God said, "My appointed feasts are these. . ." In the rest of Leviticus 23 God lists and explains His Holy Days beginning with the Sabbath. God had an important purpose for His giving Moses, the children of Israel, and us His Holy Days.
The Orthodox Jews keep all the Holy Days, but are ignorant of the real reason God established them. They keep them by rote without understanding, except maybe for Passover.
The Holy Days explain God's plan for salvation, centered about Jesus. The Holy Days were primarily established for Christians who do not keep them, by and large. They keep holidays concocted by people. While I have done some writing about the Holy Days, I hope this newsletter will be a guide to greater understanding of Christians' relation to Jesus as demonstrated in the Holy Days.
(See: Lev 23 and Deut 16.)
We all know that the angel of death passed over the homes which had the blood of lamb around the doors during the times of Moses and the Exodus. But the Passover of the New Testament, has done more than diverting the angel of death from its course. Here the blood of the lamb of God, Jesus, has actually destroyed the power of death entirely.
Jesus's blood paid the death penalty for our sins, which is the cause of death. His blood has cleansed us from all unrighteousness. His death and subsequent resurrection has made us right with God and given us the opportunity to enjoy eternal life with him and Our Father in heaven.
The wine taken at Passover is the substitution for Jesus's blood. Christians do not drink blood, much less the blood of humans. We leave that practice to pagan cannibals.
The wine is similarly used as the blood smeared around the doorways back in those thrilling days of yesteryear; except today, we use wine in place of blood and our mouths in place of the lentils. It makes sense because our mouths are the only entrance to our bodies just as doors are the entrance to a house. Each year when we drink the Passover wine as Jesus commanded, we repeat both the Passover rites that Jesus inaugurated and still keep the root of the ancient Passover.
The Children of Israel ate the roasted lamb after it was slaughtered for its blood. So, too, Christians eat the flesh of the Lamb of God, represented by the matzos, unleavened bread. Again, not being cannibals, we eat the substitute flesh, in this case the matzos. Indeed, the matzos also represents the unleavened Word of God and Jesus, who is the living Word of God clothed in flesh and blood.
To extend the meaning further, when we devour God's Word, we ingest His Bible. When take in God's Word, we have ingested the Son of God, in that Jesus is the Word made flesh. How powerful are God's Holy Days, which God gave to us for our good!
(See: Exo 12, Mat 26, Mar 14, Luke 22, 1 Cor 5:7.)
The Old Testament calls Pentecost the feast of the First Fruits. The Holy Day comes in late May or early June depending on when Passover occurs. Actually, Pentecost means count fifty. From the first day after the Sabbath in the Passover Holy Week, we count fifty to Pentecost, which therefore is on the first day of the week, which we call Sunday.
The Spring Holy Day referred to God's blessing of the early harvest. In fact, however, the feast of Pentecost was rightly called the Feast of the First Fruits. In the New Testament we learn that those believers in Christ are called the firstfruits of many brethren. Jesus is the first fruit, and his followers become the firstfruits.
Clearly, the feast of Pentecost has another impact related to Jesus. Lo, those many years ago, the Apostles were ensconced in the upper room in Jerusalem on the Feast of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came upon them on that Holy Day as God intended. God does important things on His Holy Days. If believers are keeping God's Holy Days, they partake of special blessings and insights into God's Word.
So the Apostles were keeping God's Holy Day when God poured out His Holy Spirit upon them in the form of fiery tongues. Imbued with the Holy Spirit these formally timid men became lion hearted advocates of the Gospel. You know the account in Acts.
Pentecost was not given to the Jews for their benefit alone, but for Christians. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be given to believers after he ascended to heaven. The Spirit would reveal much about Jesus and the Gospel. It inspired the Apostles with the Gospel that they preached the Word so powerfully that they converted thousands of devout Jews that came to Jerusalem to keep the Holy Day. Those who did not keep the Feast lost out on the Holy Spirit and the conversion, subsequently.
