This blog is where I can pour out my heart with my longing for God.

Posts tagged ‘Jews’

Troubled by Election 2012

(DISCLAIMER: Anyone is welcome to read this blog–obviously. But since it couches things in terms of Christianity, it really only pertains to those who proclaim to be followers of Christ. I mean no offense to my many friends and followers who are not Christian.)

As the results rolled in on Election Night 2012, my heart sank. Strange thing is that I figure I would’ve been somewhat as disillusioned had Romney won.

Why? Because I didn’t vote for either of them. I wrote in a candidate who will remain anonymous.

Yes, I am a Republican at this time, although I keep saying I intend to become Unaffiliated (even have the paperwork already filled out). So some of you Republicans are saying a write-in vote was a vote for Obama. Well, it didn’t matter in my state of North Carolina, did it? Romney won here, despite my non-support of him.

I remember how I fussed at my ex-husband back in ’96 when he voted for Ross Perot. I told him his vote helped elect Bill Clinton. I need to repent to the ex for that. He voted his conscience and that is never wrong.

“But we must choose the lesser of two evils!” you may declare.

Really? Says whom? Did God tell you that? I did that in the last election and was fully prepared to do it again this year until very recently. Even when some of my family members asked me how I could possibly vote for either Obama OR Romney, I avowed that I needed to vote for Romney to keep Obama out of office.

But then came a peaceful Sunday night–the first night of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) on Sept. 30. I sat in Fowler Park in Walnut Cove with some dear Christian friends as we shared sweet treats in keeping with the Feast’s tradition. As we discussed the troubles in the Arab-Israeli conflict, one of those friends–a soft-spoken, kind-hearted woman–spoke up about the coming Presidential election.

She said that she had heard a prophet of God preach that voting for what we consider an evil was basically an evil act in itself. He preached that a Christian should vote his/her conscience and that God would cover and protect that person in the coming four years no matter who was elected. (My belief is that God takes care of His people daily but that our disobedience can open a door of attack from the enemy–of our own doing, not God’s.)

When my friend said that, my spiritual eyes were opened, and I knew immediately what I had to do. I still prayed about the decision to be made but heard nothing spiritually that changed my mind. I knew I could not vote for what I considered an “evil” but must vote my conscience despite being in a tiny minority that wouldn’t make a difference in the physical outcome of the election.

But we just may have made a difference in the spiritual outcome of the election–for us and our house anyway. Unbeknownst to me, my hubster wrote in the same candidate that I did. I had no idea whom he was going to vote for when he headed for the polls on Tuesday. So now I can truly say that as for me and my house, we stood united.

Now, for those of you who are angry already that I would call Obama and Romney “evils,” please let me explain before you log out. I do not mean that personally; it’s a cliched expression. I love both of these men as people; I simply disagree with many of their political platforms and values.

As I type this right now, I am watching Obama give his acceptance speech. I find this man handsome, charming and charismatic. I believe I would be his good friend if we were personally acquainted. I am intrigued by his life story and his dogged climb up the political ladder. I hear his talk of change and liberty for all–including the broken, the disenfranchised, the poor, the minorities–and I get excited because I agree with him on all of those things. I also admire his long-lived marriage and seemingly happy family life.

A few minutes before that, I listened to Romney’s concession speech. Again, I find him handsome, charming and charismatic. I would like to know this man that I find inspirational in so many ways. I am impressed by his many years of marriage to the same woman and by their close-knit family. (A little nugget of wisdom: if you want to know the truth about a person, don’t listen to gossip; ask their kids and see how their kids support them. That tells you all you need to know about that person, thus I paid attention to Romney’s kids’ obvious respect and love for their dad.)

So why didn’t I vote for one of these men that I don’t dislike at all? Because I see things more in the spiritual than in the physical. That is not an arrogant statement. Shouldn’t anyone who claims to be Spirit-filled see more with the eyes of the Spirit than with the eyes of the flesh?

I had to look beyond physical appeal. I had to dig deeper than physical campaign promises. My belief is that the root of a thing is what matters, the true source of motivation for actions. And I cannot make the roots of either man line up with my Christian beliefs.

Christianity is key to me in a leader. Yes, yes, I know that you will argue we must separate church and state. First of all, I probably don’t totally agree with you on what that separation was originally meant to entail. But either way, it is my choice as an American to want a leader who has a foundation of Christianity upon which to base his decisions.

Obama’s life story will tell you much about his upbringing by a mother who was once an atheist, later an agnostic. A woman that he admits heavily influenced his worldview. A woman who was probably a nice gal but who did not embrace Christianity at all–even admitting that she was somewhat bitter against it. She was even rather polytheistic in her latter days.

If you think her views are not inherent in her son, think again. Obama may claim to be a Christian, but I would bet you it’s not the type of Christianity you evangelicals or Pentecostal-type people like me bank on. But that’s not my biggest beef with him, religiously speaking.

My complaint is that he has done more than any other President to make Islam an acceptable religion. You say, “Well, this is a free country. Muslims are welcome here.” Yes, yes, it is, and yes, yes, they are. But as a believer in the one true God–not Allah–I cannot accept the validity of any other religion as true. (I realize that I will lose some friends over this, but I–like the prophet Elijah who proclaimed YHVH to be the only true God while confronting the prophets of Baal–cannot deny the sovereign God that I serve. I would still like to be your friend, no matter what you believe.)

The more we accept Islam as a “sister” religion to Christianity, the more we water down the true message of Jesus Christ who said,  “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. If you believe the Bible, then how can you deny that there is no other means of salvation?

I cannot vote for a man who denies the message of Christianity by becoming a religious bedfellow with a false god. I can see being friends and loving all mankind in the brotherhood of man, but don’t compromise the message of Christ by accepting their religion along with their humanity.

There’s much more to be said as to why I didn’t vote for Obama–namely his views on abortion and the potential he has to appoint Supreme Court justices who agree with him on the fate of the unborn. But let’s save the abortion debate for another blog post.

Another issue that troubles me with regard to Obama is that I am not totally sold on his support for Israel. I know he has financially supported Israel and that many wealthy Jews in this country support him because of that. But I don’t necessarily trust the discernment of wealthy Jews; I trust the discernment of my Christian friends who live or minister in Israel and are led by the Spirit of God. And they say pretty much unequivocally that Obama is no true friend of Israel. He made some strong statements about having Israel’s back, but I note that he didn’t make those statements until Sept. 2012. Political pundits say that he was savvy and knew he had to have the vote of those Americans (most of us) who support Israel.

“Why does Israel matter?” you may ask. Because the Word of God basically says, in a nutshell summary, that whoever stands with Israel will be blessed and whoever doesn’t, won’t. In the end times, it will matter HUGELY who stands with Israel–God’s original chosen people that He still loves and blesses. An Israeli newspaper recently reported that Obama, despite his alleged support of Israel, has stated that although he agrees with Israel having the right to defend herself, he will not back Israel if they go to war against Iran. The day will indeed come when all nations will turn on Israel; I just don’t want to hasten that day with my vote.

Odd though it may seem, it matters more how a President stands on Israel than it does on how many campaign promises he makes to feed you, clothe you, make sure you’re taken care of. We are even commanded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I am troubled in my spirit–and yes, this is from God–that we have become a nation that votes selfishly rather than by the Spirit of God which is always unselfish. We care about our full bellies, our comfortable homes, our good jobs. And who doesn’t want that? I sure do.

But should that take priority over what God’s top priorities are? I can promise you that if you seek first the kingdom of God–in other words, seek the greater good sometimes rather than your own–all these things that you need will be added unto you. You vote for a President who fully supports Israel, and your needs will be met abundantly. Bold statement, I know, but truth, I do believe, according to Scripture.

And why didn’t I vote for Romney? Primarily because the root of his faith is Mormon. I have many Mormon friends, and I love them. But I’m not going to tell them that I believe their religion is correct. Yes, they believe in Jesus, but they have another book that they also adhere to besides the Bible. “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.” Rev. 22:18. The Book of Mormon is full of prophecies that are never mentioned in the Bible and don’t coincide with God’s Word.

How do I know so much about Mormonism? Because when I was a troubled 18-year-old who was desperate for a more real relationship with God, I nearly became a Mormon, hung out with them at Carolina, entertained Mormon missionaries regularly in my dorm room, studied the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith was a fraud, my friend. Bold words again, I realize, but false prophets must not be upheld.

Even when I realized the truth about Mormonism and how it didn’t coincide with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I still loved my Mormon friends. And I still hung out with them. I admire the family values and morality promoted by Mormonism. Heck, I love Donnie and Marie like crazy!

But Mormonism is not a subset of Christianity to me. I am astounded by how many of my Spirit-filled friends begged people to vote for such a Godly and Christian man as Romney so that we could get God back into the White House. Which God are we talking about? Jesus Christ as God or the Mormon version of God? Again, that could be another entire blog post.

Now you know why I didn’t cast my vote for either of the mainline candidates. I considered voting for the Libertarian Gary Johnson but couldn’t, after hearing him say time and time again that his views on separation of church and state are such that he would never consult God before making a political decision. A so-called Christian separating prayer from political leadership? That heavily disturbs me.

So I wrote in a candidate. My conscience is clear tonight as I ready myself for bed after Election 2012 has unofficially ended.

I leave behind this election season, troubled over many things. I am troubled by the role color played in this election. I consider myself color-blind, as those of you who know me best realize. Remember how proud I was when I found out one of my Bray ancestors was a freed black slave? Oh, how I rejoiced over that! So color will never play a role in whom I vote for.

But I have white friends who wouldn’t have voted for Obama had he been a fiery Pentecostal preacher–simply because they didn’t want a black man in the White House. I’ve seen Facebook posts by some white friends tonight already that are talking about “us versus them.” Give me a break. Race should never figure into anything. If we’re Christians, we’re all of one blood–the blood of Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, I have black friends who say they voted for Obama based on his political views. But I will admit that I think race played a huge role for many of them. These ultra-Christian black friends of mine do not support abortion. They stand with Israel. They do not support Islam. Yet they voted for Obama and say his agenda is akin to theirs. If he had been a white man with these views, would they have voted for him? Some of them, perhaps; many of them, no.

I reiterate that race indeed played a crucial role in this election. When are we going to look beyond the color of a man’s skin to see what he’s really all about? MLK Jr. preached that, yet we’re still clinging to color half a century later. I pray to God that I listen to the Spirit of God and vote for a candidate based SOLELY on values and political agenda with NO THOUGHT WHATSOEVER of his color.

Both blacks and white are guilty of this, I believe. Prejudice works both ways.

If you know me, you know that I am full of the love of God. I want peace, love, joy and happiness. I am Miss Rose-Colored Glasses, Miss Eternal Optimism, Miss Love Everybody No Matter What. Well, guess what? I am still those things. I still love all of you, despite our differences. And I hope you love me, too.

But as a Christian, I cannot deny what I believe to be the Word of God. Yes, my interpretations may not all be correct, but the crux of what I said is pretty much undeniable to most Christians who claim to be full of the Spirit of God. As we draw closer to the end of time, the line in the sand between Christian and non-Christian will be more clearly drawn. We must be bold to preach the unadulterated Word of God but still be full of the love of God for all mankind.

Nonetheless, remember that Jesus said they will hate us in the end. He said that if they have called our Master Beelzebub, then why do we expect to be popular with the world? But again, no matter how we are persecuted, we must not strike back–neither physically nor verbally. Hate breeds hate and is not of God. Vile words against the other political party members or the re-elected President do not minister grace to the hearer and again ARE NOT OF GOD. We must continually exhibit His love and desire that all men may be saved. It is possible to stand up for your beliefs and be loving at the same time.

Shalom to you on this historic night of Election 2012.

Feast of Tabernacles: the season of our rejoicing!

I’ve gone through yet another season of what we often call Jewish holidays (I call them Feasts of the Lord), and we’ve come to my favorite one of the year. Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, is the most joyful feast of all to me.

It is the 7th feast, held in the 7th month, lasting for 7 days. Ahhh, perfection.

And because God loved His people so much, He asked them to extend the festival 1 more day, to tarry with Him a little longer. In fact, an ancient Jewish midrash (story, exposition, interpretation) claims that what God said to His people about His rationale for the extra day was, Your departure is difficult for me. Stay with me one more day.”

Isn’t that beautiful? Think of how much you love your significant other and what it would mean to you if he/she begged you to stay a little longer with him/her. Surely it would thrill your soul. Well, even more so when it’s the Creator of the Universe–the ultimate Lover of your soul–who asks you to linger with Him.

During this 8-day celebration, there is an emphasis on good food. I like that! Each night, observant Jews eat dinner in their sukkah (booth)–a little hut constructed in the yard to recall the reason for this holy feast: that God provided well for the Israelites as they dwelt in booths (sukkot is the plural of booth in Hebrew) in the wilderness. You might invite the neighbors over for cake and wine (grape juice for me–ha ha!) in the sukkah as you enjoy the evening air and gaze on the stars and nearly-full moon in the night sky.

Sound like fun yet?

And guess what God commanded the Jews to do during this week? REJOICE! Wow, somebody please command me to rejoice–I will definitely oblige!

But this is just for the Jews, you say. We Gentiles don’t bother, do we? Well, if we do choose to celebrate Sukkot, we will enjoy the blessing of it. The early church, which was of course predominantly Jewish by birth, still celebrated the annual Feasts of the Lord, until this practice was eventually frowned upon when Catholicism took root.

