Christians and the Feasts – A Response to an Article

                I would like to respond to an article on bibleinfo.com about whether Christians should observe the Israelite Festivals, https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/should-christians-observe-israelite-festivals.  The article begins with suggesting that one read Leviticus 23 which is about the feasts.  This is very good advice and yet the article does not deal with how the chapter starts.  That is unfortunate since the beginning sets the tone for the rest of the chapter.  God tells Moses to tell the children of Israel about His feasts.  That’s right they are called the Lord’s feasts, not the Israelite or Jewish Feasts.  The word for feast in Hebrew is ‘moed’ and literally means ‘appointed times’.  These are His appointed times to meet with His people, who at this time are in the wilderness and they consist of the twelve tribes of Israel that came out of Egypt and the mixed multitude who chose to go with them and be a part of them.  So physically speaking in today’s vernacular they were already Jew and Gentile.  This is very important to remember.  By the time they enter the Land the Gentiles had so blended into the tribes that they were one nation, Israel.

            These appointed times are actually what we would call ‘dress rehearsals’ for what God would do in their future.  ‘Dress Rehearsal’ is the actual meaning of the Hebrew word ‘miqra’ that we translate as ‘convocation’.  That is right, not only are they going to be memorials for them to remember what God did for them, how He redeemed them, taught them, and preserved them, and dwelt with them, but they were also going to be dress rehearsals for what would come in their future.

            The very first Feast listed is the Sabbath, or Shabbat.  The article respects this Feast because it says it is a memorial, yet all the Feasts are memorials.  The article wants to separate this Feast from all the others and yet Scripture does not do that.  In fact, the weekly Shabbat is the template for all the others and all the others have Shabbats within them (Exodus 31:12-17).  God uses these Feasts, including the Sabbath, to deepen His relationship with His people.

Consider what Jesus, Yeshua, said in Matthew 22:37-40, He said that all the laws and prophets hang on either the greatest or second greatest commandment.  The greatest is found in Deuteronomy 6 and talks about our love for God and the second is in Leviticus 19 and deals with our love for others. 

So, on which do the Feasts of Leviticus 23 hang?  The first or the second?  If we take the ten commandments from Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 and hang each one of the Feasts on one of the two it becomes clear.  The commandment about remembering the Sabbath would hang on the First and Greatest Commandment.  Since the rest of the Feasts follow the template of the weekly Shabbat then they clearly also hang on the First and Greatest Commandment.  In other words, even these are ways God’s people show their love for Him.  Jesus, Yeshua, said, “if you love Me you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).  His commands are not different than His Father’s.  He did not add to or take away from what His Father had given (Deuteronomy 12:32, Matthew 5:17-20).  If He had altered the Father’s commands in any way He would have sinned and not been the spotless Lamb of God, which means Yeshua could not have taught or encouraged His followers to abandon the keeping of the Feasts.

            Therefore, we see that all the Feasts given in Leviticus 23 are part of how we love God and they remind us of what He has done and point us to what He will do.  So, the problem lies not in whether they are still to be observed, but in how we understand our identity.

            The next part of the article goes on to speak about each Feast and so that is what I will also do and expand on what is said in the article.  Beginning with Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits, these all happened together in the first month from the 14th to the 21st.  They were to be memorials to help them remember God’s deliverance from Egypt.  Yet they also spoke prophetically of the first coming of Messiah.  Yeshua fulfilled each of these in His first coming to the day. He was our Passover Lamb, He was without sin and in the ground for part of Unleavened Bread.  Then, of course, He rose on Firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:20).  However, even though He fulfilled these He still spoke of the Passover meal as being in our future, in the Kingdom, in the account by Luke (Luke 22:15-16).  We know we celebrate His resurrection still today, we just call it something else within the Church.  Resurrection has been divorced, by man not God, from the Passover.  This is a whole other issue and could be a paper all its own.  Suffice it to say for our purposes here, we still celebrate His resurrection. 

Then there is the seven days of Unleavened Bread.  This is a seven day Feast that goes from the 15th of the First month to the 21st of the same month.  The first day of the Feast and the last day are both Shabbats with a holy convocation.  This Feast is not only a memorial of their life in the wilderness, but also Yeshua’s sinless life that leads to our life without sin and its consequences.  I believe, and I stress this is my understanding, that this Feast is connected to the concept in Scripture that a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day (1Peter 3:8).  If each day of this Feast represents a thousand years and we count using the genealogies from Creation, then we are on the sixth day about to go into the seventh, our thousand years of Shabbat rest when Yeshua will sit on His throne in Jerusalem and set things right.  In other words, it will take seven days or seven thousand years to rid creation of sin and its affects.  Finally, when death is conquered, He will hand the Kingdom back to His Father and we will enter eternity (1 Corinthians 15:28).  It will take the full seven days or seven thousand years to accomplish it.

            Next there is Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot, which is a one day Feast that is a Shabbat with a holy convocation.  This is also a remembrance or memorial commemorating the Israelites receiving the commandments on Mount Sinai, which happened on Pentecost.  To this day, Pentecost is celebrated in the Jewish Community as a time when the people of God were blessed with the Torah, the Law or instruction of God.  While Christians celebrate it in memory of the coming of the Holy Spirit.  What Christians and Jews celebrate on this day is more alike than we realize.  It has to do with the purpose of the Holy Spirit and what He does in the life of a believer.  Ezekiel 36:26-27 says that the reason the Holy Spirit came into our hearts was so that we would walk in or keep the laws of God.  So was it any surprise that the Holy Spirit came to indwell His people on this day.  The day the Law was given is the same day it was placed on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34).  God’s timing is perfect.

