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GODíS HIGH-DAYS

an investigation of

The Biblical High-Days

 

by Wayne Bedwell

 

Copyright © August 1999 Wayne Bedwell

Revised September 2003



No limitation is placed upon reproduction of this document except that it must be reproduced in its entirety without modification or deletions. The publisher's name and address, copyright notice and this message must be included. It may be freely distributed but must be distributed without charge to the recipient.

 

 

 

 

BACKGROUND

Todayís "Religious" Holidays

If you were to ask the average Christian to list his favorite religious holidays, he would probably pause to consider what a religious holiday was, then answer, Christmas and Easter.

Undoubtedly, Christmas is the world-wide favorite holiday, whether considered from a religious perspective or not. Many who would not even consider observing a Christian holiday, or holy day, as the word really denotes, do observe Christmas. One look at the department stores of a non-Christian society such as in downtown Tokyo during early December would remove any doubt about that.

But neither the secular nor much of the religious observance of Christmas originates in the Bible. No, only one scripture even mentions anything resembling the secular observance of Christmas.

(Jer 10:1-4 NKJV) Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel. {2} Thus says the LORD: "Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, For the Gentiles are dismayed at them. {3} For the customs of the peoples are futile; For one cuts a tree from the forest, The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. {4} They decorate it with silver and gold; They fasten it with nails and hammers So that it will not topple.

Such Christmas objects as the yule log, wreaths, wise men visiting the manger, mistletoe, and of course Santa Claus are all without Biblical justification. Even the religious symbols of Christmas are basically inaccurate.

Some of the religious observance of these holidays is based on New Testament scripture but it is ill-timed and basically inaccurate. Christ was not born in December. You can request our free audio tape sermon, "Dates of the Birth and Death of the Messiah" which describes when Christ was born as Biblically recorded.

However, many ignore the religious Christmas observances altogether and simply exchange gifts, have office parties, watch a sports event on TV, and have a Christmas meal, usually featuring ham. A small percentage may also go to Midnight Mass.

The main emphasis of Easter observance seems to be egg hunts, new clothes, chocolate rabbits, and Easter ham dinners. Religious observance, if any, is often at an Easter sunrise service.

None of these peculiar Easter and Christmas observances are Biblically compliant. So where do Christmas and Easter come from? They both have pagan origins.

The observance of Christmas just after the winter solstice grew out of the worship of the sun as days began to get longer. You can learn more about this in our free booklet "Is Christmas Christian?"

The observance of Easter came originally from the worship of the sex-goddess Ishtar; hence the emphasis on rabbits and eggs. There is one small flicker of accuracy with Easter, however. Easter generally falls on the same day as the Biblical wavesheaf offering. Weíll get into that later. Our free audio taped sermon "Easter - Truth or Fiction?" provides even more information.

The whole subject of the origin of Easter and Christmas is a study in itself. In addition to our tapes and booklets, the Encyclopedia Britannica might be another good place to start.

With this background into popular holidays with religious origins, we want to move into holidays with a Biblical origin.

 

INTRODUCTION

The Bible lists perhaps a dozen holy days. Most are listed in one chapter, Leviticus 23. It is to this chapter that we will mainly address this booklet. I have broken the chapter into segments to demonstrate its various parts.

(Lev 23 NKJV) And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {2} "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.

{3} 'Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.

{4} 'These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.

{5} 'On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord's Passover.

{6} 'And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. {7} 'On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. {8} '. . . . . . . . . The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.'"

{9} And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {10} "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. {11} 'He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.

{15} 'And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. {16} 'Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD. {17} 'You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the LORD. . . . . {21} 'And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. {22} 'When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the LORD your God.'"

{23} Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {24} "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. {25} 'You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.'"

{26} And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: {27} "Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. {28} "And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. {29} "For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. {30} "And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. {31} "You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. {32} "It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath."

{33} Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {34} "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD. {35} 'On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. {36} 'For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.

On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.

{39} 'Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the LORD for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. {40} 'And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. {41} 'You shall keep it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. {42} 'You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, {43} 'that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.'"

{44} So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD.

