“You observe days and months and seasons and years”
Under the influence of legalists who came into Galatia [Judaizers], the Galatians began to keep the Jewish religious calendar. Love for religious holidays is to go from one religious trap to another.
The word “observe” denotes to watch carefully, assiduously. The Judaizers convinced the Galatians to keep the Sabbaths and Old Testament feasts scrupulously lest any prescribed observance of the law be overlooked. If the Galatians relapsed into this slavery to religion, they lose their freedom in Christ. Religion always brings a scruples approach to gaining merit with God.
The word “days” here probably refers to the weekly Sabbaths in the Old Testament. The Sabbath was one day of rest out of seven. The Christian rests seven days out of seven. Our Sabbath is in Christ (Matthew 11:28; Hebrews 3,4).
“Months” is new moon observance, the monthly feast.
Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles were occasional celebrations, each with a span of seven days.
The Jews observed sabbatical and jubilee years (Corinthians 2:16). God designed all religious days on the Jewish calendar to picture the person and work of Christ. These days were a shadow of the reality. They were not the reality but only pointed to the reality. Christ was the reality. Passover was a picture of the death of Christ on the cross. The eating of the lamb was a picture of personal trust in Christ.
We confound law and grace when we attempt to gain God’s approbation by what we do.
Legalism does not commend us to God. Special observance of religious holidays do not merit any favor with God. When we attempt to justify ourselves by what we do, we expect self-righteousness to impress God. Mankind has a love for religion.
Legalism immobilizes us and keeps us from living the most effective life possible with God. In God’s economy of grace, no single day is greater than another. If we single out special holy days, we tacitly admit that some days are more holy than other days. The Christian observes every day equally. We do not discharge our duty to God by observing certain religious days. Some of us say, “I’ll do my religious thing on religious days but the other days are mine.” We cannot make a superficial division between God’s days and our days. Every day is God’s day; our whole life is God’s possession.
We cannot parcel out the Old Testament. If we keep the Sabbath then we must keep Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. If we do this then we violate the fact that Christ fulfilled these feasts. Christ fulfilled all feasts fully. He is our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7,8). The law was good at diagnosing sin but it could not produce a cure. Jesus was the cure for sin. All of this came to the end in Christ.
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).
“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance [reality] is of Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).
There is no brazen altar any longer because Christ is our sacrifice for sin. It does not obtain for the church today. God eradicated the tabernacle and temple because Jesus fulfilled the law completely. God has a different plan altogether for people in the church.
“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17).