| Ellen G. White Estate

Should we keep the Old Testament feasts today?

I find nothing in Mrs. White’s writings to support the idea that Christians should observe the feasts today. She herself did not observe them.

One statement that is often quoted in support of keeping the feasts is this one, from the Review and Herald, November 17, 1885:

Well would it be for us to have a feast of tabernacles, a joyous commemoration of the blessings of God to us as a people. As the children of Israel celebrated the deliverance that God wrought for their fathers, and his miraculous preservation of them during their journeyings from Egypt to the promised land, so should the people of God at the present time gratefully call to mind the various ways he has devised to bring them out from the world, out from the darkness of error, into the precious light of truth. We should often bring to remembrance the dependence upon God of those who first led out in this work. We should gratefully regard the old way-marks, and refresh our souls with memories of the loving-kindness of our gracious Benefactor.

When Mrs. White calls for “a feast of tabernacles” rather than “the Feast of Tabernacles,” she seems to be asking us to do something similar to—but not the same as—what Israel of old did. In the remainder of the paragraph, she describes the elements that she was calling for. These elements do not require our observance of the Feast of Tabernacles as such. In fact, in this statement Mrs. White appears to call for something more frequent than the annual feast: “We should often bring to remembrance . . .”

On occasion Mrs. White seems to have compared our camp meetings to the Feast of Tabernacles:

The forces of the enemies are strengthening, and as a people we are misrepresented; but shall we not gather our forces together, and come up to the feast of tabernacles? Let us not treat this matter as one of little importance, but let the army of the Lord be on the ground to represent the work and cause of God in Australia. Let no one plead an excuse at such a time. One of the reasons why we have appointed the camp-meeting to be held at Melbourne, is that we desire the people of that vicinity to become acquainted with our doctrines and works. We want them to know what we are, and what we believe. Let every one pray, and make God his trust. Those who are barricaded with prejudice must hear the warning message for this time. We must find our way to the hearts of the people. Therefore come to the camp-meeting, even though you have to make a sacrifice to do so, and the Lord will bless your efforts to honour his cause and advance his work (Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, December 8, 1893).

In the remainder of the article from which I just quoted, Mrs. White gives many reasons for people to attend the camp meeting but observing the Bible feast is not one of them.

You asked whether there was anything “pro or con” in Mrs. White’s writings about keeping the feasts. It seems to me that the following statement says that the Passover has been replaced by the Lord’s Supper. See what you think.

Christ was standing at the point of transition between two economies and their two great festivals. He, the spotless Lamb of God, was about to present Himself as a sin offering, that He would thus bring to an end the system of types and ceremonies that for four thousand years had pointed to His death. As He ate the Passover with His disciples, He instituted in its place the service that was to be the memorial of His great sacrifice. The national festival of the Jews was to pass away forever. The service which Christ established was to be observed by His followers in all lands and through all ages (The Desire of Ages, 652).

Mrs. White wrote that in the Last Supper and His crucifixion to follow, Jesus would “bring to an end the system of types and ceremonies that for four thousand years had pointed to His death.” She added that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper in place of the Passover. On these bases, I personally feel that agitation about keeping the feasts is not appropriate and may in fact be a distraction, a sidetrack, for God’s people today.

Add new comment