Feast-Keeping and the Faithful (Should Christians Observe the Annual Feast Days?) Ron du Preez 2nd Edition 2011
This is a very timely book, as the subject of keeping the feasts has become fairly “hot” in the past few years among Seventh-day Adventists. Br. du Preez kindly sent me this book free after i contacted him with some questions after watching his 2-hour program on this topic on 3abn (on youtube). He has treated me nicer than any other “scholar” i’ve contacted among offical SDA employees, and if for that reason alone, i have a reason to want to like the book even before opening it. However the plethora of letters after his real name send up a slightly yellow caution flag before i flip the first page. In my brief life, i’ve found that the more letters there are behind someone’s name nearly always equals more arrogance and worldly thinking. And yes, that impression is mostly reinforced by this book. There are many instances where the “opposition” is called “ignorant” and their tool of choice – Strong’s Concordance – is savaged. Many “great scholars” of the world are quoted (which means nothing to me) and their suppositions are quoted as fact. To be fair, there is a lot of digging into the meanings of the words in the Bible, and he does believe in the entire Bible, unlike many of our “top theologians” who pick and choose which parts of the Bible they wish to believe.
The final analysis? He believes that the feasts are part of the ceremonial law, and that law is done away, so we know the feasts are done away also. However, there is no inspired proof given for that position. There are several errors of logic where he quotes some Babylonian author, and then accepts that as fact. He does a good service by showing that some of the Bible and SOP quotes used by feast-keepers to support their position are taken out of context or just false. He comes up with a new interpretation of Colossians 2:16, saying it is referring to pilgrimage, new moon and non-pilgrimage feasts. He shows that he will not accept any evidence in favor of feast-keeping, even dissing Ellen White in one instance. He strives mightily (and in vain) to link the feasts with animal sacrifices. He says to keep the feasts is to deny the atonement, then at the end of the book says it is OK for Jews to observe the feasts “merely as part of their cultural heritage”. This type of cut-and-paste theology is exactly what he accuses the feast-keepers of doing. My final impression is that he wants everyone to toe the official SDA position, whether that position is correct or not – just don’t rock the boat.
I sent him a email giving my “first impressions” on Dec. 26, 2011. After waiting more than a month for a reply, i sent him another email asking if he received my Dec. 26 email, and he replied that he had, and that he had sent a response. Sadly, i did not receive that response, and he did not offer to resend it. He asked me to read the book in detail and then reply again which i did, up to page 185, and sent him a reply to which there has not been a reply for almost 1 month now, so it looks like there will not be more communication between us.
Following are my notes (shown as “my”), things that struck me as either good or bad, but in some way important. Most of the following are actual quotes from the book, but not all. I have not capitalized most of them, as they are quotes taken from parts of sentences.
There are 2 full pages just listing various translations used.
Br. du Preez has written a whole book to explain the sabbath in Colossians 2:16.
p.13 The Holy Spirit inspired … in their own words
“my”I believe the Holy Spirit dictated it, just as written in chapter 30 of the 1858 Great Controversy, and Testimonies volume26: “The scribes of God wrote as they were dictated by the Holy Spirit, having no control of the work themselves.”
p.22 Br. du Preez writes that we must follow Biblical methods
p.25 one could “mark” (the feasts) without observing them
“my”This starts a very troublesome assertion made several times in this book, one without any biblical support at all. That is – that while we can do something with the feasts to learn from them, we MUST NOT keep them. I fail to see any precedent for this in the inspired writings either.
p.26 The New Testament says these are “Jewish” feasts
“my”The New Testament also says salvation is “of the Jews”. So are we supposed to reject salvation because it is Jewish?!
p.29 disses Strong’s Concordance, completely rejecting it
“my”Strong’s is so vehemently dissed, that i checked the book cover to make sure the subtitle wasn’t something like “and throw away your Strong’s Concordance as fast as you can!”
p.29 Genesis 1:14 Mo’ed here simply means “fixed/appointed time”. Mo’ed is translated “assembly” about 2/3 of the time, and “festival” around 1/4
“my”This is very true. So my question is, how are we really supposed to view it? Is it wrong to view ALL these instances as connected somehow?
p.39 Proof text method of study is not good
“my”Perhaps true, but this is how the Seventh-day Adventist church was born, so to diss it now is basically saying that our church is based on a false method of bible study.
