WHERE DO WE KEEP THE FEASTS
TODAY and what about a Feast
A question has been posed, and an answer desired. The question:
"Another reason for keeping the Feast is to know where is 'the
place which He shall choose to place His name,' Deuteronomy
14:23. In Samuel's day it was Shiloh, 1 Samuel 1:3; Judges 18:31.
God later chose Jerusalem, Deut.12:5; Ps.78:68; 2 Chron.7:12; but
Christ prophesied of a time when Jerusalem would not be the place
of worship, John 4:20-21. In the future, Jerusalem will again be
chosen, Zech.2:12...... So where is God's place today for keeping
It has also been wondered what the implication of this statement
is: "The Feast forces us to prove.....which group is the true
Church......for only they will be keeping the Feast at
'the place which He shall choose to place His name there.' "
Then it has also been posed: "If a woman at a well this year
would ask Jesus where God had 'placed His name,' I wonder what He
would tell her."
Ah, GOOD QUESTIONS, many may have wondered, many may still be
wondering. These questions need to be answered, and they can be
We shall first notice from what is given above, God can and has
decided to CHANGE locations as to where to place His name from
time to time. Under the OLD Covenant we see the Lord chose TWO
locations - Shiloh and Jerusalem after Israel entered the land
of promise. Before that, and as Israel moved around in the desert
for 40 years, God placed His name in many different places as the
tabernacle tent moved and was pitched along the 40 year journey.
We need to keep in mind the Old Testament (OT) is the Old
Testament or Covenant, not the New Testament (NT). Now that
should be simple enough, but many get into sticky mud because
they carry questions from the OT over into the NT, believing they
should still apply, without asking the question "does the NT show
the question does not apply?"
Take the example of physical circumcision. If we apply the law of
the OT without noting the teaching of the NT on the matter, we
could believe circumcision is "a must" as it was
under the OT. So it is with the question of "where today has God
placed His name for keeping the Feast."
We need to remember also that under the OT it was not just ONE
feast that God placed His name in a certain location, but ALL
THREE FESTIVAL SEASONS! Remember Deut.16 and note verse 16. See
also Exodus 23:14-17.
The questions above want to zero in on the Feast, namely, feast
of Tabernacles, but God had THREE pilgrim festival seasons under
the OT, not just one. God placed His name at a certain location
for the people of Israel to come and worship Him during THREE
feast seasons, not just Tabernacles.
Our question is a little off centre to begin with if we are
trying to use a law under the OT to apply under the NT. Does the
majority of the Leviticus 23 festival observing Churches
of God today, observe the Passover and Pentecost feasts (even
Trumpets and Atonement) in specially called feast sites, like
they practice with Tabernacles? NO THEY DO NOT!
It is rather poor theology to try and claim the festival
observing Churches of God are obeying the Old Covenant law
regarding "where God has placed His name" for in truth
they are not, or they are only obeying it by ONE THIRD. And how
can you obey only one third of a law and still be within the law?
How do I obey only a third of the law "thou shalt not commit
So when it comes right down to it, most Churches of God who
observe the festivals of the Lord, have never practiced and
believed the law we are discussing from the OT is meant to be
carried over into and under the NT, for most have never
established special centres for THREE pilgrim festival seasons,
where at least the males are to attend.
UNDER THE NEW TESTAMENT
The NT shows quite clearly that from the time of the start of the
Spirit begotten Church of God on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2),
this law of the OT was CHANGED! It was not a law to be observed
as dogma and doctrine under the New Covenant.
Paul wrote his first letter to the church at Corinth to correct
them in many areas. In chapter 11 beginning with verse 17 he
corrects them on HOW to observe the Passover or Lord's death. You
will notice he says NOTHING about getting to Jerusalem, or any
words such as: Do you not know this is a pilgrim festival and you
should have all been in Jerusalem the only place at present where
God has placed His name.
No such words are found anywhere in the NT concerning the keeping
of God's feasts because all knew it was correct under the New
Covenant to observe the festivals of the Lord ANYWHERE God's
people were living.
Notice 1 Cor.16 and verse 8. Paul and company were going to stay
at Ephesus, not Jerusalem, for the celebration of the feast of
Pentecost. They knew the law of three pilgrim festivals to only
one place where God had placed His name, a law under the Old
Covenant was NOT in effect under the New Covenant - they knew it
had been CHANGED!
Turn to Acts 20 and read verse 6. Again Paul, Luke (who wrote
Acts) and company stayed at Philippi to observe the feast of
Unleavened Bread. Paul was personally taught by Christ Himself
(Gal.1:11-12) and obviously just from the examples so far seen,
Paul knew the law of three pilgrim festivals to Jerusalem was not
a law under the New Covenant, but that law had been changed to
allowing the feasts to be observed ANYWHERE God's people were
living. I guess so, the Gospel was to go to the world, how would
it be possible for those in the British Isles, to travel three
times a year to observe the festivals at Jerusalem? Remember they
only had horse and buggy as their fastest means of
Certain CHANGES to old covenant laws regarding the observance of
the festivals was necessary under a worldwide era of the calling
of God's children from all nations of the earth.
