Before we launch into our study about the calendar the Torah tells us to keep, first we should look at history, and see how it was that the children of Israel drifted away from the Torah Calendar. Hopefully this will help us to understand how error can creep in, so that we can guard against it happening again.
As we saw in Nazarene Israel, the Messiah Yeshua (‘Jesus’) told us not to think that He was come to destroy the Torah (the Laws of Moses) or the Prophets.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 5:17
17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
We also saw that even after Yeshua’s resurrection, the faithful still had to keep the original Torah Calendar, so they would be in the right place at the right time, when Yahweh poured out His blessings upon those who were keeping His calendar. For example, the apostles still had to be keeping the Pentecost after Yeshua’s resurrection, in order to receive the gift of the Spirit.
Ma’asei (Acts) 2:1-2
1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
As we will see later in this chapter, the Apostle Shaul (Paul) tells us that Yahweh will fulfill these exact same feast days again, in the future. Just as Yahweh poured out blessings on those who were keeping His feast days in the past, He will pour out blessings on those who are keeping His feast days in the future. If we want to be there when those blessings are poured out, then it only stands to reason that we need to be keeping the calendar that He commands.
As important as it is to keep the Torah Calendar, it can seem somewhat more difficult, and confusing, at least at first. While the Roman ‘Christian’ calendar date changes at midnight (while one is sleeping), the Torah tells us that the day begins at evening. For example, Genesis 1:31b tells us that “the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
B’reisheet (Genesis) 1:31b
31b So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Leviticus 23:32b confirms that the Hebrew day lasts from evening to evening (i.e., from sunset to sunset), rather than from midnight to midnight.
Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:32b
32b “On the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall celebrate your sabbath.”
The ‘sabbath’ discussed in Leviticus 23:32b (above) is the Day of Atonement, but like all Hebrew days, the weekly Sabbath also lasts from evening to evening. Luke 4:16 tells us that Yeshua (‘Jesus’) kept also this Sabbath, which lasts from sunset to sunset.
Luqa (Luke) 4:16
16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.
Even though many Christian churches teach that the day of worship was changed from the evening-to-evening Sabbath to the midnight-to-midnight Sunday at Yeshua’ resurrection, we see that the Apostle Shaul (Paul) still continued to go into the synagogues on the Sabbath day long after Yeshua’s resurrection.
Ma’asei (Acts) 13:14
14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down.
Some mainstream churches tell us that since Yeshua fulfilled the Torah perfectly, the days of worship and rest have been changed from the Sabbath and Hebrew feasts to Sunday, Christmas and Easter. However, this doctrine is curious, considering the words Sunday, Christmas and Easter never appear in Scripture.
Is there some good reason to adopt days of worship that never appear in Scripture? And is there some good reason to adopt days of worship that neither the Messiah nor His apostles kept?
Some scholars use Acts 20:7-11 as ‘proof’ that the disciples gathered together on Sunday; and this might at first seem to make sense.
Ma’asei (Acts) 20:7-11
7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Shaul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.
8 There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together.
9 And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Shaul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.
10 But Shaul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.”
11 Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed.
Since Judea was under Roman control, it might make sense to think that the disciples were keeping the Roman calendar, in which the day begins at midnight. If this were the case, then it would make sense that the disciples gathered on Sunday morning, listened to Shaul all day Sunday, all Sunday night, and through until the break of dawn Monday morning. However, this would not explain why there were so many lamps in the upper room.
Why would there be so many lamps in the upper room, if the disciples initially met on a Sunday morning? And why would they only eat one meal in a twenty-four hour period? These things do not really make sense.
Religious Jews are a very tradition-oriented people. During the Sabbath they usually worship at the synagogue (or at the Temple), and then after the Sabbath is over they often get together at a friend or a relative’s house to break bread and fellowship, so as to extend the day of worship and rest as long as possible. However, this does not reflect a new day of worship on ‘Sunday morning’, but is simply an extension of the Sabbath. If we look at Acts Chapter 20 in this light we understand that the reason there were so many lamps in the upper room is because they met after sundown.