The Jewish Bibleís (Tanakh) translation of verse two reads: "Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: These are My fixed times, the fixed times of the LORD, which you shall proclaim as sacred occasions." Notice they are not Jewish fixed times. They are the LORDís fixed times.

Now, you have doubtless wondered why we have skipped certain verses in this chapter. The skipped verses refer to sacrifices to be made in the Temple. There is no longer a Temple in which to sacrifice and the Bible tells us that is where sacrifices must be made. So there is no point in including them in our discussion of holy day observance.

Our first reaction may be: What has all this to do with Christianity? The answer is that there is a Christian parallel to each high day. In the following chapters, we will look at each holy day in detail to see that parallel.

Today, most observant (religious) Jews observe these scriptures to some extent. We will attempt to describe their understanding as we go along, so as to give ourselves a better understanding of the background and depth of meaning that each holy day contains. But our goal will continue to be emphasizing the purpose of the Holy Day in Godís Master Plan for mankind.

Perhaps this would be a good time to look at the Hebrew definition of the word "Feast." The Hebrew word for what the King James translation calls "feast" is "mo-wed", H4150 in the Strongís Concordance. The meaning of "mowed" is "an appointed time, place or meeting." So what we are reading in Leviticus 23 is a list of fixed or appointed times to meet, along with a general description of each day.

The following is the Strongís definition:

4150. mow'ed, mo-ade'; or mo'ed mo-ade'; or (fem.) mow'adah  (2 Chron.8:13), mo-aw-daw'; from H3259; prop. an appointment, i.e. a fixed time or season; spec. a festival; conventionally a year; by implication, an assembly (as convened for a definite purpose);

"Feast" obviously does not mean a time to stuff yourself with food Ė physical food. It certainly is a good time to stuff yourself with spiritual food from Godís Word.

When discussing the keeping of Holy Days, a common concern of many Christians is Col 2:16-17. Letís look at that scripture.

(Col 2:16-17 KJV) Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: {17} Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Notice that the word "is" in verse 17 is in italics. That means it is not in the original text. The meaning of these verses is that we are not to be called into question by anotherís criticism of keeping these days. We are to let the body (G4983) of Christ, the church, make that decision. Please consider the following scriptures: Col 1:18, Rom 12:5, 1 Cor 12:13, Eph 5:23, Col 3:15 and Zech 14:16.

One final item of Introduction: As you have already seen, the Holy Days are assigned by dates on the Jewish calendar. For an understanding of that calendar, read our booklet, "The Original Calendar For Our Day."

 

 

THE WEEKLY SABBATH

(Lev 23:3 NKJV) 'Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.

 

The weekly Sabbath is covered in our booklet, "The Sabbath". There is little to add here except to point out that God includes the weekly Sabbath with His feasts.

Does the Christian New Testament specify the importance of keeping the Sabbath? Hebrews 4 talks about that. Verses 9 and 10 pretty well sums up the whole chapter.

(Heb 4:9-10 NKJV) There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. {10} For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

As you read Hebrews 4, you need to be aware that the KJV does not differentiate between the two meanings of the word rest. In Strongís Concordance, G2663 means the millennial rest; G2664 means the weekly Sabbath rest. Now, letís rewrite verse 10: For he who has entered His millennial rest has himself also ceased (Sabbath rest) from his works as God did from His. In other words, you can not get into the Millennial Kingdom of God unless you observe the weekly Sabbath by resting on that day.

The parallel of the seventh day Sabbath described in Lev 23:3 is the seventh millennium, the Kingdom of God.

 

 

 

THE PASSOVER

Lev 23:5 'On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord's Passover.

This is the succinct instruction given us in Leviticus. But there is much more in other scriptures. Exodus 12 probably contains the best explanation of the events of the original Passover. Letís read some verses from that chapter.

(Exo 12:1-14 NKJV) Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, {2} "This month [Abib] shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. {3} "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: 'On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. {4} 'And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man's need you shall make your count for the lamb. {5} 'Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. {6} 'Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. {7} 'And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. {8} 'Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. {9} 'Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire; its head with its legs and its entrails. {10} 'You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. {11} 'And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord's Passover. {12} 'For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. {13} 'Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. {14} 'So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.

