Chapter 1

Which Days Should We Keep?

From the booklet Pagan Holidays—or God’s Holy Days—Which?
By Herbert W. Armstrong

In the seventh chapter of the book of Daniel is an amazing prophecy picturing for 2,500 years into the future, from the day it was written, the course of the Gentile kingdoms.

Starting with the ancient Chaldean Empire of Nebuchadnezzar, this prophecy foretells the successive world rule of the Persian Empire, Alexander’s Greco-Macedonian kingdom with its four divisions, and finally, of the mighty Roman Empire. Out of the original Roman Empire, symbolized by 10 “horns” growing out of the head of a “beast,” are pictured the 10 resurrections of the Roman Empire that have continued since its fall to the present, and are scheduled to continue until the coming of Christ.

Among these 10 kingdoms which have ruled in the Western world since the fall of Rome to the present, appeared another “little horn,” whose “look was more stout than his fellows.” In other words, another government, actually smaller, yet dominating over all the others. Students of prophecy recognize this “little horn” as a great religious hierarchy. And in the 25th verse of this prophecy, it is stated that this hierarchy shall “think to change times and laws.”

How Time Was Changed

This same power is mentioned again in the 17th chapter of Revelation, here pictured as ruling over the kings and kingdoms of the Earth, persecuting the true saints.

In every possible manner, this power has changed time!

God begins the days at sunset, but “the little horn” has changed it so the world now begins the day in the middle of the night by a man-made watch.

God begins the week with the ending of the true Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, but the world begins the working week in the middle of the night, the second day of the week.

God begins the months with the new moons, but this “little horn” has induced the world to begin the months according to a clumsy man-made calendar of heathen origin.

God begins the year in the early spring, when new life is budding in nature everywhere, but ancient heathen Rome caused the world to begin the year in the middle of dead winter.

God gave His children a true rest day, designed to keep them continually in the knowledge and true worship of the true God—a memorial of God’s creation—the seventh day of the week. But the “little horn” has fastened upon a deluded world the observance of the days on which the pagans worshiped the sun, the first day of the week, called Sunday.

Pagan Origins

Ancient Rome’s pagan holidays have been chained upon a heedless and deceived world. These include certain annual holidays—Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, as well as many more, every one a pagan day—every one used to stimulate the sale of merchandise in the commercial markets. Upon honest investigation, the earnest seeker after truth learns that these days are all of heathen origin and pagan significance. He learns that he can have no part in them.

But is the Christian of today left without any annual holy days? Did God never give to His people annual holy days, as well as the weekly Sabbath? Are not ancient Rome’s annual holidays mere counterfeits of God’s true holy days, exactly as Sunday is a counterfeit of the true Sabbath?

Banishing Prejudice

Let us honestly open our Bibles, and prayerfully investigate. We are told to study—not argue, not to refute, but—to show ourselves approved unto God—to learn God’s will. We are commanded, as Christians, to grow in knowledge as well as in grace (2 Peter 3:18). All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable to correct and to reprove us, where we have, through assumption, false teaching or prejudice, been in error.

Most people have supposed that all the annual sabbaths and feast days of Israel were done away. And yet Church history shows that the early true Church did, for more than 400 long years at least—perhaps much longer—after Christ’s resurrection, continue to keep and observe these annual holy days given by God!

And just as the Sunday observer is inclined to look, at first, upon any argument for the weekly Sabbath with prejudice—as a heresy—and to examine every argument only in an attitude of attempting to refute it, so it will be only human—only natural for us, if we are not on our guard against it, to look upon any presentation of these annual sabbaths in the same spirit of prejudice.

But remember that “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13).

Let us, therefore, in willing submission to God, to His will, with yielded hearts free from prejudice, with open minds desiring truth more than our own way, trembling before the sacred and holy Word of God, ask God humbly for the direction of His Holy Spirit. And in this prayerful, submissive, willing, yet careful and cautious attitude, study this question—proving all things.

Study This Twice

Let us warn, too, that certain objections will be sure to come to the mind—all of which will be dealt with and explained later on. But unless the reader is careful to guard against it, the mere presence of this objection in his mind will, to him, overthrow each point as it’s presented—and then, when the objections are later explained, the points made will not come back to the mind, unless the whole exposition of the subject is carefully studied again from the first.

