Michael Boling – Feasts of the Lord: The Feast of Pesach (Passover)


The Feast of Pesach (Passover)

“And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. “It will come to pass when you come to the land which the LORD will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. “And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ “that you shall say, ‘It [is] the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’ ” So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.” (Exodus 12:24-27)

“These [are] the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth [day] of the first month at twilight [is] the LORD’s Passover.” (Leviticus 23:4-5)

These scriptures demonstrate the Feast of Pesach (Passover) was to be an ordinance to be observed not just by the Israelites as the exited Egypt and not by them as they settled into the Promised Land. It was to be a holy convocation observed by all future generations. Before we examine exactly what is involved in the Feast of Pesach, it is vital to point out this is described by God as a feast of Yahweh. Also notice it was to be observed at a very specific time and date. These are things we will return to later in this study but that I wanted to note at the outset if anything to note this is not just a Jewish feast. It is a feast of the Lord to be observed forever.

So what is the background of the Feast of Pesach? Arguably, this is the most well-known feast outside of perhaps Pentecost. Additionally, many people have likely attended a Passover Seder (service) at some point, either at their own church, a Jewish synagogue or a Messianic Jewish congregation. Thus, much of the background and elements of this feast may be somewhat familiar. Nevertheless, we are going to walk through the background of this feast and how it is celebrated followed by, in the next post, a discussion of how Jesus, as the Passover Lamb, fulfilled this feast. But wait, there’s more!

Please follow and like us:
0

Michael Boling – Feast of Hag HaMatzah (Unleavened Bread)

Feast of Hag HaMatzah (Unleavened Bread)

“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. 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. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you. So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance.” (Exodus 12:14-17)

“Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters.” (Exodus 13:7)

“You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life. And no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the meat which you sacrifice the first day at twilight remain overnight until morning.” (Deut. 16:3-4) But wait, there’s more!

Please follow and like us:
0

Michael Boling – The Moedim (Genesis 1:14)

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years (Genesis 1:14)

It is that time again when the New Year’s resolution to embark on a yearly bible reading plan commences. As always, the reading begins in Genesis as well it should. After all, this book and especially the first 3 chapters sets the stage and provides the foundation upon which the rest of Scripture rests. Jump ahead devoid of a proper grounding in what happens in Genesis 1-3 and you will find you will become a bit confused as to the overall movement of what God is doing in history.

As I was reading through Genesis 1 this morning, something hit me. Now mind you, like many others, I have lost count of the number of times I have read Genesis 1 whether through a yearly reading plan, personal study, writing a paper for Bible College and/or seminary, or just because there was a need to refer back to that part of the biblical text. With that said, something I am increasingly learning is no matter how many times I come back to the well of Scripture, there is always a bounty of something or other to learn and discover.

The text in question this time around is Genesis 1:14, a seemingly simple verse that speaks of God setting lights in the firmament to divide the day and night and to serve as important markers for signs, seasons, days, and years. Seems simple enough right? God created the sun and the moon so we can know when it is day and when it is night. Well that is what I originally thought until something in particular caught my eye, namely the term seasons. Let me explain.

A couple of years ago, I worked through a study on the Feasts of the Lord. This was a very enlightening study and it not only opened my eyes to how our Messiah is displayed in each and every feast, it also brought to light the reality these feasts are still something the people of God should embrace. After all, they are the Feasts of the Lord and were established by God as an everlasting convocation (a word we shall return to here in a bit) for His people. These appointed times, again established by God, help to provide a purposeful reminder throughout the year of what God has done, is doing, and will do for His people. If you have never looked into them, I highly encourage you to consider doing a study of these feasts. My study can be found here: The Feasts of the Lord.

I noted above the term convocation and the phrase appointed times. Depending on what translation of Scripture you may use, convocation and/or appointed times are used to describe the Feasts of the Lord. The actual Hebrew word is moed which means assembly or appointed time. In the Old Testament, you will find this term used to describe the gathering together of the congregation of the people or to describe the gathering of the people for specific events, such as the Feasts of the Lord. The plural of moed is moedim and you will see that term used when God refers to His feasts in a collective sense.

What struck me about Genesis 1:14 in particular is the fact the term moed is used. It is fascinating, at least to me, to see God setting the foundation for His feasts in the very act of creation. Long before the assembly of the people of Israel were given instructions for Passover as they prepared to flee Egypt and long before they were gathered before God at Mt. Sinai to be given their marriage covenant with Him to include the instructions on how to observe the feasts, God had established at creation there would be appointed times. Additionally, He established the heavenly markers by which we would know the moedim were drawing nigh.

So not only do we have in Genesis 1-3 the reality of God as Creator, the reality of a six day creation event, the first man and woman, the entrance of sin, and the promise of redemption, we also have the establishment, or at the very minimum the signposts for the Feasts of the Lord. This makes these moedim (to include the Sabbath), a creation week event, firmly rooted in the formative chapters of Scripture and unfolding itself throughout the pages of Scripture.

It is interesting that even after all these years of reading through Genesis 1, this interesting factoid had not jumped off the page like it did today. If anything, this is further proof that as we continue to dig and mine the truths of Scripture, we will never be ceased to be amazed at what God reveals to His people if we simply study to show ourselves approved.