Letís read a scripture from the New Testament now. Please turn to 1 Cor 5:7. This chapter includes a series of verses describing the Days of Unleavened Bread, which we will address shortly but we want to look specifically at verse 7 now.

7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

How was Christ ("Meshiach" in Hebrew. "Christ" is an anglicized Greek word.) sacrificed for us as our Passover? Letís look at the similarities. The lamb in Egypt was killed so that its blood could protect the Israelites from being killed by the death angel. Our Messiah was killed so that His sacrificial blood could protect people of the whole world from the death penalty imposed for the sins we have committed. The first was a physical death; the second a spiritual death. Letís look at some supporting scriptures.

(Isa 53:7 NKJV) He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. [See also Acts 8:32]

(1 Cor 15:3 NKJV) For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

(John 1:29 NKJV) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

(Eph 1:7 NKJV) In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

(Col 1:13-14 NKJV) He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, {14} in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

(Heb 10:11-13 NKJV) And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. {12} But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, {13} from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.

(1 Pet 2:24 NKJV) who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.

(1 John 2:1-2 NKJV) My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. {2} And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

(Rom 6:23 NKJV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Well, I think thatís enough scriptures for you to clearly see the parallel between our Messiahís sacrifice and that of the original Passover lamb.

But that is not the only parallel in the story of the original Passover. There are many types involved. What are types? Types are those people or things which typify another. Let me give you a few examples: Egypt typifies sin. Pharaoh typifies Satan. Moses and Aaron typify the two witnesses of Revelation 11, the two olive trees of Zechariah 4:3, and the two candlesticks of Zechariah 4:14. (I suspect the witnesses, candlesticks, and olive trees will all be the same two people; a civic leader and a priest, a type of Moses and Aaron.) The perfect, helpless little sacrificial lamb typifies our Messiah at His first coming -- certainly not at His second. The death angel typifies Godís judgment against those who will not repent for their transgressions against the laws of God. Pilate and the chief priests typify the consortium of spineless government leaders with evil religious leaders (or vice versa) against Godís people throughout mankindís 6,000 year journey on earth. But it is not accurate to blame only Pilate and the chief priests for the death of Yeshua haMeshiach or Jesus Christ. Every human being who has sinned (and thatís all of us) is responsible for the need for this sinless Individual to die in payment for our sins. We all put Him on the stake and His blood was shed for all of us Ė just like the original Passover lambs.

The Christian Passover service follows that described in Luke 22:8-20 and John 13:1-17.

 

 

 

 

THE DAYS OF UNLEAVENED BREAD

Lev 23:6 (NKJV) 'And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. {7} 'On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. {8} '. . . . . . . . . The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.'"

Ex 12:15 (Tanakh) 'Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses, for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. {16} 'You shall celebrate a sacred occasion on the first day and a sacred occasion on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them; only what every person is to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. {17} 'You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I [will have] brought your ranks out of the land of Egypt; you shall observe this day throughout the ages for an institution for all time. {18} 'In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. {19} 'No leaven shall be found in your houses for seven days. For whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is a stranger or citizen of the country. {20} 'You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your settlements you shall eat unleavened bread.'"

Verse 18 leaves a question in some peopleís mind whether unleavened bread need be eaten on the twenty-first day. It is my opinion that it should be. I believe that the unleavened bread specified for the 14th day (Passover) is not part of the command to eat unleavened bread for seven days during the Days of Unleavened Bread. From that understanding, I believe that the evening referred to in verse 18 is the evening following the day. (i.e. from the evening following the fourteenth day to the evening following the twenty-first day.)

What is the significance of these days of unleavened bread? Leavening puffs up. Dough made without leavening is flat. The same is true after baking the dough. To see the significance of leavening, we must again look at types. Leavened bread is typical of vanity and pride and hypocrisy. It is puffed up. Unleavened bread is typical of humility and honesty. Leavened bread typifies sin. Unleavened bread typifies sinlessness. So as we remove leavening and leavened products from our homes we are symbolically removing sin from our lives.