            We still have the Holy Spirit in us today and He still has the same function in our lives.  He is the One who teaches us and reminds us of all that Yeshua did and taught and transforms us into the image of The Son (2 Corinthians 3:18, Philippians 3:20-21) so that we will live as He did, 1 John 2:3-6.  Aren’t we still being transformed into His image?  Isn’t being made to be like Him still in our future?  Absolutely!

            On Shavuot or Pentecost, two loaves of bread, with leaven, are to be waved before the Lord.  Leavened because we have sinned and two because we are Jew and Gentile.  Yeshua prayed that we would be one (John 17:20-23) and that is still what He wants.  Others see the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel, Judah and Joseph (Ezekiel 37:15-28) coming together.  Either way as Joseph comes back he brings Gentiles with him and we are one nation with one King.

            Moving to the fall Feasts, the first one is The Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah, also known as Rosh Hashanna.  It is a one day Feast that can last up to 3 days depending on when the new moon is spotted.  It is the only Feast in Leviticus 23 that is always on the New Moon.  It is also a Shabbat with a holy convocation.  Yom Teruah is the blowing of trumpets, shofar or shouting.  It is a memorial for remembering the blowing of the shofar heard Mount Sinai as God was calling the people to Himself, for the people repenting as they waited for Moses to return from the presence of God after the golden calf and for the battle of Jericho.  It is a call to repentance.  The Jews blow the shofar 100 times on this day and the last one is called the Last Trump.  I know that sounds familiar!(1Corinthians 15:51-52)  Paul spoke of us being called to Yeshua at the ‘Last Trump’, Paul did not make up this term.  No, it had already been in use for hundreds of years.  This day represents God calling His people to repentance, for judgement is coming, for calling us to Himself and for the battle.  We see the last two spoken of when God describes the purposes for the blowing of the silver trumpets in Numbers 10 and we see Paul using these same concepts for the resurrection and what we commonly call the rapture.  So, God calls His people to Awaken as we see in Isaiah and to Repent (as seen in John the Baptist and Yeshua’s sermons) or to examine ourselves, so to speak, at this Feast for being called to His side, the battle and judgement are coming!

            Then there is the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur, which is a one day Feast that a actually calls for a fast.  It too is a Shabbat with a holy convocation.  Yom Kippur is the day of judgement, for blessing or curse, and comes ten days after Yom Teruah.  It is a memorial to remember when Moses returned from the Lord with the second set of tablets and the decision to not destroy the people.  The Day of Atonement is a day when the sin of the nation is dealt with.  This is the future event of the dividing of the sheep from the goats, some to eternal life and some to eternal judgement (Matthew 25:31-46).  This is a corporate event and the sheep and goats are nations.  The sheep is His nation, His people, while the goats are all the nations that do not identify with His people.  The test seems to be how the nations treat His people.  This has to do with our future and while we see Yeshua picturing some of this at His first coming it will receive full meaning and fulfillment at His second coming when those nations who don’t come to the next feast, The Feast of Tabernacles, will receive no rain (Zechariah 14).  The Feast of Yom Kippur could also possibly represent the Battle of Armageddon and its aftermath.

            The final feast of Leviticus 23 is The Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot.  It is a seven day feast beginning on the 15th day of the seventh month, this day is a Shabbat, with an eighth day Shabbat attached to it that is technically not part of Tabernacles but added at the end of it called Shmini Atzeret.  Tabernacles or Sukkot is not only a memorial of the time God’s people spent in the wilderness living in booths and God tabernacling in the tent in their midst, but according to Zechariah 14:16-19 it also represents our future in The Millennial Reign of Messiah in which we will be expected to attend.  He will once again be in our midst.  He will be on His throne and as spoken of above if a nation does not attend this Feast they will receive no rain.  Why rain?  It is at Sukkot when rain for the next year’s crop is prayed for.  Yes, Sukkot is a joyous celebration of thanksgiving for the Harvest, but it is also a time of prayer for the coming year.  Biblically speaking rain represents the Word of God, so if a nation has not gone up to hear the Word of the Lord, the Spiritual rain (read at Sukkot – Deuteronomy 31:9-13) that will be perfectly taught by the Messiah (Isaiah 2 and Micah 4) then they will also not get the physical rain.

            Sukkot also represents the marriage feast of the Lamb where the Bridegroom and Bride spend time together, this is the honeymoon, so to speak. But remember, He went to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house (John 14:1-3) and after the Wedding Feast the place He had prepared, the New Jerusalem, will come down and we will go into the Father’s house for eternity or the eighth day.

            Other passages that discuss the Feasts are Exodus 12, Exodus 16, Exodus 23:14-17, Exodus 34:18-24, Leviticus 16, Numbers 28 and 29, Deuteronomy 16 and Leviticus 19:3 & 30 tell His people to keep the Sabbaths, all of them.

            Then the article went to talk about how God decided the sacrifices and offerings would end by using Daniel 9:27, this is a huge problem with the article!  This particular verse is about the Antichrist.  The act of changing the appointed times and law is the work of the antichrist (Daniel 7:25).  God does not break His covenants.  God’s Word stands forever (Isaiah 40:6 and 1 Peter 1:25).  Now the issue of the sacrifices is a whole other issue.  According to Scripture (Deuteronomy 12) once the place of sacrifice has been chosen all sacrifices must take place there and only there (Jerusalem).  Without the Temple and the altar in Jerusalem, sacrifices are suspended.  One thing we see at the end of Ezekiel is the Millennial Temple being built by Messiah and there being sacrifices at the Temple.  Now whether these are actual animal sacrifices for us to remember what He did for us or another way of speaking of living sacrifices is still to be seen, but the context seems to be speaking of animal sacrifices.  I don’t claim to understand all this, but one must grapple with it, it is there.  We also see the disciples continuing to go to the Temple for times of prayer in Acts (these times were also times of sacrifice) as long as the Temple was still there.  Paul even paid for others’ sacrifices in Acts to end a Nazerite vow (Acts 21:17-26, Numbers 6).

