Q. Why do we not follow the Jews of today in observing Passover and Pentecost? Are we not to observe according to Jewish reckoning (Matt 23:1-3)?
A. The verse in question reads: “Then spake Yahshua to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not after their works: for they say, and do not,” Matthew 23:1-3.
When the “Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat” they are reading from the Torah and giving the common people the law just as did Moses. The Scribes and the Pharisees had access to the Old Testament scrolls. In that sense they sat in the seat of Moses when the people received the reading of the law.
Anciently the people were generally illiterate, without access to books. They relied upon the educated to read to them. Therefore, reading the law to them was necessary. We are to obey Yahweh’s Word and keep His law. We are to do as His Word says. However, we cannot blindly follow the example of the Jews without further examining their works or deeds. They love their man-made traditions that are outside the Bible or even against the Bible.
One can only understand what the Savior is telling us in this pericope if we read the entire chapter of Matthew 23. Yahshua clearly castigates both the Scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy. “They say and do not!” He says in the latter part of Matthew 23:3. Notice further:
“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers,” Matthew 23:4.
The Savior is simply saying that when the Scribes and Pharisees read the law of Moses, obey it. But do not blindly follow their hypocritical example. Eight times in Matthew 23 Yahshua pronounces a woe upon them!
By erroneously considering the statements of the Pharisees to be truth, many Bible commentaries and Bible dictionaries continue to perpetuate the Pharisee errors and disregard plain Bible statements. Truth must be sought from the Bible as closely as we can get to the original language.
Therefore, when we are told to count from the “morrow after the Sabbath,” we check Strong’s Concordance and learn that the Sabbath referred to is No. 7676, meaning THE Sabbath, the weekly Sabbath. We are to count from (beginning with) the day after the weekly Sabbath, which is the Sunday falling within the day of Unleavened Bread. Sunday is also the day of the wavesheaf offering. This day after the Sabbath is when Yahshua ascended to the heavens (the first day of His acceptance), which must fall within that special week of Unleavened Bread. The fiftieth day of His acceptance is the correct date for the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost.
Some continue to follow the error of the Pharisees and count Abib 16 as the day to begin their count of fifty days. But they are not consistent. They erroneously count from one of the High Sabbaths but neglect Abib 21, the second High Sabbath, and then go on counting the weekly Sabbaths. They always end up with the sixty day of the third month known as Sivan 6. Why count, if you always end up with Sivan 6?
The proper way is to begin with Sunday and count seven full weeks, and then when the weeks be out observe the 50th day (Sunday) as the Feast of Weeks,
“Also in the day of the firstfruits, when you bring a new meat offering unto Yahweh, after your weeks [be out], you shall have an holy convocation; you shall do no servile work,” Numbers 28:26.