“Let US keep the feast…”

In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul the apostle of Yeshua the Messiah instructs the early Jewish and non-Jewish believers about the spiritual ramifications and significance of the Passover and the biblical Feast of Unleavened Bread. Then in verse eight, he assertively declares, “Let us keep the feast not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

You who call yourselves Christians and who don’t celebrate the biblical feasts including the Feast of Unleavened Bread, what about this command do YOU not understand? How can anyone declare that the YHVH’s biblical feasts were done away with, or were for the Jews only, when the apostle in this letter is addressing the non-Jews as well? How can we justify substituting non-biblical holidays such as Christmas and Easter for YHVH biblical holidays and call ourselves Bible believers and followers and imitators of Yeshua and the early book of Acts church? These are serious questions that many of us need to ask ourselves if we’re serious about our faith walk before YHVH Elohim and Yeshua the Messiah.


1 Corinthians 5:6, Purge out. The greater context of this passage is about putting sin out of our life (which is the temple of YHVH’s Holy Spirit, 1 Cor 3:16–17), which collectively form the spiritual body, church or the greater temple of Yeshua’s spiritual body (John 2:21). Therefore, sin that defiles the temple of Elohim must be put out of the church. In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul is especially concerned about the sin of sexual immorality that the church in Coringh had allowed to come into its midsts (1 Cor 5:1ff). From the context of this passage in light of Paul’s discussion about Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, it would appear that he wrote this letter just prior to the spring festivals (1 Cor 5:6–8). He is urging the church to remove the leavening of sin from its midsts prior to keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which he, by the way, urges the Corinthian believers to do. In fact, Paul’s admonition to “keep the Feast [of Unleavened Bread]” in verse eight, is the strongest imperative command in the Testimony of Yeshua (or NT) to keep the biblical festivals, and from this it’s evidence that in the mind of the apostle the biblical festivals were still relevant to Yeshua’s followers well past the middle of the first century, which means they’re relevant to the saints of today as well.

In his admonition to the Corinthian believers, it’s possible that Paul had in mind two examples in the Tanakh where spiritual revivals occurred after Hezekiah and Josiah cleansed the temple in Jerusalem of the filth of idolatry in preparation for Passover. Similarly, Ezra finished completion of the rebuilt temple in time to celebrate Passover (Ezra 6). These examples teach us that YHVH commands us to cleanse or deleaven our spiritual temples (individually and collectively) of sin annually in preparation for celebrating Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This spiritual spring house cleaning at the beginning of the biblical new year sets the tone spiritually for the rest of the year to go forward in a sin-free state. 

1 Corinthians 5:7, Messiah our Passover. In the Bible, the term Passover refers to both the appointed time or moed and to the sacrifice that was made on that day.

1 Corinthians 5:8, Let us keep/observe the feast. This verse proves several things. First that Paul (a Jewish believer) kept the biblical feasts, that non-Jewish believers kept the feasts, and that all believers could keep the feasts outside of Jerusalem.

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So what’s keeping you from celebrating YHVH’s feasts?

Leviticus 23:2, Feasts. These feast (moedim) days are set-apart times for YHVH’s consecrated people. They are divine appointments between the Creator of the Universe and his called-out ones. Furthermore, they are love feasts (Jude 12) between YHVH-Yeshua and his bride, the saints of the Most High Elohim. The seven feasts of YHVH are also the perfect seven-step divine plan showing how YHVH-Yeshua will redeem his backslid people Israel, his adulterous bride, back to himself. These days are the embodiment of the gospel (the good news) message of the coming marriage between Yeshua and his bride and the establishment of his kingdom upon this earth in a full and universal sense! We show our belief, faith, love, anticipation and obedience to him by walking them out. 

To not set aside time for YHVH feasts from one’s secular schedule is to ignore the call of the Bridegroom, Yeshua, for us to go out to meet him. It is to deprive oneself of the joys of communing with the Set-Apart (Kadosh) One of Israel in this special and set-apart way. It is to disregard and treat as common and profane the consecrated times that YHVH established for him and his people to come together. It is to disregard the covenants, the national constitution and marriage agreement between YHVH and his people—redeemed Israelite believers who have been grafted in to the olive tree of Israel through a relationship with Yeshua, the Messiah, the Anointed Sent One of Israel (Rom 11:13–24; Eph 2:11–19). To disregard YHVH’s feast days is to show disregard for his Torah-commands—his precepts, teachings and instructions in righteousness. To do this is to violate his commandments, which is sin (1 John 3:4)!

So what’s keeping you from celebrating YHVH’s feasts?

 

The biblical feasts are YHVH’s NOT men’s or the Jewish feasts!

Leviticus 23:2, My feasts [Heb. moedim]. YHVH calls these feasts his feasts. They’re not men’s feasts or the Jewish feasts! They came from YHVH and belong to him. When men pervert YHVH’s feasts by mixing in pagan traditions, they’re no longer YHVH’s feasts, but men’s feasts (e.g. Isa 1:13–15; Amos 5:21; Hos 2:11). When men pollute his feasts and appointed times, YHVH says that he hates them because they’re no longer his feasts (Isa 1:14–15).

