The Sabbath -- or Shabbat as it is called in Hebrew -- is one of the best known and least understood of YHVH’s appointed times. To those who observe Shabbat, it is a precious gift from Adonai, a day of great joy eagerly awaited throughout the week. it is a time when we can set aside all of our weekly concerns and devote ourselves to pleasing our Heavenly Father in the way and time that He desires.
Everyone knows that the seventh day of the week, Saturday, is the Shabbat. What many people do not know is that it begins on Friday night at sundown and ends on Saturday evening at sundown.
One of the great joys of Shabbat -- for those who have children -- is the blessing of our children. at Every Shabbat, every child is prayed over and a blessing is pronounced over them, either at home by their parents, or in a Shabbat service by the Congregational Elders.
Shabbat is the only Moedim (appointed time) mentioned in the Ten Commandments. It is the fourth commandment and unfortunately, very few believers observe it. (Exodus 20:8-11)
The word ‘Shabbat’ comes from the Hebraic root Shin-Bet-Tav, meaning to cease, to end, or to rest. On Shabbat, we are instructed to follow Adonai’s example by ceasing from all creative work. Shabbat is a day of rest from creative labor; a designated day to purposefully step aside from our worldly cares and to draw near to Adonai at His appointed Time.
Yeshua said in John 14:15, ‘If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.’ We do love Him, and so we keep His Shabbat. Contrary to many opinions, Shabbat is not a burden, but is truly a delight.
‘Rosh Chodesh’ is Hebrew for the ‘Head of the Month.’ A new month is determined by observing, and marking the time the emerging first crescent of the new moon is seen. The observation and determination of the emerging new moon are important because Adonai established His Biblical calendar dates and times based in part on the Lunar cycles of the moon. The sun, the moon, the stars, and the biblical constellations are for signs, for seasons, for days, and for years. (Genesis 1:14; Psalm 104:19) They all play a part in establishing YHVH’s appointed times, but the beginning of every month establishes the specific dates of those times. Since Adonai chooses to involve us in what He does, we have been given the privilege and responsibility to keep track of the dates and times of His moed’im through physical observation of the New Moon.
Throughout the history of Israel, whenever an enemy of God’s people sought to destroy the Jewish nation, the observation of Rosh Chodesh was one of the practices that was always curtailed. The practice of celebrating the emerging new moon was curtailed because Adonai’s appointed times -- His Feast Days -- would then not be kept in their seasons, or at their proper times (Lev. 23)
Today YHVH’s people are returning to the ancient paths and are once again realizing the importance of keeping YHVH’s appointed times. Keeping Rosh Chodesh is a practice that is perpetual since it was required to be observed in the past, and will be kept in Messiah Yeshua’s coming millennial reign. "For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And so it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the LORD." Isa. 66:22-23
Shiloh Messianic Congregation celebrates Rosh Chodesh every month, and welcomes those interested in keeping the LORD’s Moedim to join us. Come and worship YHVH with us on Rosh Chodesh just as He has commanded.
The first appointed time in YHVH’s religious year is Pesach/Passover, and it takes place in the spring month of Aviv/Nisan. Passover derives its name from the events surrounding the last of the plagues that YHVH imposed against the pagan deities of Egypt.
When YHVH passed through Egypt on the night of the death of the firstborn, every household that had applied the blood of the Pesach (the Lamb) to the doorposts and lintels of their homes as YHVH had instructed, were spared. Death ‘passed over’ those homes and the firstborn of both men and animals lived; thus, the name Passover.
The Hebrew word Pesach actually refers to the sacrificial Lamb that provided the blood. Today when Passover is celebrated an ordered meal called a Seder is eaten. The Seder follows an order which retells the story of what YHVH did in Egypt when He brought Israel out from under Egyptian slavery. Like all of YHVH’s appointed times, Passover has a prophetic connection to the ultimate work of Messiah Yeshua. Like the lamb that was slain in Egypt, and whose blood provided protection from the death that passed through Egypt, Yeshua is the ultimate Pascal Lamb, and His shed blood provides salvation from eternal death today for everyone that that believes YHVH and accepts Yeshua as their Savior.
If you have never celebrated Passover consider attending a congregational Seder and see what you have been missing.
Leviticus 23:6 says, “On the 15th day of the same month, there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, to the LORD, for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.”
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is initiated during the festival of Pesach. It follows the Passover sunset and lasts seven days. The first and last days of the festival area Sabbath and holy days and no work is to be done.
Bread eaten during the feast must not contain any leavening or fermenting ingredients. In addition, all food and food products containing any kind of leaven are to be removed from the home. The removal of all leaven from the home begins even before the feast itself begins with the removal of leaven, and a thorough cleaning of the home. Only food products that are “Kosher for Passover” may be used. The process for removing all leaven is called “nullification.”
