Archive for the ‘Feast Days’ Category

Videos About the Feast of Trumpets

We get to celebrate is Yom Teruah (translated to English as the Feast of Trumpets) tomorrow!  This is such an exciting feast, because it is the first feast of the year’s line-up that hasn’t yet been fulfilled.  We’re waiting on the fulfillment at the return of our King!

I’ve collected some neat teachings on this feast day here.

Each of these three teachers have slightly different interpretations of what exactly will happen on this feast day.  Given that its fulfillment is future, we only see dimly what might unfold.  So, I present these teachings for your consideration.  As in everything, we must test everything to the word and trust that our observance of this feast doesn’t require complete understanding, only a complete trust that His Word will prove to be perfect and true in the end.

First Fruits PT

I really enjoy this guy’s teachings.  They are short  (this one is only 5 minutes) and jam-packed with neat scriptural connections.  (Although sometimes he moves a bit too fast for me.)

In this teaching, he shows what trumpets are used for in the scriptures.  He draws an interesting conclusion about what the scriptures mean when they say that the Savior will return at the “last trumpet,” connecting the seven trumpet blasts of Revelation with the trumpet blasts that are to occur at the start of each month on the new moon.  He also shares some ideas about how the final fulfillment of the Day of Atonement will fall 1,000 years after the return of our Savior. I had never heard that theory until this video, but I think it could be a good one.



Jim Staley

Jim Staley is a great teacher for Christians who are just coming to learn about the feast days.

Here are some time-markers for this teaching

  • First 28 minutes are introduction.
  • Around the 28th minute mark he begins teaching on the fall feasts, specifically, Trumpets.


Mark Biltz

Mark Biltz does a great job of showing the connection between traditional Jewish understanding of the feast days and their actual fulfillment in Messiah. Our older brother Judah has some great insights into the scriptures!

Here are some time-markers for this teaching:

  • The first 12 minutes or so are a terrific recap of the prophetic nature of the spring and fall feasts.  He also gives some great information on God’s calendar as opposed to our Julian calendar.
  • Around the 13th minute he starts in on the specifics of the feast of Trumpets, making some really neat scriptural connections in relation to the blowing of trumpets.
  • Around the 3oth minute he brings to light serious warnings for the church.
  • Around the 38th minute he addresses the whole “no man knows the day or hour” issue.
  • At the 42nd minute he does a short teaching on how Song of Solomon relates to this feast. Contained in it is another serious warning for those who disregard the necessity of remembering the Biblical feast days.
  • Just before the 57th minute he makes a neat connection between our betrothal to the Savior and this feast.

The Yearly Passover Question: Beginning or the End of the 14th?

Passover blood on doorposts
Passover is the next big feast day approaching, and I am excited! Passover talk and study has already begun in our house.  One of the yearly questions that comes up is:

Was the Passover lamb killed at the beginning or the end of the 14th day?

This year, after taking a look at the Hebrew phrase “ben ha arbayim,” I have some new considerations in this debate.

What follows is my study on this phrase.  Much of what follows was brought to my attention through various teachings/papers.  I am so thankful to have access to people who have studied Biblical languages and have rolled these questions around in their minds longer than I have.  I will make note of those sources as I go.

Though I did gain insights through other people, I have, to the best of my ability, verified everything here.  I didn’t just take an idea and run with it.  I have learned that all humans are capable of error, and all must be tested against the word.  Interlinearbible.org and I are close friends. 🙂

Calendars…

Because I know the subject of calendars can be sensitive, I wanted to make clear my intentions in sharing my study.

1) I share it here for my own reference.  It works better than printing off a document, because here I can have links. (Plus, if you’ve ever seen my desk or filing cabinet you’d know I don’t need any other papers cluttering them up. :-P)

2) I share it here and ask others to check it over. I certainly have not “arrived” in understanding, so it’s always nice to get a few people older in the faith to check my thoughts to be sure everything is lining up with scripture. Again, it’s easier to share a link than to print out a paper.  And the links within my study can be followed and verified more easily this way.

One More Word at the Outset

With that said, I want to present one other, very important thought before jumping in.  One of the papers I read on this subject, written by George Tabac (whom, for the record, I do not know a thing about other than his thoughts on this topic) concluded with these words, which I thought were very appropriate:

The purpose of this study is to strengthen our faith by harmonizing all the Scriptures on the subject. For unless we could answer in our minds each of the points raised, we would feel uncomfortable, for the Scriptures must be harmonious. We trust the study is beneficial to this end.

But, may we always remember what is of greatest import each year as we approach the memorial season: partaking of the emblems, applying the preciousness of what they symbolize to ourselves, participating with all our brethren in our Lord’s ransom merit for our justification, communion in the cup of sin offering experiences, and the opportunity to renew our consecration vows and, with renewed determination, to complete them.

Amen!

And now for the study…

Ben Ha Arbayim

“Ben ha arbayim” is translated “at twilight” or “between the evenings.”

It is a variation of the root word “erev.” This specific variation occurs 11 times, all in the Torah.

