The New Moon and the Feasts: A Calendar of 2015’s Fall Feasts

I thought I’d write this post to clarify the dates of 2015’s Fall Feasts. Rabbinically, Yom Kippur will begin Tuesday – Wednesday, September 22-23 and the Feast of Sukkot will begin Sunday evening, September 27. However, according to Leviticus 23, the dates for YHVH’s Feasts are always established in relation to the new moon. Furthermore, in Genesis, YHVH set the precedent that the sun, moon, and stars were to be signs for His “set-times.”

“God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate day from night; they shall serve as signs for the set times – the days and the years; and they shall serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth.’ And it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the stars.” Gen.1:14-16

These two great lights are the sun and the moon, respectively. The word for ‘set times’ here is moedim (appointed times) which is the very word that Yahweh chooses to use to describe His festivals. One more passage that speaks of these two lights is found in Psalms 104:19: “He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows when to set.”

This passage clearly sets the moon apart as the main marker of the seasons, while the sun is to mark the day. The moon that reflects the light of the Sun confirms throughout the month as it waxes and wanes that the created order is not chaotic. Its visible rebirth each month is very orderly and precise, but not absolutely predictable. Therefore, each month has a degree of expectancy about it.

If you read my last post about Yom Teruach (a.k.a. the day and the hour which no man knows), then you’ll know that this particular holiday cannot start until the new moon is spotted. This year, after much anticipation (and several delays), the new moon was finally spotted the evening of Tuesday, September 15, 2015. The days for Yom Kippur and Sukkot are dependent on Yom Teruach and when the new moon is spotted. Yom Kippur is always on the 10th day of the month while Sukkot is always on the 15th day of the month. Therefore, according to the pattern YHVH established in Leviticus 23, the following days will be the Biblical dates of the Fall Feasts:

Yom Teruach: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 (sundown) – Wednesday, September 16, 2015 (sundown)
Yom Kippur: Thursday, September 24, 2015 (sundown) – Friday, September 25, 2015 (sundown)
Sukkot: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 (sundown) – Wednesday, October 7, 2015 (sundown)

Chag Samaech! L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem

Joyous festivals! May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year!

*Photo Credit: Nehemiah Gordon in Jerusalem*

The Day and the Hour Which No Man Knows

Tonight, Sunday, September 13, 2015, the new moon is expected to be seen in Israel. The new moon will officially mark the beginning of Yom Teruach! Many people incorrectly know this day as Rosh Hashanah or “the Head of the New Year.” However, Biblically, this day was known as Yom Teruach or the Day of Trumpets. Because of this deliberate change, many people miss out on the true meaning of this important High Holy Day.

The Anti-Christ and the Changing of YHVH’s Timetable
According to YHVH’s Word, the new year is actually to begin in the spring time at Passover.

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between the evenings, is the Passover to YHVH. Leviticus 23:5

YHVH called the month in which Passover occurs the “first month.” The month we just began, Tishri, is the seventh Biblical month and is not the new year but, rather, the month containing the 3 fall feasts of the 7 annual feasts of YHVH.

Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you have a rest, a remembrance of blowing of trumpets, a set-apart gathering. You do no servile work, and you shall bring an offering made by fire to YHVH.’

And YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, “On the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be a set-apart gathering for you. And you shall afflict your beings, and shall bring an offering made by fire to YHVH. And you do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before YHVH your Elohim. For any being who is not afflicted on that same day, he shall be cut off from his people. And any being who does any work on that same day, that being I shall destroy from the midst of his people. You do no work – a law forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It is a Sabbath of rest to you, and you shall afflict your beings. On the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you observe your Sabbath.”

And YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Booths for seven days to YHVH. On the first day is a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work. For seven days you bring an offering made by fire to YHVH. On the eighth day there shall be a set-apart gathering for you, and you shall bring an offering made by fire to YHVH. It is a closing festival, you do no servile work. These are the appointed times of YHVH which you proclaim as set-apart gatherings, to bring an offering made by fire to YHVH, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a slaughtering and drink offerings, as commanded for every day – besides the Sabbaths of YHVH, and besides your gifts, and besides all your vows, and besides all your voluntary offerings which you give to YHVH. Leviticus 23: 24-48

So how did this change occur? Daniel 7:25 tells us that the spirit of the anti-Christ is to change the appointed times of YHVH. By changing YHVH’s appointed times, or getting rid of them altogether, the enemy keeps us oblivious to the season we are in. If we don’t know the season or times we are in, we can’t properly prepare. If we don’t properly prepare, we risk being caught unaware when the Bridegroom comes for His Bride.

and it [the beast] speaks words against the Most High, and it wears out the set-apart ones of the Most High, and it intends to change appointed times and law, and they are given into its hand for a time and times and half a time. Daniel 7:25

In 325 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea. The result of this council was a new religion that blended the Nazarene faith (the belief in Torah and Yeshua the Messiah which the early apostles and who we call the first “Christians” would have actually have been called) with Mithraism (paganism) and created what we now know as Catholicism. This council is where modern Christianity got it beginnings. Constantine and his council took the true faith and gospel of Yeshua that the disciples had preached (which never parted from Torah) and mixed it with their pagan religion to create a new form of sun/son worship. This new religion changed the holy days of YHVH to the holy days of sun worship…hence Sunday being the new holy day/Sabbath.

As we read in Leviticus 23, YHVH had already established His timetable and His Holy days. The Feast Days of YHVH, or moedim in Hebrew, are the timetable YHVH uses. Significant events in His story always coincide with the Feasts. In Matthew 16:1-4, Yeshua admonishes the Pharisees and Sadducees for understanding the signs of the weather but not understanding the signs of the God. Let this not be the case for us. May we humble ourselves and seek after YHVH’s times and not our own.

What is Yom Teruach?
Yom Teruach is the Day of Trumpets. When you see the word “trumpet” in the Bible, it is almost always referring to a shofar or a ram’s horn. The sounding of a shofar signifies a significant event is about to take place. A shofar was blown to gather all the tribes of Israel together for a meeting with YHVH, religious ceremony, or battle. It was used in battle to direct soldiers. It is also frequently used to wake those who slumber from their sleep. On Yom Teruach, the shofar is blown 100 times and is blown every morning during the previous month of Elul in preparation. It is truly a wake-up call to those who have ears to hear.

Yeshua warned us of a future Yom Teruach.

And immediately after the distress of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give its light, and the stars shall fall from the heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Adam shall appear in the heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth shall mourn, and they shall see the Son of Adam coming on the clouds of the heaven with power and much esteem. And He shall send His messengers with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. And learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that the summer is near. So you also, when you see all these, know that He is near, at the doors. Truly, I say to you, this generation shall by no means pass away until all this takes place. The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but My words shall by no means pass away.

But concerning that day and the hour no one knows, not even the messengers of the heavens, but My Father only. And as the days of Noah, so also shall the coming of the Son of Adam be. For as they were in the days before the flood, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also shall the coming of the Son of Adam be. Then two shall be in the field, the one is taken and the one is left. Two shall be grinding at the mill, one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Master is coming. And know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Because of this, be ready too, for the Son of Adam is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him. Matthew 24:29-44

Many people who do not have an understanding of Torah inaccurately explain that Yeshua was telling His disciples that we can never know the day He will return. This is why it is imperative that we not only understand but also live Torah. It is the basis for everything we say we believe. It is YHVH’s timetable and compass that will point us to our Messiah.

The “day and the hour which no man knows” was and still is a Hebrew idiom or nickname for Yom Teruach. Why? Yom Teruach is the only feast that begins on the first day of it’s month. In order to know when a new month begins, the new moon must be spotted in the sky. In Biblical days, a watchman would stand outside every night in his watchman’s tower and look for the sliver of the moon that indicates the new month had begun. Even today with our fancy NASA calendars and advanced technology it’s still impossible to know exactly what day the new moon will appear. This explains the nickname the day and the hour which no man knows.

