Notzrim

"I am the vine, you are the branches"

September 2011

The Season of Repentance

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The Spring Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Shavuot (Pentecost) all represent the first coming of Yeshua and have all been fulfilled in Yeshua. The Fall Feasts of Rosh HaShanah (Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Feast of Atonement), and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) all represent the second coming of Yeshua. The months between the Spring feasts and the Fall feasts are the time we are in now, the time between the two comings. So we want to take a closer look at the Fall feasts and see what Scripture tells us about the second coming of our Messiah and see if we see the importance of celebrating these feasts and, in doing so, prepare for His second coming.

The Season of Repentance

There is a 40 day period or season known as Teshuvah, which in Hebrew means "to return or repent," beginning on the first day of Elul, which is generally in August, and continuing for 40 days leading to Yom Kippur. Thirty days into this season of repentance is Rosh HaShanah. For 40 days you blow the shofar (the ram's horn) and recite this prayer: "Awake, you that are sleepy, and ponder your deeds; remember your Creator and go to Him for forgiveness. Don't be like those who miss reality in their hunt after shadows, and waste your years in seeking after vain things which can neither profit nor deliver. Look well to your souls and consider your deeds; let each one of you forsake his evil ways and thoughts, and return unto the Lord, so that He may have mercy on you." Paul heard the shofar and knew this concept of awakening and turning from sin well. He writes to the Ephesians, "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Messiah will give you light." To the Romans he writes, "And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed." To the Corinthians he writes, "Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame." At the end of the New Moon service, which is at the beginning of each new month (Jewish Calendar) and in itself is a mini Yom Kippur, you blow the shofar and then the congregation responds with this: "Happy is the people that know the sound of the shofar, in the light of Your countenance, O Lord, shall they walk."

So this time leading up to Rosh HaShanah you are preparing your heart for the second coming of the Messiah.

Rosh HaShanah

Rosh Ha Shanah, or the Feast of Trumpets, is an interesting feast day because it's all about sounding the shofar. The Bible makes several references about sounding the shofar. There are ten reasons for blowing the shofar and they are read, one each day, between Rosh HaShananh and Yom Kippur:

1. When a king is coming, Psalm 98:6, "With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout joyfully before the King, the Lord."

2. To bring in the New Year, because Rosh HaShanah is the civil New Year.

3. To remind us of Mt. Sinai for it says in Exodus 19:19, "The sound of the shofar grew louder and louder," and that we should accept for ourselves the covenant that our ancestors accepted for themselves when they said, "We will do, and we will obey" (Remember, we have been grafted in, Rom. 11:17).

4. To remind us of the words of the prophets that were compared to the sound of the shofar, as it says in Ezekiel 33:4-5, "Then he who hears the sound of the shofar and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away . . . But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life."

5. To remind us of the destruction of the Temple and the sound of the battle cries of the enemies, as it is said in Jeremiah 4:19, "Because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war."

6. To remind us of the binding of Isaac, for God provided the ram and so we too should offer up our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is our spiritual service of worship.

7. When we hear the blowing of the shofar, we should be fearful and tremble and humble ourselves before our Creator, for it is written in Amos 3:6, "If a shofar is blown in a city, will not the people tremble?"

8. To recall the great judgment and to be fearful of it, as it is said in Zephaniah 1:14-16, "Near is the great day of the Lord, near and coming very quickly . . . a day of trumpet and battle cry."

9. To remind us of the ingathering of the scattered ones of Israel that we eagerly desire, as it says in Isaiah 27:13, "It will come about in that day that a great shofar will be blown; and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria . . . will come and worship the Lord in the holy mountain at Jerusalem."

10. To remind us of the resurrection of the dead, for it says in 1 Corinthians 15:52, "In a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed."

What a great reminder every year of why we blow the shofar! Have we awakened yet from our sleep? Have we heard the sound of the shofar awakening us to prepare for the coming of our King?