  • 5 times it references Passover
  • 1 time it references meat in the wilderness
  • 1 time it references the alter of incense
  • 4 times it references the daily sacrifice

I looked up each of the verses that contain this word in order to see if I could learn when exactly “ben ha arbayim” occurs in the day – at the beginning or at the end. (Remember that the beginning of a new day, according to Yahweh, is when the sun has set. See Leviticus 23:32)

The First Five Occurrences Regarding Passover

1) Exodus 12:6

and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight (ben ha arbayim).

2) Leviticus 23:5

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight (ben ha arbayim), is Yahweh’s Passover.

3) Numbers 9:3

On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight (ben ha arbayim), you shall keep it at its appointed time; according to all its statutes and all its rules you shall keep it.

4) Numbers 9:5

And they kept the Passover in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight (ben ha arbayim), in the wilderness of Sinai; according to all that Yahweh commanded Moses, so the people of Israel did.

5) Numbers 9:11

In the second month on the fourteenth day at twilight (ben ha arbayim)they shall keep it. They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

These Passover instructions don’t shed much light on exactly when “twilight” is.  Is it at the beginning of the 14th or the end?

Two theories

There are two theories (that I know of, anyway) on this subject:

1)  The Passover lamb was killed after the sun had set below the horizon, but while there was still light – a time between sunset and dark.  This theory places the lawful Passover at the beginning of the 14th.

2) The Passover lamb was killed after noon (when the sun begins the process of going down or “setting”) and sunset (when the sun drops below the horizon).  This theory places the lawful Passover at the end of the 14th.

This graphic gives a good visual for the two theories here:

Ben ha arbayim

The question is: Which of these theories is right? Do any of the other occurrences of this phrase (ben ha arbayim) shed any light on it?

One Occurrence Regarding Meat in the Wilderness

6) Exodus 16:12

I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight (ben ha arbayim) you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am Yahweh your God.

This doesn’t give us much insight. Yahweh could have provided the meat at the start of the day – when the sun had set below the horizon, but there was still light.  OR He could have provided the meat at the end of the day – when the sun was in the process of going down, but hadn’t yet gone below the horizon.

One Occurrence Regarding the Alter of Incense

7) Exodus 30:8

and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight (ben ha arbayim), he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before Yahweh throughout your generations.

This doesn’t give much insight either. Again, it could be that Yahweh wanted the lamps set up at the start of the day – when the sun had already set below the horizon.  OR He could have wanted them set up  at the end of the day – the afternoon when the sun was in the process of going down, but hadn’t yet set.

The Last Four Occurrences Regarding Daily Offerings

These verses are a very important part of this puzzle.

8) Exodus 29:38-39

Now this is what you are to offer on the altar: two lambs a year old, regularly, every day. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the second lamb you shall offer at twilight (ben ha arbayim).

9) Exodus 29:41

The second lamb you shall offer at twilight (ben ha arbayim), and shall offer with it a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the morning, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to Yahweh.

10) Numbers 28:3-4

Tell them, “This is the offering made by fire that you are to bring to Yahweh: male lambs in their first year and without defect, two daily as a regular burnt offering. Offer the one lamb in the morning and the second lamb at twilight (ben ha arbayim);

11) Numbers 28:8

The second lamb you shall offer at twilight (ben ha arbayim). Like the grain offering of the morning, and like its drink offering, you shall offer it as a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to Yahweh.

In these instructions we have more information about when exactly “ben ha arbayim” is.

Two lambs have to be offered each day:

  • One has to be done in the morning.
  • The second has to be done at twilight (ben ha arbayim), which must be before the end of the day.

Though some translations say one has to be done in the morning and the other has to be done at twilight, this is an incorrect translation.  The specific Hebrew word used is “second” – an ordinal number.

So, “between the evenings” takes place on the same day as the morning sacrifice, before that day ends. It cannot be the second sacrifice if it is made after sunset, because then it would be the first sacrifice of the day.

Here is another helpful graphic I came across to illustrate the timing of the sacrifices:

Two Daily Offerings

Elijah’s Sacrifice

There is another section of scripture that bears second witness to the idea that the evening sacrifice would have been before the sun set below the horizon. 1 Kings 18 tells about the show-down between Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal. By paying close attention to the timing of the events, we gain more insight into what time of day the evening sacrifice was made.

26 They [the prophets of Baal] took the bull he gave them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon. They said, “Baal, answer us!” But there wasn’t a sound or an answer. So they danced around the altar they had made.

27 At noon Elijah started to make fun of them. “Shout louder, since he is a god. Maybe he’s thinking, relieving himself, or traveling! Maybe he’s sleeping, and you have to wake him!”

28 So they shouted louder. They also cut themselves with swords and spears until their blood flowed. (This is what their ritual called for.) 29 In the afternoon they continued to rant and rave until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no sound, no answer, no attention given to them.

Recap: From morning until noon, the prophets of Baal appealed to their god to consume the sacrifice they had prepared on their altar.  At noon, Elijah started to make fun of them.  They made their appeals with more fervor until the time for the evening sacrifice.