And in each case, the objection will be one of the very arguments used by Sunday preachers in attempting to overthrow the truth of the weekly Sabbath! For the weekly Sabbath and the annual sabbaths stand or fall together. The arguments used against the annual sabbaths will be the identical arguments used to overthrow the Sabbath—and if these arguments could hold, then they would abolish the weekly Sabbath! (For a complete explanation—proving the weekly Sabbath is for New Testament Christians—request our free booklet Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?)

Such arguments as “The annual sabbaths are part of the law of Moses,” or “They offered sacrifices on the annual sabbaths,” or “Colossians 2:16 does away with the annual sabbaths,” are not scriptural.

For the annual sabbaths were not part of the law of Moses, but were observed before the ritualistic ordinances contained in the law of Moses were given. Sacrifices were offered on the weekly Sabbath, but this does not do away with the Sabbath. In fact, sacrifices were offered on every day of the year (Numbers 28:3).

Colossians 2:16 refers not alone to the annual sabbaths, but to the annual days, the monthly new moons, and the weekly Sabbath. Whenever the Bible uses the expression “sabbath days” with new moons and holy days, it is referring to the weekly Sabbath days, the new moons and the annual holy days or feast days. The “sabbath days” of Colossians 2:16 refers to the weekly Sabbath. Compare 1 Chronicles 23:31 with 2 Chronicles 2:4; 31:3; Ezra 3:5; Nehemiah 10:33 and Ezekiel 46:3. If Colossians does away with the one, it also abolishes the other.

The Old Testament Church

When did the true Church begin? In Acts 7:38 we learn that the congregation of Israel was called the church in the wilderness, in the days of Moses.

The English word congregation used throughout the Old Testament is only another rendering, having the same identical meaning, as the word church in the New Testament. The word translated congregation in the Old Testament is ekklesia in the Septuagint—the same identical Greek word that is always translated church in the New Testament.

Israel was both church and state. As a kingdom, it was for years ruled by a system of judges, over fifties, hundreds, thousands, etc., later having a king. But as a congregation, or church, Israel was organized with a leader—Moses, Joshua, etc.—and the priests of the tribe of Levi. The law of Moses contained those ritualistic or ceremonial laws which were added, because of transgressions, to the Old Covenant—added until Christ—to teach and instill into them the habit of obedience. These consisted of meat and drink offerings, various washings, physical ordinances. Also they had the sacrifices, as a substitute for the sacrifice of Christ.

Prior to the Law of Moses

In the 12th chapter of Exodus, while the children of Israel were still in Egypt—long before any of the law of Moses had been given—prior to the time when God revealed to Moses and the Israelites He would make the Old Covenant with them—we find God’s annual holy days being observed.

And in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus we find a summary of these annual holy days, or set feasts.

Now when God made the Sabbath for man, He gave man a rest day carrying great significance and purpose. To His church in the wilderness, God said that the Sabbath was a covenant sign between Him and His people. A sign is a supernatural proof of identity. It is the sign by which we know that He is God. How does it prove that to us? “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested.” It is a memorial of creation.

And creation is the proof of the existence of God. Creation identifies God. The Sabbath is a weekly memorial of creation. A weekly reminder of God’s power to create. Therefore it identifies God to us—keeps us in the true memory and true worship of the true God. No other day but the seventh day of the week could have that great significance and meaning. It was designed to keep us in the true worship of God.

The Purpose of Holy Days

Now in like manner, when God gave His Church seven annual sabbaths, God, in His wisdom, had a great purpose. These days, too, were given to keep God’s children in the true memory and worship of God by keeping us constantly in the understanding of God’s great plan of redemption. For these annual days picture the different epochs in the plan of spiritual creation—mark the dispensations, and picture their meaning.

The whole story of spiritual regeneration was, in these feast days, to be reenacted year after year continually. They have vitally important symbolism and meaning.

It is a historic fact that any nation which ever profaned God’s holy Sabbath (weekly), has lost contact with and knowledge of the true God, and gone into idolatry. The only nation which ever did keep God’s Sabbath is the only one that kept the true memory and worship of the true God—and only when they kept the Sabbath. When ancient Israel began to profane God’s Sabbath, it began to worship idols!

And in the same way, when in these New Testament times we have failed to observe God’s annual sabbaths we, as a nation and people, are without knowledge of God’s true plan of reproducing Himself.

