Today many Christians are seeking the biblical Jewish roots of their faith in Yeshua(Hebrew for Jesus). One of the primary ways in which Yeshua is revealed in the Old Covenant(Hebrew "Tanach") Scriptures is through the Biblical Feasts of the Lord listed in Leviticus 23. These feasts and appointed times, called "moedim" in Hebrew, include:
A weekly feast called Shabbat, which means the Sabbath Day, from Friday evening at sundown to Saturday evening at sundown.
A monthly feast called Rosh Chodesh, which means the New Moon Festival.
Seven annual major feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.
Two additional annual festivals, Purim and Hanukkah
There is also a special observance once every seven years, when the land itself is to have a "Sabbath of rest"(Leviticus 25:8-13)
Then there is the Year of Jubilee, which is celebrated once every 50 years, throughout all the land of Israel(Leviticus 25:8-13)
All of these feasts of the Lord, in one way or another, point toward Yeshua Ha Mashiach, Jesus the Messiah and King of Israel. They are all fulfilled in Him!
Seven Major Annual Festivals
There are seven major annual festivals in all; three are celebrated in the early spring, one in the late spring, and three in the fall. As you examine the significance of each feast, you will see that they spell out God's "timeline" for the history of the world and for the salvation of all mankind. The first four festivals have already been totally completed in the first coming of the Messiah Jesus. The last three, which are the fall festivals, have partially been completed in the first coming of Yeshua, and will be totally completed in His second coming.
The early spring festivals of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits are celebrated in the first month of the year(Nisan, according to the Hebrew Calendar). They speak of the "blood of the lamb" shed for our sins by Yeshua, who became the "bread of affliction" for us )though He was sinless and without leaven), who also rose from the dead as the "first fruits from the ground" on the day after the Sabbath during the week of Passover. Scripture references for these three feasts are in Leviticus 23:5-12
The late spring festival is called the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot in Hebrew). It is observed 50 days after Passover and First Fruits in the third month of the year (Sivan in Hebrew). It points toward the unity of all believers (Jew or Gentile) represented by the two loaves of "leavened bread" waved before the Lord on this day, and toward the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the same day the Feast of Weeks was being celebrated in Jerusalem. Scripture references for this feast are Leviticus 23:15-17 and Acts 2
The fall festivals of the Feast of trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) are celebrated in the seventh month of the year (the Hebrew month of Tishrei).
The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) points toward Yeshua as our Great High Priest, and the "once and for all" blood atonement that He shed for all sinners. It also speaks of a future "national day of atonement" in the land of Israel, when they look upon Yeshua and weep for Him as a firstborn son" (according to Zechariah 12:10)
The Feast of Tabernacles points toward the birth of Yeshua in His first coming, but also the millenial reign of Yeshua after His second coming. After the national repentence of Israel (Zechariah 12) and after the battle of Armageddon (Zechariah 14), all the nations will go up year after year to worship the Lord during the Feast of Tabernacles. Other Scripture references for feasts are Leviticus 23:23-44, I Thessalonians 4:16, 17, and Zechariah 14:16
All seven of these biblical feasts of the Lord are centered around Jesus, our King, Messiah, and Great High Priest, and all of them are for all of Gods people, Jew and Gentile alike.
SABBATH DAY - SHABBAT
The Sabbath Day in Hebrew is called "Shabbat". Shabbat is a primary Hebrew root word which has many meanings. It means "to cease from exertion, to rest, to put away, to rid yourself of." But it also means "to celebrate" (as in celebrating the benefits of entering that rest).
In Genesis 2:2-3 we see that God created the Sabbath day in the very beginning, long before the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were born. God created Shabbat for all mankind, long before the 10 commandments and the Torah were given to Moses and the children of Israel.
God created Shabbat, sanctified it and blessed it, and set it apart as a special holy day for His creation to "rest and to be in "fellowship" with Him.
Yeshua(Jesus) the Messiah Himself re-affirmed this in Mark 2:27 when he said "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath". He said this because the Pharisees(like many Talmudic Rabbis today were imposing many man-made traditions upon the people in regards to Shabbat, making it a hardship to keep the Sabbath: when all along, God created the Sabbath to be a blessing for mankind and that they should "delight in the Sabbath" (According to Isaiah 58:13-14).
In Genesis 2:2-3 we also see that Shabbat is definitely the 7th day of the week. It reads in Hebrew, "Yom hash-vee-ee" which means the 7th day. That means from Friday evening at sundown to Saturday evening at sundown, not only according to the Hebrew calendar, but according to the Bible as well. Therefore Shabbat should not be "watered down" to any other day of the week, not even Sunday (don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that you shouldn't go to church on Sunday - God should be worshipped every day of the week.) But don't call Sunday the Sabbath Day, because it is not!
In Exodus 20:8-11 we see that observing the Sabbath day is one of the 10 commandments. God gave the Sabbath to the Israelites, but He also gave Shabbat to any "strangers," who were living amongst or who had "joined" themselves to the Israelites (Exodus 20:10). The word stranger reads in Hebrew, "geyr" which means a foreigner, an alien, a stranger, a non-Israelite or one who is from the nations - in other words, a Gentile! Even in the 10 commandments in the the Torah itself, God clearly states that Shabbat is for Jews and Gentiles alike
All seven of these biblical feasts of the Lord are centered around Jesus, our King, Messiah, and Great High Priest, and all of them are for all of Gods people, Jew and Gentile alike.
God Gave the Biblical Feasts to the Jews and Gentiles
As you further examine the Scriptures you will see that God gave all the biblical feasts to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles as well. This would include the Feast of Passover, Unleavened Bread in the early spring, all the way through the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall according to Exodus 12:19 and Deuteronomy 16:9-14
According to Leviticus 23:1-3 Shabbat is definitely a feast of the Lord, a feast that we get to celebrate not just once a year like the other biblical feasts, but a feast that we get to celebrate once a week, every week of the year. At the end of a long "work week", what a blessing it is to be able to "throw your hands up in the air and say "Thank God, it's Shabbat!"
Leviticus 23:3 also calls Shabbat a "holy convocation", a "sacred assembly", "indicating that the Israelites and the Gentiles who had "joined themselves" to the Jewish people "gathered together" on Shabbat to worship the Lord. The writer of Hebrews adds to this in Hebrews 10:25 that we, as believers in Yeshua(Jesus) "should not forsake the gathering of the assembly"
Yeshua was Jewish
Now Yeshua of course was Jewish. He was circumcised on the 8th day (Luke2:21) which was the seal of God's covenant with Abraham. He was dedicated, officially named at the Temple on the 8th day (Luke 2:21), which was the custom of the Jewish people. He fulfilled his "rite of passage" (which was a former name for "Bar Mitzvah") (Luke 2:46-47), and according to Luke 4:16, Yeshua attended Shabbat services on a regular basis - HE STILL DOES! Yeshua (Jesus) was a Torah observant Jew.
