Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. [Mt 5:17]
A primary mission of Messiah Gate is to teach the Hebrew roots of our Christian faith. The Pharisees and Scribes were fearful that Jesus Christ had come to abolish the Mosaic system upon which their authority rested. In fact, our Lord elevated the moral requirements of the Ten Commandments while condemning the ritualism of the sacrificial system.
There are examples in the Gospel records where Jesus demonstrated that the observance of ceremony was in conflict with the intent of God’s statutes. In Lk 13:10-16 we read about the woman who had been sick for 18 years. She came to the synagogue one Saturday and when Jesus saw the woman He healed her, but the indignant synagogue official pointed out to the assembled crowd that according to the law (Ex 20:9) you shall work six days, but not on the Sabbath. The official judged Jesus Christ to be a sinner!
On another occasion when His disciples were condemned for gleaning corn on Saturday Jesus told the Pharisees that the Sabbath was made for man, and man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath (Mk 2:27-28). Calling Himself the Son of Man was like adding coal to the fire as the religious leaders were very familiar with the scriptural reference in Daniel 7:13-14 where one like the Son of Man is given everlasting dominion over all the peoples and nations. By referring to Himself in this manner Jesus announced to the Scribes and Pharisees that He was the promised Mashiach, or Messiah spoken of by the prophets.
In the Old Testament YHWH met with His people at appointed times, or feasts (mo’adim). There were seven annual feasts observed by the Jewish people. The Messiah was to be the fulfillment of the Mosaic system including the law and feasts which were only a shadow of that which was to come.
Jesus Christ has fulfilled the Spring feasts of our LORD beginning with Pesach (פסח), or Passover (Lv 23:5). He was our Passover Lamb slain for the sins of the world. On the Day of Preparation the Son of God was crucified even as the priests were preparing lambs for the Passover feast.
Yeshua was the sinless sacrifice representing the feast of Unleavened Bread (Lv 23:6) as leaven was symbolic of the sin in our lives.
Messiah was the fulfillment of the Feast of Firstfruits (Lv 23:10). Upon His resurrection He was presented to YHWH as the first fruits from the dead (1Co 15:20) just as Israel presented the first fruits of Spring harvest to the temple priest as an offering unto the LORD.
At the Feast of Weeks (Shavu’ot: שבועות), or Pentecost (Lv 23:16) the Holy Spirit was poured out upon all believers. As this feast was a remembrance of the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai now the Spirit would write His commandments not upon stone tablets but within the hearts and minds of those who walk in obedience to Him (Jer 31:33). This was the time of the Spring/Summer harvest, and in one day the Spirit of the Lord harvested 3000 souls who responded to the Gospel message preached by Peter in Jerusalem (Acts 2:41).
This brings us to the Fall Feasts of our LORD.
Rosh Hashanah (ראש השנה), or Feast of Trumpets (Lv 23:24) begins the Jewish High Holy Days, or Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe) which is marked by a period of repentance and the sounding of the shofar. It is observed on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishri (September, or October on the Christian calendar). This, the Jewish New Year, is celebrated with a solemn reverence where the observant Jew seeks reconciliation and forgiveness. Some Christians believe that Jesus will fulfill this feast when the trumpet (shofar) is blown and the dead are raised in Christ (1Co 15:52). There are Messianic Jews who believe that Jesus was born in the month of Tishri. The feast is celebrated on Sept 5-6.
Yom Kippur (יוֹם כִּפּוּר or יום הכיפורים), or Day of Atonement (Lv 23:27), is the holiest day of the year for observant Jews. It traditionally is a 25-hour period of mournful fasting and prayer demonstrating repentance, and seeking forgiveness. Some Christians believe that Christ will fulfill the Day of Atonement upon His Second Coming when Israel looks with repentance upon the Messiah whom they pierced, and mournfully weep for forgiveness as the bitter weeping over a firstborn (Zec 12:10). Yom Kippur will be observed at sundown (10th of Tishrei, 5774), or Sept 13.
The last Fall feast to consider is Sukkot (סוכות or סֻכּוֹת), or the Feast of Tabernacle (also know as the Feast of Booths) which recalls how YHWH sheltered the children of Israel during their 40 years of desert wandering (Lv 23:34). The holiday is referred to in Jewish liturgy as Z’man Simchateinu, the Season of our Rejoicing. Sukkot is also an agricultural festival celebrating the Fall harvest, and is often referred to as Chag Ha-Asifthe, or Feast of Ingathering (gathering of the harvest). It is one of three national feasts (Pesach, or Passover; Shavu’ot, or Pentecost; and Sukkot, or Tabernacle) that Jehovah commanded Israel to observe at the temple in Jerusalem. Again, some Christians believe that Christ will fulfill this feast when He returns to sit on the throne of David, and the world will come to Jerusalem to tabernacle with the Lord in worship and praise (Is 2:2-4). Sukkot will be celebrated at sundown (15th of Tishrei, 5774), or Sept 18.
A question often asked: Are Christians commanded to keep the feasts of the LORD? Our best answer can be found in Scripture:
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day–things which are a [mere] shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. [Col 2:16-17]
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day [alike]. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. [Ro 14:5]
Speaking at the Council in Jerusalem Peter said:
Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke (Mosaic system) which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? [Acts 15:10]
And James (brother of Jesus) concluded:
Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles…For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. [Acts 15:19-20, 28-29]
We are not to judge a brother on these things (keeping the Sabbath, or feast days) if, according to conscience, his performance is worthy and commendable to the LORD. Nor are we to command (as some do within the Hebrew Roots Movement) that Gentiles must observe these things in order to be made right before the LORD. We are justified and deemed righteous in Christ–not by observing the legalistic rituals of Old Covenant statutes.
A brother may observe these things within the context of their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, but it would be a sin to do so out of a sense of obligation; and it is uplifting for a Gentile to understand what Yeshua meant when He said that He came to fulfill the Law and prophets. As we have shown, Messiah has fulfilled four of the seven major feasts, and we note that He did so literally according to the Hebrew calendar given by YHWH to the children of Israel.
The question that remains: Will He also fulfill the remaining feasts according to the dates commanded in the Book of Leviticus; and does this give us insight as to the season when these things will come to pass?
Now as to the times and the epochs (or seasons), brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief. [1Thess 5:1-2, 4]
Let us, therefore, walk alert and sober-minded as children of the light knowing that whenever He comes our appointment is with Jesus Christ.
Suggested Reading: Our Passover Lamb
Next: The Law Has Set Me Free?
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