In the meantime, Elijah was preparing his altar. We’ll resume with the story at verse 36:

36 When it was time to offer the sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward. He said, “Yahweh Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make known today that you are Elohim in Israel and that I’m your servant and have done all these things by your instructions. 37 Answer me, Yahweh! Answer me! Then these people will know that you, Yahweh, are Elohim and that you are winning back their hearts.”

38 So a fire from Yahweh fell down and consumed the burnt offering, wood, stones, and dirt. The fire even dried up the water that was in the trench. 39 All the people saw it and immediately bowed down to the ground. “Yahweh is Elohim!” they said. “Yahweh is Elohim!”

So, at the time of the evening sacrifice, which we know to be at twilight (ben ha arbayim), Yahweh sent fire to consume his burnt offering. (Which is awesomely cool.  Our God is incredible!)

Now let’s see what transpired after twilight to get clues as to how much time there was from twilight until darkness.

40 Elijah told them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let any of them escape.” The people seized them, and Elijah took them to the Kishon River and slaughtered them there.

41 Then Elijah told Ahab, “Get up, eat, and drink. It sounds like a heavy rain is coming.” 42 Ahab got up to eat and drink.

Elijah went to the top of Carmel and bowed down on the ground to pray. 43 He said to his servant, “Please go back to Mount Carmel, and look toward the sea.”

He went up, looked, came back, and said, “There’s nothing.”

Seven times Elijah told him, “Go back.”

44 After the seventh time the servant said, “A little cloud like a man’s hand is coming from the sea.”

Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and leave before the rain delays you.’”

45 Gradually, the sky grew darker with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. Ahab got into his chariot to go back to Jezreel. 46 Yahweh’s power was on Elijah. He hiked up his robe and ran ahead of Ahab until they came to Jezreel.

I’m going to borrow the bullet points summarizing the activities done between twilight (ha arbayim) and darkness from another article on this same topic.

  • The capture of the prophets of Baal by the people of Israel (I Kings 18:40).
  • The execution of the 450 prophets of Baal by the Brook Kishon (I Kings 18:40).
  • Elijah’s message to King Ahab to eat and drink because rain was coming (I Kings 18:41).
  • Elijah’s climb to the top of the 1,600+ ft. Mount Carmel (I Kings 18:42).
  • Elijah sending his servant to look toward the sea seven different times (I Kings 18:43).
  • The sighting by his servant on the seventh look of “a cloud as small as a man’s hand rising out of the sea” (I Kings 18:44).
  • The blackening of the sky due to clouds (not night!) as heavy rains began to fall (I Kings 18:45).

Conclusion

Based on this understanding of the evening sacrifice given in Exodus, Numbers, and 1 Kings, we can interpret Exodus 12:6 as:

And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs in the afternoon of that 14th day, as the sun is going down, but before sunset.

I still have more studying to do to figure out whether Yeshua’s last meal was a Passover meal or not.  But for now, it seems reasonably clear to me that the Passover lamb was to be killed at the end of the 14th and that Yeshua’s death at 3pm on the 14 day of the month was a perfect fulfillment!  Here is another helpful resource regarding this topic:

Was the Last Supper a Passover Meal

I wish blessings to everyone preparing their hearts to partake of this incredible appointed time!

No More Mosaic Law? Shadow/Substance (Colossians 2:16-17)

This is part of a series that began here.

Adjusted Colossians 2

“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink,
or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.
These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”

Colossians 2:16-17

What the Verse Seems to Say

Don’t let anyone judge you for eating foods that were once considered unclean or for not keeping feasts or Sabbaths.  They were merely a shadow of things to come.  Since the substance is Christ, if you have Him, you have all you need.

The Problems

This interpretation requires re-working lots of other scriptures where we see the apostles and new disciples adhering to the dietary law and keeping the feasts even after the Savior’s death.  It also makes Paul, who kept the feast days, even “hastening to be in Jerusalem” for them (Acts 20:16), seem a bit hypocritical.

Aside from being hypocritical, this understanding of Paul’s words makes him a heretic when we consider that the Father warned that only false prophets would speak against His commandments (Deut 13:1-5). For the sake of brevity, we’ll look only at a few of His commandments on the topic of His Sabbaths:

  • “Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.” (Exodus 31:13)
  • “Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.” (Isaiah 56:2, but the whole chapter highlights how important the Sabbath is to our heavenly Father.)
  • “Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.” (Ezekiel 22:26)

By God’s own words, those who profane His Sabbaths profane Him.  This makes it all the more critical that we rightly understand Paul’s words here in Colossians.

The interpretation that God’s instructions are no longer important doesn’t fit with the larger context of the Bible.  It also doesn’t fit with the context of the second chapter of Colossians.

Context of Colossians

In Colossians 2:6, Paul begins by telling the Colossians not to be taken captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world.  He doesn’t want them to follow human traditions.

Are the feast days and Sabbath human traditions? Hardly.  In the verses quoted above, we saw God refer to “MY Sabbaths.”  In Leviticus 23, He clearly says, “these are MY appointed feasts.” They are our Father’s days.

So then what kind of human tradition is he warning the believers about? In verse 18 he tells us: asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind. In verse 23, he mentions asceticism again.

