A pre-advent ministry?
Many feast-keepers now make another claim for feast-keeping which goes further than any other claim in making the life, death and resurrected ministry of Jesus Christ of none effect.
Today we are living in the time when the true Passover has already been sacrificed, the true experience of Pentecost, the coming of the Comforter, has already been fulfilled. If we are living in the time of the reality, why should we practice the ritual shadow anymore? Why not simply leave the shadow alone and take hold of the real thing? These brethren claim that by practicing the ritual, this actually helps us to experience the real thing. In other words, the ritual is a necessary tool to help us to step into the true experience.
They say that this was always the purpose of the rituals, the keeping of feasts and the practice of the ceremonials of the law were not simply types or shadows, pointing to future realities. They claim that before the incarnation, Jesus was already our high priest and minister in the heavenly sanctuary, and that these rituals actually helped the people before Christ came, to experience the real events, and that today they still serve the same purpose. In other words, the antitypes of the feasts were already being experienced even before Christ fulfilled them! So the experience represented by the Passover was already available to be experienced before Christ died. The experience represented by Pentecost was already available before Christ was glorified and the Comforter was given.
In Spirit and Truth
During the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth, he said that the time had come for God to be worshiped in a different way. From that point, God was seeking for true worshipers who would worship in spirit and in truth. The worship of God’s people up to that time involved rituals, ceremonies, types and shadows, it was centered on things and places limited to this earth. In fact, the apostle Paul refers to the practices of that system of worship as “carnal ordinances,” and he referred to the temple associated with it as “a worldly sanctuary (Heb 9:10,1).” Most of the gatherings for worship centered around the temple and the city of Jerusalem. It was not spirit, and it was not truth. Jesus declared the end of that kind of worship:
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. . . the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:21-24)
The worship associated with that former system was not in “spirit and in truth.” Worship which centers on worldly locations (Jerusalem) and on worldly ceremonies and ordinances and rituals, cannot be spiritual. Jesus said the hour had arrived for that kind of worship to come to an end. The Bible teaches specifically that this kind of worship had to do with the services of Moses’ law.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)
John says: “Grace and TRUTH came by Jesus Christ.” Here he is making a clear contrast between two things, the law given by Moses, versus the truth. The law of Moses was not truth, truth only arrived when Jesus came. John is not speaking of truth as a fact which is opposed to error He is not suggesting that Moses’ law was false or erroneous. In this sense, truth means what is real, as opposed to what is a symbol, or an illustration. The law of Moses was only a “shadow (Heb 10:1; Col 2:16),” Jesus Christ came and brought what is truth, or what is real.
So when Jesus said, the hour had come when those who worship God must worship in spirit and in truth, what he was clearly saying was that the time had arrived when God was no longer to be worshiped through the types, shadows and symbols. The time had come when the TRUE worshipers would worship God in a real way, interacting with the real things rather than the types and shadows associated with Moses’ law.
It is clear that in the religion which Jesus emphasized and established, rituals and ceremonies do not exist. Rituals and ceremonies have no value in themselves (except in paganism), they were used by God to enable the Israelites to learn of things which would happen in the future. In other words, they were teaching tools, illustrations to help people to learn of what God would do in the future. As Paul tells us, they were “shadows of things to come.”
Communion and Baptism?
Yet, one may ask, don’t we still practice the rituals of communion and baptism? Are these not simply rituals representing some greater reality? This makes it seem as though it is not really true that in the New Testament age, ritualism and ceremonialism have been abolished. If this is true, then we have a good reason for continuing to practice other rituals and ceremonies (such as feast days).
But let us look more closely at the communion service and baptism; are these simply rituals and ceremonies? Are they simply outward practices pointing to some greater reality? There is a great difference between these two practices and the ceremonies of the law. The ceremonies of the law pointed to FUTURE realities. While they were being practiced, the realities to which they pointed did not yet exist. For example, when they killed a lamb, it was pointing to the death of Christ which had not yet taken place. As soon as Christ died as the reality, then the sacrificing of lambs (the type), was ended forever. From that point, all who sacrificed animals were pagans, not Christians. The same principle applied to the sanctuary service. As soon as Christ entered into his heavenly ministry the ministry in the earthly sanctuary, the type, was ended forever. It no longer has any relevance to God. The same priciple applies to EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of the law with its shadows and types. Christ has come as the fulfillment of the law, the typical, shadowy law has no more relevance.
