Tuesday, October 4, 2016

So, why do we celebrate the Feasts of the Lord, fall or spring? On reflection, look a little deeper - and be blessed. Shalom

…Lessons from the Wilderness Volume Thirteen… [1] [2] [3] [4]
Why The Fall Feasts?
Yom Teru’ah, the First day of the Seventh Month
Yom Kippur, the Tenth day of the Seventh Month
Chag ha’Sukkot, the Fifteenth day of the Seventh Month

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:23-43 [CJB]

(v) 23 Adonai said to Moshe, 24 “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘In the seventh month, the first of the month is to be for you a day of complete rest for remembering, a holy convocation announced with blasts on the shofar. 25 Do not do any kind of ordinary work, and bring an offering made by fire to Adonai.’ ”
26 Adonai said to Moshe, 27 “The tenth day of this seventh month is Yom-Kippur; you are to have a holy convocation, you are to deny yourselves, and you are to bring an offering made by fire to Adonai. 28 You are not to do any kind of work on that day, because it is Yom-Kippur, to make atonement for you before Adonai your God. 29 Anyone who does not deny himself on that day is to be cut off from his people; 30 and anyone who does any kind of work on that day, I will destroy from among his people. 31 You are not to do any kind of work; it is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live. 32 It will be for you a Shabbat of complete rest, and you are to deny yourselves; you are to rest on your Shabbat from evening the ninth day of the month until the following evening.”
(vi) 33 Adonai said to Moshe, 34 “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of Sukkot for seven days to Adonai. 35 On the first day there is to be a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work. 36 For seven days you are to bring an offering made by fire to Adonai; on the eighth day you are to have a holy convocation and bring an offering made by fire to Adonai; it is a day of public assembly; do not do any kind of ordinary work.
37 “ ‘These are the designated times of Adonai that you are to proclaim as holy convocations and bring an offering made by fire to Adonai—a burnt offering, a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, each on its own day—38 besides the Shabbats of Adonai, your gifts, all your vows and all your voluntary offerings that you give to Adonai.
39 “ ‘But on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered the produce of the land, you are to observe the festival of Adonai seven days; the first day is to be a complete rest and the eighth day is to be a complete rest. 40 On the first day you are to take choice fruit, palm fronds, thick branches and river-willows, and celebrate in the presence of Adonai your God for seven days. 41 You are to observe it as a feast to Adonai seven days in the year; it is a permanent regulation, generation after generation; keep it in the seventh month. 42 You are to live in sukkot for seven days; every citizen of Isra’el is to live in a sukkah, 43 so that generation after generation of you will know that I made the people of Isra’el live in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am Adonai your God.’ ” [5]

The Fall Feasts are upon us. Yom Teru’ah occurred yesterday [02-03 October 2016/5776]– Yom Kippur, our holiest day is soon upon us, then Chag ha’Sukkot, the Feast of Booths. What are these feasts, and why do we keep them? There are many sites on the web that you can find the explanations for the Feasts of Elohim, and I pray you will avail yourself of the wealth of knowledge that is out there, to learn of the Feasts and what they mean, and examine how tradition says we are to observe them. The purpose of this epistle is not to re-examine what has already been taught or told of the Feasts; Scripture itself gives us many details – from those acts that regard the Shabbat, to the Spring and Fall Feasts. No, there are many who consider the mo’ed (appointed times) to be dress rehearsals of the greatest cosmic event yet to happen – the return of Machiach. Other regard the “set times of YHVH” as the Calendar of Sacred Time. Indeed, it is said:

“…Leviticus 23 is a calendar of the annual festivals celebrated in biblical times. As such, it represents the primary statement on the religious festivals in the priestly tradition and, hence, is a highly important source. In conformance with biblical tradition, this calendar also includes the Sabbath, even though it is not, technically speaking, a calendrical festival.
Actually, the Torah preserves three calendrical traditions, corresponding to its three principal collections of laws: The Book of the Covenant, Deuteronomy, and the ritual legislation. Each expresses its own distinctive concept of the festivals, usually conveyed by the precise name given to each occasion. The calendar of Exodus 23:12–19, part of the Book of the Covenant, focuses on the Sabbath and on the three pilgrimage festivals: hag ha-matsot, the Pilgrimage Fast of Unleavened Bread”; hag hakatsir, “the Spring Harvest Pilgrimage”; and hag ha-’asif, “the Pilgrimage of Ingathering.” The calendar of Deuteronomy 16:1–17 names the pesah; hag ha-shavu‘ot,  “the Pilgrimage Festival of Weeks” in the late spring; and hag ha-sukkot,” the Pilgrimage Festival of Booths”  in the autumn. Numbers 28–29 include the daily and Sabbath celebrations and those for the New Moon and all the festivals and holy days. The present chapter and Numbers 28–29 together constitute a detailed register of the sacrifices required throughout the year. In addition, Exodus 34:17–26 preserves a brief calendar that is related in form and content to Exodus 23:12–19…”[6]