Asceticism

Merriam-Webster defines asceticism as “practicing strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline.” This definition precisely matches Paul’s warnings in this passage.

The ascetic philosophy and empty deceit says, “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” (v 21).  These rules, based on severity to the body, are merely “human precepts and teachings” and “self-made religion,” not at all based on the word of God. They only have “an appearance of wisdom” (v 22-23).

Instead of walking in these ascetic ways, Paul wants the Colossians to walk in Christ, rooted and built up in Him (v 6-7). He wants them to hold fast to Christ, the Head (v 10, 19).

So, we have Paul warning about the danger of this ascetic philosophy and of not remaining rooted in Christ between verses 6 and 23.  In the middle, we’ve got verses 16-17 where Paul seems to be saying not to worry about keeping God’s days anymore.  But how exactly does asceticism fit with the feasts and Sabbath? Were the ascetics judging the Colossians because they weren’t keeping the dietary laws or because they weren’t keeping the feast days?

A closer look at the Greek

I am no Greek scholar, but when I watched this 15 minute lesson on the Greek construction of this passage and then tested it by looking at it for myself on interlinearbible.org, it made perfect sense why Paul was discussing being judged on the feasts and Sabbath in the middle of a discussion on wrong ascetic behavior.  And it all hinges on a couple of conjunctions.

.
Another Small, But Critical Word

Another point in the Greek that isn’t made in the video above is regarding the Greek conjunction “de” translated as “but” in verse 17. (These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.)  This word can also mean “yet,” “and,” “moreover,” “indeed now.”  So, instead of making the two parts of the sentence seem to contradict each other, the writer could very well have intended to show the connection of the two thoughts.

A Literal Translation

After looking closely at the Greek, this literal translation emerges:

Do not, therefore, let anyone judge you in eating and in drinking
either in part of a feast, or a new moon, or a Sabbath,
which are a shadow of the things to come, yet the body is of Christ.

The Greek is clear. The Sabbaths, new moons, and feast days are valuable because they point us to what is still to come. They are not a shadow of things that WERE to come. They are a shadow of what IS to come – future tense.  Just as Christ precisely and perfectly fulfilled each of the spring feast days during His first coming, He will also precisely and perfectly fulfill each of the fall feast days during His second coming.

The substance of the Sabbath, new moon, and feast days belong to Christ Himself.  He is the body of these appointed times, and Paul wants the believers to hold fast to Him. The Colossians had no reason to be ashamed of these God-given days. In fact, they should stay firmly connected to them.

The eating and drinking associated with these joyous days were not to be abandoned as the ascetics would lead them to believe.  The believers should not let anyone judge them for how they eat or drink, either in partaking of a feast or a new moon or Sabbaths.

Rich Symbols

It is true that the feast days are shadows and symbols that point to Christ.  Many symbols are made rich with Christ’s meaning, but this doesn’t negate the necessity of the symbol. Churches use the symbols of baptism and communion.  Just because we understand deeper meaning when we understand how the symbol points to Christ doesn’t mean we then toss the symbol.  We continue to use the symbol as we celebrate all meaning that God always intended.

Whole Wheat Challah

For the last several months, I’ve enjoyed making challah bread as part of our meal to welcome in the Sabbath.  After we bless our heavenly Father who alone brings forth bread from the earth, we pass the loaf around, each breaking off a piece and remembering that He provides for all of our needs.  This includes our most pressing need of a Savior.  Yeshua is our ultimate bread of life (John 6:48).

Unfortunately, I can’t find any pictures of the challah I’ve made, but I did find something that looks close:

This is a simple, easy recipe that I tried out early on and have stuck with because of its success. My version is closely based on the challah recipe in the book A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays.

Two Loaves

The following recipe will make a double-decker loaf that will feed 8-10 people.

The fact that there are two loaves reminds us that when the children of Israel were in the wilderness, the Father provided a double portion of manna on the sixth day so that his children would be able to enjoy rest on the Sabbath day (Exodus 16).

If you have a small family, and don’t want leftovers, you may want to halve the recipe.

The Recipe

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 packages of Rapid Rise yeast (or 1 1/2 Tbsp instant-active bulk yeast)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 2/3 cups very warm water (120 degrees to be exact.  If the water is too hot, the bread won’t rise.  If its too cool, it will take longer to rise.)
  • 1/4 cup oil (I like to use grapeseed oil – its healthy and neutral in flavor)
  • 1/4 cup honey

Here’s how to make it:

1) Put half the flour (1 cup whole wheat and 1 1/2 cups white), all the yeast and salt in a bowl.  Mix.

2) Add the water, oil, and honey.  Mix.

3) Add the other half of the flour (1 cup whole wheat and 1 1/2 cups white).  Mix well. The dough should feel soft like new play dough and should pull away from the sides of the bowl and stick to itself.  If it seems like you need a bit of extra flour, only add 1/4 cup at a time.  If you add too  much flour, the dough will be too hard, like clay, and will not rise as well.

4) Rest the dough for 10 minutes. During this rest, the dough will rise some.