But the main reason we Christians would profit from studying and/or celebrating Sukkot is that it is a festival of hope for the future. Yes, it celebrates the past (“He has provided for us before, as in the wilderness”) and it solidifies the present (“He is providing for us even now!). But this Feast points forward to the future when His provision will be eternal.

It reminds us that we will tabernacle with our Lord forever one day. Every day in eternity will be Sukkot. You see, the Feast could’ve ended in the prescribed 7 days–7 being the number of divine completion.

But it didn’t. There is an 8th day–8 being the number of new beginning, a number outside of time as it doesn’t exist within our neat, little 7-day week. The 8th day represents eternity.

Jesus fulfilled the 4 spring feasts: His death (Passover), His burial (Feast of Unleavened Bread), His resurrection (Feast of Firstfruits) and His outpouring of the Holy Ghost (Pentecost). But the 3 fall feasts have yet to be fulfilled. A little over 2 weeks ago, we celebrated the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh HaShanah)–representative of His 2nd coming. Ten days after that, we had Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)–symbolic of the coming Judgment Day when His atoning blood will make all the difference for those who follow Him.

What’s next after His return and judgment? Eternity with Him–Feast of Tabernacles–the grand diamond in the crown of Jewish holy days.

When you study this Feast, some passages of the New Testament make even more sense. You’ve probably read John 7 and totally ignored that the whole chapter is about our Messiah celebrating Sukkot. You’ve probably read verses 37-38 and never questioned why Jesus suddenly rose up in the Temple and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

Just a random comment? No! If you understand Sukkot, you realize that each morning during the Feast, the priest drew a pitcher of water and poured it out as a sacrifice as part of a plea/prayer to God for rain during the coming winter months. After the long, dry summer, the rains, which began about November in Israel and lasted until around March, were crucial to crop development in the coming year. Sukkot was the time to beseech God to send the blessed precipitation.

So imagine that this water ceremony has just taken place in the Temple. And here comes Jesus–this “upstart” from Nazareth–who interrupts things by crying out that HE is the water they need. And the Word doesn’t say that He just spoke up. HE CRIED OUT.

Can you imagine the horror the Temple leaders felt? “Blasphemy!” they may have whispered to each other.

And our Lord wasn’t finished. The next day, it is recorded in John 8 that Jesus went back to the Temple to teach. He didn’t just haphazardly speak what is written in verse 12: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

That statement seems to come from nowhere. But if you know about Sukkot, you would know that each night of the Feast, there was a fabulous light display in Jerusalem. Not only were the huge Temple lampstands blazing, but also the multitudes of pilgrims in the city celebrating Sukkot would have their sukkahs alight as they rejoiced into the night.

The Jews at that time, who had just been dazzled by the nightly light show for a week, would totally “get” what Jesus was saying. He had just diverted their focus during the water ceremony to Himself, pinpointing Himself as the water they needed. NOW, He diverts their focus on light to Himself, declaring that He is the light they need.

What a nerve, the “big wheels” of that day must’ve thought. Their familiarity with Sukkot made Jesus’ comments even more inflammatory than what we clueless Gentiles perceive. It is imperative that we get out of our comfort zones and study the culture that Jesus preached in. It gives us knowledge we have been ignorant of for too long. Think about how we have sometimes made erroneous doctrines from things the Apostle Paul said in his letters–all because we did not understand the culture of that day or the circumstances of the people to whom he wrote.

Perhaps another reason that we would do well to study Sukkot in particular is that we very well may be celebrating it in Jerusalem one day. Zechariah 14:16-18 says this: “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. 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. 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. 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.”

This is an endtime prophecy that pertains to us. EVERYONE will keep the Feast of Tabernacles. Wouldn’t we do well to learn about it now? The Jews see each Feast of the Lord as a “mikrah”–a rehearsal or foretaste of what is to come. So when I keep Sukkot, I see it as a rehearsal of my blessed eternity with Him!

If we belong to Him, we have already started our eternity! We are eternal beings just passing through this mortal life before we move on to our “real” life! We rejoice because He came down to tabernacle with us in the flesh for 33 1/2 years and then returned again as the Holy Spirit Who tabernacles with us constantly!

May we give Him all the glory in this the season of our rejoicing! And to think, WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN!

Click on the link below to watch the teaching I did on Sukkot at our church, Times of Refreshing, this past Sunday morning. Just ignore the phone ringing on camera; we are a casual group that meets in a home temporarily. Beneath this link is a handout that will help you follow along with the video. Enjoy!

FEAST OF TABERNACLES (SUKKOT)

What is Sukkot?
The final Biblically-commanded feast of the Jewish year (Lev. 23:33-44)
–Celebrated in the seventh month Tishri on days 15-21 (Lev. 23:34)
–Tishri 22–Day 8–is also celebrated (Lev. 23:36)
–A sabbath with new offerings specified (Num. 29:36-38)
–Called “Shemini Atzeret” (8th, solemn gathering)
— “Atzeret” comes from a root meaning “to hold back”
–God asked Israel to tarry 1 more day! (“Your departure is
                difficult for me. Stay with me one more day.”)
“Sukkot” = “booths” (singular is “sukkah” = “booth”)
–Sometimes called Festival of Booths
–Reminiscent of how Israel had portable dwellings in the wilderness
Also called Feast of Tabernacles
–“Tabernacle” = “mishkan”; also means “dwelling place”
Celebrates fruit harvest (grapes, olives)
–Exod. 23:16– “. . .the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.”
–Firstfruits celebrated barley harvest, Pentecost–wheat harvest
Called “The Feast of all Feasts” (I Kings 12:32)
–Pilgrims came from all over Israel to Jerusalem (like Passover and Pentecost)

What is required on Sukkot?
First day is a full Sabbath (Lev. 23:35)
Only four things commanded in Torah for this Feast
–Live in sukkah (Lev. 23:42)
–Bring offering in addition to regular offerings (Num. 29:12-39)
–1st day: 13 young bullocks and many other things
–Number of bulls goes down each day: significant
–Gather the four species (Lev. 23:40)–probably to be waved joyfully
–Etrog (citron): “boughs of goodly trees”
–Lulav: “branches of palm trees”
–Myrtle: “boughs of thick trees”
–Willows: “willows of the brook”
–Rejoice (Lev. 23:40)
–Because harvest is done and/or repentance is successful
–Called “season of our rejoicing” (Deut. 16:15)–“. . .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.”
Every 7th year at this Feast, a public reading of Torah (Deut. 31:10-13)

How is Sukkot mentioned in the Bible?
Solomon chose it for consecration of Temple (I Kings 8:2-4)–shekinah glory fell!
Celebrated while wall was being rebuilt in Nehemiah’s time (Ezra 3:4)
Jesus sent His brothers to the Feast (John 7:2-8) then He went secretly (John 7:10-53)
It is mentioned for the future: all nations will come to Jerusalem for Sukkot
–Zech. 14:16– “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.”

What are the Jewish traditions of Sukkot?
Many Jews don’t connect this to High Holy Days
Some say living in huts comes from agricultural component (harvesters in huts in fields)
They begin building sukkah at end of Yom Kippur–families building together often
–Sukkah: temporary shelter, roof of branches/twigs/leaves to keep sky visible
–Must eat in it; some sleep in it. Rejoice in it; don’t suffer (go home if it rains!)
–Kids decorate it: fruit/flowers/paper chains/crepe paper/Indian corn/gourds
–God turned their wilderness into a garden
–Stresses the impermanence of life
Special theme of trusting God (as Israel in the wilderness)
–Don’t become entombed in the safety of your houses; trust God
Special “guests” are invited, 1 per night in order: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David (all wanderers or exiles)
–Women, too, now! Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Leah, Miriam, Abigail, Esther
They believe waving the 4 species brings a blessing of rain
–They circle sanctuary, branches in hands (7 times on 7th day)
–Number 4 is seen as symbolic–completion on Earth
Praise is recited each day (“hallel”)–often Psalms 113-118
Entire book of Ecclesiastes is read
–Stresses the vanity of life (dwell in huts), so eat/drink/be merry (rejoice)
–Festival season in spring starts with Song of Solomon (idealism of young love) and ends in fall with cynicism of old age!
Special readings are Exod. 33:12-34:36, Ezek. 31:18-39:16 (endtime war)
Special emphasis on birth: Day of Atonement wiped slate clean
–We begin over like newborns (water associated with birth)
Anticipates the messianic end of days (Zech. 14:16)
7th day called “hoshana rabbah” (“the great hosanna”)
–Should be full festival day, but adding 8th day changed that
–Seen as final day of judgment
–Solemn morning service (final seal not on Book of Life/Death until then)
–After morning service, festive meal with nuts, carrot rings (wealth)
Some stay up all night on 7th night to study Torah (Deut.)
–Old tradition: if you see your shadow with no head, you’ll die in next year
Week of great hospitality: visiting from sukkah to sukkah, having wine and cake
–Poor should be invited as guests
Theme of gathering in (harvest) and encircling (God surrounded them in wilderness)
Prayers for rainfall in coming winter months (Nov.-March), especially on 8th day
–Water libation (sacrificial outpouring) each morning at service
–Jesus knew this: John 7:37-38
Lighting ceremony each night (Jesus alluded to this in John 8:12 then healed blind man)
Some save lulav or willows to light fire for Passover to burn leaven or bake unleavened bread
–Ties festival cycle together
8th day: Torah festival
–Pentecost celebrates receiving Torah; Sukkot celebrates having it daily
–Very much a children’s festival with dancing, singing, carrying of flags
–7th day was end of perfect time cycle; 8th is a day beyond time
Strict Jews celebrate a 9th day–”Simhat Torah” (rejoicing in the Torah)
–Scrolls taken from ark then paraded around sanctuary
–Final verses of Deut. read, then 1st verses of Gen. (cycle renewed)
Entire festival has redemption theme–God redeemed them in desert
–Dry times in summer represented desert wandering

What does Sukkot mean for us as Christians?
It comes right after Day of Atonement (after judgment, millennial reign of Christ)
Celebrates harvest of fruit (James 5:7-8–“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
–Joel 2:23 prophesies of endtime when God sends former and latter rains in same month–final harvest!
Fruit planting takes place during spring rains (seed planted during Passover)
–Fruit matures during summer and is ready for harvest in fall
Celebrates God’s provision in the past (wilderness), present (harvest done) and future!
This Feast will be celebrated eternally as we dwell with Him (8th day)–mikrah: rehearsals
We are now tabernacles: I Cor. 6:19–“Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost”
–As He dwelt in the tabernacle of the wilderness, now He dwells in us!
Feast demands joyfulness; so does life in Christ
–Neh. 8:10– “. . .the joy of the Lord is your strength”
–Psalm 16:11– “. . .in thy presence is fullness of joy”
–Phil. 4:4–“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice.”
Jesus was probably born during this festival: rotation of priests in OT possibly proves it
–At that time, Israel was divided into 24 districts (I Chron. 24)
–Each district sent 2 priests to the Temple each week to serve
–ALL priests went to Jerusalem 3 weeks each year (Deut. 16:16)
–Zacharias, dad of John the Baptist, priest of the order of Abijah (Luke 1:5)
–His division was 8th division to go (I Chron. 24:10)
–He ministered 9th week of year (all went up 3rd week)
–He was serving his time when he was promised a son (Luke 1:8-13)
–Gabriel came to Mary in 6th month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy
–Would’ve been during Hanukkah–starts 10th month, 25th day
–Jesus born 9 months later–Feast of Tabernacles
–He came to Earth to dwell (tabernacle) among men
–He was the tabernacle in which God dwelt fully (Col. 2:9)
–Wouldn’t it be like God to fulfill a festival cycle? (born and return in 7th month)

I NEVER SHALL FORGET WHAT HE’S DONE FOR ME! (Yom Kippur–Day of Atonement!)

We used to sing a song in the choir at my former church–“Jesus, I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me. Jesus, I’ll never forget how you set me free. Jesus, I’ll never forget how you brought me out, No, no, NO, NEVER!” That’s a song that comes back to me today on Yom Kippur–The Day of Atonement–the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

Was I born a Jew? No. But I was grafted into the family when Jesus died to redeem the entire world. Do I have to celebrate the 7 Biblically-commanded Feasts of the Lord? No. I have already celebrated the 4 spring feasts symbolically, and I will one day fully celebrate the 3 fall feasts symbolically.

But I believe that each year as the feasts roll around in their cyclical way on the Jewish calendar, it is important for me and mine to study them as they relate to our salvation. Jesus the Messiah is revealed in each one. In studying these holy days on God’s calendar, I learn about the past (how Jesus fulfilled them by His death, burial, resurrection, return as the Holy Spirit), the present (how to live holy per the traditions of the feasts) and the future (how He is coming back and what will follow).

Today is Yom (day) Kippur (covering). No longer do I need an earthly high priest to enter into the Holy of Holies once a year to apply the blood of goats and bulls to the mercy seat to cover my sins.

“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come,with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Heb. 8:11-12

Yes, instead, Jesus became my High Priest once and for all. When He died on the cross, the veil into the Holy of Holies was rent in two. He had marched into the Holy of Holies, applied His own blood to the mercy seat for me and given free access to the most holy place to all who receive Him.

