Proverbs 13:17: Out of the Faithful Sent Ones Comes Healing

Pro 13:17 “A wicked messengers falls into trouble, but a faithful ambassador brings healing. (NJKV)
Recently, I was reading the Aramaic translation of the Proverbs and stumbled across this verse and it incited in me a whole new appreciation for healing. The latter part of this verse will be our focus. The Aramaic of this text reads, “A faithful ambassador is a healer.” (1) This translation awakened all the charismatic fires within me and I set out to see why I had never seen this translation of this Proverb previously. The following is a list of translation and how they translate the Hebrew of this text:
(ASV) But a faithful ambassador is health.
(BBE) he who gives news rightly makes things well.
(ESV) but a faithful envoy brings healing.
(GNB) but those who can be trusted bring peace.
(NIV) but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.
(NASB) but a faithful envoy brings healing.
All of these translations are wonderful but none of them came close to the translation of the Aramaic that had so ignited the revivalist inside of me. So, I decided to examine the Hebrew of the text to see where this Aramaic translation could’ve come from. Here is what I found.
The Hebrew phrase is only three words long:      מרפא׃ אמונים  וציר,
Let’s dissect these three words and see if some meaning can be extracted. The first word is pronounced “tzeer” and is best described as “the sent out ones”. It is derived from the word “send” thus, we see the words envoy and ambassador, as the primary translation. However, at its root, all of these definitions denote that one is being sent from another. A king may send an envoy, who represents the king. The President will send an ambassador to a foreign country to represent the President in that country. For the Christian, this is very powerful. Paul calls us “ambassadors” of Christ. Thus we represent in the physical realm all that He is in the spiritual realm. As awesome a revelation as this is, there is more to it than this. “Tzeer” also means that the ambassador is “sent out” on a mission. In New Testament language, this carries an apostolic connotation. (The Greek word is πρεσβευομεν for ambassador in 2 Cor 5:20 is pronounced “presyb-oo” and is translated as leaders, elders and ambassadors. There is also the Greek word “apostolos” which carries the meaning of “sent ones”, I would be curious to see which Greek word is used here in the Greek translation of the Septuagint; however, I have not a Lexicon for the Septuagint, and the proverbs are in different order and I can’t find this proverb. If anyone knows, please let me know)
The next word in the verse is written in a Hebrew adjectival format and describes the ambassador. It is the Hebrew word “emunah”. This is the word we get “Amen” from and it means “trustworthy, faithful, or established.” Combining the adjective and the subject what we have so far is, “The faithful ambassadors, or the faithful sent ones.”
The last word is an explosive word. It is pronounced “marpe”. It is most commonly translated as “medicine, cure, or deliverance.” But, we can dissect the word a little further. The first part of the word is the Hebrew letter Mem. In Hebrew it is an inseparable preposition and is attached to the front of a word. When this is attached to the front a word, it means, “Out of or from.” Thus the preposition tells us what where the action is. (2) The last part of the word is “rophe” which is always translated healing. Hence, the word is a combination word that means “healing comes forth.” Now, when we put it all together we find out that the Aramaic translation is accurate and awesome. Here is what a literal translation of what we just discussed. “Out of the faithful sent ones comes healing.” or “Healing comes forth out of the faithful sent ones.” This is a picture of every New Testament believer and certainly a picture of Jesus Himself.
In the gospels, we read a story of woman sneaking up on Jesus to touch the tassels of His garment in order to receive her healing. Jesus turns to find the woman and asks, “Who touched Me.” The disciples inform Jesus that there are hundreds of people touching Him. He replies, and this is the crucial part of what we are discussing here, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” (Luke 8:46) The Greek word for power is the word “dunamis”, it is the word we get dynamite from. Jesus was filled with this power, it was dwelling inside of Him. God’s knee-jerk response to faith was the release of Holy Spirit “dunamis” into the body of this woman and she was healed. Indeed, out of this faithful sent one came healing. This is the meaning of this proverb and the destiny of all New Testament believers.
This was the understanding of the Aramaic translators. The faithful sent one is a healer as life-giving dunamis power flows through the New Testament Believer and brings life, health, and peace to those to whom we are sent, as we remain faithful to Him. Thus, any believer who is sent by God on a particular mission, can expect to see miracles, signs, and wonders.
Endnotes
**All defintions of Hebrew and Greek words are taken from the Strongs Concordance***
1. Lamsa, George, Holy Bible from the Ancient Eastern Text, Harper and Row, San Francisco, CA, 1968, page 670.
2. Fuller, Russell, Choi, Kyoungwon, Invitation to Biblical Hebrew, A Beginning Grammar, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, 2006, page 41.