5) At this point, you can pinch off a bit of dough to be given to the Lord as a contribution as our ancestors were commanded to do when they came into the Promised Land (Numbers 15:17-21).  Challah actually refers to the portion of the bread that was donated in Temple times to the priests. Even though we’re not in the land and don’t have the Levitical priesthood in tact, I think its a neat way to remember that the first of all we have is to be given back to our heavenly Father in gratitude for His provision.  You can either take an olive-sized piece and burn or discard it, OR you could take a larger portion and make a separate loaf to give to someone else as a gift.

6) Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle some flour on top and knead for several minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.


7) Break off about one third of the dough.  (I like to use a wide spatula or dough cutter – like the one to the right – to do this.)  This will be the dough for the top braid.  Separate this ball into three equal parts and roll into approximately 8″ or 9″ ropes.  Don’t worry if the ropes are longer or shorter.  Longer ropes will make for a longer loaf, and the opposite will be true of shorter ropes.  Once you have the ropes made, braid them.


8) Now take the larger portion of dough, which will be for the bottom braid, and separate it into three equal parts.  Roll into approximately 14″ or 15″ ropes and braid.

9) Place the larger braid on a lightly oiled cookie sheet.  Lay the shorter braid on top of the larger one.

10) Allow to rise until double in size.  This will take 45 minute to an hour away from a draft.  I like to stick my loaf in the oven just so its out of the way.  Please  note that the oven should not be on if you decide to stick it there.

11) Once your dough has doubled in size, preheat the oven to 325 degrees, making sure to remove the loaf before the preheating process begins if you’ve allowed your loaf to rise there.

12) While the oven is preheating, you can brush one beaten egg white onto your loaf to add shine and color.

13) Bake on the middle rack for 45 to 55 minutes until nicely brown.

I like to try to time it so that the bread is coming out of the oven close to the time we are ready to eat it.  Warm challah is an incredible way to bring in Shabbat!

The Covering

While the bread is waiting on the table, it is traditionally covered.  Some people have a special challah covering while others (like myself) use a cloth napkin.  The covering symbolizes the dew that covered the ground.  When the dew had gone up, the manna was revealed (Exodus 16:13-15).  In the same way, when the cover is removed, the challah is revealed.

The Blessing

Here is the blessing typically recited before receiving the gift of bread.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe
Who brings forth bread from the earth.
Amen.

It’s been a part of the tradition of God’s people for a very long time.  Though it’s not a blessing specifically commanded in scripture, it does have its origins in scripture.  Psalm 104:14 says:

You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth.

In the following graphic from Hebrew4Christians.com,  you can see the Hebrew, how to pronounce the Hebrew, and the English.  (Note that Hebrew is read from right to left.)  To hear a recording of what the Hebrew actually sounds like, you can press the audio icon next to the blessing on this page.

Happy Challah-making!!!

Biblical Feast Days: For Today?

This is the conclusion of the Biblical Feast Day series that began here.

This series has attempted to answer lots of questions about the feast days.  But now that we’ve processed through all of those, we’re faced with new questions:

  • Are the feast days required for today?
  • Is it wrong, sinful, or dishonoring to God to not observe them?
  • Do we have freedom in Christ choose whether or not to keep the holy days?

These are important questions, ones I spent about a decade wrestling with. To answer them I’d like to line up the conclusions I’ve drawn for each post in this series.

Reviewing the Series to Answer These Questions

If we belong to the Lord, then the feast days belong to us and we should keep them joyfully. The feast days belong to the Lord.  He passed them to His people, Israel.  The people of Israel have always included all 12 tribes (not just the tribe of Judah, otherwise known as the Jews) as well as all any foreigner who chose to follow God. Followers of the Savior are part of Israel, which throughout all of scripture is the group of people for which salvation and membership in the kingdom is provided.

If we want to walk as the Savior walked, we should keep the feasts. Not only did the Savior keep the days, but New Testament disciples (both Jew and non-Jew disciples) kept the days even long after the Savior was resurrected from the dead.

Since we’ll be celebrating them in the future, we should keep them now. There is simply no scriptural evidence of the feast days coming to an end.  To the contrary, a few are mentioned by name as continuing even past the Savior’s second coming! 

If we want to walk in the commandments of God instead of nullifying them by the traditions of men, we should keep the feasts.  The feast days only ended because traditions of men nullified the commandments of God, something our Savior often spoke against.

The feast days serve as eternal memorials for the great things God has done for His people throughout history, so we should gladly keep them. He saved us by the blood of the lamb, delivered us from bondage with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, provided a harvest, and more!

AND…

Half of the feast days have yet to be fulfilled prophetically, so we should still keep them with great anticipation of what is still to come.  The spring feast days prophetically pointed to His first coming and the fall feast days prophetically point to His second coming. The Savior perfectly synchronized the saving work of His first coming with the spring feast days. He died as the Passover lamb on Passover, rose from the dead on the Firstfruits, and poured out His Spirit in a powerful way on Pentecost. Given how perfectly He fulfilled the spring holy days, shouldn’t we also expect Him to perfectly fulfill the fall holy days?  As long as we are still waiting on His second coming, the feast days hold critically important value for us.

