From II Peter 1:12, we read: “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know [them], and be established in the present truth.” The Bible clearly teaches that during the existence of our world, God at certain times has given a present truth for a particular generation. If such present truth were heeded and obeyed, it meant their salvation. On the other hand, to neglect and disobey resulted in their destruction.
There have always been some truths that are applicable in every age and are therefore to be preached and accepted by God’s children at all times—such as love, hope, repentance, obedience, thankfulness, and praise. Such truths are always in season, but when God sees a special need for a particular generation, He gives a present truth that must be obeyed to obtain salvation.
For example, in the days of Noah, God gave an urgent message of present truth. “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood.” Genesis 6:13, 14. No doubt many were lost in the flood that had a normal faith in God but did not heed or obey the present truth of a coming flood.
The prophet Jonah was given a present truth to deliver to the people living in the city of Nineveh. “So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. … And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Jonah 3:3, 4. But notice how different was the response from that of the antediluvians. “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did [it] not.” Jonah 3: 5, 10.
John the Baptist was called by God to preach to the Jews that the Messiah had come to Israel as promised. But they rejected this present truth, for we read, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” John 1:11. The tragic results are recorded in the words of Christ, “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things [which belong] unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” Luke 19:41, 42. “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Matthew 23:38.
Today, in this end time, God has given a final present truth in His warning message found in the Book of Revelation 14:7–10: “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” “Babylon is fallen, is fallen.” “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive [his] mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” All our energies should now be focused on this present truth. Its acceptance or rejection means the difference between life or death. This is why Satan is putting forth tremendous efforts to ensnare God’s remnant to spend their precious time on needless concerns about past requirements of God that have nothing to do with God’s end-time present truth.
Ellen White sums up this tragedy by stating, “Our people need to understand the oracles of God; they need to have a systematic knowledge of the principles of revealed truth, which will fit them for what is coming upon the earth and prevent them from being carried about by every wind of doctrine.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 273. It is thus that the devil is hoping to sidetrack the saints, so they will fail to give God’s final warning message of present truth, and lack the proper preparation for the coming crisis.
A careful study of God’s Word will reveal that there are four different categories of law found in the Bible: the moral law, the ceremonial law, the civil law, and the health laws. The Scriptures teach that one of these laws was abolished when Jesus was crucified. As we read the following biblical texts, we will discover which of these laws were done away with at the cross.
In Ephesians 2:15, we read: “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace.” Some clues are given in Colossians 2:14: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” Please take note that both these Scriptures refer to laws called ordinances that were abolished, nailed to the cross and blotted out.
This brings us to question, Which of these four law categories deal with ordinances? The Bible gives the answer. We read of the Passover in Exodus 12:14, 43: “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.” “And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, This [is] the ordinance of the Passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof.” In these verses, the Passover feast is called an ordinance. This feast was therefore to be done away with.
The feast that followed the Passover was called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In Exodus 12:17 and 13:10 we are told, “And ye shall observe [the feast of] unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.” “Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year.” Since this Feast of Unleavened Bread is also called an ordinance, it too was to be done away with.
Furthermore, we read in II Chronicles 2:4 of other ordinances involving certain sabbaths, new moons, and solemn feasts of the Lord which are also called ordinances. King Solomon is speaking: “Behold, I build an house to the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate [it] to him, [and] to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual showbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the Lord our God. This [is an ordinance] for ever to Israel.”
Reading further on in II Chronicles 8:12, 13, we are given the names of some of these solemn feast days. “Then Solomon offered burnt offerings unto the Lord on the altar of the Lord, which he had built before the porch, Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, [even] in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles.” This Scripture clearly identifies that the solemn feasts were called ordinances; therefore, they were all nailed to the cross, having been abolished by the death of Christ.
We must not overlook the additional fact that these feast days were not to be kept by today’s Christians, for animal sacrifices were an integral part of these ceremonies, and such animal sacrifices pointed to the Lamb of God who was to die on Calvary. God has made it very clear that animal sacrifices and ordinances (or feast days) all ended, when in the earthly sanctuary service the veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom, as we read in Matthew 27:51. No Christian in our day who truly believes in the salvation brought by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross will keep the ceremonial laws of the feasts and sacrifices.
The Spirit of Prophecy confirms that God will never again accept such worship. Mrs. White states: “The rending of the vail [sic] of the temple showed that the Jewish sacrifices and ordinances would no longer be received.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, 170.
The following quotation also settles this fact once and for all: “The entire plan of sacrificial worship was a foreshadowing of the Saviour’s death to redeem the world. There would be no efficacy of these offerings when the great event toward which they had pointed for ages was consummated.
“Since the whole ritual economy was symbolical of Christ, it had no value apart from Him. When the Jews sealed their rejection of Christ by delivering Him to death, they rejected all that gave significance to the temple and its services. Its sacredness had departed. It was doomed to destruction. From that day sacrificial offerings and the service connected with them were meaningless. Like the offerings of Cain they did not express faith in the Saviour. In putting Christ to death, the Jews virtually destroyed their temple. When Christ was crucified, the inner veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom, signifying that the great final sacrifice had been made, and that the system of sacrificial offerings was forever at an end.” The Desire of Ages, 165. [Emphasis added.]
