One of the things I learned early on as a technician was the axiom that anyone can mess anything up, and usually in very short order. But it takes a knowledgeable, skilled individual considerable time to make it right again.
It is no different with doctrinal errors. Anyone can come up with a doctrine that is in error. However, explaining why the doctrine they came up with and promote is erroneous, takes time and considerable effort. This is the essence of apologetics, and what makes apologetics such a difficult endeavor. However, there is a wonderful thing about apologetics, in that it provides an excellent springboard for teaching and instructing in the Scripture, particularly concerning the doctrine in question and the why of it.
So it is with yet another error promoted by WorldNetDaily and El Shaddai Ministries. According to Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries, we should observe the feasts that were given to Israel as part of the covenant called the Old Testament:
“The spring and fall feasts, Biltz says, were not intended only for the children of Israel. They are, the Bible says, “the feasts of the Lord” – and they have special meaning with respect to the life, death, resurrection and return of Jesus.
There’s still time to learn these important lessons before the fall feasts are past.”1
The problems with the whole thesis promoted by Mark Biltz are contained in a statement on page two of his notes that go along with the DVD:
The Jews were the first Pentecostals! They had been Pentecost for 1500 years before Pentecost. They called it the feast of Weeks! They still keep it today!2
What the above statement demonstrates is the strong tendency to view Scripture through the lens of Pentecostal doctrine, and make doctrinal determinations accordingly. This is not the correct way to view Scripture — at all. While I am a fundamental Baptist, the doctrine of Baptists do not rule when it comes to determining what Scripture states. In fact, that would be, and is, a sure road to error.
Am I then denying Baptist doctrine? Not at all. What I am doing is proving out what the Scripture states in accordance with Scripture:
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (I Thessalonians 5:21)
The problem that exists, and is part and parcel to this man’s error, is that he accepted Pentecostal doctrine without examining it and testing it by Scripture. To be sure, he is not alone, and has considerable company. However, that does not make it right. Rather, what it does do is make for a whole lot of folks with bad doctrine and a flawed way of looking at Scripture. What I found by proving all things is that Baptist doctrine is correct, and is dead on when it comes to the essential portions pertaining to the LORD God, salvation, the church, and the life to come. Certainly, there are a number of folks who call themselves Baptist, who hold variant doctrines, but each and every one must be properly tried by the Scripture — and proven out.
Certainly, this warrants a much more in-depth discussion, but it would digress from the intention and purpose of this article. Suffice to state that my doctrine is plainly published here for all to examine and test by the Scripture. I am a fundamental, unaffiliated Baptist by conviction, and not any other reason. Doctrine is supposed to submit to Scripture, and not the other way around.
Thus, when Mark Biltz makes the statement:
The Jews were the first Pentecostals! They had been Pentecost for 1500 years before Pentecost.”3
This reveals an egregious bias toward Pentecostal doctrine and tradition and indicates plainly that he views Scripture through the template of that Pentecostal experience. There is also further evidence that Mark Biltz viewed the Scripture in the wrong way as he also purports to show:
The video series pinpoints the specific day on the Hebrew calendar for the return of Jesus. The only unknown, according to Biltz, is which year that return will occur – though he makes the case it is very near.4
Now, I have to ask how this can be as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself plainly stated, not once but twice that no one knows the day, the time, the season, or the year, and that He Himself did not know:
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. (Mark 13:28-33)
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. (Acts 1:6-7)
In executing the office of the Son, the Word refuses to know at what time the Father will command His return to take the Kingdom. This directly contradicts the claim of Mark Biltz and the marketeers at WorldNetDaily. This affirms that we ought not pay heed to anything else presented. In fact, the deception of this work is evident on page 9 of the Notes when Acts, chapter 1, verses 3 and 4 are referenced, and in the following paragraph, verses 9 is referenced, but verses 6 and 7 which I quoted above are skipped over and ignored because they specifically contradict the claim that only the year of Christ’s return is not known. The terms “times” and “seasons” mentioned in verse 7 refer to years and months, and do not refer to days and hours. In short, the Lord Jesus Christ is telling us that it is none of our business, and we can’t know it anyway, when He is to return. We are supposed to be busy about the work he has given us to do.