This same kind of post-Sabbath fellowship meeting is found in the Book of John, where we are told that the first day of the week was “the same day (Sabbath) at evening”:
Yochanan (John) 20:19
19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Yeshua came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
Yeshua was crucified at Passover, in the first month. Israel can already be hot at that time, and if it was hot, then the sensible thing would have been to leave the doors open into the night. However, since there was persecution the disciples closed their doors. Therefore, the only really unusual thing here was that Yeshua showed up. It does not reflect a new day of worship.
But if the disciples were not taught to keep Sunday, Christmas or Easter, then how did these things come about? How did the original Torah Calendar ‘drift’ to where it is today, with so many Christians keeping days of worship and rest that are nowhere commanded in the word of Yahweh?
The earliest known reference to Sunday worship comes from the Christian apologist Justin Martyr, circa 150 CE.
And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place….
[Justin Martyr, First Apology, Chapter 67 – Weekly Worship of the Christians, circa 150 CE, Biblesoft]
Scripture numbers the days of the week (first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh), and then calls the seventh day “the Shabbat” (the abstention/the rest). It never calls any day ‘Saturday’ or ‘Sunday.’ In contrast to this, the Ante-Nicene Church Father Justin Martyr tells us that the reason his assembly worshipped on Sunday (on the Roman Calendar) was that it was the day Elohim (God) made the world, and that it was the day Yeshua first appeared to His disciples.
But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.
[Justin Martyr, First Apology, Chapter 67 – Weekly Worship of the Christians, circa 150 CE, Biblesoft]
With all due respect, Justin Martyr makes the mistake of thinking that Yeshua ushered in the Roman calendar system. Also notice that while Justin Martyr’s reasons for worshipping on Sunday might seem good, we have already seen that neither the Messiah nor His apostles were in the habit of meeting together on Sunday.
However, as we explained in Nazarene Israel, Yahweh allowed the original Nazarene faith to be eclipsed by Sunday worship for a time, so that belief in Yeshua would be able to spread throughout the world just that much more rapidly. By temporarily debasing the faith, and by tying it to the Roman calendar, Yahweh was able to help the faith spread not only throughout the Roman Empire, but also to other lands where sun worship and idol worship was common. Because of the calendar, and because the Romans had a history of bringing foreign idols and gods into their pantheons, Roman Christianity was much easier to spread than the original Nazarene faith. Over time there came to be many more converts to Christianity than there were converts to Nazarene Israel.
Then in the early 300’s, Constantine became Emperor of Rome, and issued his famous Edict of Milan, which officially proclaimed a degree of religious tolerance within the Roman Empire. However, the Roman Empire was not without religious frictions. Three hundred years after Yeshua, the Church Father Epiphanius asserted that even though the Nazarenes were still keeping the original seventh-day Sabbath, those he termed “true Christians” worshipped only on Sunday, on the Roman calendar.
“The Nazarenes do not differ in any essential thing from them (meaning the Pharisees/Orthodox Jews), since they practice the customs and doctrines prescribed by Jewish Law; except that they believe in Christ.
“They believe in the resurrection of the dead, and that the universe was created by God. They preach that God is One, and that Jesus Christ is His Son.
“They are very learned in the Hebrew language. They read the Law (meaning the Law of Moshe)…. Therefore they differ…from the true Christians because they fulfill until now (such) Jewish rites as the circumcision, (the) Sabbath, and others.”
[The Church Father Epiphanius in his doctrinal book, “Against Heresies,” Panarion 29, 7, Page 41, 402]
Since the Church Father Epiphanius asserted that the Nazarenes were “heretics”, we know that the Roman Church was not friendly towards the Nazarenes. Further, although the Roman Empire was officially tolerant to other religions, it was less than a century after Constantine converted to Christianity when the Roman Christians began to stigmatize and then ‘officially disallow’ the Nazarenes. The Roman Church had formally disallowed the Sabbath approximately fifty years earlier, circa 336 CE, when the Emperor Constantine issued an edict stating that Christians must not “Judaize” by resting on the Sabbath, but that they must rest on “the Lord’s Day” (i.e., Sunday).
