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Find Messiah Yeshua in the lost Feasts of the Lord

Jan 6, 2018 | How to Pray, Prayers | 0 comments

Shalom Rev. Michael,

Though lost to most of Christianity, one of the best ways to enrich your faith in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) is to understand the feasts of the Lord.

As we embark on 2018, we will soon begin celebrating these magnificent times.  And as we approach each day, we will provide in-depth insights to restore this God-given heritage to you.

Here, we will give a brief overview of each of these days so you can see the big picture of God’s plan of salvation for the world and begin to find Messiah Yeshua in each of the Lord’s feasts.

Though lost to most of Christendom, God’s Chosen People have been observing these days since He saved them out of Egypt.

In the wilderness, God appointed certain times called moadim to be celebrations or memorials of Him.

The singular form of moadim is moed (מוֹעֵד); it comes from the root yaad (יָעַד), which means appointed, designated or designed.

Moed is used for times and places where God expects to meet with His People.

We see this word used, for example, in the tent of appointed meeting, which in Hebrew is ohel moed. 

“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Make two silver trumpets. … And when both are blown, all the congregation shall gather themselves to you at the entrance of the tent of meeting [ohel moed].'”  (Numbers 23:1–3)

We could say that God has marked His calendar and set aside these days to meet with us.  But over time, man has cancelled these meetings.

Appointed TImes:  God vs. Man

There are seven appointed times of the Lord or Moadim YHVH (Yehovah).

Throughout the centuries, however, many Christians have thought of them as “Jewish holidays,” so they have feared observing them, lest they appear “too Jewish.”

For this very reason, early Greek and Roman church leaders replaced these appointed times with holidays of their own making.  We especially see this with Easter replacing Passover.

In the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia (volume 5, p. 228), we find this entry:

“The emperor himself [Constantine] writing to the churches after the council of Nicaea [in AD 325], exhorts, ‘At this meeting the question concerning the most holy day of Easter was discussed, and it was resolved by the united judgment of all present [Even though Yeshua and the disciples celebrated Passover: Matthew 26:17-30] that this feast ought to be kept by all and in every place on one and the same day [Easter Sunday] …

“‘And first of all it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hand with enormous sin…'”

So, Constantine instituted the holiday of Easter throughout his kingdom of Rome, Italy, Egypt, and Africa.  As Easter spread throughout the Roman Catholic world and into the Protestant Reformation, Passover became forgotten and Easter bunnies and Easter eggs became cherished.

Some Christians also fear that by observing these appointed days, they are coming “under the Torah (Law).”

But God calls them HIS feasts—His appointed times.

“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.'”  (Leviticus 23:2)

So, if God has feasts that belong only to Himself, then celebrating them are the privilege of the people of God, both Jew and non-Jew.

Let’s now look at these appointed days that Jews as well as Jewish and non-Jewish Believers in Yeshua will be celebrating as we begin the secular calendar year of 2018 and continue in the Hebrew calendar year of 5778.

1)  SHABBAT:  The Seventh day

Instructed by the Lord:  

Genesis 2:2–3; Exodus 20:8, 31:14; Deuteronomy 5:12

Celebrated in 2018:

Begins sundown, Friday nights

Ends sundown, Saturday nights

The first appointed day is Shabbat.  All the other feasts build upon this foundation.

Shabbat is a Hebrew word that means to cease, desist, rest.  For one day a week (which God chose as the seventh day or “Shabbat” on the Hebrew calendar, which is also known as Saturday), creating and subduing our environment is to come to a halt.

The Shabbat is a special sign between God and the nation of Israel.  And anyone who has become a part of Israel through Messiah, no matter what their ethnic or racial background, is invited to participate.

The Shabbat is not merely a day of “don’t do this and don’t do that” as so often portrayed; it is a day of delighting in the things of God, not of man.

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”  (Isaiah 58:13–14)

Yeshua delighted in the Shabbat by healing and restoring people to Himself, physically and spiritually.

We, too, can follow His example by resting from doing our own pleasures, being a blessing to others on this day, and sharing the Good News of our Savior to the Jewish People first, and to all the nations.