Now on to seeing what else God has to show me this year. Let the excitement commence!

Please follow and like us:
0

Michael Boling – Thoughts on What Sukkot 2016 Taught Me

quotescover-jpg-22

Last night our family enjoyed a wonderful evening with a family from our homeschool association. We had them over a couple of weeks ago to celebrate and remember Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). It was a great experience so we decided to get together once again to celebrate and remember the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles). While the original plan was to have each family construct their own sukka and to camp out, the very chilly weather forced a change in plans. In the end, we constructed a sukkah, had a delicious meal, a time of excellent Bible Study, sang songs around the fire, and built the bonds of friendship.

As the evening went on, a couple of things struck me about this particular feast. While I have studied the Feast of Sukkot in depth (click here and here for those studies), perhaps it did not hit me when I did that study the true value of why God established these holy convocations. I would like to address three reasons why I believe He set these times aside for His people.

1) They are a time of remembrance. We are a forgetful people. Whether it is the business of our lives or perhaps that we choose to forget things that are very important, we quite simply forget to do and say a great many things. God set aside times throughout the year for His people to slow down and remember. During these God appointed times, we are to reflect on what God has done, is doing, and will do for us as His children. God commanded us to observe these times and it is our solemn and joyful duty to obey that command. We remember His deliverance of His people from bondage and in turn reflect on our own deliverance from bondage to sin. We reflect on the need for repentance. We reflect on God’s holiness. We reflect on His relationship with us. We reflect on His provision. We reflect on His mercy and grace by providing the Passover Lamb, Yeshua our Messiah. In each Feast of the Lord, we are commanded by God to remember, reflect, meditate, and in turn to praise God for all He has done.

2) They are a time of fellowship. This reality became very evident for me last night. The Feasts of the Lord are not to be celebrated in isolation from fellow believers. Conversely, they are a time of fellowship and community. They provide a means to gather together, study God’s Word, pray, lift one another up, celebrate, and again to remember. As we gathered around the campfire and sang songs in praise to God, I could readily observe two families growing together in the faith. As a parent, I was thrilled to observe our daughter and the daughters of our friends sing out in praise to God as well as growing closer together. These holy convocations are truly a time of building godly relationships.

3) The Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) reveals the true mean of Jesus being Emmanuel – God with us. I was struck by the meaning of this feast as we read the passages in Leviticus and elsewhere that outline why God established this Feast. In particular, I was again in awe that God desires to tabernacle with us. If we journey back to the Garden of Eden, we see God walked with Adam and Eve in a truly physical sense. Think about that. The Creator directly relating with His creation. Sin of course marred that, but God provided hope in Genesis 3:15, a hope that came to fruition when Jesus came. Our Messiah, the Emmanuel, died and rose again. Yeshua noted in John 14:3 a beautiful promise that really drives home what Sukkot is all about:

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

As our bridegroom, he is preparing a place for us and he will return for his bride. God will once again dwell with His creation. He will literally tabernacle with us. I don’t know about you, but I look forward to that day. Until that day comes, we are to be a chaste and holy bride, cleaning out the leaven (sin) in our lives and growing in relationship with our Lord through the work of the Holy Spirit.

I firmly believe these Feasts are not just something to study or to think about. I understand many take the position they were for the Jews and that Christians are provided a pass based on how their own conscience feels or that grace has someone trumped the necessity to remember these times. In my humble opinion, that is not what Paul is describing in Colossians 2:16 or Romans 14:5. Paul notes that when we celebrate special days, we are to do them to the Lord. Why? Because we love Him, He commanded His people do observe these days, and they bring us closer in knowledge and understanding of what God has done, is doing, and will do for His people. One can also note regarding Colossians 2:16 that we should not worry about what people think of us as we celebrate these days. If anything, Paul was exhorting the reader not to be puffed up like the religious leaders who observed the feasts yet ignored their meaning. Ritual devoid of truth and conducted in pride is sin. Times of remembrance done to give glory to God are wonderful and reveal the true reason for why these times are to be observed….yes observed even today. I realize there is some level of debate on all that, but in my own experience, observing these times has been nothing but beneficial.

For our two families, this was a glorious time. I wish we could have done some camping, but it was just too nippy. When all was said and done, we grew closer to God which after all is the ultimate purpose of why God desires us to remember these special times each and every year. They drive us to His feet. They drive us to the cross. They remind us of what a holy, loving, and mighty God we serve.

Please follow and like us:
0

Michael Boling – Feasts of the Lord: The Fulfillment of the Feast of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)

quotescover-JPG-59

“Don’t let yourselves be disturbed. Trust in God and trust in me. In my Father’s house are many places to live. If there weren’t, I would have told you; because I am going there to prepare a place for you. Since I am going and preparing a place for you, I will return to take you with me; so that where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had passed away, and the sea was no longer there. Also I saw the holy city, New Yerushalayim, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “See! God’s Sh’khinah is with mankind, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and he himself, God-with-them, will be their God.” (Revelation 21:1-3)

“I will put my tabernacle among you, and I will not reject you, but I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.” (Leviticus 26:11-12)