p.42 Hebrews 11:28 should say Moses instituted the Passover
“my”Perhaps true, but this starts a pattern in the book of subtly saying that you ignorant laypeople cannot understand the scriptures for yourself – you must have someone with a degree to determine what it means for you. This is directly related to the hard attacks on Strong’s Concordance – a layman’s tool.
p.44 Passover not universal. Created for literal nation of Israel
p.45 Festivals to be celebrated only in Jerusalem
“my”This argument is very weak. Jesus specifically told the lady at the well where to worship God – John 4:21
p.50 Lot’s unleavened bread just means he made it quickly
“my”Good point. Like if someone hungry came to my house suddenly, i may open a can of soup quickly for them. That doesn’t mean i’m keeping some kind of soup festival!
p.51 strongly disses KJV
p.52 about Joseph keeping feasts – Ps 81:3-5 just means when Israel came out
“my”Good point. This text and the one about Lot with unleavened bread often used by feast-supporters are rightly shown not to have the meaning feast-supporters say they do.
p.58 distinctions are made between the 7th day Sabbath and the feasts
“my”Yes, there are distinctions, but it is also true that Leviticus 23 lists them all together, with the 7th day being the greatest one it seems.
p.60 Passover timing allowed to change by God, but not 7th day
p.69 no fire sacrifice on 7th day
“my”Interesting. But there were animal sacrifices specified especially for the 7th day too.
p.72 Mo’adim determined by humans not God because lunar
“my”Not sure about this one. It is interesting how God specifies the time to keep the 7th day very clearly, but not how to start a new year, or new month. But to say it is determined by humans is a bit over the top it seems.
p.74 7th day not a mo’ed
“my”I must study this one out more.
p.90 without actually participating in these literal animal sacrifices
“my”Br. du Preez has a completely different idea of this, because he believes that “ceremonial=festal”. But the Bible clearly states that the sacrifices and oblations were to cease in the middle of the week, without mentioning the feasts at all (Daniel 9:27).
p.94 to observe a feast day without a sacrifice is an illicit and illegitimate act
“my”Author’s interpretation, proved false by Daniel 9:27 and by the keeping of the feasts by our Lord, Jesus Christ, who never sacrificed any animals.
p.98 Isaiah 66:23 “new moon” should be “month”
“my”Perhaps true. The fact is that we will meet from month to month, and based on biblical precedent, the specific day would be the start of each new month.
p.103 Daniel 7:25 is not referring to appointed seasons
“my”Perhaps true. Covered more in p.245 review below.
p.105 Daniel 9:27 – terms “sacrifice” or “offering” refer to whole ceremonial system
“my”Somehow many of us SDAs equate sacrifices with ceremonial system, then lump the feasts in there somehow, and knowing that all sacrifices ceased at the cross, glibly throw out the feasts too, all based on a supposition. This verse says clearly what will cease in the middle of the week – sacrifices and oblations. Where is the word “feasts” or “festivals” or “statutes” used???
p.106 Jesus used hyperbole
“my”No. Jesus always spoke the truth.
p.106 give us our daily “bread” – accurately interpreted as “food”
“my”Here the author tries to show that “bread” is not just “bread”, but all food, so in the same vein “sacrifices and oblations” are not just that, but also the whole festal system. No inspired support is given tho. I disagree strongly with the assertion that this verse is best translated “food”. Perhaps i live in a culture where pig meat is the main article of food. So in my bible, Jesus’ prayer would be translated as “Give us this day our daily ham sandwich”!
p.115 6 of the 7 feast “sabbaths” are not called “shabbat” in the Hebrew
“my”This may be a big point against the feasts, but it is VERY interesting to note that ONE of the “festal” sabbaths (Day of Atonement) IS called “shabbat”!! That would mean that we must keep that day.
p.121 “forever” means until the Messiah
“my”Maybe, maybe not. There is no inspired evidence given.
p.125 RH 6-14-1898 Jewish ordinances
“my”Many times “ceremonial” is linked to the feasts without any, zero, inspired support. It is just assumed. This was my position on the feasts as late as summer 2011, as i had read other people’s works who ASSUMED that “ceremonial=feasts”, so dumped them all.
p.127 Jewish feasts are not Christian according to John.