Feast of Trumpets

“The Joy of the Lord will be your strength.”

The Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah, (see post on Teruah) (Tih-Ru-ah) in Hebrew, is the first feast that occurs in the Holy season of the fall festivals.  The feast of trumpets begins on the first day of the seventh month which corresponds to mid-September, early October timeframe.  It is the beginning of the holy days of the fall.  The seventh month, Tishri, contains three holy feasts.  The feast of trumpets being the first, followed nine days later by the Day of Atonement (or Yom Kippur).  Four days later the feast of Sukote (or Tabernacles) begins, which lasts seven days. (Sukote is the holy convocation, the last of the three annual pilgrimages where all the men in Israel were to go to Jerusalem to the Temple, the other two feast are Passover and Pentecost). The feast of Trumpets is the first of fall feasts and it is the day of unspeakable joy, a joy that is so great that it can‘t be put into words.

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying, “speak to the children of Israel saying; ‘in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath rest, and memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.  You shall do no customary work on it and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’”  (Lev 23-25).

The first day of the seventh month was determined by a lunar calendar.  This is a calendar based on the phases of the moon.  The moon over a 28-30 day period of time will wax, eventually come full, and wane until it becomes “new” meaning that it is at its first phase of appearance.  The seventh new moon of the year, would start the feast of the Trumpets.  Because the moons waxing and waning periods cannot be predicted with 100% accuracy but must be observed, the date will vary from year to year and the exact date is never “set in stone” (more on the significance of this in the prophetic section).  After the Lord tells us the day that the feast was to be celebrated on, God identifies the day as a Sabbath rest.  The word used  for “Sabbath-rest” is a different word than the word used to describe the regular Sabbath, or the end of the seven day work week.  The word used here is “Shabbathan” as opposed to “Shabbat.” What is intended by this word is that it is a day of rest, a holy-day.  No laborious work should be done on this day, we should take the day off and we should not labor on this day because it is no ordinary day.  It is a high holy day.  It is a day in which we celebrate the joy of the character of our God.  He is always love ( I John 3:16) and in response to this, we can always rejoice because of Him and His  great Love towards us.  He is good, all the time, and this is the day we are commanded to celebrate His Goodness and rejoice in our relationship with Him.
Because of who He is, we have unspeakable joy.  It flows from he throne of Heaven.  “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!  Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.  For the Lord is the great god, and the great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95: 1-3).  This joyful shouting over who He is, is the biblical precedent for the Feast.

The next thing mentioned is that it is a memorial of the blowing of trumpets.  The word “memorial” in Hebrew is the word zikron “zeek-roan,” (Strongs #2146) meaning a momentous event which is long to be remembered.   Avram Yehoshua writes,

“It means to remember, recollect, call to mind.  The Hebrew meaning for this word goes deeper than just “to remember”, in the typical sense of the word.  It  implies that the Israelite was to return to a time of “joy unspeakable’ and  enter into, remembering that he was to place himself back in the event, whether he was actually there or not.  I call it ‘a living remembrance’ this is a theological concept that is seen throughout the scriptures.  It allows both the ancient Israelite and us to participate in past and future salvation events with the very real help of the Spirit of Yeshua, King of Israel.  (1)

Hence, the intention behind the feast was to remember the great acts that God has done for us and to celebrate the positional inheritance that he has given us through His Son ( Ephesians 2:6).  Jesus has set us in the heavenly places with Him and raised us up to where He is in the spiritual realm.  Thus, it was His good pleasure to rejoice in saving humankind from the flesh, the world, and the devil.  He rejoiced over us and his is a cause of great rejoicing for us.  “Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!  The walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.” (Psalm 89:15).  Clearly the “memorial”, the recollection on the holy-day, is for the believer to remember the times of being in slavery to sin (Egypt) and how God has delivered us into the land of promise (in Messiah).