In this post, we will take a look at the current and future fulfillment of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. This important feast is pregnant with meaning, specifically the divine plan of God to one day restore that which was impacted by sin, namely God tabernacling and dwelling with His people. Barney Kasdan wisely notes “All the Feasts of the Lord have their own particular lessons to teach. Yet, because of its latter day fulfillment, Sukkot seems to be the apex of all the other appointed times of God. The goal of God’s plan is ultimately the establishment of his kingdom on the earth.”[1]

In order to understand the necessity for the restoration of relationship and fellowship between God and His people, we must first begin in the book of Genesis. Old Testament scholars Keil and Delitzsch note “By sin, men have departed and separated themselves from God; but God, in His infinite mercy, has not cut himself off from men, His creatures. Not only did he announce redemption along with punishment immediately before the fall, but from that time forward He continued to reveal Himself to them, that He might draw them back to Himself, and lead them from the path of destruction to the way of salvation.”[2] So it is clear the Scriptural message from the book of Genesis on is the movement towards restoration and redemption, a return in the future to that which was lost when the sin problem entered the picture.

At various points throughout Scripture, we can see God bringing this ultimate fulfillment of tabernacling with His people slowly but surely to fruition. In stages, God woos His people and at times dwells, albeit only in part in the presence of His people, both in a physical and a spiritual sense. This idea of tabernacling is woven throughout Scripture for a purpose. Bob Alberico comments “The idea of having a redeemer is based upon the premise that the God of creation has a plan to restore all things. Redemption after all, means to buy back. The essential question here is, to buy back from what, and to what? For the Hebrew, to buy back mean to restore in the now what we had in the past; to restore what we lost when we exited the Garden. “ So how does this idea of tabernacling reveal itself in the biblical corpus?

Beyond the Garden of Eden when God walked with Adam and Eve, we see God dwelling with His people, or at least a portion of His glory, in the wilderness tabernacle. In Exodus 40:34 we find “the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of Adonai filled the tabernacle.” So at least in part, God dwelled with His people through the means of the tabernacle. Keep in mind, God can by no means be contained in a dwelling built with human hands as noted in Acts 7:8. With that said, God was at that point in history, establishing the framework for relationship with His people, a relationship and fellowship that would be based on the institution of a series of covenants.

Within the framework of a covenant relationship, God established the means by which He and His creation would begin this journey towards renewal of relationship. Adherence to the stipulations of these covenants resulted in life, disobedience resulted in death. It is important once again to understand what that life and death in adherence to the covenants was all about. Certainly there was a physical element to obedience and disobedience respectively. Israel was told by God that if they obeyed Him, it would go well with them on the earth and if they disobeyed, well, let’s just say things would not go so well. With that said, obedience brought the life of relationship with God and disobedience or rejection of God brought death to that relationship.

We should realize this is really nothing new as God outlined that same reality to Adam and Eve. After all, God told Adam in Genesis 2:16-17, “Adonai, God, gave the person this order: “You may freely eat from every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are not to eat from it, because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die.” Engagement of the Hebrew in Genesis 2:17 reveals an interesting verb construct which most English translations do not pick up on. It is the double verb muwth muwth which literally means dying you shall die. So physical death began as a process which would ultimately lead to the cessation of physical life and spiritual death resulted from the entrance of sin, thus the need for a Redeemer to fix both problems.

Man, being the wretched sinner that he is, is fully incapable of adhering to the requirements of God’s covenants, in particular the marriage covenant that forms the basis for the entirety of God’s commands to His people throughout Scripture. Again, this was why there was a need for a Redeemer, One who would do on our behalf what we could not do, namely to perfectly obey God’s commands. In doing so, this Redeemer, Jesus the Messiah, died on the cross to restore our broken relationship with our Creator, to make it possible for God to once again tabernacle with His people. The Apostle Paul states in Romans 5:10, “For if we were reconciled with God through his Son’s death when we were enemies, how much more will we be delivered by his life, now that we are reconciled!” Christ gave His life so that we might have restoration of life. His obedience provides the means by which eternal life and the restoration of all things is made possible.

I say all that to provide the background for why the fulfillment of Sukkot is a now but not yet phenomenon. Just like God dwelled in part with His people in the wilderness tabernacle and later in Solomon’s temple, he dwells in part within our lives, at least in the lives of the elect. So what do I mean by He dwells in part in our lives? As we noted at the outset of this post, God is slowly unfolding His plan of redemption and restoration of relationship. It is a return to that which was lost, that dwelling in full of God with His creation that is being accomplished in part at this time in history, with the ultimate and complete fulfillment taking place when Christ returns. Until that time, we await, holding on to the first fruits of the Holy Spirit as a down payment if you will on the future fulfillment of Sukkot. The Holy Spirit resides in our hearts, working in our lives so that we might be that chaste and holy bride, a people who constantly long for the return of the bridegroom. When the bridegroom returns, the glorious event Jesus spoke of in John 14:3 will take place, “I will return to take you with me; so that where I am, you may be also.” When Christ returns for His bride, He will bring her to himself, tabernacling with them in the finality of the betrothal marriage process. What a truly glorious day that will be!