Conclusion

So, yes, I believe all of God’s people should remember His set-apart feast days, even today.

But I know my primary audience, hearing about a “requirement,” most likely has warning bells, flags, and verses written by Paul that seem to be completely contrary to my conclusion flashing in their brains right now.

I want to say a couple of words to those of you in that group before I end this post.

Didn’t Paul call these days “weak and worthless elementary principles of the world?”

One particular verse that  you may be thinking of to question my conclusion is this:

“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.” (Galatians 4:8-11)

Does this mean that the days and months and seasons and years given by God in the law (Torah) are “weak and worthless elementary principles of the world?”  That’s the way we usually read it, but does this interpretation fit with the rest of scripture?

I’ve written about my understanding of how to reconcile Paul to the rest of scripture in another post. But for this particular section of scripture, I found another helpful post.  If this verse hinders you from observing the Biblical feast days, I encourage you to explore this passage further.

Two things I’m not saying

I also want to be clear about what I’m not saying when I say that I believe the days should be kept by all believers today.

1) I am not insinuating that people who are not keeping the feasts are not truly His people.

I still have plenty of things to learn and plenty of ways to be conformed to the image of my Savior. Just because I keep the feasts does not mean that I have arrived in perfection. All true children are still growing, learning, and being corrected in various ways.

The Father doesn’t write the instructions in our hearts all at once, just as the Savior didn’t reveal all things to His disciples all at once. He said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12) We serve a merciful, patient God who leads us gently into a deeper, more intimate knowledge of Him and His ways. He works with us over our lifetimes to conform us to the image of His son (Rom 8:29) and promises to bring us to completion (Phil 1:6). Praise Him!

2) I am not attacking salvation by grace.

Keeping feasts will not earn salvation any more than remaining faithful to your spouse will earn salvation. The obedience our Savior requires does not secure our salvation, it just demonstrates it.

The obedience that He requires is never a heavy, burdensome, favor-seeking kind of thing.  He doesn’t want us to obey because we are constrained or fearful, but because we delight in the law-giver and treasure His grace and wisdom. We position ourselves as already-loved children who obey our Father, not because we want to win His affections but because we are overwhelmed with His affection. We obey His instructions because we adore Him, because we want to be like Him, because we want to walk as He walked.

These precious days, like all of His instructions, are a gift to us.  We should position ourselves to receive all we can from His wise and mighty hand.

Biblical Feast Days: Prophetic Rehearsals in the Fall Days?

This is a continuation of the Biblical Feast Day series that began here. So far in the series, we’ve explored answers to several questions relating to the feast days.  You can find those questions as well as links to the conclusions I’ve drawn from scripture by going back to the introduction post linked above.

In the last post we saw that the day the Passover lamb was sacrificed for the Israelites in Egypt was the same day that our Savior was killed hundreds of years later.  We saw that the day God spoke his law for the Israelites on Mt. Sinai was the same day that He poured out His Holy Spirit hundreds of years later.  The parallels went on and on.

I grew up keeping the feasts, so I knew the parallels of the spring feast days to our Savior’s first coming. But for some reason, it was only last year that a new realization revolutionized my view of the necessity of the feast days.  Before I reveal that realization, it might help to give a short back-story.

Some Personal Back-Story

Like I said, I grew up keeping the feasts.  I loved the rich meaning and Biblical origins of our celebrations.  Nonetheless, there was a self-righteouness and a lack of fruit that caused me to turn from the church in which I had grown up.  I met my future husband who was a “regular” believer.  We (well, mostly I) wrestled through our differences in practice for a long time.  We visited lots of different churches – some Sabbath ones, lots of “regular” ones.  Neither of us felt at home until we ended up landing in a “regular” Christian church where we spent the next decade of our lives.

During this decade, I reasoned away the necessity of feast-keeping.  I spiritualized their meaning and trivialized their practices. Things were going okay for a while.  My secret inner struggle was held reasonably in check.  That is, until I reconnected with an old friend who opened up those questions I had suppressed for so long.  Suddenly my inner struggle became my inner nuclear war.  The battle raged until I came to a spot where I finally felt free to listen to my “inner count” instead of trying desperately to suppress it.

It was during this new listening phase that I encountered the revolutionary realization I mentioned earlier. It was this:

If the Savior precisely and perfectly fulfilled each of the spring feast days during His first coming, would He not also precisely and perfectly fulfill each of the fall feast days during His second coming?

Relevance of the Feast Days Today

Suddenly, the feast days became something that couldn’t be spiritualized away.  As long as we are still waiting on the second coming our King, the days still hold great significance.

The spring feast days were prophetic rehearsals of His first coming.  They launched the priestly calendar.  At His first coming His purpose was to set up superior priesthood as our perfect high Priest. He came as the humble servant, Messiah ben Joseph (son of Joseph).

In the same way, the fall feast days are prophetic rehearsals of His second coming. They will launch the civil/governmental calendar. At His second coming, His purpose will be to set up the supreme government in a perfect kingdom. He will come as the conquering King, Messiah ben David (son of David).