The nullification process for the Feast of Unleavened Bread starts on the evening of the 14th day of Nissan. After all leaven has been removed in preparation for Pesach, it is tradition that leaven be strategically placed in the house to prepare for a joyful and last minute search for leaven. At this time, a candle is lit and the light of the candle is used to search for any leaven in the house. When leaven is found, it is swept into a wooden spoon with a feather. The father of the home recites a little prayer to nullify the leaven. The next morning, the prayer is recited again and the wooden spoon and any leaven is burned (destroyed); thus, ending the nullification process.
Leaven is symbolic of sin. In Leviticus (Va Yikra 23), the LORD speaks to Moses telling him to speak to the children of Israel and our LORD gave him his appointed times.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is calling God’s people to a walk of holiness. I Corinthians 5:7-8, “Therefore, purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Yeshua, our Passover was sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
We, at Shiloh Messianic Congregation, celebrate the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and anyone is welcome to celebrate the feast with us.
The LORD instructs Israel after they enter the land Adonai gives them, that they are to give of the First Fruit of the harvest, a sheaf to the High Priest. On the day after Shabbat, the High Priest is to wave the sheaf offering before Adonai so that they would be accepted.
There is a male lamb without defect in its first year to be offered as a burnt offering (Yeshua).
There is a meal to be prepared, but not eaten until the day they bring the wave offering before Adonai.
This is a permanent regulation through all generations, no matter where you live.
Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, is the third in the series of seven set apart moed’im (appointed times) in the annual feast day cycle. Shavuot, in one sense, is the completion of Passover in the spring cycle of Adonai’s appointed times. The moed’im of Passover begins the yearly cycle of the seven feasts, Unleavened Bread, and the day of First fruits on which the first sheaf of the barley harvest was harvested and is waved before Adonai. First fruits establishes the beginning of the count of the Omer leading up to Shavuot — the Feast of Weeks: "You shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete Sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath." (Lev. 23:15,16)
The reason that Shavuot is called the Feast of Weeks has to do with the designation of the seven complete weeks — six working days each — followed by a Shabbat after which at the conclusion of the seventh week — after the weekly Sabbath of that week and the only Sabbath in that week — the next day is designated as Shavuot. The counting of the Omer between the time of Passover and Shavuot ties the two moed’im together. Omer in Hebrew is the word for sheaf, it is also understood to be a measure, a measure of ground grain. The measure of grain was to be presented in the Temple daily between Passover and Shavuot. Today the term Omer is used symbolically for the counting of the weeks and days. The measure of ground grain that was originally brought during the seven weeks leading up to Shavuot is made into leavened bread at shavuot, and brought to Adonai’s altar. Leaven typically indicates that sin is present; therefore, leaven of any sort was not ever allowed to be presented to the LORD except on this particular day.
The two leavened loaves represent the Jewish people and Adonai’s people from the nations, both with sin but both accepted by Adonai because of the covering of the blood of the Passover Lamb. In this way, Shavuot is the completion of Passover —the Lamb has been slain; Yeshua is our Passover — and at Shavuot our acceptance is confirmed.
Shavuot is also known as a day of proclamation. Shavuot has been designated as the day God proclaimed His Torah -- His instructions for life. It was on Shavuot that the talmidim, the disciples of Yeshua, proclaimed the Good News in Jerusalem and 3000 Jewish souls were added to those who believed in Yeshua. Today, those of us who believe and do what Adonai has commanded are to likewise proclaim Him. Shavuot is a day to proclaim the victory that we have in the LORD. Believers in Messiah Yeshua are to function as priests in the world today proclaiming the excellencies of His name.
We are to come into His courts on His appointed days, at His appointed times each with a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, a prophecy. Through the outpouring of Adonai’s Spirit on Shavuot, YHVH restored the priesthood to those who have trusted in Yeshua as Master and Messiah. (1 Peter 2:9) "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." Adonai had intended Israel to be a nation of priests (Exod.19:5,6), but when they shrank back (Exod. 20:18-21) Adonai made them into a nation with priests (Exod. 28:1). On Shavuot, Adonai restored the priesthood to His holy nation of believers in Messiah. Also, the importance of Shavuot must not be overlooked in regard to prophetic fulfillment. According to the prophecy of Daniel 9:24, 70 Weeks (70 Shavuots) have been decreed to finish the transgression; to make an end of sin. At the end of 62 Shavuots Messiah will be cut off and the prince who is to come will come with a flood. Throughout the history of Israel the understanding of this prophecy has been examined and disputed. But there has never been a time when so many events have taken place that so dramatically point to a fulfillment of Daniel’s timeline. Sixty-two years ago Israel reemerged as a nation after 2000 years of dormancy. That is unheard of in the history of the world. This year, 2010 marks the completion of the 62nd year of Israel’s existence as a nation. Shavuot has a predominate role in end times prophetic fulfillment. it will be on Shavuot that the proclamation of what is about to come will be made.