Mitch Glaser aptly notes “Ultimately, the whole earth will become the sukkah booth of God, and He will reign in the presence of His Son for all eternity. This reminds us of Solomon’s prayer, where he understood clearly God’s intention to fill His redeemed earth with His very presence.”[3] When that time comes, we will be in the presence of God forever, dwelling with our bridegroom in a redeemed and restored creation, that return to that which was lost, the completion of God’s buyback program instituted from before the foundation of the world. The sin problem and the impact that sin had on all of creation will be finally and completely dealt with as death will be no more and the sin issue that impacted the dwelling of a holy God with His creation will also be dealt with. The first fruits harvest will become a completed harvest and we will dwell with our God, our Creator, our Redeemer for all eternity.

This is the message of Sukkot. God is moving history towards the time when all things will be made right. God will establish an everlasting sukkah. “How blessed are those who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9)

As we close out this journey through the Feasts of the Lord, let us leave you with the following declaration of the Psalmist:

“Goodness and grace will pursue me every day of my life; and I will live in the house of Adonai for years and years to come.” (Psalm 23:6)

When the Feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled, we will forever dwell in the house of the Lord, we shall see Him face to face, and we shall praise the glorious name of Yahweh for all eternity. May that day come quickly!

References:

[1] ] Barney Kasdan, God’s Appointed Times (Baltimore: Lederer Books, 1993), 100.
[2] C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament: Pentateuch (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996), 19.
[3] Mitch Glaser, The Fall Feasts of Israel (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1987), 213.

Please follow and like us:
0

Michael Boling – Feasts of the Lord: The Feast of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)

quotescover-jpg-92

“Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of Sukkot for seven days to Adonai.” (Leviticus 23:34)

“You are to live in sukkot for seven days; every citizen of Isra’el is to live in a sukkah” (Leviticus 23:42)

“You are to keep the festival of Sukkot for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing-floor and winepress.” (Deuteronomy 16:13)

The seventh and final Feast of the Lord is Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. Wrapping up the fall feasts, this holy convocation is celebrated for a period of seven days lasting from Tishrei 15 to 21. Unlike the previous two feasts, that of Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) which formulate the days of awe, a time of repentance and self-reflection before God, Sukkot is a time of great celebration when families and communities come together to built sukkah. Continue reading “Michael Boling – Feasts of the Lord: The Feast of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)”

Please follow and like us:
0

Michael Boling – The Feasts of the Lord: The Fulfillment of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)

quotescover-jpg-83

In our previous post, we explored the background and celebration in ancient Israel of the Day of Atonement also known as Yom Kippur. In keeping with how we have addressed all of the other feast days thus far, in this post, we will examine the fulfillment and future fulfillment of this holy convocation. I will be using the Complete Jewish Bible translation in this post in order to demonstration how the terminology we discussed in the previous post, is found in the passages of Scripture that identify the fulfillment of this feast.

In Romans 5:8-9, the Apostle Paul writes “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” In this passage, we clearly see that Christ’s death was the atoning sacrifice for our sin. His shed blood did that which the blood of bulls and goats, to include the azazel, could never fully do.

The establishment of the Day of Atonement with the various sacrificial rituals, all pointed to one individual, Jesus the Messiah. The book of Hebrews spends a great deal of time outlining the fact that the sacrificial system was a temporary goal that was leading to a time when the Perfect Lamb of God would come to deal with the sin problem. No longer would there be a need to shed the blood of an animal or to send an animal into the wilderness. At the cross, the shed blood of the Lamb of God atoned for our sins before a holy God.

If we remember back to our last post, it was noted the Day of Atonement was a yearly convocation, one that was to be celebrated permanently. Let’s first look at why this had to be celebrated yearly with the requisite sacrifices and cleansing rituals. Once a year, the high priest presented himself to God on behalf of the people, following the sacrificial requirements in order to atone for his own sins, the sins of his family, and the sins of the people of Israel. There was a yearly requirement to perform this sacred duty because until the coming of the Messiah, the shedding of the blood of the perfect Lamb who was promised to come and deal with the sin problem had not yet taken place. Hebrews 5:1-5 states:

“For every cohen gadol taken from among men is appointed to act on people’s behalf with regard to things concerning God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and with those who go astray, since he too is subject to weakness. Also, because of this weakness, he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as those of the people. And no one takes this honor upon himself, rather, he is called by God, just as Aharon was. So neither did the Messiah glorify himself to become cohen gadol; rather, it was the One who said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”

Let’s reintroduce ourselves to some terms as we examine this passage. The cohen gadol is the high priest. He was appointed to represent the people before God and to offer the required gifts and sacrifices in the temple. Notice that Hebrews 5 mentions the necessity for the high priest to offer sacrifices for his own sins due to his own weakness and proclivity to sin. The high priest was a godly man, but not a perfect man. The shedding of the blood of the animals was necessary because the Messiah, the perfect One, had not yet come to do what that system could not. Jesus willingly took it upon himself to be that perfect sacrifice. In doing so, he is not our great high priest in the order of Melchizedek as noted in Hebrews 5:6 which states “Also, as he says in another place, “You are a cohen forever, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek.” No longer was there a need for the Aaronic priesthood to offer the blood of animals. Our Great High Priest, Jesus the Messiah, came to be that representative before God on our behalf so that through Him we can access God. But wait, there’s more!