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

(Isaiah 9:6-7)

It goes something like this:

Image by Bruce Timpany

I can’t say that I know for a fact that the future events listed in the chart above will happen exactly as it says.  But I believe with all my heart that He will come again, that He will reign as King over the earth one day.  And I believe with all of my heart that He will finish the work of redeeming and restoring the earth in perfect sync with His feast days.

But what about all the talk of that day coming like a thief in the night?

One of the first responses you might have to this post is to say, “Okay, Erika.  I see what you’re saying about how Jesus perfectly fulfilled the spring feast days.  But we can’t possibly know that He will return on one of the fall feast days because the scripture says the day of His return will come like a thief in the night.”

Interestingly, the day only comes like a thief for those who are not aware of the feast days.

Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5:

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers,you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.

This may seem a bit tedious, but a quick word study here will bring to light a massively important point Paul is trying to make.  The word for seasons here is the Greek “kairon,” (Strongs #2540) which is directly related to the Hebrew word “moed” (Strongs #4150).  The word “moedim” is used to refer to the Lord’s feast days.  They are His appointed times.

Did you process that?  It’s HUGE!

Paul is saying that he doesn’t need to teach them again about the Lord’s feast days.  They already know about them.  And this knowledge will keep them from being in the dark.  The day of the Savior’s return will not overtake them like a thief in the night, because they know about the appointed times already.  They are in the light and they will not be surprised.

This is just like the warning given to the church in Sardis in Revelation 3:1-3.

I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.

He will come as a thief only to those who are not remembering and keeping His ways.

Oh, friends! I am positive that I have only just begun to unpack the parallels that God has built into history.  He has given so many events to serve as types so that we would recognize bigger things and see so many details in his perfection that we would otherwise miss if we didn’t study the foreshadowing types.

Every major event in Biblical history occurred on a feast day. The precise dates of Noah’s Ark landing on Mt. Ararat, the exodus of Israel from Egypt, the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai, the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, the birth of the Word made flesh, His death, burial and resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit, are all prime examples of God’s faithfulness to His appointed times and seasons. Proper recognition of these special days of memorial is being restored to the body as a vital part of worship and celebration.

Conclusion

When we see how perfectly He fulfilled the meanings of the spring feast days, which prophesied of his first coming, we anticipate how perfectly he will fulfill the fall feast days, which prophesy of His second coming.  Since half of the feast days have yet to be fulfilled prophetically, we should still keep them with great anticipation of what is still to come.

Further Study

Here are two videos you can explore for further study.

This 20 minute video provides a wonderful, quick recap of what we’ve covered so far and introduces the prophetic elements of the fall feast days. The first 3 minutes and 30 seconds are introduction.


And here is a more in-depth video on the feast days. I love how systematic and orderly Jim Staley’s teachings are.

As I said in the last post, if you don’t think you can make it through an hour and 42 minute teaching, please consider at least watching some.  Here’s the breakdown of what he covers and when.

  • In the first 26 minutes he answers some honest questions head-on that most Christians have when approaching this topic, like: If I’m saved and already know the Savior, why should I study the feasts? Aren’t they just for the Jews? Didn’t the shadows end at the coming of the Messiah?
  • Then he touches on Holidays/Holy Days and the value of cyclical traditions.
  • Somewhere around the 40th minute he talks about the meaning of the word “prepare.”
  • Around the 45th minute he does a 10 minute teaching about the words “appointed times” and “seasons.” These are very important words to understand!
  • In the 52nd minute he begins talking about the spring feast days.
  • At the 1:10 mark he begins talking about the fall feast days.


Happy studying! 🙂

Biblical Feast Days: Prophetic Rehearsals in the Spring Days?

This is a continuation of the Biblical Feast Day series that began here. So far in the series, we’ve explored answers to several questions relating to the feast days.  You can find those questions as well as links to the conclusions I’ve drawn from scripture by going back to the introduction post linked above.

(Note that Hanukkah, also known as the Feast of Dedication, is not a feast day given by God, but a remembrance of a historical event mentioned in the New Testament in John 10:22-23.)

Now, I want to turn to the days themselves.  We’ll start with the spring feast days.  What exactly are they? When do they happen? And more, importantly, are there prophetic meanings to these days?

The Savior Himself said that the law and the prophets spoke of Him (Luke 24:27, Luke 24:44-45).  Paul said that the substance of the feast days was Christ (Colossians 2:16-17).

So, I want to jump right in and show some of the ways the spring feast days spoke of Him.  We’ll look at parallels between the instructions regarding the spring feast days and the Savior’s first coming.

Please don’t gloss over these parallels.  They are purposeful and exact by God’s design.  Our understanding of the precise fulfillment of these spring days will affect our understanding of the fall feast days when we get there.

