There is a lot of confusion among Christians concerning the appointed times recorded in the Torah. Some believe that they continue on after the cross. Others think that, since the types and antitypes associated with them met at the cross, they are null and void. What is the truth of the matter? Is there a distinction between the times, types and antitypes? Can one continue without the others? Let’s investigate!
What Are the Appointed Times?
The word translated to “feasts” in the KJV is “moedim” in Hebrew. In Numbers 28 and 29, all of the moedim are listed along with the special sacrifices that were offered at those appointed times. The first are the morning and evening. Next is the weekly Sabbath. Next is the New Moon. And then the rest of the text covers the annual festivals. Technically you could have all of the categories happening at the same time. Let me give an example: It could be a morning, that just happens to be Sabbath, that just happens to be New Moon, that just happens to be the Festival of Trumpets! That covers all of the categories!
Now, there is an aspect to this that many do not stop to study and think about, and that is the distinction between (1) the time on God’s clock/calendar and (2) the typical temple observance at the specified time and (3) the antitypical fulfillment of it by Christ. These need to be distinguished from each other, for Sunday-keepers, for example, lump the Sabbath and the sacrifices together along with the other festivals. And because the Sabbath is in the Fourth Commandment, most of them just throw out the whole Law and cite Colossians 2:14-17. But distinguishing the three parts is the key! So let us look at them.
Let’s use the Sabbath for example, since we are Seventh-day Adventist in our faith. Here is what is written:
And on the sabbath day two lambs of the first year without spot, and two tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and the drink offering thereof: This is the burnt offering of every sabbath, beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.
— Numbers 28:-910
Who Performed the Sacrifices?
Now, the first thing to establish: Were the people of Israel all to bring these two lambs along with the lambs of the morning and evening offerings every Sabbath? Of course not! So, what we are dealing with is the earthly priesthood. They offered these special sacrifices each Sabbath. In addition, they had to replace the showbread every Sabbath as well (see Lev. 24:8; 1 Chron. 9:32). So, it was a very active day for the priesthood.
The way it was observed we could call the “typical Sabbath” – typical, because what they did typified Christ, the antitypical Lamb who was offered to give us rest (shabbat) from our sins; and He is also the antitypical Showbread who gives us sustenance and life through His sacrifice.
More Types and Antitypes for the Sabbath
There are other types and antitypes associated with the Sabbath as well. Sabbath means to rest and to cease. This Christ did in the grave on the weekly Sabbath, which also coincided with the first Passover Sabbath. Paul teaches in his epistles that we were crucified, buried, and risen with Christ. In Him, we have rest. Additionally, in Hebrews 4 he describes the antitypical Sabbath rest that we are to enter into. The weekly Sabbath typifies the 7th millennium as well as the perpetual rest that follows. But we are to enter into that heavenly rest. This is a process. The 144,000 cease from their sins and allow the sanctuary to be cleansed so that the Sabbath millennium can come. Here is the text:
For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
— Hebrews 4:8-9, 11
So, we see that there was a typical Sabbath and there are antitypes of it. But remember that there were three distinctions: time, type and antitype. We have just discussed the type and antitype of the Sabbath, but the time itself is distinct. It is a rest day. Leviticus 23:3 explains it well; it quotes from the Fourth Commandment and adds an important element:
Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of Yahuah in all your dwellings.
Not Just for the Priests or Temple
It was not a day just for the earthly priesthood to observe. All the people were to rest and have a “holy convocation.” In addition, they were not to do any work. They did not have to go to the temple to do this, for many of them lived days away from Jerusalem when the temple was there. But wherever they were, they were to have a corporate gathering – a holy convocation. This was all independent of the types and antitypes. The moral benefits were to have a religious day, free from secular work and also to gather in communion with believers. This is not ceremonial at all.
And it is the same with the annual festivals:
These are the feasts of Yahuah, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons (moedim).
