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"And I am now rejoicing in [my] sufferings over you, and filling up in my flesh what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ for His body's sake, which is the church, of which I became a servant
 

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Hidden In Him

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An excellent passage I am now writing a study on in the Book of Colossians.

"And I am now rejoicing in [my] sufferings over you, and filling up in my flesh what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ for His body's sake, which is the church, of which I became a servant
 

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Hidden In Him

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Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 02:57:00 PM
An excellent passage I am now writing a study on in the Book of Colossians!  :)

"And I am now rejoicing in [my] sufferings over you, and filling up in my flesh what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ for His body's sake, which is the church, of which I became a servant
 

Hidden In Him

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Hidden In Him

August 05, 2019, 02:55:42 PM
... the abundance of the glory of this mystery is among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we preach, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man perfected in Him.
 

Hidden In Him

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... of which I became a servant according to the administration of God having been given unto me, for you to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations but which has now been made manifest to His saints, to whom God wished to make known what the abundan
 

Hidden In Him

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An excellent passage I am now writing a study on in the Book of Colossians!  :)

"And I am now rejoicing in [my] sufferings over you, and filling up in my flesh what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ for His body's sake, which is the church, of which I became a servant according to the admin

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Author Topic: Colossians 2:16-19, Part 2  (Read 39 times)

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Hidden In Him

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Colossians 2:16-19, Part 2
« on: November 02, 2020, 02:41:10 PM »
The Jewish Feasts: Prophetic "Shadows" Of Coming Things, Part 2

     It is evident from scripture that the New Testament saints actually observed in some sense several of the Jewish feast days, but as this study will show they did not do so after the strict manner of the Jews. Rather, the suggest is that they did so only after a spiritual manner, knowing they were only prophetic foreshadowings of future events in the life of the church. As I demonstrated in Part 1, the value in meditating on them was in knowing the Lord predicted all things in advance, and all the things He had promised would indeed be fulfilled before the end of the age. This is what Paul meant by telling the Colossians that the Jewish festivals were but "shadows" of coming things:

     Take heed that there be no one robbing you through philosophy and empty deceit, in accordance with the tradition of men, in accordance with the principles of the world, and not in accordance with Christ. For in Him dwells all the Fulness of the Godhead bodily, and having become perfected, you are in Him who is the Head of all rule and authority... Therefore, do not let anyone but the body of Christ judge you in food and drink, or in respect of a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of coming things. Let no one disqualify you, delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, investigating into things which he has seen, being vainly inflated with pride by his fleshly mind and not holding fast the Head, from whom the whole body, being supplied and conjoined together through its joints and ligaments, grows with the growth of God. (Colossians 2:8-10, 16-19)

     Statements made in this letter suggest that the heretics trying to deceive the Colossians were Essenes, a Jewish sect who very strictly kept the Jewish Sabbaths, New Moons, Feast days and cleanliness laws. But Paul warned not to let anyone but the body of Christ judge them in such things, for they were merely prophetic foreshadowings of things the church was now living out for real, things the festivals only pointed to prophetically. Those not receiving their understanding of such things from Christ as Head of the church would not understand this, for they were spiritually revealed, but it is true that in a sense the early church was observing them, else there would have been nothing for the heretics to "judge" them over.
     But since many Christians today are not aware that the New Testament church actually observed these things after a spiritual manner, let us now turn to examining certain passages in the New Testament that strongly suggest it. The first of these passages is in 1st Corinthians, where the apostle Paul discussed them observing Passover, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.


Keeping Passover, Unleavened Bread And Pentecost, But Spiritually

      That the early church was observing the Jewish festivals in some sense is easy enough to prove, not only from the writings of the early church fathers but from the New Testament itself. Writing around A.D. 55, Paul wrote to Corinthians, telling them the following: 

      Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

      The first sentence, "Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened," is hard to make out unless one understands how the Feast of Unleavened Bread was literally observed by the Jews. In Exodus, a description is provided of how God wanted the nation to observe it. They were to remove leaven completely from their houses during the seven day period:

     On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel... For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened. In all your dwelling places you shall eat only unleavened bread.” (Exodus 12:15-19-20)
   