Passover
14th day of the first month (Leviticus 23:5)

  • Lamb without blemish was selected on the 10th day (Exodus 12:3).
  • Our Savior, the Passover Lamb, entered Jerusalem on the 10th day. (John 12:1 says six days before the Passover. This would have been the 9th day of the first month. Then John 12:12 says the next day they entered Jerusalem. This would have been the 10th day of the first month.)
  • Lamb was held for 4 days, presumably partly to ensure its perfection (Exodus 12:6).
  • Our Savior endured inspection for the next four days proving His perfection (Matthew 22:15-46, Luke 23:4).
  • A morning sacrifice was commanded (Exodus 29:38-39). It was made at the third hour, or 9am.
  • At the third hour, our Savior was crucified (Mark 15:25).
  • An evening sacrifice was commanded (Exodus 29:38-39). It was made at the ninth hour, or 3pm.
  • Our Savior breathed his last at the ninth hour (Luke 23:44-46).


Unleavened Bread

15th – 21st days of first month (Leviticus 23:6-8)

  • No leaven was to be found in any of the houses (Exodus 12:19).
  • Our Savior helped in cleaning the leaven (sin/incorrect teachings) out of His Father’s house when he cleared the temple (Matthew 21:12).
  • Anyone who ate anything with leaven in it must be cut off (Exodus 12:15,19).
  • Our Savior who was without sin (symbolized by leaven), became sin (became leavened) for us and was cut off on our behalf (Hebrews 4:15, 2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • With a strong hand and an outstretched arm, God delivered his people out of Egypt (Deuteronomy 26:8, Exodus 13:3).
  • With a strong hand and outstretched arms (literally), our Savior had delivered his people from the present evil age (Galatians 1:3-5)
  • The Egyptians buried their firstborns on the 15th day of the month (Numbers 33:3-4).
  • The Father buried His firstborn the evening of the 14th, when the 15th day officially began (Matthew 27:57-60). [Remember that on God’s calendar, days begin and end at sunset.]


First Fruits

Day after Sabbath during Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:9-14)

  • First fruits of the harvest were to be presented to God on the day after the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:10-11).
  • Our Savior rose from the dead as the first fruit of God’s harvest on the day after the Sabbath (Matthew 28:1).
  • The purpose of presenting the first fruits was so that the people may be accepted (Leviticus 23:10-11).
  • Our Savior’s resurrection from the dead on this day confirmed that His sacrifice was accepted, insured that those in Him also would be accepted, and served as a pledge that the rest of the harvest would be realized and would rise at their appointed time (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).


The Counting of the Omer between Firstfruits and Pentecost

(this is not an actual feast day, but a time to determine when the next feast day will fall)
(Leviticus 23:15-16)

  • Starting on the feast of first fruits, the Israelites were commanded to count 50 days (Leviticus 23:15-16).
  • It was during this counting that our Savior made all of His post-resurrection appearances:
    • to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary on the first day of the count (Matthew 28:9-10)
    • to two disciples as they were on the road to Emmaus also on the first day of the count (Luke 24:13-35)
    • to the 11 disciples in Galilee on the evening of the first day of the count (Matthew 28:16-17, John 20:19)
    • to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-14)
    • to the disciples on the fortieth day of the count (Acts 1:3)
During the last appearance, He instructed them to stay in Jerusalem for a few days longer so that they would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  This happened (not coincidentally) on the day of Pentecost, which happened ten days later, on the 50th day of the count.


Pentecost (Feast of Weeks)

50 days after First Fruits
(Leviticus 23:15-21)

  • God began speaking His instructions, the law (Exodus 19). The people couldn’t bear to hear any more, so they asked Moses to be their intermediary (Exodus 20:18-21). Moses received the rest of the instructions by himself and brought them back written on tablets of stone.
  • God gave his spirit, writing his words directly on willing, fleshy hearts (Acts 2:1-5 fulfilling Jeremiah 31:31-33, Ezekiel 36:27)
  • Three thousand were killed for their disobedience to the word. (Exodus 32:28)
  • Three thousand were saved by their faith in the word. (Acts 2:41)


Conclusion

I find it incredible that God created set-apart days to mark His Son’s death (Passover), burial (Unleavened Bread) and resurrection (Firstfruits) thousands of years before the our Savior was ever born. Believers who had faith in a future Messiah kept the days in hopeful anticipation of their fulfillment. We can celebrate these same God-given days today in joyful remembrance of their fulfillment. What an amazing, precious thing!

Further Study

Here is a great video introducing the spring feast days.  I love the gentleness, grace, and joy conveyed by the speaker, Mark Biltz, in this message. Add on top of that wonderful scriptural connections and this is one great message!

If you don’t feel like you can make it through an hour long video, I encourage you to at least watch some.

In the first eight minutes he covers the major verses where information is given regarding the Lord’s feast days and digs into the original language to offer some great insight to them. I have linked to the Strong’s definitions below if you want to check them out for yourself.

By the conclusion of the 13th minute, he has finished summing up the spring feast days.

He spends the rest of the video revealing Messiah in the spring feast days, showing the prophetic meanings in both the instructions given by God and in the traditions used by God’s people throughout the generations to keep the commandments.


Season/Feast – Moed (Strong’s #4150) = an appointment. Not seasons as we typically think of them (spring, summer, fall, winter), but divine appointments.

Signs – Oth (Strongs #226) = a signal.

Convocation – Miqra (Strong’s #4744) = a rehearsal.  These feast days are dress rehearsals.

In the next post, we’ll look at the prophetic nature of the fall feast days.