Yeshua never did away with Sabbath - remember, He said in Matthew 5:17&18 "Do not think i've come to abolish the Law or the prophets, I've come to fulfill them. Until haven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, nor the least stroke of a pen will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished".
Not only did Jesus honor and keep the Sabbath - He himself created it! In the gospel of John, chapter 1:1-3 it say "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God-all things that were made were made through Him. It goes on to say in verse 14 - "and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us."
Yeshua is the Word made flesh. The One who upheld His Father's Torah, which includes the keeping of the Sabbath and the keeping of the Sabbath is not only for the Jewish people, but for Gentile believers in Jesus who are led by the Holy Spirit to do so.
Isaiah 56:3-7, "Do not let the son of the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say "the Lord has seperated me from defiling the Sabbath, and keeps my covenant, even them I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer."
Sabbath is a Seal of the Mosaic Covenant
Shabbat is also the sign and the seal of the Mosaic Covenant(Ex 31:12-17), and again, Yeshua observed, taught and upheld the Torah of Moses, and taught others to do the same.(Matthew 5:17-19)
The biblical account of the millennial reign of Yeshua is found in Zechariah 14 and Revelation 20. The Scriptures say that Yeshua will rule and reign in Jerusalem for a 1000 years and again, there will be peace and "rest" throughout the whole earth. This is all connected with the beginning of the "eternal Shabbat" that God has prepared for His people since the beginning of time.
What's even of further interest to all of us is that the millennial reign of Yeshua is connected with the Feast of Tabernacles, which just happens to be the 7th annual feast of the Lord, celebrated for 7 days in the 7th month of the year (Leviticus 23:34)
Somehow, through all of this, every believer, whether Jew or Gentile, has got to understand that God created the Sabbath not just for the Jewish people, but for the Gentiles as well, pointing towards a time of eternal peace and "rest" in the earth, when we will all be worshipping Yeshua, the King of all Kings together in Jerusalem.
Sabbath - A Place in the Spirit Realm
This to me is one of the most profound meanings of Shabbat. It goes beyond any day of the week, or any place in the earth. It is not in any man-made church building or synagogue. It's a place in the "spirit realm." In the Holy of Holies in a tabernacle pitched not by man, but by the Lord Himself, it's within the veil of the Heavenly Sanctuary and the only way you can enter that "Sabbath rest" is through the shed blood of Yeshua Ha Mashiach, Jesus the Messiah. It is a place where you can come before a merciful and compassionate Great High Priest and cry out "Lord, help me, Lord heal me, Lord save me, Lord deliver me, Lord have mercy on me!"
It's also a place where you can "worship in Spirit and in truth", where you can stand before the Throne of the Almighty, the One who was, the One who is, and the One who is to come.". It's a place where you can cry out with all the heavenly beings, "Glory, honor, power, praise, riches, strength, wisdom, and blessings, belong to the Lamb who sites upon the Throne forever and ever! Hallelujah!
Yes, there is a Sabbath rest for the people of God, especially for those who know how to "enter in" and worship the Lord in his splendor of His holiness.
Which is the First Day Of The Week?
As a Messianic Rabbi, I am often asked: "If God created Shabbat to be the 7th day of the week as a day of rest in Him, why is it that most believers in Jesus worship on Sunday, which is the first day of the week?"
Well, first of all, let me say that God should be worshiped every day of the week. However, we should note that Friday evening through Saturday evening (the 7th day) is the official day of worship, rest and fellowship with the Lord, according to the Scriptures in Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 20:8-11, Exodus 31:12-17 and Leviticus 23:1-3, just to name a few.
In addition, it was the regular custom of Yeshua (Jesus) and the apostle Paul to attend synagogue services on the Sabbath Day (Luke 4:16 and Acts 13:14-16). As a matter of fact, the entire body of the early Messianic Believers in Jesus, both Jew and Gentile, worshipped on Shabbat, the 7th day of the week, honoring the Sabbath Day as was commanded by God for the Jewish people and any Gentiles living amongst them (Exodus 20:10), also conforming to Isaiah 56:6 which says, "Let the sons of the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord keep my covenant and honor the Sabbath." This Scripture points toward Romans 11 which says that Gentiles are grafted into the House of Israel and Ephesians 2 which says that Gentiles are now part of the commonwealth of Israel.
However, in the early centuries after the death and resurrection of Yeshua, things began to change. After the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D., most of the Jewish believers fled from the city, many others scattered over the earth. The Messianic Jewish influence over the Gentile Christians was for the most part, gone!
Then came the de-Judiazation process, by the early Roman emperors and Roman Church fathers, which was rooted in the demonic spirit of anti-Semitism, saying that the Christian Church has "replaced the Jews" as the true Israel of God, that true Christians should have nothing to do with those Jewish people nor their practices, because they "murdered our Lord".
In 135 A.D. the Roman Emperor Hadrian made it illegal to keep the Sabbath, period! Any Jew or Gentile Christian found keeping the Sabbath was immediately arrested or martyred.
Roman Emperor Constantine
At the council of Nicea in 325 A.D, the Roman Emperor Constantine took it a step further changing Passover into something called Easter, which finds its roots in paganism. By the late 4th century, further legislation forbid Christians from observing the Sabbath, from keeping the Jewish Passover, and from observing any of the laws of Moses (God's Torah). Even though Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 "do not think I've come to abolish the law, I've come to fulfill it." Even though Paul warned the church in Rome in Romans 11:18 "remember, you don't support the root.... the root supports you!"
The changing of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday was born out of a spirit of anti-Semitism, which comes from Satan. But praise be to God whose turning things around in these last days, as He is restoring the church to its biblical Jewish roots.
As I said earlier, God should be worshipped every day, but let's remember the Sabbath Day and KEEP IT HOLY!
FEAST OF PASSOVER
According to Exodus 12, God instructed the Israelites to take the "blood of a lamb" and put it on the doorposts of their houses - and that when He saw the blood, He would "pass over" their houses, and spare them the plague that was coming upon Egypt - God was also now preparing to deliver the children of Israel from 400 years of slaver and bondage to Pharaoh and the Egyptians.
This has great application for believers in Yeshua today, whether Jew or Gentile, because Yeshua (Jesus) is our Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!
Passover Connections We Can Make to Believers in Yeshua
1 ) Through the blood of the Lamb, applied to the doorposts of their homes, God delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh, who held them in bondage.
*Through the blood of Yeshua, shed on a wooden cross (the tree of sacrifice), God has delivered us from Satan (the Pharaoh of this world) and from a life of bondage to him.
2 ) The Feast of Passover was to be observed on the 14th day of the Hebrew month is Nisan(according to Exodus 12:6 and Leviticus 23:5).
*Yeshua (Jesus) died precisely on the 14th day of Nisan, as our Passover Lamb
3 ) When the Israelites left Egypt, it was a time of "new beginnings" for them, a whole new life in a new "promised land."
