Ceremonial Sabbaths



The fundamental components of the sacrificial service was initiated by Jesus in Genesis 3:21. Jesus exchanged the fig leaves that Adam and Eve had made for themselves for animal skin garments made by Jesus. The sacrificial system was confirmed by Cain and Abel in Genesis 4. The issue of the sacrificial system was that an innocent victim must die, shed its life’s blood for the sake of one who had sinned against God. Abel lived in harmony with these and was willing to slay a lamb to signify his dependence upon a Savior to come. Cain refused to bring a blood sacrifice and brought the results of his works. Jesus accepted Abel’s sacrifice and rejected Cain’s. This created the second great worship crisis on earth, after that of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against Jesus in Eden.


The basic principles of the sacrificial system continued down through Noah, and through the experiences of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and then all the way to the time of the Exodus. At the end of the plagues the ceremonial Sabbaths were introduced through the event of the Passover. Passover was the first of the 7 annual Sabbaths. Up until this time the principles of the 7 annual Sabbaths were present but were not given in a specific form. Jesus gave the seven annual Sabbaths to Moses while in the wilderness as types of the sacrifice of Jesus and predictive of future events in the plan of salvation. Passover was a type of Jesus’ activity and the Feast of Tabernacles was a type of the activities of Jesus. Patriarchs and Prophets 277, 539, 540-541


The central feature of the annual Sabbaths was to reveal phases in the ministry of Jesus for the salvation of man. Passover was to reveal the death of Jesus and His blood shed to cleanse sin from our lives. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was to reveal the sinless life of Jesus. The Wave Sheaf was to reveal the resurrection of Jesus and the early harvest of souls. Pentecost was to reveal the inauguration of Jesus’ High Priestly ministry  and the pouring out of gifts to His church to conduct evangelism in the world. The Feast of Trumpets was to reveal the warning messages of God regarding His judgments and to prepare for the cleansing of the sanctuary, the judgment of God and His second coming. The Day of Atonement was to prepare us for the fulfillment of the new covenant promises in our character – God’s ability to write His laws in our hearts and minds and have us live lives which will sanctify the name of Jesus – legally and functionally Ezekiel 36:23/John 17:19-23/Revelation 14:1-12. The Feast of Tabernacles is the prophecy of the great feast in heaven – the marriage supper of the Lamb, where all the redeemed are gathered in the kingdom of God.  God’s people will dwell in the New Jerusalem until they get to their permanent homes on earth. Revelation 19:9/Matthew 22:1-4.


Jesus promised that the sacrificial system of animal sacrifices and types would end at the coming of the Messiah. Daniel 9:27 Jesus knew that Satan had made the “ordinances which God Himself had appointed were made the means of blinding the mind and hardening the heart. God could do no more for men through these channels. The whole system must be swept away.” Desire of Ages 36  The Passover had been specifically replaced by the Lord’s Supper (Patriarchs and Prophets 539; Desire of Ages 652-653) and all typical Feasts had been fulfilled in Jesus. The rending of the temple veil indicated that the ceremonial system had ended and that Christ  “brought to an end the system of types and ceremonies that for 4000 years had pointed to His death”. Desire of Ages 652-653 Matthew 27:50-51/Desire of Ages 737 This end of the ceremonial laws is referred to in Colossians 2:14/Patriarchs and Prophets 365.


After Calvary the disciples still met with the Jewish people on the feast days because it afforded an opportunity to speak with large numbers of Jews, and Jewish converts, from around the world. This afforded an opportunity to spread the gospel and have it go back to the various parts of the world through those who had new insights into Messiah and His special plans for Israel/the church of God. Acts of Apostles 389


In conclusion it is clear by the Scriptures, and the writings of God’s last day prophet, that the annual Sabbaths accomplished their primary purpose of being ceremonies to teach of Jesus and His sacrifice. When the ceremonial system had been completed the teaching component of the ceremonial system continued to offer insights into the life and ministry of Jesus today. Colossian 2:16-17 states that we are to let no man judge us in our observations of the ceremonial system that are shadows of Jesus. We are to focus on the real. If one wanted to make special days to devote special activities to Jesus and remember the blessings of the past that would be an individual activity and not a mandated/required observance. Ellen White suggests that it would be beneficial for us to have special times of joyous celebration, similar to those of the Feast of Tabernacles. Patriarchs and Prophets 540-541 These times are fulfilled in the times for Camp Meetings, or other gatherings devoted to the worship and praise of our Creator King. Bible Echo 1893-12-08.  Jesus has freed us from shadowy ceremonies and has freed us to continue to grow and develop in the truths of His Word. Let us not retreat to things of old and create activities that no longer have the approval of God.