            The historical fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy was not Matthew 27, that was the veil tearing in two, the sacrifices did not stop after this, which is what the article was implying, but continued until the fall of the Temple in 70 A.D.   Even the disciples would have participated in these corporate times that were commanded and did, we even see Paul wanting to get back to Jerusalem for Pentecost (Shavuot). 

Back to the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, keep in mind prophecies can have multiple fulfillments, it was initially fulfilled at the time of the original Hanukkah, meaning dedication, when an antichrist figure called Antiochus Epiphanes, stopped the sacrifices, the reading of Torah, circumcision and anything ‘Jewish’ and forced the people of God to eat pig flesh and sacrificed a pig on the altar.  Hanukkah is the celebration of the rededication of the Temple after Antiochus was defeated by the Maccabees.  Yeshua refers to this event in Matthew 24 and even attends Hanukkah at the Temple in John 10:22.  Again, this does not even come close to proving the article’s argument about the end of the sacrifices and while I agree that the sacrificial system is no longer necessary because of Yeshua’s sacrifice and the destruction of the Temple, the passages the article uses does not support that (not to mention the end of Ezekiel when the sacrifices seem to reappear under Yeshua’s leadership).  It is important to note here that the sacrifices never saved anyone in terms of justification or initial salvation.  They were always meant to point to the true sacrifice, Yeshua.  Abraham told Isaac when they were going up Mount Moriah in Genesis 22 that God would provide and so He did.  That’s right, the provision was not ultimately the ram caught in the thicket but the Son of God Himself, Yeshua.

            The article is correct in saying that the men of God were called to attend three festivals a year and on the seventh year everyone, men, women and children were to be there.  They were to come together and celebrate these Feasts as one at the Temple.  That is supposed to be a beautiful godly thing that Yeshua prayed for (John17), not something to set aside.

            Then the article turns to Colossians 2.  This is a widely misunderstood passage because verses are pulled out and given as proof texts, not used in the context of the passage.  These verses are used to try to prove that the Feasts are done away with, yet the context of the passage is the exact opposite.  This chapter says that in Messiah all is revealed and only in Messiah does anything dealing with the food, drink, festival, new moon or Shabbat make sense.  We are not to be led astray by man made philosophy and empty deceptions that are based on the basic principles of this world and not on Messiah.  God’s Feasts, the Lord’s appointed times, are not manmade nor are they basic principles of this world.  Instead they all point us to Messiah and in doing them we get to know Him more. 

So, what was it that was nailed to the cross?  It was the handwritten ‘dogma’, that is the Greek word used here, translated ‘ordinances’ in the KJV.  These ordinances or ‘dogma’ are not referring to the Law of God being nailed.  This word ‘dogma’ is never used for the Law of God in the Septuagint and Paul would have been very aware of that.  It is used of manmade laws, decrees and decisions and found only in the book of Daniel in reference to laws made by pagan kings.  It is also used in Acts 15 when referring to the decision of the Jerusalem Council, that decision did not nullify the Law of God, but I will discuss this shortly.  In the case of Yeshua, He had a handwritten decree written by man nailed above Him, it was the accusation against Him.  We all deserve our own handwritten placard nailed above our heads on our own cross because we have all broken the law, the Law of God.  When one breaks His Law the curses that come with breaking that law are against (Colossians 2:14) us.  However, Yeshua took our sign above us and nailed it to His cross.  He took the curse we deserved by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:10-14–It is important to remember that Galatians is entirely about justification, it is not about sanctification).  We are then free to enjoy the blessing found in obeying the Law of God.  We are now free to obey the perfect Law of God (Psalm 119:44-48, Psalm 19:7 and James 1:25).  We are now free from the curse that we deserved (Being deserving of the curse for breaking the Law of God is being under the law, the law of sin and death in Romans 6, which is the state of everyone before coming to faith in Yeshua, whether before the cross or after.)  and free to receive the blessing only found in Messiah because He who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).  He is both our sin (Romans 8:3) and guilt (Isaiah 53:10) offering. 

When a man made a sacrifice for sin or guilt he was not then free to disobey the Law of God because the sacrifice was made.  No, he was now free from the guilt of that sin, he was supposed to have a clean conscience, to go out and have the freedom to obey the Law of God.  Only with the blood of Messiah is our conscience truly made clean (Hebrews 9:14).  So now that the sacrifice for our sin and guilt has been made we are now free to walk in obedience to Him, not do away with His commands. 

We see this example even with the Exodus.  The children of Israel were not free to obey God while they were slaves in Egypt, so God redeems them with an outstretched arm and by the blood of the Passover lamb (justification) and then takes them away from their slavery, not to live according to their own ways but His.  He graciously takes them to the Mountain to teach them how to live life as a redeemed people (sanctification).  He redeemed them (justification) to set them apart, to make them holy (sanctification) for Him so He could use them as a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:6). 

Is not the same true of us who have been redeemed with an outstretched arm and the blood of The Passover Lamb?  Doesn’t He want to make us holy and set apart?  Doesn’t He want to sanctify us with obedience to His Ways?  Of course He does and as already said above the Word of God stands forever.  It is important to know what a passage is speaking of or its context; is it about justification or sanctification.  We must not confuse these, but they often are. 

