Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Why Not Keep Biblical Days?

From all different corners of the world, and from people of various flavors of Protestantism, some version of this question has been popping up more and more lately:
Why do we keep made up holidays when the Bible gave us days we can keep?

It's a valid question that deserves an answer.

This is something we have hit on over and over again here at As Bereans Did since around 2010. We don't mind repeating ourselves (at some point we are going to want to stop, though, because frankly we've gone over this). Usually, the target audience is Armstrongists. Today, I am going to talk past the usual audience to address a more general population.

So, what is our response? Why not keep biblical days? I will start by answering the question with a question.


So, you're going to "keep" a day that you see in the Bible. How do you plan to do that, exactly?


What do you plan to do to "keep" the biblical day? Are you going to keep this biblical day according to the biblical instructions for it? So, for example, let's imagine it's Passover. You're going to do what exactly? Eat a Seder? Do you know the Seder as it is kept today by the Jews is not what is instructed in the Bible? The Bible doesn't say to have four cups of wine and a hard boiled egg and vegetables in salt water and gefilte fish. If you are going to keep a biblical day - stressing the idea that you got it from the Bible rather than some made up holiday - don't you think you should keep it the way the Bible says to, rather than, you know, making up ways to keep it?

Don't worry. We have you covered. Here's what you do --

First, you travel to Jerusalem. You can opt to travel to Jerusalem if you're female, but if you're male you are required to. Because that's the only place you are allowed to keep it (DEU. 16: 5-7). You're going to have to do this a little early, because you need to select a lamb or a goat without blemish then keep it with you for four days (EXO. 12: 3-5). So, get there by the 10th of Nissan. Then, at the very start of the 14th of Nissan, you go ahead and remove all leaven from your household (EXO. 12: 15). That means no yeast or baking soda or rising agents of any kind. And no already leavened bread, which includes dough starters, cereals, cookies, crumbs, and etc. Jews will remove grains as well, to make sure they aren't contaminated with microbes that might cause them to rise when cooked. (It's a valid concern as that was how risen bread was made in the ancient times.) The Jews also include any alcoholic drink made form grains. Anything with leavening in it has to go (DEU. 16: 4). Hint: you might want to check inside your toaster and under the seats of your car, too. (I know that from experience.) For seven days, the only bread you may eat must be unleavened (EXO. 16: 3). It's not just that you must avoid leavened bread, you must actively eat unleavened bread (EXO. 12: 20). Matzo is an easy option. Make sure it's Matzo rated for Passover, because not all Matzo is. (I know that from experience, too.) Removing leavening from your home will be difficult while you're in Jerusalem, we know. Perhaps you might want to divide the responsibilities, because as someone is at home removing the leaven, someone else is going to have to go to the Temple and sacrifice that lamb, or goat if you're bougie (EXO. 12: 6). Then, once the animal is properly sacrificed by the Temple Priests, you can go back to wherever you are staying in town and roast that lamb on its bones with some bitter herbs (EXO. 12: 8). Don't get fancy and try cooking it any other way, as that is not permitted (EXO. 12: 9). Goat burger with feta, arugula, and a mint aioli is verboten. Leftovers are also not allowed. Anything you can't finish eating that night will have to be burned up (EXO. 12: 10). No gyro for you tomorrow.

And while you're doing all that, the Temple Priests will be doing the offerings in Numbers 28: 19-24.

And that is the minimum requirement for how you keep a Passover! You are now ready to keep your first Biblical day.

You may have noticed an issue regarding the Temple and the animal sacrifices. Yes, that has been a thorny problem lo these past 1,900 years. It does have the unfortunate effect of making it nigh impossible to keep a biblical Passover. And that is a main reason why the early church didn't even try. So, how are you going to "keep" this biblical day, exactly, when you literally cannot keep it as the Bible says to? Make something up? The Jews did! It was the only reasonable thing they could do. So, they made up new traditions. Oh, we are not criticizing the Jews at all. Not one bit. They did what they had to do to continue observing ordinances given to them. It was either that or stop altogether. Can you blame them? We don't. But, that takes us right back to the initial problem, doesn't it? You've made up a holiday.

