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Written by Victoria Radin   

History Is Infused With Divine Purpose

"The rabbis declare that in observing the biblical festivals of the L-rd, we affirm that history is infused with divine purpose and that events do not occur at random. Instead, they form part of an unfolding divine plan that will ultimately culminate in the world's redemption. Both Jews and Christians should consider each biblically-based holiday a "teachable moment"—a chance to reflect upon the biblical principles underlying their observance."  (Rabbi Eckstein)

Each Feast of the L-rd (Leviticus 23) is called a convocation, i.e. a gathering of people for a rehearsal. This fits into the idea that each biblically-based Festival is a “teachable moment” that G-d has designed for our instruction and edification. For thousands of years, G-d cultivated a race of people, the Jews* to ‘perform’ the final ‘act’ of each Feast for which they had been rehearsing since the Exodus. The Israelites were the only peoples in the world that were taught how to maintain a relationship with G-d and who understood G-d’s Sacrificial System, the system He would use to bring about the spiritual redemption of all mankind. From the writings of the Jewish prophets, they also knew many details about the Redeemer-Messiah who would come to redeem the physical earth and bring peace to the world.

In the springtime, Jews prepare to celebrate the Passover [remembering their Exodus from slavery in Egypt], while Christians prepare to celebrate their exodus from slavery to sin in the observance of Resurrection Day. As part of the ‘Passion Week’ rituals, in fact, many churches hold ‘Christian Passovers’ that clearly demonstrate the parallels between both events. While the commemoration of this Feast is ‘past-tense’, the final day of Passover week (a holy convocation, Lev. 23:8) is yet to be fulfilled. It is called “The Meal of the Messiah” in Orthodox teaching and is believed to be the day the Israelites crossed over the [Red] sea on their journey to the Promised Land. Passover is in the first month of the biblical calendar (Exodus 12:2) and marks the beginning of G-d’s redemption of all mankind.

Following Passover is the Feast of Firstfruits (Lev. 23:11), which is the day the Church celebrates the L-rd’s resurrection, the firstfruits of the resurrection, (1 Cor. 15:20-23). And fifty days later is the Festival of Shavuot [a/k/a Pentecost]. This was the day the Law was given to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai on tablets of stone. This Festival was a ‘rehearsal’ for the giving of the Law written on the tablets of our hearts by the Holy Spirit on the very same day in the upper room.

The next Festivals are in the fall and have not yet been fulfilled in Yeshua (Jesus), thus pointing to events that will occur before or at His return. Rosh HaShanah [Feast of Trumpets] commemorates the civil New Year according to the biblical calendar. It is also called Judgment Day because it marks a time that the Orthodox Jews call “the beginning of the end”. The shofar, which is blown 100 times on that day is said to be the ‘voice of G-d’ giving G-d’s final warning to mankind.

Ten days later, Yom Kippur [the Day of Atonement] follows. It is said that on this day, man’s judgment is sealed. As such, it is a somber day of fasting and deep repentance.

And finally, the Festival of Sukkot [a/k/a the Feast of Tabernacles], a grand, joyous, wedding-type celebration concludes the cycle. Today, many Christians are taking part in this Feast both in Israel and in the Diaspora (outside Israel). Following Sukkot is a day called Simhat Torah (rejoicing in the Torah) marks the beginning of a new festival cycle. The 'Bridegroom of the Torah' and the 'Bridegroom of Genesis' lead the joyful procession around the synagogue. Yeshua is both the Bridegroom of the Torah and the Bridegroom of Genesis.

Two other celebrations occur in the winter [a dark, inhospitable time of year] –– Hanukkah and Purim, both of which celebrate a Jewish victory over their enemies. Hanukkah also recalls the miracle of the oil that didn’t run out, pointing to the promise of the coming Holy Spirit. Purim, on the other hand, is a festival that encompasses all the Feasts and gives us a glimpse of the final stage of history in which G-d takes back the earth and makes Yeshua (Jesus) ruler, second only to Himself, when the Jewish people are restored to a place of honor instead of shame. The victory of Purim takes place during the last month of the biblical calendar, pointing to the fact that it is the final stage of history.

The details of each Festival, although filled with traditions, must have been ordained by G-d Himself because each tradition points to Yeshua in His role as redeemer and Messiah. G-d commanded the Feasts to be celebrated forever for our joy and our edification. If you are a grafted-in branch to the Cultivated Olive Tree (Romans 11:17), the Feasts were meant for you. So, let’s begin again the cycle of remembrance in each convocation.

*The term ‘Jews’ here refers to the collective race of people previously known as Israelites including all twelve tribes.

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