“my”Please see comment above on p.26. To even think that a disciple of John would diss God’s statutes in any way really beggars belief. John would have instantly lost all influence over his countrymen, as they are specifically ordered in the bible to not accept anyone who breaks the law. This is why they hated Christ, because he kept the law perfectly in letter and in spirit. Perhaps the Holy Spirit chose to point these feasts out as “Jewish” in order to show that they were different from the pagan feasts? In Matt. 27 Jesus agrees that he is “King of the Jews”. By Br. du Preez’s logic here, we should reject Jesus, because he is not king of the Christians!
p.127-8 Bacchiocchi was a mess!
“my”Agreed! He wrote me once that parts of Psalms are not inspired!
p.137 Romans 12:1 says we are the sacrifice – this is dangerous cut and paste theology.
“my”We are a kingdom of priests, and as such, must have a sacrifice to offer. Of course we are the sacrifice. This is new light shining brightly on the sanctuary to open up its beauties 🙂
New Testament related
p.150 1Corinthians 5:7-8 admonition to keep the feast is obviously metaphorical
“my”Agreed. But that makes this all the more powerful, because the Holy Spirit is saying metaphorically that we are to keep the feast – this side of the cross!!
p.150 to keep the feasts is to deny Christ’s atonement (quote Kistemaker)
“my”Mr. Kistemaker is not Seventh-day Adventist, and obviously not inspired, yet his quote is used as fact. Why, Brother du Preez?
p.151 it’s good to research and commemerate the feasts but “it is to be rejected in terms of the actual observance of the set times”
“my”No inspired words are used to back this up. This is just conjecture on the author’s part.
p.158 Colossians 2:14-16 The Decalogue, health laws, and universal principles enumerated in the Torah were to continue – but the ceremonial law was done away with
“my”Again, no inspired proof.
p.159 The ceremonial law was against us
“my”What was given by God, and put in the side of the Ark of the Covenant was “against us”?! Of course, just like the 10 Commandments which were put inside the ark – if we break them, we are condemned as law-breakers.
p.160 ceremonial law “included all the rituals, festivals and feasts”
“my”Again, no inspired proof.
p.161 “these statutes” cannot be referring to the annual appointed seasons
“my”Again, no inspired proof.
p.161 there are three categories of laws – moral, civil, and ceremonial
“my”Maybe, maybe not. There is no inspired proof of this assertion.
p.164 the observance of festival, new moon, or sabbath
p.166 Strong’s must be jettisoned
p.168 Colossians 2:16 refers to pilgrimage festivals, new moons, and non-pilgrimage feasts
“my”Br. du Preez makes mighty efforts to distance the 7th day Sabbath from the “Sabbaths of the Lord”. Without doubt, he has done the most research on Colossians 2:16 of any of our denominationally-employed bible scholars today. I think this marking of 3 things listed in this bible verse into the 3 categories he does is unique to his research. I don’t believe that this text is using a common word “sabbaton” translated in the NT as “sabbath day” 37times, “sabbath” 22times, and “week” 7times suddenly allowed to be translated here as “non-pilgrimage feasts”. This interpretation will make us SDAs become even more of a laughing-stock among other Christians if we adopt this as our standard doctrine on this text. Why doesn’t the author show that the “no man” referred to in this verse is obviously talking about a wicked man? So we shouldn’t care what that wicked person says about our keeping of holy days, new moons, and sabbaths. To interpret Colossians 2:16 as doing away with any part of the law of God is taking it totally out of context.
p.175 Though it was not wrong for the Jew trained from his infancy in the law, for a period of transition, to observe some of these customs as mere customs… it was certainly wrong… to impose them upon the Gentiles
“my”Supposition by the author.
p.182 Paul went to Jerusalem not to actually observe the day
“my”Acts 18:21 says otherwise.
p.185 Ellen White wrote that Paul kept a feast – Thus, this event that she records will not change our Adventist beliefs, from a non-feast-keeping to a feast-keeping church
“my”This is incredible. What is the purpose of using her quotations at all then? Is it fair to just use her quotations that you believe support your position as “inspired”, and then reject her quotations that don’t support your view?
p.186 Feast-keepers are either ignorant….