“Christians must not ‘Judaize’ by resting on the Sabbath; but must work on that day, honoring rather the Lord’s Day (‘Sun’ day) by resting, if possible, as Christians.
However, if any (Nazarene) be found ‘Judaizing’, let them be shut out from Christ.” [Other translations read, “Let them be anathema to Christ.”]
[The Church of Imperial Rome; Council of Laodicea under the Emperor Constantine; Canon 29, circa 336 CE]
Three hundred years after Yeshua both preached and healed on the seventh-day Sabbath, the Sabbath had been officially banned by the Church of Rome.
Following the same general pattern, over time, the Hebrew feast of the Passover also gave way to the pagan feast of Easter (Ishtar). First the timing of the Passover was shifted away from the Hebrew evening-to-evening calendar, to the Roman midnight-to-midnight one. The date was then changed from the 14th of Nisan (Aviv) to a Sunday which fell around that same general timeframe. Then the name of the feast was changed from Passover to Easter, in honor of the Babylonian mother-goddess Ishtar.
A crisis came about in the second century when the bishops of Asia decided to keep the Passover on the Hebrew calendar, as they had been taught by the Apostles Phillip and Yochanan (John). This is recorded in Church history as the famous ‘Quartodeciman Controversy’ of the second century.
The Church father Eusebius records that the Quarto-deciman Controversy erupted when Bishop Victor of Rome began to insist that all the assemblies must keep the Passover on a Sunday (on the Roman calendar), rather than on the 14th of Nisan (on the Hebrew one).
A question of no small importance arose at that time. For the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour’s passover…But it was not the custom of the churches in the rest of the world…But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. He himself, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the Church of Rome, set forth in the following words the tradition which had come down to him. (Eusebius, Church History, Book V, Chapters 23, 25, circa 190-195 CE)
Eusebius also reproduces the letter that Polycrates, a major figure in Asia, personally wrote to Bishop Victor of Rome, protesting Bishop Victor’s decision to change the date of the Passover from the 14th of Nisan (Aviv), to a Sunday. Polycrates points out that the tradition of keeping the Passover on the Hebrew calendar had been given in Asia by the apostles Philip and Yochanan themselves, and that the tradition had been held fast in Asia over generations, by a number of distinguished and devout believers. Polycrates then insisted that all believers should do as the Scriptures said, rather than accept a man-made tradition.
We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? All these observed the fourteenth day of the Passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘We ought to obey God rather than man’.
[Eusebius, Church History, Book V, Chapter 24. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1.]
Despite the fact that the assemblies of Asia had learned to keep Passover on the Hebrew calendar, the Roman Bishop Victor decided to excommunicate every assembly which did not agree to hold the Passover on a Sunday, on the Roman calendar. While this greatly displeased many of the other bishops (who knew what Polycrates was saying to be true) the power of the Roman bishopric prevailed over Scripture. As sad as it was, unity was preserved in the church, albeit on false pretenses, and on false feast days. The practice of holding the Passover on the 14th of Nisan (on the Hebrew calendar) was ultimately driven underground, and countless seminary students have since been taught that the Quartodeciman Controversy was merely one example of the right of the Church to change the feast days away from the commanded in Scripture.
As we explain in Nazarene Israel, power began to be centralized in the Bishopric of Rome immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the apostles’ deaths. The Roman Bishop began to decree that pagan symbols and pagan feast days could be ‘sanctified’, even though this was in direct violation of the Torah, which tells us to avoid all non-commanded religious imagery, and is very clear that we should not worship Yahweh after the manner of the other nations of the world.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 12:1-4
1 “These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which Yahweh Elohim of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth.
2 You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree.
3 And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place.
4 You shall not worship Yahweh your Elohim with such things.”
Despite Yahweh’s stern warning, the calendar continued to drift towards the adoption of pagan feast days. Although the exact wording is not preserved, during the Council of Nicea (circa 326 CE), the Roman Church decided that Easter was to be celebrated throughout the world on the Sunday that followed the 14th day of the ‘paschal moon.’ However, the moon was to be considered ‘paschal’ only if the 14th day of the moon fell after the Spring Equinox, despite the fact that the Equinox is never mentioned in Scripture. This was clearly an example of Yahweh’s people choosing to worship Him on days of their own devising.