*The blood of Yeshua, our Passover Lamb, initiated a time of new beginnings for us - a whole new life in a new "promised land" - the Kingdom of God. II Cor. 5:17 says, if anyone is in the Messiah, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new!
In Exodus 12, God also gave specific requirements for the Passover Lamb itself.
a) It was to be chosen four days before Passover
The Lamb was to be chosen on the 10th day of Nissan and go on public display four days before Passover (Exodus 12:3). Yeshua went on public display four days before Passover when He entered Jerusalem on the 10th of Nisan
b) It was to be a male, without blemish or defect
Exodus 12:5 says that the Passover Lamb had to be a male, without defect (blemish). Yeshua was examined by many during the last four days of His life, but they couldn't find anything wrong with Him, such as Pontius Pilate who said, "I find nothing wrong with this man" (Luke 23:4), and Judas Iscariot, who, when returning the 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 27:4) cried out, "I have betrayed innocent blood!". The repented cross thief said to the other cross thief (Luke 23:41), "We deserve the punishment we are getting, but this man has done nothing wrong." Even the Roman centurion (Matt 27:54) said after Yeshua had died, "Surely this man was the Son of God," indicating Yeshua's perfection.
c) It was to be slaughtered by all the people at twilight
In Exodus 12:6 we see another one of God's requirements concerning the Passover Lamb, that it was to be killed at "twilight" on the 14th day of Nisan. In the Hebrew language twilight reads "BAIN HA-ARBAYIM" which literally mean "between the two evenings." Yeshua was crucified during the 6th hour of the day between the two evenings on the 14th of Nisan, according to Luke 23:44
Also, according to Exodus 12:6, the Lamb was to be killed by all the people (the whole community). Yeshua (Jesus) died for all sinners; we are all responsible for His death. Romans 3:23 says that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
d) Not a bone of its body was to be broken
Exodus 12:46 says that not a bone of the Passover Lamb was to be broken. The legs of the two cross thieves were broken, but not Yeshua's, thus fulfilling the Scripture. In every way, Yeshua fulfilled all the requirements of the Torah, even to the smallest detail, to be the Passover Lamb of God. He is the Torah of God made flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Spoken Word, which became the Written Word, which became the Living Word!
FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
Another biblical feast, very closely associated with Passover, is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, pronounced in Hebrew, "Chang Ha Matzot." This feast also points directly to Jesus, as do all of the Feasts of the Lord. Passover, as we've seen, is observed on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, according to Leviticus 23:5, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread is observed for seven more days, from the 15th through the 21st of Nisan, according to Leviticus 23:6. During the entire eight day period only bread without "leaven" could be eaten.
"Leaven" in the Bible is symbolic of sin. In the Hebrew language leaven is referred to as "chametz," which means "something that ferments and leads to bitterness in the end. "Sin in our lives will continue to ferment and lead to bitterness in the end, for "the wages of sin is death"(Romans 6:23)
Of course, Yeshua was without sin, and right away we can see how the Feast of Unleavened Bread points toward Him, especially as it is directly connected with the Feast of Passover, which points toward the blood of Yeshua that was shed for all sinners. Another way of putting that is He, even though He was sinless, became "the bread of affliction" for all of us!
During Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread we eat unleavened bread, which, in Judaism, is commonly called Matzah. If you look closely at a piece of Matzah you will see that it is "striped, pierced, and bruised," a picture of God's suffering Messiah in Isaiah 53 who was "pierced for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities and by whose stripes we are healed!"
Another Jewish tradition, based on Exodus 12:18-20, is removing all the leaven from Jewish homes shortly before Passover. This ceremony is called in Hebrew "Bedikat Chametz" which means "removing the leaven."
Isn't it interesting that just before Passover, Jesus entered the temple in Jerusalem and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves (Matthew 21:12). What was He doing? He was cleansing His Father's house from all leaven, just before Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
There is a very interesting Scripture found in Exodus 12:19. "For seven days, no leaven is to be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened. That person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. "The word "stranger" reads in Hebrew "geyr." one who is a foreigner, an alien, one who is from the nations, a Gentile.
God commanded for future generations that any Gentiles living amongst the Israelites should celebrate the Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread with the Jewish people, a picture of unity in the Messiah.
According to Lev. 23:9-12, on the day after the Sabbath during the week of Passover, a sheaf of the first fruits from the ground was to be waved before the Lord as an acceptable sacrifice. It was accomplished by a burst offering of a male lamb of the first year without a blemish
This clearly points toward the resurrection of Yeshua who arose from the dead on the day after the Sabbath during the week of Passover being the "first fruits from the ground" according to 1st Cor. 15:20
These are the early spring biblical feasts of the Lord (Leviticus 23:4-12); the Feast of Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits, and they pointed toward the crucifixion and resurrection of Yeshua Ha Mashiach, Jesus the Messiah.
SHAVUOT AND THE FALL HOLIDAYS
The next feast on the calendar is the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) which is celebrated in the late spring and it too points toward Yeshua and towards the unity of all believers (Jew or Gentile) in the Messiah.
In Leviticus 23:17 God instructed the Israelites to present to Him a wave offering of two loaves of bread made with "leaven.. The two loaves were symbolic of Israel and the nations, or in other words, Jew or Gentile, who are all one in the Messiah. Leaven, of course, represents sin in the Bible, and "all have sinned (whether Jew or Gentile) and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23)
It is very interesting that during the early spring festivals of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits, only "unleavened" bread could be used, because those three feast pointed directly to Yeshua, who was sinless.
Picture of Unity Between Jew and Gentile in the Messiah
The Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) is a picture of unity between Jew and Gentile in the Messiah. This picture of unity is beautifully illustrated for us in the story of Ruth and Boaz. The book of Ruth traditionally is read on Shavuot because the setting of the story takes place during the Feast of Weeks itself in the late spring harvest
Ruth faithfully followed her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi, to Bethlehem saying, "Wherever you go, I will go. Your God shall be my God, and your people my people."
Soon after arriving in Bethlehem Ruth began to glean in the fields of Boaz, a biblical right that she had, even as a Gentile, according to God's Torah in Leviticus 23:22. As the story continues, Ruth and Boaz fall in love and Boaz takes Ruth to be his wife. Eventually they had a son whom they named Obed. Obed became the father of Jesse, and Jesse became the father of King David. David was from the tribe of Judah, and through his lineage came Yeshua (Jesus) who is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. What a beautiful story of unity between Boaz, a Jewish man, and Ruth, a Gentile woman, and how through their lineage came the Messiah, and in Him we are all one.
God richly blessed Ruth because she had a heart for the God of Israel, and for the Jewish people. Many Christians today have this heart of Ruth and God is blessing them as well. Indeed, the Scripture rings true from Genesis 12:3 when God said to Abraham "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you." God wants to bless you today as you embrace the biblical Jewish roots of your faith in Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah and Savior of the world.
Giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai
The Feast of Weeks is definitely an agricultural festival pointing toward unity in the Messiah - but the feast has a second major theme to it as it also commemorates the giving of the Law (God's Torah) to Moses and the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai.
Fifty days after the Israelites came out of Egypt, which took place during Passover; they came to Mt. Sinai and received the Torah. When the Torah was given (according to Exodus 19) there were supernatural manifestations of fire, smoke, and peals of thunder and lightning at Mt. Sinai, and the whole place shook violently.
Fifty days after Yeshua became our Passover Lamb, came the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), fulfilling the words of the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 31, when God said, "Behold the days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and Judah. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts and they will all know me from the least to the greatest (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
This, too, took place on Shavuot, when God-fearing Jews from all the nations came up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast, and when the Holy Spirit was given, there were also supernatural manifestations, such as the sound of rushing winds, tongues of fire, and the whole place shook violently
Feast of Shavuot and the Day of Pentecost
Let's look at further comparisons between the Jewish Feast of Shavuot and the Day of Pentecost.
1 ) On Shavuot 3,000 Jews who worshiped a golden calf were put to death (Exodus 32:28)
*On the day of Pentecost, Peter, empowered by the Holy Spirit, preached a great sermon and 3,000 Jews were saved. (Acts 2:41)
2 ) On Shavuot, Israel was "born as a nation" after entering into a covenant relationship with God at Mt. Sinai.
*On Pentecost came the "birth of the church" through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
3 ) On Shavuot, the commandments of God were written on stone tablets by the finger of God.
*On Pentecost, they were written on human hearts by the Spirit of God.
As you can see, the churches celebration of the Day of Pentecost is rooted in the biblical Jewish Feast of Shavuot (The Feast of Weeks)
THE FALL FESTIVALS
So far, we have taken a closer look at the first four of these festivals, Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and the Feast of Weeks, which are celebrated in the early and late spring. They clearly point toward the crucifixion and resurrection of the Messiah, and the outpouring of the Ruach Ha Kodesh (the Holy Spirit). Therefore, these four festivals have been fulfilled completely completely in the first coming of the Messiah Jesus.
Now we'll move on to the fall festivals, which have partially been completed in Yeshua's first coming, but will totally be completed in the second coming of the Messiah.
The three festivals are the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah and Rosh Hashanah in Hebrew), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot in Hebrew). All three of these feasts are observed during the month of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar.
FEAST OF TRUMPETS - ROSH HASHANAH
The Feast of Trumpets, observed on the 1st day of the 7th month (Leviticus 23:24) again is called Yom Teruah in Hebrew, which means "the Day of the Awakening Blast."
For this reason it is associated with the second appearance of the Messiah and the rapture of the body of believers, conforming to the words of Paul in First Timothy 4:16-17, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an arch-angel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Messiah will rise first. Then we, who are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will be with the Lord forever."
You can imagine the awakening of that blast, the blast of the shofar announcing the second coming of the Messiah!
Day of Judgment
The Feast of Trumpets is also associated with a Day of Judgment ("Yom Ha Din" in Hebrew). A day when book are opened and final judgment takes place. According to Daniel 7:9-10, "The Ancient of Days was seated, ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him, the court was seated and the books were opened." Daniel goes on to say in verses 13 & 14, in connection with verses 9 & 10: "And behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven... and to Him was given dominion and glory and a Kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve Him, and His dominion will never pass away."
Further connections are made by the words of the Messiah, Himself, in Matthew 24:30, 31. Jesus said, "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, and He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
The Jewish New Year
Another theme connected with the Feast of Trumpets is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which, according to rabbinic Judaism, marks the creation of the world.
Hail the King!
On Rosh Hashanah God is recognized as the Divine creator and as King of the universe. Therefore, we have another sub-title to the Feast of Trumpets called "Ha Melech" which means "the King". One of the reasons we sound the shofar (the rams horn) on Rosh Hashanah is to "hail the King" with the blast of the horn.
Yeshua is King in every sense of the word. He has a throne, a scepter, and a kingdom
He has subjects in His kingdom including angels, archangels, and other heavenly beings, believers, who have graduated from earth to heaven; and the rest of us, His people in the earth (meaning you and me), who are also believers in the Messiah.
The King also gives us His "decrees," his commandments in the Bible
Other kings and kingdoms will come and go - but Yeshua's kingdom endures forever!
On top of all this, He is a good King! He feeds the hungry, clothes the nakes, provides shelter for the poor and the homeless, heals the sick and visits those who are lonely and in prison. This King even lays down His own life for His people and when His people, die He raises them to life again! How could anyone ask for another King? (You have to be crazy!)
Yet so many people would rather serve another king. However, this is not a nice king. His is the king of "darkness". This king is a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. This king has been a liar since the beginning. This "king of darkness" can even appear as an "angel of light" and fool many. This king knows he will be thrown into a lake of fire, and he wants you there with him.
Isn't it better to serve Yeshua (Jesus) "our good King"?
T'SHUVA - SEASON OF REPENTANCE
Connected with Judgment is the them of "repentance" - another vital aspect of the Feast of Trumpets, aka, Rosh Hashanah.
In Judaism, there is a designated "season of repentance" called in Hebrew, the season of T'shuva, which basically means "repenting of all sin, and coming back to God with your whole heart.
Begins 30 Days before Rosh Hashanah
This season of T'shuva begins 30 days before Rosh Hashanah on the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul. During the month of Elul the shofar is sounded every morning to remind the Jewish people to "search their soul" and "repent of all sins" before the high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur arrive. These are observed on the first and the tenth day of the month of Tishrei, the Hebrew month that follows the month of Elul.
In reality the entire 40-day period, is the season of T'shuva (the season of repentance) beginning with the first of Elul and culminating on the 10th of Tishrei, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).
God Provided a Sacrifice
During the 40-day period, the story of Abraham and Issac on Mt. Moriah (Genesis 22) is read in Jewish synagogues and in Jewish houses. In Hebrew, it is called "the Akidah" which means "the binding of Isaac". The story itself is a reminder to our Jewish people that God provided a sacrifice in place of Issac, a ram caught by its "horns" in the bushes. Here we see another connection with the ram's horn (the shofar), and the biblical Jewish feasts of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. But the greater significance is that God provided a "lamb" in place of Isaac, as Abraham prophesied that He would in Genesis 22:8
What most people do not realize is that Mt. Moriah became the very place where King Solomon built the temple 1,000 years later, and the very place where Yeshua (Jesus) was sacrificed for our sins 2,000 years later as "the precious Lamb of God". This was the real fulfillment of Abraham's prophecy.
Yes, it is true that there is a designated "season of repentance" in Judaism, in connection with the biblical feast of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but as we all know, a person can repent of their sins any day of the year and come back to God with their whole heart.
In the Brit Hadashah (The New Covenant) I John 1:7 & 9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us all of all our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, through the blood of His Son, Jesus the Messiah.
