The Devil’s Calendar
Scott Wilson on a Stealthy Theft of Christian Holy Days
In Exodus, God commands Israel to set aside several holy feast days:
Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread. . . . You shall keep the feast of harvest. . . . You shall keep the feast of ingathering. . . . Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord God. (Ex. 23:14–17)
Such feasts were for the spiritual good of the people of Israel because they caused them to turn their attention to their Lord and Creator—honoring, worshiping, and making sacrifices to him as covenant expressions of their love and devotion.
Moreover, once a week they were to rest from their labor, in the Lord’s presence:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work. . . . (Ex. 20:8–10)
The observance of the holy days and the Sabbath was an expression of both Israel’s fidelity to God and Israel’s identity as a holy people. In the prophets, Israel is rebuked for failing to keep the Sabbath; the people also failed to keep the Passover regularly, as false gods often enticed them into idolatry.
In the New Testament, Jesus recognized these holy days. On many occasions he went up to Jerusalem for one of the feasts. His observance of them gave sanction to the Church to set aside times for certain “feasts” and other commemorations to recall the significant events in our Lord’s own life which fulfilled the Old Testament Law.
Today, of course, not all churches follow the same calendar, but its main outlines are common to most. These observances have been established for our continued remembrance and participation.
But, one by one, the Church’s holy days have been overshadowed by secularizing forces, by new false gods, if you will. The religious meaning of most of these great commemorations has been lost, especially in the United States, to all but the most observant worshipers.
Advent of Losses
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