In the language of Scripture, the proof of belief is obedience. Yahweh knows we believe in Him when we do what He commands. However, if we decide to keep days of worship that are determined by observing the sun, the moon, the stars and the host of the heavens, then Yahweh considers that we are worshipping (or ‘serving’) the sun, the moon, the stars and the host of the heavens. Yahweh warns us very sternly against this, and tells us that this is the practice that He has given to all the other nations of the world.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:19
19 “And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which Yahweh your Elohim has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.”
It is natural for men to want to observe the movements of the sun, the moon and the stars. The sun brings warmth, and helps our crops to grow. The moon and the stars shine beautifully at night, and help guide the movements of ships. It is so natural to worship and serve the movements of these heavenly bodies that feasts in honor of these things are found in cultures all over the world (i.e., “all the people under the whole heaven”). However, because Yahweh did not command us to keep these feast days, He considers them to be idolatrous, and if we insist on observing these feast days even though He told us not to, He considers us to be idolaters.
We need to remember that Yahweh is in the heavens, and we are here on earth. Yahweh has a different perspective on things than we do. It can sometimes be very difficult for us to understand, or to accept, but the Torah is clear that Yahweh does not permit us to establish new feast days of our own; and that if we attempt to do so, there will be extreme consequences.
In Exodus 32, we read about the infamous episode with the Golden Calf.
Shemote (Exodus) 32:4-5
4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
5 So when Aharon saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aharon made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to Yahweh.”
Notice that even though Aharon declared that the feast was in honor of Yahweh, Yahweh did not feel honored. Rather, He became enraged that His people would keep feast days that He did not command.
Why, then, do so many believers want to keep feasts that are not commanded in Scripture? The only reason the word ‘Easter’ appears in the King James Version is that is was mistranslated from the Greek word ‘Pascha’ (πασχα), meaning Passover. This error has been corrected in almost every other major translation since the King James Version, but the practice of observing Easter remains strong within Christendom.
When we translate Acts 12:4 correctly, we see that the people were still keeping the Passover in the first century.
4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
|TRG Acts 12:4
ὃν καὶ πιάσας ἔθετο εἰς φυλακήν, παραδοὺς τέσσαρσι τετραδίοις στρατιωτῶν φυλάσσειν αὐτόν, βουλόμενος μετὰ τὸ πάσχα ἀναγαγεῖν αὐτὸν τῷ λαῷ.
We know that the Nazarenes were keeping the ‘Jewish’ observances until the 4th century CE. However, the majority of the Christian Church did not begin to observe Easter until 190-195 CE, when the Passover was driven underground in the days of Polycrates and the Roman Bishop Victor (above).
Further, let us note that the Apostle Shaul does not tell us to keep Easter, but rather to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread (which is a continuation of the Passover).
Qorintim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 5:8
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
As a second witness to this, Acts 20:6 shows us that the disciples were still keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread many years after Yeshua’s resurrection.
Ma’asei (Acts) 20:6
6 But we sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread….
We also know that the Apostle Shaul continued to observe the Israelite Feast of the Pentecost on the Hebrew calendar.
Qorintim Aleph (1st Corinthians) 16:8
8 But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost….
We know that Shaul kept Pentecost on the Hebrew Calendar (rather than on the Roman Christian one) because he went up to Jerusalem (and not Rome).
Ma’asei (Acts) 20:16
16 For Shaul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.
In Acts 27:9, the disciples kept the Day of Atonement, even though it was many years after Yeshua had already been resurrected. The Day of Atonement is here called ‘the Fast’, because it is traditionally observed by fasting.
Ma’asei (Acts) 27:9-10
9 Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Shaul advised them,
10 saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.”
The voyage was “now dangerous” because the Day of Atonement takes place in the seventh month, when the weather changes from summer to winter. Boat travel on the Mediterranean can be stormy in winter, and therefore it is dangerous. However, the point here is that the apostles were still keeping the feast days found in the Torah, and not converted Roman feast days.
