In Part 1 of this exploration of worshiping in Spirit and in truth we saw that Jesus was changing the geographic rules of worship for his people from a Temple in Jerusalem to a widely spread “temple of the Holy Spirit” based in believers and best expressed in communities of believers.
The Apostle Paul emphasizes the importance of gathering together to encourage and strengthen each other. He also notes that we were given gifts in order to benefit one another and accomplish the church’s mission of making disciples.
So, how do people get together? They must agree to a time and place. Jesus has already told us that the place is not important.
We already know that the Jewish people added festivals and observances to the ones God had established at Mt. Sinai: Purim and Hanukkah (sp?). Those festivals came into being as celebrations of times of intervention by God. Jesus attended those festivals without objection during his earthly ministry, so it is easy to suppose that he did not object to the additions.
Whenever and wherever we gather, it is important to do so in a way that honours and obeys our Lord Jesus Christ – in spirit and in truth.
We had noticed in the previous post, however, that God elected to use a festival day that He had ordained centuries before to baptize the church with his Holy Spirit, just as he had used Passover and the Passover-week wave sheaf offering as fitting times for Jesus’ death and resurrection. Surely services of remembrance at those times cannot be signs of disrespect for our Lord and Saviour.
Is it possible that there might be future great acts of our Lord attached to the remaining three autumn festivals?
One common view is that Jesus’ death and resurrection, followed by the gift of the Holy Spirit have provided everything we need for salvation. The implication is that Jesus has already done everything predicted in the Old Testament Law, therefore any of those observances are now redundant and should cease.
On a theological level, it is easy to agree with that point. Jesus has, in principle, done everything we need to effectuate our salvation. We know that our fate is secure in Him.
On a more down-to-earth level, even the Apostles realized that something was missing in the here-and-now regarding our salvation. In fact, the Apostle Paul indicates that what is missing is the very reason faith is required of believers.
In Galatians 5:5 he tells us we must wait to receive the righteousness that we hope for.
And in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 Paul tells believers to put on the hope of salvation as a helmet.
Not only is there a righteousness and a salvation to hope for, but in Romans 8:11-25 Paul notes that there is a future glory waiting for believers in Jesus Christ. Not only do we await this glory, but so does the whole created world!
Another thing Paul speaks of as being in the future is in 1 Corinthians 15:23-28. Jesus must rule until all things come under his feet. The last enemy, death, must be destroyed. So long as we still see death occurring we can be sure that this has not happened yet.
Just so that we know that the Apostle Paul was not the only one who believed that some fulfilments of prophecy were yet future, Peter writes of a future appearing of Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 1:3-13.
Peter also seemed to believe that Jesus is still working on saving people, as he writes in 2 Peter 3:9-13. Notice in the passage that he, like John and the writer of Hebrews, is also expecting a new heavens and a new earth.
We need faith to keep on living in Jesus while we wait for several things. We are waiting for the return of Jesus Christ. We are waiting for final judgment on Babylon the Great – the system that enslaves people in the service of evil. We are waiting for the revealing of the sons of God and the liberation of the creation from the bondage of sin. We are waiting for a new heavens and a new earth where the tree of life and water of life are freely available for all. We await the wedding supper of the Lamb. We await a world without death or tears of sadness.
I fully agree that the entirety of the Old Testament law is fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus is the reality to which the shadows all point.
Where I challenge the assumption is at the point of temporal fulfilment – Jesus has not yet brought about his return, his final judgment, and his creation of a new heavens and new earth.
Some shadows are still pointing. Yes, they are pointing at Jesus. However, Jesus has not yet completed the salvation of humanity.
The truth is that not all prophecies are yet fulfilled. If they had been, Peter, John and Paul would not have been anticipating Jesus’ return. But Jesus is the One (and only one!) who will fulfil the remainder of them.
With that being the case, I believe there is room, for those who desire to do so, to remember and perhaps even “observe” Old Testament festivals in remembrance of Jesus’ fulfilment (Passover, Resurrection Sunday [wave sheaf] and Pentecost) as well as anticipation of a future fulfilment (Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles). [There is room for debate as to whether Atonement has been fulfilled, of course. See my post about the meaning of the goats on Atonement for my take on its meaning and its future fulfilment.]