Are YOU Child of the Light?

As we celebrate the new biblical year and prepare to celebrate YHVH’s biblical feasts starting with Passover in just under two weeks, I’m reminded of several important things that the children of light would be wise to reflect upon.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Phil 4:8)

Even though the world around us is like a full swirling toilet bowl about to be flushed in light of all the economic, political and terrorist woes not to mention the most recent imminent threat of plague and pestilence, it is time for the children of light to look up!

Yeshua said, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:28)

As children of the light, we are neither to be ignorant of the times and season in which we are living (geo-politically) nor of YHVH’s appointed times and festival seasons as well. In fact, we’re to comfort ourselves and others with this truth!

You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.  But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thess 5:1–11)

Why are YHVH’s feast so important to celebrate? To answer this question, let’s ask another question. Why are anniversaries, birthdays, national holidays and the like important to people and cultures worldwide from time immemorial? Because they commemorate important events in people’s lives. This being so, let’s ask another important questions: Why doesn’t the Christian church do the same by celebrating YHVH’s appointed times or biblical festivals? If anniversaries, birthdays and national holidays are so important to most people, then how much more important are YHVH’s seven biblical festivals for the following reasons:

  • They reveal the seven steps in YHVH’s plan of salvation.
  • They commemorate important events in the past, present and future of the lives of the people of Elohim.
  • They are commanded by the Creator for his saints to observe.
  • They were celebrated by the saints that went before us including Yeshua, the apostles and the saints of the early book of Acts church.
  • They will be celebrated again in the thousand year long millennial reign of King Yeshua the Messiah after his second coming.

So what unbiblical reasons (i.e. excuses) do you have for not celebrating YHVH’s seven biblical feasts, or are you ready to take the to take the bold next step in knowing Elohim and to walk as Yeshua walked?

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of Elohim is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He [Yeshua] walked. (1 John 2:3–6)

Onward and upward for the glory of YHVH Elohim!

Hoshana Rabbah has numerous FREE resources including calendars, study guides and other materials to help you to celebrate YHVH’s biblical feasts. We sell nothing (financial donations are appreciated though)!

Articles: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/teaching.html#feast
Biblical calendars: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/calendars.html#may20
Additional resources on how to celebrate the biblical feasts on your own or with a group: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/moedim.html

 

What’s so special about the Shabbat and how to keep it so

Exodus 31:13–17, My Sabbaths you shall keep. Note that Sabbaths is plural. This is a reference not only to the weekly Sabbath, but to the feast day Sabbaths as well. However, the seventh day Sabbath remains central to YHVH’s spiritual economy for his people. In fact, it was so central to the spiritual life and YHVH’s people that he designated it to be a visible and outward sign of the special relationship between him and his people. Let’s explore this idea.

Why did YHVH designate it as a sign (“signal, distinguishing mark, banner,” Exod 31:12) between him and Israel? As YHVH’s set-apart people, Israel was distinguishing itself from the surrounding nations who did not keep the Sabbath. What distinguishes the saints today as YHVH’s set-apart people from the non-believing heathen around them? Certainly our love for one another is a distinguishing mark, according to Yeshua (John 13:35). Yeshua also said that if we love him we will keep his Torah commandments (of which the Sabbath is the fourth of the ten commandments, John 14:15; Exod 20:8). John was inspired to write that those who say they know Elohim and don’t keep his Torah-commandments (of which the Sabbath is a foundation stone) are liars and the truth is not in them (1 John 2:3–6). And finally, Yeshua told those who were Torahless (i.e. workers of iniquity or lawlessness) to depart from him, that he didn’t know them even though they claimed to be his followers and had done many religious works in his name (Matt 7:21–23). Although the Sabbath and the biblical feasts may not be the exact sign of the Renewed Covenant, Elohim’s Sabbaths are foundation stones of the Torah, and the keeping of them remains to this day for the saints of Elohim (Heb 4:9).

The ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach translates verse 15 as follows:

For six days work may be done and the seventh day is a day of complete rest, it is sacred to [YHVH] … (emphasis added)

What is complete rest? What is the connection between “complete rest” and the idea of sacredness or being set-apartness or kadosh? The people of YHVH are called to separate the kodesh from the common or profane:

Her priests have violated my Torah, and have profaned my set-apart/kodesh things: they have put no difference between the kodesh and profane [common, polluted] neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. (Ezek 22:26)

And [the priests] shall teach my people the difference between the kodesh and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. (Ezek 44:23)

What is common or profane is that which is commonly done on the other six days of the week.

Exodus 31:14, Sabbath…profanes it.Profaning or polluting the Sabbath with secular activities is a sin. Sabbath desecration is as much a capital offence in YHVH’s eyes now as it was then. The wages of sin is still death (Ezek 18:4; Rom 6:23). 

Exodus 31:18, Written with the finger.The Sabbath was ordained by Elohim and written by his finger. How dare men subsequently declare that the Sabbath was changed and that what YHVH wrote with his finger in tablets of stone is now irrelevant or passé! What hubris and arrogance on men’s part to counter the will and laws of Elohim with silly, specious and vacuous justifications for man-made and unbiblical teachings. Such edicts of men will not stand, but will blow away like dust in the wind, will be burned to ashes in the fiery judgment of Elohim, and will fall by the wayside like all the other traditions of men, which have dared to make the word of Elohim of no effect!

 

When does a biblical month and new year start and why is it important for YOU to know?

Why is it important to know when the biblical month and new year start? Because as more people are leaving the non-biblical traditions of man that they have been taught in their churches (including the non-biblical Christian holidays) and return to the truths of the Bible (including the biblical holidays), they need to know when to celebrate YHVH’s appointed times or feasts. This means that one needs to have a basic understanding of the biblical calendar, which is different from the world’s calendar in use today. The article below (along with other articles that I’ve written on the subject which you can find at https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/teaching.html#feast) will help to explain this.

Exodus 12:2, Month. It is the Hebrew word chodesh (Strong’s H2320/TWOT 613b) meaning “the new moon, month, monthly, the first day of the month, the lunar month.” It is found in the Tanakh (Old Testament) 276 times and is translated in the King James Version as “month” 254 times, “new moon” (20 times), and “monthly” (1 time). We see that from these definitions that the terms “month” and “new moon” are synonymous. It has been understood for millennia that ancient Israelites began their month with the new moon.

Why was it important for the Israelites to know when the new moon occurred and when the month began? The dates of the annual biblical festivals that YHVH gave to Israel and instructed them to observe were determined based on when the new moon occurred (Lev 23:5, 6, 24, 27, 34).

The next question to answer is this: when does the biblical month begin? As we noted above, for modern astronomers the term “new moon” means something different than it did to the ancients, including those who YHVH inspired to write the Bible. Ancient calendars were determined by the moon, while modern ones are not. Some biblical expositors teach that the new moon begins when the moon is in conjunction or in line with the earth and the sun and is in its dark phase. Others believe that the month begins just after the moon has moved out of its dark phase and begins to show a sliver of light, which is called the visible or crescent new moon. Who is right?

Some Bible teachers claim that there is no place in the Scriptures that specifically states that the new moon begins at the first visible sliver after being dark for several days. Therefore, they reason, it is an assumption to say that it does (even though, as we will see below, this was the understanding of the ancient Israelites), and therefore, the new moon should be determined from its conjunction with the earth and sun while it is in its dark phase. While on the surface, this may seem like a valid argument, one important verse in the Scriptures, however, and some simple logic quickly disproves this notion. It is Genesis 1:14.

And Elohim 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 [moedim/biblical festivals], and for days, and years.”