Yahweh blesses those who keep His feasts.
Ma’asei (Acts) 2:1-2
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
At least some of the blessings associated with keeping His feast days are still to come, in the future. In Colossians 2:16-17, the Apostle Shaul tells us that the Sabbath, the feasts and the New Moon Days are all shadows of things “still to come.” That means just as Yahweh poured out blessings on those who were keeping His feast days in the past, Yahweh will pour out even more blessings on those who are still keeping His feast days in the future. However, Scripture’s true meaning is lost in most major versions, including the King James Version.
Note how the King James Version supplies two words in italics (days and is), which do not exist in the Greek; and how these two words invert the true meaning of the passage.
|Colossians 2:16-17, KJV
16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moons, or of the sabbath days:
17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
|TRG Colossians 2:16-17
16 Μὴ οὖν τις ὑμᾶς κρινέτω ἐν βρώσει ἢ ἐν πόσει ἢ ἐν μέρει ἑορτῆς ἢ νεομηνίας ἢ σαββάτων,
17 ἅ ἐστι σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων, τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ
Because it adds the italicized words (days) and (is), the KJV leads the reader to conclude that we should not let anyone tell us what to eat, what to drink, or what days of worship to keep. If we accept these added words at their face value, we can easily conclude that it makes no difference at all whether we keep the Sabbath and the feast days, or whether we worship on Sunday, Christmas, the Chinese New Year, Ramadan, or even no feast days at all. Other translations make similar alterations to the text, and these alterations generally help promote the idea that Yeshua actually did come to abolish the Torah and the Prophets, contrary to His own statement at Matthew 5:17-19.
Scripture, however, is very clear that we are not to add anything to His words, or to take anything away (e.g., Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:6, etcetera). Therefore, once we realize that the supplied words days and is do not appear in the source texts, we should take them back out of the English translations.
Here is the exact same passage from the King James, but with the supplied words “days” and “is” removed:
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moons, or of the Sabbath; which are a shadow of things to come; but the Body of Christ.
If we read this passage carefully, we can see that there are three main ideas here (1-2-3):
1. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moons, or of the Sabbath;
2. which are a (prophetic) shadow of things (still) to come;
3. but the Body of [Messiah].
To paraphrase, the Apostle Shaul is telling us:
1. Let no man judge you with regards to the meat you eat, what you drink, or what religious feast days you keep;
2. Because these foods, liquids and feast days are all prophetic shadows of things still to come;
3. Therefore, let only the Body of Messiah tell you what to eat, what to drink, and what feast days to keep!
If we rearrange the clauses to make the English read better (3-1-2), we can see that what the Apostle Shaul was actually saying was that we should not let anyone but the Body of Messiah judge us in what we eat, what we drink, and what feast days we keep, because these things are all shadows of prophetic blessings still to come.
Let no man (but the Body of Messiah) judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moons, or of the Sabbath; for the feasts are shadows of things (still) to come.
[Colossians 2:16-17, reordered]
Shaul’s true meaning is not reflected in the NIV.
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious feast, a New Moon celebration or a sabbath day.
17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
[Colossians 2:16-17, NIV]
The King James, the NIV, and most of the mainstream Christian versions essentially support the old Gnostic hypothesis: that so long as one knows Yeshua is the Messiah, it makes no difference what days of worship one keeps, because the feasts are merely shadows of the things that “were” to come. However, this is far from Shaul’s true meaning.
The idea that the foods we eat and the feast days we keep are important prophetic shadows of things still to come did not originate with the Apostle Shaul. The Jews have long held that major prophetic events typically fall on Israel’s feast days.
When Yahweh poured out the gift of the Spirit on the Pentecost, the faithful still needed to be at the Temple in Jerusalem in order to receive that gift. If Yeshua’s resurrection really marked the end of the Torah and the Prophets, as some groups claim, then why did the faithful still need to be in the Temple on the Pentecost? Why was the Spirit not poured out at some other place, and at some other time, such as on Christmas, in Rome?