      There were Jewish Christians present in Gentile congregations like at Corinth, and these would have kept this observance quite literally. Thus, it appears that the phrase "just as you are in fact unleavened" was a reference to the entire congregation both Jew and Gentile removing leaven entirely from their houses at this time, in remembrance of the Jewish feast. Paul's displeasure, however, was that they were not keeping it in a spiritual sense. To keep the feast spiritually, they needed to remove false teaching from among them, which s what Jesus said the leaven represented (Matthew 16:6). They were clearly not doing so. One young man was "leavening the whole lump" by the immoral lifestyle he was living among them, thus spreading "leaven" throughout the congregation by the example he was setting (1 Corinthians 5:1-5).
     The Feast of Unleavened Bread is also mentioned in Acts 20:6 and Acts 12:3-4, and without any further elaboration this suggests the Gentile Christians needed none, and knew exactly what this Jewish Feast was and when it was held. Thus, based upon the texts in Acts and 1st Corinthians, it appears the Gentile church not only understood what Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were, but observed them along with the Jewish Christians among them who would have had no reason not to. But again, the teaching was that no one needed to after the strict manner of the Jews now, for they were merely shadows of coming things.
     So, too, with Pentecost. Reference is made to this festival in connection with the apostle Paul more than once in the New Testament:

     For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus so that he would not have to spend time in Asia. For he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 20:16)

     Now concerning the collection for the saints... when I come, whomsoever you shall approve by letters, them will I send to bring your liberality to Jerusalem... But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost. (1 Corinthians 16:1, 3, 8 )

     Why would Paul have been hurrying to be in Jerusalem specifically for Pentecost if he was not desiring to attend it? It means that the apostle Paul kept Pentecost. And if so, wishing to "remain in Ephesus until Pentecost" suggests he was keeping it there as well. And if the apostle Paul was keeping it, the rest of the congregation likely honored it as well, even if only after a spiritual manner.
     So what happened? Why does the church not still keep such observances today? According to Tertullian, it was simply because they eventually started abandoning them in favor of the pagan festivals instead. Writing around the mid third century, he stated the following:

     By us, to whom Sabbaths and the New Moons and festivals formerly beloved by God are [now] strange, the Saturnalia and New-year's and Midwinter's festivals and Matronalia are [instead] frequented - presents come and go - New-year's gifts - games join their noise - banquets join their din! Oh what better fidelity of the nations to their own sect, which claim no solemnity of the Christians for itself! Not the Lord's day, not Pentecost, even it they had known them, would they have shared with us, for they would fear lest they should seem to be Christians. But we are not apprehensive lest we seem to be heathens! (Tertullian, On Idolatry)

     It has remained that way until today. We still observe New Years as well as Christianized holidays like Christmas and Easter. This won't send a Christian to Hell, of course, but when we abandoned the spiritual observance of the Jewish festivals after the first few centuries, we abandoned meditation upon prophecies that were fulfilled during New Testament times, as well as others that have not come to pass yet.   


The Church Likewise Kept The Sabbaths, But Spiritually

     Writing around 110 A.D., Ignatius made it clear that while the early Christians were keeping the Sabbath, they were only doing so after a spiritual manner, and not after the strict manner of the Jews. To distinguish themselves even more from them, the early Christians likewise kept the first day of the week in honor of Christ's resurrection:
 
     Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner and rejoice in days of idleness... But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law not in relaxation of the body... nor in eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, nor walking within a prescribed space... And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ [also] keep the Lord's day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days. (Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Magnesians, Chapter 9, 110 A.D.)

     Barnabas, writing in roughly 70 A.D., also wrote about how Christians at that time were keeping the Jewish Sabbath and what it symbolized prophetically. But he likewise also added that they were to keep the "eight day" as well (an alternate way of describing the first day), since the eight day prophetically foreshadowed the beginning of Christ's reign after the millennium, when "a new world" would begin:

     Of the Sabbath [God] spoke in the beginning of the creation. And God made the works of His hands in six days, and He ended on the seventh day and rested on it, and He hallowed it. Give heed, children, to what this means. He ended in six days. He means this, that in six thousand years the Lord shall bring all things to an end. For the day with Him signifies a thousand years, and this He himself bears me witness, saying, "Behold, the day of the Lord shall be as a thousand years." Therefore, children, in six days, that is in six thousand years, everything shall come to an end. And "He rested on the seventh day." He means this: When His Son shall come and abolish the time of the Lawless One, and judge the ungodly, and change the sun and the moon and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day... Finally He says to [the Jews], "Your new moons and your Sabbaths I cannot endure." You see what is His meaning: "It is not your present Sabbaths that are acceptable, but the Sabbath which I have made, in the which, when I have set all things at rest, I will make a beginning of the eighth day which is the beginning of another world." Wherefore we also keep the eighth day for rejoicing, in the which also Jesus rose from the dead. (Barnabas, Epistle of Barnabas 15:3-5, 8-9, late 70s A.D.)

