Have you ever wondered why Post Apostolic Christianity celebrates its faith on different days and dates than what the Bible directs? For instance, why did Christians later adopt a different weekly day of worship than what Jesus and the Apostles kept and observed? Why did Christianity later change the way the Scriptures determine the date of Passover, moving it, as well as, First Fruits (Messiah’s Resurrection) and subsequently Shavuot (Pentecost)?
As Messianic Believers, should we support the writings of Moses and the precedent of Messiah and His Apostles in determining the date of Passover and subsequently Shavuot? Or, should we demonstrate unity by embracing the changed Post Apostolic Christian formula for determining the date of Passover? For instance according to God’s calendar, Passover is always on Nissan the 14th, which this year was Friday, April 22nd. As a result Shavuot/Pentecost would fall on Sunday, June 12th. But, Post Apostolic Christianity will be celebrating it almost a month earlier on Sunday, May 15th, based on the changed reckoning, which is free from any and all “Jewish” influence.
A NEW WAY OF RECKONING THE DATES FOR PASSOVER WEEK (EASTER/PENTECOST)
The following Post Apostolic method has ruled Christianity for nearly two thousand years:
Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. If the first full moon occurs on the equinox, Easter is the following Sunday. Thus, Easter can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25."
It goes on to state:
"Christians didn’t like being dependent on the pronouncements of rabbis for how to celebrate Christian feasts, so they came up with another way of determining the date. They decided that Easter would be celebrated on the first Sunday after (never on) the Paschal full moon."
Not wanting to depend on the Jews for determining the timing of this Jewish festival sounds somewhat benign. But is it? If one wants to know the fundamental reason for changing the date of Passover, a good place to start would be the Roman Emperor Constantine.
CLEANSING THE JEWISH MESSIAH’S JUDAISM OF EVERYTHING JEWISH
It is well known, the Emperor Constantine wanted to establish a religion sanitized of any “Jewish” influences. Notice the apparent anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism in his reason to part from the dating of Passover in determining the date of the First Fruits (the Resurrection of Jesus) and the subsequent date of Shavuot (Pentecost), “And first of all, it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul. For we have it in our power, if we abandon their custom, to prolong the due observance of this ordinance to future ages, by a truer order, which we have preserved from the very day of the passion until the present time. Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way. A course at once legitimate and honorable lies open to our most holy religion. Beloved brethren, let us with one consent adopt this course, and withdraw ourselves from all participation in their baseness…strive and pray continually that the purity of your souls may not seem in anything to be sullied by fellowship with the customs of these most wicked men…but also that it is most fitting that all should unite in desiring that which sound reason appears to demand, and in avoiding all participation in the perjured conduct of the Jews.” [emphasis mine] From Eusebius Pamphili, Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, the "Father of Church History", Life of Constantine Book 3, Chapters 18-19
POST APOSTOLIC CHRISTIANITY SIDES WITH THE ROMAN EMPEROR
Long story short: Due to the power and authority of the Emperor of Rome and her Popes, Post Apostolic Christianity opted to embrace this ethnic cleansing of her Jewish roots and adopt new and different dates for Passover/Pentecost. In doing so, they could now be free from (in their words) this “detestable Jewish crowd” and unsullied “by fellowship with the customs of these most wicked men”.
So there you have it. If you are wondering why Messianic believers keep different dates for Passover/Shavuot than Post Apostolic Christianity it is because:
1. We embrace the dates Moses gave us in the written Torah
2. We love and trust the Jewish people and their integrity in determining the date of Passover.
3. Yeshua is Jewish!
4. Yeshua, the Jew, and His Jewish Apostles embraced the written Torah as inspired by God and authoritative in determining the Holy days and the days or dates they fell on.
5. The Apostolic Church embraced and observed the date of Passover as determined by the Torah and the Jewish People.
Unity, who does not want unity? But at what price shall we pay for it? I am vexed about whether I should join the 10 days Together event in our city this year. Why, because the whole event is based on and culminates in coming together to celebrate the Post Apostolic Church’s date for Pentecost. This is the very date, which enshrines the decision to separate and distance itself from those “detestable” Jews and their customs and practices (The Sabbath and Festivals). I feel as if I have to bow to and perpetuate anti-Semitism and anti-Torah mindsets in order to unite and foster unity with my Christian brothers and sisters. In doing so, I might just as well give up the Torah and ways of God, leave the commonwealth of Israel, and join the Catholic/Protestant world! No, I cannot and I will not sacrifice the Jewish people on the altar of unity. I think they have been oppressed enough! Perhaps the Church today may want to show some unity by giving up their pseudo method of determining the date of Passover and come back into the Olive Tree of Israel (Romans 11) and the common wealth of Israel (Ephesians 2). Jewish believers have determined with integrity and accuracy the date of Passover for more than three thousand years. Isn’t it time to join them and show true unity? After all, we are grafted into their Olive Tree and not our own (Romans 11). May God help us one and all!