Today I found myself alone at home. Surrounded by the quiet, and not currently pressed with anything that can't wait until tomorrow, I decided to once again look into some historical documents related to the different viewpoints of Easter vs Passover (here is a link to the first post I wrote on the subject).
My research led me to The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates, Book 5, XXII where I read the following:
"We have also gratifying intelligence to communicate to you relative to unity of judgement on the subject of the most holy feast of Easter: for this point also has been happily settled through your prayers; so that all the brethren in the East who have heretofore kept this festival when the Jews did, will henceforth conform to the Romans and to us, and to all who from the earliest time have observed our period of celebrating Easter."
"Conforming to the Romans and to us".
But what did YHVH have to say? Well, He didn't tell us to conform to any nation! He commanded us NOT to conform to other nations! (Leviticus 18:3, 24; Leviticus 20:23; Deuteronomy 9:4; Jeremiah 10:2) He didn't command us to keep Easter as the Romans did! In fact, in Exodus 12:14 YHVH commanded:
Exodus 12:14 (ISR): "And this day [Passover] shall become to you a remembrance. And you shall observe it as a festival to יהוה throughout your generations – observe it as a festival, an everlasting law."
Exodus 12:14 (NLT) "This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the LORD. This is a law for all time."
Exodus 12:14 (NASB) "Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance."
I continued to read the works of Socrates. In Chapter XXII - The Author's Views Respecting the Observation of Easter, I read the following:
"It appears to me that nether the ancients nor moderns who have affected to follow the Jews, have had any rational foundation for contending so obstinately about it. For they have altogether lost sight of the fact, that when our religion superseded the Jewish economy, the obligation to observe Mosaic law and the Ceremonial types ceased. That it is incompatible with Christian faith to practice Jewish rites, is manifest from the apostle's expressly forbidding it; and not only rejecting circumcision, but also deprecating contention about festival days."
This position is fundamentally false when compared to Scripture! Yeshua was a Jew - born into the Tribe of Judah (the tribe from which Jews descend)! He did NOT come to end Mosaic law (also referred to as Torah, the first five books of the Bible). In fact, He made it perfectly clear that that was not His intention:
Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to complete. For truly, I say to you, till the heaven and the earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Torah till all be done. Whoever, then, breaks one of the least of these commands, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the reign of the heavens; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the reign of the heavens.
Yeshua used the Torah exclusively to teach people about Himself:
And beginning at Mosheh and all the Prophets, He was explaining to them in all the Scriptures the matters concerning Himself.
Stop right there!
Yeshua used the writings of Moses, and the Prophets - all the Scriptures! Yeshua did not tell people to wait until His disciples and apostles had time to write their gospel accounts and/or letters to the assemblies so that they would know what to do! He used the Torah!
If Yeshua used the Torah to teach people (and ultimately us today) about Himself, then we should take the time to read and study the Torah for ourselves. One of the very crucial things stated in the Torah is found in Deuteronomy (I have heard that Yeshua quoted from Deuteronomy more than any other book of the Torah!):
Do not add to the Word which I command you, and do not take away from it, so as to guard the commands of יהוה your Elohim which I am commanding you.
All the words I am commanding you, guard to do it – do not add to it nor take away from it.
I want to refer back to the last quote I shared where it is stated that the apostle's forbade observing Mosaic law and/or keeping the feasts. I want to compare that statement to the following passages:
And Sha’ul [Paul] , having stayed several days more, having taken leave of the brothers, was sailing for Syria, and Priscilla and Aqulas were with him, having shaved his hair at Kenḥrea, for he had taken a vow. And he came to Ephesos, and left them there, but he himself went into the congregation and reasoned with the Yehuḏim [Jews]. And when they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he declined, but took leave of them, saying, “I have to keep this coming festival in Yerushalayim [Jerusalem] by all means, but I shall come back to you, Elohim desiring so.” And he sailed from Ephesos. And having come to Caesarea, going up and greeting the assembly, he went down to Antioch.
There are three festivals that require the men to go to Jerusalem (see Deuteronomy 16:16):
- Passover/Unleavened Bread
- Shavuot (aka Pentecost)
- Sukkot (aka Tabernacles)
So Paul was speaking of one of these three feasts, and it sounds to me like he was adamant on KEEPING the feast! He wasn't forbidding himself or anyone else from keeping it!
"I have to keep this coming festival in Yerushalayim by all means"
Paul again exhorts believers to keep a feast of YHVH - the Feast of Unleavened Bread:
Therefore cleanse out the old leaven, so that you are a new lump, as you are unleavened. For also Messiah our Passover was offered for us. So then let us observe the festival, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
I think it is clear that the apostle Paul continued to keep the feasts of YHVH as was commanded in the Torah!!