The so-called Christian churches today do not understand or teach what sin is—they do not teach that sin must be put away—they do not understand what man is, the purpose of life, the meaning of being born again, and of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit—they do not understand that God’s Church, today, is not to convert the world, but to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom as a witness, to live a life of overcoming sin, enduring unto the end, and that the overcomers shall reign with Christ, being kings, and priests, in His Kingdom.

They do not understand that Christ is coming again, and those who preach the Second Coming fail to understand its meaning and purpose. They have no knowledge or conception of the good news of the coming Kingdom of God—the only true New Testament Bible gospel.

Not understanding these vital steps in the true plan of regeneration, the Christian churches teach that the law is abolished. They teach the pagan doctrine of the immortality of the soul, going immediately to heaven or hell at death—and they teach that death is only life.

And all is confusion!

God’s feasts, or holy days, or sabbaths, were commanded to be kept year after year, and forever! We ask the reader to retain an open mind, for we shall prove that forever, in this case, means forever!

Thus God purposed to impress the truths these “high” sabbaths picture upon all the minds of His children through all time, keeping His Church in the true understanding of His plan!

The Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread

Most churches teach that Christ finished the plan of redemption when He was crucified. But the very first event in God’s great plan for man’s regeneration was the death of Christ. We find the operation of this great sacrifice beginning in Eden, when God killed a lamb or goat in order to cover the nakedness (type of sin) of Adam and Eve with skins. We find it operating when Abel sacrificed a substitute lamb. And so the Passover is the first of these events picturing to God’s children year by year His great plan.

Let us understand it.

Egypt is a type of sin. As God’s people are today in “Babylon,” and soon are to be delivered after God pours out His plagues upon Babylon, so they once were in Egypt, and were delivered after the pouring out of the plagues.

Just as professing Christians have been deceived and have no knowledge of true time, and God’s days, as well as the true worship of God, so it was with the children of Israel in Egypt.

For over two centuries they had been in severe bondage in Egypt—forced to work with taskmasters over them. There was no Bible—no written Word of God. They were not permitted to worship God as He had ordained. They were forced to work seven days a week. They had lost sight even of the true Sabbath—that is why God revealed to them the Sabbath in the wilderness of Sin (Exodus 16).

Passover Only the Start

At that time in Egypt they had also changed the proper time for commencing the year.

And so, on delivering His people from Egypt (sin), God straightened them out as to time. And, as the beginning of our salvation was wrought by Christ’s death on the cross, so God said, “This month [in the spring] shall be unto you the beginning of months …” (Exodus 12:2).

Some few keep the beginning of God’s feasts of salvation by observing Passover, but never go on to know the “depth of the riches” of God’s grace pictured by the following feasts! Christ is not only the author, or beginner, but the finisher of our salvation!

On the 10th day of this first month the Israelites were instructed to take a lamb without blemish. They kept it until—not after—the 14th day of the same first month. At even, at dusk as the Jewish translation has it—between the two evenings, or between sunset and dark—the Passover lamb was killed.

This was in, not after, the 14th day. They shed the blood of the lamb, picturing Christ’s sacrifice to come. They ate the flesh in that night. At midnight the death angel came, but passed over every house where the blood had been sprinkled.

There are some very important details it is vital that we notice at this point; perhaps we have not seen them before. It proves that the Passover should be observed the 14th, not the 15th.

Passover 14th, Not 15th

Notice Exodus 12. Verse 6, they shall kill the lamb at dusk (Jewish official translation). Verse 8, they shall eat the flesh in that night—still the 14th. Verses 9-11 continue to describe how it shall be roasted and eaten—the time is still the same night—the 14th. Verse 12: “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn”—still same night—the 14th.

Now notice carefully the paragraph beginning verse 21. Here are more detailed directions for striking the blood on the doorposts—the time this was done, as proved above, was the night part of the 14th. Notice carefully verse 22: “[S]trike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.” Notice that carefully! None were permitted to leave their houses that night. They remained in their houses until morning! They remained there all night!

Now read on in verse 29. At midnight (the 14th) the Lord smote the firstborn of Egypt. Verse 30, Pharaoh rose up in the night. This was of course after the death angel passed at midnight, and therefore after midnight.