The Teruah

It is interesting that after the word “memorial” is mentioned, the text states “it is to be a memorial of the blowing of the trumpets.”  So this “living remembrance” is also to be accompanied with the blowing of the trumpets.  Again, Yehoshua comments:

“The Hebrew noun for “blowing of the trumpets” is “Tih-Ru-Ah” and the interlinear translates it as “trumpet blast”… The Hebrew noun comes from the verb “Ru-ah” and means “to make a loud noise, to cry aloud as a weeping, to shout, in joy, or alarm or war, to sound a trumpet or, an alarm or to “shout for joy”… the ___ meaning is “to raise a noise” by shouting or with an instruments especially a horn or the traditional rams horn, the shofar…. The day will center around the exaltation of praise to God with various musical instruments and voices and not the tumult of war.”  (2)

Therefore, one can conclude that the day is a day of remembrance, a day of shouting for joy, a day of sounding of horns, a holy convocation (gathering) for us to come together and  remember the great acts of salvation that the Lord has done and that He has yet to do.

The Teruah (Joyful shout) when released by faith, in God who is our advocate and that he will act in our favor, release a powerful spiritual force.  Whether the Teruah is by the raising of the voice or the blowing of the shofar, it changes the spiritual atmosphere.  The spiritual realm because permeated and charged with the presence of God.  Joy form Heaven is released, and the enemies of the Lord are stricken with fear.  Prophetic and Healing evangelist Todd Bentley writes,

“Sometimes the Lord calls us to roar just as He does (Joel 3:16; Hosea 11:10).  At God’s leading, we can release a roar by faith just as we would a victory shout (Joshua 6:5).  A roar like this often release a holy indignation within our spirits, as a declaration to the enemy that “enough is enough!”  Roaring not only looses tied-up promises, but it also tear down demonic principalities.  When we roar like a lion, something happens in the spirit realm.  Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and sometimes He causes his Spirit to rise up in our hearts with a groan or a roar of judgment on principalities.” (3).

This “roaring” that Bentley mentions, is the Hebrew concept of Teruah.  Let’s examine a biblical example.

In I Samuel Chapter 4, the ark of God is brought into the camp of Israel and they release a “great shout”.  This great shout has an effect on their enemies the Philistines.  Scripture states, “And the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into  the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook.  Now when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, ‘What does the sound of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean.’ Then they understood that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp.  So, the Philistines were afraid, for they said, ’Woe to us!  Who will deliver us form the hand of these mighty gods?  These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.” (I Samuel 4: 5-8) The great shout, the Teurah released in faith, had an effect on the enemy.  The release of the great shout coupled with faith that God is going to move in our favor, changes the spiritual climate.

Another biblical example regarding the releasing of a Teruah by faith is found in the book of Joshua.  The Bible states, “It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout, then the wall of the city will fall down flat.  And the people shall go up every man straight before him,”  (This passage cites the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn) and the releasing of the “great shout” as Teruah. Thus, the precedent for the Feast of Trumpets.) After the Hebrews had marched around the city seven times for seven days, and upon completion of the seventh lap on the seventh day, God commands the armies the armies of Israel to release a Teruah that will destroy the walls of Jericho.  The bibles states, “So the people shouted when the priest blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat.  then the people went up into the city every man straight before him,. And they took the city,” (Joshua 6:20)  Clearly, God was teaching us something form this encounter at Jericho.  He could have destroyed the walls of that city anyway he wanted.  But, He chose to co-labor with Israel, and a Teruah, or great shout was His weapon of choice for that day.  It was released from a heart of faith in a Great God which changed the spiritual climate that brought the walls of the enemy crashing down and victory was achieved for God’s people.  The Teruah still has the same effect today.  Again Bentley,

“But suddenly I felt something like a deep groan and cramp in by belly, as though something was going to erupt. I had heard about some meetings where people would roar like lions, and I thought it ridiculous, but my heart won out, and all at once, it was as though a river came out of my mouth, and I fell to my knees and roared!  I fell under the power, and then Steve did!  His arm flew into the air, still holding the sandwich, the lettuce flying everywhere…Well the spirit of fear hit that place, I’ll tell you.
The clerk and His friends dove behind the counter, cowering.  Finally, the clerk stood and pointed over the counter with one finger shaking and said, ‘Is…is that your God/” (4)