When Yeshua said this, it would have been no mystery to the disciples or anyone obeying Torah to understand what He meant. They would have immediately known He was referring to a future Yom Teruach.

In Biblical days, once the watchman spotted the new moon, he would then blow the shofar and word would spread across Israel that the feast of Yom Teruach had begun. Because it is a holy day and treated as a Sabbath, all workWatchman New Moon would immediately cease. Therefore, when Yeshua said that two would be in the field and one would be taken and the other left, He was saying that one would leave His work and head to the Temple and the other would ignore the shofar and stay in the field. Most Christians are sadly taught that this is referring to the rapture. Again, without understanding Torah and YHVH’s timetable, it’s near impossible to truly understand prophecy, the words of Yeshua, or decipher the times and seasons we are living in.

Yom Teruach and the Fall Feasts
Yom Teruach also marks the beginning of the fall feasts. As we read in Leviticus 23, we celebrate Yom Teruach on the first day of the month, then on the 10th day of the month we celebrate Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and the 15th day Sukkot (Tabernacles) is celebrated.

The 10 day period between Yom Teruach and Yom Kippur is called the 10 Days of Awe. This is YHVH’s mercy to His Bride as she prepares to come before Him on Judgment Day. It is believed that the Books of Life and Death are opened by God on Yom Teruach and they are closed on Yom Kippur — the righteous being inscribed in the Book of Life, while the names of the wicked are “blotted out.” As I’ve mentioned in other posts about Elul, the month of Elul is a month to emotional healing and repent/forgive. If, for whatever reason, you still haven’t finished this process, YHVH gives you 10 more days before Judgment Day to make things right.

After Yom Kippur, Sukkot is celebrated. Sukkot is known as the Wedding Feast and is a week long celebration. It is an extremely joyous time! Having this understanding of the LORD’s feasts and His timetable makes the connection between “the day and the hour which no man knows,” Judgement Day, and the Wedding Feast of the Lamb a little more clear and interesting doesn’t it?

YHVH doesn’t want His people in the dark. He doesn’t want us groping around in confusion trying to make sense of His plan. He is not a God of confusion, but, rather, of order and organization. He gives us clear instructions and signs to guide us in our journey. But in order to understand these instructions and road signs, we must first have an understanding of Torah. Sadly, we have been taught that Torah is a burden and something that doesn’t apply to us, but without Torah, it’s nearly impossible to truly understand the words of Yeshua and the New Testament.

Most of us keep Torah whether we know it or not. We believe murder, adultery, stealing, lying, cheating, etc. are all wrong, yet we allow ourselves to get hung up on just a few points. But if we take a step back, and really consider what Torah entails, we see that “this command which I am commanding you today, it is not too hard for you, nor is it far off. I am commanding you today to love YHVH your Elohim, to walk in His ways, and to guard His commands, and His laws, and His right-rulings. And you shall live and increase, and YHVH your Elohim shall bless you in the land which you go to possess.” Deuteronomy 30: 11, 16

Let us not be like the Pharisees and Sadducees who could not discern the signs God had given them. Instead, let us awaken from our slumber and prepare ourselves that we will not be found unaware when our King returns. Let us not be like those outside the House of God who do not know and understand the day and the hour in which we are living. Let us rejoice, celebrate, and give thanks to YHVH for His loving-faithfulness and continue doing the hard work in these last 10 days before Yom Kippur.

Gemar Chatimah Tova! May your final sealing (in the Book of Life) be good!

 

Elul: When our King is in the Field

On Sunday, July 16, 2015, the new moon was spotted in Jerusalem. This marked the start of the sixth Biblical month of Elul (pronounced E-lool). The month of Elul is a time of teshuvah or repentance. It is the preparation time before the High Holy Days of Yom Teruach (Day of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Coverings/Judgement), and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). Elul means to search, as in to search our hearts through introspection. It is a time to reflect on the past year and to prepare for the “Days of Awe,” a time marked by repenting from the failings of the past and resolve for the future.