Here is another quote from the writings of Socrates that I wanted to share and address:
"The Savior and his apostles have enjoined us by no law to this feast, nor in the New Testament are we threatened with any penalty, punishment, or curse for the neglect of it, as the Mosaic law does the Jews. It is merely for the sake of historical accuracy, and for the reproach of the Jews, because they polluted themselves with blood on their very feasts, that it is recorded in the Gospels that our Savior suffered 'in the days of Unleavened bread.' The apostles had no thought of appointing festival days, but of promoting a life of blamelessness and piety. And it seems to me that the feast of Easter has been introduced into the Church from some old usage, just as many other customs have been established."
Oh my goodness!! That really got me riled up!!
First of all, Yeshua clearly stated over and over again that He did only what He heard the Father say, and what He saw the Father doing! He also made it abundantly clear that obedience to the Father was an outward expression of our love for Him!
He who rejects Me, and does not receive My Words, has one who judges him: the Word that I have spoken shall judge him in the last day. Because I spoke not from Myself, but the Father who sent Me has given Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, as the Father has said to Me, so I speak.
Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak from Myself. But the Father who stays in Me does His works.
He who possesses My commands and guards them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and manifest Myself to him.
Yeshua answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he shall guard My Word. And My Father shall love him, and We shall come to him and make Our stay with him.
He who does not love Me does not guard My Words. And the Word which you hear is not Mine but of the Father Who sent Me.
These Words I have spoken to you while still with you.
But the Helper, the Set-apart Spirit, whom the Father shall send in My Name, He shall teach you all, and remind you of all that I said to you."
I'm sorry, but I don't understand how in the world anyone could say that Yeshua ever said or did anything contrary to the Father's commandments stated in the Torah! I don't see how anyone could say that the disciples or the apostles did that either!
Many people, including the one quoted from the writings of Socrates, use a few verses out of Paul's letters to the Galatians and/or Colossians to say that he was teaching against the Sabbath(s), feasts, circumcision, etc. However, if you take notice to whom those letters were written - Galatians and Colossians - people coming from a pagan background, you will likely realize that he is encouraging them to not let their old ways creep back in, or not to let their pagan buddies give them a hard time for keeping the commandments of YHVH! Paul was by no means instructing these people to break the Torah! If he were, then he needed to be considered a false teacher and/or prophet according to Deuteronomy 13, which means that he should not be listened to!
Second of all, the Jews did not "pollute themselves with blood on their feasts"! If the writer was talking about the required sacrifices for Passover, then they were being obedient to YHVH's commandments! If the writer was talking about the fact that Yeshua was crucified on Passover (which is probably what he was addressing), then he apparently forgot where Yeshua Himself said,
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. But the hireling, and not being a shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees. And the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them. Now the hireling flees because he is a hireling and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd. And I know Mine, and Mine know Me, even as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold – I have to bring them as well, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one flock, one shepherd. Because of this the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life, in order to receive it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to receive it again. This command I have received from My Father.
That is why Yeshua came! To give His life to pay our penalty for breaking YHVH's Torah!
OK, I am trying to calm down. But I hope that you share my frustration!
So much of Scripture has been twisted and manipulated throughout history. It is time that we stop and ask ourselves:
- why do we believe what we believe, and does it truly line up with what Scripture says?
- why are we doing things the way we are doing them, and do they truly line up with what Scripture says?
- is what we hear, believe, and do based on truth? see Psalm 119:142
I know that everyone is not necessarily interested in history. I know that most everyone does not have the time to research things. But honestly, all we need is the Word of God! All we need to do is let Scripture define Scripture. I exhort you to take your time reading your Bible. Compare different translations to make sure you are getting the full picture. Many of the newer translations have made drastic changes and either add to or take away from the Word!! Remember Deuteronomy 4:32!!
Start all over again - from the beginning! Start in Genesis and ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding as you read through the Bible beginning to end. YHVH has even told us from the beginning how it all ends!
Remember the former events of old, for I am Ěl, and there is no one else – Elohim, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from of old that which has not yet been done, saying, ‘My counsel does stand, and all My delight I do.
If you do have the time to research historical writings, etc., I encourage you to do so. It has been very eye-opening for me! I have come to realize that for most of my spiritual life I have relied too much on the teachings and doctrines of men rather than on the whole counsel of Scripture.
If you decide to keep your Bible reading focus on the New Testament (I have heard someone call it the "True Testament" because there isn't anything "new" in it!), then I hope you start noticing more and more how Yeshua is always pointing to the Father and His commandments (Torah), and how the disciples and apostles were faithful in imitating Messiah Yeshua.
Another thing I hope is that I did not come across as condescending or rude. I desire only to speak the truth in love!
I hope that this post has been beneficial and thought-provoking!
Be a Berean! (Acts 17:11)
I know that Socrates may have been quoting someone else in his writings, but I thought it humorous to use his name in place of "Willis". ;)