Q Aren’t the holidays we celebrate today man-made? God’s ordained feasts are listed in Leviticus 23. As a child of God, the closer I get to Him the more it seems much of church practices are only the traditions of man. Should we be celebrating such holidays?
by Pastor Matt Ritchey, Managing Editor
Estimated Time to Read: 4 Minutes
ANSWER: Thank you for your question on a subject that is discussed among many Christians. I see two parts to your question. First, are our current “religious” holidays ordained by God in His Word? Second, should believers be taking part in holidays?
Leviticus 23, which you referred to in your question, lists the God-ordained feast days (holy days or holidays) that Israel was required to observe. The feasts under the Law were not suggestions; they were demands. We are not under the Law, so we do not celebrate these Jewish feasts today (Rom. 6:14b; Gal. 4:9-11; Col. 2:16-17). Today, anyone attempting to follow these feasts in some way, or to allegorize God’s original intent, is in error.
It is troubling when Christians lift our current holidays up to the level of the feasts of Israel. Our holidays are not ordained by God and are not required for us to observe. If someone does not celebrate Christmas on the 25th, or at all, they are not against the will of God like Israel would have been if they had not observed the Day of Passover. Our holidays were the creation of man, therefore, manmade. Celebrating a certain holiday (or not) gives you no reason to boast.
Holiday Origins vs. Opportunities
There are certainly many pagan celebrations associated with many of our holidays (fertility of Easter, leprechauns, elves, and evil spirits). Equally, there are many religious aspects of the holidays that we do not condone (sainthood of St. Patrick’s day; All Hallow’s Eve).
The motivations behind the origin of some of the holidays are questionable, and yet, there are many opportunities to highlight and proclaim certain truths of God during the holidays (resurrection and life during Easter, the birth of the Savior at Christmas, the reminder to give thanks at Thanksgiving, the importance of mothers and fathers on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, respectively, the greatest of these is charity on Valentine’s Day).
My church has decided every year on Easter to celebrate Resurrection Day, which means we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Do we have a scriptural passage that states we have to do this every year on an appointed day? No, we do not. Is it a bad thing for us to decide to have a day when we are certain to praise the resurrection of Jesus Christ? I don’t see how this would be a bad thing, unless we are placing unscriptural demands upon people. In case you are wondering: Yes, we certainly do celebrate the resurrection outside of that certain day, much like we talk about the incarnation of Christ on days other than Christmas.
Many churches collectively made the decision long ago to use Christmas to testify to the fulfilled coming of the Savior on a day called Christmas. We have the freedom under Grace to set aside certain days to celebrate, remember, and reflect on our Savior. While these days should be a remembrance and not a requirement, God is not displeased when we decide to worship the humiliation of Christ to die for our sins.
Remembering What Life is About
If someone is raising our current holidays up to the level of God’s authoritative Word, it is wrong. It would not be right for someone to impose a holiday on anyone. Yet, to make a decision to spend a day focusing on a certain aspect of the truth of God’s Word is a good thing.
We are people prone to distraction, and these holidays serve as reminders of what life is all about. The great thing about Grace is that you don’t HAVE to celebrate it. You are not required to take part. The other great thing about Grace is that we are free to set aside days to concentrate on celebrating a certain truth about God. It would not be right for someone to dismiss a person’s intent to use a day to celebrate the Savior.
Romans 14:5-6 holds an important instruction regarding this issue: “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.”
No matter where we personally stand on the observing of holidays, may our goal be that the Lord is exalted.
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