Oh, you can add in things that were done during the Last Supper, like foot washing - which was also made up, as there is no law for foot washing - but it might be good to bear in mind that Jesus did not have the Last Supper apart from its Jewish context. It was a Jewish Passover performed by Jews living during the final hours of the Old Covenant period. Jesus was doing the things we've reviewed and adding new elements. Adding Last Supper elements to your biblical Passover doesn't do anything to remove your obligation to also do what is required for your biblical day to be Biblical. Forgoing Passover elements and only going for Last Supper elements definitely turns Passover into Easter. It's what the first century church did. They got rid of Passover elements, only kept the bread and wine, and went forward calling it Passover. That would be the opposite of what you're going for, though. You're going for keeping a biblical day, not Easter. But isn't the Last Supper biblical? And you can't do the things required for your biblical day. There is no Temple, nor Priesthood, nor animal sacrifices. So I guess that leaves everyone in a difficult spot. The exact same spot as the first century church.


Now, when will you be enjoying this Passover?

The Bible says to observe it on the 14th day of the month of Nissan (aka Abib) (EXO. 12: 6). But when is that, precisely? Will you follow the Jews? Don't you know the modern Jewish calendar is not the same calendar used at the Temple in Jerusalem? After the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, and after the expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem due to the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132 AD, the calendar used at the Temple no longer worked. So, Rabi Hillel II revamped the calendar in 359 AD. The calendar the Jews use today is based on but not the same as the one used at the Temple. In fact it's better. But better is still different. You are going to want a biblical calendar to go with your biblical day. What calendar did they use at the Temple? We aren't entirely sure. They kept the formula somewhat of a secret. What we know for certain is it's not exactly the one used today. Since we are on the topic of calendars, didn't you know the Jews had at least three "Hebrew" calendars in the first century (Essene, Galilean, and Judean/Babylonian)? And none of those three are exactly what Moses used. So, you need to decide which calendar you are going to follow. Don't choose a made up one!

What's more, when will you be enjoying this Passover meal?

You should know there is currently a timing dispute among people who attempt to "keep" this biblical day. Not calendar timing. This is different. The dispute is over when on the 14th the Passover rituals, like the Seder & etc., should be performed. Should it be on the evening at the start of the 14th or the evening at the end of the 14th? Hebrew days went from sunset to sunset, so each day technically had two evenings. Several verses say Passover rituals should be "at twilight" or "evening" on the 14th (EXO. 12: 18; LEV. 23: 5; NUM. 9: 3-5, 28: 16; JOS. 5: 10). But what does "at twilight" or "evening" or "between the evenings" mean, exactly? The first or the second? A casual reading could get you equally to either evening. I will spare you the details. Suffice it to say it gets complicated. Jesus kept His final Passover on the first evening, while the Jews kept it on the second. (There is nothing to indicate Jesus always kept Passover this way. It is reasonable to conclude He did not.) Who shall you follow? The one keeping the biblical day, or the one keeping the biblical day? In the end, we have two camps of people "keeping" the same biblical day on two different evenings. Which will you choose? And what will you say to the other camp, or about the other camp, when they question your decision? What will you do if they accuse you of heresy? The majority of non-Jews who "keep" biblical days aren't doing it because they find it fulfilling, they are doing it because they feel commanded to. They call them God's holy days. Any departure from their doctrine will threaten them and win you a negative response. You are a heretic in defiance of God in their eyes. And they will be happy to share that fact with you. You might want to be fully educated on why you chose what you did. But not for their sake. They are right and you are wrong and that is that. No, for your own sake. I suggest starting with a good understanding of the two Great Covenants.


I am going to assume you are a Gentile since I cannot imagine any Jew would ever ask a question like this in the first place. So, Gentile, how do you plan on "keeping" Passover as a Gentile? Don't you know that according to the law of Passover, Gentiles were forbidden from observing Passover (EXO. 12: 43-49)? That's the law! That law likely includes Firstfruits and the Days of Unleavened Bread, since they were often lumped together under the term Passover. You must become a Jew in order to observe these days. Men, schedule your circumcision. Ladies, marry an Israelite. People like to say, "God gave us days to keep." But, did He? Because He didn't give them to us Gentiles at all. He gave them to the Jews, and Jews only. This is another main reason why the early church didn't even try to "keep" biblical days.

Jews can be some of the most welcoming people. Once they get to know you, they will invite people to share in their observance of Passover. They do so without expecting anything, including conversion. Conversion is generally not what they want at all. They just want to share who they are. I respect that, deeply. I would go without hesitation. However, it isn't exactly what the Bible prescribes. For a Jew to share their Passover is one thing. It's their day. It was given to them. They can share it if they want to. It's another thing entirely for a Gentile to take the day upon themselves. It's not our day. It wasn't given to us. If you are taking up this day when the Bible clearly says not to, are you doing the right thing, biblically speaking? The point is to be biblical, right?