     Both Clement and Origen attributed this epistle to the same Barnabas who ministered with the apostle Paul in the Book of Acts. Thus it can be established with virtual certainly that the early Christians observed the Sabbath as well as the first or "eighth" day of the week, but after a spiritual manner rather than in accordance with the strictness of the Jews.


How The Church Observed Sabbaths And New Moons

     According to Ignatius, the early churched observed Sabbaths by spending the day meditating on the word of God together, as was the custom of the Jews. It was said of Jesus that this was His custom as well.

     And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. (Luke 4:16-20)
 
     Jesus was presenting a teaching here. It was Jewish custom that those who had something to teach stand up, read from a text, and then expound on what God had showed them, opening things up for discussion. So, too, were members in the early church doing the same. When they were coming together, one had a teaching, another sang an instructional psalm, another spoke in a tongue and another then gave an interpretation. One gave a prophecy and then another gave revelation of what God had shown him about the prophecy that was uttered. By this means all were bringing something to the service as God so enabled them, and all were able to learn from one another.

     What is it, then, brothers? Whenever you may come together, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone with a tongue speaks, [let it be] by two or the most three, and in succession, and let one interpret. And if there is no interpreter, let him be silent in the church, but let him speak to himself and God. And let prophets speak two or three, and let the others discern. And if anything should be revealed to another sitting by, let the first one be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and be exhorted. (1 Corinthians 14:26-31)

      This is in fact what the Sabbath was designed to represent. It was a prophetic celebration of the end-time harvest, when the word God would be gathered together unto the Lord. Jesus spoke of it in these terms when He taught the following:

     And He was saying, "Thus is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed upon the earth, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and arise in length, how he does not know. For the earth brings forth fruit of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full wheat seed within the head of grain. And when the fruit delivers itself up, immediately he sends in the sickle, for the harvest has come." (Mark 4:26-29)

     What Jesus was saying here was that there was an expectation the word itself would grow in the earth. That meant that the responsibility to receive revelation from God rested upon the church, which is why they were to each bring spiritual food to the Sabbath. The meditation then, was a prophetic remembrance of the millennium, the thousand year period that that will follow the end-time harvest, when God finally gathers together those in whom His word dwelt, and rejoices in how the word of God produced a harvest in the earth.   
     Whether anyone at all in the early church, including Jewish believers, kept the New Moons is pure conjecture. But should any in the future, the meditation is that each New Moon represented a different "phase" if you will in the work of Christ, as revealed in works like The Witness of the Stars by E.W. Bullinger, The Gospel in the Stars, by Joseph A. Seiss, and other related works that have been written on the subject by credible Christian writers.


The Irrational Fears Of The Headless Church

     Mention to modern Christians about observing the Jewish feasts or Sabbaths in ANY form or fashion, and most will react like you are a heretic or a lunatic or both. They have been totally conditioned to reject all such things as being "of the Law," even when you are only talking about spiritually observing them by meditating on the things they pointed to prophetically. This is simply proof of just how far the church has been removed from the Lord's Headship, and His way of thinking.
     Paul appealed to the Colossian church to keep Christ as their Head, and let Him do the thinking in how they approached the issue of Jewish Feasts, Sabbaths and New Moons. And judging from both scripture and early church documents, Christians did indeed once observe these things, but they didn't go overboard into adopting the strictness of the Jews. The strictness of ritual Judaism was actually the very thing the Lord was trying to avoid when He had the heads of the church address Gentile believers in Acts 15, and place no other restrictions on them than not to eat blood, or animals that had been strangled, or engage in prostitution or other accepted forms of sexual immorality within Gentile society.
     But sadly the Lord is no longer the Head of the church like He was back then. Not would most grossly overreact, but today most have no idea what the festivals even represent. So the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus take center stage in their minds more than the festivals God ordained to serve as prophetic foreshadowings of major events in the life of the church, and they see no problems with this.
     So where do we go from here? We certainly don't want to go back to strict Jewish observance, or anything resembling it. That would just freak people out. I recall reading a story about a group of Hispanic Christians who got very into all things Jewish, and boarded a plane dressed in full Hasidic attire to go to some celebration. People on the plane had no idea what was going on and thought they might be terrorists, so they had the plane grounded. One Jew, in writing about this incident later, rather sarcastically said they should have told the airport security, "Officers, make sure you check their luggage for weapons and S&M paraphernalia. There's no telling what these religious zealots might have had planned for us."