In this verse we see that the sun and the moon are “signs” for seasons, days and years. The word “sign” is the ­Hebrew word owt (Strong’s H226; TWOT 41a) meaning “sign, signal, mark, token, emblem, signboard, standard.” In the Tanakh, owt describes such visible (not invisible) signs as Noah’s rainbow (Gen 9:12–13, 17), Cain’s mark (Gen 4:15), circumcision (Gen 17:11), and the Sabbath (Exod 31:13, 17; Ezek 20:12). In addition, owt is used some 80 times in the Tanakh to refer to miraculous signs. These include the plagues of Egypt (Exod 7:3; Deut 4:34, etc.), the sign of the virgin birth of the Messiah (Isa 7:11, 14); YHVH miraculous signs to Gideon (Judg 6:17) and King Hezekiah (2 Kgs 20:9; Isa 38:7). In addition, Aaron’s rod that budded was a sign or token (Num 17:25). Many more examples could be given.

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Blow that shofar!

Psalm 81:3, Blow the trumpet [Heb. shofar] at the time of the New Moon [Heb. chodesh], at the full moon [Heb. keseh meaning full moon or concealed, covered—scholars disagree as to its meaning and the origin of the word], on our solemn feast day [Heb. chag] — NKJV. The ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach translates this verse alternatively as follows,

Blow the shofar at the moon’s renewal, at the time appointed for our festive day.

The origins of the Hebrew word keseh behind the phrase “full moon” is uncertain and there is debate among the experts on this subject. Some Hebrew lexicons relate it to a Hebrew root word meaning “to conceal, to cover” (e.g. Gesenius; Strong’s number H3677 cp. H3678), while others tell us that it means “fullness; full moon” (e.g. Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon; cp. The TWOT; Strong’s). BDB tells us that the origin of keseh is unknown and that it may be an Aramaic loan word meaning “full moon.” Gesenius in his lexicon states that the etymology of keseh isn’t clear, but he favors the idea of the moon being covered or concealed in darkness as opposed to being covered in light (i.e., in its full moon state). 

The only other usage of keseh in the Scriptures is found in Prov 7:20, which gives us no clue as to the exact meaning of the word.

Orthodox Jewish scholars tell us that keseh means “to conceal or to cover.” They say that the only biblical festival that occurs at the time of the new moon (biblically, when the first sliver of the new moon becomes visible) is Yom Teruah (or Rosh HaShanah), which occurs on the first day of the seventh month (in late summer). At this time, the moon is nearly completely covered or concealed except for a small, visible sliver.

The next phrase in this verse speaks of a solemn feast day, which is the Hebrew word chag. This word refers to the three pilgrimage festivals, which are Passover and the Feast (or chag) of Unleavened, the Feast (or chag) of Weeks or Pentecost and the Feast (or chag) of Tabernacles (Exod 23:14–16; Deut 16:16).

Jewish scholars relate the word chag to Yom Teruah (which they say refers to Rosh HaShanah, see The ArtScroll Tanach Series Tehillim/Psalms Commentary on this verse). The problem with this interpretation is that the Scriptures never call the day of the new moon (rosh chodesh) a chag, nor is Yom Teruah technically a chag either in the strictest sense of the meaning of the word and its usage in Scripture. Therefore, the word keseh, if it means “concealment” must be referring to both the new moon day (the first day of each month, and to Yom Teruah, which occurs on the first day of the seventh month), while the chag must be referring to the three pilgrimage festivals.

Those scholars who take the word keseh to mean “full moon” say that the phrase in this verse containing this word refers to the pilgrimage festivals (Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks, and Feast of Tabernacles), which all occurred on or very near the time of the full moon.

Whichever interpretation you side with, the bottom line is this: The Scriptures command us to sound the shofar at the time of the New Moon, on Yom Teruah and during the three pilgrimage feasts. (See also Num 10:10.)

 

Reasons for Celebrating YHVH’s Biblical Feasts

silhouette people jumping at sunset

The biblical pilgrimage or aliyot (singular: aliyah) festivals are Passover (Pesach) and Unleavened Bread (Chag haMatzot) and the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Shavuot) in the spring and the Feast Tabernacles (Chag haSukkot) in the fall. At these feasts, the Torah, the Word of Elohim, commands all of YHVH’s his people Israel to come up (or make aliyah) to the place where YHVH has chosen to place his name. There they are to worship and serve him as they fellowship with joy with their Israelite brothers from far and near.

