Leviticus 23: 1-2:
YHVH* said to Moshe,
"Tell the people of Isra'el: 'The designated times of YHVH which you are to proclaim as holy convocations are my designated times' ."

The designated times of YHVH are regulated by the appearance of the New Moon. The rabbinic calendar in use today that sets the festival dates is not in sync with the actual New Moon. See my new page: New Moon Update for more information.

There has been a long-standing schism in the body of the Messiah because many have falsely concluded that there is little practical connection between Christianity and the Jewish life. Today, as more Believers are getting reconnected to their Jewish roots, they are discovering the Jewishness of their faith. Understanding and celebrating the sabbath and the Biblical festivals and Jewish holidays is one of the practical applications of this discovery.

The biblical feasts were given by God to Israel, and through them all Believers can be blessed. Believers in Yeshua can learn more about Him and His ways by using the "teaching tools" of these special times. As one objectively studies the Apostolic Writings (New Testament), one finds that Yeshua was a traditional Jew living in the land of Israel. His early followers were Jews who found the promised Messiah and naturally continued the Jewish expression of their faith. Know that Yeshua observed the various feasts.

A careful reading of the Gospels shows that it was His custom to worship on the Sabbath (Luke 4:16). During the feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), Yeshua offered "living water" to the Jewish multitude (John 7:37-39). One of His most powerful sermons took place in the Temple at Chanukah (John 10:22-30).

The biblical feasts can be divided into two groups: Fall and Spring.

Fall Festivals

Yom Teruah/Feast of Trumpets (Rosh HaShanah)

Leviticus 23.23-25: YHVH said to Moshe, "Tell the people of Isra'el, 'In the seventh month, the first of the month is to be for you a day of complete rest for remembering, a holy convocation announced with blasts on the shofar.

This festival occurs in September or October of our calendar. The purpose of this holy day is summed up in one word--regathering. Since the fall holidays are a call to regather to a pure faith in God, Yom Teruah has come to represent the day of repentance according to the rabbis and is considered to be the beginning of the Jewish new year although this can not be found in the Torah. Rather,in the Scriptures, this day is referred to as the "day of blowing" thus known as the Feast of Trumpets, Yom Teruah. The blowing of the trumpets became the distinguishing characteristic of the day, calling the people's attention to the awesome festival to follow this one. The Messiah Connection: Many classical rabbis saw a link between Yom Teruah as the holy day of regathering and the Messiah who would be the agent of regathering. (pg 65, God's Appointed Times by Barney Kasdan). While there are many prophetic fulfillments, consider how this feast day is a beautiful picture of the regathering of Believers, both Jew and Gentile, in the future when Yeshua returns.

For more background information about why Yom Teruah is celebrated the way it is in the Jewish culture read:

How the Day of Shouting Became Rosh Hashanah by Nehemia Gordon

Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement

Lev 23.26-32: YHVH said to Moshe, "The tenth day of this seventh month is Yom-Kippur; you are to have a holy convocation, you are to deny yourselves, and you are to bring an offering made by fire to ADONAI. You are not to do any kind of work on that day, because it is Yom-Kippur, to make atonement for you before ADONAI your God. Anyone who does not deny himself on that day is to be cut off from his people; and anyone who does any kind of work on that day, I will destroy from among his people. It will be for you a Shabbat of complete rest, and you are to deny yourselves; you are to rest on your Shabbat from evening the ninth day of the month until the following evening".

This day is the most holy day in the Jewish calendar. Holiness is the theme. What began with Yom Teruah ten days earlier, namely repentance and self-evaluation, was completed with the Day of Atonement and regeneration. God desired Israel to live sanctified lives and gave the Mosaic law to instruct His people in holy living and to show His grace through the sacrificial system. The theme of atonement is central in the Apostolic Writings therefore the observance of Yom Kippur can hold special significance for followers of Yeshua. The evening of Yom Kippur is a wonderful time for a Messianic worship service to celebrate the true meaning of the day: atonement in Yeshua.

Sukkot, Feast of Tabernacles or Booths

Lev 23.33-36: "YHVH said to Moshe, "Tell the people of Isra'el, 'On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of Sukkot for seven days to YHVH. On the first day there is to be a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work. For seven days you are to bring an offering made by fire to YHVH; on the eighth day you are to have a holy convocation and bring an offering made by fire to YHVH ; it is a day of public assembly; do not do any kind of ordinary work".