In the seventh month on the first of the month, you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. Leviticus 23:24,25
In the autumn of the year on the first day of the Tishri moon shofars are to be blown to announce the first of the Ten Days of Awe leading up to Yom Kippur. The 30-day, sixth month of the Hebrew calendar, Elul defined as the season of teshuvah, or repentance, is joined with and followed by the first day of the seventh month Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets which announces the final ten days of the full 40 days of repentance. Yom Teruah is the biblical name of the feast as it is presented in Leviticus 23. Hebraically it is defined as the day of shouting or blowing. There are several revealing names associated with this 5th of the 7 appointed times of Adonai.
Rosh HaShanah (Head of the Year, Birthday of the World)
Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets, The Awakening Blast)
Yom HaDin (the Day of Judgment)
HaMelech (Coronation Day of the Messiah)
Yom HaZikkaron (Day of Remembrance)
Chevlai shel Mashiach (Time of Jacob’s Trouble, Birthpangs of the Messiah)
Kiddushin/Nesu’in (the Wedding Ceremony)
Natzal (the Resurrection)
Shofar HaGadol (the Last Trump)
Yom Hakeseh (the Hidden Day)
The opening of the Gates
The Feast of Trumpets is the first of three, yet to be fulfilled Fall Feasts of Israel. These feasts relate to Kingdom/political issues rather than High Priestly matters that Messiah addressed in the Spring feast during His first coming 2000 years ago. At that time Yeshua rode into Jerusalem riding on a donkey as the Suffering Servant. But when Messiah returns this next time He will come as the Conquering King. The various names associated with this designated time reveal a great deal of what is expected to take place on this first day of the seventh Hebrew month in the year that Messiah returns.
Within Jewish writings, which includes both the Tanach (the First Testament) and the Brit Chadesha (the ReNewed Testament), the authors routinely use word plays and idioms to convey commonly understood times, dates and scenarios within the Jewish community. Idioms are statements that a community understands, like in America if one should say, ‘We’re getting together on ‘turkey day’, all Americans would know that we are referring to Thanksgiving. Turkey day would be an idiom for Thanksgiving, the national holiday. There is one such Jewish idiom used in Matthew 24 that refers directly to Yom Teruah, the first day of the seventh month. Yom Teruah is know as the hidden day, the day that no man knows the date or the hour of. In Matthew, in answer to the timing of the return of Messiah, Yeshua responds according to Matthew in this way: ‘But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.’ Matthew 24:36. Yom Teruah is the only appointed time that is celebrated within Israel for two days instead of one. The reason is because of the uncertainty of when to declare the day because the beginning of Tishri is based on the sighting of the first visible crescent of the new moon. When will the crescent be ‘seen’, that depends on the Father – He can obscure it from our view if that is His purpose – so consequently, this is the day that no man knows.
Yom Kippur is the most important Holy Day of the Jewish year. Yom Kippur occurs on the tenth day of Tishri (Sept.-Oct.). The origin of the celebration is found in Leviticus 23:26-32:
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD. You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the LORD your God. If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from His people. As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among His people. You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It is to be a Sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your Sabbath.”
Yom Kippur means Day of Atonement (covering), a day to atone for sins of the past year. Yom Kippur atones only for the sins between man and God. Sins that are committed between you and your fellow man must be reconciled before Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur is also a day of fasting. A 25-hour fast (no food or water), and prayer, as well as no work, makes a complete Sabbath. The Holy Day is usually spent at the synagogue or fellowship, in prayer and repentance. It is customary to wear white on this holiday, which symbolizes purity and reminds us of His promise in Isaiah 1:18, that our sins shall be white as snow.
Today, we have the forgiveness of sin through the blood of YESHUA the Messiah, and our name is written in the Book of Life, but the LORD said in Leviticus 23: 1-2, “These are my designated times, which you are to keep. And, in Leviticus 16:29-20, the LORD says, “It is for both the citizen and foreigner a permanent regulation to those living with you.
If we are grafted into ISRAEL, we, as believers in YESHUA should consider and learn more about our Jewish roots. Remember John 14:15, “If you LOVE ME, you will OBEY what I COMMAND.”
The Feasts are God’s appointed times that Adonai laid out for His people, and those that choose to join them, for all generations—we tend to think of them as Jewish holidays instead of as God’s biblical Holy Days…how Adonai chose to be remembered and worshipped.
The seventh and final feast given to Israel is Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles and is celebrated in the fall. It is a seven-day festival of rejoicing.
