There are two different types of festivals today: religious and cultural festivals. Religious holidays are held to honor the gods or to perform ceremonies of religious significance. Cultural holidays commemorate major events or community heroes, or celebrate moments of joy, such as the transition of harvest season and virtuous seasons (e.g., Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, etc.).
Religious Holidays – In the Old Testament, God personally established religious festivals for His chosen people, the Israelites. However, these festivals are merely a shadow of the things that would come through Jesus Christ, so we’re not obligated to observe them today. These include (1) Passover, (2) the Feast of Unleavened Bread, (3) the Feast of Firstfruits, (4) Pentecost, also known as the Harvest Festival, (5) the Feast of Trumpets, (6) the Day of Atonement, and (7) the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Ingathering.
Cultural Festivals – People of all ethnic groups around the world have their own cultural festivals. Jews are no exception. They have two festivals – Purim and Hanukkah. Both holidays were actively and widely celebrated in the time of Jesus. Jesus criticized many of the Jewish practices of the time, but never questioned the appropriateness of celebrating Purim or Hanukkah. John the gospel writer mentioned Hanukkah, the festival of temple offerings, in John 10:22, but did not make a negative comment. It can therefore be inferred that the celebration of cultural festivals is permissible.
Christianity itself does not have feasts because Jesus did not establish them. However, the Lord did not condemn the celebration of cultural festivals. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with participating in festivals that are not pagan. But we still have to be careful, because pagan customs have long permeated all aspects of life, from birth to the end. “Culture” itself necessarily contains religious elements, so “cultural” festivals may also involve religious content. When celebrating these cultural festivals, it is important to stay away from religion and “superstition”. Although refusal might raise questions, making us seem boring, rigid, or even too extreme and intolerant, we must never sacrifice principles to please people. Instead, remember that our God is a jealous God who chose us to be separate and holy so that we may glorify and proclaim His name.
We should all distinguish the holidays through God, and this Fall Evangelical Services and Spiritual Convocation will better help everyone know God. We warmly invite you to join us for our Fall Evangelical Services and Spiritual Convocation from September 14 to 17, 2023. Join us for moments of worship, fellowship, and spiritual renewal. We look forward to seeing you there!
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