Again, the ordinances that were nailed to the cross were not the Ways of God given in His Word, but rather our transgressions and the curses that were against us.  The Feast, His appointed times, were never against us.  However, the term in the Hebrew for ‘ordinance’ in the Torah is ‘chqwqwoq’ or its feminine form ‘chuqqah’.  This word means an enactment, appointment, appoint, custom, set time, or task.  Do these concepts sound familiar?  It is primarily used for the Feasts, especially Passover, and sacrifices.  What is interesting is that the word is used even in Ezekiel 43:11 and 44:5 for the ordinances of Messiah’s Temple.  Notice the word also means custom and the Jews did build up many customs within the Feasts for the purpose of the celebration, but these customs were always based on Scripture.  Interestingly, Yeshua used many of the customs to point His disciples and the Jews to Himself.  One example would be the cup of redemption at the Passover meal.  God did not specifically tell them to have wine at the meal.  Then there is the Greek word used for ‘choq’ or ‘chuqqah’ in the Septuagint it is ‘nomos’ or a variant thereof, not ‘dogma’.  Therefore, to equate the ‘ordinance’ of Colossians 2:14 to the ‘ordinances’ or Feasts of the Torah is not accurate.

Again, the ordinances spoken of are not the appointed times of God.  The Greek word used here was never used for them, anywhere.  The ordinances of God use entirely different Greek words in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament.  We must be good Bereans and study, not just read on the surface what human translators chose to write down in our language.  We are to study to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15) not just read.  It is our responsibility to do the digging and we should never leave that in the hands of someone else, not even pastors and teachers.

The article then goes to Acts 15, which has been used very poorly by many, not just this article.  It was written to an audience who understood the rules of the Jewish Synagogue.  In the first century they did not just allow anyone to come into a Synagogue.  The things listed in Acts 15 were actually the rules for being allowed into a Synagogue.  That is the reason for verse 21 about the Law of Moses being read in every Synagogue on Shabbat.  The new Gentile believers were expected to be in the Synagogues hearing the Word of God.  We must remember that was the only place to find it.  They did not have access to the Word of God like we do today, everyone with their own copy.  No, they needed to be in the Synagogue to hear the Word and learn how to live it.  They were not expected to know everything before believing in Messiah.  The council never said that the Gentiles were forever responsible for only those few things that were decided on.  Now as a part of Messiah’s community they needed to learn what was expected of them as a disciple, as a part of His community.  That was the debate. 

The issue of circumcision was like shorthand for becoming a Jew, or for conversion.  So, the issue was, do they, the Gentiles, need to become a Jew first before they come to Messiah or can they come to Messiah and then learn how to live as He did.  We must understand that all the first believers were Jews that grew up learning, often with an intense education, the Torah and the Prophets.  So, the question of where they, the Gentiles, should start, with learning the Torah and the Prophets or coming to Messiah, was very real and important to them. 

The decision of the council was that they could come to Messiah first and then learn how to live according to His Word (to be justified and then sanctified).  However, some things from their pagan lives had to be put away immediately, as soon as they believed (The things listed are all found in the Torah, (Exodus 25 – to eat meat sacrificed to idols was equivalent to participating or agreeing with the sacrifice; Leviticus 18; Leviticus 17, to strangle an animal was to keep its blood inside and not pour it out on the ground, therefore one would be eating blood).  Otherwise, they would not be allowed in the Synagogues to learn how to live, just as the Israelites had to consecrate themselves before God came down on the Mountain.  The decision of the council was called a ‘dogma’ and was led by the Holy Spirit.  It was a manmade decision that the Holy Spirit instructed.  His function is to teach us the Ways of God, the Law of God, and how to do them (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Therefore, that decision was in perfect keeping with the Law of God, also known as the Law of Moses (Acts 15:21) in Scripture, with His Torah.  In fact, it followed the same pattern as the Exodus.  They became His first through faith in the blood of The Lamb and then they are taught how to live for Him.

Next, the article turns to Ephesians 2:15 where again the word ‘dogma’ is used and the article totally ignores the passages surrounding this verse.  I want to discuss the verse first.  Messiah abolished their enmity, their hatred, in His flesh on the cross and that hatred had teeth from manmade laws that literally put a dividing wall of separation in the Temple.  From this law, not a law of God, a wall was built to divide Jews and Gentiles in the Temple, that is how we got the court of the Gentiles.  This wall was not found in the Tabernacle in the wilderness nor in Solomon’s Temple. 

Yeshua’s death tore it down so that Jew and Gentile could be one new man.  We have been trying to rebuild it for centuries.  Only the enemy wants to rebuild it.  That is not the work of God, to rebuild what Yeshua tore down.  Yeshua did not tear it down for the purpose of them looking like us or us looking like them.  No, it was so all of us could look like Him and even the Jewish Rabbis today, who don’t believe, say He was the most Torah observant Jew that ever lived.  We are to be transformed into His image (Romans 8:29).  So, He tore it down so we could all look like Him and be one, one new man.

As for what surrounds the verse in Ephesians, it is quite clear that without Messiah Gentiles were not part of the covenants, not part of Israel and were without hope and without God, but now in Messiah we have been brought close to these things and been made fellow citizens with God’s people (Israel) and members of God’s household.  That is our identity!  We have been grafted into their nation, their tree, thereby enlarging the nation, not replacing it.  We have been made a part of Israel, God’s people.  Yes, some Jews were cut off because of unbelief, but we live in the day where God is grafting them back in again.  The first believers were Jews and we are now seeing them come to Faith in Messiah again.  Paul said in Romans 11:15 that when this happens it means life from the dead.  They are being used by God to wake up our faith and all of it is dependent on God’s timing and His alone.  In this way all Israel, Jew and Gentile, will be saved.