He called for Moses and Aaron. This must have taken some time, but still the same night. Verse 33, the Egyptian people were urgent to get rid of the Israelites. Verse 35, the Israelites borrowed of the Egyptians silver and gold and clothing, and spoiled the Egyptians. When? Surely this borrowing and spoiling of the Egyptians took several hours. The Israelites lived in the land of Goshen, apart from the Egyptians. The Israelites were forbidden to leave their houses until morning—so this spoiling and borrowing took place through the day time of the 14th day.

Exodus 24 Hours After Passover

But—notice this highly important point—the Israelites did not go out from the land of Egypt until that night—the 15th of Abib! Notice the section composed of verses 40-42: “[E]ven the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed ….” Which is the night to be observed? The night they came out of Egypt. They went out of Egypt, not during the daytime of the 14th, but after that day had ended—after the sun had set—the following night—on the 15th of Abib! And that night, the 15th, is to be observed!

The following verses, beginning verse 43, form a new paragraph, and refer again to Passover—the 14th day.

Now, notice Deuteronomy 16:1: “Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the [Eternal] thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.” Notice it, they did not go out of Egypt, until night. And this night was the 15th, not the 14th. Further proof?

Notice now Numbers 33:3: “And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians.”

There it is in plain language.

Now some believe that they killed the lamb between noon and sunset the 14th—about 3 p.m., near the end of the day; ate it that night—the 15th (claiming that is when the Passover was eaten, and when we should take it today) and then went on out of Egypt that same night. But this theory will not hold water, in view of all these scriptures, and those following through Exodus 12.

The Israelites were not permitted to leave their houses that night after eating the lamb. They remained in their own houses—in the land of Goshen—until daylight. Then they went to their Egyptian neighbors, and borrowed from them and spoiled them. There were millions of them. It took time to notify them. It took time to do all this. It could not have been done after midnight, when Pharaoh rose up, and still have gotten out of Egypt the same night. The Israelites were in their own houses in Goshen all that night. Exodus 12:10 further proves this. Whatever remained of their roasted lamb uneaten until morning they were to burn with fire. That shows they stayed in their homes until morning.

They did not leave Egypt until after that day ended—after nightfall again, during the night part of the 15th.

IN the 14th, Not After

Now to connect one other vital point, turn to Numbers 28:16-17. “[I]n the fourteenth day [not after it] … is the passover of the Lord. And in the fifteenth day [not before it] of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten.”

Leviticus 23:5-6 say the same thing. Notice the Passover is not the 15th, but the 14th. “In it” is not after it is past. And notice, too, the feast mentioned here is not the 14th (though the Passover is elsewhere called a feast), but the feast day is the 15th. The seven-day period begins the 15th. The 15th is the first of the seven Days of Unleavened Bread.

However, since leaven was put out of the houses during the 14th day, it came to be called one of the Days of Unleavened bread by New Testament times, but when this is done, eight days are included in the term “days of unleavened bread.” The entire eight-day period is, in New Testament usage, sometimes called by the name “Passover.”

But the seven-day period begins the 15th, after the 14th, or Passover, has ended.

The 14th day is the Passover. It is the first of God’s festivals. It is not the feast day mentioned here. In the 15th day is the feast. Let us get that distinction clearly in mind. It is the fifteenth that is the feast—the 14th is the Passover. This feast day begins after Passover has ended.

Now with these facts well in mind, let us turn back to Exodus 12. Notice beginning verse 14. “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread …. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation …” (verses 14-16).

What day is established as a memorial—not a shadow, a memorial—a feast—to be kept forever? Notice, it is the day that is the feast—“[Y]e shall keep it a feast.” It is the day that is the feast day—the 15th Abib, not the 14th—not the Passover!

This day is the feast day—a memorial, to be kept a sabbath, or holy convocation, forever! Seven days are included, and we have shown that the seven-day period begins the 15th, after Passover has passed. In the 14th is the Passover, but in the 15th day is the feast—seven days.

Many have always believed the day here spoken of, and ordained forever, was the Passover, or 14th. But it is not—it is the 15th day.

Now this day—the 15th—is established a holy convocation. Look in the dictionary. A “convocation” is an assembly of the people where their presence is commanded, under power and authority. A “holy convocation” is a religious assembly, for purposes of worship. The weekly Sabbath is a holy convocation. So is Abib 15th. Our presence is commanded, under God’s power and authority. But let us continue.