Pentecost is about Jesus because the power to walk in the ways of Jesus and to do what he did, and more, depended on the Spirit being poured out upon the Apostles and eventually those whom God called today.
Pentecost is one of the few Holy Days that the Protestant and Catholic churches keep, seldom on the right day, however. I do not recall keeping Pentecost on the same day as the other churches do, oddly.
Pentecost or the Firstfruits are for Christians, for our growth and inspiration. God planned His Holy Days as dramatic events unfolding in His plan of salvation through Jesus.
(See: Acts 2, Rom 8:23, 11:16, 1 Cor 15 10-23, Jam 1:18.)
The Feast of Trumpets
The two previous Holy Days are historic in origin. We keep them in memory of the great things God did for us. Other Holy Days "remind" us of things to come. They are prophetic.
In the Old Testament, the ram's horn was blown to call the congregation to meeting. Any further meaning was lost on the ancient and modern Jews.
But to us, the Feast of Trumpets is God's way of keeping our minds on the most fateful day in the future history of mankind, which is the return of Jesus as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and the resurrection of all the patriarchs and prophets in the Old Testament as well as all the saints in the New Testament. Ta-ta.
Actually, there will be seven trumpets sounded, each for a momentous calamity preceding Jesus's triumphant return. On the last trumpet all the kingdoms of the world will be turned over to the King in waiting, Jesus with a new name, conqueror of the Earth.
We do not know the hour or the day when Jesus will return with the blare of trumpets. But we can be sure that Jesus will return and bring the living saints to meet him in the sky on the Feast of Trumpets to those only keeping the Feast. Just as astounding events took place on Passover and Pentecost, Jesus's return will occur on God's Holy Day of the Feast of Trumpets. To the others who feel that any day is as good as any other: they will assuredly miss the most important event in the lives of the saints still living when Jesus returns - their ascension into the skies to meet Jesus returning from heaven to take up his rule and physical presence in the Church.
(See: Jos 6, Mat 24:31, 1 Cor 15:52, 1 Thes 4:16 Rev 8, 9, 10, 11.)
Day of Atonement
To make atonement in the Old Testament, people needed the priests to sacrifice animals. Only by blood is atonement made. In the New Covenant, Jesus's sacrifice atones for all sins.
Atonement, in English, has the sense of being at one with God, which is what Jesus did for us when he removed the barrier our sins created between us and God.
In another scenario, the people's sins were put on the Azazel goat, which was led out into wilderness. The goat carried the sins from the camp of the Israelites.
Their fasting on the Day of Atonement was meant for them to be introspective of their sins and have a New Years' resolution not to continue to sin. The Hebrew New Year is the Feast of Trumpets (a scant few days before Atonement), which is odd since the first month of the year is the month of Passover. Nonetheless, they atoned for their sins and tried to live better lives.
Today, we do not need to make atonement, as I said. Yet, we fast on the Day of Atonement. Jesus believed in fasting. He fasted for forty days. He said that his disciples would fast after he died, was resurrected, and arose to heaven.
What fasting does for Christians, besides obeying God, is reminding them that their life depends not on food, but on every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Jesus is the living Word of God, in that, he lived by every Word of God; so we walk in his steps, live by his commands as well as God's Word. When we fast, we demonstrate our faith in the One who gives us life now, gives us our every breath, and will give us eternal life because of Jesus's sacrifice.
Our life is temporally in human flesh, but after the resurrection our life will be in a spiritual, immortal body made like Jesus's.
(See: Num 29:7, Isa 58, Acts 27:9.)
Feast of Tabernacles
In the old days, the children of Israel were commanded to live in tents or tabernacles for seven days. This was to remind the children of Israel that they lived in tents for forty years in the desert because of their faithlessness and to remind them that their God, the God Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived in a tent. But God had another meaning for the Feast of Tabernacles.