Here I must also mention the promise of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34.  This new covenant was made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah, together they make up the whole house of Israel.  So, if we are not grafted into Israel then the new covenant is not for us.  Yeshua, when speaking of the cup said, “this is the new covenant in my blood (Luke 22:20).”  If the new covenant is not for us then neither is the blood of redemption, He said this over the cup of redemption during the Passover meal.  We can not have one without the other.

The article also spoke of the term ‘forever’ in Hebrew.  Where the article is correct in saying that it does not always mean forever as we understand it, it does in the case of the Feasts since the entire Torah has been placed under two witnesses, the heavens and the earth, as witnesses against us (Deuteronomy 30:19).  It is important to know that Yeshua talks about these witnesses still being in place when He is referring to how long the Law of God is in effect in Matthew 5:17-20.  Notice, He does not make this a salvation issue, but an issue of the greatest and the least in the Kingdom.  The greatest keep the commands of God and teaches others to also keep them.  To say that Yeshua did away with any part of the Law of God, including the Feasts, is to make Him the least in the Kingdom, not to mention that according to Deuteronomy 11:26-28 and 13:1-6 it would also make Him a false prophet.  I don’t think any of us would say that.  No, He is the greatest in the Kingdom and the True Prophet spoken of in Deuteronomy 18:15-19.  He obeyed everything that applied to Him in the Law of God (obviously, the laws for women, priests and farmers did not apply to Him because He was none of these things) and taught them to His disciples.  Therefore, we are to teach them in making disciples since Matthew 28:19-20 says we are to go and make disciples by baptizing (immersing) them into the name (reputation and character) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything that He commanded us. 

I want to say here that we can not pick and choose what we will or will not obey based on our preferences.  The Law of God is very specific as to what does and what does not apply to who and even in what conditions they apply, such as the sacrifices needing to be made in the place He chooses and at a lawful altar.  To pick the Feasts apart from the weekly Shabbat and the rest of the Torah is a grave mistake and God has not given us permission to do that, on the contrary, He told us not to add or take away from His Law (Deuteronomy 12:32).  This article took verses to prove its point completely out of context, which is always dangerous.  Also, it is important to remember Scriptures definition for sin, it is the breaking of the Law (1 John 3:4), that would include the adding to or taking away from. 

I must say something about a quote in the article that says, “To continue these rites would be an insult to Jehovah.”  First, let me just take a step back so the lightning doesn’t strike me.  Second, this is a question that God keeps putting on my heart, ‘When is it ever wrong to obey God?’  NEVER!  Our obedience with a humble heart never insults Him, but always pleases Him.  Even if, I am going to say something crazy here to make a point, even if God had said you don’t have to obey this (which He never did) it would still be pleasing to Him for us to obey.  We must choose to obey or not obey, we have that choice.  Paul points out that now in Messiah we are free to obey by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us (Romans 3:31 and

6-8).  We misunderstand Paul when we say otherwise.

Even Peter said Paul was hard to understand and that unlearned and unstable men distort his writings (2 Peter 3:15-16).  Why are they unlearned and unstable, because they are lawless (2 Peter 3:17).  We must be careful in handling the Word of God and study to rightly divide it, not just make a point or win an argument or debate.  The Torah, the Law of God, the Law of Moses is the foundation of Scripture and all of it points to Yeshua (John 5:46).  The Prophets continually called the people back to it, Yeshua lived, preached and taught it, the apostles lived and explained it to unlearned Gentiles and new believing Jews, as well as, lived it, and Yeshua will once again teach it in the Kingdom.  It was never put aside or discarded, on the contrary, it makes more sense than ever before in light of Yeshua. 

The article ends with 1 Corinthians 5:7, which says that Yeshua is our Passover Lamb.  But the article left out the next verse that goes on to say, “so let us keep the feast”.  We are to keep it not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness, sin; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.  Keep in mind that this call to keep the Feast was written to a primarily Gentile audience who needed to learn how to be a disciple, not just theoretically but in action.  It is important also to remember that He, Yeshua, is truth and the Word of God is truth (Psalm 119:142), and the Word became flesh.  Yeshua is the living embodiment of the Word of God and like the Word says and I have mentioned before we are to be transformed into His image, the image of the Word.  To be honest there is no better learning tool than doing.  So, if we really want to learn about Yeshua and these things point to Yeshua then shouldn’t we want to do them so we can learn even more how to be like Him.  God knew this and so He gave us parts to play in the dress rehearsals so that we would know our parts when the day comes for His appearing.

One last thing we all know that sin is to miss the mark, to not get it right.  It is an archery term.  Well, the word Torah simply means instructions and its root word is also an archery term that means to hit the mark.  I used to have this written in the front of my Bible when I was young, it was taught to me by my beloved pastor’s wife.  ‘This Book will keep you from sin and sin will keep you from this Book’.  How true that is!  My husband likes to say, “I don’t need a book on how to miss the mark, I can already do that.  I need a book on how to hit the mark”.  That is exactly what the Torah is, it is our instruction manual for how to live this life as a disciple of Yeshua, as a Christian.  He gave us salvation by His grace and He gave us His Ways, His Torah, His instructions by His grace.  Grace has always been there.  It was there at the beginning.  So, my final thought is a question, ‘Why do we keep trying to get rid of the instructions He so graciously gave us?’.

            I want to add one thing.  Please do not take my word for any of this.  Please study this out for yourself.

