Congregation Beth Simcha of Lufkin
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The Moadim - Biblical Holy Days
"'These are the designated times of ADONAI, the holy convocations you are to proclaim at their designated times.." Leviticus 23:4
God gave His holy days to the people of Israel to be observed throughout all their generations. Therefore, these days are still to be observed by Israel and all who worship and serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, both Jew and Gentile.
These great days bear witness of God’s faithfulness to His people and to the nations and portray redemption in Israel’s Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazereth.
If your faith is in Messiah, God's salvation, then these days are for you also!
the 7th Day of the Week
Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. 9 You have six days to labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Shabbat for Adonai your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work — not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property. 11 For in six days, Adonai made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why Adonai blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for Himself. Exodus 20:8-11
Shabbat is the most highly regarded of the Jewish holidays because it is celebrated each week. Shabbat means “rest” and occurs on the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, or Saturday. Congregation Beth Simcha holds services on the Sabbath, Saturday morning.
The Sabbath is one of the seven ordained feasts outlined in Leviticus 23. It is a weekly day of rest for physical and spiritual renewal after a hard week of work.
Today, with our five-day work week, a day of rest may not seem to have as much significance as it did in ancient, agricultural times. However, in today’s modern societies, whether it’s work for an employer or work at our homes, few people truly take a day off from any kind of work. Yet God knows we need this day of rest, and the Sabbath is the first special day He commanded and the only day included in the Ten Commandments.
“Shabbat shalom!” is a typical Jewish greeting used to wish people Sabbath peace.
Purim commemorates God's saving of the Jews from annihilation in the fifth century when, by the sovereignty of God, the Jewish maiden Esther was chosen as Queen of Persia. From that position, she beseeched the king on behalf of her people who were targeted for destruction through a legal injunction rewarding anyone who killed a Jewish person on the decreed date. Though God is not mentioned in the book of Esther, He is seen at every turn and clearly elevated Esther to the role of queen “for such a time as this.”
Purim is the most festive of Jewish holidays. The story of Esther, called the Megillah, is read in Messianic congregations and synagogues throughout the world. Jewish observers dress in costume, give food gifts, and take part in plays reenacting the story of Esther. Whenever evil Haman’s name is mentioned, audiences stomp their feet and rattle noisemakers called groggers in order to blot out the name of him who sought to destroy the Jewish people.
Messianic Jews are reminded of God’s ultimate provision of salvation, rescuing us to eternal life through Yeshua’s sacrifice for us.
(Also known as: Pesach, Feast of Unleavened Bread) (Pesach means “to pass over, to exempt or spare.”)
Passover is considered the most important of the Jewish holidays because it called the people of Israel out of Egypt to become their own nation. It commemorates when God delivered the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. On that first Passover night when the Jewish people followed God’s instructions and placed the blood of a sacrificed lamb on their doorposts, the angel of death saw the blood and passed over them. In this way, they were spared the death of their firstborn, the tenth and final plague visited upon Egypt by God.
Passover occurs on the evening of the 14th of the month of Nissan and is followed by the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread in which Messianic Jews eat unleavened bread as God instructed in Leviticus 23. Usually, the entire holiday is collectively referred to as “Passover.” This holiday is celebrated in remembrance of the first Passover when God told the people of Israel not to wait for their bread to rise, but to eat their meal in haste so they would be ready for His deliverance at a moment’s notice.
Messianic Jews celebrate the mighty acts God did to rescue the Jewish people from slavery to Egypt. Over and over again, God commanded the Jewish people to remember what He brought them out of. Messianic Jews also recognize, as Rabbi Sha'ul (the apostle Paul) pointed out in 1 Corinthians 5:7 that Yeshua became our Passover lamb. He sacrificed His life for us, and we are saved from eternal, spiritual death through His death and resurrection. Messianic Jews and Gentile Believers in Yeshua see God’s hand in powerful symbolism within the traditional elements of the Passover Seder ritual meal.
Messianic Jews do not celebrate Easter, preferring instead to commemorate Yeshua’s death and resurrection on our behalf at Passover, the time of year when He was crucified and rose from the dead.
Shavuot is also called the Feast of Weeks because it occurs seven weeks after the first Passover Sabbath. God gave the Torah (the Law) to His people at Mount Sinai on the date of Shavuot. Therefore, the feast is a time of celebrating the gift of the Torah. Many Jewish people today stay up all night reading the Torah together, and when Shavuot dawn breaks, they pray together and read the Ten Commandments.