“For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.” Heb. 7:26-27

He was without sin, yet He became sin for me. I cannot emphasize enough the term that is used several times in the Book of Hebrews–ONCE FOR ALL. Redemption for all who will receive it. And that redemption isn’t jerked away from us when we mess up. He knows our frame, that we are but dust. And because of that, He tells us that if we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.

We in the church are so quick to condemn those who commit the “BIG” sins. (I know, because I have been on both sides–condemning those who commit the “biggies” and also committing “biggies.”) REALLY? I have seen church members who refuse to listen to a preacher who is divorced or who admits to backsliding into drug or alcohol abuse at some time in his/her Christian walk. REALLY? Who are you to judge another man’s servant?

What about the preachers who practice gluttony regularly with no recognition of that sin? What about those who are mean and hateful to their families behind closed doors while smiling graciously to their parishioners? You listen to them often enough.

What about those church members who crucify each other with their tongues? What about those respected church mothers who are quick to condemn you and murder you in their hearts for the least offense? They’re still teaching Sunday School and leading the choir, aren’t they?

Isn’t this hypocritical? Did He die for our sins (plural) before we get saved ONLY or also for those sins we might (will) commit after salvation? Why do we continue to look at Christians who sin (which is all of us–yes, you, too) and say, “That’s it. You blew it. You cannot minister/teach/preach/lead anything anymore.” REALLY? Show me where you find that in the Bible. Poor ole King David always gets mentioned in discourses on sin because of his murdering, adulterous, lying ways. (Yes, I said that about David).

But guess what? He repented and THEN (yes, after the horrible sins) was called “a man after God’s own heart.” He was still king of Israel and was still used of God.

On this Yom Kippur, I am alarmed that much of the Christian world is making the grace of God of non-effect. We judge which sins are forgivable. You think not? Then why do we say this sin (your gossip or your “white” lies which were probably not repented of) can be overlooked and you can teach Sunday School again? However, this other person who fornicated or got drunk or whatever but was truly repentant is barred from further service in the church. We might allow them to pass out tracts on the street, but no more service inside our “holy walls.”

I don’t mean to sound harsh, but perhaps it’s time we really took stock of what His atonement truly means. Redemption is serious business. Redemption is ongoing, continual. That blood is still flowing symbolically to cleanse us from day to day as we strive to live a holy life despite our flesh.

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb. 4:14-16

And as we rejoice in the fact that we may approach His throne boldly to receive mercy, let us remember that Yom Kippur also represents an event yet to come–Judgment Day. After Rosh HaShanah (Feast of Trumpets–held 10 days ago) which represents His return, there will be the Day of Judgment (Yom Kippur prophetically) followed shortly afterward by the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). (This starts in 5 days on the Jewish calendar–can’t wait! It represents how we dwell with Him eternally. Stay tuned!)

Until then, here is a Scripture that is great to keep in mind as we await His return:

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God,let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Heb. 10:19-25

Click on the video below to see the teaching I did on Yom Kippur a couple of weeks ago at our church, Times of Refreshing. Please forgive me for not pronouncing everything correctly! Beneath the video is the handout we used in our teaching. It will help you follow along. Enjoy!

YOM KIPPUR (DAY OF ATONEMENT)
What is Yom Kippur?
“Yom” = “day” and “Kippur” = “covering, ransom, redeeming”
Sixth Scripturally-commanded holy day on Jewish calendar
–Held on 10th day of 7th month Tishri for 1 day
Second event in the fall High Holy Days and Days of Awe
–The only mandated holy day that is not a feast
–The only day all of Israel fasted (called “the fast” Acts 27:9)
No mention of it taking place until 444 B.C.
What does Yom Kippur consist of?
Four main components
–Holy convocation (undivided attention to God and gathering on a sabbath)
–Humbling of souls (affliction by fasting and repentance)
–Offerings (Lev. 16, Num. 29:7-11)–including regular sabbath offerings if on a sabbath
–Complete rest (or death as punishment)
Fourfold purpose
–To show the necessity of blood and God’s hatred of sin (Rom. 6:23, Heb. 9:22)
–To show contagious nature of sin–even holy Priest had to be cleansed! (Lev. 16:6)
–To point forward to the death of the Lamb of God
–To be repeated annually to show the way into the presence of God (Heb. 10:3)
What is the order of events on Yom Kippur?
1. High priest bathed his entire body, not just hands and feet as normally
–Washed his flesh in water in the Holy Place
–Had already washed once before entering Holy Place
2. He dressed in white linen with no ornaments
–Holy linen coat, breeches, girdle, fine mitre (headpiece)
–Also wore bells on skirt with rope attached
–Bells: to alert those outside if he was impure and died
–Rope: to drag him out
3. He sacrificed young bull for himself and his house
4. He selected 2 goats
–Goats selected by lot–1 for God, 1 for Azazel (name for Satan?)
–First goat sacrificed for people’s sins
–This blood placed on 2nd goat’s head (scapegoat)
5. Before offering this blood, priest filled censer with live coals from altar and put incense on them
–Cloud of incense covered mercy seat to keep him from seeing God
6. Once in Holy of Holies, blood was sprinkled upon and before mercy seat
–Bull for priesthood’s atonement; 1st goat for people’s atonement
–2 separate trips into Holy of Holies
7. Priest laid hands on head of scapegoat and confessed sins of the people
8. Scapegoat, bearing sins of the people, released into wilderness by trustworthy man
9. Remains of sacrificed bull and male goat taken outside city and burned
What are the Jewish traditions on Yom Kippur?
Main purpose is “teshuvah”–turning FROM sin and TO God
–Process began in 6th month Elul, sped up through Rosh HaShanah and the ensuing 10 days of repentance, reached end on Yom Kippur
Five services held (1 more than usual for festivals); most highly attended all year
–Before leaving for services, blessings pronounced upon children
–Very complicated services
–Proclamations made to nullify any vows/promises unfulfilled in coming year
–Jews still see spoken word as binding: “Words are important. . .The world itself     was created by God through the power of the Word.” (A rabbi)
–Jews believe you can’t be forgiven if you have unfulfilled vows (Matt. 5:24)
–Torah reading describes service in the Temple
–Emphasis also on Isaiah 57:14-58:16
–Book of Jonah read aloud (repentance important)
–They ask God to inscribe them in the Book of Life
Jews seek “kapparah”–cleaning of the slate/new chance at life
–Seen as a “brush with death” (wearing white kittel–burial shroud–and abstaining from life-giving food and water)
Jews observe 5 restrictions (afflictions): “shabbat shabbaton”–sabbath of complete rest
–No eating or drinking (fast day from sundown to sundown, no cooking allowed)
–Children and the sick are exempt
–Fast may be broken immediately after final service
–No bathing (stricter than regular sabbath)
–No anointing of body with oil
–No leather shoes (too comfortable)
–No sexual relations
Day before is a preparation day but also a sabbath
–Based on Lev. 23:32 which calls 9th day of Tishri a sabbath
–Great sabbath meal eaten before sundown!
–Some take mikveh (ritual bath) to purify themselves symbolically
Outdated traditions include twirling rooster or hen around hen while saying prayer for the animal to be killed in one’s stead
–Priests considered this too akin to white magic
–Now some Jews instead wrap money in handkerchief and follow same ritual
–Long ago, some Jews even flogged each other 39 times
–Some Jews still go outside to bless the moon at the end of the day (as at new moon)
Charity containers place in synagogues (typical on holy days)
Candles lit for deceased relatives
Women often wear white; mean wear kittels
Jews believe that the original purpose of this day was to cleanse the Temple of any
pollution that might have infiltrated the priestly system: “Too much pollution will render
   the sanctuary defiled and push the divine presence away.” (A rabbi)
–Since the Temple is no more, they now focus on cleaning up their individual lives,
including reconciliation with others
Shofar is blown to end the holy day–shows successful passage from sin to repentance
Some Jews go home and begin building sukkah
–Ties in Yom Kippur to Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) 5 days later
How does Yom Kippur parallel our salvation?
National cleansing of Israel since the Church will be  raptured out at Feast of Trumpets?
–Zech. 3:9: “. . .And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.”
–Verse 10 refers to the millenium
Jesus, our High Priest: applied blood to mercy seat once and for all! (Heb. 5:1-10,
9:24-10:14)
–We all have access into the Holy of Holies now (Heb. 4:14-16)
Priest washing twice on each trip in: our progression in Christ
–First washing is salvation–a “must” to enter the “sanctuary” (safe place)
–To go into Holy of Holies (His manifest presence), must be saturated in the Word
White garment: us being freed from sin
–No longer can wear the “garments” worn on the outside; must “put on” righteousness
Incense often represents prayer (Psalm 141:2: “Let my prayer be. . .as incense”)
–Prayer brings us into Holy of Holies
Priest sacrificed 1st bull for his household: purity in priesthood (We are all priests now)
Jesus represented by both goats
–Like 1st goat, He was killed and mutilated for our sins
–Like 2nd goat, He took our sins upon His own head (Heb. 13:11-12)
Hebrew word for “atonement” means “covering”
–Same word as “pitch,” the substance Noah applied to the ark walls
–Came between Noah and judgment (the waters)–like Jesus’ blood and us!
Prophetic for us: final Judgment Day–Book of Life opened
–Jews either repented and were forgiven or died in sin
Day the shofar is blown for Year of Jubilee
–Lev. 25:9: “Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land.”
–Our freedom from debt!
Rabbinical scholars say that at the time of the atonement, a crimson sash was attached to the door of the Temple and another on the horn of the scapegoat
–They knew when the goat was dead in the wilderness because the sash would turn white to signify the forgiveness of sins was complete
–Is. 1:18: “. . .though thy sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.”
–Jewish literature says 40 years before the destruction of the last Temple in 70 A.D., the sash stopped turning white (No more need for the blood of animals to atone for sin!)
From the Talmud: “Forty years before the destruction of the Temple (ie. 30 C.E.) the lot did not come up in the right hand, nor did the crimson stripe become white, nor did the westernmost light burn; and the doors of the heikhal (the Holy Place of the Temple) opened of their own accord, until Rabbi Yochanon ben Zakkai rebuked them.”

Rosh HaShanah–Feast of Trumpets–HE’S COMING BACK!

Ever since God directed me to study the Feasts of the Lord back in the late ’90s, I’ve been fascinated with the Christian symbolism in these holy days that many call “Jewish feasts.” Actually, in the Bible, they were never called “Jewish feasts.” They were HIS feasts–seven of them Biblically-mandated.

The apostle Paul called them types and shadows–“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, Which are a shadow of things to come. . .” (Col. 2:16-17)

And thus each year I study the feasts as they come around, and I even teach on them occasionally. Tonight as I blog this entry, I have finished my celebration of Rosh HaShanah–Feast of Trumpets and the Jewish New Year. It is still technically going on because some of these holy days are celebrated for two days.

Rosh HaShanah, in particular, is a two-day event, because it is the only feast reckoned by the new moon. And the new moon was sometimes tough to spot in ancient Israel. What if it was cloudy? You might miss the appearance of the sliver-sized moon if you were the watchman outside Jerusalem waiting to sound the trumpet signal. So the celebration of Rosh HaShanah went an extra day–just in case. There are other reasons for two-day celebrations of one-day feasts, but that’s not the purpose of this entry.

Our church, Times of Refreshing (on the Old Paths), gathered last week on Sunday, Sept. 9, to study Rosh HaShanah. The video we made is posted at the bottom of this page, along with the handout we used to simplify the lesson.

Last night, Sunday, Sept. 16, some of our group met at 6:30 p.m. in downtown Walnut Cove–a town we have a burden of prayer for. It was not yet Rosh HaShanah as we sat at a picnic table, getting a head start on eating sweet treats as Jews do for the start of their new year.

We reveled in apples dipped in honey–the symbol of a sweet year to come! There was caramel dip as well, mini-Reese’s cups, cookies and other sweet portions, per Ezra 8:10 which tells what they did one Rosh HaShanah: “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

We sipped our sparkling white grape juice as we talked about what was going on around the world–the Muslim uprisings in particular which I believe are no coincidence as Israel’s High Holy Days begin. I had no idea when sunset was supposed to be. (I am still in such a summertime mode that I figured sunset was about 8 to 8:30.)

A sudden impulse hit me to click on my phone to check the time. Despite the fact that I was afraid Revonda, who was telling us something interesting at that time, would think I was rude, I reached for my phone. It said 7:25. I apologized after a minute, saying that I had to look because my kids were coming at 7:30 plus I was wondering when sunset was. Troy checked the weather page on his phone and was amazed when it said sunset was 7:25–exactly when I had looked at my phone!

The Feast of Trumpets had begun exactly as I felt to check the time.

We laughed joyfully at how the sunset timing had worked out. I later thought about some symbolism in even this simple event.

This past summer, I had attended a family Vacation Bible School at Rural Hall Church of God. They randomly (maybe not randomly by God!) placed me and my children in the tribe of Issachar; they had divided the many participants into the 12 tribes of Israel as classes.

As I looked at my name tag each night of VBS, I kept feeling in my gut that it was symbolic that I was in this particular tribe. When I researched the tribe of Issachar, I realized that at perhaps their most important time in Biblical history, they were the minority–very few in number compared to the rest of the tribes, yet they were the ones that all of Israel consulted in this particular situation. “And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. . .” I Chron. 12:32

People who had “understanding of the times.” I realized last night as I looked at the phone at exactly the time of sunset, when sunset was indeed the time we were waiting for, that that little “coincidence” reiterated something to me: there are those in the Christian church at this time who have an understanding of the times we live in. They are not the majority. Perhaps some of them are those in whom the gift of prophecy works.

