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Question and Answer

Should Christians Celebrate the Seder?


I would appreciate your thoughts on whether Christians should celebrate the Seder and certain other Jewish festivals that are being increasingly celebrated in Christian churches these days.


Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ordinarily, Christians should not celebrate the Seder or other Jewish festivals. The Seder celebrates the Exodus that God provided. By the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, this same God tells us His people will celebrate something greater than the Passover and Exodus.

Isaiah 43:18-19 tell us that God regards the Exodus and the feast that celebrates it as a thing not to be remembered when the new and greater act of redemption is accomplished:

Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Ruth 1:17, ESV)

Jeremiah 3:16-17 is to the same effect, saying that in the Messianic age the ark is not to be remembered when God brings the Gentiles into the Covenant of Grace:

And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, declares the LORD, they shall no more say, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again. At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart. (Jer. 3:15-17, ESV)

The difference between the Old Testament and its feasts and the New Testament and its sacraments is that the Old was a prophecy of the Messianic age and its redemption, while the New Testament teaches and leads us to celebrate only the greater, the messianic fulfillment. Circumcision and the Passover said the Messiah has not come yet. That was true of Old Testament times, but in the New Testament circumcision and the Passover are replaced by baptism and the Lord's Supper, which testify that Jesus Christ has come to accomplish salvation:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Heb. 1:1-2, ESV)

Those are the opening words of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the entirety of which makes clear that the old has passed away and the new has come.

Jesus said, "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," Matthew 28:18-20, ESV. He also said of the Lord's Supper, "Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19, ESV). He did not say "Forget me and go back to the rituals that say, 'The Messiah did not come yet.'"

The Apostle Paul picks up these points of the Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah in Galatians 5:1-7. There, and in other texts, he calls the Christians to forsake circumcision and those that command that you cut the flesh to circumcise.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

The Bible teaches the regulative precept of worship. That is, the Bible says do not add and do not take away from God's commands regulating what is to be done in worship. Do not look to others' practices, but follow the Apostles of Christ (2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15). In 1 Corinthians 10:21 it is said that you cannot eat at the table of the Lord and then go and eat at the table of those who deny Jesus is the Christ.

May the Lord enable you to answer with heavenly wisdom, the wisdom that comes down from above, when you are invited to attend re-enactments of Jewish festivals.

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"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

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