I would imagine being prohibited from keeping a day we aren't sure when to keep and which we cannot keep as prescribed even if we wanted to is really going to complicate this plan to "keep" a biblical day.

So far, we have only gone over Passover. I haven't gone into the other biblical days, such as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Rosh Hashanah, Atonement, or Tabernacles. Not to mention Purim, which is in the Bible, so it's biblical, but it's also "made up" by the Jews (EST. 9: 22-27). Or Hanukkah, which is mentioned in the Gospels (JON. 10: 22-23), so it's biblical, but is detailed only in the Apocrypha, because it's "made up" by the Jews, too. Biblical and made up? Yes. It's enough to make a person think "made up" holidays are entirely permitted by the Bible. Because they are. In other words, it's biblical to make up days to honor God. The Bible allows that. How does that affect your decision?

But believe me, the other days come with just as much if not more detail as Passover. Do you even own a shofar? You'll need one. Will you side with the Pharisees or the Sadducees on when to observe Firstfruits? It matters. Are you going to have a last great day to your Tabernacles or not? Remember when I said you have to travel to Jerusalem to keep the Passover? You actually have to do that three times a year. Yeah. Please take the time to understand what you're getting yourself into before you start down this road of "keeping" biblical days.

Maybe you thought this was going to be a simple thing. Perhaps you thought you would just take a made up day out and put a biblical day in, like changing socks. The reality is it's not so simple in practice as it is in theory. This section has been about the days as they actually are. Using Passover as an example, we have shown you the law. In other words, the days as they actually are, not as they are reinvented, or romanticized, to be. Do you love the days as they are, as they actually are, or have you built up an idea in your mind about the days that changes them into something else?


What days are given in the New Testament to remember events of the New Testament? Answer: none.

Passover does nothing to recall His resurrection - the greatest single event in the history of the physical universe. Keeping biblical days does not take you back to the early church, it takes you back to Sinai.

What days are directly commanded in the New Testament? Answer: none.

There is nothing new commanded to remember events of the New Testament. The Apostles commanded no mandatory days of observance at all. The early church observed the Last Supper, but with newly made symbols and meanings of our Lord not with old symbols and meanings of Old Covenant law, and by tradition not command.

Jesus said, "Do this in remembrance of Me," but He didn't exactly specify when (LUK. 22: 19). It does not say, "Do Passover in remembrance of Me every year." It says bread and wine "in remembrance of Me" (I COR. 11: 24-25), and that isn't really Passover. Yes, the bread is a Passover element, but it is one element out of many and hardly enough to constitute all of Passover. The wine is not commanded as a Passover element anywhere, and Jesus doesn't say anything at all about the rest of those things we went over in the last section. So, when do we remember Him with bread and wine? It doesn't say. Doing something is clearly assumed, but what, and when?

For the most part, the early church decided weekly and annually. Is that "made up"? Yes and no. Which will you go with, the 'yes' or the 'no'? Or both? People talk about "made up" days like there was some cut and dry system which most of the early church decided to ignore. That's simply not the case.

Paul said, "Let us keep the feast," apparently in reference to Passover, but then he went right on to change the imagery, saying, "not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth," (I COR. 5: 8). Some people say this is a command to keep Old Covenant holy days, but we disagree since the context cannot support such a far-reaching conclusion as that. Paul is using imagery to make a point about morality vs immorality. Goes well with what he said in Romans 7: 6.

So, what does the New Testament say about days? It says a couple things.

First off, it says the Jewish converts were "zealous for the law" (ACT. 21: 20-21). What this means is, the Jewish converts were fully permitted to continue in their Old Covenant traditions in the New Covenant era. That includes days. Those things are their culture. Those things were given to them (ROM. 3: 1-2; 9: 4-5). It's theirs to keep (ROM. 11: 29). They can both accept Jesus as their Messiah and keep the Old Covenant traditions of their forefathers. Jews were not required to become Gentiles in order to be Christians.