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Prophecies From Matthew Part 4

In Matthew 4 we see that Yeshua leaves Nazareth and goes to live in Capernaum. Matthew in verses 14-16 connects this move to the fulfillment of another prophecy by Isaiah in 9:1-2. Matthew records it like this, “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, along the road by the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles! The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, a light has dawned for those living in the land of the shadow of death.”

Isaiah lets us know that God had formerly humbled the land of Zebulun and Naphtali. The enemies of Israel would come through them first as they came from the north and moved southward through the country. These tribal territories were the first to see the terror, the first to experience the pain, humiliation and defeat.

However, with the coming of the Messiah they would experience a great Light and they would be honored instead of shamed. I find this interesting since Yeshua was, of course, born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judah as fitting for a Davidic King then grew up in Nazareth to be the Branch and now His ministry would be from Capernaum in Galilee to be the Light.

Yeshua cared for all Israel, from the south to the north. Every tribe and every part of the land was special to Him.

He would fulfill prophecy! He is the King, He is the Branch, He is the Light. God be Praised!

Prophecies from Matthew Part 2

Matthew in 2:6 quotes from Micah 5:2 & 4, “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the princes of Judah: because out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.”

This quote only quotes part of the verses.  Here are both verses in their entirety in Micah, “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; yet one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for Me.  His origin is from antiquity, from everlasting…He will stand and shepherd them in the strength of the LORD, in the majestic name of ADONAI His God.  They will live securely, for then His greatness will extend to the ends of the earth.”

This One to be born in Bethlehem, the Messiah, would be from eternity.  In other words, He is God, yet the LORD is His God. Suggesting the Messiah is the Son of God, born in Bethlehem to the family of David.  And this Son of David would have a Kingdom that would extend to the ends of the earth.

Even the scholars who were speaking to Herod in Matthew 2 understood that the true King of Israel would come from Bethlehem and that His Kingdom would be greater than any kingdom that the earth has seen. The Magi from the East ascribed this identity to Yeshua, who they had come very far to worship.

So, in this passage we see that the One who would shepherd the people of Israel had to be born in Bethlehem, which the census of Caesar Augustus, arranged by the LORD, made possible. Ha Shem (The Name/The LORD) had this all planned out!

Next verse 15 Matthew says, “Out of Egypt I have called My Son.” When referring to this prophecy from Exodus 4:22 and Hosea 11:1 Matthew is connecting what happened to Israel as God’s firstborn son to the Messiah.

The Messiah was called out of Egypt not because He was redeemed, but so that He could redeem. The Lamb of God had to be called out of the world, which Egypt represents, in order to save the world. He was set apart for this purpose as Ben Yoseph.

He did not go to the mountain to receive the Law but will one day, according to Isaiah 2, teach the Law Himself from Jerusalem as the Living Word. In doing so, He will rule as King as Messiah Ben David.

Then Matthew connects the killing of the babies in Bethlehem by Herod to Jeremiah 31:15. Jeremiah is taking up a lament for the lost children of Rachel. Why Rachel when Bethlehem is the home of David who was a descendant of Leah? It is because Rachel was buried near Bethlehem after she gave birth to Benjamin.

It is as if Rachel is weeping over those young ones who suffered the pain of death at the hand of the tyrant, Herod. What I find interesting about this passage in Jeremiah is that this verse that Matthew uses here comes directly after a prophecy about God returning His people to the land of Israel and giving them great prosperity in the land. It is then followed by the prophecy of Ephraim calling out to the LORD and being restored (returning to God by obedience to Torah – Psalm 19:7). God calls Ephraim His precious son. Rachel is the mother of Ephraim.

So, we see that this passage in Jeremiah is speaking of the loss of children in Bethlehem (from Judah) in the time of Yeshua, but it is also speaking of the return of Ephraim. Again, God will reconnect Ephraim with Judah. It will be the Messiah that returns us all to the land together as one people (Jew and Gentile together as one new man), Israel. What rejoicing that will be!

Who We Are To Be Part 9 – Knowing Our Faith

Mark 12:28-34 discusses the first and second greatest commandment. Mark who is writing to a primarily Gentile audience is the only one of the Gospel writers who at the front end of His quote of the greatest commandment includes verse 4 of Deuteronomy 6 in his answer. It states, “Hear/shema, O Israel, the Lord/Adonai our God/Elohenu, the Lord/Adonai is one/echad.”

This part of the greatest commandment is quoted regularly by Jews who take their faith seriously. The Gospel of Matthew which was primarily written to a Jewish audience does not include this portion. So why would Mark include it?

Mark is wanting his Gentile audience to become familiar with this piece of liturgy, which the Jews would have already been very familiar with. It was and is quoted regularly in any synagogue.

The Jews did not need to grow accustomed to hearing this spoken, but the new Gentile believers who were now attending synagogue to hear Moses and the prophets read and learn about their new faith needed to know and become comfortable with it. They needed to know that what they were hearing on a weekly basis was not of human origin but comes straight from the Scriptures.

We need to know why we do things even still today. We need to make sure that we are not doing what we do just for the sake of doing or holding to a man made tradition, but because it is part of our Faith and from Scripture.

Three basic questions we should ask are:  1) Do we do what we do because we have always done it that way or because we see it being done in the pages of Scripture?  2) If we are doing things that are not in Scripture, why are we and when and how did we start?  3) If we are not doing things in Scripture why aren’t we and when and how did we stop?