There is a reason why the Hebrews were commanded to carry the trumpets off to war (Numbers 10:9).  The Teruah is a weapon of spiritual warfare for God’s people.  Why?  Because the Teruah released thorough faith in our Mighty Warrior, destroys the walls of the enemy.  The same is true today when we sound the shofar as a Teruah.  Dominick Zangla writes,

“On one occasion, at the beginning of a congregational meeting, I struggled to blow the Teruah and only succeeded after three tries and the Spirit of God girding me up.  The cries that came forth immediately were, ‘Did you feel the atmosphere change?!’  Later, three different women asked if I had continued to sound the shofar outside the building and how was I able to blow all those different notes!  I had not touched my shofar since the opening of the service.  I suddenly realized God had sent His angels to do battle on our behalf as he honored my call for help!  At the end of the meeting about 25 people raised their hands saying they had heard shofar sound during the praise and worship.” (5)

The Returning exiles get it right!

When Nehemiah and Ezra returned from exile to Jerusalem, they complete the great task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and restoring the worship of Yahveh according to the Torah.  When the fall feast days arrived, they had just completed this great assignment.  This is what scripture records of the Feast of Trumpets that they celebrated.

“So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month .  Then he read form it in the open square that was in form of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law…so they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.  And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the LORD your God, do not mourn nor weep.’  For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.  Then he said to them “God your way, at the fat, drink the sweet and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to tour Lord,  do not sorrow for the joy of the Lord is your strength.  (Nehemiah 8:2,3,8,9,10 emphasis mine).

Notice that the first day of the seventh is the Feast of Trumpets (Lev 23).  The Nelson Study Bible has this commentary explains this section of scripture.

Once the people understood the Word of God, they wept.  They  had heard the high standard of the Law and recognized their low standing before the Lord, and were convicted.  Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites were undoubtedly glad to see the people’s conviction.  However, they urged the people to stop crying and reminded them that this day was holy to the Lord.  The first day of the seventh month was the Feast of Trumpets,  It was not a time to weep, but to celebrate the feast with eating, drinking, and sharing.  The joy of the Lord could refer to the joy that God has, but the context indicates that this is something the people also experienced.  The joy of the Lord is the joy that springs up in our hearts because of our relationship to the Lord.  It is a God-given gladness found when we are in communion with God.  When our goal is to know more about the Lord, the by-product is His joy.”  (6 emphasis mine).

What an amazing God were worship.  The ultimate aim our His relationship with us is for us to experience heaven.  If heaven has one characteristic, it is joy.  This joy flows from God to us when were are in communion with His Spirit.  This is a great source of joy, strength, safety, and security.  When we are connected to Him, what exists in heaven comes to us.  When we are connected to Him, it doesn’t really matter what takes place here in the physical realm.  We are tied to a source that separates us from the effects of the world upon us and the experience of this connection, is joy.  This is what the Feast of Trumpets, or joyful shouting, is all about.  A celebration of the joyful relationship that exists with us because of His Great love.

Normally, weeping under conviction of sin is the response that most preachers are looking for, but in this case, it was out of character for the day of unspeakable joy.  Sin is a serious matter and we never want to downplay how detrimental it is to our spiritual lives; however, if we only dwell on our sinful state, remain focused on our shortcomings, we will never embrace the fact, that a Great and Loving God, who is good and love all the time, rejoices over us and has done all that He could to redeem us.  This is a cause of unspeakable joy and it is what was commanded for the Feast.  The exiles understood this and refocused the people on the character of God and His commandments rather than their own sinfulness.  Dwelling on our own sinfulness and negating the joy of the relationship with God can have detrimental effects  Bill Johnson writes,

“The idea that the best response to conviction is getting depressed derives from wrong beliefs that blind us to the Holy Sprit’s purpose in exposing the places where we fall short of our high calling in Christ.  There is a place for tears in this process as we’re told that it is godly sorrow that leads us to repentance.  But when we have a wrong view of God as a legalistic father who is unhappy without every move, we distort what was supposed to lead us to an encounter with Him that brings transformation.  Instead many develop attitudes of somberness in a fleshy attempt to be holy.  Consequently, we’ve misunderstood and misappropriated the fullness of His grace, which does not merely forgive our sin, but empowers us to live like Him.” (7)

On the Feast of Trumpets, we are reminded that we should not only focus on our sinfulness in the light of His grace towards us and His ability to sanctify us and keep us from falling.  This is another great reason for joy.  He is more concerned about holiness and loving us than He is about judging and condemning us.  If He were only focused on judgment, Jesus would not have needed to die.