Why does the LORD require us to eat unleavened bread immediately after the memorial of the sacrifice of our Messiah, removing from us (the world) the penalty of death? Because after we accept His sacrifice, we need to rededicate ourselves to living a Christ-like way of life. That way of life is not through vanity and pride and hypocrisy. It is through humility and honesty with our fellow man and God Himself. It is living a life in obedience to the laws of God -- sinlessness (1 John 3:4) -- with respect for God and our fellow man.

Perhaps the words of our Messiah which begin with reference to the Shema, can best describe what I am trying to express. Letís look at it.

(Mark 12:28-31 NKJV) Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?" {29} Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. {30} 'And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. {31} "And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Verse 29 is taken from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. Verse 31 is taken from Leviticus 19:18. All the Ten Commandments can be boiled down into these two great commandments. Humility and obedience and love and respect are the objectives and by-products of keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread.

 

 

 

 

THE WAVE-SHEAF OFFERING

(Lev 23:9-11, 14 NKJV) And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {10} "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. {11} 'He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.. . . . . {14} 'You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

Like Passover, the wave-sheaf offering is not really a High-day. But, because it is included in Leviticus 23 as a day in which to offer a sacrifice to God of the first-fruits of your harvest, I want to include it in this booklet.

Verse 11 indicates that the Wave-sheaf Offering will always occur on a Sunday.

This command was obeyed by Joshua (Yeshua, in Hebrew) when he crossed over the Jordan River into the promised land of Israel. You can read of it in Joshua 5. But what has it to do with Christianity today? Plenty. It describes one of the most important events ever to happen. Let me explain.

True Christians believe, and King David knew, that the individual who came to be called Jesus Christ or Yeshua haMeshiach previously sat and currently sits beside God the Father, sort of as an individual assigned to get things done; sort of an executive assistant to God the Father. These are my definitions, but letís look at how King David described the relationship.

(Psa 110:1 NKJV) The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."

If you look up the translation of the word "LORD", you will find that it is YHWH, meaning The Eternal. See Strongís Concordance number H3068. When you look up the translation of "Lord", you will find that it is Adonai, who Christians believe became Christ. See Strongís number H136. Verse 4 tells us that Adonai, who appeared to Abraham, will forever be Priest of Melchizedek. But that is another story.

About 5 BC the holy spirit impregnated Mary (Mat 1:18) to enable the Messiah to be born a human being. This does not make the holy spirit Jesusí father. Repeatedly Jesus referred to "My Father". The holy spirit is an instrument of God, not a person. Anyway, Christ (haMeshiach) lived His short life as a human being and was crucified. After three days and three nights in the grave (Matthew 12:40 and Jonah 1:17) He was resurrected from the dead. One of the first people He encountered was Mary Magdalene. Now letís compare what we have just said with scripture.

(John 20:1 NKJV) Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

So here stands Mary, before it was even light on Sunday morning, looking for Christ in His tomb. Since Christ had been in His tomb three days and three nights and since we know that He died in the ninth hour (about 3 PM), that His body had to be requested, transported and wrapped; and that He was hurriedly buried just before sunset (John 19:31-42), we have to conclude that He was resurrected at the end of the day on Saturday.

(John 20:11-17 NKJV) But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. {12} And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. {13} Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." {14} Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. {15} Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away." {16} Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher). {17} Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'"

Why could Mary not touch Him? Because He had to be completely pure, completely clean to be able to come before our Father, our God. Why did He have to ascend to His Father? To receive His authority over the Church and thereby His Kingdom. How do we know that? Psalm 110, which we just read, tells us that. So does Acts 2:34 and Eph 1:20-22. But His reward of a Kingdom is not the point here. The point is that Christ became the first fruits, the wave-sheaf offering for everyone who follows Him into heaven. How do we know that His saints will go to heaven (though afterward they will return to earth)? Letís look at two scriptures which tell us that.

(John 14:2-3 NKJV) "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. {3} "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

(Rom 11:16 NKJV) For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

John 14 shows that Christ, the firstfruit, has gone to His Father and will call His people to the wedding room where He will marry His church (the Saints).