To make this absolutely clear, we read further that this not only included animal sacrifices but the feast-day ordinances that were connected with them. “Through Christ the hidden glory of the holy of holies was to stand revealed. He had suffered death for every man, and by this offering the sons of men were to become the sons of God. . . . The mercy seat, upon which the glory of God rested in the holiest of all, is opened to all who accept Christ as the propitiation for sin, and through its medium, they are brought into fellowship with God. The veil is rent, the partition walls broken down, the handwriting of ordinances canceled. By virtue of His blood the enmity is abolished.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1109.
Mrs. White also wrote, “The people whom God had called to be the pillar and ground of the truth had become representatives of Satan. They were doing the work that he desired them to do, taking a course to misrepresent the character of God, and cause the world to look upon Him as a tyrant. The very priests who ministered in the temple had lost sight of the significance of the service they performed. They had ceased to look beyond the symbol to the thing signified. In presenting the sacrificial offerings they were as actors in a play. 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 man through these channels. The whole system must be swept away.” The Desire of Ages, 36.
Paul and The Ceremonial Law
Then we read, from The Signs of the Times, July 29, 1886, “Hence the ceremonial law ceased to be a force at the death of Christ.”
There are those who would still argue that Paul kept the feast days and taught that we must do likewise. However, the servant of the Lord clearly explains the nature of Paul’s preaching to the Jews, for she states of Paul, “When he had given many discourses upon these subjects, he testified that the Messiah had indeed come, and then preached the simple gospel of Jesus Christ. This was the craft which Paul mentions, saying that he caught them with guile. He thus tried to allay prejudice, and win souls to the truth. He refrained from urging upon the Jews the fact that the ceremonial laws were no longer of any force. He cautioned Timothy to remove any occasion for them to reject his labors. He complied with their rules and ordinances as far as was consistent with his mission to the Gentiles. He would not mislead the Jews nor practice deception upon them; but he waived his personal feelings, for the truth’s sake.” Sketches From the Life of Paul, 161.
“The ceremonial law was given by Christ. Even after it was no longer to be observed, Paul presented it before the Jews in its true position and value, showing its place in the plan of redemption and its relation to the work of Christ.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 367.
From The Signs of the Times, February 28, 1884, we read: “Circumcision and a strict observance of the ceremonial law had been the conditions upon which Gentiles could be admitted to the congregation of Israel; but these distinctions were to be abolished by the gospel.”
Ellen White further states of Christ, “He has swept away every ceremony of the ancient type. He has given no liberty to restore these rites, or to substitute anything that will recall the old literal sacrifices.” Review and Herald, February 25, 1896. [Emphasis added.] Nothing could be more plain!
It is no wonder that Paul tells us in Colossians 2:14–17 that these ceremonial feast days were all nailed to the cross: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days]: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Christ.”
In this Scripture, Paul is urging all Christians to not be concerned with these past feast days which were called holydays, for by his actual words in the original Greek, the word holydays means a festival or a solemn feast. This does not have reference to the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, but to the yearly sabbaths that were appointed on different days of the week each year.
Paul spent much of his time in preaching to dispel the Jewish teaching that the solemn feasts were still to be continued. It is no wonder that Paul spoke in no uncertain words, as we read in Galatians 4:9–11, “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” Did you notice the words days, months, times, and years? This is referring to the ceremonial sabbaths, the new moons, the festivals and their appointed feasts. Paul is actually questioning whether or not he had labored in vain to prove to the Christians that Christ had fulfilled all these ceremonies.
Type Met Antitype
Let us take a closer look at Ephesians 2:15: “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances . …” Concerning this verse, Mrs. White wrote, “There is a law which was abolished, which Christ ‘took out of the way, nailing it to His cross.’ [Colossians 2:14.] Paul calls it ‘the law of commandments contained in ordinances.’ [Ephesians 2:15.] This ceremonial law, given by God through Moses, with its sacrifices and ordinances, was to be binding upon the Hebrews until type met antitype in the death of Christ as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. Then all the sacrificial offerings and services were to be abolished. Paul and the other apostles labored to show this, and resolutely withstood those Judaizing teachers who declared that Christians should observe the ceremonial law.” The Signs of the Times, September 4, 1884.
In Galatians 5:4, Paul made it very clear that we are fallen from grace and removed from Christ if we obey these ordinances: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” I trust by now that you can see how serious it is to continue to observe these Jewish ceremonies that have met their fulfillment in Christ.
Those who persist in keeping the feast days are denying that Christ came to earth and died at the appointed time in a.d. 27 and are not accepting what is given in God’s Word and the Spirit of Prophecy. How can any Seventh-day Adventist today, who claims to have the faith of Jesus as we read in Revelation 14:12, deny our precious Saviour by keeping feast days, which by their very purpose showed that Christ had not yet come the first time?
To be continued …
For over 60 years Pastor Lawrence Nelson served as an evangelist and minister for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Of that time, he served 13 years as the director of evangelism for youth at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Upon retirement from the General Conference, he continued to pastor, but when, as a result of his stand for truth, he was denied the opportunity to continue his pastorate, he started Keep the Faith Audio Tape Ministry, recording his sermons and making them available to individuals. Before his retirement from this ministry in 2004, over 18,000 audio tapes were being sent around the world each month.