Please follow and like us:
0

Michael Boling – The Feasts of the Lord: The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)

quotescover-jpg-36

“For on this day, atonement will be made for you to purify you; you will be clean before Adonai from all your sins. It is a Shabbat of complete rest for you, and you are to deny yourselves. “This is a permanent regulation. (Leviticus 16:30-31)

“The tenth day of this seventh month is Yom-Kippur; you are to have a holy convocation, you are to deny yourselves, and you are to bring an offering made by fire to Adonai. You are not to do any kind of work on that day, because it is Yom-Kippur, to make atonement for you before Adonai your God…You are not to do any kind of work; it is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live. 32 It will be for you a Shabbat of complete rest, and you are to deny yourselves; you are to rest on your Shabbat from evening the ninth day of the month until the following evening.” (Leviticus 23:27-28, 31-21)

“‘On the tenth day of this seventh month you are to have a holy convocation. You are to deny yourselves, and you are not to do any kind of work;” (Numbers 29:7)

We are now going to move on to a discussion of the second of the Fall Feasts of the Lord, the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. This particular day was one of the days of awe, a holy convocation just like the other Feasts, but considered to be “Israel’s most awesome holy day.”[1] A day of such religious significance certainly deserves our attention and in this post, we will examine how the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur was observed as commanded by God.

Before we begin our examination of the Day of Atonement, it is worth mentioning this particular event, as is often the case with the Feast days, is known by a few other names throughout Scripture. Being able to recognize these other titles for this day is important, given the necessity to identify when this Feast is being referred to and why. Other than the title Yom Kippur, this Feast is known by at least 5 other titles. I will include Yom Kippur in the list in order to provide at a glance the entire range of names.

1. Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
2. Face to Face
3. The Day (or the Great Day
4. The Fast
5. The Great Shofar (Shofar HaGadol)
6. Neilah (the closing of the gates[2]

As we walk through this Feast, we will discuss each of the above names to include noting the importance of each facet in the process, demonstrating why those names were used.

The Day of Atonement as commanded by God in Leviticus was a solemn day of the year. It was on this one day that the high priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, essentially entering the presence of God, thus the use of the term “face to face.” Keep in mind that entering the Holy of Holies was no small matter. It required a great deal of preparation on the part of both the priesthood and most importantly, the high priest. For instance, “the high priest was required to wear holy garments woven from white linen instead of his normal colorful garments overlaid with the golden breastplate. His linen garments were worn only on that day and never again.”[3]

Another interesting element of the pre-Yom Kippur preparations was that “Seven days before Yom Kippur the high priest moved from his home to his chamber in the Temple. During this week he alone conducted the service, offered the daily sacrifices, sprinkled the blood, burned the incense, and tended the lighting of the Menorah. He did this for seven successive days in order to become well versed in the details, so that he would make no mistake on Yom Kippur.”[4] One can quickly see the high priest took this Feast day very seriously. It was a day of meeting God in order to perform a very important yearly event.

This yearly event that formed the crux of the Day of Atonement is noted in Leviticus 16:30, “For on this day, atonement will be made for you to purify you; you will be clean before Adonai from all your sins.” The high priest, as the spiritual representative of the people of Israel before God, made atonement for his own sins and the sins of the people on this particular day. Thus, there was an increase in the amount of sacrifices and cleansing rituals over that of the typical priestly work. Unlike the typical Jewish day, the services at the temple on Yom Kippur commenced the following morning. The high priest, instead of the typical washing of the feet, was required to totally immerse himself in a special golden bath behind a curtain held by the other priests to provide a bit of privacy. It was after this ritual washing, that the high priest donned the special linen garments. Interestingly, this washing and donning of the special linen garments was a ritual that took place five times during this special day, if anything, signifying the great care taken to remain ritually clean as the high priest carried out the duties of this special day.[5]

Since the high priest was the one responsible for providing the atonement sacrifice for himself and the sins of the people, this involved its own ritual methodology. During the period of the second temple, the high priest’s confession before God involved a total of three separate confessions, each leading up to one another in a progression. The process of the giving of the confessions went like this:

“The first confession was on the account of his own sins and those of his household; the second, on the account of the priestly tribe of Levi; the third, on the account of the whole people. On this occasion only, in the entire year, the confession included the priest’s saying aloud the name of God embodied in the Hebrew letters YHVH (called the Tettragrammton)…In each confession, when the high priest reached the recitation of the name, the whole people would prostrate themselves and say aloud, “Baruch shem K’vod malchuto l’olam va’ed,” which means, “Blessed be the Name of the radiance of the Kingship, forever and beyond.” On the third recitation, the one for their own sins, they knew that the high priest had just before on this one occasion in all the year, entered the Holy of Holies, the inmost room of the temple where God’s presence was most fully felt. He entered it three times and only then came out to confess on behalf of all the people and put their sins upon the head of the goat for azazel.

The result of this triple entry into the Holy of Holies, this tripe recitation of God’s most holy name, and this triple prostration by the entire people, was an utterly awesome sense of God’s presence making atonement for His people, cleansing them from their sins, permitting them to begin the year afresh, renewing their lives. So total was this sense of transformation that, after it, the mood of the people shifted from solemn awe to joyful celebration. The young, unmarried men and women went to dance in the fields and to choose spouses for themselves. Yom Kippur and the fifteenth of Av were the only days in the year when this kind of mass public espousal would take place.”[6] We will return to a few elements of this process a bit later.