The High Holy Days

The High Holy Days is a time when believers in Messiah are called to examine their lives. It is a solemn time. Paul tells us that we should examine ourselves before partaking in Communion with God. But how true that is for us every day since we should be coming into His presence daily and communing with Him. The High Holy Days are 10 days long and they are completed with the Feast of Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur concludes the Season of Teshuvah. Yom Kippur is called by many different names, the most popular is The Day of Atonement. It has other names like Face to Face, The Fast, The Great Shofar, and Jubilee. Well you may say that Yeshua is our atonement. Yes, He is, thank God!

1. Yom Kippur is a picture of our atonement; at least, it was in the temple days with the scapegoat being released into the wilderness carrying our sins and the other goat that was sacrificed for the sins of the people. But there is a whole lot more to Yom Kippur that we Christians need to realize. Before the high priest ascended to the altar, he would say, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father." These are the same words that our High Priest Yeshua spoke to Mary Magdalene at the tomb. On the day of Atonement, the high priest would wear special garments of linen. We see Yeshua wearing these same garments in Revelation 1:13-15 and in Daniel 10:5-6. The high priest would take the blood of the sacrifice and enter into the Holy of Holies, which he did only on this special day.

2. Face to Face: Paul writes to the Corinthians a reference to this when he wrote in chapter 13:9-12, "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then we will see Him face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." As the high priest came face to face with God once a year, so too we will one day behold Him as He is.

3. The Fast: Yom Kippur is a day of fasting. God tells us in His Word that this day is to be the most solemn and holiest day of the year, a day of afflicting our souls. We Christians seem to take for granted our salvation. We need a day to reflect on our lives and the cost that was paid for our sins. We seem to think that Good Friday is the day to do this. Well, Good Friday is a man-made day. Yeshua died on the fourteenth day of Nisan, which was Passover, and He is our Passover Lamb. Yes, we should reflect on the cross and the price that Yeshua paid for our sins, but it should be on the day that we remember the first Passover when the blood of the lamb was smeared on the door and the death angel passed over. We too have been spared from the death angel because of the blood of Yeshua. But Yeshua tells us in the Passover Seder that when we do the Seder each year, the afikomen which is broken during the seder represents His body which was broken for us and when we take the cup of redemption, it represents Yeshua's blood which was poured out for us and the binding of the New Covenant. I know that this is confusing, but the completion of our salvation will not take place until Yeshua comes again and we who are dead will rise first and those who are alive will be gathered to Him and together we will be with Him forever. This is what Yom Kippur is all about.

4. The Great Shofar: Yom Kippur represents the gates being opened at the sounding of the shofar at Rosh HaShanah, when the call will be heard that the Bridegroom is arriving and the Book of Life is opened. But we still have time to repent until the end of Yom Kippur when the last shofar is blown, and then the Book is closed and the gates are closed and if your name is not written in the Book of Life, then you will be on the outside where there will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth for eternity as we see in the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) and the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), to name a couple. Be sure that before the last trumpet blows you have heard the shofar and repented of all your known and unknown sins and your name is written in the Book of Life.

5. Yom Kippur is the Day of Jubilee, the Day of Liberty. Yeshua came to preach liberty (Isaiah 61:1-3, Luke 4:17-21). From Adam to Yeshua it had been almost 4,000 years and every fifty years was the year of Jubilee, the year when everything resorted back to its original state. Slaves were freed and land returned back to its original owners. The final fulfillment of this will be when Yeshua comes back; then the earth will be redeemed from the curse and everything will have come full circle. We will return back to the Garden of Eden, a time of rest, when the lion will once again lie down with the lamb and the earth will no longer cry out as it awaits its redemption. We will be free from the curse and all sin, sickness, and death will no longer be. As Rosh HaShanah is a picture of the herald blowing the shofar awakening the people of the coming king, Yom Kippur is a picture of the great Judge entering into the courtroom of eternity judging between those who are found guilty of sin and those who have been acquitted, those who are in darkness and those who have come into the light, those whose names are written in the Book of Life and those who are not (Revelation 19:1-2, 13:8, 17:8, 20:12, 21:27). The closing of the gates at the end of Yom Kippur ends this time of reflection and repentance and revelation. The time of Judgement has now passed. Now it's time to celebrate!