While these feast, these days [including the Shabbat] are designated as the “Feasts of YHVH”, there is something else implied here: G-d has set them aside as “mikrakodesh, “sacred occasions”, “set-times” or places and yet the Israelites were also to hold these days as sacred. Does that seem like a contradiction, or a redundancy? Or is there something else going on here? Even though Elohim declares these days sacred, there is another action that is implicit within the commandment: the sanctity of the Shabbat and the festivals are not achieved by the act of God alone: God requires and intends that a combination of not only divine will and action be done – but also human action as well.[7] In Excursus[8] vi it states:

“…In biblical literature there is a curious interaction between the human and the divine with respect to holiness. Thus, in Exodus 20:8, the Israelites are commanded to sanctify the Sabbath and to make it holy; and yet verse 11 of the same commandment states that it was God who declared the Sabbath day holy. Similarly, God declared that Israel had been selected to become His holy people; but this declaration was hardly sufficient to make Israel holy. In order to achieve a holiness of the kind associated with God and His acts, Israel would have to observe His laws and commandments. The way to holiness, in other words, was for Israelites, individually and collectively, to emulate God’s attributes. In theological terms this principle is known as imitatio dei, “the imitation of God.” The same interaction is evident, therefore, in the commandment to sanctify the Sabbath, with God and the Israelite people acting in tandem so as to realize the holiness of this occasion. God shows the way and Israel follows…”[9]

There is an obligation on our part to do our part. Consider it like this: everything Father Yahveh does is sacred, holy, set-apart. It is a direct result of His infinite nature that all He does reflects all He is. Do you think He needs to declare for Himself a time or an event to be sacred? “Oh, note to Self – this day is holy…” Do you think the Creator of All Things puts a sticky note on His calendar to remind Himself of His Shabbats, His Feasts? By extension – He declares them holy for He is holy. Father was and is complete within Himself. There was no need for Him to create anything – He lacked nothing; before anything was, HE IS. There was no heaven, no angels; before there was nothing, HE WAS; complete. Finished. Perfect. And yet, HE IS TO COME. Confusing? Not really – just so hard to wrap your head around this, let alone your heart. So why us? Why the cosmos? Why anything. He surly did not need the headache or heartache mankind was to become. So again I ask, why? Maybe the answer is found in the prophets:

Micah 6:6-8 (NASB95)
6     aWith what shall I come to the Lord
And bow myself before the God on high?
Shall I come to Him with bburnt offerings,
With yearling calves?
7     Does the Lord take delight in athousands of rams,
In ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I present my bfirstborn for my rebellious acts,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8     He has atold you, O man, what is good;
And bwhat does the Lord require of you
But to cdo justice, to dlove 1kindness,
And to walk 2ehumbly with your God? [10]
                There are dimensions of G-d’s character that His people are supposed to assume, to emulate. This particular dimension, holiness, is what Vayikra is all about, especially with regard to the priesthood. There is a covenantal component of Vayikra, as expressed in Shemot (Exodus) 19:5-6:

Exodus 19:5-6 (Tanakh)
Now then, if you will obey Me faithfully and keep My covenant, you shall be My treasured possession among all the peoples. Indeed, all the earth is Mine, 6but you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel.” [11]

A kingdom of priest and a holy nation. Vayikra is called torat kohanim by the sages: this term can be translated as “instructions of (or by) the priests” [12]. One of the function of a priest is to know the difference between the sacred and the profane: this is our job also today as believers. What this consists of is knowing what G-d expects of us – hence our obligation to the notion of holiness. So we must ask ourselves in this time of reflection, are we holy as He is holy?

Does the mere fact that G-d declares something as holy make it so? There is much said in Christianity that Messiah imputed His righteousness upon us, that we are righteous for His sake, and not of anything we do. While there is truth in this, does it say it all? Can we, as Isaiah said be holy and righteous if:

Isaiah 64:1-7 (NASB95)
1     1Oh, that You would rend the heavens and acome down, That the mountains might bquake at Your presence—
2     1As fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil— To make Your name known to Your adversaries,
That the anations may tremble at Your presence!
3     When You did aawesome things which we did not expect, You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence.
4     For from days of old athey have not heard or perceived by ear, Nor has the eye seen a God besides You,
Who acts in behalf of the one who bwaits for Him.
5     You ameet him who rejoices in bdoing righteousness, Who cremembers You in Your ways.
Behold, dYou were angry, for we sinned, We continued in them a long time;
And shall we be saved?
6     For all of us have become like one who is aunclean, And all our brighteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us cwither like a leaf,
And our diniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7     There is ano one who calls on Your name, Who arouses himself to take hold of You;
For You have bhidden Your face from us And have 1delivered us into the power of our iniquities. [13]

