Let me start off by saying that when Gentiles who have been raised with traditional Christian teachings which turned them away from the Torah, later in life come to realize the truth of what Yeshua taught and turn their hearts to God’s commandments, there is nothing that can be wrong about that.
Well, almost nothing.
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Over the years I have met and talked with many Gentiles who have rejected the traditional, anti-Torah teachings they were raised with and have come to know that the instructions God gave to everyone, in the Torah, are still valid for those who profess to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
However, there are those who go from “the Torah is just for Jews” to “the Torah is the absolute, total and definitive way to worship God, and if it ain’t in there, then I ain’t doin’ it!!”
Life teaches us that the far end of the pendulum swing is the wrong place to be.
The Torah is missing many vital things, and just because God doesn’t say “Do this, this way” does NOT mean that you can’t do something another way.
One example is that the Torah tells us which animals are acceptable as a sacrifice, and we are also told to treat animals humanely, but there is nothing anywhere in the Torah that tells us how to kill the sacrificial animal in a humane way.
Another example is the showbread, the 12 loaves that are baked and placed on the table in front of the altar and left there for a week. Even the Ramban didn’t have an explanation for that, other than he thought God decreed it just so that David and his men would have something to eat when they were running from Shaul in Samuel 21:6 (I am pretty sure it was the Ramban who came up with this- if anyone can correct or confirm this, I would appreciate it.)
The Torah was written by Moses and completed, most likely, by Joshua after Moses’ death. So, how could it include everything that God had planned for his people?
The Torah doesn’t include Purim, it doesn’t include Hanukkah, the Fast of the 9th Day of Av, Simchat Torah, Lag b’Omer, TuB’Shevat, Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron, and there are still other holidays we celebrate, all as either a memorial or to honor what God has done for his people. These are man-made holidays, but they all are designed to honor God.
There are so many holidays that are not in the Torah, but who can honestly say that celebrating them is wrong just because God didn’t tell us we have to?
Is God so self-centered and neurotic that he will punish us for celebrating him if he didn’t specifically tell us we must? Is God’s idea of worship more like a game of Simon Says?
“God says celebrate Shavuot”;
“God says celebrate Passover”;
“Celebrate Hanukkah…AHA!!! God didn’t say so: you’re out of the game and you have to go to hell.”
I don’t think so.
Let’s leave the Jewish holidays for a moment and open a new can of worms: you guessed it- we’re gonna talk about Christmas and Easter, the most famous, or should I say infamous, holidays. These are the ones that some Gentiles say are bad not only because they are not in the Torah, but because they were once pagan holidays. There are people who not only refuse to celebrate these holidays but call them pagan and sinful, despite the fact that they have been rebranded, so to speak, so that now they are a celebration of Yeshua (Jesus) instead of pagan gods.
I won’t say it is right or wrong to celebrate these two major Christian holidays. I can say there is no way they could have been in the Torah because the one they celebrate now (Yeshua) didn’t arrive for some 1500 years after Moses was given the Torah.
But I will say this: as far as I am concerned (and you can disagree), any celebration that gives glory to God can’t be wrong.
If it is one of the Torah commanded Holy Days, which we find in Leviticus 23, those we celebrate in order to be faithfully obedient. If it is a man-made celebration of God, such as the salvation of the Jewish people during the time of Mordecai and Esther, or the salvation of the Jewish people during the time of the Maccabee’s, or the salvation of not just the Jewish people, but the whole world that was made possible by God sending his Messiah, Yeshua, well…how can that be frowned upon by God?
Do you really think that God is upset by us deciding to honor him in a way that we created?
When it comes down to it, I would humbly suggest that if you are unsure of what is right and wrong in God’s eyes, run it by these three rules:
- If the Torah says do it, then do it;
- If the Torah says don’t do it, then don’t do it;
- If it isn’t in the Torah but it was created in order to honor God or Messiah Yeshua, and you celebrate it that way, then go for it!
One of the defining characteristics of God is his willingness to forgive the past and give us a clean slate when we do T’shuvah (repent and turn from sin) and worship him as he says to do. So, despite a holiday being man-made or having pagan origins if it NOW is celebrated in order to honor God and give glory to him and/or his Messiah, then I would say it is acceptable to God.
In Ezekiel 18, God says that the sinful man who turns from sin will be saved, and even a righteous man who turns to sin will be guilty; in either case, their past will not be held against them. So, doesn’t it make sense that God might see holidays the same way? Sure, what we call Christmas and Easter used to be pagan holidays, but just as the sinner did T’shuvah and became acceptable to God, so, too, these holidays are being celebrated now as a way to honor God and Messiah must also be acceptable.
Look- if God can forgive you for the sins you have committed, then he certainly can accept when you celebrate a man-made holiday, no matter what its origins if you celebrate it to honor him.
Give God a break- he isn’t stupid and although I cannot speak for God, based on my understanding of him from what he tells us about himself, I believe that he isn’t so stuck-up that he will reject anyone who is celebrating his wonders, his works, and his salvation just because he didn’t specifically say we should in the Torah.
And certainly not because a holiday is man-made or created to replace a pagan holiday that was on the same day.
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That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!