Because it also relates to the harvest and the offering of the first fruits of the standing wheat harvest, Shavuot is also called the Feast of First Fruits.
Shavuot is one of three pilgrimage feasts in the Jewish year for which God required every Jewish man to travel to Jerusalem. The first Shavuot after Yeshua’s death marked the pouring out of the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire in the Temple in Jerusalem. Jewish men living abroad in many nations returned to Jerusalem for Shavuot, and it was then that God gave the Ruach HaKodesh, or Holy Spirit. Men heard the Good News of Yeshua in their own languages, and 3,000 came to faith in Messiah that day.
For Messianic Believers, Shavuot is a time to recommit ourselves to God’s Word and offer our first fruits to Him, the fruit of our lips in praise and worship and the work we do for His Kingdom. We celebrate the gift of His presence in each of us through His Holy Spirit. It is a time to rejoice in fulfilled prophecy and expectation of the great harvest to come, the resurrection of the righteous dead and entering into the joy of His Kingdom.
Rosh Hashannah רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה
Yom Teruah, or Rosh Hashannah, is known as the Feast of Trumpets. Often referred to the “head of the year”, it is the Jewish New Year because the Sages teach that this is when HaShem (God) created the heavens and the earth. It is also the start of the High Holy Days, which include Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
Leviticus 23:23-25 reveals that the Feast of Trumpets was a time for all Israel to rest. It was ordained for the first day of the seventh month of Tishri, and the day was announced by the blowing of the shofar, or ram’s horn.
This prophetic day is the day of which Rav Shaul (Christians call him the Apostle Paul) wrote to the believers in
1 Thessalonians 4:14-16
14 For if we believe that Yeshua died and rose again, so with Him God will also bring those who have fallen asleep in Yeshua. 15 For this we tell you, by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the blast of God’s shofar, and the dead in Messiah shall rise first.
Rosh Hashanah offers the opportunity to reflect on one’s relationship with God and with others in the faith, knowing that our good standing with Him is based solely on the redemption Yeshua accomplished for us through His death and resurrection. It is a time for drawing nearer to God and considering how to follow Him more closely in the year ahead.
Yom Kippur יוֹם כִּיפּוּר
Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement (Covering) is called the holiest day in Judaism. It was the one day the High Priest entered into the Most Holy Place before the presence of the HaShem. On this day alone each year the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies in the Temple and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice onto the Mercy Seat. The sins of Israel were then symbolically placed on the head of another animal, and it was led outside the camp. Thus Israel’s sin was removed from them.
Yom Kippur is a day of fasting and prayer, a day with no work. Messianic Jews and Gentiles celebrate the Day of Atonement with the understanding that Yeshua’s death was the final sacrifice, making atonement, having the sin of the world placed upon him. Messianic Jews and Gentiles rejoice in the permanent sealing of the Holy Spirit given to those who profess Yeshua as Messiah, according to New Covenant teaching. The book of Hebrews reveals Yeshua as both the perfect sacrifice and perfect High Priest who offered His own blood on our behalf. If we have a trusting faith in him, we are forgiven and made right with God, not for one year only, but for all time. Yom Kippur enables Messianic Jews and Gentiles an opportunity to reflect on the price Yeshua paid so that we might live in restored relationship to God.
Sukkot is the Feast of Tabernacles and commemorates the 40 years Israel was in the wilderness and had all their needs provided by HaShem (God).
Found in Leviticus 23, the Feast of Tabernacles (or booths) is known today as Sukkot.
These booths were temporary tent-like structures that could be dismantled and transported when God’s presence in the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night moved as a sign that Israel should follow. Sukkot is a commemoration of God’s protection, guidance, and provision to the people of Israel during their sojourn to the Promised Land.
Sukkot is a reminder of how God dwelt with the Israelites in the wilderness, comforting them with His presence, guiding and protecting them. Messianic Jews and Gentiles rejoice in Messiah Yeshua, named Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” Followers of Yeshua have been given the Holy Spirit as God’s ever-present comfort and as a seal that He will never leave us or forsake us. For Messianic Jews and Gentiles, Sukkot is an opportunity to remember God’s faithfulness to Israel in the past, in the present, and in the future. It’s a joyous time to celebrate the blessing of His presence in the heart of each Believer.
Hanukkah commemorates the re dedication of the Temple after it had been defiled by the Syrians. While some people say that Hanukkah isn't in the Bible, you can actually find it in two places. The first is located in Daniel, chapters 7-12, and the other is John 10:22-23. You can read more about Hanukkah here.