Notice now, beginning verse 16: “And in the first day [of the seven, 15th of Abib] there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day [21st of Abib] there shall be an holy convocation to you …. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day [the 15th Abib] have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day [the 15th, not the 14th] in your generations by an ordinance for ever” (verses 16-17).

There it is! Before the ceremonial law of Moses! The day established as a sabbath, or holy convocation forever, is the feast day, the selfsame day on which they went out of Egypt, and they went out on the 15th, not the 14th (Numbers 33:3).

This day is a memorial, not a shadow of the cross. A memorial of deliverance from Egypt, which pictures to us deliverance from sin!

To keep us constantly in the memory of the great fact that, having had our sins forgiven by Christ’s blood (pictured by the 14th), we are not to stop there, and remain in sin, but to go out away from sin! Why should we observe the 14th, picturing remission of past sins, and then refuse to continue the feast of Unleavened Bread, picturing the coming out from sin—seven Days of Unleavened Bread symbolizing and picturing complete putting away of sin, or, in other words, the keeping of the commandments?

Not Abolished With Old Covenant

Observe that the Days of Unleavened Bread are a period, having two high-day sabbaths. And this period is established forever—while the Israelites were still in Egypt—before one word of the ceremonial law of Moses had been given or written—before God even proposed the Old Covenant!

What the law of Moses or the Old Covenant did not bring or institute, they cannot take away! And in Fenton’s translation, we find the 17th verse translated thus: “… Consequently keep this period as an everlasting institution.” The whole period is included.

This alone ought to prove that the holy days—and the seven Days of Unleavened Bread—are binding today, and forever!

Now, if these texts apply to the 15th, not the 14th, as they assuredly do, and is here conclusively proved, then is the Passover forever? Indeed it is! But these texts above refer to the feast, and not the Passover. In the passage beginning Exodus 12:21 the Passover is again referred to, and verse 24 establishes it forever!

Purpose of Festival

But let us learn the full significance of this. Why did God ordain these feast days? What was His great purpose? Turn now to Exodus 13, verse 3: “And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt ….” This was the 15th of Abib. Verses 6, 8-10: “Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the [Eternal]. … This is done because of that which the [Eternal] did …”—(a memorial)—“And it shall be for a sign”—that is, having also a future meaning—“unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes”—having to do with both works and will—why?—“that the Lord’s law may be in thy mouth …. Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance ….”

Can you see the wonderful meaning? Do you grasp the true significance of it all? Do you see God’s purpose? The Passover only pictures the death of Christ for the remission of sins that are past (Romans 3:25). The accepting of His blood does not forgive sins we may later commit; it does not give license to continue in sin. Therefore when we accept it, our sins are forgiven only up to that time—past sins.

But shall we stop there with only past sins forgiven? We are still flesh beings. We still shall suffer temptations. Sin has held us in its clutch—we have been slaves to sin, in its power. And we are powerless to deliver ourselves from it! We have been in bondage to sin. Let us understand the picture—the meaning.

Quitting Sin Utterly

To what extent shall we put away sin? Not partially, but completely! And, as leaven is also a type of sin (1 Corinthians 5:8)—leaven puffs up, and so does sin—and, as seven is God’s number symbolizing completeness, we are to follow the Passover with seven Days of Unleavened Bread!

The picture—the meaning—the symbolism, is not complete with Passover alone. Passover pictures the acceptance of Christ’s blood for the remission of past sins. It pictures the crucified—the dead—Christ.

Shall we leave Christ symbolically hanging on the cross? The seven Days of Unleavened Bread following Passover picture to us the complete putting away of sin, the keeping of the commandments—after past sins are forgiven.

They picture the life and work of the risen Christ—who ascended to the throne of God where He is now actively at work on our behalf as our High Priest, cleansing us of sin—delivering us completely from its power!

To observe the Passover alone, and then fail to observe the seven Days of Unleavened Bread, means, in the symbolism, to accept Christ’s blood, and then to continue in sin—to erroneously say the law is done away, that we are under grace alone, meaning license, to continue in sin!

The seven days of the feast of Unleavened Bread picture the keeping of the commandments, which is another way of saying the putting away of sin.