“my”This word “ignorant” appears many times in this book. Probably it was used by the Pharisees to diss the disciples too – those “ignorant fishermen”.
p.187 We have already demonstrated that the inspired apostle Paul specifically stated that the ancient festal calendar as a “shadow” had met its fulfillment in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the substance to which all the ceremonial law pointed
“my”Not demonstrated. Some words from non-sda “scholars” were used to “demonstrate” this, not inspired words.
p.188 saints participate in marriage supper of the Lamb
p.193 To continue these rites [i.e., including observing these obsolete annual set seasons}
“my”Obsolete? Where is the proof? Just repeating what some other author has to write about the feasts as fact does not make it fact. Please Br. du Preez, give inspired words to give evidence for your position.
p.203 …there are no triads in the entire Old Testament that include the weekly seventh-day Sabbath
“my”1Chronicles 23:31 And to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the LORD in the sabbaths, in the new moons, and on the set feasts…
p.208 (there were) 6 “semi-rest” days and one ceremonial sabbath
“my”There are no inspired words anywhere that call the feasts “semi-rest” days, or that the Day of Atonement was a “ceremonial” sabbath.
p.217 The feasts are not statutes
“my”Outrageous comment by the author! Regarding the Feast of Tabernacles, Leviticus 23:41 says: And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. [It shall be] a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
p.218 these statutes cannot be referring to the annual appointed seasons
“my”The author says only the statutes to govern everyday life are referred to. RH 5-6-1875: According to Ellen White the statutes (a) govern everyday life (b) specify the duty of man to his fellow men (c) are dealing with things such as marriage, inheritance, and strict justice. So how can anyone say for sure that the feasts don’t fit into one of these 3 categories that God had Ellen White write? It looks to me that the feasts sure DO govern everyday life and specify duty to fellow men and deal with strict justice also.
p.220 cannot be message of truth because it is divisive
“my”ALL messages of truth are divisive! This is an incredible statement from a “scholar” of the Seventh-day Adventist church, the most divisive church among all the Christian churches!!!
p.228 Br. du Preez tries to link Passover with ceremonial law
p.200-220 Many Ellen White quotes for feast-keeping debunked (mostly spot-on)
p.230-240 Ellen White quotes about no independent moves
p.244 festal calendar enthusiasts tend to accept one aberrant belief after another like – future prophecy, sacred names, lunar sabbaths, anti-trinity, and pictorial Hebrew characters
“my”Mostly a true observation. Many of the Millerites went into aberrant beliefs too, but did that make their main message wrong?
p.245 disses idea that Roman Catholic Church abolished set times
“my”This can be easily disproved with a few minutes with Wikipedia reading the article on the 325ad Council of Nicaea where one of the biggest problems to solve was “settling the calculation of the date of Easter”.
p.245 says feast-keeping imitates rabbis, not the Bible
“my”Jesus kept the feasts. Jesus was a rabbi 🙂
p.246 those of Jewish descent can enjoy these ancient festivals as merely part of their cultural heritage, as long as this does not detract from Jesus the Messiah, or the typological thrust of these set times
p.248 quotes book “SDAs Believe”, then basically says if you don’t believe it, you’re not an authentic SDA!
“my”Typical strong-arm tactics when the evidence for your position is weak. I never find inspired authors resorting to this tactic.
p.249 destroys basically his whole argument against the feasts by admitting that Ellen White never directly addressed the specific issue of the literal observance of the festal calendar
p.251 “ceremonial law, which includes the festal calendar”
“my”Br. du Preez gives no proof.
p.252-4 a very strange “interview” with Jesus
p.255 Br. du Preez compares the early church “allegedly” keeping the feasts with apostacy!
p.255 Br. du Preez says there weren’t 7 “sabbaths”. It would have been more accurate for it to have described these as six “semi-rest” days and one ceremonial sabbath
“my”Now we need “scholars” to re-write the Bible for us???
All-in-all, i appreciate this book for showing the best “scholarly” view of how we should see the feasts. There are good points made regarding some of the texts that feast-keepers use to support their position which they take out of context. However, the condescending, arrogant tone is unfortunate. The comment on page 185 about we are not going to become a feast-keeping church bascially “no matter what” is incredible. If this book is the most scholarly we have as a Seventh-day Adventist denomination, and i believe it is, then it is obvious that there is a lot more study we need to make into the Statutes of the Lord, and the feast days.