Those who have had a hunger put into their very soul to study the Feasts of the Lord–that includes some of you reading this right now–are likely people who have understanding of the times. These feasts can reveal to us many things: from the plan of salvation foreshadowed to what will happen in the world as we near Christ’s return.

What should you do, you people who are types of the tribe of Issachar? You should pray diligently for how God wants you to disperse the knowledge you have. Be on guard that the enemy of our souls does not pervert your gifting and try to take you into legalism with regard to the feasts. He did not call you to bring people back under the curse of the law if they do not celebrate the feasts in a mandatory fashion or they don’t keep the Law precisely as outlined in the Torah.

Galatians 3:13 tells us that “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. . .”

I do not believe that we are under a curse if we don’t keep the feasts, if we eat the forbidden foods noted in the Law, etc. However, although the curse is removed, I still believe that a blessing applies if we do keep the feasts and the Sabbath or if we try to abide by the dietary restrictions. It is not a matter now of keeping the Torah because we HAVE to, but because we GET to! There is a difference in motivation.

So although I do not believe that we are still under command to keep these holy days, I believe that if we DO, there is a special blessing and revelation in it.

Thus I celebrated Rosh HaShanah from sundown yesterday to sundown tonight. I don’t own a shofar, but I listened to one online in a YouTube video that my bosom friend Robin sent me.

And it ran chills over me, bringing tears to my eyes as I realized the prophetic significance of this holy day. One day the trumpet of God will sound and in the twinkling of an eye, the long season of our wilderness journey will be over! (Remember that there are over three long, hot summer months between the final spring feast of Pentecost and the first fall feast of Rosh HaShanah–representative of how after He fills us with His Spirit as at Pentecost, we must walk out our salvation on a pilgrim journey full of trials and tribulations until the trump sounds to herald Rosh HaShanah–His second coming!)

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” I Cor. 15:51-52

Beloved, I don’t know when the Lord Yahushua is coming back. But I believe that symbolically we are in the sixth month of the Jewish calendar–the month of Elul–the month of preparation for the first day of the seventh, holy month Tishrei which is Rosh HaShanah–the Feast of Trumpets which prophetically points to His return!

If you belong to Him, you have been through the four spring feasts which have already been fulfilled in Jesus Christ–Pesach (Passover) when the blood was applied to your heart through His death, Unleavened Bread when you were freed from sin and buried with Him, Firstfruits when you experienced His resurrection power of new life after conversion and Shavuot (Pentecost) when you were baptized in the Holy Ghost for power in ministry.

You are now in the sultry summer months of the Jewish calendar, waiting for the final three feasts to begin in the fall. As you walk through the fourth month, the fifth month, the sixth month, your eyes are on that seventh month prize–HIS GLORIOUS RETURN (Feast of Trumpets–Rosh HaShanah), JUDGMENT DAY (Day of Atonement–Yom Kippur) and ETERNITY WITH HIM (Feast of Tabernacles–Sukkot).

The four feasts of the spring (four is the number of earthly completion) added to the three feasts of the fall (three is the number of heavenly/Godly completion) equals the divine completion of the number seven. So the next sound we listen for is the sound of the trumpet! THAT’S why I celebrate Feast of Trumpets–to remind me of the day of His appearing!

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” I Thess. 4:16-18

Click on the link below to watch our hour-long class on Rosh HaShanah. (Please forgive my mistaken reference to this feast as the “feast of all feasts.” I confused my notes on Feast of Tabernacles with Feast of Trumpets as I typed the lesson. So sorry!)

Our Bible study handout:

ROSH HASHANAH (FEAST OF TRUMPETS)
What does Rosh HaShanah mean?
“Head of the Year”–this term is not found in the Bible (applied in 2nd century A.D.)
–Considered the Jewish New Year
When is Rosh HaShanah?
“And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation. . .” Numbers 29:1
First day of the month Tishrei
–Tishrei: 7th month on the Jewish holy calendar–holy month.
–1st month on the civil calendar (hence New Year)
On our calendar, occurs anywhere from mid-September to mid-October
Only commanded to be celebrated for 1 day
–Jews celebrate some 1-day holidays for 2 days (moon issues)
Why is it also called Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah)?
God commanded them to blow trumpets on that day
“. . .For you it is a day of blowing the trumpets.” Numbers 29:1
–Other new moons were signaled by short trumpet blasts–this one by long ones
What were the Jews to do on this holiday?
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.’” Leviticus 23:23-25
Celebrate it as a Sabbath.
“You shall do no customary work.” Numbers 29:1
Blow the trumpets in the Temple and through the land of Israel. (Scriptures above)
–Traditionally, shofar (ram’s horn) was blown, not the silver trumpets of the Temple
–Shofar designated for Yom Kippur, Jubilee, call to battle
–A pattern of blows developed: 1 long blast (tekiah), 3 short blasts (shevarim), 9
staccato blasts (teruah), 1 long blast.
–Blown 100 times that day (several sequences)
Give offerings, some burnt
2 “You shall offer a burnt offering as a sweet aroma to the Lord: one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year, without blemish. 3 Their grain offering shall be fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for the bull, two-tenths for the ram, 4 and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs; 5 also one kid of the goats as a sin offering, to make atonement for you; 6 besides the burnt offering with its grain offering for the New Moon, the regular burnt offering with its grain offering, and their drink offerings, according to their ordinance, as a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord.”Numbers 19:2-6
How often is Feast of Trumpets mentioned in the Bible?
Besides the instructions on how to celebrate it, only once
–When the Jews returned to Israel from exile in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah (Ezra 3:1-6, Nehemiah 7:73-8:13)
“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. . .5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. . . 9And 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.’ 11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, ‘Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.’ 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.” Nehemiah 8:1-10
What Jewish traditions are held?
Month before (Elul–6th month) is used for preparation
–Shofar blown every morning after prayer service (starting Sabbath before Elul begins)
as a reminder of repentance and approach of high holy days
Week before (last week of Elul) used for repentance
–Selihot (“forgiveness”): repentant prayers made
–Intensifies on final day of Elul: mikveh is popular
Psalm 81 is read (was sung by choir)
3 books are opened: Book of Life (Death) for wicked, Book of Life for righteous, Book of Life for
in-between
–Judge writes everyone’s name in one
–Satan appears before God to accuse Israel
–Shofar blown to confuse him
–Often called Yom Ha-Din–Judgment Day
Greeting is “Leshanah tovah tikatevu” (“May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a
good year!”)–based on Psalm 69:28, Exodus 32:32-33
Casting ceremony “Tashlikh” (“cast off”) held
–Originated in the Middle Ages, still popular
–On the afternoon of Rosh HaShanah, meet near flowing body of water to recite
Tashlikh prayer (Micah 7:18-20, Psalm 118:5-9, Psalm 33, Psalm 130, Isaiah 11:9)
–At end, shake pockets or cast bread crumbs into water (Micah 7:19, Ezek. 18:30-31)
Long services held (morning–5 or more hours often)
–Focus on 3 benedictions: Malkhiyot (Kingships), Zikhronot (Remembrances), Shofarot
(Rams’ horns)
–God’s majestic kingship, His remembrance of His covenant with Israel, the key
role of the shofar in history and the future
Joyful activities are not allowed (no weddings, e.g.)
–Yet there is joy: greeting cards sent, wishing “Shanah tovah!” (“A good year!)
Certain foods eaten
–Apples dipped in honey (next year full of sweetness)
–Fruit not eaten in a while consumed at dinner 2nd night
–Round loaves of braided hallah bread, rather than oval, eaten to symbolize crowns
–Head of fish (head and not the tail)
–No nuts (numerical value of “nuts” equals “sin”)
Observed as the birthday of the world
Believed to be the day the dead would rise for judgment
Sabbath in between Trumpets and Atonement: Shabbat Shuvah (“Sabbath of Turning”
based on Hosea 14:2)
What significance does it hold for Christians?
Does not commemorate any historical event–totally prophetic
Fulfilled in a sense by God’s regathering of Israel
Only holiday held at new moon
–Dark time of the month–like dark day of judgment (Amos 5:18-20, Zephaniah 1:14-16, Joel 2:31, Rev. 6:12-17)
Focus is on the new year, a new beginning
–We are new creatures–God’s focus is on “new”
–New name, song, thing, covenant, tongues, etc.
Takes place in 7th month–month of final harvest
Trumpet reminds us of Jesus’ 2nd coming
–Will call God’s people to assembly (Rapture)
–I Cor. 15:51-52, I Thess. 4:16-17

Remembering 9-11 and knowing that a 10-18 is coming

September 11 is a date that conjures up vivid memories for Americans. Even if you were too young to remember the horrific events of that day, still you feel the pain because we relive it each year on that date. We fill our Facebook walls with photos of the Twin Towers, the American flag, our Patriot Day motto of “NEVER FORGET.” We sit glued to the TV watching specials that take us back to the day the music died, the day we had our innocence stripped from us, the day the world changed forever.

This day haunts me every year. Why? Because–and you may think I’m crazy–I knew it was coming. I didn’t exactly know WHAT was going to happen, but I knew that September 11 was a day that would mean something. If you’re not a Christian, you may scoff at this. But if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you know that He sometimes prepares His people for what is coming. Prophecy is still working in this world.

And if you’re not a Christian, you will not understand the emphasis I am about to put on Israel. It will seem foreign and even ridiculous to you. But if you are a Believer, then you just might understand the focus on the Jewish homeland, unless you are one of those Christians who believe that Israel is nothing any more. I beg to differ. Israel is our timepiece for the future, and the Jews are still the apple of God’s eye, as are His followers worldwide. (Let me clarify that Jesus is the only means of salvation, even for the Jews.)

The experience of which I write actually began a few years before 9/11. I had been prone to have spiritual dreams for many years–dreams that were sometimes even prophetic. Then one night I dreamed that I was arriving at the Stokes County Fair with my children. But somehow the fair was being canceled. Some men came out of the Legion building and said, “Haven’t you heard? The world will never be the same again.”

I never forgot the tense, doomsday-gray atmosphere of that dream. I wrote it down and literally pondered it often for the years before 9/11. Each year when the local fair began, I anticipated some sort of world-changing event.

Then came 2001. The Thursday before 9/11 (that would’ve been 9/6), I was having my morning prayer in my bedroom. I was in the floor on my face.

If you want to know the truth, I was praying a very selfish prayer that focused totally on me. I had been stricken with a mysterious illness in October 2000 and was still very unwell just 11 months later. I was asking God to give me strength to go on.

Suddenly, I heard the Lord speak to me–not in an audible voice but in that way that He imputes something into your brain that you know is Him speaking. He said, “Psalm 83.” Still being in that selfish mode, I jumped up with excitement, just sure that the Lord was giving me a Psalm that would bring me great comfort in my tribulation.

I had no idea what Psalm 83 was, but hey, it was a Psalm–those were mostly all encouraging, weren’t they?

Not this one.

I sat on the edge of my bed, facing the window that looked out at the lovely September morning, feeling quite confused as I read this Psalm. It had an ominous tone to it–all about the enemies of God doing something horrible to cut off Israel. The passage told me who those enemies were. I looked them up in the concordance and found that the descendants of these kingdoms mentioned in the Psalm were the Arab nations who hate Israel today.

Here is the Biblical passage so that you can see what I read that day, per His instructions:

Psalm 83

New King James Version (NKJV)

Prayer to Frustrate Conspiracy Against Israel

A Song. A Psalm of Asaph.

83 Do not keep silent, O God!
Do not hold Your peace,
And do not be still, O God!
For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
And those who hate You have lifted up their head.
They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.
They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”

For they have consulted together with one consent;
They form a confederacy against You:
The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites;
Moab and the Hagrites;
Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek;
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
Assyria also has joined with them;
They have helped the children of Lot. Selah

Deal with them as with Midian,
As with Sisera,
As with Jabin at the Brook Kishon,
10 Who perished at En Dor,
Who became as refuse on the earth.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and like Zeeb,
Yes, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12 Who said, “Let us take for ourselves
The pastures of God for a possession.”

13 O my God, make them like the whirling dust,
Like the chaff before the wind!
14 As the fire burns the woods,
And as the flame sets the mountains on fire,
15 So pursue them with Your tempest,
And frighten them with Your storm.
16 Fill their faces with shame,
That they may seek Your name, O Lord.
17 Let them be confounded and dismayed forever;
Yes, let them be put to shame and perish,
18 That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord,
Are the Most High over all the earth.

At the same time that this Psalm became such a huge part of my life, I was suddenly hit by the importance of these numbers: 911. Not as in “nine-one-one” but “nine-eleven.” I racked my brain for what 9-11 meant. The numbers kept rushing through my head for the days preceding the Twin Towers attack.

I even called my dear friend Heather to ask her if we had stayed in a room 911 during our recent travels to Irish dance competitions. It had become a joke to my family and friends how seriously I took the numbers of our hotel rooms at these events. I would always attach some significance to the room numbers, which was probably silly.

But for some reason, I couldn’t remember some of the room numbers from our summer trips–some of which I had taken with Heather and her kids. Heather couldn’t remember either, but she said she didn’t think we stayed in a 911. I told her I couldn’t figure out the significance of those numbers which were mentally screaming at me.