God’s true Church is to have these feast days, the first of which is a memorial picturing deliverance from sin, in our right hand and forehead, as God’s sign, in order that we shall keep His commandments. And since the forehead is the seat of the intellect, and symbolizes acceptance, and the right hand symbolizes work, we have this sign of God there by accepting this truth about the holy days and Days of Unleavened Bread, and by not working on these holy days! Not only is the weekly Sabbath God’s sign (Exodus 31:12-17) but annual sabbaths are signs as well!

Notice how marvelously this ordinance pictures the plan of redemption. I remember one year, during the last of these sabbaths, 21st Abib, one housewife mentioned she had found a half slice of leavened bread behind some things in her home, during the Days of Unleavened Bread. Of course, she had put it out of the house immediately.

Another said she had found a can of baking powder half full, which she did not know she had. Another found a slice of bread and some yeast. All had put the leaven out as soon as discovered.

How true to life is the picture! How often do we, after we think we have put away sin, discover hidden sins or habits we did not know we had—or thought we had overcome? They must be overcome and put away, as soon as discovered.

The Perfect Picture

But let us notice the wonderful picture further. The children of Israel started out of Egypt, the night of the 15th of Abib, as we must, willingly, of our own accord, start out of sin as soon as we accept the blood of Christ. They started out on their own power—and we must make the start ourselves.

But they did not get far until Pharaoh pursued after them (Exodus 14:5-7). If Egypt is a type of sin, then surely Pharaoh must picture Satan; the army of Egypt, Satan’s demons.

While the Israelites were in Egypt they were Pharaoh’s slaves, helpless and powerless under his taskmasters—just as the sinner is in the power of the devil. But when Israel took the blood of the lamb, then God acted, and as a result Pharaoh released Israel. When we accept Christ’s blood, God acts, and the devil must release us.

And, as the Israelites went out with a high hand (Numbers 33:3), in great exultation and elation over their deliverance from bondage, so does the newly begotten Christian start out his Christian life—up in the clouds of happiness and joy. But what happens?

The devil and sin immediately pursue after the newly begotten son of God—and soon the new and inexperienced Christian finds he is down in the depths of discouragement, and tempted to give up and quit.

Notice Exodus 14, beginning verse 10—as soon as the Israelites saw this great army pursuing them, they lost their courage. Fear came over them. They began to grumble and complain. They saw it was impossible for them to get away from Pharaoh and his army, because he was too powerful for them. And they were helpless. So it is with us.

Our Strength Not Sufficient!

But notice the message of God to them through Moses: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the [Eternal] … for the Egyptians … ye shall see them again no more for ever. The [Eternal] shall fight for you”! (verses 13-14). How wonderful!

Helpless, we are told to stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. He shall fight for us. We cannot conquer Satan and sin, but He can. It is the risen Christ—our High Priest—who will cleanse us—sanctify us—deliver us—who said He would never leave us nor forsake us!

We cannot keep the commandments in our own power and strength. But Christ in us can keep them! We must rely on Him in faith.

Notice verse 19. The angel that had gone before, showing the Israelites the way, now went behind them, getting between them and their enemy, protecting them. And then God parted the waters of the Red Sea. “[A]nd the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left” (verse 22). In Isaiah 55:1 and John 7:37-39, the waters are a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

The living waters of God are a wall to us, on our right hand and on our left, guiding us in the true path, making the path, protecting us in it. But when Pharaoh and his army attempted to follow after Israel in this divinely created path, these same waters completely covered them, as the Holy Spirit removes and covers our sins, and the Israelites saw them no more! What a wonderful picture!

No Sacrifices Originally

Thus we see the feast of Unleavened Bread, as well as the Passover, was ordained and established forever, prior to the Old Covenant. Let us be consistent about this. Opponents tell us these are in the law of Moses. We reply they existed before the law of Moses, are carried over in the New Testament, and therefore are binding today.

Notice especially, that originally there were no sacrifices—no meat and drink ordinances—held on these days. See Jeremiah 7:22-23. These days were not instituted for the purpose of the sacrifices as some have wrongly supposed. These holy days are memorials, and twice plainly called such. Where do we find such plain language calling the Sabbath a memorial? (See also Leviticus 23:24.)

The Sabbath, too, existed before the law of Moses. It was made holy unto the Lord before the Mosaic law was given.

When the law of Moses came, with its sacrificial ordinances and meat and drink offerings, then these sacrifices and meat and drink offerings were instituted, temporarily—until Christ—to be held, some daily, some on the weekly Sabbath, and some on the first of each month, and some on each of the annual holy days.