1 John 2:3-6 states, “Now we know that we have come to know Him by this–if we keep (obey) His commandments.  The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep (obey) His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But whoever keeps (obeys) His word, in him the love of God is truly made perfect.  We know that we are in Him by this–whoever claims to abide in Him must walk (live) just as He walked (lived).”  Yeshua, the perfect Son of God in whom the love of God was perfect, is our role model on how to live this life. He always obeyed the Father and never broke one of His Father’s commandments.  He never broke the Law of the Kingdom.  Therefore, He practiced the Shabbat, the Feasts (Moed), the New Moons and all the commands of His Father that applied to Him as a man of Israel.  He was not a priest, farmer or women so none of those laws applied to Him. 

If He is our perfect example on how to live the life of a citizen of the Kingdom then shouldn’t we live as He lived, in perfect obedience to the Father?

Mark wanted His readers to understand that their salvation/Faith is from the Jews.  Even Yeshua said to the women at the well that “salvation is of the Jews”.  After all, in the first century we were first known as The Way, a sect of Judaism.  Mark wanted them to understand their new Faith and not reinvent it to look more like the pagan world they were familiar with.  Unfortunately, much of that was done and now we find ourselves having to ask the three basic questions given above. 

The New Covenant

Most of you are probably aware that the New Covenant is not just a New Testament idea.  It is actually found in the Old Testament in the book of Jeremiah.  In Jeremiah 31:31-33 it says, “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.  It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD.  “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD.  “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.  I will be their God and they will be my people.”(NIV)

Did you notice who it was for?  The New Covenant is with Israel and Judah.  So if this covenant is to be for us we have to be a part of Israel.  Are we?  Paul tells us we are in Ephesians 2:11-13 & 19-20, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are
Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) — remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ…Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”(NIV)  The New Covenant is for us because we have been made a part of Israel by the blood of Jesus.  Therefore, the covenants are also for us, all the covenants of promise.

Is not the New Covenant a covenant of promise?  But what does the New Covenant do?  It puts the Law on our minds and our hearts.  Is it the same Law as the Law of Moses?  Yes, however, it is different in this respect, it is not just on tablets of stones as it was in the days of Moses, it is put on the hearts and in the minds of God’s people. 

Ezekiel gives us another glimpse of this.  Ezekiel 36:26-27 states, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”(NIV)  It is the job of the Spirit to help us be obedient to the Law of God. 

It is our faith in Jesus and what He did for us on the cross that allows the Holy Spirit to be given to us as a deposit guarenteeing what is to come.  That is why Jesus could say that the cup of redemption at His last Passover was the New Covenant in His blood. 

Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel speak in terms of this making Him our God and us His people.  As for Ephesians we are part of Israel based on the APOSTLES and PROPHETS with CHRIST JESUS as the cornerstone of our faith.  Our faith is not just a New Testament faith.

Is it any wonder that John in 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”  Sin is the breaking of the Law.  We reject the moving of the Spirit when we disobey the very thing He wants us to obey, the Law.  There is power in obedience and it leads to righteousness and holiness according to Paul in Romans chapter 6.  Let us not be slaves to sin and death, but to obedience.  Let us live as citizens of Israel and members of the Covenant community.

Striving to obey the God I love through the blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit,

Vicky

The Wedding Part 1

There is a reason that I gave you information on the Jewish feasts because we are headed for a Jewish Feast. You see, Passover, was when our Lord died and paid the Mohar. He was offered as a guilt offering. Then we had the feast of Unleavened Bread, He is the unleavened bread and that bread was buried. It was on First Fruits that He rose from the dead. He is the first fruit. The day of Pentacost was the first official harvest on the Jewish calendar and the day of Pentacost we had the first official harvest. Next, on the Jewish calendar comes the feast of Trumpets.

 

Let’s look again at John 14:1-3 1 “”Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”(NIV)

 

He’s coming back. Hallelujah! And He is not just coming back; He’s coming back with fanfare. It’s going to be a really big deal when He comes back. Let’s look at I Thessalonians 4:16-18 16 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.”(NIV)

 

These are encouraging words. He’s coming back with a shout, the voice of the arch angel and the trumpet call of God. As you can see Paul believed He was in the last days and I don’t think there has been a generation since who hasn’t believed the same thing. It is that eager anticipation, that eagerness that aches for our husband.

 

That brings us to the Jewish wedding, to Nissuin which is derived from the verb nasa, and it means to carry or lift. We are going to get carried away and lifted off our feet. Nissuin can also mean elevation and connects husband and wife to God Almighty. We will be elevated as husband and wife to God. The legal ceremony has already occurred, it’s the Kiddushin. The wedding is the lifting away. All that’s left is for Him to come get His precious wife. Remember Jacob said, “Give me my wife” and when Yeshuah comes for His we’ll be gone.

 

I Corinthians 15:51-53 51 “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”(NIV)

 

Paul likes mystery, have you noticed that? Did you know that our husband and our oneness to Him is the greatest mystery this world has ever seen? That moment when we are lifted up off this earth, we’ll be changed. Why? We are going to see Him in all His glory. He will transform us to be like Him in an immortal body.

 

In Revelation 19:6-9 It says, “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) 9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: `Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.””(NIV)

 

The word we translate bride in our translations is actually “wife” in the Greek. I think we translate it “bride” because of how we think of a wedding, it has to have a bride. The day will finally come when the wife has made herself ready and our place in heaven is prepared and the Father says to the Son, “Go get your wife”. He’ll come down with a shout at the last trumpet call of God and He is going to lift us away and we’re not only going to get a new body, we’re going to get a beautiful robe. This robe stands for the righteous acts of the saints. We must be about His work, Amen.

 

I keep going back to how we started and what He said at His mikvah, “We must do this to fulfill all righteousness.”(NIV) He started the pursuit first, we didn’t. He had a desire for a wife, we had no desire for a husband. This was all His idea.