Another important element of Yom Kippur was the fasting leading up to the actual Day of Atonement. The idea of fasting for Yom Kippur stems from the command given by God in Leviticus 23:27 with the notation to deny themselves. The Hebrew word oni which is often translated as humble, deny, or afflict literally means to fast. Barney Kasdan notes this idea also comes from Isaiah 58:5 where “this word is used specifically for going without food.”[7] Prior to this time of fasting, there was the observance of a holiday meal with white cloths and the best dishes being used as a remembrance of this high holy day and the white symbolizing the cleansing from sin that would take place on the Day of Atonement. Once the fast began, it took place from the point of sundown on the 9th of Tishri until sundown the following day. This fast involved total abstinence from any food or water.

In our previous post on the Feast of Trumpets, we discussed the various reasons the Shofar was blown. One of the reasons was the call to the people to gather and remember. Specifically, we noted the Shofar’s mighty blast is a reminder for humility and the power and awesomeness of God. The necessity for humility has already been noted in relation to the fast that preceded Yom Kippur. The blowing of the Shofar on Yom Kippur was known as the Great Trump or the Great Shofar, signifying that call to humility before the power and awesomeness of God on this most solemn of days.

Yom Kippur was also known as Neilah or “The Closing of the Gates of Heaven.” This title was derived from the final or closing element of the Yom Kippur service. It was believed “the gates of Heaven are open during the days of repentance to receive our prayers for forgiveness and that they close after the neilah service…When the final blast of the Shofar (the Shofar HaGodal, the Great Trumpet) is heard at the end of the neilah service, those who have observed the day with sincerity should feel that they have been inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.”[8] The neilah and Yom Kippur concluded with the people reciting the Shema, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.”

One final element I would like to discuss is the azazel or the scapegoat. Leviticus 16:21-22 states:

“Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.”

The azazel was “The high point and most unusual element of the Yom Kippur sacrificial ritual.”[9] The word azazel is not used in the Old Testament other than in Leviticus 16:21-22 and thus its meaning is somewhat shrouded in a bit of mystery. Some Old Testament scholars, such as Keil and Delitzsch averred the azazel represented “the head of the evil spirits” or “the father of all sin.”[10] In other words, the scapegoat or the azazel literally would take back the sins of the people to Satan as it was let go into the wilderness. Others have noted the root of the world azazel “contains the idea of removal. The name azazel and the action of sending away the goat was designed to teach the Israelites that their sins, once removed, would also be forgotten. The Septuagint, Vulgate, and a number of other ancient translations understood azazel to literally mean “the goat that departs.” The word is viewed as a combination of ‘ez, meaning goat, and azal, to turn off or away.”[11] Regardless of the true meaning of the word azazel, both the sacrificial goat and the goat that was sent into the wilderness formed an important part of the Yom Kippur ceremony. The sacrifice of the one goat signified the shedding of blood for sin. The sending away of the other goat likely meant the removal of sin or the sending away of the sins of the people back to the place where sin derived.

Hayyim Schauss provides some additional background on the azazel and the process of the goat going into the wilderness. He notes:

“The goat is led to a specified spot about ten miles beyond the city, where a precipitous cliff overhangs a ravine. Prior to Yom Kippur, ten booths were erected as stations along the way. Food and drink is available in each booth for the escorter of the scapegoat, for he may break his fast if the journey weakens him. But he never does break his fast. A group of Jews escort him from the Temple to the first booth, and in each booth there is somebody to meet him and escort him to the next booth. He is not escorted, however, all the way to the cliff, his escort stopping and watching from afar.”

When man and goat come to the cliff, the red sash is removed from the goat’s horns and divided in two. One part is attached to the cliff and the other half tied to the horns or the goat, which is then pushed over the cliff, life passing out of him as he falls into the ravine.

The news that the scapegoat is in the wilderness is quickly brought to the High Priest. Meanwhile he has sacrificed the young bull and the second goat on the altar; he now begins the reading of the Torah.”[12]

The observance of the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur was a very solemn occasion, most notably due to the realization this was a time of retrospection and forgiveness of sins by God for His people. In our next post, we will look at the fulfillment of this high holy day.

References:
[1] Marvin Rosenthal, The Feasts of the Lord (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997), 119.
[2] “Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement,” Feasts of the Lord, September 15, 2013, accessed September 15, 2013,http://www.feastsofthelord.com/ss/live/index.php?action=getpage&sid=204&pid=2192.
[3] Rosenthal, 120.
[4] Hayyim Schauss, The Jewish Festivals: From Their Beginnings to Our Own Day (Cincinnati: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1938), 126.
[5] Rosenthal, 122.
[6] “Yom Kippur.”
[7] Barney Kasdan, God’s Appointed Times (Baltimore: Leder Publications, 1993), 79.
[8] “Yom Kippur.”
[9] Mitch Glaser, The Fall Feasts of Israel (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1987), 88.
[10] C. F. Keil and H. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament: Pentateuch (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996), 590.
[11] Glaser, 89.
[12] Schauss, 139.