In Ezekiel 20, we see that YHVH’s feasts (or sabbaths) are a covenantal sign between YHVH and his people (Ezek 20:12) that they were to live by (Ezek 20:11), yet which Israel, in rebellion, refused to do while in the wilderness. Instead they defiled his sabbaths by, presumably, not doing them and doing other things on those holy days (Ezek 20:13). Israel’s rebellion against YHVH with regard to their refusal to keep his sabbaths brought upon them YHVH’s judgments (Ezek 20:13). In other words, it was YHVH’s will for the Israelites to keep his sabbaths in the wilderness, but because of their idolatrous rebellion, they refused to do so.

In fact, YHVH calls refusing to observe his sabbaths idolatry and for this sin (along with other sins), the Israelites had to wander in the wilderness for forty years (Ezek 20:15–16). In profaning his sabbaths, YHVH accuses the Israelites of despising his Torah (Ezek 20:16).

YHVH then goes on to urge his people to not follow the example of their rebellious forefathers, but rather to walk in all of his Torah commands (including his sabbaths, Ezek 20:18–20). Because of their profaning his sabbaths, he punished them by scattering them in exile among the heathens. Those modern saints who refuse to keep YHVH’s Sabbath and feasts are walking in the same sin as the ancient Israelites.

Often people who refuse to keep YHVH’s feast days holy do so because the feasts conflict with their secular activities (such as their jobs). YHVH calls this idolatry and being like the heathen (Ezek 20:30, 32).

In the end times, YHVH is going to separate his people out from the heathen and bring them back into covenantal agreement with him including obedience to his sabbaths (Ezek 20:33–38). He will purge from his people those rebels who refuse to obey him including keeping his sabbaths (Ezek 20:38), which are a sign of his covenantal relationship with them.

 

Why study and celebrate the biblical feasts?

The Biblical feasts are a doorway into another world of the spiritual dimension, which is the realm of YHVH Elohim, and they all center around Yeshua the Messiah and his work to reconcile fallen humans to our Father in heaven.

An Introduction to the Biblical Feasts

If you had to sum up the entire message of the Bible in one word what would it be? Probably words such as love, hope, salvation, eternal life or heaven are coming to your mind. But I challenge you to find a better word than the following: r-e-c-o-n-c-i-l-i-a-t-i-o-n. The dictionary defines reconciliation as “to restore to friendship or harmony, to settle or resolve a quarrel, to make consistent or congruous.”

When the first humans chose to listen to the lies of the serpent and to rebel against YHVH by giving in to sin at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil at the very beginning, our first parents chose the path of separation from their Heavenly Father. Sin causes man to be separated from our totally holy, righteous, sinless and loving Creator.

Since that time YHVH has been endeavoring to reconcile man to himself. He has laid out the criteria for this to occur—for man to once again have a loving and intimate relationship with his Heavenly Father as did Adam and Eve before they sinned.

The seven biblical feasts of YHVH (please note, the Bible calls them YHVH’s feasts, not men’s feasts, Lev 23:2, 4; Exod 31:13) prophetically represent the steps man must take to be reconciled to his Heavenly Father. They are the complete plan of salvation or redemption rolled up into an easy-to-understand ­seven-step plan. Though a child can understand these steps, the truths contained therein can, at the same time, be expanded and unfolded until one literally has rolled out before oneself the entire message of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation—a message that to the human comprehension is staggering, deep and rich beyond understanding. The biblical feasts are literally the skeletal structure upon which the truths of the entire Bible hang. The message of redemption, sanctification, salvation, the atonement, glorification, end-times eschatology, the history of Israel, the entire gospel message, the covenants, the marriage of the Lamb of Elohim, the truth about the bride of Messiah, and Yeshua the Messiah are all prefigured within the glorious spiritual container of YHVH’s feasts contained in seven steps. Seven is the biblical number of divine perfection and completion, thus revealing to us that his plan of salvation is complete in that it will bring man back into an eternal and spiritual relationship with Elohim.

Quite assuredly, without a deep, walking-it-out comprehension of YHVH’s feasts, no matter how learned one may be in biblical knowledge, one will miss key elemental truths pertaining to YHVH’s plan of salvation. For example, there is no way to correctly or fully understand end-time events such as the second coming of Yeshua, the great tribulation, the wrath of Elohim, the resurrection of the righteous, the marriage of the Lamb, the Millennium, or the New Jerusalem unless one understands the feasts from a deep Hebraic perspective. Spiritual pride may not allow one to handle this fact, but it is the truth none the less! It’s illogical to think that one can throw out the foundation of a building and expect it to stand, or to eliminate the skeleton from a human body and expect a person to stand upright. Similarly, the feasts are both the foundation and the skeletal framework upon which is built or hangs the whole corpus of biblical truth.

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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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