Sukkot has been thought of as the Jewish "Thanksgiving". Some believe that the Puritans based their first American Thanksgiving on Sukkot. This is a time of remembering and rejoicing. Booths are constructed as part of the celebrations. (usually occurs in October) Sukkot has many rich spiritual lessons and not surprisingly Yeshua is pictured in this feast. Many believe that He was born on Sukkot! (pg 95-6, God's Appointed Times by Barney Kasdan). Yeshua celebrated this festival. It was during this time that He gave His well known 'water' statement:

John 7:37-39: Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Believers can joyfully celebrate this feast day now, and look forward to a future celebration with Yeshua when He reigns on earth. (Zechariah 14)

Chanukah concludes the fall festivals. While it is not mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures, it has significance in the Apostolic Writings. Yeshua celebrated it! (John 10:22-23). The symbolism points to the Messiah. For one, it is referred to as the Festival of Lights. (usually occurs in December)

Spring Celebrations

Pesach and Hag HaMatzah, Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, (Lev 23:5-8, Luke2:41, John 5:1,6:4, Acts 12:3-4) is rich with meaning for Believers for it epitomizes redemption and purification. To participate in a Messianic Passover seder is to begin to fathom the full meaning of this biblical holy day. This experience will open up new meaning to a follower of Yeshua. Pesach marks the beginning of the biblical year.

Yom HaBikkurim or Sfirat Haomer, Early First Fruits, (Lev 23:9-14; 1 Cor 15:20-23) is the day after Pesach. It was the first harvest of the spring and marks the beginning of the Counting the Omer, a 49 day period that links Pesach and Shavuot. The traditional observance of this feast points us to the resurrection of Messiah.

Shavuot, Festival of Pentacost, (Lev 23:15-21) occurs seven weeks (49 days) after Passover. Shavuot is one of the three festivals for which every Jewish male was required to go to Jerusalem. The New Covenant significance is probably well known. Through Yeshua, the first fruits have come in; the implicit promise of the latter harvest will also come. Increasing numbers of Jewish people will believe in the Messiah until the final day. With all the spiritual meaning behind Shavuot, Believers can find great blessing in celebrating it.

Sabbath/Shabbat: We can not leave this subject without making the observation that almost every one of the feasts begins with a day of rest from work. This day of rest is commanded to be observed at the end of each week, on the seventh day. (Lev 23:1-3) 

Traditional Holidays

Simchat Torah means "joy of the Torah" and celebrates the completion of reading through the Torah in one year; usually in October

Tu Bishvat is the New Year of the trees, Jewish arbor day. It celebrates Adonai as Creator. It marks the tithing year for the fruit from trees; usually in February.

Purim is from the book of Esther, celebrates God's protection of His people; usually in March

The Jewish festivals and holidays are, for the most part, very joyous occasions full of family, food and festivities. There are exciting new truths waiting to be discovered through participating in them. This is a great time to learn about the biblical cycle of the annual festivals. Many messianic congregations hold services to celebrate these biblical feasts. Check your local area.

 
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YHVH-The Hebrew letters are (right to left) Yodh, He, VaV and He (יהוה): The name of God in Judaism used most often in the Hebrew Bible is the four-letter name יהוה (YHVH), also known as the Tetragrammaton. The Tetragrammaton appears 6,828 times in the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia edition of the Hebrew Masoretic Text. It first appears at Genesis 2:4 and is usually translated as the LORD in many English Bibles. Jehovah or Yahweh are employed in a few other English translations.. Adonai (Hebrew for Lord) and HaShem (Hebrew for 'The Name') are used in the Complete Jewish Bible and generally in Jewish writings. All of this is because because of a ban placed on using His proper name, Jehovah, by the rabbis.

For more about this, see a video interview of Nehemia Gordon, Talking About Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence.

Psalm 135.13: "Thy name, O Jehovah, is for ever; thy memorial, O Jehovah, from generation to generation".

Exodus 3.15: And God said moreover to Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel: Yehovah, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you. This is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

Isn't it about time that we begin using His name as He has commanded? Pastor Keith Johnson explains why.

 

 
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Details for observing these Festivals and holidays in a Messianic way, around the dinner table, are presented in the book:
"Following Yeshua...Celebrating the Feasts of Adonai" by Pari Johnson available at Amazon.com