G-d remembers those who remember His ways. Yes, we are clothed in righteousness, yet are we holy? Is the fact we are declared holy all that needs to be done, or is there yet an obligation before us – to do what is right, to walk humbly before our G-d and obey His voice? Vayikra (Leviticus) 20:7-8 (NET) says:

20:7 “‘You must sanctify yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. 20:8 You must be sure to obey my statutes.15 I am the Lord who sanctifies you. [14]

And in the Messianic writings it is repeated:

1 Peter 1:14-16 (NASB95)
14     As 1aobedient children, do not 2bbe conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your cignorance,
15     but 1alike the Holy One who called you, 2bbe holy yourselves also cin all your behavior;
16     because it is written, “aYou shall be holy, for I am holy.[15]

It seems there is a pattern here, a pattern of doing, not just believing, not just resting upon the laurels of Messiah. Can an unclean thing clean itself? No. It needs to be cleaned first yes, by an outside force. Then – to remain clean – there is an obligation not to go back and wallow in the mud. This I believe is the why of the Feasts, Spring and Fall. Not just to keep time, but to remind us of our obligation to do our part. Maybe “obligation” our “duty” is too strong a word for some – it may smack of “legalism”. If doing what Father wishes pleases Him and sets me on the path of Holiness, as Isaiah called it in Isaiah 35:8 “The way of holiness”, then if this be “legalism”, count me in. G-d defines that which is holy – and I do have the duty, the obligation and responsibility to learn of His ways – for if I love Him, that which is right to Him has to be right for me. Yeshua brought us into the holy place by His redeeming sacrifice – do I profane this righteous act by disobedience? Heaven forbid! Yeshua imparted His righteousness to me – do I treat it as pearls cast before swine and trample it down with ignorance of what is right and expected? May it not be so! So how do I approach this great gift of salvation? Through sanctification – of becoming holy as He is holy – His way.

So – why the feasts?

·         Why Pesach (Passover)?
·         Why Chag ha’Motzi (Unleavened bread)?
·         Why Yom ha’Bikkurim/Reshit Katzir (First Fruits)?
·         Why Shavu’ot (Pentecost)?
·         Why Yom Teru’ah (Day of Trumpets)?
·         Why Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)?
·         Why Chag ha’Sukkot (Feast of Booths)?

Not only are they markers – of times and seasons – but they are markers of our heart, of our coming alongside our
G-d and fulfilling that which He declared as holy. For He did not need us to do so, to make what He declared holy – but He wanted us to be there, to be a part of what He set apart – and that is the great heart of Elohim, to share with us His days, His feasts, His markers – and the way of Holiness.

Look at them differently. Not just as fun times, or solemn times. But as an extension of the character and heart of Elohim – and prophetic marker, sign posts to the coming of Messiah. Go, take part and bless G-d – as He blesses us.

May Elohim richly bless you all my beloved in the set-apart times ahead, Amein.

