In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul, using a parenthetical expression, states that the "festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths are still shadows of things to come."
Let's examine this phrase...
V16 ...a holyday, or of the new moon, or of Sabbaths:17 Which are a shadow of things to come;
Here is the Greek of that passage...
16 ...e`orth/j h' neomhni,aj h' sabba,twn\ 17 a[ evstin skia. tw/n mello,ntwn...
What is the Greek verb translated "are"?
evstin verb present act 3rd per sing [Friberg] 1. as predicate to be, to denote what exists.
No matter what else this verse says or does not say, one thing is clear: the festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths ARE STILL shadows of things to come, and that's 20 - 30 years after the resurrection which by simple deduction, means that Christ has not finished fulfilling everything that is left to be fulfilled. One example: The second coming.
So, it is very simple to see that for Paul, the feasts are still in play, seeing he was keeping them himself (Acts 18:21) and instructed the believers at Corinth to "keep the feast" (1 Corinthians 5:8).
Let's look at the currently best selling English translation, both by dollar sales and by unit sales, The New International Version.
How do they translate it?
V16...a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. V17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come...
Notice, they changed the verb tense so that when someone reads the NIV translation, they would come away with the idea that all the shadows had been fulfilled. The underlying Greek language does not support the past tense. There is not a single manuscript in existence in Greek today that has the past tense. They all have the present tense thereby clearly teaching that for Paul, the feasts still contained pictures of the plan of redemption.
Let's revisit the feasts, going back all the way to creation.
KJV Genesis 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
The word translated "signs" is the Hebrew word "ot", meaning sign, frequently pointing to events still yet future.
Moving forward in time to after the Exodus, Leviticus 23:2 has the Most High saying "Concerning the appointed times (Hebrew moedim) of Yahweh, which you shall proclaim to be Holy Convocations, these are my appointed times."
In common vernacular, a moed is likened unto an appointment. It's as if God Himself was taking time off from His duties running the universe to meet with us. It's sort of like a date - a special time between God and His people. Additional study will uncover that it is a rehearsal of God's 7000 year plan, culminating with the marriage of the Messiah to his bride.
Looking to the future when Yeshua returns at his second coming, we see in Zechariah 14:16-19 and Ezekiel 45:21 these "appointed times" will be kept by everyone on the planet under penalty of punishment. So now we can understand through a correct translation of Colossians 2:16-17 that the feasts still have shadows of the plan of redemption, shadows that Yeshua has yet to fill.
One last thing, a study of history informs us that many major events took place on one or more of the moedim.
So, you see that the feasts have not all been fulfilled, and that in observing them, we are rehearsing events still to come or remembering events that have passed. So where does that leave us as regards the birth of Messiah?
Protestant Christianity has wanted to find the "Star of Bethlehem" for centuries. There were two roadblocks that had to be overcome:
- (1) How to use history to create a range of dates that should be looked at
- (2) How to figure out the planet and star alignments when Yeshua was born.
1. The main historical reference that was used to create a range of dates was found in Josephus' Antiquities. In book 18, chapter 4, section 6, the first line, the published copies say...
"About this time it was that Philip, Herod's brother, departed this life, in the 20th year of the reign of Tiberius."
Fun with Math
If Philip died in the 20th year of Tiberius, that is 34AD, after ruling 37 years, the math is simple:
34-37 = 4 BCE
Since Herod died after the slaughter in Bethlehem, the range of dates falls between 6 BCE and 4BCE.
Doctor David W. Beyer states it even more clearly in Chronos, Kairos, Christos II Josephus Reexamined: Unraveling the 22nd Year of Tiberius
"A central argument offered by scholars supporting 4 B.C. as the year of Herod's death focuses on the dating of his son Philip's reign. Modern editions of Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews unanimously state that Philip died in the 20th year of Tiberius, that is, ...in A.D. 34, after ruling 37 years. Therefore: A.D. 34 - 37 years = 4 B.C. The logic seems concise and irrefutable."
2. Professor Kepler (1571 - 1630) published the first and second laws of Planetary Motion in 1609. In 1619, he published the third law of Planetary Motion.
Note: These laws (principles) (mathematical formulas) are still used by NASA today.
So, armed with this information, Professor Kepler began looking for the Star of Bethlehem sometime between 6 BCE and 4 BCE but unfortunately, it wasn't there so he couldn't find it and for almost 400 years, Christianity has been unable to find the Star of Bethlehem either.