What are the reasons and benefits for YHVH’s people to faithfully and obediently celebrate his holy or set-apart feasts as he has commanded in is Set-Apart Word?

  • The biblical feasts are a prophetic shadow-picture of things to come (Col 2:16–17; Heb 10:1). When they were given to ancient Israel they pointed forward to future events that would occur to the nation of Israel including redeemed believers. The spring feast days, for example, point to Yeshua the Messiah’s first coming, while the fall feast days point to his second coming leading into the Messianic Age (Millennium) and into eternity beyond.
  • All the biblical feasts point to Yeshua. Yeshua is the Hebrew name for Jesus and means “salvation.” All the biblical festivals point to the various stages or steps of the path of salvation that believers find themselves on. 
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Free Hoshana Rabbah Resources on the Biblical Feasts and the Sabbath

Leviticus 23:1–1–44. The Biblical Feasts

Over the years, my wife and I have created many free discipleship resources on the biblical feasts and the seventh day Sabbath. Here is a list of links where you can find them. Also, you can use the search engine on the front page of this blog and type in key words (e.g. Sabbath, Pentecost, Passover, etc.) to pull up past articles published on this blog on the biblical feasts and the Shabbat. May these free resources be a blessing to you as you seek to understand biblical truth and learn to love Yeshua the Messiah and YHVH’s plan of salvation more deeply by keeping his commandments.

Articles about the feasts: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/teaching.html#feast

Articles about the Shabbath/Sabbath: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/teaching.html#shabbat

Calendars—when to celebrate the feasts: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/calendars.html

Some suggestion on how to celebrate the feasts: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/lifestyle.html

Videos on the biblical feasts and Sabbath: https://www.youtube.com/user/HoshanaRabbah/playlists

 

Celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Wavesheaf Offering & the Resurrection of Yeshua

The Feast of Unleavened Bread—An Overview

Chag HaMatzot or the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the second annual festival on YHVH’s biblical calendar, and occurs on the fifteenth day of the month of the Abib, which is the day immediately following Passover (or Pesach, Lev 23:5–8). Because both of these feasts (Exod 34:25; Lev 23:2, 6) occur back-to-back, the Jews often refer to Passover and Unleavened Bread simply as Passover Week or some similar term that places the main emphasis on the Passover. But it must be noted that, though related, these two festivals are separate in meaning and purpose. Passover pictures Israel coming out of Egypt. Upon separating from Egypt, YHVH (the LORD) then commanded the Israelites to put all leavened food products out of their houses and to eat unleavened bread (flat bread) for seven days, hence the origins of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Additionally, the first and seventh days of this week-long event are Sabbaths, and YHVH commanded his people to hold a set-apart convocation (or gathering) on these Sabbaths.

What, you may ask, is the purpose of putting leavening out of one’s home and eating unleavened bread products such as matzoh for one week? This seems like a curious request by YHVH of his people. Not surprisingly, the Creator of the universe has a reason for everything. The spiritual implications are enlightening and highly relevant to the disciples of Yeshua. In commanding his people to de-leaven their homes and lives, YHVH is teaching us an object lesson that applies to us as much today as to the Israelites of long ago.

Eating unleavened bread for seven days is a memorial, remembrance or reminder (Exod 13:6–9) of our coming out of our own spiritual Egypt. But how did unleavened bread enter into this picture? The Torah tells us that the Israelites left Egypt early in the morning as they were making their daily bread, and because they left in haste the bread was not able to rise (Exod 12:34). Therefore, they were forced, by circumstances, to leave their leavening — a biblical metaphor for sin — behind in Egypt. Similarly, believers in Yeshua are commanded to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1 Cor 5:6–8), which helps to remind us that we should have left our old sinful ways behind us in the spiritual Egypt of this world when we surrendered our lives to Yeshua. We are pressing onward to the Promised Land of YHVH’s eternal kingdom.

Not only did YHVH command his set-apart people to leave Egypt (a biblical metaphor for this world Continue reading