[1] Authors note: Use of information from Jewish-themed websites should not be construed as these sites endorsing or confirming any thesis introduced by the author of this epistle. I present the information from their respective sites for instructional purposes only and/or to aid in the readers understanding of the subjects discussed. The inverse is also true – by using these sites in no way confirms or denies that this author holds to all things found on these sites – but brethren, we all can learn from one another, Jew and Gentile; may it be so in shalom and love and respect.
[2]  Author’s note:  Throughout this study I’ll be using the Net® Bible and the Net® Notes: within the notes you’ll see symbols like this: ( א B Ψ 892* 2427 sys). These are abbreviations used by the NetBible© for identifying the principal manuscript evidence that they (authors and translators of the NetBible©) used in translating the New Testament. Please go to and see their section labeled “NET Bible Principals of Translation” for a more complete explanation on these symbols and other items pertinent to the way the NET Bible uses them.
[3] Author’s Note: In these studies, I have used the notes that come along with the passages I cite from the sources that I cite: these need a bit of a disclaimer though. As in all things, not everything that is footnoted is something that I necessarily agree with, especially if it contradicts what I believe pertains to any matters of the Torah or the commandments of G-d. I give you the notes as they are written by the authors of the material I cite from, so that you can see the information contained within them. It truly is not my place to edit or correct them; if they state anything that is in opposition to what I teach, then so be it. I will address these issues if requested, but for the sake of brevity (as if any of these posts of mine are brief ) I insert them and let them stand as they are. If I don’t agree with them, why do I include them you might ask? I don’t believe in censuring anyone’s opinions or scholarship; as I would not want mine censured, so I will not do to that to another. As Rabbi Hillel once stated, “What is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is the whole Torah. Go and learn it.” Torah leads me to respect others, even if I disagree; it leads me to present both sides of the coin, even if it could mean I’d lose part of the argument. That is not to say I should not challenge something I believe contradicts the truth of G-d’s word; that I will do in the main body of my epistles; that is where my gentle dissent belongs. Most (but not all) of the differences will come when I quote from the NET® Bible (but not exclusively); it has a decidedly Western/Greek mindset to it, but as a wise man once said “How do you eat chicken? Swallow the meat and spit out the bones…” I do though want to present the NET® notes because there is a wealth of information and research contained within them that I hope you find helpful.
[4] One may wonder why I omit the “o” when I write the title “G-d”. While there are many who say that to leave out the “o” is a sign of being under the influence of the Rabbis who forbid saying the name of Yahveh, I say, one must come to a conclusion on their own, and do as their heart convicts them (within the bounds of G-d’s word of course). I believe in the power of the name of the Most High – the name of Yahveh – and in uttering it in awe and reverence, yet find no contradiction in my soul for the hyphenated title “G-d”. I have written it both ways – stopped doing it, and now I have returned to the practice – as I said, one must follow the conviction of their heart. I do not disrespect anyone else’s opinion on this matter, and regardless if you think it wrong or right, I ask for the same respect. Let each be fully persuaded in their own mind and heart – and let G-d sort it out with each believer. For now, this is right for me, till the Father corrects - or confirms; I am after all, a work in progress. Shalom. 
[5] Stern, D. H. (1998). Complete Jewish Bible: An English version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) (1st ed., Le 23:22–43). Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications.
[6]Commentary by Baruch A. Levine. THE JPS TORAH COMMENTARY: LEVITICUS. First Edition. Vol. IV [New electronic volume] 5 vols. 2004©Varda Books w/Leviticus Commentary ©1989 by the Jewish Publication Society; pp 117-118.
[7] …Ibid… pp 118.
[8] A detailed discussion of a particular point in a book, usually in an appendix. (OxfordDictionaries © Oxford University Press)
[9] Commentary by Baruch A. Levine. THE JPS TORAH COMMENTARY: LEVITICUS. First Edition. Vol. IV [New electronic volume] 5 vols. 2004©Varda Books w/Leviticus Commentary ©1989 by the Jewish Publication Society; Excursus vi, pp 210.
a  Ps 40:6–8
b  Ps 51:16, 17
a  Ps 50:9; Is 1:1; 40:16
b  Lev 18:21; 20:1–5; 2 Kin 16:3; Jer 7:31
Deut 30:15
b  Deut 10:12
c  Is 56:1; Jer 22:3
d  Hos 6:6
1  Or loyalty
2  Or circumspectly
e  Is 57:15; 66:2
[10]  New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[11]  Jewish Publication Society. (1997, c1985). Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures : A new translation of the Holy Scriptures according to the traditional Hebrew text. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.
[12] Commentary by Baruch A. Levine. THE JPS TORAH COMMENTARY: LEVITICUS. First Edition. Vol. IV [New electronic volume] 5 vols. 2004©Varda Books w/Leviticus Commentary ©1989 by the Jewish Publication Society; Excursus vii, pp 16.
1  Ch 63:19b in Heb
a  Ex 19:18; Ps 18:9; 144:5; Mic 1:3, 4; Hab 3:13
b  Judg 5:5; Ps 68:8; Nah 1:5
1  Ch 64:1 in Heb
a  Ps 99:1; Jer 5:22; 33:9
a  Ps 65:5; 66:3, 5; 106:22
a  1 Cor 2:9
Is 25:9; 30:18; 40:31
a  Ex 20:24
b  Is 56:1
c  Is 26:13; 63:7
d  Is 12:1
a  Is 6:5
b  Is 46:12; 48:1
c  Ps 90:5, 6; Is 1:30
d  Is 50:1
a  Is 59:4; Ezek 22:30
b  Deut 31:18; Is 1:15; 54:8
1  Reading with the DSS and versions; M.T. melted
[13]  New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
15 tn Heb “And you shall keep my statutes and you shall do them.” This appears to be a kind of verbal hendiadys, where the first verb is a modifier of the action of the second verb (see GKC 386 §120.d, although שָׁמַר [shamar, “to keep”] is not cited there; cf. Lev 22:31, etc.).
·         End “NET®” notes
[14]  Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
1  Lit children of obedience
a  1 Pet 1:2
2  Or conform yourselves
b  Rom 12:2; 1 Pet 4:2f
c  Eph 4:18
1  Lit according to
a  1 Thess 4:7; 1 John 3:3
2  Or become
b  2 Cor 7:1
c  James 3:13
a  Lev 11:44f; 19:2; 20:7
[15]  New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.