                                             

                                               

                                                         

     The sad part is, had they been dressed in Easter bunny outfits, there would have been less concern. Things would have been "kosher." But unfortunately not everyone can discern the difference between a Hasidic Jew and died-in-the-wool Islamic terrorist. 
     In general, Christians would do well to take some cues from modern day Jews on their observance of feasts and celebrations, because even they don't take them with the deathly seriousness many might think. I once read a commentary from a Jewish woman on how to observe Pentecost. It was entitled, "Shavuot: The Jewish Festival Of Sex, Books And Cheese Is Upon Us. Let’s Rage":

     If you don't live your wildest night on the Jewish holiday Shavuot, why even bother?... The ancient harvest festival of Shavuot, which begins this Saturday at sunset, is an all-night bacchanal of reading, arguing, and cheese. It’s a celebration of a lot of things: The grain harvest season, God’s giving of the Torah to the people of Israel, and the right to eat dairy. On Shavuot, we read the Book of Ruth — a book in the scriptures that tells the mournful, erotic, funny story of an impoverished young widow who converts to Judaism, saves herself and her mother-in-law from starvation and falls in love in the process. At sundown on Saturday, Jews around the world will gather for tikkun — all night study, inspired by Jewish mystics... This should be the wildest rager of your year. If you don’t wake up in a ditch on Sunday morning, naked and surrounded by a dozen copies of “Torah: A Women’s Commentary,” you have no right to call yourself “such a nerd.” (Jenny Singer, The Forward, June 3rd, 2019).

     Granted, we'd want to take things a little more reverently than that; Pentecost is a celebration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, past, present and future. But the point is that if even many Jews today are not taking the festivals with dire seriousness, Christians shouldn't either. They should most certainly avoid taking things so far that people wonder if we might be about to set off a bomb or something. Unfortunately, we actually do have some branches within Christianity that take things too far in my opinion. The Seventh Day Adventists quite literally believe that worshipping on Sunday will one day be the "mark of the beast" as referred to in the Book of Revelation, and anyone who does so will be doomed to destruction. Never mind that Christians in New Testament times observed their Sabbaths according to a lunar calendar, unlike most Adventists and other like-minded Christians today, who go by the solar calendar everyone in secular society goes by.


Doctrinal Foundations That Should Be Reclaimed

    When Christ again becomes the Head of the church, we will again walk in wisdom regarding a vast number of things, including remembrance of the feasts of the Lord and their prophetic significance. This will lead not only to spiritual edification but the glorification of our Lord, for having predicted these things from the beginning. Certainly such meditations bring about more spiritual edification than meditating on Santa, Rudolf, the Easter bunny, and a host of other stories we've incorporated into Christian observance.
     Had the church continued to meditate upon the feasts as prophetic foreshadowings of events in the life of the church, we might have better preserved some of the pivotal doctrines of the early church that are fully supported by New Testament scripture, and saved ourselves from a great deal of heresy that has since come along to replace it. I'm speaking for one here about the doctrine of Hell, and how the saints of the Old Testament were delivered out from there at the Lord's resurrection, and ascended with Him into Heaven.
     This is stated explicitly in the Apostles' Creed:

      I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to Hades. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

     Seventh Day Adventists as well as other factions within Christianity now flatly deny the existence of Hell and the conscious existence of the dead. As a result, numerous Christians have  now begun to doubt the very existence of the Underworld as if they were just myths, when belief in such things are the very foundations of the Christian faith. Without an understanding of them, there are numerous New Testament passages the reader will be clueless to understand, including Colossians 1:13, which we covered in an earlier study in this series.
     Another foundational teaching in the history of the church is Pentecost. Multitudes now deny the reality of Pentecost in their lives, relegating it to merely being an historical event in the life of the church that has no bearing on what she is doing today. This renders the church powerless in her witness, though it was never intended to be this way. The church was supposed to LIVE OUT Pentecost until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, and having set aside the importance of this teaching has led to deception, blindness and spiritual impoverishment. But the promises in Joel 2:28-31 will be fulfilled before the Lord's return, as will the promises inherent in what is foreshadowed by the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. Had these observances been kept, the church would not be so in the dark today about their prophetic significance, and what is soon to come upon the earth where the church is concerned.


Links:

https://forward.com/schmooze/425406/shavuot-the-jewish-festival-of-sex-books-and-cheese-is-upon-us-lets-rage/





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