Q. 15. You have suggested that there is warrant from the Bible for such annual festivals that commemorate the historic acts of God's work of redemption for us. Where?
Answer. God has established the seasonal cycles for the purpose of religious festivals. A careful and literal reading of Genesis 1:14-15 will make this clear.
Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate between day and night, to be signs, to designate religious festivals, and to mark days and years.The third purpose listed here has to do with "religious festivals [mo‘adim]." The Hebrew word mo‘ed is used consistently throughout the Hebrew Scriptures to refer to religious festivals and feasts (over 200 times). Had he not fallen, Adam would have eventually figured this out. But he fell. When Yahweh redeemed Israel, his first-born son (Exod. 4:22), he gave to his people a festival calendar synchronized with the seasons of the year (Lev. 23).
Now, there is a sense in which the Church in Christ is restored to her Adamic lordship over all of creation, what God intended for humanity in the beginning. She has the right and power to establish festivals and feasts in conjunction with the symbolic dimensions of creation. She sees how God has done so in the Old Testament, when the people of God were children and were put under a schoolmaster to teach them the ABC's (Gal. 3:23-4:1-7). Now with one eye on the details of the old world's annual festivals and the other eye on the world-changing events of the incarnation, life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ she exercises her wisdom, according to the biblical principles and patterns established by God, to institute new annual celebrations keyed to these great redemptive events in the life of Christ.
Surely Pastor Rob Rayburn is correct:
Now if you interrogate the Scripture as to whether God's people ought to celebrate the great events of their salvation with special feasts and holidays, the only answer that you will ever get is "YES! BY ALL MEANS, YES!" We are commanded in the Bible to remember the great works of God by which he has redeemed us from sin and death. These great events are to be kept alive in the consciousness of both the individual believer and the church. God taught his people in ancient times that one very important way to do that was the keeping of annual feasts commemorating those events (Sermon, Nov. 28, 1993, Faith Presbyterian Church).Pastor Rayburn has expanded his argument in his recent sermon Is Christmas Christian?
There's a smidgen of hyperbole in this, but Martin Luther's comments are worth noting:
We therefore have and must have the power and the freedom to observe Easter when we choose; and even if we made Friday into Sunday, or vise versa, it would still be right, as long as it was done unanimously by the rulers and the Christians. Moses is dead and buried by Christ, and days and seasons are not to be lords over Christians, but rather Christians are lords over days and seasons, free to fix them as they will or as seems convenient to them. For Christ made all things free when he abolished Moses. . . We know that we shall attain salvation without Easter and Pentecost, without Friday and Sunday, and we know that we cannot be damned--as St. Paul teaches us--because of Easter, Pentecost, Sunday or Friday (On the Councils and the Church, 1539).