Some theologians tell us that even though the Apostles continued to keep Yahweh’s feasts, the reason we now keep Sunday, Christmas and Easter is that Yeshua’s resurrection marked the start of a three-to-four-hundred-year period of change, in which the Church would be authorized to make all sorts of sweeping changes to the faith. However, this thesis is very curious, considering these alleged changes were never prophesied anywhere in Scripture, and also considering how many times Yahweh sternly warned those who feared Him not to keep any other feast days.
The Torah is a codification of Yahweh’s Spirit, given as a list of instructions (dos and don’ts). At least according to Jewish tradition, these instructions were first given to Israel at Mount Sinai on the Pentecost, fifty days after the first Passover. Then, thousands of years later, the Spirit itself was poured out on the faithful at Pentecost. The difference was that this time, instead of just giving a codification of the Spirit, Yahweh gave the gift of His Spirit itself. Thus, in actuality there have already been at least two fulfillments of the Feast of the Pentecost, and Colossians 2:16-17 tell us that there are more on the way.
The pattern in Scripture is one of repeated fulfillments of the feasts. The Children of Israel already fulfilled the Feast of Tabernacles when they dwelt in tabernacles (or booths) in the Wilderness in Sinai. The second fulfillment came when Yeshua was born.
Most Christians have been taught that Yeshua was born on December 25th. However, Yeshua could not have been born in winter, because Luke 2:8 shows us that there were shepherds keeping watch over their flocks at that time.
Luqa (Luke) 2:7-8
7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
In Israel, flocks are not typically let out to pasture in the winter. Therefore, this event had to occur some time before winter had set in, and the flocks were penned up. This effectively rules out the month of December.
As we will show in the chapter on Hanukkah, Yeshua was conceived in the middle of winter (probably during Hanukkah time), and was born some nine months later, in the seventh month, on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. From a prophetic standpoint, it makes perfect sense that Yeshua would be born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, because He would be fulfilling the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Could this be why Yochanan (John) tells us that the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us?
Yochanan (John) 1:14
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us….
The word ‘dwelt’ is the Greek word skenoo, Strong’s NT4637, meaning, ‘to tabernacle.’
NT:4637 skenoo (skay-no’-o); from NT:4636; to tent or encamp, i.e. (figuratively) to occupy (as a mansion) or (specifically) to reside (as God did in the Tabernacle of old, a symbol of protection and communion):
Essentially, then, what Yochanan (John) was saying was:
Yochanan (John) 1:14 [interpreted]
14 And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us….
In Leviticus 23, Yahweh commands that all native-born Israelites who live in the Land of Israel must make a pilgrimage up to Jerusalem three times a year. One of these three annual pilgrimages is the Feast of Tabernacles. During this feast, all Israel must dwell in tabernacles (temporary dwellings) for seven days. In Hebrew, these temporary dwellings are called Sukkot. In English, they are often called ‘booths’.
Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:42
42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths….
The rabbinical ruling in the first century was likely identical to the rabbinical ruling of today, which is that for health and safety’s sake, anyone who is sick, old or pregnant does not actually have to stay in a tabernacle, but can rent a room in an inn. However, even though Miriam was pregnant, there was no room at the inn. Therefore Joseph and Miriam had to dwell in a tabernacle (or a booth, or a ‘manger’), in keeping with Leviticus 23. While this might have seemed like a turnabout for Joseph and Miriam, all of this came to pass so that Yeshua might be born in a temporary dwelling (a tabernacle) on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, in prophetic fulfillment of the feast.
But even though Yeshua was the second fulfillment of the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles), Zechariah 14 tells us that there will yet be a third fulfillment.
16 And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Yahweh of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
17 And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, Yahweh of hosts, on them there will be no rain.
There is even a fourth fulfillment prophesied, in the Book of the Revelation:
Hitgalut (Revelation) 21:3-4
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of Elohim is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and Elohim Himself will be among them,
4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
This shows us why the Apostle Shaul warned us not to let anyone but the Body of Messiah tell us what days of worship to keep. It is because they are prophetic shadow pictures of wonderful blessings still to come.