Then, Dr W. E. Filmer, in The Journal of Theological Studies, Vol.17, pt. 2, October 1966 published an article revisiting this whole subject. The title of the article is "The Chronology of the Reign of Herod the Great". Here is his quote...
"Now the 20th year of Tiberius ended in August 34 ... so this date cannot be right. The 22nd year, however, would be correct, and in this connection F. Riess quotes the Franciscan Molkenbuhr as saying that he had seen early copies of Josephus, one a Parisian copy dated 1517 and another Venetian copy dated 1481, in which the...text reads 'the 22nd year of Tiberius'. If this could be verified, it would not only clear up a difficult passage in Josephus, but make it difficult to argue from this text that Herod died in 4 B.C."
So the search began for the truth. Dr David Beyer, quoted earlier, decided to go to the British Library and the Library of Congress and examine every manuscript of Josephus that was in existence. To his amazing discovery, not a single edition published prior to 1544 was uncovered bearing the "20th
year of Tiberius."
Now, let me repeat the quote of Dr. Beyer but add the last lines (highlighted) that I didn't write before.
"A central argument offered by scholars supporting 4 B.C. as the year of Herod's death focuses on the dating of his son Philip's reign. Modern editions of Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews unanimously state that Philip died in the 20th year of Tiberius, that is, ...in A.D. 34, after ruling 37 years. Therefore: A.D. 34 - 37 years = 4 B.C. The logic seems concise and irrefutable. Nevertheless, it is flawed by a contaminated evidentiary source. The discovery of this contamination and its subsequent impact on Herodian chronology is our initial focus here."
He goes on to say that "Of greatest importance, however, is the fact that, in the British Library, not a single edition published prior to 1544 was uncovered bearing the '20th year of Tiberius'."
So what happened? When the printing press came into existence, the typesetter accidentally changed the 22 to a 20 and thereby propagated an error for almost 400 years keeping scholars at bay who wanted to find the Star of Bethlehem and discover the birth of the Messiah.
Once they realized that Herod died in 1 BCE and not 4 BCE, they reconfigured the range of dates to be between 2 and 4 and there they found the Star of Bethlehem. Then they discovered from the Greek that when the visitors from the east arrived, Yeshua was already over 15 months old. By the way, the visitors, commonly known as the three wise men, were actually government leaders in the Persian Empire, known as the "King Makers". In the first century, to have them come and recognize someone as a king, was the highest piece of evidence that could be offered.
After breaking down all the Scriptures that speak about the birth, they were able to nail it down to September 11th
, 3 BCE. What date is that on the Biblical calendar for that year? The first day of the 7th
month. This date is spoken of in Leviticus 23:24, and out of the 12 months of the Biblical cycle, it is the only "first day" that is a Sabbath, and history tells us one well known for the birth of kings.
So what have we discovered? The birth of the Messiah was a recognized feast for centuries, recognized and observed by Israel throughout the ages.
One Final Point
Deuteronomy 12:30-31, one of the laws God gave Moses says:
V30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods
, saying, How did these nations serve their gods
? even so will I do likewise.
V31 Thou shalt not do so unto Yahweh thy God: for every abomination to Yahweh, which He hateth, have they done unto their gods
; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods
So here you can see that we are not to go to enquire and follow after the teachings of other nations on how to "worship" their gods and apply that worship to Yahweh. That is an abomination.
But what are we taught? That the instant Yeshua said "It is Finished", this law was done away with (it's not repeated in the New Testament) so now we can take from any pagan and idolatrous nation's religion and incorporate whatever part we want because the restriction does not apply anymore and our Heavenly Father is more than happy to receive any kind of worship because it's from our hearts.
But John 4:23-24 says...
V23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.
V24 God is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.
It seems that while this commandment (Deuteronomy 12:30-31) has not been specifically repeated in the New Testament, the Father seeks "true worshippers". And "true worshippers" worship the Father in spirit and truth. Truth is still required.
What is Christmas? It is a celebration of the Messiah's birth but it is on the wrong date. It is a date known as the birth date of many pagan gods and it is tainted with paganism. We know when his actual birthday is so why do we want to stand before Yeshua and say "I decided not to observe the actual day of your birth, but instead take a date known to be celebrated by your enemies?"
Makes you wonder...