Romans 11 is a chapter which describes the grafting in of gentiles to the root of Abraham. Verse 16 describes the firstfruit, Christ, as being holy, and points out that the branches (other saints) will also be grafted into the root (Abraham).

So, the bottom line is: Christ represents the firstfruit of the wave-sheaf offering. And like the wave-sheaf offering, He ascended (was raised) to our Father on Sunday morning.

For more information about the significance of the wave sheaf offering, read our booklet "The Wave-Sheaf Offering."

 

 

 

 

PENTECOST OR THE FEAST OF WEEKS (SHAVUOT)

Lev 23:15-16, 21 NKJV) 'And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. {16} 'Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD. . . . {21} 'And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.

First, letís look at how we determine when Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks occurs. Pentecost, incidently, means "fiftieth." We are to count fifty days from the day after the Sabbath, that is starting with the day of the wave-sheaf offering. Which Sabbath do we start from, the High-day Sabbath of the Days of Unleavened Bread or the weekly Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread? Fortunately, God made it easy to find out. There are two Hebrew words for Sabbath: One is Sabbath, H7676, the weekly Sabbath, and used in Lev 23:3. It is also used in Lev 23:32 to describe the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur.

The other word is Sabbathown, H7677, a High-day. Strongís describes it as a special holiday. It is used in Lev 23:24 to describe the Feast of Trumpets. It is also used in verse 39 to describe the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot and the Last Great Day or eighth day of the Sukkot festival.

The High-days in the Days of Unleavened Bread are not identified by either H7676 or H7677. Instead they simply tell us not to do any customary work on those days. H5656 is used.

So now, back to the question: Which Sabbath do we start counting from? Well, since there are no Sabbathown during the Days of Unleavened Bread, thereís only one day left: The weekly Sabbath, which is the same word used in verse 15, H7676. Pentecost will therefore always fall on a Sunday. This is contrary to Judaism, which begins counting from the first day of Unleavened Bread and so always ends up on Sivan 6. It is unclear why Judaism does this.

Why did the LORD specify counting seven weeks? Seven is the number for perfection. Seven times seven reflects complete perfection.

What is the significance of Pentecost? It is believed that the Commandments were given on Pentecost. Exodus 19 does state that the tribes of Israel stopped at the foot of Mt. Sinai during the third month (Sivan) and that Moses went up on the mountain at the LORDís request. It was at this meeting that the LORD offered His covenant or contract with Israel. He, in essence, married Israel.

In the New Testament, Godís Holy Spirit was given on Pentecost. You can read of it in Acts 2. So here we have the next development in Godís Master Plan. We started out with Christís sacrifice for our sins. Then we demonstrated during the days of unleavened bread that we would keep sin out of our lives. Then we read of Christ being the first fruit, demonstrated by the wave-sheaf offering. Now at the first Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2, Godís people are given His Holy Spirit to motivate them and give them the strength to resist evil. This is another step in preparing His saints for the Kingdom.

Is there any evidence the New Testament Christians kept Pentecost after the first one? Nearly 30 years after Christís resurrection, Paul wrote to the Gentile church in Corinth: "But I will wait at Ephesus until Pentecost." See 1 Corinthians 16:8.

 

 

 

THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS (ROSH HA-SHANA)

(Lev 23:23-25 NKJV) Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {24} "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. {25} 'You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.'"

Rosh Ha-Shana means New Years Day. Why this name? Because Judaism has determined that this high day is the anniversary of the sixth day of creation and hence, it must be the first day of the year. That isnít what God said in Leviticus 23:24, but that is the way todayís Judaism prioritizes it, the first day of their "civil" year.

And how does Judaism observe it? Just as the scripture says, with the blowing of the shofar. But there are several other traditions: An apple dipped in honey is eaten at the evening meal to signify the hope of a sweet year. The head of a fish is eaten to signify that the eater wishes to be the head rather than the tail. Various vegetables are eaten to express other objectives.

