Religious Jews have celebrated God's festivals for thousands of years. They were observing the Biblical holy days long before the Church was brought into being. The Scriptures clearly PROVE that God entrusted them with the preservation of God's Law and Sacred Calendar (Genesis 49:10, Romans 9:4), and states this fact after the Church was founded (since some wrongly teach that it's now the Church's responsibility). Only the Jews out of all the tribes of Israel have faithfully kept God's Word (Hosea 11:12). The Bible says it, so we should believe it, case closed!? Unfortunately not.
God used Herbert W. Armstrong to restore life to a dying Church (Rev. 3:1). It's interesting that Mr. Armstrong restored 18 essential truths to His people. Why? Because the Jewish numerical value of 18 equals LIFE. One of those truths restored concern the observance of God's Holy Days.
Many have repented and forsaken their former pagan traditions to keep the biblical commands. But did God authorize Mr. Armstrong to determine when the holy days are to be kept? Did Jesus Christ reject the Jews and decide God's Church would now be the custodian of His sacred calendar? After all, what's the purpose of the calendar except to determine when the festivals are to be observed? NO! Mr. Armstrong was to restore the knowledge of God's holy days, not change the days the Jews have always kept them on!
God's Church celebrates every holy day on the same dates as the Jews except for Passover and Pentecost. If we can have the chutzpah to tell the Jews that they're celebrating those days on the wrong days, then how can we rest assured that they're not wrong about which day is the true Sabbath? The Sabbath and holy days stand or fall together. Either we trust God gave it to the Jews to accurately keep the CORRECT DAYS AND DATES, or we doubt God's ability to keep His Word. Which is it?
Mr. Armstrong would've done well to recognize that GOD'S GOVERNMENT has ordained the Jews to determine these particular matters. He should've just followed their example as to when to observe these biblical holy days, rather than to try and figure it out for himself. It wasn't his responsibility!
First Mr. Armstrong counted wrong for Pentecost and kept Monday for the holy day. Later he changed the day he counted 50 from and kept pagan Sunday, but he was still counting from the wrong day! He unnecessarily became confused about which Sabbath was to be counted from. The Jewish religious authorities (that have prevailed) agree that the Sabbath to count 50 from is the ANNUAL SABBATH, not the weekly Sabbath. The Pharisees - whom Christ said "sit in Moses' seat" (Matt. 23:2-3) - whom GOD entrusted with authority - counted from the annual Sabbath (Jn. 19:31; Mk. 16:1).
Paul was a strict Pharisee and said that his religious education had been according to "the PERFECT MANNER OF THE LAW" (Acts 23:3,6). He testified that he was "blameless in the law" (Phil. 3:5-6). He didn't say except for Passover and Pentecost! And does it make sense for GOD to be so meticulous in fulfilling prophecy that not one of Christ's bones could be broken (Jn. 19:36), and then sacrifice His Son at the wrong time? God -and the Jews - know what time on the 14th to perform the Passover sacrifice. Then the lamb is eaten after sundown on the 15th - the night to be much observed - the way the Jews have always done it!
The only Jews who disagreed with the Pharisees in Jesus' time, who didn't follow God's government (since Christ recognized the authority of the Pharisees), were the Sadducees. They became history when the Temple was destroyed. Jesus had condemned their religion and blasted their biblical ignorance (Matt. 22:29). Who would want to follow them? Those who do stubbornly insist on keeping their traditions will also come to an end! Any who've stolen the prerogative of the true Jewish authorities will be exposed as liars (Rev. 3:9)! God has NOT ordained others to determine when to observe His holy days.
I believe God allowed Mr. Armstrong to make this honest error to test His people to see whether we would change when confronted with the facts or not. We demand it of others, but why don't we practice what we preach? Have we become too comfortable in our religious ways and don't want the boat rocked (Amos 6:1)? This is the test of true conversion: the willingness to continue to change as truth is revealed, not get stuck in our ways! We're to walk in the light of our God-given understanding (I Jn. 1:7). And we should THANK GOD for bringing this to our attention rather than leaving us in the dark!
If the Pharisees didn't keep the correct holy dates, or if Jesus and His disciples didn't, don't you think that they would've made an issue of it? Do you think Jesus would let them slide on something as IMPORTANT as this? Yet there isn't one word of disagreement between them on this holy subject!
Why should we be afraid to change when proven wrong? We should fear not to! God will hold us accountable for what we know. We should not continue to SIN by working on God's holy days to keep our own! Who will you obey? God or men? What will you follow: God's commands or human traditions? (Mk. 7:7).
About the Author
David Ben-Ariel, an American author who has travelled widely and who has lived throughout Israel, shares a special focus on the Middle East and great interest in Jerusalem, reflected in hard-hitting articles that help others improve their understanding of that troubled region. Check out www.benariel.com