“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”

Psalm 5:3

Ceremonial Duties, Then and Now

(Please read James 2:12)

August 17

God’s people in Old Testament times were never successful for long in observing all the requirements of the Law of Moses. Along with the numerous rules and regulations governing everyday life and work, there were many ceremonial rules.

Annual occasions requiring able-bodied men to travel to the temple included the feasts of Passover, Weeks, Trumpets and Tabernacles, plus the Day of Atonement. Then there were special rules for Sabbath days and each New Moon day, and sacrifices at the temple for a variety of other reasons. (For an overview of Old Testament feasts, sacrifices and offerings, see our chart at this website.)

But under Christ, there are only two ceremonial rites, baptism and the Lord’s supper. One of these is required only once in a lifetime and the other may be observed anywhere in the world, with no need to travel to a certain location.

No wonder, then, that the Law of Moses is called by an apostle “the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1, KJV), but teachings of Christ are called the “law of liberty.” The latter includes the freedom to accept or reject it. We take it on ourselves voluntarily, not because we were born in a certain country.

There are, of course, some duties of Christians that may seem ceremonial to the nonbeliever, such as singing hymns of praise and offering prayers, either in an assembled group or individually. But these activities are not burdens; they are privileges, and happy ones at that.

In fact, if reading these words helps you appreciate your freedom in Christ, right now is a good time to give thanks in song or prayer.

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