You may be thinking, "Surely this isnít all there is to it". You are right. This very important holy day was observed quite differently in ages past. Letís look at an example.

(Neh 8:1-3 NKJV) Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel. {2} So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. {3} Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.

(Neh 8:9-10 NKJV) And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep." For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. {10} Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

So we can see here that the people were commanded to eat of the fat of the land, to be joyful, to be sure the poor can share that joy on this high day. Notice how eager the people were to hear the Torah or law read to them and how moved they were at hearing it.

David also mentioned this day in Psalm 81:1.

(Psa 81:3 NKJV) Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, At the full moon, on our solemn feast day.

Some try to read facts into this verse which arenít there. David is saying that the trumpet should be blown on three occasions: On new moon days (Trumpets is also a new moon day), at the full moon (The first Day of Unleavened Bread and the first day of Sukkot or Feast of Tabernacles occur at about the full moon), as well as on other solemn feast days such as Pentecost.

What is the meaning of the Feast of Trumpets for Christians? The meaning to Christians stems from the sound of the trumpet or shofar itself. Lev 23:24 describes the blowing of trumpets. If you check the Hebrew of this verse, you will discover that "of trumpets" is not included. The emphasis is on the word "blowing" which is defined by Strongís Concordance as H8643, Teruah, or "shouting" like loud blasts from a trumpet. Rev 1:10 describes a shouting, returning Christ. Why is He shouting? It is a Hebrew tradition for a groom to shout for his bride (the saints - the church) when he comes to take her to the honeymoon quarters (John 14:2).

Now letís read a few New Testament scriptures relating to the trumpet.

(Mat 24:30-31 NKJV) "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. {31} "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Here is the meaning of the Feast of Trumpets to Christians: To gather His people together at the return of our Meshiach Yeshuah, our Messiah Jesus Christ. So this day pictures the return of our Messiah to this earth Letís read a few more scriptures which refer to this great day which both Jews and Christians look forward to.

.

(1 Cor 15:50-52 NKJV) Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. {51} Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; {52} in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

You might also read 1 Thes 4:15-17.

 

 

THE DAY OF ATONEMENT (YOM KIPPUR)

(Lev 23:27-32 NKJV) "Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. {28} "And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. {29} "For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. {30} "And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. {31} "You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. {32} "It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath."

Yom Kippur is the one day nearly all Jews consider to be sacred. In Israel even most secular Jews fast on this day and consider it a day of introspection. If you judge the importance of this day by the punishment it carries for breaking it, the weekly Sabbath is a more important day. Breaking the weekly Sabbath carries the death penalty. Breaking Yom Kippur seems to only carry the penalty of being cut off from Godís people, with the implied destruction of the individual before he can return to his people.

Lev. 23:32, which we just read, specifically states when this High Day is to be observed: On the tenth day of the seventh month, from sunset the evening before to sunset the evening of the tenth.

What is the meaning of this day? The days between Trumpets and Atonement are called the Days of Awe. Actually, the Days of Awe are only the last ten days of a forty-day period called the Teshuvah. Teshuvah begins on Elul 1. These days are dedicated to obtaining the forgiveness of those one has offended the previous year, both God and man. They are, in essence, days of repentance or turning around. The Jewish community rightly believes that it is harder to be forgiven by another person than by God, but that forgiveness cannot be obtained from God until one has forgiven his fellow man and given others the opportunity to forgive you, for when one has offended his fellow man, he has offended God. Yom Kippur is dedicated to obtaining forgiveness from God.

The Christian community believes the same thing. This is stated as part of what most people call the "Lordís Prayer", which is really a pattern or model prayer, given to us by the Lord. It can be found in Matthew 6:

(Mat 6:12 NKJV) And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

This verse is then expounded on in verses 14 and 15:

(Mat 6:14-15 NKJV) "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. {15} "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Is there any difference, then, between the Jewish understanding of forgiveness and the Christian understanding of forgiveness as given in verses 14 and 15?