God's presence was in the tent of the Presence. Later, His Presence was in the part of the temple Solomon built called the Holy of Holies, which only the High Priest could enter.
Moments after Jesus died, the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was rent in two. That curtain representing the sins of mankind was destroyed by Jesus's blood. Jesus's one sacrifice ended the need for any sacrifices. Soon after Jesus's death and resurrection, all animal sacrifices ceased in the Judaic Religion. Whether the Jewish people recognize Jesus as Messiah or not, their action accede to the fact.
What happened to God's presence after the temple's destruction on or about sixty Anno Dominum? God's Presence took up residence in the new temple, the body of believers. God's Spirit present in believers makes them God's New Testament temple. Together all the believers make up the Holy Temple while each individual is himself a Holy Temple. Jesus made this all possible by his sacrifice and resurrection.
But there is more. Our present bodies, even with the Holy Spirit present is only a temporary dwelling, a tent. Thanks to Jesus we will receive a new body like his in the future.
(See: John 7, Zech 14:16-19.)
The Last Great Day
Jesus preached on the Last Great day as recorded in John's gospel. He spoke of the Holy Spirit as water. He said that from believers' inner most being will flow rivers of living waters, the Holy Spirit. We know that believers have God's Spirit and can work wonders using this Spirit. We have yet to see the rivers of living water emanating from them.
We know that God poured out His Spirit because Jesus's sacrifice, death and resurrection made this Spiritual potential a possibility for his followers. Still no living waters.
Where we see a reference to a river of living water is in the new heaven transported to a new Earth. This river of life flows through the new Jerusalem. We can conclude that believers contribute to the source of this mighty river. God has such high regard in His Children, His Family, that He allows them to contribute to His new world.
This culminating Feast of the Holy Days presents God's complete plan for salvation. It demonstrates that no person made in the image of God can be completely human without being imbued with God's power within. All who try to live without God's power within, are doomed to death, forever. On the other hand those who believe and live by God's Way, succeed in all they do by the power from God. Everything results in good. And His Beloved are granted eternal life with their overflowing love pouring out as rivers of living waters.
The Last Great Day glorifies that Spiritual force in believers' lives. It celebrates the Holy Spirit, God's power and character. The Holy Day gives us the hope of living forever in God's presence in the New Jerusalem where we will pour out rivers of living waters. The ultimate Holy Day represents the ultimate reward for God's People, the Kingdom of God.
(See: John 7:37-39.)
Romans 14 talks about people esteeming or observing a day over another. Paul seems to be saying that whatever day a person esteems or observes is fine. Now Paul does not talk about changing the Sabbath or Holy Day. There is nothing in the Bible that says: but I say to you, no longer keep the Sabbath Commandment; now keep the eight day or the first day of the week. God instituted these days as His days, you know, the days He esteems and observes.
If people misconstrues Paul's statement by substituting worshipping for preference in days, then what would have happened if:
· The Children of Israel esteemed another day than Passover to put the blood around the lintels of their doors. I don't think the angel of death would have acceded to their preferences.
· The Apostles decided they preferred another day than Pentecost when God poured out the Holy Spirit. They would have missed the opportunity of being part of the burgeoning Church.
· The devout Jews who came to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Pentecost decided they esteemed or wanted to observe another day would have missed out on the conversion thousands of them received.
· All the people who might have been healed by Jesus would have preferred another day than the Sabbath were left maimed and sick.
· All the people who would have heard the message of the Good News observed another day would have missed out hearing the saving words.
Besides God's inspiring His Word on the Sabbath and the Holy Days, His people receive benefits beyond mere mortal men as in the past.
Jesus will return, as I said earlier, on the Feast of Trumpets. Maybe this year or next - sooner or later. Where will you be when he calls his beloved to meet him in the air to rule with him forever? Will you be observing His Holy Day or will you miss out by preferring another day.
God observes and prefers His Sabbath and Holy Days. Amen.
- Gil Kovacs