Second, conversely, it says Gentiles were under no obligation to observe Old Covenant traditions (ACT. 20: 25). How could they be obligated if they are in fact forbidden? They cannot. Acts 15 is all about how that decision was made. It was God Himself who revealed the Gentiles were under no such obligations (ACT. 15: 28-29). So, the Gentiles were not to be circumcised nor keep the whole law (ACT. 15: 5). That includes days. Almost the entire book of Galatians is a record of Paul dealing with this issue. Yet, even as Paul zealously defended the Gentiles from legalism, he never abandoned his own Jewishness (ACT. 21: 24). Gentiles do not need to become Jews in order to be Christians.

Third, Paul made it abundantly clear that there are no obligatory days in the New Covenant (ROM. 14: 5-7). There is no command from the Apostles in the New Covenant to observe any day. We know days were observed. The Lord's Day was definitely observed. I am not saying days were not observed. I am only saying days were not commanded to be observed. Observe days, don't observe days, it's all the same. Either way, what you choose to do, do it to the Lord. Now, the Quartodeciman Controversy taught us a good lesson about how this freedom affects unity, so take that lesson with you.

Fourth, Paul specifically expresses concern about it.

(GAL. 4: 10-11) 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.

Paul is not talking about divination or paganism. If Galatians were doing those sorts of things, Paul would express more than just concern. Paul goes back to Genesis 1: 14 to get this phrase. The days and months and seasons and years he refers to are in reference Old Covenant law (EZE. 45: 17). You know, those biblical days you are thinking about keeping. If we follow the context of Galatians, we know Paul is specifically warning the Gentiles about taking up Old Covenant days. That is the overarching context of the book. It concerns him so much because if people start mixing law with grace, it can ruin their faith (GAL. 5: 1-4). That's why Paul says, "I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain." That's some very serious stuff. Why do we not "keep" Old Covenant biblical days? Because it's not as great an idea as it sounds.

This is where it gets important to know your motivation.


This comes from introspection. There are many questions to ask yourself. Primarily, why would you want to do this in the first place?

Be honest with yourself and peal away the rhetorical buzz phrases like "made up" and "biblical" that are only there to manipulate. What is your true motivation? Are you bored? Are you disappointed? Do you feel there is a more genuine experience to be had in those days? Are you looking for more spirituality? Do you think the Old Covenant Pesach will bring you closer to Jesus than the New Covenant Pascha? Are you tired of secular encroachment on Christian holidays? (I am!) Do you think the Old Covenant days are commanded for Christians? Do you prefer days that remember events from the Old Testament versus days that remember events from the New Testament? I bet it's not that last one. I hope it's not this next one! Do you feel you will become more pure or holier than others if you "keep" these biblical days while they keep their "made up" days?

So, we ask, what is your motivation? Do you really love these biblical days as they actually are, or do you love the idea of these days that you (or someone else) have made up?

We also ask, why stop there? Why stop at annual days? Why not go on to weekly Sabbaths? The biblical rest day. And why stop there? Why not also have tithes? The biblical way to pay. And why stop there? Why not have clean/unclean meats laws, too? The biblical way to eat. And why stop there? Why not also prohibit mixing of fabrics? The biblical way to dress. And why stop there? Why not do everything according to the Jewish calendar (or whatever calendar you chose earlier)? The biblical way to tell time. And why stop there? Why not add various other laws? The biblical way to be. Why stop there....

It's a slippery slope! Be cautious! A little law leads to a little more. After all, what is so biblical about these days besides the command? Both "biblical" and "made up" days have their roots in the Bible, in worshipping the God of the Bible for things God did in the Bible. So what is the difference? The command. The law. (Even though that same law tells you not to.) Thousands before you have been tripped up over this. Your motivation will either make or break you on this point. This is precisely what worried Paul!

Don't think that could ever happen to you? Look at the original question. It sets up two options: biblical vs made up. You could see that as a wrote matter of cold fact. Sure. Or, you could see that as a rhetorical dichotomy. Words meant to set one idea up and pull another idea down. One is biblical. Godly. Yay! The other is made up. Worldly. Boo! Hiss! Therein lies the rub. The toe is already dipped into the pool of us vs. them before you even make a choice. Who would want to choose made up days? :-( Only people who don't obey God, am I right? So, off people go by the score, to "keep" a godly and holy biblical day ...that they make up. Only a few steps down that road, and "made up" day becomes "pagan" and "sinful" day. Oh, beloved by God, be so very careful about your motivations! The road to self righteousness lies before you. Again, I come back to Paul's worry.


Why do we keep "made up" holidays when the Bible gave us days we can keep?

