Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Feasts of the LORD: Hebrew Roots of God's Sacred Appointments

There are many holidays that Christians observe each year that are considered traditional and are widely celebrated but there's another set of 'holidays' that are different from the first. In fact these are actually commanded by God to be kept and are considered Holy Days. Once you understand these and their purpose you notice that not only are they special days sanctified by God for special worship of Him, they actually point to and in many ways are rehearsals of prophesied coming events.

We are told in Leviticus 23:1-2 that Moses was told to speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.

When we hear the word "feast" we typically think of a gathering of people engorging themselves on a large meal. The Hebrew word used here for feast, however, is mô‛êd ( Strongs H4150), meaning a fixed time or appointment. We're also told that these appointments are the "feasts of the LORD...even these are my feasts. So these are not large meals but sacred appointments and they do not belong to the Jews or to the Israelites but they belong to the LORD.

Notice in (Gen 1:14) that God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:. The Hebrew word translated as seasons is the same word,  mô‛êd. So the sun, moon and stars are there to mark time and show us when these appointments take place.

The word "proclaim" is the Hebrew word qârâ' (Strongs H7121), meaning to call out, announce or invite and the word for "convocations" is miqrâ' (Strongs H4744), meaning a meeting or sacred assembly.

So if I may, perhaps a more easily understood translation of Lev. 23:1-2 might be -

"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the appointments of the LORD, which ye shall announce and invite people to attend are holy and sacred assemblies, even these are my sacred appointments."

We are told in (Deut 16:16) - Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:

There are essentially two sets of feasts or sacred appointments - spring and fall. The spring feasts of Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) picture Christ's first coming and the fall feasts consisting of the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles represent His second coming. By studying the spring feasts and understanding their meaning, our faith is greatly strengthened as we understand that God proclaimed these were to take place hundreds of years in advance and then they actually occurred. So then, as we comprehend the meaning of the fall feasts, we can also rest assured in the hope of His second coming as we can trust that God will bring it about. We believe God, who cannot lie, will do what He tells us He will do.

Isa 46:9-13  Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,  (10)  Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:  (11)  Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.  (12)  Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that are far from righteousness:  (13)  I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.
How long are these sacred annual appointments to be kept?
(Exo 12:14)  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.
(Exo 12:17)  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.
So, if we're to keep them forever, why didn't Jesus keep them? Well, if we look more closely at a few scriptures, He actually did keep them.

Mat 26:17-19  Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?  (18)  And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.  (19)  And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover. See also - Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22: 7-13
This meal typically depicted as "The Last Supper" was in fact a passover observance. There are many issues with this depiction that we won't take the time to explore here.

But surely the Apostle Paul didn't keep the feasts after Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. Supposedly, all was done away and nailed to the cross so there certainly was no more reason to observe the feasts, right? Wrong! Paul too kept the feasts years after Christ's death and resurrection.
Acts 18:20-21  When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;  (21)  But [Paul] bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
Acts 20:6  And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.
1Cor 5:8  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.
When our Lord Jesus returns as King of kings and Lord of lords and establishes His kingdom among men all nations will keep the feasts.
Zec 14:16  And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
Why not obey God's command to observe these sacred appointments now and learn their rich lessons in God's way of life and understand their prophetic meaning of His Kingdom to come?

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Is it possible to know what the future holds for us? The Creator of mankind does have a plan for us, and He reveals it to us through an annual cycle of festivals described in the Scriptures. It is an astounding plan offering an incredible future to every man, woman, and child who has ever lived.
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Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

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