The communion service and baptism on the other hand, do not point to events to take place in the future! No, no. They focus on experiences in the present. They are doorways by which we enter into experiences which are available now, rather than in the future. They are in fact, portals, avenues by which we actually enter into those experiences of being born again and of partaking of the flesh and blood, the life of Christ. In case we think these are simply representative rituals, notice these words of the apostle Paul, speaking of the communion:
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. (1Cor 11:28-30)
Amazingly, Paul says that if a person partakes of the communion, but does not discern the Lord’s body he is eating and drinking condemnation to himself! Because of this, people were actually getting weak and sickly and some were even dying!! This is astonishing, but it is clear that the communion service is not simply a ritual, but is an experience in which we actually do partake of the life of Christ. This is not to say that the bread and the wine are literally flesh and blood as the Catholics believe, but it is clear that they are intended to be a point of contact, a doorway by which we can experience the real thing, as we interact with the symbol. The same is true of water baptism, we enter into the death and resurrection of Christ through the experience of water baptism. Our faith is energized by these experiences to take hold of the realities.
So there is a clear difference between the shadowy rituals of the law, and the communion and baptism which are not shadows of the future, but doorways to a present experience. It is because of this undeniable fact that feast-keepers have tried to say that the feasts are also doorways into experiencing the reality to which they pointed. This is an obvious fallacy however, because we are told plainly that the ceremonies of the law were shadows of things to come, (future things) not things present. Feasts could not help people to enter into experiences which were not yet present. It is clear that the realities to which the feasts pointed were not yet available when the feasts were instituted at Mount Sinai, because obviously, Jesus had not yet died, so there was no true Passover, the Comforter was not yet given so there was no true Pentecost etc. The feasts were nothing but representations of future things.
One other important point to note is that there is only one necessity in the true Christian experience and it is to have Christ living within. Nothing else is required, this is all. While in the law, there were hundreds of necessary requirements, in the Christian experience, we are complete in Christ and need nothing other than him. We are complete in him (Col 2:9,10). This is why God has ordained the communion and baptism, because both these ceremonies are doorways to this single great experience. In baptism, we enter into Christ, we become members of his body, a part of his life, while in the communion service we partake of his life, through taking his flesh and his blood. It is all about the one great essential, experiencing the life of Christ.
A false premise
In order to defend feast-keeping, some feast keepers have begun to teach that the events represented by the feasts such as the death of Christ, the giving of the holy spirit, the atonement, the end of sin etc. were all available from the very foundation of the world. Everything was just as fully available as if Christ had already done it all, long before Christ actually came to earth!! This is where feast-keeping now attacks the work of Christ making it unnecessary and effectively making Christ irrelevant. If all that Christ came to do was already available four thousand years before he came, then obviously, his coming was unnecessary. But this is what feast-keeping teaches, because there is a need to show that keeping feasts was not simply a symbol, but was a doorway to a present experience, just like the communion and baptism.
In other words, this is an attempt to make feast-keeping equal to baptism and communion so that as long as we see communion and baptism as still necessary, we will also hang on to feast-keeping.
Feast-keepers and other law-oriented people defend their position by quoting Revelation 13:8.
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev 13:8)
On the basis of this verse they claim that Jesus was effectively sacrificed from the foundation of the world, and that therefore, every benefit to be obtained by his death, resurrection and heavenly ministry, was already available since the foundation of the world. They reason that as long as there was faith, it was possible to obtain these benefits, even though Christ had not yet fulfilled them, because in God’s mind they were as good as done. This reveals a terrible misunderstanding of what Jesus really did for humanity when he came to earth as a man.
First of all, careful examination of Revelation 13:8 reveals that this is not what the verse is really saying. This is a misunderstanding on the part of the KJV translators which resulted in this faulty translation. First, look at what the New American Standard Bible (and most other translations) says, and then I will explain why the KJV is wrong and the others are right.
All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. (Rev 13:8 – NASB)
Notice that now, it is not Christ who has been slain from the foundation of the world, it is the names of the saved which have been written since the foundation of the world. The meaning changes. This is the correct translation and this can be demonstrated by looking at another place where the same phrase appears.
The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Rev 17:8)
Here we see clearly that what happened at the foundation of the world, was that names were written in the book of life, not that Christ was slain at that time. It is clear that as long as the shadows were relevant and accepted by God, the reality had not yet arrived. Today, the reality has arrived, the shadows are no longer relevant.
(Source: Restoration Ministry)