Do we teach today that it is still the law of God to be observed
by everyone worldwide, that each should keep the feast of
Tabernacles LIVING IN BOOTHS OR TENTS made from the branches of
trees or the like? No we do not! If we did I think we would all
end up observing the feast in Florida, South Texas, or southern
California. I would sure pity those up in Alaska if we did. The
kids and old people would end up in the main not looking forward
to the fall festivals if we could only live in tents in Alaska,
and other northern lands.
Galatians is revealing. Notice chapter one and verses 15 through
24. When Paul was called and converted he did not go to Jerusalem
FOR THREE YEARS! He was in Arabia and Damascus (verse 17). When
he did go to Jerusalem he only stayed a short time, a very short
time, then went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
Did Paul observe the festivals of God during those three years?
Oh, you bet he did, but obviously NOT in Jerusalem. The law of
"the place where God has placed His name" had been changed.
Then look at Gal.2:1. It would seem from this that Paul did not
go to Jerusalem again until 14 YEARS LATER! Did he observe the
festivals of the Lord during all those years? Yes indeed, but not
in Jerusalem. He observed them wherever he was with God's people
wherever they were.
Sure there were times when he wanted to be in Jerusalem to
observe a feast of God (Acts 18:21; 20:16), but the contexts show
there were also others reasons he wanted to be in Jerusalem. It
was a case of killing two birds with one stone. We have clearly
seen he felt he was under no "law obligation" to observe a law of
the OT that had been changed under the NT.
We need also to remember that the Jews themselves were scattered
far and wide in the "dispersion." Most of them only got to
Jerusalem to observe a festival of God a few times in their life,
sure did not make the journey three times a year, or it would
have been a full time job for them to have tried.
Did those Jews in the far reaches of the Roman Empire observe the
feasts of God WHERE THEY WERE LIVING? History proclaims loud and
clear - YES THEY DID!
Did God rain fire and brimstone down upon their heads for not
getting to Jerusalem three times a year, or even once a year at
the time of the fall festivals? No, He did not! The truth is the
old law under the Old Covenant HAD ALREADY BEEN CHANGED WHEN
GOD'S PEOPLE WERE LIVING BEYOND THE LAND OF PALESTINE.
And that is why Jesus answered the woman at the well the way He
did. Many have missed it. Notice, in the context of whether God
was to be worshipped in this mountain or that mountain, this city
or that city, Jesus answered the woman with these words: "But
the hour comes (sure did in 70 A.D.), AND NOW IS," yes right at
the time Jesus was speaking, then at that time, "when the true
worshippers shall worship the father in spirit and in truth; for
the father seeks such to worship Him"(John 4:23).
Aaaahhhh, indeed as someone has already said, God has placed His
name to worship Him in His festivals "WHERE TWO OR THREE ARE
GATHERED TOGETHER IN MY NAME, THERE I AM IN THE MIDST OF THEM"
The life and examples of the great apostle Paul (a man directly
taught by Christ) prove beyond any doubt that God's Festivals can
be observed under the New Covenant ANYWHERE on this good green
earth, ANYWHERE God's people are gathered together to worship Him
in Spirit and in Truth, for that is the really important matter
today, not the physical location.
If a woman at a well this year would ask Jesus where God had
"placed His name" NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK HE WOULD TELL HER?
FEAST TITHE ?
We have clearly seen that under the New Covenant the Feasts of
God were kept LOCALLY. There is not one word about the NT Church
of God coming together as in Acts 15 and making plans for certain
towns or resort areas to be where the people of the Church would
congregate for the three festival seasons, or for the Feast of
Tabernacles as the years end harvest was completed.
It is quite obvious that the city of Jerusalem was no longer
considered THE MUST place to be for any of God's three festival
seasons. The life of Paul as a minister in the NT Church of God
proves this point without question, as we have seen above. Also
the Church's teaching that offering animal sacrifices by
individuals at the Temple in Jerusalem was not required, as a
must way of life, as under the Old Covenant, would have added
yet more reason not to be in any hurry to be in Jerusalem for the
Festivals. But, we shall remember that many Christians (from Jews
and Gentiles) did attend at Jerusalem at the Feast times, though
not because they were called to be there and no where else, but
because Jerusalem had such an historic connection with Judah and
with it being for centuries "the only place" where God had placed
His name, until that is, the New Covenant had arrived with John
the Baptist and Jesus Christ.
Under the Old Covenant the saving of a second or Festival tithe
was for the reason of going to the place where God had placed His
name, three times a year, to observe the Feasts of the Lord and
to sacrifice at the Temple. Under the New Covenant BOTH of
these physical laws were changed, one to worshipping God in
"spirit and in truth" anywhere, and the other to "spiritual"
With these changes the saving of a second or feast tithe became
redundant. It became unnecessary.
This does not mean you cannot go to somewhere other than your
local town or area to observe a Feast of God. Of course not, for
under the New Covenant and the liberty that is in Christ Jesus,
you may save as little or as much money to go as near or as far
as you so desire, to observe any Feast of the Lord. It just
means you have liberty and freedom as they never had under the
Old Covenant, as it is written, "For where the Spirit
of the Lord is there is liberty" (2 Cor.3:17).
Written November 1999
All articles and studies by Keith Hunt may be copied, published,
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