I confess that I didn’t really connect 911 to the actual date of the upcoming September 11. So when that date came, all I knew is that, due to the Psalm, I needed to pray for Israel and her allies–which of course included the U.S perhaps first of all.

I was on the couch in my den on that infamous day, talking to my sister Lori on the phone about meeting up at the Stokes County Fair that afternoon. I had already canceled the habitual Tuesday night prayer meeting at our house, so that my family could go to the fair. The TV was on PBS–probably “Sesame Street.” Some of my kids were obviously awake already.

Suddenly Lori said, “Do you have your TV on? Jon [her husband] says turn it to Channel 12. Something’s going on.” I called out to one of the kids to turn it to WXII. Somewhere in the mix of things, I believe Heather beeped through to tell me to turn on my TV. That part is foggy.

As the kids switched channels, suddenly I saw a picture of the North Tower of the World Trade Centers with smoke pouring from it. Lori told me that Jon was saying a plane had flown into it. I was astounded and at first thought it was a joke.

But it was no joke. Still I had no clue that it was terrorism. I simply assumed that a plane had lost control innocently and hit the building–a terrible tragedy, yes, but nothing more than a mere accident.

I kept watching and then was shocked to see the other plane hit the South Tower. It was then that I, and the rest of the world, knew this was terrorism. And I thought of Psalm 83 and my dream so long ago of a world-changing event occurring the very day I was going to the fair, and suddenly the absolute horror of my preoccupation with 911 for the preceding days hit me. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt–because of the Psalm–that it was a terrorist attack against us because of our support of Israel.

I even knew who did it, thanks to the Psalm–the Arab nations who hate Israel and who hate us for our allegiance to Israel. When I first got sick in October 2000, the USS Cole had just been bombed and no one was sure who to blame. I woke up in the night during the miserable sickness, tossing and turning and moaning the name, “Osama bin Laden” over and over again. I knew then he was the mastermind behind the ship bombing.

And on the morning of September 11, I knew unequivocally that bin Laden was behind the planes flying into the Trade Towers.

And let’s just say that we didn’t go to the fair that night; instead we reconvened the hitherto-canceled prayer meeting at our house.

A few years later, I attended a Feast of Tabernacles celebration in the fall at Ridgecrest Christian Conference Center in Black Mountain, NC.  I felt led to choose a workshop taught by a woman named Dee Baxter. It was called “The Islam Agenda.”

I had no clue that Dee was going to teach a lot about the significance of 9/11. She told us that the 9th letter of the Hebrew alphabet looks like a snake coiled to strike and that the 11th letter looks like a bird in flight. “9-11–the devil attacks through planes?” she was basically questioning.

Then Dee said something that made my skin crawl. She said that the 11th letter represents judgment and that Psalm 83 was key in this study because 8 + 3 = 11. She said that Psalm 83 tells us exactly who perpetrated the 9/11 attack on America–the Arab nations in confederacy against Israel. Dee told us that Mohammed originally prophesied in the Koran that the end of days will begin when Muslims worldwide join together to wipe out Israel. I have never read the Koran, but according to Dee, the version we read today has been sanitized.

I sat in that class in total disbelief. This renowned Bible teacher, whom I did not know, was confirming what God had told me BEFORE September 11, 2001.

Added on 9/15/12–**It hit me after originally posting this blog that this year was the 11th year since 9/11/01. With the emphasis on 11 as judgment, we need to think on that as well.**

What is the significance of all of this? Why would God tell me that information ahead of time yet I not totally discern what it meant until it actually happened? I believe He used this as a training exercise for me and to let me know to be listening to Him as the end times hasten toward us. A very spiritual woman at my former church in Winston-Salem had come to me in the late ’90s and told me she had had a spiritual dream about me knowing things before they happened. She spoke a word of wisdom to me: that I should listen carefully to the Lord and tell her and others if an upcoming event was revealed to me.

I did have another prophetic experience before the horrific tsunami in the region of Indonesia–too long to go into here. But very little else since then.

There was, however, one more thing that I was told which I am hanging onto until it happens. Not very long after 9/11/01, I awakened abruptly one morning with the numbers “10-18” imprinted in my brain, as if God had put them there. It was urgent that I find out what they meant.

Since 10-18 sounds like a CB radio term, I called Heather whose husband is a fireman. I also talked to my friend Sandra whose husband is also a fireman. I can’t recall now which one of them called me back excitedly to tell me that a 10-18 is an emergency response, with lights flashing and sirens sounding. “Urgent response needed, complete present assignment quickly.”

I knew then that another 9/11-type attack was coming. This time it would be a 10-18 rather than a 911 call, symbolically. I will admit that I was doubly alert each October 18th after that–in case the 10-18 represented a date the way 9-11 did. I even pondered whether it would happen on the 18th day of the 10th Jewish month, since I was so heavily studying the Jewish calendar.

To this day, I don’t fully understand why 10-18 was given to me–even confirmed in another significant way in the past few years. I simply know that this nation will face another terrorist attack. My feeling is that it will be even worse than 9/11. Do not go quote me as saying that 10-18 represents a date. I never said that. I have no idea. It probably just represents the urgent nature of what is headed our way, the way 10-18 represents “Respond with urgency.”

Those of you who know me can testify that I am a very optimistic idealist who lives her life wearing rose-colored glasses. I am not a doomsday prophet. I am not telling you to store up beans, Bibles and bullets.

Instead I am telling you to store up the Word of God, His Spirit, His love. Make sure that you are spiritually prepared. When you are, then if you need to prepare physically, He’ll let you know. I am leery of many non-spiritual people who are spending all of their time and money storing up things for the coming collapse. I, on the other hand, feel to give away as much as I can, to reach out to the world rather than to focus on self-preservation.

(Disclaimer: I feel that everyone–Christian and non-Christian–should be physically prepared to survive in case of natural or man-made disaster. In the previous paragraph, I am talking about many people who are putting TOO much focus on and money into physical preparation at the expense of spiritual focus. But IF GOD has told you to store up things, who am I to judge another man’s servant?)

Another thing I am telling you is that we as the United States cannot abandon Israel. Not that they can’t take care of themselves–they are B-B-B-BAD. But any nation that turns on them will not prosper.

I hesitated to write this blog for fear of being called crazy or being talked about. But you know what? I realized that I’m not particularly worried any more what people think of me, as long as I know my Savior is leading me and is my focus.

It is time to seek the Lord.

Pentecost–God’s covenant with His people!

As you know by now, I am a Christian who is getting back to her roots. My Messiah–my groom–was Jewish, and I want to familiarize myself with His culture. I have been grafted into the commonwealth of Israel, so I want to understand what the Jews do, how they live, what they celebrate.

So, I study the Feasts of the Lord which were outlined in Leviticus 23. And I see Jesus hidden in each one. I see symbolism that is very pertinent to modern-day Christians. I consider these feasts to be types and shadows, as the Apostle Paul said, of things to come.

Sunday, May 27, is Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) on the Jewish calendar. On the Christian calendar, it is called Pentecost. Since the Feast of Firstfruits (Resurrection Day or Easter Sunday morning), the Jews have been counting up to Pentecost–the 50-day countdown (count-up) that is called the Counting of the Omer. My kids and I have been counting along with them. What an exciting time it is!

We are almost at Day 50. For the Jews, Shavuot can come on any day of the week since their lunar calendar is so different from ours. They begin counting the omer the day after Passover, since Passover is considered a sabbath–no matter what day of the week it falls on.

Most Christians who subscribe to the Counting of the Omer, begin counting on Easter Sunday–the day after the “normal” sabbath, so that Pentecost always falls on a Sunday.

Well, guess what? This year, both Jews and Christians celebrate Shavuot (Pentecost) on the same day–Sunday! It just worked out this year that the day of the week matched for both groups.

This has been the case with every feast we have studied since December. There is a strange intermingling of the Jewish calendar and the Christian calendar this year. Could this be a sign of the times in which we live? The times of the end? The times where the Christians are drawn back to the Jewish roots of Christianity as their religion comes full circle–back to the Christianity of the Book of Acts?

Our community Bible study group started studying the feasts with Hanukkah (not one of the 7 Biblically commanded feasts but an important one nonetheless) this past year. The first full day of Hanukkah (the Festival of Lights which focuses on “increasing the light”) fell on Dec. 21–the winter solstice which celebrates the increasing of the light. Hmmm. . .

Then we learned that the 5th day of Hanukkah is the traditional day that the Jews give presents to their children. This fell right at Christmas Eve/Christmas this year. It won’t work out that way next year since Hanukkah is on different dates on our calendar each year.

When Purim came (again, not one of the 7 commanded feasts but one that is still Biblical), the Israeli prime minister had just visited with President Obama and had given him a special Purim copy of the Book of Esther. Very timely, huh?

When the spring feasts rolled around, the dates again were significant–beautifully situated with Easter. Passover came on the actual day that Jesus was crucified. This doesn’t always happen. Passover could be a Monday some years–not the day our Savior was killed.

The Feast of Firstfruits, like the others, can be any of the 7 days of the week. But this year, it was on Sunday–just as it was nearly 2000 years ago when our firstfruits representative, Jesus, arose from the dead. Next year, it won’t work out that way.

Timing is of the essence this year, it seems.

So now it’s time to celebrate Shavuot–a holiday during which we decorate with flowers and greenery, a time to read the Book of Ruth as a beautiful harvest/fertility/marriage story.

Because Shavuot is a love story feast. It represents the marriage of God to His people. The Jews believe that the Torah (law) was given to Israel on Mt. Sinai on the first Shavuot. That was God’s ketubah (marriage covenant) with His people. His laws were written on tablets of stone.

Then came the most well-known Day of Pentecost of all–the one described in Acts 2. Once again, God confirmed His marriage to His people. And not to the Jews only–this time to ALL flesh. He poured out His Spirit in the Upper Room, bringing to pass His earlier Word that one day He would write His laws–not on tablets of stone–but in the hearts of His people.

Shavuot is the time when the firstfruits of the wheat harvest were brought to the Temple and given to God. Two loaves of leavened bread were offered in wave offerings by the priests.

Let us celebrate this time not only as a renewing of the Holy Ghost within us, but also as a time to focus on the harvest. Jesus said that the fields were white unto harvest but that the laborers were few. Let us pray that laborers be sent into the ripe harvest. Let us volunteer to be part of that work crew.

It’s time to bring in the harvest!

Here is the YouTube video of a teaching I did at the Walnut Cove Public Library on Thursday, May 24, 2012. It will teach you so much about Shavuot/Pentecost. I made a handout to accompany the lesson and have included that information beneath the video below. Enjoy!

Here is the handout info that I gave to the participants in our Shavuot class.

FEAST OF WEEKS (SHAVUOT OR PENTECOST)

What is Shavuot?

A biblically-commanded feast to be kept 50 days after Feast of Firstfruits

–Celebrates the beginning of the summer wheat harvest (late May or early June)

“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. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. 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. And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be as a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the Lord. Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering. The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. 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. 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.” Lev. 23:15-22

Also called “Pentecost” (from Greek word for 50th)

Held in third Jewish month, Sivan

–Most Jews celebrate it on a fixed date, Sivan 6, which could be a variable day

–They begin counting the day after Passover (“day after the Sabbath”)

–Some Jews, especially Messianic Jews, celebrate a fixed day but variable date

–They begin counting the day after the actual Saturday sabbath that falls during the week of Passover

(will always be a Sunday).

–Torah says to count from when the sickle is first put to standing grain

“You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you.” Deut. 16:9-10

–Only biblically-ordained feast not following the moon cycle

–Only Jewish feast celebrated totally on its own

–Spring and fall feasts come in sets of 3

–Passover/Unleavened Bread/Firstfruits, Trumpets/Atonement/Tabernacles

–Connected to Passover by the Counting of the Omer

One of 4 feasts already fulfilled in Jesus

–Represents the baptism of the Holy Ghost first seen in Acts 2

Two loaves of leavened bread brought to Temple as a wave offering

This day was a sabbath, no matter what day of the week it fell on

“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.” Lev. 23:21

–It was particularly holy–one of only 3 feasts (out of 7 total) in which all Jewish men had to present themselves in the Temple (other 2–Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles)

Jewish tradition: the law was given at Mt. Sinai on the first Pentecost (Ex. 19:1)

What are the Jewish traditions of Shavuot?

Book of Ruth is read in the synagogue

–Deals with harvest/fertility as well as covenant (Ruth/Naomi)

–Supposedly, King David was born and died on Shavuot (Ruth’s descendant)

Houses and synagogues are decorated with flowers (roses, fresh myrtle); green plants; branches

–Based on Ex. 34:3 which implies that land around Sinai was very green and ripe

–This is a harvest festival

Baskets are used for gifts and decorations

–Grain offerings brought to Temple in baskets

–Tradition says that Moses as a baby in his basket was found on Shavuot

Dairy foods are eaten

–Song of Solomon 4:11 implies the Torah (“the beloved”) is like honey and milk

–Promised Land flowing with milk and honey

Many strict Jews stay up all night studying Torah

–At sunrise, they ritually immerse themselves in water

–Just as Israel had 3 days of preparation in the wilderness (Ex. 19:10-11)

All Jews stand while Ex. 19-20 is read (as Israel did at Sinai)

How is Shavuot symbolic of a wedding?