YOM KIPPUR - THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, is observed on the 10th day of the 7th month, the month of Tishrei (Leviticus 23:27). It is the highest of all the holy days in Judaism.
On Yom Kippur (according to Leviticus 16) the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle of Moses and offered the blood of a young bull for his own sins and for the sins of his family. Then the High Priest offered the blood of a goat for the sins of the rest of the Israelites. It was the blood of these animals that made "atonement" for the Israelites, thus fulfilling the Scriptures in Leviticus 17:11 and Hebrews 9:22 that says, "It is the blood that makes atonement for the soul," and "without this shedding of blood there is no remission of sin."
The blood that Yeshua (Jesus) shed on the "tree of sacrifice" made the final "atonement" for our sins, putting an end to the Mosaic sacrificial system. He also entered the Holy of Holies in the Heavenly Sanctuary, and as our great High Priest presented His own blood to His Father signifying that it was finished, having obtained once and for all, eternal redemption for our sins (Hebrews 9:11-12)
The Book of Hebrews (2:17-18) also tells us that Yeshua is a merciful and sympathetic High Priest and can identify with all our problems and temptations, though he Himself never sinned.
Hebrews 7:25 says that He is always interceding for us at the right hand of God. No matter what you are going through, he's interceding for you right now!
The book of Hebrews also tells us that the priesthood of Yeshua is unchangeable. Other priests died, but Yeshua rose from the dead and lives forevermore!
Yom Kippur is called the "Day of Atonement" in English, but the Hebrew word "Kippur" came from the word "Kipporah", which means "covering" or in its deepest translation, means "a ransom by means of a substitute."
The shedding of blood as a "Kapporah" (an "atonement" or "covering for sin") goes way back in the Bible, even back to the Garden of Eden.
After sinning against God, by eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve, realizing their nakedness, made their own "covering" for their sins by sewing "fig leaves" together as a "covering for themselves". But God didn't accept their covering, their own idea of "atonement," so He made garments of skin for Adamn and Eve. The skin of these kosher animals required the "shedding of blood", and without the "shedding of blood" there is no forgiveness of sin. For the first time in history, blood was shed to "cover the sin" of man.
People today (like Adam and Eve) still come up with their own idea of a "covering" or "atonement" for their sins, such as "I'm a nice person and I never hurt anyone". "Surely God won't send me to Hell." Some people think, "If I just give enough to charity, I'll go to heaven." Some of our Jewish people cast "stones" or "pieces of bread" which represent their sins, into a body of water (called Tashlich in Hebrews) thinking that God will forgive their sins this way. Some, in Orthodox Judaism, swing a dead chicken over their heads on Yom Kippur (called "Kaparot" in Hebrew) saying "this is the atonement for my sins." Some believe that "just because I'm Jewish" I'm going to go to heaven". Well, I'm Jewish also, but let me tell you something..."
Unless you receive the "blood atonement" that was shed for you by Yeshua the Messiah on the "tree of sacrifice," you're not going to make it into heaven - whether Jew or Gentile, because God says in the Torah (First Covenant) and in the New Covenant Scriptures "without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin". Yeshua the Messiah clearly said, "I am the Way the Truth and the Light, no man comes to the Father but by Me!" Whether you are Jewish or Gentile, don't rely on the "traditions of men" for your salvation, but on the word of God which endures forever!
Aaron, The High Priest
In taking a closer look at the ministry of Aaron, the High Priest, on Yom Kippur, he did the following according to Leviticus 16:
He entered the "mikvah" (the bronze laver filled with water in the outer court of the Tabernacle of Moses) and washed his entire body. He then put on special holy garments, presented special incense before the Lord and sprinkled the blood of a young bull on the "mercy seat" in the Holy of Holies as "atonement" for his own sins and the sins of his family.
Aaron also presented two male goats before the Lord. Lots were cast for the two goats. One goat was sacrificed for the sins of the people and the blood of that goat was sprinkled on the "mercy seat" and on the horns of the altar, along with the blood of the bull. However, the other goat(called the "scapegoat") was released into the wilderness. One goat represented God's judgment, the other God's mercy.
Later on in Temple history a certain ritual was added to all of this, using three scarlet woolen ropes. One scarlet rope was tied to the horns of the scapegoat and one hung from the front of the temple. After all the Yom Kippur sacrifices were completed by the High Priest a mighty miracle took place. The scarlet rope hanging from the temple supernaturally turned "white". This was God's sign to the Israelites that their sins were forgiven, conforming to Isaiah 1:18, "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow".
However, immediately after the crucificion of Yeshua (Jesus) and for the next 40 years until the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., the scarlet cord never turned "white" again. This, too, was God's answer to the Israelites - that there was no need for that to happen any longer because the sacrifice of Yeshua, the "blood of atonement" that He shed on the tree of sacrifice, put an end to the Mosaic sacrificial system.
In addition, just as Aaron offered special incense before the Lord, Yeshua offered Himself as a "sweet fragrance to God"(Ephesians 5:2). As High Priest, Aaron made intercession for the people in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, pointing toward Yeshua, our Great High Priest, who is always interceding for us at the right hand of God.
On Yom Kippur, Aaron appeared before the glory of God, which dwelt between the cherubim above a "horizontal mercy seat" in the Holy of Holies. According to John 20:12, two angels stood where the body of Yeshua had laid horizontally in the tomb, one at His head and One at His feet, with the glory of God in between them, a picture of God's "mercy" through the death of His Son. For one brief moment that tomb became the Holy of Holies for all of us!
Today we still have access into the Holy of Holies through the blood of Yeshua. "Let us therefore come boldly to the "throne of grace" that we may find mercy and grace in time of need". (Hebrews 4:16)
Further Fulfillment of the Day of Atonement
In many ways the feast of Yom Kippur has been fulfilled in the 1st coming of the Messiah, but there is a further fulfillment of the Day of Atonement in the 2nd coming of the Messiah.
As we all know, Yom Kippur is a day of national mourning in the Bible, a day of fasting and prayer and of afflicting one's soul (Leviticus 23:29)
The prophet Zechariah speaks of another national day of mourning in the land of Israel that is coming in the future. Zechariah 12:10 says, "They will look upon me whom they have pierced, they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only Son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for their firstborn." Zechariah 13:1 goes on to say, "In that day, a fountain shall be opened for the House of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sins and for uncleanness". This is clearly a picture of a national "Day of Atonement" for Israel in the future. It is connected with the return of the Messiah, for the prophet Zechariah goes on to say in chapter 14:2-9, "For in that day, I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem.... then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as He fights in the day of battle - and in that day it shall be, the Lord is One and His Name One"!
The apostle Paul confirms this in Romans 11:26-27. "And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written, the Deliverer will come from Zion and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob, for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins."
What a beautiful picture of God's mercy and forgiveness extended to the whole House of Israel in her greatest time of need.