However, since the supposition of Mark Biltz is that Christians of this time ought to partake of the feasts, and many are snared by that idea, it is profitable to examine that issue to the extent of proving or disproving the assertion.
It is undisputed that all the feasts and laws were given to Israel to observe so long as they were in covenant with the LORD. What is disputed is whether those observances apply to any of us today. I noted in the 57 pages of notes provided as a teaser for the DVD, that certain passages of Scripture were never brought up. I do not find this unusual in that most everyone who promotes bad doctrine omits the passages of Scripture that expressly contradict their position (some do try to twist the Scripture to fit their doctrine). There were two specific passages omitted from the 57 pages of notes that expressly and directly apply to the old covenant the LORD had with Israel.
The first passage is from Matthew, chapter 23:
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Matthew 23:34-39)
This is a chilling condemnation of Israel by the very one who was in covenant with them. We should note His words:
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
Plainly, they are declared to be by the mouth of the LORD, enemies of the one with whom they had a covenant. Moreover, that the shed blood of all the prophets would be laid upon them as a people. But it is the ending statement that contain the declaration ending the Old Testament covenant:
Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Every time before this during the ministry of the Lord Jesus, we find Him referring to the temple as “my house” or “my Father’s house.” Now, immediately after condemning the leadership of Israel, and immediately before the last Passover he was to hold with His chosen disciples, He breaks the covenant by stating:
Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
It is now their house, and they can do with it what they will. This hearkens us back to the prophet Zechariah and the words given him by the Holy Ghost:
And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the LORD. And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD. (Zechariah 11:10-13)
So it is that the Old Testament covenant is ended. But what about the feasts, ceremonies, offerings and such like? What became of them?
In Hebrews we are given to understand much concerning the ‘whys and wherefores’ of salvation and the necessity of it being accomplished in the manner it was. In so doing, the matter of the Old Testament covenant is addressed as well. Beginning in chapter 9, the explanation of the Old Testament rituals and ordinances begins:
Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. (Hebrews 9:1-5)
This sets the context for all that follows, in which we are expressly told that these ordinances were nothing more than figures, shadows of things to come.
Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. (Hebrews 9:6–10)
We are also instructed that these ordinances, sacrifices and rituals did not please the LORD, and that Christ has come and done away with those ordinances, sacrifices and ceremonies and established a different ministry and witness:
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:1-10)
It is very plain at this point that all that was done in the old covenant with Israel was to show a picture of the work of Christ to come. That is was not effectual for salvation, but was only done to maintain a picture and object lesson concerning the Redeemer that would, in the fulness of time, be born of a virgin and fulfill the work set for Him.
Thus, when the Lord Jesus Christ’s work was accomplished, we find a signal event occurs:
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; . . . (Matthew 27:50-51)
If we then examine this account in light of that which is explained in Hebrews, chapters 9 and 10, we should understand that all of the types, shadows, pictures and illustrations of the Old Testament covenant are taken away and replaced with a new covenant that pictures the finished work of Christ. Where before, the work was not yet accomplished on this earth, it was necessary to explain the work to be done; now that it is accomplished, we must show the end of that work and all it signifies. Hence, we have but two simple ordinances, water baptism by immersion, and the Lord’s Supper. The first signifies the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and can only be done by someone who is born again in Christ. The second commemorates Christ’s death, and can only be partaken of by those who are members of a local, New Testament church. The sweeping away of all other ordinances then pictures the translation that takes place in moving the individual from under the power and sway of the law, to being placed under grace and the believer establishing the law.
So what would it mean if one kept any one of, or all the feasts?
Since it was quite plain that all the ordinances of the Old Testament were to show the Messiah to come, picking them back up again and performing them would illustrate the same. Hence, it would be a not so subtle denial that the Messiah has come in the flesh, and His work is accomplished.
There is a term for this:
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (I John 4:2-3)
It does give rise to question the discernment and understanding of those who claim that we should keep any of the Old Testament ordinances, even just to experience them once.
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)