Lamb and ewe

2) Pesach:  Passover

Instructed by the Lord: 

Exodus 12:21–51; Leviticus 23:4–8

Celebrated in 2018:

Begins sundown, Friday, March 30

Ends sundown, Friday, April 6 in Israel (Saturday, April 7 in the nations)

The second appointed day is Passover, immediately followed by seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag ha matzot or Festival of the matzah).

The root of the word Pesach means to pass over.  When the Angel of Death saw the blood on the doorposts and lintels of the homes in Egypt, he “passed over” them and did not enter to destroy the firstborn sons.

Today, we symbolically recognize that the blood of the Lamb of God, who is Yeshua, covers the doorposts and lintels of our lives in order that the coming wrath of God will “pass over” us.

We know that one day the judgment of God is coming upon the earth. The coming plagues, described in the book of Revelation are similar to those God poured out upon Egypt in order to liberate the Israelites.

God is our refuge and strength, an everlasting help in trouble.  One day, God will again “pass over” His people in Jerusalem and save us.  “Like flying birds so the Lord of Hosts (YHVH Tz’vaot) will protect Jerusalem. … He will pass over (pesach) and rescue it.”  (Isaiah 31:5) 

3)  Yom Bikkurim:  Day of Firstfruits

Instructed by the Lord:  

Leviticus 23:9–14

Celebrated in 2018:

Begins sundown, Sunday, April 1

Ends sundown, Monday, April 2

At the beginning of the barley harvest in Israel, the first sheaf of the harvest was presented at the Temple on the first Sunday after the High Sabbath of Passover (Leviticus 23:9–14; Joshua 5:16).  However, some debate this date.

Nevertheless, it is widely understood that Yeshua resurrected on the Feast of Firstfruits, the day after the High Shabbat of Passover. 

Sunday actually begins on Saturday at sunset, so Yeshua could have resurrected in the evening of Saturday (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9–20; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 20:19).  

In Hebrew, this day after Shabbat is called Yom Rishon, (the first day of the week).  By being raised from the dead, Yeshua became the Firstfruits (Bikkurim) of those who will also be raised up into new life (1 Corinthians 15:20). 

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah shall all be made alive.  But each in his own order: Messiah the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Messiah.”  (1 Corinthians 15:22–23)

The first pickings of the wheat harvest were presented at the Temple during
the Feast of Shavuot.

4) SHAVUOT:  Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) 

Instructed by the Lord:  

Leviticus 23:15–22

Celebrated in 2018:

Begins sundown, Saturday, May 19

Ends sundown, Sunday, May 20 in Israel (Monday, May 21 in the nations)

This agricultural festival is another offering of firstfruits; this one is associated with the harvest of wheat.

It is also celebrated as the traditional day Moses received the Torah on Mount Sinai.

It is called the Feast of Weeks, since it is celebrated not on a specific date, but seven weeks or 50 days after Pesach.  In Greek, the day is called Pentecost, which means fiftieth.

It is fitting that on this day, the Ruach HaKodesh of God (Holy Spirit) came upon the apostles and gave them the fruit of His Spirit.  With His help, they received the power to understand how Yeshua fulfilled the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures and the courage to live out the Torah (God’s instructions).

The festival of Shavu‘ot arrived, and the believers all gathered together in one place.  Suddenly there came a sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them. They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.”  (Acts 2:1–4)

5) Yom Zicharon Teruah:  Day of Remembrance with a Blast

Instructed by the Lord:  

Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1–6

Celebrated in 2018:

Begins sundown, Sunday, September 9

Ends sundown, Monday, September 10

The first day of the seventh month of Tishrei is not the Biblical New Year (Rosh Hashanah), which is the traditionally held Jewish custom.  It is a day of remembrance or memorial (zicharon) accompanied by raising a sound or blast (teruah).

The sound can be produced by shouting or blowing the shofar (ram’s horn) or silver trumpets.  Exactly what we are to be remembering is somewhat obscure.

A teruah often signals an alarm or call to pay attention to a command.  It is also a call to self-examination leading to repentance.

In this way, this appointed day of the Lord is often thought of as an advance warning to ready ourselves for the next appointed day:  Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).