Surely it will come to pass that Israel will see her Messiah and that all though out the land they will cry out:
"Baruch ha ba b'shem Adonai"
"Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord."
SUKKOT - THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES
In Leviticus 23:34-44, God told the Israelites to dwell in "booths" for 7 days and to rejoice before Him, after bringing in their fall harvest which He had abundantly supplied. The word "booth" is pronounced "sukkah" in Hebrew, and from the plural "Sukkot" we get the Hebrew name for the Feast of Tabernacles.
Because the Feast of Sukkot was basically an agricultural festival, God commanded the Israelites in Leviticus 23:40 "to take the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook..." The fruit of the beautiful trees is a sweet smelling "citrus" fruit called an Etrog Hebrew. The branches of the trees are referred to in Hebrew as the "lulav". On the lulav and the etrog" were waved before the Lord in every direction, acknowledging God's Omni-presence throughout the heavens and the earth and to thank him, through a "wave offering", for providing an abundant harvest. This was similar to the "waving of 2 loaves of leavened bread" (Leviticus 23:17) during Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, another agricultural festival celebrated the late spring.
According to rabbinic Judaism, the lulav and the etrog have different symbolic meanings, but to us as believers in Yeshua, we understand that it points toward Israel and the nations - Jew and Gentiles, who are all one in the Messiah, just like the two loaves of bread did as they were waved before the Lord during Shavuot. Deuteronomy 16:14 adds further insight to all of this, where God commands any Gentiles living amongst the Israelites to rejoice before the Lord with them, and to celebrate the Feast of Sukkot together.
Aren't you glad that all of the feasts of the Lord are for all of God's children? And aren't you glad that Yeshua broke down the middle wall of partition and that in Him, we are all one?
The word "Sukkot" is the plural for the Hebrew word "Sukkah" which means a booth, or a tabernacle. In Leviticus 23:41-43, God commanded the Israelites to live in booths for seven days after gathering in the fall harvest, and to rejoice before Him.
A booth (Sukkah) is a temporary dwelling place (flimsily made by intention). It is a temporary shelter, or a temporary provision. When God commanded the Israelites to dwell in booths (Sukkot), He was emphasizing to them and the generation that followed that their dependence was on Him, and not on a man-made structure.
Our Dependence Should Be on the Lord
The same is true for believers in Jesus today. Our dependence should also be totally upon the Lord, not on the temporal things of this life.
The Sukkah also pointed toward our physical bodies which are temporary dwelling places. I Peter 2:11 says that "we are merely pilgrims and strangers passing through the earth as we journey toward the "promised land" (kingdom of heaven). Our dependence should not be upon our flesh, nor upon anything materialistic, but upon God.
Yeshua Lived in a "booth"
Still, there was another reason why God emphasized to the Israelites that they should live in booths, namely because there would come a time when He, Himself, would dwell in one, in the person of Yeshua, Jesus of Nazareth.
John chapter 1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." According to John 7, Jesus attended the Feast of Tabernacles as it was being celebrated in Jerusalem. Much of the celebration was in thanking God for providing the necessary "rainfall" for an abundant harvest.
The celebration also included "water libation," anticipating God's promise to the Israelites of sending the Holy Spirit, spoken of by the prophets. According to John 7:37-39, in the midst of all these festivities, Yeshua (Jesus) stood up in the midst of the people on the last and greatest day of the Feast and cried out, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come unto me, and from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water!" speaking of the Ruach Ha Kodesh, the Holy Spirit that would be given to all those who believe in Him.
` To add even further impact to all of this, the Scriptures strongly indicate that Yeshua, God in the flesh, dwelling in a "Sukkah", was actually born during the Feast of Tabernacles
One of the Most Joyful Feasts
Sukkot is one of the most joyful feasts of the Lord celebrated for seven days from the 15th through the 21st of the month of Tishrei, which is the seventh month of the year according to the Hebrew calendar.
Different Names for The Feast of Tabernacles
The Feast of Tabernacles has different names and themes given to it. It is called in Hebrew "Chag Ha-asif," (the Feast of Ingathering) because it celebrated the "ingathering" of the fall harvest. It is called "Z'man Simchateynu," (the Season of our Rejoicing). It is called the "Feast of Dedication" because it was during the Feast of Tabernacles that the Temple of Solomon was dedicated (II Chronicles 7). It is called the "Festival of Lights" ("Chag Ha Orim" in Hebrew) because of the "glory" of God that filled the Temple of Solomon.
It is also called "Chag Ha Goyim" (the Feast of the Nations). This is very interesting because once again we see that the biblical Jewish feasts of the Lord are not just for the Israelites, but for all the nations. In Deuteronomy 16:11-16, God commanded any "strangers" living amongst the Israelites to celebrate Sukkot(The Feast of Tabernacles) with them. The word for "stranger" reads in Hebrew "geyr", which can also mean a foreigner, an alien, a non-Israelite or a Gentile. For the word "geyr" we get the plural word "Goyim", which means "the nations." Not only does God want Gentile believers in Jesus to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles with Jewish believers after the second coming of the Messiah and the battle of Armageddon, it shall come to pass that the Lord of Hosts, and keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
Yeshua is going to rule and reign the whole earth from Jerusalem for 1,000 years and each and every year we will all (Jew and Gentile alike) celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles together in the presence of the King.
When the 1,000 years are over, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, a New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband and the "bride of Messiah"? And aren't you glad that God ordained not only the Feast of Tabernacles, but all of His Feasts for us to celebrate together, Jew and Gentile alike?
Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination.
Heroes are Esther and Mordecai
The story of Purim is told in the Biblical book of Esther. The heroes of the story are Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia, and her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as if she were his daughter. Esther was taken to the house of Ahasuerus, King of Persia, to become part of his harem. King Ahasuerus loved Esther more than his other women and made Esther queen, but the king did not know that Esther was a Jew, because Mordecai told her not to reveal her identity.
The Villain is Haman(Boo!)
The villain of the story is Haman, an arrogant, egotistical advisor to the king. Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, so Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people. In a speech that is all too familiar to Jews, Haman told the king, "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from those of every other people's, and they do not observe the king's laws; therefore it is not benefitting the king to tolerate them." (Esther 3:8). The king gave the fate of the Jewish people to Haman, to do as he pleased to them. Haman planned to exterminate all of the Jews.
Mordecai persuaded Esther to speak to the king on behalf of the Jewish people. This was a dangerous thing for Esther to do, because anyone who came into the king's presence without being summoned could be put to death, and she had not been summoned. Esther fasted for three days to prepare herself, then went into the king. He welcomed her. Later, she told him of Haman's plot against her people. The Jewish people were saved, and Haman was hanged on the gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai.
The Book of Esther Does Not Contain the Name of God
The book of Esther is unusual in that it is the only book of the Bible that does not contain the name of God. In fact, it includes virtually no reference to God. Mordecai makes a vague reference to the fact that the Jews will be saved by someone else, if not by Esther, but that is the closest the book comes to mentioning God. Thus one important message that can be gained from the story is that God often works in ways that are not apparent.
Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of Adar, which is usually in March. The 13th of Adar is the day that Haman chose for the extermination of the Jews, and the day that the Jews battled their enemies for their lives. On the day afterwards, the 14th, they celebrated their survival. In cities that were walled in the time of Joshua, Purim is celebrated on the 15th of the month, because the book of Esther says that in Shushan (a walled city), deliverance from the massacre was not complete until the next day. The 15th is referred to as Shushan Purim.
The word "Purim" means "lots" and refers to the lottery that Haman used to choose the date for the massacre.
The Reading of the Book of Esther
The primary commandment related to Purim is to hear the reading of the book of Esther. The book of Esther is commonly known as the Megillah, which means scroll. It is customary to boo, hiss, stamp feet and rattle groggers (noisemakers) whenever the name of Haman is mentioned in the service. The purpose of this custom is to "blot out the name of Haman."
While we all enjoy the hilarious fun of Purim, we would be remiss if we did not remember the severity of the potential consequences of the Jewish people then and now. Anti-Semitism is alive and well today. Believers today are modern day Esthers and are here "for such a time as this". We are to stand in the gap and pray continually for the Jewish people, that the Haman's of today would be wiped out - just as surely as in Persia. We must also remember that it was the apathy of Ahasuerus that ultimately paved the way for the horrors that were directed at the Jewish people. We must continually guard our heart against the same kind of apathy that is all around us.
The word "Hanukkah" itself means dedication. The traditional Jewish observance of Hanukkah celebrates the miraculous "rededication" of the Temple in Jerusalem after it had been desecrated by the enemies of Israel.
The Hanukkah story begins with the rise to power of Alexander the Great several centuries before Yeshua (Jesus) was born. At the time, the world was unified into one common government and culture called "Hellenism". After Alexander died at an early age, his kingdom was divided into four different provinces. The Israelites lived in the province of Syria under the leadership of a "mad tyrant" named Antiochus Epiphanes.
In his quest for power and to secure "Hellenism" as the only way of life, Antiochus did the following:
He marched his troops into Jerusalem on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev in the year 168 BC and desecrated the Temple. He defiled all the sacred objects in the Temple, erected a statue of the Greek god Zeus and then sacrificed a pig to it on God's holy altar.
In addition, Antiochus decreed that all practices of Judaism were forbidden including the observance of Shabbat (the Sabbath Day), circumcision, the biblical dietary laws and the reading of the laws of Moses (God's Torah)
Jewish People Forced to Partake in Pagan Rituals
The Jewish people were now also forced to partake in pagan rituals or die. This included the eating of pigs flesh publicly to prove their loyalty to "Hellenism".
Finally, one brave family from a little town called Modi'in, led a rebellion against Antiochus and his Syrian army. The rebellion ws originally led by an old Jewish priest named Mattihias, who killed a fellow Jew, whom he caught sacrificing a pig. After also killing several Greek soldiers, Mattithias and his five sons fled to the hills and began a "guerilla warfare" campaign against the Syrian army. Before he died, Mattithias passed the leadership to one of his sons, Judah the Maccabee, whose name means "the hammer".
Though facing unbelievable odds, being totally outnumbered by the enemy, Judah and his men won a total victory over Antiochus and his entire army. Then on the 25th day of Kislev in the year 165 BC, exactly three years to the the day after the Temple had been defiled, Judah and his men cleansed the Temple and rededicated it to the God of Israel.
An eight day celebration began as the Temple lamp stand was illuminated. However, there was only enough oil to keep the lamp stand burning for one day but God performed a miracle and kept the lamps burning for eight full days so the Israelites could fully celebrate the victory that God gave them. For this reason, Hanukkah is also known as the "Season of Miracles".
The Hanukkah story itself is found in the two books of the Maccabees, which are part of the Apocrypha. The fourteen books of the Apocrypha are not included in the canonized bibles of Judaism and Christianity; however, they are included in the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the books written by Jewish scholars for the Greek speaking Jewish people. The Septuagint was originally compiled about 250 years before the birth of the Messiah, with the books of the Maccabees being added approximately in the year 100 BC.
However, there is an accounting of Hanukkah in the canonized book of the prophet Daniel in Daniel, chapters 8 and 11 and also in the Brit Hadashah (New Covenant) in the gospel of John, chapter 10 where we see Yeshua (Jesus) himself attending the Feast of Dedication, which is Hanukkah.
In Daniel 8 and 11, we see the rise and fall of Antiochus IV, who is the villain of the Hanukkah story, being prophesied by Daniel about 400 years Hanukkah itself. Antiochus is also a type of the Anti-Christ who will be revealed in the last days, which we are certainly in. He, too, will desecrate the Temple (Daniel 9:27 and 12:11) which says "He shall bring an end to the daily sacrifice and offering and on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate". (I suggest you read Daniel, chapters 8-12 for more insight on this entire matter.)
In John 10:22-38, we see Yeshua appearing at the Temple during the Feast of Hanukkah in the very place where the Hanukkah "miracle of the oil" took place only 200 years earlier. By no coincidence, He speaks about the "miraculous" good works that He does in His Father's Name and He plainly reveals Himself to the Pharisees as the Messiah and the Son of God.
Yeshua Attended the Feast of Hannukah
By virtue of the fact, that Yeshua himself attended the Feast of Hannukah, we too as believers in Him (Jew or Gentile) should observe the Feast of Hanukkah also. After all, we are called to be imitators of the Messiah (1st Corinthians 11:1) and if it's good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for us!
Add to this, the fact that Hanukkah is also known as "The Festival of Lights". Due to the miraculous "illumination" of the Temple lamp stand for 8 full days, even though there was only a one day supply of oil. In John 8:12 Yeshua said, "I am the light of the world, he who believes in Me shall not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." In Matthew 5:14-16 He also told us that "we too are the light of the world" and that we must "let our lights shine before men that they may see the good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven."
The lighting of the Hanukkah menorah (also called a "Hanukkiah") during the eight days of Hanukkah is not only rich in Jewish tradition but has great Messianic insights as well. The Hanukkah menorah is a nine branched menorah, different than the seven branched menorah or "lamp stand" that was in the Holy Place in the Tabernacle of Moses and in the Temple of One of the branches is reserved for what is called in Hebrew the "Shamash" candle (Shamash candles, adding an extra candle each evening as the festival progresses until all the candles are lit on the eighth night of Hanukkah. However is it always the Shamash candle that is lit first and then it in turn lights the other candles.
The Shamash or the "servant" candle is, of course, symbolic of Yeshua. Not only is He the "light of the world" that has "illuminated" all of us with the glory of God but He is also the "servant" of God, for He said to us in Mark 10:45 "for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but "to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many".
