A Dilemma

(2. a state of indecision between two alternatives.

The Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus)

(Scripture references are from the New International Version.)

What I am sharing here is only my perspective after wrestling with the question of how to reconcile some Old Testament passages with some New Testament ones. (Most everything I am sharing in this collection fits into the category of "my perspective." I’m certainly not saying I have the final word on anything!) Usually I am motivated to wrestle with questions when friends I greatly respect in the faith hold a position that I had not thought of before. It is an iron sharpening iron process (Proverbs 27:17) and I believe it is valuable in God’s sight.

 

How am I to reconcile passages such as:

Colossian 2:16-17 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

and

Leviticus 23:31b (also 23:21b, 23:41, and 24:3b) (God is instructing Moses regarding the Feasts and the Tabernacle) ...This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.

Before Jesus came to us God prepared the way by choosing one group of people to represent Him to the world. This was the nation of Israel. To this people He gave all types of "pictures"--many of which were in the form of feasts and festivals and celebrations. These feasts were to become part of their national life so that when the real Person--the One the feasts represented--came, this nation, at least, would be able to recognize Him, and then able to present Him to the rest of the world.

Even though Jesus has come, the need for these "pictures" remains so that this connection can continue to be made in the minds and hearts of seeking people--especially those from the house of Israel.

For those who recognize Jesus, those former pictures are now understandable, exciting in their representation of Him, and a glorious way to help others who are interested in meeting Jesus; but no longer central to their faith. An analogy would be the way an engaged girl wouldn't be all that absorbed in just looking at pictures of her fiancé if he were sitting in the same room with her.

Still, God instructed that these pictures be retained and displayed forever because they would continue to play an important part in leading those in His chosen nation to recognize Jesus. As Jewish believers in Yeshua do this, they are holding up Yeshua's picture to their fellow Jews. Any Jewish person who celebrates the Lord's feasts does this, albeit often unknowingly.

Gentile believers, however, were never charged by the Lord to focus on these pictures, but instead to focus on Jesus Himself. However, if some Gentile believers feel the Spirit's prompting to also celebrate the feasts as a place a Jewish person could look and see a picture of Jesus, that would certainly be a scripturally sound course of action as per:

I Corinthians 10:31-33 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or the church of God--even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

and

I Corinthians 9:19-22 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.

As we, the body of Christ, reach out to the world, some will "become like a Jew"; others will "become like those under the law"; others will "become like those not having the law"; others will "become weak"; etc. It would seem impossible for one person to assume all these "lifestyles", especially considering all that is encompassed in just "...becoming like a Jew", for instance.* How could that person simultaneously become like "...those not having the law"? But, as a Body, different people will be asked to perform different functions. This is just as God through Paul admonishes us in I Corinthians 12:18-24 "But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet "I don't need you!"

We as believers are told, "...in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (I Peter 3:15) In anticipation of the Holy Spirit leading us to one of His chosen people, we should have an answer that will be relevant to that person. We must be mindful that Jesus instructed us to be witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth in Acts 1:8. Paul set the example by always going first to the synagogue in the cities where the Spirit led him. However, Paul knew that "...the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’'" (Acts 22:21) (See, also, Acts 9:15: "This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.")

I love how the Feasts of the Lord are permeated with meaning. I believe that by not paying attention to the Feasts God gave His people to celebrate, the Church is missing out on a lot of wonderful and important truth that God intends for us to know. I believe His calendar is contained in those Feast Days, as well as other vital information regarding our relationship to Him. Yet I believe He settled my dilemma most clearly by saying in Colossians 2:17: "These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." I believe whether or not I celebrate the Feasts is not the issue dearest to His heart.

*Paul did say, "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." (I Cor.9:22b); therefore it must be possible for one person to do this. It seems the determining factor would be what people the Holy Spirit brings into my life and calls me to minister to. Paul was brought into many different peoples’ lives to minister and also knew that the Lord had called him to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21).

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