Sukkot

The time of Teshuvah has passed. We see clearly that the feasts paint a picture for us to see; observing them teaches us that repentance, the feast of Rosh HaShanah, has to come before we can have redemption, the feast of Yom Kippur. Sukkot is also known as the Season of Our Joy, Feast of Tabernacles or Booths, and The Feast of the Ingathering.

1. The Season of our Joy is a great time of rejoicing. We have repented and our sins have been forgiven and our names are written in the Book of Life, and now God and His people will dwell together for eternity. During this time, you celebrate in your Sukkah God's Salvation; in fact, the Torah commands that you are joyful. Every day in the temple, the priests held a water pouring ceremony. This became the focus of the joy of Sukkot. The Bible refers to this joy in Isaiah 12:3: "Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation." David cried out that God would not take away his joy in Psalm 51:12: "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation." Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord always! The water ceremony was quite elaborate and colorful and joyful as the priests went to the house of the water drawing. It was on the last day of Sukkot, Hosannah Rabbah (The Great Salvation), during this water ceremony that Yeshua cries out, "If anyone is thirsty let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water."

2. The Feast of Tabernacles represents the time when God's people lived in tents in the wilderness and God dwelt among them in the tabernacle. After Yom Kippur, you begin to build your sukkah or tent. God is our eternal home and the sukkah becomes holy as it represents this eternal dwelling. This is the time that Yeshua was born, for Immanuel means "God with us." Remember the shofar of Rosh HaShanah? When a baby boy was born they would blow the shofar. Remember what the angels said: "Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings (gospel) of great joy (Sukkot, the season of joy) which shall be to all people (Sukkot is called the feast of the nations).

3. The Feast of the Ingathering: Yeshua came the first time during the feast of Sukkot and He will come the second time during these fall feasts. This is the time to gather in the harvest. Yeshua tells us that the harvest refers to the end of the age in Matthew 13:39, Revelation 14:15, and Joel 3:13. The Harvest, or the ingathering, will be for the righteous and the wicked. When the books are all opened, the wicked will go to their home of eternal damnation where there will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth and the righteous will go to their eternal home in the eternal sukkah of God's loving arms where there will be great rejoicing for all eternity.

Conclusion

So we have seen that the fall feasts point to Yeshua's second coming. Yeshua writes in Luke 12:49-50, "I have come to send fire on the earth, and how I wish that it already was burning! I have to be baptized in a certain baptism, and how distressed I am until it is completed!" What is this fire and why does Yeshua wish it was already kindled? Well, Yeshua was talking about the coming judgment. Matthew tells us that, "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn (reference to Sukkot), but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." We see here that those who have repented and have their names written in the Book of Life will receive the Holy Spirit, but those who have not repented and their names are not written in the Book of Life will receive fire. Yeshua was baptized into a baptism of fire that set off the coming fire for those who will not accept His sacrifice on their behalf.

So, while we have been waiting for 2,000 years, it is time now to awaken from our sleep for Yeshua tells us that when we hear of wars and rumors of wars and nation rising against nation and of famines and earthquakes, that these are all the beginnings of the birth pangs; and don't forget about the fig tree. Since the turn of the twentieth century, we have seen all of this increase quickly and of course Israel, the fig tree, became a nation in 1948. We just have to turn on the TV or read the paper to realize that things are increasing faster than ever before. Peter writes, "But the present heavens and earth by His Word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and instruction of ungodly men."

"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its work will be burned up." Paul writes, "For you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night, nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober." "While they are saying peace and safety, destruction will come suddenly like birth pangs." Awaken, you who are sleepy and consider your deeds! It's time to wake up and hear the shofar, our King is coming!

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