Like Yeshua, we too are called to be servants of the Most High to bring the "light of God" to a dark world and to be "servants" to mankind by demonstrating good deeds which brings glory to our Father in heaven. This is expressed by the love of God which has been shed abroad in our hearts through the power of the Ruach Ha Kodesh, the Holy Spirit! Freely we have received, freely we must give!
This is the profound meaning to Hanukkah as we light the candles of our Hanukkah menorah each evening of the festival. "That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting"!
Festival of Lights
Hanukkah, which generally falls around the same time of the year as Christmas is called "Festival of Lights" because of the "miracle of the oil" which took place enabling the Temple lamp stand to burn brightly for eight full days, instead of only one. Therefore, the theme of "light" and "miracles" are connected here between Hanukkah and Christmas.
However a more important connection that we should consider is this. If Antiochus Epiphanes, the villain of the Hanukkah story, would have succeeded in exterminating the Jewish people altogether in the middle of the 2nd Century BC, the Jewish Messiah and Savior of the world never would have been born. In other words, without Hanukkah, there would be no Christmas. Hanukkah had to come first so that the Son of God might be born. For this we must eternally be grateful not only to God, but to a small band of brave Jewish men known as the "Maccabees" who defeated Antiochus and his army. before they could destroy the Jewish people.
Now, we have seen that the Hebrew word Hanukkah means "dedication," commemorating the cleansing and "re-dedication" of the Temple by the Maccabees after it had been polluted and defiled by Israel's enemies.
The theme of "dedication" and "God's Temple" is very important to us as believers in Yeshua. In John 2:19, Yeshua said "Destroy this temple and I will build it again in three days," speaking of His body which was resurrected after three days of being in the ground. As believers in Him, we are His body. In 1t Corinthians 3:16, Paul said, "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's Temple, and that God's Spirit lives in you". If anyone defiles the temple, God will destroy him! In your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit... therefore honor God with your body" and again in Ephesians 2:21, Paul says, "in Him (Yeshua), the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple to the Lord, and in Him (Yeshua) you too are being built together as a dwelling place where God lives by His spirit."
Believer's Re-dedication of Their Lives to God
For us as believers, wether Jew or Gentile, the Feast of Hanukkah represents the dedication and re-dedication of our lives and our physical bodies to the God of Israel. By analogy, it all comes back to two men in the Hanukkah story. Mattithias, a faithful Jewish priest who would not compromise when it came to keeping God's Temple holy and led a rebellion against those who desecrated it and a fellow Jew, who under the influence of a "worldly spirit" sacrificed "pigs" on an unholy altar. Both had the same covenant promises but one refused to defile God's Temple while the other did!
We have the same choice today; to defile God's temple with the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the cravings of the sinful man or to keep it holy as unto the Lord. Which person are you?
THE YEAR OF JUBILEE
The Year of Jubilee is celebrated once every 50 years, throughout all the land of Israel (Leviticus 25:8-13).
In the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25), every man was free to return to the original property given to him and his family under the leadership of Joshua after the conquest of Canaan, the Promised Land. Even if he previously sold it to another Israelite or even if he and his family were working as "hired hands" on another Israelites property, he was now free to return home.
All Debts Completely Cancelled
Also in the Year of Jubilee, all debts were completely cancelled, no matter what you owed someone. All mortgage lease, rental and labor agreements were completely terminated. All personal debts were completely wiped out. ( And as we like to say in Judaism, "Such a deal!")
The Year of Jubilee had a "leveling effect" on all of the Israelite community. It gave everyone a chance to "start over"; everybody's slate was "wiped clean" just as it is for us, when we accept the Messiah Jesus into our lives. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 says, "If any man is in the Messiah, he is a new creature. The old has gone, the new has come. Right away, we can see how the Year of Jubilee pointed toward Yeshua.
Blast of the Ram's Horn
The Year of Jubilee was also ushered in with the blast of the ram's horn (shofar, in Hebrew) to proclaim liberty throughout all the land, proclaiming freedom and "release" from the Lord. In addition, the shofar blast announcing the Year of Jubilee was sounded on the 10th day of the 7th month, which is the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur in Hebrew), a day in biblical Judaism when "sins are forgiven". There are further Messianic implication here.
Our Debts Cancelled Through Blood Yeshua Shed for Us
Imagine the joy that came over the land when that shofar was sounded, freedom from dept, freedom from slavery, free to go home. ALl of these things point toward Yeshua. Our "debts" have been cancelled through the blood that He shed on the tree of sacrifice for all sinners. We are no longer slaves to Satan, sin or death and when the Son of God sets you free, "you are free instead" and now through Yeshua, we are all free to go to our "promised homeland", the Kingdom of Heaven.
To further understand the Year of Jubilee in a biblical Jewish context, we must read from the prophet Isaiah in chapter 61:1 & 2 which says, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good things to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim tbe acceptable year of the Lord".
In the gospel of Luke, chapter 4:16-21 it says that Yeshua came to Nazareth where He had been brought up and that as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath as was His regular custom. In other words, Yeshua attended Shabbat services on a regular basis. He still does!
He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah and He began to read: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
As everyone's eyes were fixed upon Him, He went on to say: "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
In Matthew 5:17 Yeshua said, "do not think I've come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, I have come to fulfill them.
In Luke 24:44 Yeshua said, "everything written the Law of Moses and in the Prophets... testifies of me."
Through the Laws of Moses (Leviticus 25), God commanded the Israelites to keep the Year of Jubilee.
Through the Prophet Isaiah (Chapter 61:1-2) God prophesied that there would be a future fulfillment to the Year of Jubilee.
In the gospel of Luke, chapter 4, we see that this all pointed to Yeshua.
He is our "Jubilee" and our salvation. Blessed is the man who puts his trust in Him!
By definition, the shofar is a curved horn or a trumpet made from a ram's horn. It is different than a trumpet itself, which is called, in Hebrew, "cha-totz-rah".
According to the Scriptures, the shofar is used for many different purposes. It is used to proclaim the biblical feasts of the Lord (Numbers 10:10 and Psalm 81:3-4)
It is used in praising the Lord (Psalm 98:4-6).
It is used in spiritual warfare (Joshua 6:2-5) where we see that the blast of the shofar was very instrumental in bringing down the walls of the enemy. In other words, the sound of the shofar is an audible sound that you can hear with the natural ear, but it also causes things to happen in the spiritual realm that the natural ear cannot hear, namely the tearing down of the walls of the enemy!
Paul says in 2nd Corinthians 10:4 "that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through good even to the pulling down of strongholds"
As a special note of interest, when the Israelites won the Six Day War in 1967, the shofar was constantly being sounded by the Israelites as the enemy was defeated and as Jerusalem was being restored to the Jewish people!
As we have already seen, the shofar was sounded to proclaim the year of Jubilee and according to 1st Thessalonians 4:16-17, when we hear the blast of the heavenly shofar, we will see Yeshua coming on the clouds of glory to claim His bride.