"The Night To Be Much Observed"
"Traditions! Traditions! Without our traditions, our life would be as shakey as a Fiddler on the Roof!" So says Tevye, the lead character from the well known musical. What about traditions? Are they good or bad?
In Matthew 15:2-6, Jesus condemns the traditions of the Pharisees. "Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? ... Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition."
The apostle Paul agrees with this sentiment in Colossians 2:8, where he says "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
But notice, these scriptures are speaking of the traditions of men, which is to say, traditions based upon carnal, worldly ideas, not traditions based upon the Word of God. During this time of the year, we see many of these "traditions of men" being kept, such as the practice of keeping Lent, Ash Wednesday and the Good Friday - Easter Sunday celebration. (To better understand these non-biblical holidays, be sure to request your free copies of the booklets "Easter...Is It Christian" and "Believe It Or Not...The Resurrection Was NOT On Sunday!" You can order them from the Booklets section of our Web page.
Now notice in II Thessalonians 2:15, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." Here we are admonished to keep traditions which are based on biblical teachings. It was the tradition of the Apostles and the early New Testament church to keep Godís Feasts and Holy Days, such as the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread, observed each spring. (For more information, order our booklet "God's Holy Days").
There is one tradition of the Sabbath keeping Churches of God which is unique, even among groups which claim to keep the Holy Days listed in Leviticus 23. That tradition is known as the Night To Be Much Observed.
On this evening, which begins at sunset as the First Day of Unleavened Bread begins, members gather in small groups in their homes or in private rooms at restaurants for the most elegant meal of the year. Spirits are high and everyone contributes to the festive atmosphere by bring one of their fanciest dishes to compliment the main course. Tables are set with the best linens, china and silverware. Fine wines accompany the most ornate hors d'oeuvres.
What's this all about? Why such a fancy meal? Where is the scriptural support for such an event? You'll find the first occurrence of this tradition listed in Exodus 12:41-42, "And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations."
Let's look at the background to this story. The children of Israel had been slaves in Egypt for generations. They have just witnessed the power of Almighty God for their deliverance in the form of the ten plagues. They have just been spared from the tenth plague -the death of the firstborn - because they kept the Passover of the Lord. In payment for their years of toil, they spoiled or plundered the Egyptians, taking gold, silver and jewels - and the Egyptians gave it willingly! This was done as Moses had commanded, according to God's will (Exodus 12:33-36). This activity took place during the daylight portion of the Passover, as none were to leave their homes until the morning (Ex. 12:22) and they left Egypt by night (Deut. 16:1).
So what does this have to do with Christians today? The analogy is simple. We were all in bondage to Satan and sin, pictured by Pharaoh and Egypt. We have accepted the deliverance from sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Passover (I Corinthians 5:7). This is and should be a very sobering realization, one which we remember every year when we keep the Passover. But in contrast to the seriousness of that event, we rejoice at the realization that we are free from the bondage of sin - free to keep a life free from sin in harmony with God's Laws, no longer in opposition to them.
The Bible tells us that the children of Israel left Egypt "with a high hand!" No wonder, they had just been freed! And so all true Christians, therefore we keep the Night to be Much Observed with a high hand as well and rejoice that Jesus our Passover is sacrificed for us (I Cor. 5:7-8).
June 2, 2000