Please follow and like us:
0

Michael Boling – The Feasts of the Lord: The Fulfillment of Yom Teruah (The Feast of Trumpets)

quotescover-jpg-98

“Blow the trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; For the day of the LORD is coming, For it is at hand.” (Joel 2:1)

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (I Thess. 4:16-18)

As with the other Feasts of the Lord we have covered thus far, in this post, we will examine the possible ways in which Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets) will be fulfilled. Unlike the other feasts we have discussed, the fall feasts have yet to be fulfilled in the biblical timeline. Given the variety of viewpoints on matters of eschatology, we will be spending less time examining those respective approaches to end times events and more time connecting what the blowing of the Shofar represents in Scripture and in ancient near eastern (ANE) practice to determine as best we can how Yom Teruah will be fulfilled.

The 8th century Jewish scholar Ma’se Daniel once wrote:

“Messiah ben David (son of David), Elijah and Zerubabbel, peace be upon him, will ascend the Mount of Olives. And Messiah will command Elijah to blow the Shofar. The light of the six days of Creation will return and be seen, the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and God will send full healing to all the sick of Israel. The second blast which Elijah will blow will make the dead rise. They will rise from the dust and each man will recognize his fellow man, and so will husband and wife, father and son, brother and brother. All will come to the Messiah from the four corners of the earth, from east and from west, from north and from south. The Children of Israel will fly on the wings of eagles and come to the Messiah…”[1]

As we can see, the expectation surrounding the sounding of the Shofar has been connected for some time in both biblical and Jewish thought with the return of the Messiah for His people. This Messianic expectation can be observed throughout Yom Teruah. As we noted in the previous post, Yom Teruah was the beginning of the Jewish spiritual year as well as the beginning of the Jewish New Year as well. Something that is very interesting in this regard is presented by Barney Kasdan who provides the following observation:

“All the details of Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year) become more interesting as we consider the New Testament and the life of Yeshua. The bulk of biblical evidence has led me to agree with those who say the Messiah’s birth took place in the late fall, not the winter. If this is true, we can approximate the time when Yeshua started his public ministry. As Luke notes in his Gospel (3:23), Yeshua was “about thirty years old” thus placing his baptism and first preaching in the fall of that year.

Consider the parallel themes to Rosh HaShanah. Would it be surprising that Yeshua took a special immersion/mikveh in the fall of the year (Matthew 3:13-17)? Is there an relationship to the forty day period of testing by the adversary (Matthew 4:1-11)? And what was the message Yeshua immediately started proclaiming after the forty days? “Turn from your sins to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!”

What better time could there have been for the Messiah to start his earthly ministry than the time of the spiritual new year? The historical evidence seems to indicate the month of Elul served as the perfect time of preparation for the greatest spiritual message ever to come to Israel: return to God, Messiah has come!” [2]

Passages such as Psalm 89:15 which states “Blessed [are] the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance” take on a whole new perspective when the coming of the Messiah to be the propitiation for our sins took place during this festival period. Just as the blowing of the Shofar represented a time of awakening, when Jesus declared to the people of Israel, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”, this was a declaration to awaken from their spiritual slumber and to awaken them to the fact the promised Messiah had come. The Apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 15:46 states “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.” This spiritual awakening began to take place in earnest with the coming of the Messiah.

Another interesting element of this fall feast and its future prophetic fulfillment is the time of year it takes place. Marvin Rosenthal comments “The Feast of Trumpets is Israel’s dark day. It occurs at the New Moon when the primary light of the heavens is darkened. Israel’s prophets repeatedly warned of a coming dark day of judgment. They knew it as “the Day of the Lord,” that terrible period of time at the end of this age when the Lord would pour out His fiery judgment…But even as the darkening of the moon in the night heavens announced the Feast of Trumpets, so, too, the heavens will be divinely darkened in a future day as the Day of the Lord commences.”[3] We can see that before the judgment of the Lord, a trumpet will sound. So what will the blowing of that trumpet before the judgment of the Lord, that terrible Day of the Lord signify?

Rosenthal notes there are only two occasions in Scripture where God is said to be the one who blows the Shofar. One was at Mt. Sinai when God provided Israel with the Torah, His word, and the other will be at the time when the Word, the Messiah will return. There is an interesting parallel between the events that took place at Mt. Sinai and that which the prophets described would take place at the return of the Messiah, both occasions when the Shofar will be blown for all to hear. As Israel camped at the base of Mt. Sinai, they observed the following:

“Now Mount Sinai [was] completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.” (Ex. 19:18-20)

The prophet Zechariah, when speaking of the time when the Messiah would return, declared a very similar sounding scenario: “Then the LORD will be seen over them, And His arrow will go forth like lightning. The Lord GOD will blow the trumpet, And go with whirlwinds from the south.”

Here we have the two occasions mentioned in Scripture where the blowing of the Shofar announces the coming down of God to meet with His people. The first time represented the giving of the Torah, God’s marriage covenant with His people. The second time will be when the bridegroom comes for His bride. Both events involved the blowing of the Shofar which if we can hearken back to the previous post, was a signal for the people that something important was taking place.

Certainly there is much debate over whether there will be a pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation “rapture” of the bride. Debate has waged for many years over the validity of each position. As noted at the outset of this post, the purpose of discussing the fall feasts, those which have yet to be fulfilled, is not to determine which position is correct nor is the purpose of this discussion to enter the fray of that debate. With that said, there are some lessons we can glean as believers from Yom Teruah in this time of preparation we are currently in as we await the coming of our bridegroom.