“Blessed is the people who know [discern] the teruah [the significance of the call]; O Lord, they walk in the light of your countenance.”  (Psalm 89:15–16)

6) Yom Kippur:  Day of Atonement

Instructed by the Lord: 

Leviticus 16 and Leviticus 23:26–32; Numbers 29:7–11

Celebrated in 2018:

Begins sundown, Tuesday Septermber 18

Ends sundown, Wednesday, September 19

This tenth day of the seventh month is a Shabbat Shabbaton—a Sabbath of Sabbaths.

It is to be a total cessation of any labor.  But in contrast to a regular seventh day Shabbat, which is a time of joy and feasting, this Shabbat Shabbaton is a day of intense introspection.  A day to fast and afflict our souls.  A day to return to the way of the Lord.

Kippur is a word probably derived from kopher, which means to ransom or redeem.

Another related word is Kapporet, which means the Place of Atonement. It is the name of the Mercy Seat that covered the Ark of Covenant where the blood of the sacrifice was presented.

On this day, the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) of Israel sacrificed an animal as a substitute for the lives of the people of Israel.  As their mediator, the High Priest redeemed (ransomed) the people from the penalty of their sins committed in the previous year.

And on this day, we remember Yeshua who gave His life on Passover, not merely as a kaparah (covering) for sin.  His shed blood pays the penalty of our sins and redeems us (kopher) once and for all so that we never need to make another blood sacrifice ever again.

His sacrifice is not to be treated lightly.  Nor is this day that God set aside to redeem us from the penalty of our sins one to sleep through.  It is a day to afflict our souls.

“It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict [anah] yourselves; it is a statute forever.”  (Leviticus 16:31)

The Hebrew word for afflict (anah) is not about hurting ourselves.  The word often embodies humility.

The Jewish People traditionally afflict themselves on this day through denial of food and drink and other pleasures.  As we do so, we identify with the afflicted of this world and are spurred to greater mitzvot (good deeds) toward those who are homeless, hungry, and poor.

The Prophet Isaiah tells us that this is the kind of fast acceptable to the Lord:  not to merely fast out of custom or ritual, but to change our hard-hearted ways (repent), delight in the Lord, and become a blessing to others (Isaiah 58)

A sukkah (booth) built on the porch of an apartment for the Feast of Sukkot.

7) SUKKOT:  Feast of Tabernacles (Booths)  

Instructed by the Lord:  

Leviticus 23:33–36; Deuteronomy 16:13–17; Zechariah 14:16–19

Celebrated in 2018:

Begins sundown, Sunday, September 23

Ends sundown, September 30.

After mending our transgressions with God and others and changing our ways (repenting) on Yom Kippur, God appointed this final time for joyous celebration.

For seven days, starting on the 15th day of the seventh month, many families will eat their meals, sing, read, discuss the Word of God, and pray in their sukkah (booth or temporary dwelling).

This festival is a memorial of the time the Israelites dwelt in sukkot (plural of sukkah) in the wilderness after God delivered them from Egypt.  It reminds us that even in a desert wilderness, God provides our needs.

Sukkot is a communal celebration in which all members, young and old,

participate in the construction of the Sukkah (booth).

Israeli family builds their sukkah.

Some believe that it is at this time that Yeshua was born as the child Immanuel, which means God With Us.

The Sukkah is also a picture of the covering and protection that God gives us.

“For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling [sukkah]; He will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.”  (Psalm 27:5)

Sukkot also points to the Messianic Age.

It is the seventh feast, and seven is the number representing fulfillment or completion.  God created the earth in six days, but on the seventh day, He rested and said, “It is finished.”

This seventh feast will be fulfilled when the Messiah returns and ‘tabernacles’ with us.

“Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people and God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  (Revelation 21:3–4)

What joy awaits us in that day.  We know that our current afflictions are only “light and momentary” in comparison to this eternal weight of glory.

Are God’s appointed times abolished?

Sukkot proves that they are not.  For when the Messiah returns to win a victory for Israel against all the nations who have come against her, all the survivors of the nations will be commanded to keep the Feast of Sukkot.

In Zechariah 14:16–19, it says that all the nations who refuse to keep the Feast of Sukkot will live in drought.

The annual cycle of Moadim (feasts) is like a circle.  Jump in at any point, find others to celebrate with you, and remember the greatness of our God and their fulfillment in Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus our Messiah.