As the oracles are given to the Jews, why don't we follow their example of keeping Passover on the same day that they do, rather than keeping it one day earlier?
We need to properly understand what exactly was given to the Jews — what is meant with the word “oracles.” In Romans 3:2, we are told that the “oracles of God” were committed to the “circumcision.” At the same time, we are told that “their unbelief” did not make “the faithfulness of God” without effect (verse 3). The Greek word for “oracles” is “logion.” It is also used in Acts 7:38; Hebrews 5:12; and 1 Peter 4:11. In all these passages, the oracles or “sayings” must originate from God. If something is being said or written which is contrary to God’s Word, it does not constitute any longer the “oracles of God.”
The “Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,” by W. E. Vine, points out: “”Logion, a diminutive of logos, a word, narrative, statement, denotes a Divine response or utterance, an oracle; it is used of (a) the contents of the Mosaic Law, Acts 7:38; (b) all the written utterances of God through the O.T. writers, Rom. 3:2; (c) the substance of Christian doctrine, Heb. 5:12; (d) the utterance of God through Christian teachers, 1 Pet. 4:11.”
When referring to the oracles that God committed to the Jews or the “circumcision,” the Nelson Study Bible states: “The oracles of God refer to the entire Old Testament, the laws and the covenants that had been given by God Himself to the nation of Israel. This phrase [in Romans 3:2] reaffirms the belief of the apostles of the inspiration of the Old Testament. The Bible is God’s Word for us.”
The Broadman Bible Commentary agrees and adds: “The oracles of God are the Old Testament in general, not just the promises alone as some commentaries suggest. The Septuagint uses this term for ‘the words of God’ in the law (Num. 24:4,16) or in the Psalms (107:11), and this seems to be the meaning in the New Testament… Possession of the Scriptures would be of no advantage if they were never heard, but Paul assumes they are heard every Sabbath.”
As our booklet, “God’s Commanded Holy Days,” points out on pages 2-3, “These ‘oracles of God’ included the Old Testament Scriptures, as well as the knowledge of the week and of the Sacred Calendar. The Jews preserved the knowledge of which day the seventh day of the week is…”
The preservation of the Old Testament by the Jews (as well as the knowledge of the Sabbath and the Hebrew Calendar) is not the same, however, as Jewish practice.
The Jewish scribes were meticulous in writing down and making copies of these Words of Truth given to them, thus passing these Words on down so that we have them today. We are told in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that “…all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come.”
It was an advantage to the Jews in that God gave them His Words, along with the responsibility of preservation of His Words, which they were meticulous in preserving.
Having the written Word of God, however, placed another grave responsibility on their shoulders. They were to observe these Words and to keep them. They were to walk in them! God would have given Judah and all of Israel the help they needed to be faithful in these things, but they would not. They considered the fact that God was there for them was all that was needed. Yet He continually told them they were to walk in His Ways.
Only a few did. Examples are Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel and David, as well as the Old Testament prophets, and of course, most of the apostles Christ worked with. So we see, since God had called them to His Way and gave them His Truth, they had this responsibility to follow in these Ways.
The Kings of Israel had the responsibility to personally write out the Sacred Words with the command that they were to walk in them so they would learn to fear God always. Israel as a whole never learned!
We see Christ’s words to His disciples concerning the teachers of Israel and Jewish leaders in His Day. Notice in Matthew 23:2: “The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.” Verse 3 continues: “Therefore, whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not according to their works; for they say, and do not do.”
Christ said that the people needed to do what the religious leaders told them to do, as long as it was taken from God’s Word — it had to be in harmony with God’s Word. Christ was not saying that the people had to do everything the leaders said, because He explained on other occasions that the leaders did away with God’s Word, so that they could uphold their own traditions. Later, Peter and the other apostles refused to obey the religious leadership when they told them that they could not preach the gospel (Acts 5:29, 40-42). But even when the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the scribes spoke God’s Word, they would many times not do what they themselves taught. We are told in the Word of God, which was passed down through the Jews, what to do. Yet, we must not do as they do — for they say, and do not do!
Christianity is not the same as Judaism. The Jews do today many things that are not in conformity with Scripture. In fact, even at the time of Christ, the Jews were DIVIDED amongst themselves as to how to apply Scripture. While the Pharisees accepted both the written and the “oral” law — a collection of Jewish traditions — the Sadducees only accepted the written law, but they did not understand that correctly, either, as Christ had to point out to them on several occasions (compare James Hastings, “Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics,” under “Sadducees”). Many have taught for doctrine (which should be God’s doctrine) the doctrine of men. Matthew 15:9 records the statement of Jesus in this regard: “…’And in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.’ ” Jesus also instructed His own disciples about the problems inherent within Judaism at that time. Note this quote in Matthew 16:12: “Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Paul also warned of the possible wrong influences from Judaism in Titus 1:14: “…not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.”
The key for Christians is found in what Jesus said and did: ” ‘My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him'” (John 7:16-18).
We keep the Passover on the day that we do, as we follow Christ’s example Who made it very clear when to keep it. We explained in previous Updates (such as the Q&A in Update #137) that Jesus and the apostles kept the Passover on the evening when Christ was betrayed (which would be Abib 14). This was one day earlier than the Jews keep it today. The Jews actually keep the first day of unleavened bread (on Abib 15), also called the “night to be much observed,” AS the Passover, confusing the two occasions, by treating them as one and the same, and failing to see the distinctions.
In addition, the Bible commands us to keep the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days, followed by the eight or last great day. Most Jews today only keep the entire Feast of Tabernacles for four days.
We must take and accept our direction from God’s Holy Word, the Bible — not from human traditions. If there is a conflict between the two, we must follow God.