But, mark well this fact! Where we find these sacrifices and meat and drink offerings instituted on the holy days we find them also on the weekly Sabbath. The same chapters in the law of Moses adding them to the annual days also add them to the weekly days.

The argument that these sacrifices held on these days does away with the days applies equally to the Sabbath! If this argument abolishes one, it abolishes also the other. The Sunday preachers argue that these sacrifices do away with the Sabbath. We deny it—why? The Sabbath existed before these sacrifices were added. The same is true of the holy days! They began, too, before the ritualistic law of Moses!

Sacrifices on Weekly Sabbath

Let us notice, Numbers 28: First, the offerings by fire day by day, the “morning-evening” sacrifice. Second, verses 9‑10, burnt meat offerings, and drink offerings every Sabbath. Third, verses 11-15, new moons. Then, verse 16, to end of chapter 29, the annual days.

Now we know these meat and drink offerings, by fire, were typical, and were done away. But are the seven weekdays done away? Is the weekly Sabbath done away? Is the first day of each month done away? Not in God’s sight. Then neither are the annual holy days of the Lord done away!

The sacrifices were typical, and they came with the law of Moses, and they went with it. But the days on which they were held were not typical, did not come with the law of Moses, and did not go with it.

The days are binding forever! As the Sabbath is a memorial, so are the holy days!

Commanded in New Testament

And now we wish to show a New Testament command—more plain, more direct, than any we can find for the weekly Sabbath—to keep these annual holy days!

Observe again Numbers 28:16-17: “[I]n the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover of the Lord. And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten.”

This feast was not the 14th, but the 15th. It was the Passover, when the lamb was killed, that was the 14th. The daylight part of the 14th was the preparation for the feast (Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14). Note, in Jesus’s day the Jews celebrated their Passover one day late according to the tradition of the elders (John 18:28).

Let us get this point thoroughly established in our minds, for if this is true, as it is, then all of these days are still binding upon us, by New Testament, as well as Old Testament, authority!

Notice Matthew 26:5. The chief priests and the scribes, conspiring to kill Jesus, said: “Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.” They hastened so they could take and kill Him the day before the feast, or on the 14th Abib (Nisan).

Mark 14:2 says the same thing. Now to establish that the feast day was the day after the Passover festival, and that it was the high day sabbath—the day after Jesus was crucified, notice John 13:29: “For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag [was treasurer—Fenton translation], that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast ….” Surely this proves the feast was the following day—the 15th Abib (Nisan), as all these scriptures positively affirm. For further information on this vital subject, request our free reprint “When Was Christ Crucified and Resurrected?”

Now let us examine carefully 1 Corinthians 5:7-8. Churches have applied this to the Passover. Notice it does not say, nor apply to, Passover at all. Let us willingly, prayerfully, study to see what it does say: “… For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast ….” Notice it. Because Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed, therefore let us of the New Testament dispensation—because Christ had died—keep, what? Notice it! Not the Passover here, which was on the 14th Abib (Nisan)—but let us keep the feast—which was the 15th! The high-day sabbath of John 19:31! The annual holy day. And, in a larger sense, the feast included all seven of the Days of Unleavened Bread, including the second holy day, or sabbath, on the 21st Abib (Nisan)! We cannot escape this, if we are yielded to the Lord and the Word of God! There it is, in plain language, in the New Testament! Because Christ was crucified, therefore let us keep the feast! The 14th was the Passover, but in the 15th day of this month is the feast! Let us no longer apply that to the Passover, for it says “feast.”

Days of Unleavened Bread Kept by Paul and the New Testament Church

It is faithfully recorded in the New Testament that the Church, during the period its history covers, was keeping those days!

In Acts 20:6: “[W]e sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread ….” Paul and companions plainly had observed the Days of Unleavened Bread at Philippi. The Holy Spirit could never have inspired such words otherwise.

Notice also Acts 12:3: “Then were the days of unleavened bread.” Why this, if those days had, in God’s sight, ceased to exist?

Notice, it is not anyone ignorant of what was abolished making this statement. It is Almighty God saying it through inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This was years after the crucifixion. The Days of Unleavened Bread still existed, or the Holy Spirit could not have inspired “Then were the days of unleavened bread.”

Continue Reading: Chapter 2: What You Should Know About Pentecost