Even before Passover, God saw Israel as His bride

“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” Exodus 6:6-7

–Verb “take” here is often used to mean “taking a bride”

God took Israel as His bride by joining with them in a covenant (Torah)

–When He birthed His church in Acts, it became His bride as well

Jewish weddings must have a “ketubah” (written contract specifying what each side will do as part of the covenant)

–At Sinai, Torah was the ketubah in stone

–In the upper room in the Book of Acts, the Holy Spirit was the ketubah written on hearts

–In the Torah, God’s side of the covenant was salvation, healing, deliverance, blessings

–Why would the NT contract be any less?

Jewish couples stand under a “chupah” (canopy) as they are married

–Israel stood at the foot of Sinai, originally called the “nether” (“under”)

How does Shavuot parallel our salvation?

So far, the spring feasts have represented our initial steps to salvation

–#1: Passover–we accept the lamb (Jesus) and apply the blood (to our hearts)

–#2: Unleavened Bread–we eat bread with no leaven (repentance of sins) and prepare to leave Egypt (the world)

–#3: Firstfruits–we offer the first of our harvest to the priest (we pledge the best of our lives to Jesus as an offering)

Now comes #4: Pentecost–law was written on stone at Sinai

–On the first Pentecost after Jesus ascended, the law was written on our hearts as the Holy Ghost was poured out

“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them” Heb. 10:16

How does the Acts 2 Pentecost mirror the original?

There were supernatural signs

–Sinai: thunder and lightning

“And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.” Exodus 20:18

–Acts: fire from Heaven, mighty rushing wind

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” Acts 2:1-3

Different languages were heard

Sinai: Jewish scholars say God’s voice split into 70 languages for whole earth to understand

Acts: 120 believers spoke in other tongues; each listener heard it in his own language

–Jewish custom holds that for a prayer service to be official, 10 people must be present; 12 tribes of Israel (10 x 12 = 120)

Both took place on a mountain

Sinai: jagged mountain

Acts: upper room high in Jerusalem on Mt. Zion

Law was given

Sinai: Written in stone by the finger of God

Acts: Written in hearts by the Spirit of God

“. . .clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” II Cor. 3:3

A repayment was made

Sinai: 3000 killed for worshiping golden calf

“And about three thousand men of the people fell that day.” Exodus 32:28

Acts: 3000 saved after Peter’s sermon

“Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” Acts 2:41

The first church was established

Sinai: Israel was called a church just after the law was given

“This is he [Moses] that was in the church in the wilderness” Acts 7:38

Acts: First mention of NT church just after Holy Ghost baptism

“. . .the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Act 2:47

Men swayed as though drunk

Sinai: Priests waved the flour offerings with the bread (Lev. 23:20)

— “wave”–Hebrew “nuwph”–to vibrate and sway, to rock to and fro

Acts: Onlookers thought the people in the upper room were drunk

“Others mockingly said, ‘These men are full of new wine.’” Acts 2:13

Interesting questions and a thought about Pentecost

Why was leavened bread offered when leaven represented sin?

Why were 2 loaves offered?

Were the 120 in the upper room up all night before the Holy Ghost came?

Jews could not skip the first spring feasts and then celebrate Pentecost

–Neither can we skip the early stages of salvation and still receive the Holy Ghost baptism

Here is a video that shows the wheat harvest, set to the tune of that old hymn, “Bringing In the Sheaves.” Oh, what meaning that song has to me now!

Journey into Judaism–Feasts of Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits!

My last post detailed my journey into Judaism while yet remaining a Christian. I am particularly aware of that journey today–the quiet, peaceful Sabbath before we celebrate Resurrection Day tomorrow. I live in two worlds today: the Christian world of observing this day as the day my Savior had been crucified and buried and was preparing to rise again tomorrow and the Jewish world of the first full day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread as we prepare to celebrate the Feast of Firstfruits tomorrow.

For many years, I felt alone in my interest of merging these two worlds into a fuller Christian experience. My mother’s sister, Aunt Darlene, had begun to walk this path long before I did, and what an encouragement she was to me when everyone else thought I was crazy!

One thing that was a disadvantage to me when I began to study Judaism was the fact that some people who had been loyal members of our very large church began studying it independently of me. They went so far as to say that we must keep all of the feasts, men must be circumcised, the Torah must be strictly adhered to. These people that I loved ended up leaving our church and striking out on their own.

Naturally, that made the leadership at my church look on me with suspicion whenever my studies were mentioned. It was a tough row to hoe for a while, but I never stopped, because I WAS CALLED OF GOD TO DO IT.

Thankfully, when we began our own church in my hometown, we were free to teach on these things, and the church members were hungry for the knowledge. We introduced them to the great Hebrew teacher and scholar of Christianity and Judaism, Dr. Karl Coke, who had been introduced to me by Aunt Darlene, and he began holding monthly teaching sessions at our church. What a blessing he was to us!

I am no longer with that church, nor are any of the original members, but they have almost all gone on even further into studying Jewish culture, Hebrew, Torah and the Feasts of the Lord. What began as a seemingly small thing keeps being multiplied and spreading farther and farther abroad!

The danger with studying these Jewish things (or rather, things of the Lord) is that the enemy of our souls would like to pervert the focus. If he sees that he can’t stop a Christian from studying holy things, then his next best tactic is to subtly slide in with less visible trickery. He will try to bring Christians back into legalism. If we were just going to continue to observe the Old Testament law as our means of salvation, then why did we need Jesus (Yahushua)?

Yes, He preached Torah and he fulfilled Torah. But the apostle Paul rightly interpreted the Messiah’s approach to law vs. grace. Paul was firm when he taught the early churches that Gentile Christians did not have to be circumcised or follow the Jewish dietary laws.

“Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” he asked the Galatians.

So I believe satan has two main tactics when it comes to the modern-day church studying the Feasts of the Lord, Torah, etc.: either make them think it’s something they shouldn’t mess with at all or make them think they have to become legalistic and abide back under the law.

There is a beautiful middle ground where we still live by grace yet we are blessed by a greater understanding of the Feasts of the Lord and a study of Jewish culture and heritage. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13), but He didn’t do anything about the blessing. If we observe the Feasts, there is a great blessing in that. If we keep Jewish dietary regulations, we are blessed as well (and healthier).

But let’s don’t put heavy burdens on the Gentile church for them to bear. However, let’s quit denying the fact that our Messiah was a Jew and that we are grafted into that heritage. I can see in the Spirit how God is attempting to bring this last day church into a purer state–showing us the old paths once more, opening up old knowledge that has too long been ignored.

Whether we like it or not (I personally love it), Israel plays a very real role in our Christian lives. One day all nations will go up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. Shouldn’t we start practicing now?

Here is a teaching I did Thursday night, April 5, 2012 at the Walnut Cove Public Library. We finished up our studies of Passover that we had started last week (video posted in last blog post) and moved on to the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Firstfruits. Beneath the YouTube video link is the information I disseminated in handout form to the class. If you need the Passover handout info, go back to my last WordPress post and see the end of it.

Hope you enjoy learning the symbolism in our Easter weekend as seen through the lens of the Feasts of the Lord!

FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD

What are the characteristics of the feast? (**outlined in Exodus 12)
Celebrated in the first Jewish month for 7 days: Abib 15-21
–comes on the heels of Passover which is Abib 14
–v. 18: “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.”
Only unleavened bread could be eaten for the entire week
–v. 15: “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread. . .”
First and last days were to be sabbaths
–v. 16: “And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there  shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.”
Commemorates the leaving of Egypt (bondage) for the Promised Land (freedom)
–v. 17: “And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.”
–had to leave so quickly there was no time for bread to rise
–v. 34: “And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.”
–v. 39: “And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.”
All leaven must be removed from Jewish homes
–v. 19: “Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.”

How does the feast parallel our salvation?
Once lamb’s blood had been put on the door of the home, no leaven could be found or eaten
–Once Jesus’ blood is applied to our hearts, no sin can be left within
–I Cor. 5:7-8: “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are  unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the  feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Leaven: agent that makes bread rise: even a tiny bit left will affect the bread
–compares to sin which inflates us with pride and hot air
–I Cor. 5:6: “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?”
–even a little sin is harmful to us
–Jesus said that a woman hid some leaven in 3 measures of meal (@7 gallons) and it leavened the whole thing! (Matt. 13:33, Luke 13:21)
–Jesus compared leaven to faulty or arrogant doctrine
–Matt. 16:6, 12: “Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. . .Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and. . .Sadducees.”
–some people cannot receive a healing (physical or mental)
–they have kept sin in their lives (blocks healing)
–right after He told us we could have what we ask, He says we must forgive–Mark 11:25– “And when ye stand praying, forgive. . .”
Jesus IS the 3 things that must be eaten at the feast
–lamb: He was our Passover lamb that was slain
–unleavened bread: John 6:35– “Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life.”
–Matt. 26:26: “Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.”
–He had no sin (leaven): I Pet. 2:22– “Who did no sin”
–bitter herbs: representative of His suffering and death (we, too, must die to ourselves)
Unleavened bread: used for 5 purposes in the OT
–consecration of priests (Ex. 29:1-2)
–we are priests unto Him (I Pet. 2:9)
–vows of separation (Num. 6:1-19)
–we must vow a vow to separate from the world–NO LEAVEN!
–priestly anointing (Lev. 2:4-5)
–we need the anointing of God to minister in power
–call to service, as when Gideon was chosen (Judges 6:19-21)
–when we are called to service, we must evaluate our lives
–representation of freedom from bondage (Ex. 12:17)
–sin is a bondage that we MUST leave behind to be free
Jewish fathers lead the entire family to search for remaining leaven before Passover meal
–Paul said to examine our lives similarly before taking part in communion (I Cor. 11:28)
If leaven was found in a home, it must be burned
–we must be purged which literally meant “to set on fire and destroy”
–we are tried by fire to get rid of sin (Zech. 13:9)
Leaven is the key ingredient in bread
–puffed-up pride is the base of every sin
–Satan used pride as the first recorded temptation (Gen. 3:5)
Jewish custom at the seder has 3 pieces of unleavened bread (matzah) on the table
–middle piece is broken, put in a white linen napkin and hidden; child that finds it gets a special
prize
–called the afikomen: “that which comes after; He came”
–represents Jesus who was broken for us, wrapped in graveclothes and hidden in a tomb; He was resurrected that we may find Him and receive gifts of Him
–Eph. 4:8: “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”

FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS

What are the characteristics of the Feast? **(per Lev. 23:9-14)
Called Reishit Katzir (beginning of the harvest)
–the barley harvest (first one of the year)
Considered, along with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, as part of Passover
Commanded by God to be celebrated when Israel entered the Promised Land
–Lev. 23:9-10: “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you and shall reap the harvest thereof. . .”
Consisted of bringing a sheaf of the firstfruits of the harvest to the priest
–Lev. 23:10: “. . .then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest”
The priest then waved the sheaf before the Lord
–Lev. 23:11: “And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you. . .”
This was to be done on the morning after the sabbath during Passover
–Lev. 23:11: “. . .on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.”
A first-year lamb with no blemish must be offered the same day as a burnt offering
–Lev. 23:12: “And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD.”
Additional offerings included wine, plus fine flour mixed with oil
–Lev. 23:13: “And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.”
No harvest food could be eaten until the firstfruits were eaten
–Lev. 23:14: “And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God. . .”
Keeping the Feast of Firstfruits was a commandment forever
–Lev. 23:14: “it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”
After the offering, Jews began counting 50 days, leading up to Shavuot (Feast of Weeks, Pentecost)
–Lev. 23:15-16: “And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.”

How does the Feast parallel our salvation?
It is part 3 of our salvation process
–PART 1: Passover–the Lamb’s blood is applied to our hearts as we leave Egypt (the world) to head to the Promised Land (freedom and blessings in Christ)
–PART 2: Unleavened Bread–we repent (getting rid of sin = leaven, as in eating unleavened bread), we eat the Lamb (as in taking in all of Jesus) and we die to ourselves (we eat bitter herbs to represent suffering).
–PART 3: Firstfruits–upon entering the Promised Land (life with Christ), we bring our firstfruits before the Lord and wave in worship
–We are risen with Christ, to give Him the first and holiest parts of our lives as we worship Him

What are other types and shadows related to Firstfruits?
As part of Passover, firstfruits were offered the day after the sabbath
–I Cor. 15:20, 23: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. . .Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”
–Jesus rose from the dead to become our firstfruits on the day after the sabbath during the 7-day feast of Passover–the EXACT day the sheaf was to be waved!
A “sheaf”: a stalk of grain representing a person
–Gen. 37:5-8: Joseph’s dream of sheaves bowing down to his sheaf (his brothers bowing to him)
–Psalm 126:6: putting out seed and then bringing in the sheaves
–seed, in the NT, represented the Gospel, which we spread to bring in souls (sheaves)
There has always been a biblical principle of offering firstfruits followed by blessing
–Even Cain and Abel offered firstfruits
–Deut. 18:4: Israelites commanded to give firstfruits of corn, wine, oil, etc. to the priests in the Temple as a tithe unto the Lord and to support the priests
–Deut. 26:1-11: tells us how to offer firstfruits (beautiful)
–Prov. 3:9-10: “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”
–Jer. 2:3: Israel was called the firstfruits of the Lord–His chosen people
–Ezek. 44:30: “And the first of all the firstfruits of all things, and every oblation of all, of every sort of your oblations, shall be the priest’s: ye shall also give unto the priest the first of your dough, that he may cause the blessing to rest in thine house.”
–Rom. 8:23: we have been given the firstfruits of the Spirit
–Rom. 11:16: “For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy. . .”
–Rom. 16:5, I Cor. 16:15: first converts in Asia called firstfruits
–James 1:18: we who are saved are called the firstfruits of His creation
No one could touch the harvest until firstfruits had been offered
–John 20:17: “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father. . .”
–we could have nothing to eat spiritually until the resurrection was accomplished
The counting of the omer: counting 50 days from offering of firstfruits until Pentecost
–for OT Jews, this was a time of waiting until the law was given on Mt. Sinai
–for NT Jews, Jesus rose as the firstfruits and stayed 40 days on Earth
–then the 120 tarried for 10 days (40 + 10 = 50) until the Holy Ghost came on Pentecost (law given again–this time to our hearts!)

