Throughout many churches in Christendom people observe a religious observance called LENT. It is 40 days long. It begins with “Ash Wednesday” and it ends with “Easter Sunday.”  On Ash Wednesday one rubs ashes on their forehead in the sign of the cross. The “ashes” supposedly symbolize “repentance” (over one’s sins) and for 40 days people voluntarily deny themselves various “worldly pleasures” to show their repentance in real acts of self-denial.

There is a problem though with this “religious observance”; it has no basis in Scripture. Some would argue this point and cite verses from the Old Testament to justify the “season of Lent.” 2nd Samuel 13:19 is one verse they use: “Then Tamar put ASHES ON HER HEAD, and tore her robe of many colors that was on her, and LAID HER HAND ON HER HEAD AND WENT CRYING BITTERLY.” In fairness, this verse does teach us that in Old Testament times ASHES PLACED ON ONE’S HEAD was used to symbolize repentance and mourning. The prophet Daniel used ASHES to signify the same thing: “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ASHES.” Daniel was indeed repenting and mourning over the sins of the nation.

When I said Lent has no basis (authority) in Scripture, I meant “it has no authority for the Christian living in New Testament times.” In the Old Testament God’s earthly people Israel had a “religious calendar” for the whole year, with set times for various FEASTS (see Leviticus chapter 23) and RITUALS (see Leviticus chapters 1-7). They even observed the well-known SABBATH DAY every Saturday in honor of God setting that day aside for them to worship Him. But when we come to the New Testament we read of no such “religious calendar.” In fact, the Apostle Paul warns the saints of God who make up the church “NOT to observe religious days.” He wrote this to the Galatians, “But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that your turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years” (4:9-10). I believe the Galatians, who were primarily Gentiles, were guilty of observing the Jewish “religious calendar” with its various FEAST DAYS, SEASONS and RITUALS. Perhaps there were Jews who were pressuring them to do this and judging them if they didn’t. This was obviously the case when Paul wrote to the saints in Colossians 2:16-17, “So LET NO ONE JUDGE YOU in food or drink, or REGARDING A FESTIVAL OR A NEW MOON OR SABBATHS, which are a shadow of things to come.” Paul knew that these “religious observances” had a purpose back then, which was to “foreshadow the coming of Christ and the work He would do to put away sins,” but once He did come they were no longer to be observed.

In closing, there is ONE DAY that should be very special to the believer in Christ. I’m speaking of the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, when Jesus Christ arose from the grave, victorious over sin, death, and Satan. We read of this in Matthew 28:1, 5-6, “Now after the Sabbath, as the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb….But the angel…said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for HE IS RISEN, as He said.” This DAY became the day when the saints would gather to worship Him in the breaking of bread, as we see in Acts 20:7, “Now on the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, when the disciples came together to break bread…” The Lord has, in His sovereignty, made it possible for Christians through the centuries to come together on that day for the same privilege of remembering Him in His death (see 1st Corinthians 11:23-26). But it is NOT a “legal observance” like the Sabbath was for Israelites “under the law”; it is a “blessed privilege” to do so for those who have trusted Christ and are “under grace.”  (451.1)  (DO)