12 September 2012

What's so Holy about the Holi-days?


In line with the Jewish calendar, the High Holy Days are upon us this year.  But as Gentiles, why would we be interested in these events?  We know that Jesus participated in the Feasts and culture of the day, but then, He was Jewish.  Do the times and seasons set up by God way back in Moses’ days have an impact on us as Believers today?  Here are a few thoughts to think about:
 

Rosh HaShana - Head of the Year
Leviticus 23:23-25

Otherwise known as the Feast of Trumpets, it was simply to be a holy day celebrated by the blowing of the trumpet/shofar.  Today it is acknowledged with several different shofar blasts, and marks the beginning of the ‘10 Days of Awe’ - a solemn time of soul searching in preparation for Yom Kippur.  During this time, God’s forgiveness is sought and His judgment is feared.  One considers their ’sins’ before God and enters into a time of repentance, seeking forgiveness from God and from those you may have hurt.  It is also a time of restitution.
  As modern day believers, the sound of the trumpet blast is also very significant to us. It is mentioned several times in New Testament writings, not the least of which being the  signalling of the end of an age, and the beginning of a new season when at ‘the last trumpet’ we shall all be changed! (1Cor 15:51-53)

Yom Kippur - Day of Atonement
Leviticus 23:26-32

The holiest day of the Biblical year.  The only day the High Priest was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies, to approach the Lord where He resided over the mercy seat.  First the Priest had to go through a series of sacrifices to atone for not only his own sin, but the sins of all the people.  After this, the ‘scape-goat’ was released into the desert to carry away the sins of the people .  Then, and only then could the Priest dare to approach the most holy of places and sprinkle the blood from the sacrifices onto the Ark of the Covenant.
We know, according to God’s Word, that the blood of bulls and goats did not provide full and permanent forgiveness.  Each year the Priest had to go through the rituals, each year new animals had to be sacrificed, and each year a new goat wandered off into the wilderness.  Through Jesus life, death and resurrection, God provided a ‘once and for all’ solution to sin: He was the sacrifice, He used His blood, and He took on our sin on our behalf.
Not long after this, the temple was destroyed for the last time.  Since then there has been no provision for the sacrificial system to be reinstituted.  Today the Jewish people try to gain absolution through prayer and good deeds and spend the Day of Atonement in prayer and fasting, hoping that their names be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year.
Outside, the streets are devoid of all traffic and machinery.  No one works.  Everyone walks onto the streets and highways.  People sit in the middle of the road with their neighbours after attending to their devotional duties and completing their prayers.  It is an incredible day in Israel - and a good time to remind ourselves that Yeshua’s sacrifice really is ‘once and for all’, and because of that, our names are inscribed in the ‘Lamb’s Book of Life’ forever!

Sukot - Feast of Tabernacles
Leviticus 23:33-44

This is the most joyful of all celebrations - God actually commanded the people to rejoice!  It celebrated the final harvest of the year and served as a reminder of how the Israelites lived when they came out of Egypt.  Temporary ‘dwellings’ are constructed with 3 walls and a leafy roof so you can see the stars.  Then the structure is decorated with harvest fruits, scriptures, garlands, and pictures.  In Yeshua’s day, this time was simply referred to as ‘The Feast’, and incorporated special ceremonies with water, adding great significance to Jesus’ words when he proclaimed His offer of Living Water!
Today, families spend as much time as possible in their booths, eating and even sleeping in them, being reminded of God’s provision and how His presence was always with them in the wilderness through the cloud and pillar of fire.  As believers we are also reminded of God’s eternal commitment to us, to tabernacle with us, to provide for us, to leave or forsake us!

So happy holidays everyone!  And know that Yeshua is the reason for celebrating even these seasons!