— Leviticus 23:4
Written in Stone
The Sabbath Commandment was written by God’s finger in stone. There was nothing about shadowy sacrifices in it. But it did say to rest and not work; and it is also still expected that we would have a holy convocation on this day. These are moral duties, not ceremonial; and the Sabbath is the example for the seven other holy convocations, which are annual. The Sabbath, written in stone, governs the others, just as the sun governs the moon, which reflects the light of the sun; therefore, the annual holy convocations would fall under the authority of the Fourth Commandment just as verily as homosexuality and bestiality are forbidden under the authority of the Seventh Commandment. But the Sabbath types would not and could not be performed by the earthly priesthood after the Cross; for the veil was rent in twain, making that entire system null and void.
But not so with God’s calendar, which is governed by the luminary bodies. Time and its primary worship day, Sabbath, continue, as do the secondary worship days. Time is not governed by the sanctuary system. And I do not believe in a calendar which is dictated by barley ripeness; that was only a sign that was followed to verify the calendar. Time is strictly based on astronomical cycles.
And so those are the distinctions between the time, the types and the antitypes.
Two Different Systems
The Sabbath is proof of the two different systems – the cycles of time, with its set-apart portions, and the sanctuary system, with its types and antitypes. There are no ceremonies or sacrifices in the Fourth Commandment. This is a principle we should well know as SDAs. But we need to bring this principle to its logical conclusion. The Sabbath is classed as a “holy convocation” (Lev. 23:2) along with seven others that are annual. And throughout the Scriptures the Sabbath is tied with the New Moon and sometimes with the trio of festivals and New Moons. These are systems of time.
And the foundation of this trio is the mornings and evenings which are set apart as special worship times (see Num. 28:3-8). Seven of these cycles make the Sabbath. Take this out of the Law and then there is no moral obligation to worship God morning and evening. This is foundational to our spiritual life, which God has structured through His appointed times. God has seen fit to give us this structure in His Law.
What about the New Moons?
What do we do with this Scripture?
And it shall come to pass, that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith Yahuah.
— Isaiah 66:23
If we say that it means one month to the next, but then, to be consistent, we’d have to say that it is also from one week to another since Sabbath can be used for week just as Chodesh can be used for month; but usually these terms are used just as the King James has it, and the context is worship and we see in the Law that the New Moons and Sabbaths are worship times. Not only that, but we have the writings of Sister White where she maintains the King James:
And the Sabbath, which God declares to be the sign of the loyalty of His people, is placed in the bosom of the Decalogue. Its sanctity reaches into eternity; for God declares that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, His subjects shall come up to worship before Him in the earth made new.
— E.G. White, Signs of the Times, 4/7/1898
So, Why Leave Out the Festivals?
So, we have looked at the mornings and evenings, Sabbaths, and New Moons; why would we leave the annual festivals out of the picture? All of the others had required sacrifices made by an earthly priesthood, but when that system ended, the holy times continued. In the Book of Acts we have examples of people observing the daily, weekly, and annual worship times. And Sister White gives an example of the Festival of Unleavened Bread/Passover being observed decades after the Cross, outside of Jerusalem, in the Gentile place of Philippi:
And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread.
— Paul, Acts 20:6 (58 AD)
At Philippi Paul tarried to keep the Passover … The Philippians were the most loving and truehearted of the apostle’s converts, and during the eight days of the feast he enjoyed peaceful and happy communion with them.
— Acts of the Apostles, p. 390
So, we DO have an example in the SOP of how a festival was kept after the Cross after all. Did the Christians offer animal sacrifices? No. There was never a requirement of that, even before the Cross, as I discussed before. The festivals have always been kept as holy convocations. The worshiping of the people and the sacrificing of the priesthood were two distinct systems.
The Only Difference
The only difference before and after the Cross was the location where the festivals were kept (though females and children could keep them at home). The males were required to go where the temple was, and when it was moved to Jerusalem, that was the location; but when the veil was rent in twain, the location moved to the heavenly sanctuary and we no longer pray towards an earthly temple at the designated worship times but we enter the heavenly sanctuary by faith.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
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.
— John 4:21-23
Image Credit: Pexels / Mat Brown
Also known by his pen name, Malchiel E. Malachi, Ricky first began sharing the Gospel in 2008. His ministry has gone through a number of changes, even being renamed, but there is one thing that hasn’t changed. He is a dedicated student of the Scriptures and Ellen White’s writings and loves to share what he learns online.