Finding out about our Biblical history.

Julia Fisher
Julia Fisher

October sees the start of the Fall Feast season starting with the Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashana, which this year was at the beginning of October, followed ten days later by the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur, which in turn is followed five days later by the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot.

So what do these ancient Biblical feasts signify, and are they of any relevance to us gentile believers?

To find out I spoke to Ofer Amitai. Ofer is a Messianic pastor in Jerusalem. I asked him how he approaches the Fall Feast season?

Ofer: The Jewish feasts all have a Biblical origin although some of the Biblical explanations for them differ from the ways they are celebrated here in Israel by the religious today. Some people are more apt to keep to the traditional Jewish way of doing things. For us personally as Messianic believers, it's important to connect with the Biblical meaning. I'll give you an example! Rosh Hashana, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, is also called the Feast of Trumpets in the Bible. God intended this to be a day of memorial and at the heart of it was the blowing of trumpets over the sacrifices, a loud and resounding call to come before God to remember His covenant and promises. This obviously has a very deep meaning for us because we immediately go back to the sacrifice of the New Covenant which was Yeshuah. And it's a time for us of turning our hearts to Him, of remembering His atonement for us.

What happens after Rosh Hashanah?

Ofer Amitai
Ofer Amitai

Ofer: Well between Rosh Hashanah and the Day of Atonement, there are ten days that are called Days of Awe. Religious Jews pray a lot to seek forgiveness for their sins and the traditional Jewish belief is that during this time God opens His book of Life and Death and judges man's deeds over the past year. So people tend to congregate in synagogues and pray, even throughout the night. For us personally this is the time when we increase our intercessions for the salvation of the Jewish people to come face to face with Messiah himself. We will fast along with the rest of the country. My wife and I spend time in rejoicing in the blood of Messiah and His atonement for our sins, at the same time interceding for the salvation of our people. There's a real sense of heaviness that comes upon Israel, especially Jerusalem, at this time. It's solemn. It's intense.

Then comes the Feast of Tabernacles.

Ofer: Yes, five days later. Interestingly, on the evening when the Day of Atonement ends, it's customary for the Jewish people to start constructing the sukkah, the tabernacle. Each family builds a shelter outside their house and move into it during this time. They eat there; some sleep there. The Feast of Tabernacles is a time of great rejoicing. It's probably the happiest feast we have. It's a harvest festival. It's one of the three times the Jewish people were given a commandment by the Lord to come up to Jerusalem. It's customary to eat out in our sukkots, it's fun .. we hang lights and entertain there.

Succot Celebrations
Succot Celebrations

Sukkot originally was given by the Lord to remember that we travelled in the desert for 40 years and it reminds us of our dependence on the Lord and how He provides for our needs. W are also reminded of the piller of fire and smoke that sheltered the Jewish people throughout 40 years of wanderings in the desert. In the temple during Yeshua's time, it was the custom to pour water from the pool of Siloam at the base of the alter. This was to signify their faith and hope in the fulfilment of God's promise to pour out the Holy Spirit upon His people. It was on that day that Yeshua stood up in the temple and called to all present. "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) John 7:38-39 This is a very significant part of the feat of Tabernacles for us, as we rejoice in Yeshua and pray for the great harvest to come in the last days.

Succot, the Feast of Tabernacles, is the only feast that has not been fulfilled yet: the coming harvest, the fullness we shall have in union with God and His dwelling with us. It speaks of the Lord's restoration and His coming and it's full of anticipation and hope and joy.

We can understand why you as Jewish believers can get involved in these Biblical feasts, but are they of any relevance to us gentile believers?

Ofer: There are several things that can be said: Firstly, the Biblical feasts are relevant to every believer because they are part of the history of the Bible and they have very deep meaning as to the nature and character of God and His thoughts. They should not be foreign to a believer; rather the feasts should enrich him by understanding his Biblical history and how relevant it is even today. For instance, Jesus died on Passover, and was raised at the beginning of the Wave offering. The Feast of Pentecost comes 50 days later - the day the Lord poured out His Holy Spirit upon the believers. So everything has significance. Concerning the future, Zechariah is very clear that there will be a celebration, a Feast of Tabernacles in the future to which the nations will be ordered to come.

Succot Celebrations
Succot Celebrations

So yes, I think because there's been such a separation of the gentile Church from Israel for so long, it is a worthy thing to learn and understand these things. Since the Church is grafted into the olive tree, there are roots there that can enrich it tremendously.

So when you have non Jewish believers joining your congregation, there must be a richness in bringing Jew and gentile together at this time.

Ofer: Yes, there's a tremendous celebration. Many believers come from all over the world. And it becomes a very happy thing bringing us back together, emphasising our union rather than what separates us.

In conclusion, as more and more gentile believers are becoming aware of the relevance of these ancient Biblical feasts, it's interesting that in a span of 22 intense days, these Fall Feasts occur. Do they paint a prophetic drama of the end of the age? As Ofer has described, in God's salvation history the Feast of Passover comes first in the spring of the year, announcing Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection redeeming His people from slavery. Then, 50 days later came the Feast of Pentecost, the summer Feast, signifying the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the harvest. And lastly, the Feast of Tabernacles, in the autumn (fall) which points us towards the end of history with its trauma, shakings and ultimate victory.

And how interesting that these Feasts are not just for Jewish people, rather they are of relevance and significance for all believers! We have a lot to discover! CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.