Just what is atonement? It is another of the many 'religious' words that is often used but not always understood. The best definition we can find is the one used in the scriptures themselves. The English word 'atonement' is found many times in the Old Testament, but only once in the New Testament. However, the Greek word which is translated "Atonement" in Rom. 5:11, G2643, is translated into its more accurate meaning, "Reconciliation", in the other three places the Greek word is used in the New Testament. Thayerís Lexicon defines G2643 as an adjustment of a difference, a reconciliation, a restoration of the favor of God to sinners that repent and put their trust in the expiatory death of Christ.

In the Old Testament, it is derived from the Hebrew words, kaphar and kippur, from which comes Yom, meaning "day", and Kippur, meaning "atonement".

The root word kaphar (kah-far') means "to cover". See Strong's #3722. The second word translated atonement is kippur and it means "expiation or atonement". See Strong's #3725.

"Atonement" is the preferred translation. So we have a day with several meanings. If you read the definitions in Strong's you'll see what I mean. But the main theme is basically the same. Yom Kippur is the day in which God will be reconciled with His creation. It is a day for Him to be merciful, to pardon, to cleanse and to forgive.

Yom Kippur was the only day of the year that anyone among the children of Israel was able to come "face to face" with God and live. This occurred when the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. It could only be done with great preparation and care.

Paul also addressed this future face to face encounter.

1 Cor 13:12 (NKJV) For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

According to Paul, we are not yet "face to face" with our Father, but the time will come, as pictured by this day, when that will occur. Then we will know God fully, just as He knows us fully right now.

Isa 59:20-21 (NAS) "And a Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob," declares the LORD. {21} "And as for Me, this is My covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring," says the LORD, "from now and forever."

So this is the meaning of the Day of Atonement in Godís Master Plan: It pictures the time when God will fully forgive His peopleís transgressions and be accessible on a face to face basis. That explains why we fast this day. God is always closer during a fast.

 

 

THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES (SUKKOT)

(Lev 23:33-36, 39 NKJV) Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {34} "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD. {35} 'On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. {36} 'For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. . . . . .{39} 'Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the LORD for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest.

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The word Sukkot means "booths." Sukkot is the festival in which Jews live in booths, as a reminder of the forty years the Israelites lived in booths in the desert, until finally arriving in the Promised Land. This is evidenced in verses 42 and 43.

(Lev 23:40-43 NKJV) 'And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. {41} 'You shall keep it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. {42} You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, {43} 'that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.'"

First, letís consider the booths, sukkah in Hebrew . The purpose of booths is to dwell in temporary quarters for the length of this Feast, so it is used for both eating and sleeping. That may consist of simply a motel or hotel room or perhaps even a tent. Jewish tradition dictates that at least part of the roof of the booth must be open to the stars. In Israel many people use an outside porch where most of the porch is covered but part of it is open. Traditionally, the roof of the booth will be made of something from the plant world like palm branches, thin planks, bamboo poles, etc.

When the Jews built the second temple, Ezra read the following:

(Neh 8:13-18 NKJV) Now on the second day the heads of the fathers' houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law. {14} And they found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, {15} and that they should announce and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go out to the mountain, and bring olive branches, branches of oil trees, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written." {16} Then the people went out and brought them and made themselves booths, each one on the roof of his house, or in their courtyards or the courts of the house of God, and in the open square of the Water Gate and in the open square of the Gate of Ephraim. {17} So the whole assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and sat under the booths; for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun until that day the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness. {18} Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.

For Israelis today, this Feast is an opportunity for family togetherness and fun. Its theme is rejoicing.

(Deu 16:13-15 NKJV) "You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. {14} "And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. {15} "Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.

Now one would have to ask, "If the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the temporary dwelling the Israelites lived in on their way to the Promised Land, why isnít it celebrated in the spring with Passover?" The answer may surprise you.

In Exodus 34 and Exodus 23, the Feast of Tabernacles is called the Feast of Ingathering.

(Exo 34:22 NKJV) "And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year's end.

(Exo 23:16 NKJV) ". . . . . . . and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.

This is the collection of all the summerís crops before the fall and winter rains begin. In Israel today, the summer crops are harvested before the Feast of Tabernacles after which seeds are planted for the next yearís grain. Fall rains normally start right after the Feast of Tabernacles.