Worship of the Feast

The other passage of scripture that mentions the feast of trumpets is found in Numbers 29:1-6:

“And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation.  You shall do no customary work.  For it is a day of blowing trumpets.  You shall offer a burnt offering as a sweet aroma to the Lord; one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year without blemish.  Their grain offering shall be fine flour mixed with oil.  Three tenths of an ephah for the bull, two tenths for the ram, and one tenth for each of the seven lambs, also one kid of the goats as a sin offering to make atonement for you, besides the burnt offering with it’s grain offering for the new moon, the regular burnt offering with it’s grain offering, and their drink offering, according to their ordinances, as a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord.”

Two particular offerings, the burnt offering and then the grain offering, are to be offered on the Feast of Trumpets.  God is telling us something about the worship for the day by commanding these two types of sacrifices  Regarding the burnt offering, the JF&B commentary states:

“it’s entire combustion indicated the self dedication of the offered.  His whole nature, his body and soul, as necessary to form a sacrifice acceptable to the Lord.”  (8)

So Yahveh commands that burnt offerings be lifted up on this day symbolically representing His desire for the worshipper to be totally devoted to Him.  The Lord desires and seeks worshippers who are dead to selfishness and who will worship in “Spirit and Truth.” (John 4: 24). This is a constant with the Lord and there is no better time for this type of worship than during the joyous celebration of the Feast of Trumpets.

The other offering that is to be offered in that day is the grain offering.  In Hebrew it is called minchah (min-khah) (Strongs # 4503) meaning an offering, gift, tribute, present, sacrifice, portion, or donation.  The minchah is primarily a religious offering but may also be a personal gift that one gives to his ruler.  The significance of God requiring a grain offering on the feast of trumpets is for the worshipper to recognize God  in his rightful place as deliverer, king and ruler, and that all power and authority has been given to Jesus. This offering acknowledges the roles of both the worshipper and God.  It recognizes that Yahveh is King and  the worshipper is the servant.  It is offered out of a heart that is motivated by love.  It is the joyful giver that offers an offering to God because of who God is, and because of their faith in Him.

Jewish Interpretation of the Day

The first day of every month was determined by the new moon.  At the sighting of the seventh new moon of the year the Feast of Trumpets was celebrated. “The new moon of the seventh month is like a Sabbath of new moon celebrations… Jewish tradition adopted the new moon of the seventh month as the start of the new year, Rosh Hashanah. (9)       Subsequently, the actual date of the feast will vary from year to year (more will come on the significance of this in the prophetic section).  The day was considered a “new year” in Jewish Tradition.  An ancient Mishnah Rosh HaSahanah 1:1  states:

“There are four New Years.  On the first of Nisan is the New year for Kings and for festivals (religious); on the first of Elul is the New Year for the tithe of animals–R. Eliezer and R. Simon say.  On the first of Tishri–on the first of Tishri is the New Year for the years, for Sabbatical Years, for Jubilee Years, for planting and for vegetables (civil); and on the first of Shevat is the new year the School of Hillel say, on the fifteenth there of. (10)

The feast became known as the New Year in the Jewish liturgical calendar.  It has thusly been termed Rosh Hashanah.  As Avram Yehoshua notes:

“In Judaism Yom Teruah is better known as Rosh HaShanah, or the new year.  On this day the ‘civil’ year in Judaism changes… In the Talmud, it is seen as the first day of creation but not all the ancient Rabbis considered it as such.  Seeing Yom TeRuah as the beginning of Gods creation is only Rabbinic tradition.”  (11)

The feast of Trumpets in modern Judaism does not celebrate it as a day of unspeakable joy, a day of worship and sounding of trumpets and feasting and of making a shout unto the Lord.  The Rabbis have corrupted the day and changed it into a mini day of atonement.  The day is seen as a solemn occasion, a day in which one should consider the sins of the past year and humble themselves.  It’s also a day when the prayer for blessings of the new year would be called upon then asked for.  The stone edition Tanach, commenting on this, states that “the shofar is a call to repentance.” (12) and perhaps the most respected and well renowned rabbi in Judaism, Maimonides, also known as Ramban, comments on the day saying:

“Awake you sleepers from your sleep and ponder over your deeds.  Remember your creator and return to him in contrition.  Be not of those who miss realities in their pursuit of shadows and waste their years in seeking after vain things which cannot profit or deliver.  Look well to your souls and consider your acts.  Forsake each of you his wrong ways and improper thoughts and return to God so that he may have mercy upon you.”  (13)

To further emphasize the point, the ten days from Yom Teruah to Yom Kippor are known in Judaism as “the days of awe” because one is compelled to look at their standing with Yahveh.

Certainly these are wonderful concepts, and there is definitely a theological place where one should consider their sins and repent/confess them before the Lord.  The time and  place for this, however, is on the Day of Atonement and not the Feast of Trumpets.  Yom TeRuah is biblically mandated to be a day of unspeakable joy with the blowing of the Shofar, the raising of the voice, the feasting and the calling to mind the great acts of salvation that Yahveh has done for us.  This was the error that Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites corrected when God’s chosen people returned from exile.  Presently, the Jewish people have lost sight of what the day is really about and focus more on their sinfulness and getting rid of sin in their own power, than on the Great Love and Compassion that God has for us.  Traditional Judaism has departed fro the concepts of the Feast found in the Torah.  The tragedy for the Jewish people is that they spend the day pining over their sin, hoping to secure God’s favor for the new year, and repenting of past sin. Again, this was the error of the returning exiles that the Jewish leadership of the day corrected.  It is time for the Jewish leadership of this day to do the same thing.  According to Torah, the feast is a day to rejoice in the mercy, grace, and the love that the Great God has toward us.  They miss the opportunity to experience God’s character which connects them to eternal joy.

Prophetic Outlook

The feast of Trumpets is symbolic of ushering in a time of great joy.  As was stated previously, Yom Teruah ushers in the holy season and a prophetic picture can be given to us by the three feasts in the seventh month.  What Yom Teruah prophetically symbolizes, is the return of Jesus.  There are two distinct places in scripture where this is noted.  Let us examine them each and discuss how they apply to the feast day.  The first is found in I Corinthians 15:52:

“in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The importance of this passage, as it relates to the Feast, is noted on two points.  First, is the Greek word used is the passage.  This word is the word “atomos.”  Commenting on this word, the Spirit-Filled life Bible states:

“  Strong’s #823: Compare “atomizer” and atomic. Uncut, indivisible, undissected, infinitely small.  The word is a compound of a, “un” and temnos, “to cut in two.”   When used of time, it represents an extremely short unit of time, a flash, an instant, a unit of time that cannot be divided.  A second can be calibrated to one-tenth, one one-hundredth, and one one-thousandth of a second.  But how do you calibrate an atomic second?  Christ’s return will be in an atomic second.” (14)

Hence, we see that no one, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, know the hour or the day of His return (Matt 24:36).  We are, therefore, commanded to “watch” and to “be ready”.  This is the same thing that takes place while waiting for the Feast of Trumpets.  The beginning of the seventh month takes place at the sighting of the new moon, the seventh New Moon of that year.  Nobody ever really knows the hour or the day when the New Moon will appear.  To be sure, we can see that the time is getting close by watching the phases of the moon, but we will not know the exact hour until it appears.  Likewise, we know the signs that Jesus gave us to mark His coming, but cannot know the exact day.  Therefore, we watch and we make ready for the Feast, and when it appears it will be a time of great rejoicing for the bride.

The return of Messiah in scripture is heralded, always, by the blowing of the Trumpet or Shofar.  Again, this is the prophetic fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets:
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.” (I Thessalonians 4:16 )
It would appear from this passage, the Lord Himself will be raising a “Teruah” on that great day as well.  Again, this releases a spiritual force.  Additionally, Yeshua describes the gathering of the elect with the blast of a Trumpet:
“And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:31).
Again, the gathering of the elect sounded with the trumpet blast.  It will be the final fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets when the Lord’s Shofar is sounded and He has taken off His priestly robes, put on His Kingly robes, and fulfilled the final prophecies concerning Him.