My Christian journey into Judaism and Passover celebration!

I can remember seeing the so-called “Jewish” holidays on the calendar from the time I could read. But coming from my Christian upbringing, I didn’t understand what they were all about.

Plus, I grew up in the South, and there just weren’t very many Jews in Dry Hollow where I lived! My uncle DID marry a beautiful woman with Jewish ancestry, and I can remember being fascinated with that part of her lineage.

But I was taught through my church, thank God, that the Jews were God’s original chosen people and that Israel and the Jews were still very special.

Before you knew it, I was a young college woman who had spread her wings and left her tiny Southern town (for a somewhat bigger Southern town!). And on that college campus, I began to meet some Jewish people. One of my suitemates was Elise, a Jewish gymnast from New Jersey whose family had come from Poland.

She introduced me to one of her New Jersey Jewish pals, a soccer player named Howard who lived on the second floor of our high-rise dorm–just above us. Since first floor was an incomplete floor, we were thrown together with the second floor folks for parties, fellowship activities, beach trips, etc. Almost immediately, I was smitten with Howard and his humble personality and long, dark ringlets cascading to his shoulders.

He was a sophomore, and I, a lowly freshman, so I didn’t think he’d look twice at me. But soon he did, and suddenly we were dating. Although we broke up (peacefully) before the next school year began, I never had anything but fond feelings for Howard. He was ever kind, witty, cheerful and down-to-earth. He’s one of the few people on the planet about whom I can’t think of a bad thing to say. (He, Elise and I have recently been wonderfully reunited through Facebook!)

I can remember sitting around talking to him and Elise and thinking all the while, “These are Jews–God’s chosen people. Their lineage goes back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!” The fascination was intense, but I never really said much to them about it–maybe afraid of embarrassing them or something.

The years cascaded by, and I lost touch with Elise and Howard, although I carried fond memories of them with me. And suddenly, seemingly out of the blue, in the fall of 1999, it became imperative in my spirit man that I study the Jewish holidays. My ex-husband felt it, too; he’d say, “Leslie, what is Yom Kippur?” And my frustration grew as I couldn’t really answer that intelligently.

So I embarked on a journey that has taken me wonderful places! I began to study what I came to know as the “Feasts of the Lord.” In the spring of 2000, I ended up at the local synagogue (well, sort of local–about 30 miles away in Greensboro!), taking Judaism classes. I twisted the arm of my best friend Vicki to come with me (didn’t take much persuasion–she’s a very spiritual woman!).

Each Tuesday night, we headed to Temple Emanuel for Judaism 101, followed by Beginner Hebrew. Such anointed nights! I would sit hungrily in the Judaism class, soaking up the teachings about the holidays, seeing our Messiah concealed in each one. Then I’d hurry over to my beloved professor Andrew (we called him “A-DAM” (pronounced “a-DOM”) who would teach us to speak Hebrew through the “Read Hebrew America” program. He was so witty that I thought he should go on stage as a comedian!

He asked us what our names meant so that he could pick out a corresponding Hebrew name for us. I told him that Leslie meant “from the meadow,” so he chose the name “Sharona” (as in the roses of Sharon that bloom in the meadow) for me. When he’d call on me to read aloud, he would often burst into song with “My Sharona.”

Hebrew came easily for me. I would practice and practice each lesson at home, but it seemed I had a natural bent toward and accent for the language.

I never divulged that I was a Christian–not because I was embarrassed but because I didn’t want them to think I was there to proselytize. I wasn’t. I wanted to learn my Messiah’s culture and history from HIS people. But one night when it was time to read the Shema (Shema Yisrael! Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad–see picture for interpretation), I was so excited that I volunteered immediately when Andrew asked for a reader. My hand was up like Arnold Horshack’s!

Andrew said, somewhat frustratedly, “Is there ANYONE other than Sharona who will EVER volunteer to read aloud?” When everyone stared blankly at him, he cried out to his fellow Jews, “PEOPLE! The Christian chicks are blowing us away!”

I froze. How did he know I was a Christian? Was that a problem? Should I quit the class? I ended calling Andrew at his home and offering to drop out, assuring him that my motives were pure–simply to learn. He was magnanimous–told me it was no problem that I was in the class, that he was thrilled American Christians were wanting to build bridges of understanding between themselves and different cultures. I finished out the class in total comfort and peace.

Over a decade has passed since that time, but my love for the Jewish people and Israel has never diminished but in fact grown by leaps and bounds. I’ve sat at the feet of a fabulous Hebrew scholar/Christian preacher, Dr. Karl Coke of Charlotte, NC,  off and on for several years now. And in 2003, I began to teach about the Feasts of the Lord myself–to my fellow church members.

God has since opened doors for me to teach these things to people of varying denominations–not just at my own church. And the doors are opening more rapidly now; I’ve already been asked to do a teaching series on the Feasts at another local church.

As a Gentile, I didn’t grow up with these feasts and may have some of my facts wrong–something that I would bitterly regret and would ask that some kind Jewish (or Gentile) person correct me on. I would not be offended. (And please remember that I am a Christian who sees the Messiah in each Feast; I mean no disrespect for the Jews by teaching from a Christian perspective.)

Here is a YouTube video of a teaching I did at my local library last Thursday night, March 29, in preparation for Passover which is today, April 6. I will post a handout that accompanies the video teaching in case you want to follow along. I hope you can take time to watch it and experience the symbolism in the memorable Feast of Passover!

FEASTS OF THE LORD
What are the feasts of the Lord?
–The 7 Biblically commanded feasts in Lev. 23
–They are not Jewish feasts (Lev. 23:4)

Why should we study them?
–OT: Jesus CONCEALED   NT: Jesus REVEALED
–They teach us about the PAST
–we learn Jewish history
–we see Jesus symbolically concealed in them
–helps us understand our Messiah
–types and shadows (Col. 2:16-17, Heb. 8:5)
–They teach us about the PRESENT
–show us present-day truths
–give us knowledge of salvation and how to live in Christ
–They teach us about the FUTURE
–Col. 2:17 again
–revelations of the endtime are hidden in the feasts
–they are called “mikra”: rehearsal, recital (our rehearsal of our future)
–But they’re for the Jews, aren’t they?
–Israel OBSERVED them, Jesus FULFILLED them, we must APPLY them to our lives

Are we under commandment to observe them?
–No, according to Paul in Col. 2:16 (remember his circumcision argument earlier also)
–However, since we are now grafted into the commonwealth of Israel (Eph. 2:12-13), we can certainly celebrate them and be blessed (double portion)
–Much historical evidence that early Christians, even Gentiles, celebrated feasts
–in 339 A.D., it became a criminal offense to convert to Judaism
–thus, Gentiles celebrating feasts = ostracism
–decades later, Synod of Laodicea ruled against Christians feasting with Jews

Is the order of them significant?
–Yes, they are called “moedim”: set times, appointed times
–Their order is the exact order of our lives in Christ
–Passover: we acknowledge that Jesus died for our sins and accept Him
–Unleavened Bread: we get rid of sin through repentance and baptism
–Firstfruits: we are raised with Him to offer ourselves
–Weeks (Pentecost): we receive the Holy Spirit
–Trumpets: Jesus comes back to get us
–Day of Atonement: we are judged
–Tabernacles: we enter our millenial rest, eventually Heaven
–There are seven feasts for a reason (rest)
–The first four have been fulfilled by Jesus; the last three remain to be fulfilled

PASSOVER (PESACH)
When is Pesach?
Nissan (Abib) 14 (on the 14th day of the first Jewish month)
–usually near our Easter but not always
Jews also call it “Hag ha-Aviv”–holiday of spring
–symbolized release from winter (bondage) into spring (freedom–Promised Land)
God’s mercy was shown even in the dates of Passover
–if a man couldn’t keep it, due to being defiled or away, he had another chance! (Num. 9:1-14)
–to be done the 14th day of the next month (called “Pesach Katan”)

What is Pesach?
In Hebrew, it means “to skip or leap over” (Angel of Death skipped over Israelites)
–also “to pass or hover over, for protection” (God hovered over them to shield them)
Jews see it as their “mikrah” (rehearsal) of their final redemption when Messiah comes
Specific instructions on how to celebrate are found in a few places
–Lev. 23:4-5, 7; Num. 28:16-23; Deut. 16:1-7; Ezek. 45:21
Historic celebrations of it can be found in several places
–Era of Moses: freedom from Egypt (Ex. 12:1-14, 42-50)
–again, the 2nd year after leaving Egypt (Num. 9:1-14)
–Era of Joshua: entering the Promised Land (Josh. 5:10-12)
–Era of Hezekiah: cleansing of the Temple (II Chron. 30:1-20)
–Era of Josiah: cleansing of the Temple (II Kings 23:21-23; II Chron. 35:1-27)
–Era of Nehemiah: rebuilding of Jerusalem (Ezra 6:19-21)
–Era of Jesus’ childhood: his 12th year (Luke 2:41)
–Era of Jesus’ adulthood: his 33rd year (Matt. 26:2, 17 – 27:45; Mark 14:1 – 15:25; Luke 22:1 – 23:33; John 2:13-23, 6:4, 11:55 – 19:42)
–Era of Paul: New Testament church (I Cor. 5:7-8; Heb. 11:28)

How is Jesus revealed in Pesach?
**The Gospel is paralleled in Exodus 12:1-14!
v. 2: “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.”
–Pesach celebrated in spring–newness of life outside of Egypt (bondage)
–Jesus as our Passover: new beginning; newness of life outside of the world
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away;   
            behold, all things are become new.” II Cor. 5:17
v. 3: “. . .In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb. . .”
–the lamb was set aside for 4 days (killed on the 14th)
“For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past” Psalm 90:4
“. . .one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”     II Peter 3:8
–from Adam to Jesus, 4000 years (4 days)
–“But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world. . .” I Peter 1:19-20
–Jesus entered Jerusalem on Abib 10; was there 4 days before death
–family fond of lamb (tied to doorpost): truly a sacrifice
–pre-existent Jesus as God in OT
v. 3: “. . .they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house. . .”
–OT salvation for whole family
–Noah’s whole house saved (Gen. 7:1)
–Joshua’s whole house made a decision (Josh. 24:15)
–NT salvation was often the whole house
–Lydia’s whole household was baptized (Acts 16:15)
–Paul’s jailer and his whole house was saved (Acts 16:31)
–Crispus believed on the Lord with all his house (Acts 18:8)
v. 4: “And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.”
–NT command to witness and spread the Gospel: salvation is for everyone!
v 5: “Your lamb shall be without blemish. . .”
–Jesus was our “lamb without blemish” (I Peter 1:19)
–OT lamb had to be inspected (customarily, 7 times)
–Jesus was inspected 7 times
–#1: Pilate: “I find no fault in him.” (John 19:4)
–#2: Herod: “I. . .have found no fault in this man. . .” (Luke 23:14)
–#3: Annas: sent Him to son-in-law Caiaphas (John 18:24)
–#4: Caiaphas: “sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none.” (Mark 14:55)
–#5: Judas: “. . .I have betrayed innocent blood.” (Matt. 27:4)
–#6: Centurion: “Truly this man was the Son of God.” (Matt. 27:54)
–#7: Thief (cross): “. . .this man hath done nothing. . .” (Luke 23:41)
v. 5: “Your lamb shall be. . .a male. . .”
–Jesus was often referred to as “one man”
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Rom. 5:19)
v. 5: “Your lamb shall be. . .of the first year. . .”
–scholars say this was a firstborn lamb
–Biblical principle that firstborns belong to God
–Jesus was “the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29)
–many OT types of Messiah were really second-born who became firstborn!
–Cain replaced by Abel, Ishmael by Isaac, Esau by Jacob
–even in NT, firstborn man Adam replaced by second man Jesus
–our first birth is our flesh birth
–must have second birth (born again) to become firstborn!
v. 5: “. . .ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats. . .”
–sheep always represented Israel, goats–Gentiles (us)
–foreshadowing salvation for all!
v. 6: “And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it. . .”
–the Jews took responsibility for Jesus’ death
“Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.” (Matt. 27:25)
v. 6: “And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day. . and. . .shall kill it in the evening.”
–Pesach lamb killed in the afternoon of the 14th day
–Jesus was crucified at 9 a.m. but died at 3 p.m.
–“in the evening” literally means “between 2 evenings”
–at noon on the 14th, darkness covered the land for 3 hours
–when the light came again at 3 p.m., then Jesus died (Mark 15:33-37)
–He literally was slain “between 2 evenings”
v. 7: “And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.”
–we must apply His blood to our lives to be forgiven
“. . .without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22)
“. . .by his own blood he entered in. . .having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Heb. 9:12)
–Jesus shed blood from 5 places (5 = grace)
–head (thorns), hands (nails), feet (nails), back (whip), side (spear)
–lamb’s blood was on door: Jesus was the Lamb AND the Door
“I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” (John 10:9)
–this application of blood forms the Hebrew letter “chai” (“life”)
v. 8: “And they shall eat the flesh in that night. . .”
–they were commanded not only to apply the blood but to eat the lamb
–Jesus said, “Whoso eateth my flesh. . .hath eternal life.” (John 6:54)
v. 8: “And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread. . .”
“I am the living bread. . .if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.” (John 6:51)
–Jesus: our unleavened bread (leaven = sin)
–we, too, must let go of sin (leaven) when we are saved
v. 8: “. . .and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.”
–suffering and death: we must die to self when we are saved
v. 9: “Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.”
–we must take ALL of Christ and His word, nothing watered down
–”purtenance” means innards, entrails (every part)
v. 10: “And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.”
–again, the emphasis is on eating ALL of the lamb (Him)
–if something was left, evidently we didn’t share enough
–remember the parable of the talents! (Matt. 25:25)
v. 11: “And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’s passover.”
–had to eat quickly to get out of Egypt
–when we receive Messiah, we are to leave the world ASAP!
–He had let judgment “pass over” them and now could only continue to “hover over” them if they left Egypt
v. 12: “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite 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.”
–judgment is for Egypt, not for God’s people
–each of the 10 plagues corresponded to one of their gods
–”I am the I AM” (don’t mess with me!)
v. 13: “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.”
–blood represented a covenant relationship; God couldn’t break His word
–but you also had to do YOUR part–apply the blood to your house (life)
“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Rom. 3:25)
–“propitiation”: substitute (Jesus was your Passover lamb killed for you)
–“forbearance”: He was kind and patient enough to forgive us (pass over us)
v. 14: “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.”
–by law, the Jews had to keep the feast literally
–by grace, we have to keep the feast spiritually (apply the blood, eat the Lamb, leave Egypt)