As you have seen, all the Holy Days listed in Leviticus 23 follow three themes: They follow the agricultural cycle, starting in the spring. They follow the calendar, starting in the spring with Passover. And they follow Godís plan for man, starting with the sacrifice of our Savior at Passover, through the putting away of sin at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, through the wavesheaf offering where Christ receives His Kingdom from our Father, through the giving of Godís Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to Christís return and the gathering of His Saints at Trumpets, to Atonement (at-one-ment) where God accepts the repentance and amends of all the Saints who were resurrected at Trumpets and thereby puts them on a face to face basis with Himself, to the Feast of Tabernacles where the Saints are accepted into the Kingdom of God to rule as kings and priests with our Messiah for a thousand years.

(Rev 5:10 NKJV) And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth."

Did you catch that? The Saints will reign on the earth. No, they will not spend an eternity plunking harps in heaven.

But the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles will continue even after the return of our Messiah.

(Zec 14:16-19 NKJV) And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. {17} And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain. {18} If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. {19} This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

But there is one more High Day.

 

 

 

THE LAST GREAT DAY (THE EIGHTH DAY)

(Lev 23:36 NKJV) . . . . On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.

This is the seventh High Day. The term "The Last Great Day" is taken from John 7:37.

(John 7:37-38 NKJV) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. {38} "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

It is unknown whether this verse refers to the last day of the seven-day feast (Hoshana Rabbah) or the eighth day as referred to in Lev 23:36. Different congregations call it different things. The living water that Christ referred to was the Holy Spirit.

Judaism celebrates most High Days for two days. Outside of Israel, Judaism calls the second day of this High Day Simhat Torah. Simhat Torah means "the celebration of the Torah." Inside Israel, the first day of the High Day is called Shemini Atzeret. The day is celebrated by dancing around the Torah and reading from the Torah by every male present.

Christians tend to believe that this day pictures the resurrection of everyone who have ever lived, who were not written in the book of life with the Saints, so that they can learn the proper way to live. This gives the myriads of people who have never even heard of the Judea-Christian God, His Son, or His written word, a chance to learn and live Godís way. The scriptures which seem to explain this are:

(Rev 20:5 NKJV) But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.. . .

After they have had a period of time to learn how to live and how to obey God, they too will be judged. Those who are accepted will enter the Kingdom. Those who reject Godís way will be burned up.

(Rev 20:11-15 NKJV) Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. {12} And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. {13} The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades [the grave] delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. {14} Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. {15} And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

We can now see that the Holy Days of God, described in this booklet describes Godís Master Plan of Salvation for all mankind. Skeptics should remember the words of Christ:

(Mat 5:17-18 NKJV) "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. {18} "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

 

 

CONCLUSION

It is hard to read of the differences between the ways Judaism views and observes these Holy Days and the ways Christianity views these days without reaching a very stark conclusion: Those high days which involve Christ are observed by Judaism in a very altered or passive manner, if at all. Those high days which do not directly involve Christ are observed by Judaism in much the same manner as Christians observe them. Letís list them.

Passover, the 14th, is almost not recognized by Judaism.

The Days of Unleavened Bread, the 15th through the 21st, is not only observed by Judaism but has been renamed Passover.

The Wavesheaf Offering is not observed by Judaism.

Judaism observes Pentecost, but not on Sunday as Christians do .

Trumpets is observed as New Yearís Day by Judaism. Obviously they would not celebrate a returning Messiah named Jesus.

Atonement is pictured by Judaism and Christianity in the same manner. The focus is on God the Father rather than Christ.

The Feast of Tabernacles is pictured by Judaism as a family day, but not as picturing the Kingdom of God with Christ as its head.

The eighth day is used by Judaism to focus on the Torah, not the resurrection of every gentile who ever lived.

Is this so unique? I think the same picture applies to every religious organization. The significance of the scriptures they reject never occurs to them. This is a lesson for all of us.

 

 


Copyright 2003, Wayne Bedwell

 

 

 

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