The Fall Feastsby Dan Stolebarger, Executive Director of Education, Koinonia Insti-tute
The Fall Feasts will be upon us soon, and once they start they flow together quickly, so it is important to be prepared. Remember, as a believer it is important for you to be able to see how Yeshua (Jesus) is central to each Feast.
The Feasts of Israel
The three Spring Feasts (Unleavened Bread, Pass-over, and First Fruits) all point to the first coming of Yeshua while the last three (Trumpets, Yom Kippur and Tabernacles) look to the second advent of our Lord Jesus. The middle Feast, Pentecost, is considered the birthday of the Church.
Feast of Trumpets: 9/30/11
Because of the nature of the blowing of the Trumpets and the “last Trump,” many believe that IF you had to pick a time for the Rapture to take place (although we are warned about setting dates and times—see 1 Thessalonians 5) this Feast would be a good choice.
I am not here to sell this short or to promote the possibility. My goal is for us to understand what this Feast symbolizes, how it is celebrated and, as mentioned, how one would find Jesus in it.
The religious holiday is called the Feast of Trumpets while the civil counterpart is known as Rosh HaShanah (the head of the year.) On the Jewish civil calendar this day is the beginning of the New Year.
Interesting note: Jews believe that this day is actually the birthday of the world! On the religious side of things, this is a time when the blowing of the shofars call the nation to a time of introspection and repentance. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, will occur in ten days. The shofar is an instrument made of a ram’s horn and is blown one hundred times during each of the two days of Rosh HaShanah. This marks the time for preparing spiritually for the New Year.
One essential practice that I have found meaningful in my life is that of Tashlich. This is a ceremony that usually takes place during the first day of Rosh HaSha-nah. Tashlich literally means “casting off” and involves symbolically casting off the sins of the previous year by tossing pieces of bread into a body of flowing water. Unlike other New Year’s celebrations worldwide where frivolity and parties take center stage, the Jews look at the coming of a new year in a much more spiritual way, with reflection and somberness.
In fact, during this time the belief is that God is re-viewing the lives of each person on the planet to see if their name should be written in the Book of Life. (The Biblical instructions for this feast can be found in Leviticus 23:23-25.)
As believers in Yeshua the Messiah, this needs to be a time that we ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the things that we need to confess. If you want the visual experience, find some running water and cast your bread on the water and read Micah 7:18-19 and 1 John 1:7-10. And finally, let us remember the Book of Life as well (Revelation 20:11-14).
Yom Kipper: 10/8/11
After the Feast of Trumpets, we extend this time of deep reflection for ten days (known as the Days of Awe or Repentance) which lead us to the Day of Atonement. There are three essential components of Yom Kippur: Teshuva (Repentance), Prayer and Fasting.
Leading up to Yom Kippur, Jews seek out those that they may have wronged over the last year to request forgiveness. Although many people think that the transgressions and sins from the previous year are for-given through prayer, fasting and participation in Yom Kippur services, Jewish tradition teaches that only offenses committed against God can be forgiven on Yom Kippur, which is why it is paramount to take care of this during the ten Days of Awe.
Yom Kippur lasts from morning until nightfall. Many prayers are said but one is repeated at intervals throughout the synagogue service. This prayer is called Al Khet and asks for forgiveness for a variety of sins that may have been committed during the year.
Here are some excerpts:
For the sin that we have committed under stress or through choice; For the sin that we have committed in stubbornness or in error; For the sin that we have committed in the evil meditations of the heart; For the sin that we have committed by word of mouth; For the sin that we have committed through abuse of power; For the sin that we have committed by exploitation of neighbors; For all these sins, O God of forgiveness, bear with us, pardon us, forgive us!
As this prayer is recited, people gently beat their fists against their chests as each sin is mentioned. On Yom Kippur, the Book of Jonah is the text for the day, in order to remind people that God pardons those who truly repent. Yom Kippur is also marked by 25 hours of fasting. (The Biblical instructions for this feast can be found in Leviticus 23:26-32.)
When Jesus was being crucified, we are told in Luke 23:45 that the veil which kept the Holy of Holies private for only the High Priest to visit on this one day out of the year, to make atonement for the people, was now open to all those who are wrapped in the blood of the Lamb.
What the blood of bulls and goats could not do, His blood can, providing true forgiveness for all of our sins—past, present and future. So when you think of this day, call to mind Revelation 5:6, where we see Yeshua as the Lamb that was slain and let us join in wor-ship with the 24 Elders, for He is the ONE who completes this Day of Atonement.
With that being said, I find a richness in how the Jews go through this day and I believe that it can be helpful for us as followers of Yeshua…taking time to reflect through the ten Days of Awe and to seek forgiveness from others as well as from the Lord.
Feast of Tabernacles: 10/12/11
The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), one of the three mandatory pilgrimages, is an eight-day harvest holiday that arrives during the Hebrew month of Tishri. It starts four days after Yom Kippur. This Feast requires the building of a “sukkah,” which is a temporary dwelling that will be outside the home. It must have holes that allow the wind to blow through it, and at night you must have the ability to see the stars. Sukkot is a reminder of how God provided for the Jews while wandering in the desert for 40 years (Leviticus 23:42-43).
This joyous Feast also celebrates the past Harvest and lasts for eight days. This is a time to remember, rejoice and also to pray for next season’s rain.
In John 7, we read about Jesus being in Jerusalem for this Feast and at two solemn occasions, when marching from the Temple to the Pool of Siloam, He proclaimed aloud that He was both the Light of the world as well as the Living Water.
These came at a time when the Jews were celebrating the fact that God provided direction for them through the wilderness by giving them a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The water celebration was a reminder of how God cared for them in the desert by bringing water from the rock. Jesus loudly proclaimed that these were “types” and that He was the fulfillment!
While camping out during Sukkot, imagine the teaching opportunities for the head of the household! Feel the wind? See the stars? Let me tell you about how God protected our people, delivered us from Egypt and has brought us to the land He promised to Abraham.
We can clearly see Yeshua as both the Light of the World as well as the Rock that was struck in the desert that provided water for the Jews and Living Water for the Church today. As His talmidim, we look forward to the time when we are caught up with Him and taken to the place where He has been making preparations for us.All the Fall Feasts point to the Second Coming of Yeshua, the Messiah! As Christians, be prepared to experience Him this year as we celebrate the Feasts.