What are the blessings of Pesach?
Obviously, life (through the blood of the lamb)
Healing and prosperity
“He brought them forth also with silver and gold; and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.” (Psalm 105:37)
–these blessings came from partaking of the Passover
–we have a right to these things, too, through Jesus
“And the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.” (II Chron. 30:20)–at Passover
–blood of the Lamb breaks the curse of sin, sickness and poverty

How is Pesach celebrated?
**The Jewish customs are not necessarily Biblical ordinances
Spring cleaning: the week before
–Passover always involved cleaning things up
–Josiah put evil out of the land before they held Passover
–Hezekiah’s people cast their pagan altars into a brook at Passover
–Jesus cleansed the Temple just before Passover
–Jewish priests wouldn’t go into the Hall of Judgment when Jesus was being tried (couldn’t be defiled before Passover)
“Erev Pesach”–night before Pesach when final housecleaning is done
–search for “hametz” (leaven): led by dad (traditionally with candle)
–leaven found must be burned
–some use palm branch from Sukkot (final fall feast) to light fire
“Fast of the Firstborn”–the day before Pesach, from sunup to sundown; a fast for firstborn Jews to commemorate their being spared
–some fast in honor of Esther’s fast (originally Abib 13)
“Seder” (“order”)–Passover meal eaten at sundown on Abib 15
–certain foods served in a certain order
–“karpas” (green vegetables, like parsley, symbolizing spring and rebirth, dipped in salt water to represent their tears)
–“haroset” (chopped apples, nuts, wine & spices: the mortar of Egyptian brickmaking)
–“maror” (bitter herbs like romaine or horseradish to represent slavery)
–“beitzah” (hardboiled egg scorched on stove burner to symbolize the Jews who have been burned but never beaten)
–“zeroa” (roasted lamb bone)
–certain customs kept
–recline on left side when eating (sign of freedom in ancient world), except when eating foods that symbolize slavery
–keep a large, ornate goblet filled with wine for Elijah who will come before Messiah
–head of family wears “kittel”–white robe similar to priest’s garment (he is the priest of the family who does the sacrifice)
–children ask 4 questions about Passover so that traditions and the story of the exodus may be passed down
–4 cups of wine are blessed and served
Biblically speaking, new ordinances were added after the original
–Many burnt offerings to be made (Num. 28:16-23)
–included a goat for a sin offering (Jesus as our scapegoat)
–Specific place designated for offerings once there was a tabernacle plan (Deut. 16:1-7)
–had to be offered “in the place which the Lord shall choose to put His name”
–no longer could Jews kill the lamb within their OWN gates (we can do nothing of ourselves once we have Jesus)

For such a time as this! Purim 2012

When I first felt the call to minister and to intercede for my hometown of Walnut Cove in 1996, the story of Queen Esther became very meaningful to me. A close friend of mine, Edith Searcy, kept telling me that I, like Esther, was being asked to step into harm’s way to intercede for Walnut Cove–to pray for a mighty move of the Holy Spirit there that would overpower the darkness, stagnation, corruption and deterioration that prevailed in my little Southern town.

One of my favorite verses quickly became Esther 4:14: “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

So for me back then, imagining my town transformed both spiritually and physically was like imagining my own Purim–Feast of Lots. This was the feast that the Jews were told to celebrate (not directly by God, but still He was mightily involved) in Esther 9:28: “That that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.”

Purim comes on the 14th and 15th days of the 12th Jewish month, Adar 14-15. But on our calendar, the date varies from year to year–usually from mid-February to mid- to late March. This year Adar 14 began Wednesday night, March 7, at sunset.

Sixteen years after first feeling the call of God to Walnut Cove, I am now the leader of Times of Refreshing, a ministry that intercedes for positive change in our town and strives to provide meetings where the presence of God is real, which is where, according to Acts 3:19, times of refreshing can be found. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”

I teach on the Jewish holidays and Feasts of the Lord, with special emphasis on how they relate symbolically to Christianity. And I observe these moedim–appointed times–the best I can–not because “I have to,” but because “I GET to!” This past week, I reserved our local library for two nights: the first night to teach on Purim, the second night to celebrate it. I invited the general public to come.

It ended up being a marvelous time. Come celebrate and learn about Purim through a hodgepodge of our many pictures!

Twenty-five people of different ages, races, genders and Christian denominations came out to our Purim celebration! Some wore simple masks in honor of Queen Esther whose true identity as a Jewess was

kept secret for a while as she first served as Queen of Persia. Jews often celebrate Purim with masquerades, masks, parades.

As we read the Book of Esther aloud, audience members donned different masks to represent the characters. My son Elijah wore the King Ahasuerus mask. This was technically King Xerxes I who ruled from his palace in the walled city of Shushan in the huge Persian empire in the fifth century B.C.

My daughter Abigail played the role of Queen Vashti, King Ahasuerus’ first queen. He basically kicked her out when she refused to reveal her breathtaking beauty (by stripping naked or simply removing her veil– we don’t know) at a banquet that he and his drunken friends were attending.

So the search was on for a new queen. The most beautiful virgins in the land were prepared with beauty treatments for many months and then brought before the King. An orphaned Jewish girl named Esther (Hadassah in Hebrew for the lovely myrtle tree) won the King’s heart and was chosen as queen. Whenever we read her name in the Purim story, the crowd sighed delightfully in unison memory of this heroic woman.

Esther had been raised by her cousin Mordecai, a Jew who had risen to high positions in the Persian government while the Jews were in captivity in that land. When his name was read aloud at our celebration, we all clapped and shouted hurrah for this hero who urged Esther to go before the King and intercede for the Jewish people once a sinister plot was uncovered that they were going to be killed.

The author of this villainous plot was the King’s prime minister, Haman. Whenever I read aloud his name, we booed and stomped our feet in disapproval and blew our noisemakers. My little son Malachi did not like the noise, but Purim is commanded to be a merry, joyous feast. In fact, the Talmud records that some ancient rabbis said you should get so drunk that you don’t know if you’re saying “Blessed be Mordecai or cursed be Haman!” We decided we’d better remain sober for our gathering!

We reveled in the story of how Queen Esther approached the King at great peril to her life–to beseech for the lives of her Jewish people. In the end, her people were saved when the King allowed them to fight back when they were attacked, and they came forth with a mighty victory. Haman and all of his family were done away with, and Mordecai and Esther sent notices throughout the land for Jews to always remember this time:

“To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.” Esther 9:21-22

When our night of merriment was drawing to a close, we enjoyed a potluck snack session, with everything from Krispy Kreme doughnuts to chicken salad croissants. The Jews not only feast at Purim, but they also send portions of goodies to their friends and family. We each brought a treat to share–our portion to our loved ones there.

The Jews also give to the poor at Purim, as they do during most of their holy days. We took up an offering for our local outreach ministry that provides food, clothing, heating fuel and other necessities to the less fortunate.

We have come into the kingdom for such a time as this–to spread the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ, to care for those who may need a helping hand, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to trust God for a mighty deliverance from evil as in the Book of Esther–for our personal lives, towns and cities–yea, even our nation and world.

Below, I have posted a YouTube video of our teaching/Bible study before our Purim celebration. It is very entertaining (I promise!) and extremely educational.

Below that I have the information from the handout that we used during our study of Purim. It accompanies the video and is a real help.

Hope you enjoy this! Start believing God for your own Purim and mighty deliverance where darkness is present anywhere in your life!

PURIM–FEAST OF LOTS

Why is it called Purim?
“Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. . .” (Esther 9:26)
–“Pur”– “lot” (“Purim”–the plural “lots”)
–after the lot that was cast to decide the month and day to kill the Jews
–Also known as the “Feast of Esther”
When is Purim?
The last feast of the Jewish year
–held on Adar 14 (late February or March)
–12th and final Jewish month (leap year–Adar II)
–celebrated in Jerusalem and other walled cities in Israel on Adar 15 (called Shushan Purim)
–added much later than the Feasts of the Lord commanded in Lev. 23
–does have historical Biblical background (documented in Esther), unlike Hanukkah

What is the history behind Purim?
–5th century B.C. many Jews in Persia
–became semi–assimilated (mark Esther’s name)
–main characters
–King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I, 486-465 B.C.)
–Queen Vashti: shamed the king and was dethroned
–Esther (Hadassah–“myrtle”): orphaned and raised by cousin Mordecai; chosen as queen
–Mordecai, high official in the Medo-Persian court
–descendant of Kish, a Benjamite–like King Saul
–Haman: prince promoted to prime minister
–descendant of King Agag, the Amalekite
–Amalek: Esau’s grandson whose people attacked Israel in the wilderness
–hence, Deut. 25:19
–later King Saul was disobedient
–led to what happened at Purim
–setting: Shushan, capital of Persia (just north of Persian Gulf in modern Iran)–Persian Empire had 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia
–chain of events
–Mordecai saved king’s life
–Mordecai refused to idolize Haman
–Haman plotted to kill all Jews because of Mordecai
–cast the lot to find time: Adar 13
–Mordecai begged Esther to intervene at risk of her life (Esther 4:14)
–Esther called a 3-day fast before petitioning king
–invited him and Haman to banquet, then to another
–after the 1st, king ordered chronicles read to him
–meanwhile, Haman sees Mordecai again
–king calls Haman in to find way to honor Mordecai
–at 2nd banquet, Esther petitions king; identifies Haman
–Haman throws himself at Esther’s couch
–king comes in and misunderstands
–orders Haman hanged
–Mordecai promoted
–law cannot be repealed
–king gave Jews the right of self-defense
–fought on Adar 13 and won
–longer fighting in Shushan
–Mordecai sent letters to Jews to celebrate Adar 14-15
–Esther 9:20-21
How is Purim to be celebrated?
Actually the merriest holiday on the Jewish calendar
Adar 13 became known as the “Fast of Esther”
–fast originally near Passover; few keep it today
Main traditions today: Esther 9:22
–no restrictions on working–minor holiday
–reading the Book of Esther (“megillah”–scroll)
–Haman: booing, clapping, stamping feet, noisemakers (groggers), writing his name on shoe bottoms
–taking a collection for the poor
–sending food delicacies (plate of cake, pastries, fruit, nuts) to friends, often delivered by a child
–feasting (usually at the end of Purim)
–hamantashan: triangular pastries w/poppy seed or prune filling (“mohn”–poppy seed, “taschen”–pockets)
–kreplach: noodle-like dish made from triangular pieces of dough, stuffed with a chopped meat and minced-onion filling and served in a thick, steaming soup
–some rabbis even encouraged drinking
–masquerades, costumes, carnivals, parades

What is the symbolism for Christians?
To show that the enemies of God are defeated (Zech. 2:8)
“The path of anti-Semitism is a well-worn path that always leads to the destruction of its traveler. . .Even as the fate of Pharaoh, Antiochus Epiphanes, Hitler, Nasser, Khomeini (whose name actually was ‘Haman’ in Farsi), so, too, will be the fate of Qadafi, Arafat, Assad, Saddam Hussein, and the host of others who dare to curse Israel and thereby the God of Abraham.” (The Feasts of the Lord by Kevin Howard and Marvin Rosenthal, 1997)
To show that God always delivers His people
To show how God turns things around for His glory
–Gen. 50:20, Esther 8:17, Haman’s gallows

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