Happy Bastille Day

Recently, I received an email ad saying, “Bastille Day Sale.” Curiously I opened it. Inside it said, “Let Them Eat (Product he was selling). It was an attempt at humor, but it served its purpose. I opened it.

What is humorous about it? On July 14, 1789, French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille Prison in Paris. Tensions had arisen due to economic hardships. The commoners wanted to ignite a revolution against the monarchy and establish a constitution. The Bastille symbolized the oppression of the French peasants. A group of revolutionaries stormed the Bastille prison. Now Bastille Day, “The National Celebration” of France means as much as the 4th of July to Americans.

Why should I care about Bastille Day? Am I, as an Irish-American, obligated to celebrate Bastille Day? No, because my ancestors were not French. I am not obligated to celebrate the Cinco de Mayo because my ancestors were not Mexican. I am not obligated to celebrate Canadian Independence Day because my ancestors were not Canadian. Even though my ancestors were Irish, I do not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

As a Christian, am I obligated to celebrate Passover? No, because none of my ancestors was ever enslaved in Egypt, which is what Passover was about. Can I learn from studying the Passover? Yes, but I am not obligated to celebrate it every year. Christ gave the Passover a new meaning. It symbolized the new covenant in his blood (Mark 14:24). To the Jewish people, Passover reminded them of their freedom from Egypt. It reminds Christians of the price Christ paid to free us from sin. I prefer to celebrate the Lord’s Supper to Passover. The Lord’s Supper means more to me as a Christian than Passover does.

“Vines Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words” defines “new” (kainos) as “new as to form or quality, of different nature from what is contrasted as old” (p. 109). Paul called the old covenant “shadow” but the substance is Christ (Colossians 2:17). The writer of Hebrews also called “the law…a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things.” (10:1). Paul wrote, “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor 5:7). Christ gives the Christian a new and deeper understanding of Passover.

The Law served its purpose, but as the author of Hebrews says, “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (8:13 KJV). That is the same word used in Hebrews 1:11 speaking of garments that wear out and grow old. Christ did not abolish the law or destroy it. He fulfilled it. There is no need for Christians to keep the old Jewish ceremonial law. There is still a need to keep the moral law. I have no need to celebrate the feast of trumpets or the feast of tabernacles. I can learn something from studying those passages, but my ancestors never wandered through the desert for forty years.

Peter first preached the gospel to Gentiles in Acts 10. He overcame the Jewish prohibition of not associating with Gentiles as well as eating non-kosher food, yet when the Judaizers showed up, he reverted to his Jewish roots. Here’s what the apostle Paul had to say to him: “When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas (Peter) in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:14-16). Paul “opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned” (verse 11). Paul opposed him for trying to force Gentiles to follow the Jewish religion, of which Peter said, “why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?” (Acts 15:10) As I have stated before, the Jerusalem Council answered that issue in Acts 15:23-29. You can read it again. They did not force the Gentiles to worship as Jews.

Paul wrote to Timothy, “The goal of this command (to rebuke false teachers) is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm” (1 Timothy 1:5-7).

 

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