 

Isaiah 61:8b-10 says,  “In my faithfulness I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed. 10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

 

I love that verse. Do you believe you will be beautiful on that day. How’s your robe coming together. You see when a Jewish man and woman would go through the Kiddushin, He would leave and go prepare a place, but guess what she set about doing? She began to make her wedding dress. She began to make her robe. How’s your robe coming together? How’s that wedding dressing looking? Are you about done? You ready for Him? Of course, He gets to put the finishing touches on it, we understand that. I want to look a passage that became very dear to me when I was leading an Esther study.

 

It is Psalm 45, it’s a wedding Psalm. Beginning in verse 2 it states, 2 “You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever. 3 Gird your sword upon your side, O mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty. 4 In your majesty ride forth victoriously in behalf of truth, humility and righteousness; let your right hand display awesome deeds. 5 Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies; let the nations fall beneath your feet. 6 Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.  7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. 8 All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad. 9 Daughters of kings are among your honored women; at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir. 10 Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: Forget your people and your father’s house. 11 The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. 12 The Daughter of Tyre will come with a gift, men of wealth will seek your favor. 13 All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold. 14 In embroidered garments she is led to the king; her virgin companions follow her and are brought to you. 15 They are led in with joy and gladness; they enter the palace of the king. 16 Your sons will take the place of your fathers; you will make them princes throughout the land. 17 I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.”(NIV)

 

Did you catch where we are? We are at His right hand as He is on the right hand of the Father. We are going to marry the King.

 

Nissuin came to be called within Jewish culture, Huppah. Huppah means to cover. It can be translated canopy, chamber, or closet. It is the bridal chamber where the marriage is consummated or made complete. You see we have the legal documents and now we are waiting for that completion when those documents are going to be made fact. Scripture says, “Our faith will be sight.” We are waiting for that completion.

 

In Joel 2:16 we see, “Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.”(NIV) The word “chamber” here is the word Huppah.

 

Another example of this is found in the book of Isaiah where it says in Isaiah 4:5, “Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy.”(NIV) Where will is this?   It is over all of Mount Zion, which is in Jerusalem. The center piece of Jerusalem is the Temple and the greatest place there was the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies, His chamber, is where we will come together under the Huppah of God’s Glory as husband and wife before God the Father. And because we are lifted up with Him in the Nissuin this is the Holy of Holies in Heaven the one true Tabernacle.

 

Nissuin is accomplished by a means of a symbolic act of intimacy that demonstrates the couples’ intention to create a new home and new life. It’s far less tangible than Kiddushin, it’s sealed not with documents, but with actions. It literally gives the Bride  and the Bridegroom to each other. Nissuin consists of the Sheva Birkat or the Seven Blessings and the Yichud or time of seclusion. The major themes of the blessings are Creation, Eden, Zion, Redemption, Bridegroom, and Jerusalem. From beginning to end.  We will look at these next time.

Awaiting our Bridegroom,

Vicky

Esther Speaks

My heart is heavy lately.  I watch the news and see what is going on in our world and my heart aches.  It aches for our brothers and sisters who are suffering for His Name’s sake.  I aches seeing how backward our world has become.  It aches with the knowledge that our nation is currently on the wrong side.  It aches to see Israel suffer at the threat of annihilation.  As you may be able to tell by now this will be a different kind of article.

I believe God is giving us a message as to the time in which we live.  We are quickly approaching Purim, the festival that commemorates the Jews defeating those who sought to annihilate them in the Persian Empire.  Esther, or should I say Hadassah the Jewess, was put into the position of queen of that empire for a time such as that by God Himself.  She was put into that position to protect her people from those who sought to destroy them.

As I said, we are quickly approaching Purim and God has once again given Israel a leader who wishes to protect them, Benjamin Netanyahu.  He is in this position for such a time as this.  Once again on the eve of Purim Persia, Iran, seeks to destroy them again.  Let me say it clearly, I do not believe the timing of Netanyahu’s speech in Washington is by accident.  I believe it is divinely ordained.  This time our leaders are playing the part of King Xerxes and Benjamin Netanyahu is playing the part of Esther.

As Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to come and speak to our leaders in Washington we need to praying and fasting with him and for him, just as the Jews in Esther’s day did for her.  We also need to be praying and fasting that God would give true godly wisdom to our leader’s.  Just as Esther went before Xerxes and God made him favorable toward helping her and her people so we need to be praying that the same will happen this time with the leaders of the United States.

This is a very serious crossroad, one which has huge implications.  We may very assuredly seal our future if we side against Israel at this hour.  Then again we may seal a blessing if we side with and stand with Israel no matter what the rest of the world may think.  That is the choice we have before us, blessing or curse.

God said, “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.”  It is my prayer that we choose blessing.  This could be a moment of great victory, a victory from God, for both us and Israel, together.  We need to stand with Israel or else we will fall.  If we bless them, we will be blessed.  If we curse them, we will be cursed.

We must wake up to the hour in which we live.  This generation has a decision to make.  God is watching and He is our Judge.  What the rest of the world thinks is irrelevant.  We do not answer to the rest of the world, we answer to the One who created this world.

Benjamin Netanyahu is speaking to Congress on March 3rd the day before Purim begins.  May it be a time of rejoicing and not mourning.

U.S. Congressmen and Senators this time you are Xerxes.  Please lower your scepter and speak words of life.  Listen to God, He is speaking to you.  Benjamin Netanyahu is Esther and he is pleading for the life of his people and the land of Israel.  Do not turn a deaf ear or God’s scepter will fall in judgement.  Yes, He is watching!

Let’s pray!

Vicky