“In Sukkot (tabernacles of booths), you shall dwell seven days, every citizen in Israel they shall dwell in Sukkot, in order that your generations shall know, that in Sukkot did I cause the children of Israel to dwell, when I brought them forth from the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 23)
Sukkot commemorates how protective clouds of glory, surrounded the Jewish people after leaving Egypt during the 40 years of wandering in the desert. The holiday is so filled with symbolism to express our relationship to God and to point to Yeshua, the Living Water and the Light of the World. Yeshua revealed this during this festival at the water libation ceremony and the Temple light show, John 7. To understand the feasts is to get the fuller picture as to the deeper meaning of His words.
It also commemorates how the Jews lived in temporary dwellings during that same time. So, too, we leave the safety and security of our houses and put ourselves under the direct protection of God Almighty.
Celebrating Sukkot is an annual reminder of our temporary state and that we also “seek a homeland.” (Hebrews 11:14) This festival reminds us that, in spite of our material possessions, we are still mortals in need of a literal transformation, so we may possess eternal life (I Corinthians 15:50-54) the Bible emphasizes that, as with booths or temporary dwellings, our physical life is transitory. The Rabbi Sh’aul’s (Apostle Paul’s) writings reflect his theme:
“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.” (II Corinthians 5:1-2, KJV).
We will be celebrating this Feast, and all of the others in the millennium, (Zechariah 14:16). Other prophets described the millennium time as an era of God’s law covering the earth “as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14). The annual feasts are rehearsals of God’s appointed times. Let’s rehearse now while there is time before the final performance.
In 167 BCE, the Syrian King Antiochus IV began openly persecuting the Jewish people.
In Jerusalem, the Syrian king appointed a Hellenistic high priest to the temple. This new high priest prohibited the study of Torah and desecrated the temple altar by requiring pigs to be sacrificed on it. Two years later, Judah Maccabee, the son of the High Priest of the Jews organized a revolt that drove out the Syrian-Greeks from Israel, thus the temple was liberated. This meant the temple needed to be rededicated for Jewish worship. However, there was a problem. There was only a small amount of oil that was not contaminated by the Syrian-Greeks.
It was enough oil to burn for one day. So they needed to make more. The problem was that it took eight full days to make a fresh batch. The menorah light was sure to go out. However, God performed a miracle. He caused the one day of oil to burn for a full eight days. This is the reason there are eight days of Hanukkah to remember this miracle.
As a congregation, we celebrate this great miracle. It’s a time of fun for the children who play with dreidels and receive gold chocolate coins. It’s also a time when we all share the joys of rededication, not only outwardly, but inwardly, as well.
Purim is generally described as being one of two minor festivals observed by Israel, the other is Chanukah. Both of these minor festivals have to do with the miraculous deliverance of Israel from annihilation. In reality, Purim is prophetically much more than a minor holiday. Purim derives its name from the Babylonian word ‘pur’ which has to do with the casting of ‘lots’ or ‘dice’ in order to identify a most favorable time, etcetera. Haman, the antagonist in the book of Esther, cast ‘pur’ (lots) in order to determine the most auspicious day for exterminating the Jewish people who were held in captivity in Babylon.
In the book of Esther, there are many hidden truths. For example, the heroine, a Jewish girl named Hadassah who was raised by her uncle Mordechi, ends up marrying the King, but Mordechi is known to be a Jew; however, Hadassah’s nationality — she is called Esther in the story — remains unknown, even to her husband. It is only when Mordechi reminds Esther that she too is Jewish, and also in danger of annihilation, that Esther goes to her husband in defense of her kinsmen.
On the surface, the book of Esther tells the story of the Jewish people’s deliverance from Haman’s plot, but on a deeper level, the Book of Esther prophetically reveals an end time scenario. When the characters in the story are identified prophetically we have the story of the Messiah, of Man, of HaSatan, of Judaism, and the concealed body of Messianic Judaism that today identifies itself as the Christian Church. In the future it will be that concealed body of believers in Yeshua that will awaken to the reality of who they truly are through Yeshua, and will have to stand up and identify themselves as being the ‘One New Man’ of Ephesians 2. The hidden assembly of YHVH will have to awaken to the reality that they are not separate from Israel, but are truly one with Israel. Their fate and Israel’s fate will be the same. To quote one of the most famous lines from the text of Esther 4:13-14, Mordecai said to Esther, “Do not think that you shall escape what is coming upon the Jews just because you live in the king's house. If you do not get involved at this time, then there will arise deliverance for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knows but whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Purim is observed yearly by the Jewish community in obedience to Esther 9:20-28, and is considered an important feast within the scholarly community. Within the greater Jewish community, the carnival atmosphere with which Purim is celebrated seems to continue to obscure the true meaning of the story. In either case, there is much more to Purim than what a casual reading reveals and there are many ways to view the story, so read the book of Esther yourself and see what you will find.