Should Christians Observe the Feasts of Israel?

Because of all this, regarding the question, "Should Christians observe the feasts of Israel?" the answer is no.

Should Christians Observe the Feasts of Israel?

The salvation story that begins in Genesis takes us, through many twists and turns, to the NT. As we read the OT, we find prophecies, hints, and foreshadowings of Christ throughout these sacred writings, including in the feasts of Israel.

How do we approach these feasts, such as Passover and Tabernacles? The same way we approach the tabernacle, temple, priesthood, sacrifices, dietary laws, etc. All of these were given specifically to the people of Israel under the old covenant, the one begun at Sinai. The author of Hebrews teaches us that all of these, while given by God, were "imperfect" in the sense that they were shadows. They served the temporary purpose of pointing beyond themselves to the perfect, fulfilling work of Jesus, who is the better priest who offered a better sacrifice and entered the better, heavenly tabernacle. He is the mediator of the covenant, which brings the old covenant to a close. The NT book of Hebrews in particular drives home this point, over and over.

Something crucial to remember about the OT feasts is that animal sacrifices were not peripheral to them; sacrifices were at their core. Passover without a sacrificial lamb, for instance, would be like baptism without water, or the Lord's Supper without bread and wine. The Day of Atonement is the same: one could not celebrate it without the shedding of animal blood. The same goes for Weeks (=Pentecost) and Tabernacles. For that reason, although some Christians do celebrate these feasts, I firmly believe it is theologically and biblically impossible to do so. According to the Torah, they *must* be celebrated with animal sacrifices. God never said he wanted them to be celebrated any other way. 

For that reason, when the old covenant ended with the sacrifice of Jesus, who inaugurated the new covenant, all of the feasts of Israel under the old covenant were fulfilled. His sacrifice ended all animal sacrifices and thus all the feasts. His work fulfilled Passover, even as his sending of the Spirit at Pentecost fulfilled that old covenant feast.

For all these same reasons, Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19), bringing to an end kosher laws, for "the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking" (Rom. 14:17). Paul also reaffirms this in Colossians 2:16-17, "Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ." Using this same imagery, Hebrews 9:5 says that the tabernacle, priesthood, and sacrifices served as "a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.

Because of all this, regarding the question, "Should Christians observe the feasts of Israel?" the answer is no. As those who live under the new covenant, we celebrate their fulfillment in the ministry of Jesus. He is our Sabbath rest, his sacrifice was the ultimate Day of Atonement, his Spirit poured out in Acts 2 fulfilled Pentecost, and we live by faith in the Tabernacle of his body.

If you are interested in other resources on these kinds of questions, I direct you to the excellent work of Robert Solberg, who has devoted considerable time and energy to producing videos and writing books on matters related to (what is commonly called) Torah-Observant Christianity, Hebrew Roots, or Torahism. The videos on his YouTube channel are especially helpful: 

By Chad Bird, 1517 Scholar in Residence