This is also traditionally the time Moses spent on the mountain in preparation to receive the tablets and is considered the month of the Bride. A shofar, or ram’s horn, is traditionally blown every morning during the month of Elul to serve as a wake-up call for those who are spiritually asleep, to awaken the people from complacency, and as a call to repentance.

The month of Elul is a difficult one. It’s marked with trials, pressing, and testing. It’s a time when we ask YHVH to search us and reveal to us the wrongs we have committed in order to repent and correct these issues. During the month of Elul, YHVH relates to us in a more open and compassionate manner than He does during the other months. This is the month where our King is in the field.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi offers this anecdote:

The king’s usual place is in the capital city, in the royal palace. Anyone wishing to approach the king must go through the appropriate channels in the palace bureaucracy and gain the approval of a succession of secretaries and ministers. He must journey to the capital and pass through the many gates, corridors and antechambers that lead to the throne room. His presentation must be meticulously prepared, and he must adhere to an exacting code of dress, speech and mannerism upon entering into the royal presence.

However, there are times when the king comes out to the fields outside the city. At such times, anyone can approach him; the king receives them all with a smiling face and a radiant countenance. The peasant behind his plow has access to the king in a manner unavailable to the highest ranking minister in the royal court when the king is in the palace.

When our King comes to the field, He communes with us in our environment and circumstances. Every other day, we must go to Him and abide by the rules and protocols of the palace. But during Elul, He comes to us and meets us in our environment. Our circumstances become tools that are used in such a way that we are taught important lessons that we otherwise wouldn’t learn or that would take much longer to learn. The purpose of these lessons is to 1) make us ready for our encounter with our King at the wedding feast of Sukkot, 2) to bring us to repentance, and 3) to draw us closer to Him.

Often times during Elul, things that seem out-of-the-blue or random will happen. For instance, that person you haven’t heard from in years suddenly calls you or sends you a text. You hurt your back doing something you routinely do. You have a random fight with the person you’re closest to and never fight with. All of these things seem random and out-of-the-blue, but during it Elul it could actually be God trying to get your attention.

It is important, however, to see these events and circumstances with the right mindset. YHVH isn’t trying to punish you for something you’ve done wrong; rather, He may be trying to shine His spotlight on an area in your life you haven’t been able to see.

For instance, the back can represent carrying a burden that is too heavy. The lower back, in particular, usually represents anger. Perhaps God is trying to shine light on a burden you shouldn’t be carrying, a burden that is too heavy for you to carry alone, or your anger in a specific area of your life. Perhaps YHVH wants you to mend the relationship with the person you randomly hear from after years of silence. Maybe YHVH used your closest friend to push a button on an issue you never dealt with in order for you to finally deal with it.

This is a time of introspection and fervent prayer. As we draw close to YHVH, we are to ask Him to search and reveal to us the areas that need attention in our lives. YHVH is faithful to reveal our issues to us through circumstances, through the people He has put in our lives, and through revelation in prayer. But in the midst of things, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. I would encourage you to keep some sort of journal or take notes on what happens during this time. It can be difficult to process and connect the dots between everything that happens but a journal can help you refer back and give you some perspective as you work through it all.

Elul is a very trying time. But if we can persevere to the end, our reward will be great. I’m reminded of the 10 virgins in Yeshua’s parable. Five of the virgins were foolish and hadn’t prepared themselves to meet the Bridegroom, while the other 5 had prepared and made themselves ready. Their reward was joining the Bridegroom at the wedding feast.

So even in this difficult month, I pray that we will all do the hard work of cleaning out our hearts and removing the junk that YHVH reveals to us. If we will be the faithful and obedient Bride that prepares herself, our Bridegroom will be faithful to meet us at the Wedding Feast of Sukkot.