The first thing we must remember is the Messiah will return again as he promised. Whether that will take place before the tribulation, during the middle of it or at the end, is to some degree a moot point. What we all can and should affirm is he will return. The fact of the second coming at in and of itself should mean something to us, something more than just the simple fact of his return. Yom Teruah and the blowing of the Shofar was a time for the people of Israel to remember a number of things, first and foremost that God is Creator of the universe. A reason for the blowing of the Shofar is that Yom Teruah “is the celebration of the birth of creation and that God began to rule over the world on this day. When a king begins to reign, he is heralded with trumpets. That is why Psalm 47 precedes the blowing of the Shofar; it is a call to the nations: “Sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth.” Thus, Yom Teruah and the sounding of the Shofar during this feast signifies God as Creator and King as well as the future coming of the Messiah to rule and reign as promised.

As we also discussed in our previous post, one of the three blasts of the Shofar was to signify a time of remembrance. Mitch Glaser states “Remembrance is an appeal to God to remember His covenant with Israel and a similar appeal to man to repent of his sin and obey God.”[4] During this time of year, the Days of Awe if you will, we should be reminded of our marriage covenant with God, our necessity to be a faithful and chaste bride, and to be faithful to our bridegroom as we await his promised return. We can have great confidence that God will be faithful to His covenant promises, but “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Yom Teruah is a time when we should assess our level of faithfulness to God.

Finally, Yom Teruah gives us great confidence that death has no sting. Paul noted in I Thess. 4:18-20:

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

In Isaiah 26:19, the prophet Isaiah stated “But your dead will live, LORD; their bodies will rise– let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy– your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.”

Both these passage speak of the promise of the resurrection, an event that will take place when the Messiah returns. When that Shofar blasts, the dead in Christ and those who are alive and remain will forever be with their King and bridegroom, Jesus Christ. What a glorious promise to rest upon. So while the sound of the trumpet during Yom Teruah signified spiritual awakening, a call to repentance, it will one day signify the awakening of the dead as well, the time of the resurrection, the final nail in the coffin for death. As noted by Daniel Fuchs, “Our great expectation is to hear the trumpet that will sound as the dead are raise incorruptible.”[5] After that glorious day will come the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles, the final two feasts on the Jewish calendar which we will discuss in our next few posts.

References:

[1] Ma’se Daniel, Patai, 143.
[2] Barney Kasdan, God’s Appointed Times (Baltimore: Lederer Publications, 1993), 66.
[3] Marvin Rosenthal, The Feasts of the Lord (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997), 113.
[4] Mitch Glaser, The Fall Feasts of Israel (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1987), 38.
[5] Daniel Fuchs, Israel’s Holy Days (Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, 1985), 48.

Please follow and like us:
0

Michael Boling – The Feasts of the Lord: Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets)

quotescover-jpg-55

“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. ‘You shall do no customary work [on it]; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.’ ” (Lev. 23:24-25)

Now that the fall feasts of the Lord are rapidly approaching, it is time to resume our study of these important holy convocations. After a long summer break following the completion of the Feast of Pentecost, the next feast on the biblical calendar is that of the Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah, the Day of the Awakening Blast.

As noted by Daniel Fuchs, “The most solemn holy days of Israel’s sacred calendar are celebrated in the month of Tishri, the seventh (sabbatic) month of the year. These solemn, sacred convocations include the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. In modern Judaism, these are usually called “the days of awe.”[1] In the next post, we will engage the prophetic implications of Yom Teruah and in the process it will become very clear why that description of this feast is known as the days of awe. In this post, we are going to look at the different reasons for the blowing of the shofar or ram’s horn and just what this Feast of Trumpets was believed to have signified.

Let’s begin with an overview of the various reasons for the blowing of the shofar in ancient Israel. The 10th century Jewish Rabbi Saadia Gaon, provided 10 reasons for the blowing of the shofar. These include:

1. The Shofar is used to announce the coronation of a king. It is blown on Rosh Hashanah, the birthday of the universe, to declare God’s Sovereign rule.

2. The Shofar blast calls us to examine our deeds and return to God.

3. The blowing of the Shofar is a reminder of the time when it was blown at the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. It is a reminder to always study and cherish the word of God.

4. The Shofar’s blast is also a reminder of the oracles of the Old Testament prophets who called the people to do justice and mercy and to follow the ways of the Lord.

5. The Shofar sounds like crying, a reminder of the destruction of the Temple.

6. Since a Shofar is a ram’s horn, it is a reminder of the binding by Abraham of Isaac and the provision of a lamb, a true demonstration of God’s sacrificial love and a call for faithfulness.

7. The Shofar’s mighty blast is a reminder for humility and the power and awesomeness of God.

8. On the Day of Judgment, a Shofar will be blown to announce God’s rule over all the earth. The call of the Shofar is a reminder to prepare for that time.

9. The blowing of the Shofar foreshadows the time when peace and joy will reign when Messiah comes to rule and reign on the earth. It is a reminder to have hope and faith in the salvation provided by our Messiah.

10. The Shofar will be blown in Messianic times to announce the redemption of all things, when everyone, everywhere will recognize that God is One.[2] But wait, there’s more!

Please follow and like us:
0