6-7.
The commands to keep a feast at three times a year at Unleavened Bread
(inclusive of Passover), Pentecost and Tabernacles (inclusive of Last Great Day)
are given in Exodus 23 and 34 and Deuteronomy 16. Trumpets and Atonement
are not mentioned at all in these feast command chapters. The only place we have
a complete record of the feast days is in Leviticus 23. Trumpets and
Atonement were not harvest festivals and no travel away was associated with
Jesus Christ, our example, journeyed to Jerusalem each year to keep the Passover
(Luke 2:40, John 2:13). The Feast of Passover / Unleavened Bread was just
as big a festival as Tabernacles that was kept in Jerusalem by people all over
Israel in ancient Israel. We read of great Passover / Unleavened Bread festivals
kept in Hezekiah's day in 2 Chronicles 29 and 30 and in Josiah's day in 2
Chronicles 34 and 35. They weren't minor celebrations compared to
The Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70. Jesus knew the hour would come when worship
of God at His feast times would be at places other than Jerusalem (John
4:21-24). The place is not as important as worshiping God in Spirit and in
Truth. The New Testament Church kept the feasts in localized areas (Acts
Whether we should keep the feasts of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost as
pilgrimage feasts is certainly not crystal clear in the scriptures though, in my
humble opinion the balance of evidence appears to weigh in favour of it.
Regardless of whether they should be or not, I do suspect in the World Tomorrow
that they will be kept in such a way when all people will be worshipping God and
there won't be the economic pressures to hinder such observance.
In the meantime I'm sure God would be pleased with our efforts individually, if
it isn't too inconvenient to do so, if we personally get away from our regular
occupations that week and focus more on what the Feast of Unleavened Bread is
all about. It certainly isn't a clear command to do so but if we are able to go
over and above in this way then God would be honoured with our efforts and bless
In Colossians 2:16-17 the apostle Paul to
the primarily Gentile church at Colosse tells them to not let anyone hassle them
about the way that they observed the sabbath, new moons and festivals and then
he goes on to say that these "are a shadow of things to come."
The sabbath and the annual feasts (particularly the latter feast days) picture
future events in the plan of God when God will intervene in world events and
bring His kingdom to the earth. There is great symbolism to the sabbath, the new
moons and the festivals of God.
We are told in Genesis 1:14 that God set the sun and moon in the heavens
to divide time marking out when we keep the new moon and festivals.
What is the symbolism behind the new moons? Also, why start the month at the new
moon and not the full moon which might, at first, seem more logical given it is
easier to see?
In the church we have often taught the analogy that the Sun can be compared to
God (Malachi 4:2) while the moon, which has no light of its own but can
radiate a lot of the Sun's light, can be compared to the church.
If we follow that analogy further then the new moon would symbolize the time
when those of us in the church were in darkness without God. Just as over the
course of the month the moon takes on more and more of the brightness of the
Sun, we too, in our christian walk must take on more and more of the light of
God's word and character.
The lesson of this analogy helps to explain why God starts the month at the
darkest period (new moon) and also why God's day starts at sunset (Genesis
1:5, 8, Leviticus 23:32) with the darkest part (night) before the daylight
On the new moon two silver trumpets were blown in ancient Israel (Numbers
10:10). The trumpets are a symbol of alarm and war (Numbers 10:9).
The new moons are never listed as sabbaths in the Bible and there is no clear
directive stating the new moons are a holy convocation. The closest thing to it
is that Israel, when they were on the move in the wilderness, would assemble at
the tent of meeting when they heard the trumpets being blown (Numbers 10:3). It's
a line ball call as to whether this commanded assembly of the days of Israel in
the wilderness still applies today though the church has officially declared it
The combined expression “sabbaths, new moons and feasts” is used a number of
times in the scriptures such as in 1 Chronicles 23:31, 2 Chronicles 2:4,
8:13, 2 Chronicles 31:3 and Nehemiah 10:33. This was mostly in connection to
the offerings which included offerings given on the New Moon.
Even though the primarily Gentile Colossian church wouldn't have kept the
new moon as a sabbath, it appears as if they were still carrying on the Jewish
tradition of assembling together on the night of the new moon (Colossians
2:16-17), though officially they are never referred to as holy convocations.
Having a bible study or service on the night of the new moon is a tradition that
is kept right throughout almost all of Judaism and the Messianic Jewish
community (those Jews who embrace Christ as Saviour and believe in the New
Testament as also part of the Bible).
This tradition will gain a resurgence in the millennium (Isaiah 66:23)
when the millennial Temple is built.
We read of this resurgence of the worshipping on the new moons at the millennial
Temple in Ezekiel 46:1-3:
“Thus says the Lord God: 'The gateway of the inner court that faces toward
the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be
opened, and on the day of the New Moon it shall be opened. The prince shall
enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway from the outside, and stand by the
gatepost. The priests shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings.
He shall worship at the threshold of the gate. Then he shall go out, but the
gate shall not be shut until evening. Likewise the people of the land shall
worship at the entrance to this gateway before the Lord on the Sabbaths and the
Note that the new moons are separated from the Sabbaths – both weekly and
plural. The new moon is technically not a sabbath where one is commanded to rest
from one's occupational work.
The new moon is a regular reminder to us and a good time to reflect on the time
when we were in darkness without God and when we answered the call (symbolized
by the trumpet) that alarmed us of our sins and our need for God's light in our
It reminds us of the need to rededicate ourselves to taking on more and more of
the light of God's word and character in our christian walk just as moon gets
brighter as it takes on more of the Sun's light over the course of the month.
Nelson's New Illustrated Bible says of the New Moon that “the sins committed
and not expiated during the previous month were covered by the offerings of the
New Moon.” This fits with the symbolism that I have just described. At baptism
when we came into the church and came out of the world's darkness we were given
a fresh start by God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Our current manner in which we have addressed the subject of the new moons when
people have brought it up has led to the situation where we not only do nothing
on the new moon but most members don't even know the new moon has even happened
when it does.
I believe that we should be aware of when the new moon occurs and given the
symbolism that I have just pointed out I think it would be a great idea if we
could have bible studies on the night of the new moon as a tradition much in the
same way we have other traditions such as services on each day of the Feast of
I see our attitude toward the new moon as similar to that of offerings. The
sabbath and festivals are like tithes which are commanded. The new moons are
similar to offerings. Though not commanded as a sabbath, coming together to
learn more from His word on them is something that I'm sure God would be pleased
As I said before, I believe the church needs to foster a positive atmosphere
than encourages the brethren to go and above in the keeping of His laws and His
days. For those of us who are eager to do some of these things above what is
required of us we also need to be balanced and careful not to look down on the
actions of others who may not want to do more than what is clearly required.
These things I've outlined in this paper are not a matter of right and wrong pe
see but they are things that God may well be pleased with if we were to choose
to do them from time to time. Let's do our best to love God and go over and
above where we can in our obedience to Him in not just the keeping of His days
but all things.