  • Because we can. There's nothing wrong with it. The book of Esther makes that clear enough.
  • Because there's a lot more to it than taking Easter out and putting Passover in. Or any other biblical day. There is a whole lot more to it.
  • Because unless you modify them, biblical days miss important parts of New Covenant events. Where is God's incarnation? Not in Trumpets. Where is Jesus' resurrection? Not in Passover.
  • Because Gentiles are forbidden by law from keeping those days. When contemplating what days "the Bible gives us", it is a good idea to remember to whom the Bible actually gave those days. Hint: it's not us, the Gentiles.
  • Because it's a matter of Covenants. They aren't the same! Know which one actually applies to you. Making the wrong choice will have far-reaching consequences.
  • Because there is no command to observe Old Covenant days in the New Covenant. No day is commanded in the New. People want commands. Having none in the New, they go to the Old. Which brings us right back to knowing which covenant applies to you.
  • Because it's not a safe option to mix law with grace. Be wary, lest you start seeing days as having some part to play in your salvation, as meriting you something, as obligatory, or as making you somehow better off than your fellow Christian. That's when Christ's righteousness in you by faith becomes self-righteousness by law, where "gift" becomes "merit", and you fall from grace.
  • Because we can no longer "keep" biblical days as the Bible demands they should be kept. And if you aren't keeping them as the Bible says to, are you really keeping them at all? Are they really biblical? Or are they ... made up days? And if it's made up, then what's the point?

Be cautious! Mind your motivations. Know your covenants.

Hopefully this article goes over the highlights of the issue and helps you to get a better idea of what this decision really entails. As I said, there is a lot more to it. An informed decision is a better decision. We have many articles in our Categories page to help you.

We pray you make the right choice for your walk with God. Whatever choice you make, make it in faith, make it to the Lord, and stay humble. We hope for you God's guidance, grace, and blessings.


It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; )

Acts 17:11



Miller Jones/Lonnie C Hendrix said...

A very well-articulated commentary on the issue of "biblical" days versus "made up" days. Armstrongists ignore the Torah's Law of the Central Sanctuary (along with many other inconvenient instructions with regard to these days). They simply cannot see that they are NOT keeping/observing these days in accordance with the instructions found in Torah! They simply do not understand that Torah was an iteration of God's Law given to a particular people, in a particular place, within the context of a particular set of circumstances. While perfectly observing the instructions outlined in Torah, Jesus of Nazareth summarized the intent of God's Law into two great commandments - Love for God and each other. Unlike Torah, this iteration of God's Law is for ALL people, everywhere, for ALL times! In other words, it's a UNIVERSAL iteration of God's Law. Even so, as you indicated in this post, even the observance of this universal iteration of God's Law cannot replace GRACE - our salvation is entirely dependent on Jesus Christ - NOT any works of our own! Again, great post! And may God open the minds of the folks who are still ensnared in the delusion of these legalists to someday understand this truth - Amen!

xHWA said...

Amen! And thank you once again! God bless

Anonymous said...

Here, the Real Sabbath Starts on Thursday Evening

Then, for those convinced that the “keeping” of various Old Covenant Holy Days and the Sabbath is required, is the which-day-of-the-week problem.

It’s not a problem in the Old World, in Europe, Asia, and Africa. But it is in the New World, in North and South America.

It involves, is controlled by where the International Dateline should be located.

The crucial fact is this. No one at any time in history has had the authority to change the Sabbath’s observance on the Seventh Day of the week. So, didn’t that date, never changed or interrupted, travel with all who lived after the Sabbath was created?

If so, then in 1491, in the New World, indigenous peoples, whose ancestors brought with them from Asia the Sabbath, had the Sabbath on their Seventh Day — which, in fact, would have been on what would have started on today’s Thursday evening.

Simply, Biblically, from the historical dispersion of humans from their point of origin in the Middle East, the Seventh Day Sabbath went with them. A Biblical International Dateline, then, would have to be in the Atlantic Ocean, not in the Pacific. When Christopher Columbus landed in the New World none of his officials or church fathers had any authority change the prevailing, historical, local Sabbath in the New World. It continues today.

So, those in the New World who believe that observance of an authentic Seventh Day Sabbath is a pre-requirement for salvation are doomed. With a Biblically authentic International Dateline in the Atlantic, the historically true Seventh-day Sabbath in the New World, today, begins at sundown on today’s Thursday evening.