It will be at this point when the thousand year reign will begin, which is symbolic of the ten days between Yom Teruah and the Day of Atonement.  Satan will also be dealt with on the day that Yeshua returns.  After the thousand year reign would come the day of judgment which would be symbolic of the day of Atonement, the great white throne judgment as is mentioned in Rev 20.  Then four days after the day of Atonement would be the start of the Feast of the Tabernacles, symbolic of the new heavens and the new Jerusalem being established, and in fact Yahveh will now be tabernaceling among us.  As Isaiah says in the 66th chapter, “from new moon to new moon and from Sabbath to Sabbath we will worship before the Lord our God.”  After the tabernacleing and the setting up will come the wedding feast.  Traditionally, Jewish weddings lasted for seven days and tabernacles is a feast of seven days.  The eighth day would begin our life eternity with Yeshua.  Thus it is evident in the holy convocations, the rehearsals of ancient Israel, that one can see the eventual and prophetic fulfillment of the final acts of Messiah Yeshua.

One of the great travesties in the church is the loss of these feast days.  They are so rich in symbolism and teaching, not to mention the fact that they are commanded by God to observe, “throughout our generations.”  Let us, therefore, keep the feast of the Shofar, with great joy and remembrance of how much Yeshua has done in our lives.  Let us remember how He brought us out of the land of slavery to sin and set us free to live a life according to His Holy Standards.  Let us keep the feast with joy unspeakable, with one eye on the sky, watching and waiting on the day, when Jesus will fulfill the Feast of the Shofar.

Endnotes

1.  Avram Yehoshua, “Yom Teruah”, The Seed of Abraham Ministries,  http://www.seedofabraham.net.  Page:  1.

2.  Ibid.

3.  Todd Bentley,  The Reality of the Supernatural World, Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg PA, 2008, page 79.

4.  Todd Bentley, Journey Into the Miraculous, Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg PA, 2008, page 150.

5.  Dominick Zangla, Jewish Roots, Part One, Shofar and Prayer Shawl, Brunswick, GA MV Press, 1998, page 7.

6.  Earl Radmacher (general editor), The Nelson Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Nashville TN, 1997, page 798.

7.  Bill Johnson, Strengthen Yourself in the Lord,  Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg PA, 2008, page 136.

8.   Jamieson, Robert, Fausset, A. R. , Brown, David;  Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary,     Henerickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Mass.  2002; page 499.

9. Berlin, Adele; Zvi Brettler, Marc. (Editors), The New Jewish Study Bible, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York, 2004.  Page:  342.

10.   Rabbis Nosson Scherman and Meir Zlotowitz, Artscroll Mishnah Series, seder Moed III, Mesorah Publications, ltd.  Brooklyn New York, 1997, page 3.

11.  Yehoshua, page 17.

12. Nosson Sherman, (Editor), The Stone Edition Tanach, Artscroll Series, Mesorah Publishers. Ltd., Brooklyn, New York, 2003, page:  304.

13.  Good, Joseph, “Rosh HaShanah and the Messianic Kingdom to Come”, Hatikva Ministries, copyright    1989, 4th printing July 1991, page 51.

14. Hayford, Jack, , The Spirit filled Life Bible,  Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville TN, 1991.  Page (1745).

The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur

The Habitation of the Living God

In the opening scenes of the movie, The Fiddler on the Roof, the main character Tevye begins to explain the traditions of his Jewish village.  In the middle of his dissertation he says, “why do we do these things?  Because of tradition.  And why do we have these traditions? I will be happy to tell you… I don’t know.”  Like Tevye, many of us believe or go through religions motions or religions traditions without knowing the exact nature behind the Holy Day.  Many of us have read about the feast days in the bible only we have never embraced them as holy days to be observed.  The Day of Atonement is one of those days in scripture that has powerful implications if we will embrace it.  Thus, let us explore the history of the day, the Messianic fulfillment, and the practical application for the Christian.

God is a holy God (Isaiah 6:3).  He is so Holy that He can’t dwell in the presence of sin (see Numbers 5:13, 19:13,19,20).  This makes relationship with His Image-bearers strained and difficult.  Yet, His Love for humanity is so strong that He has developed principles by which He can continue to dwell among us.  The Day of Atonement is about those principles.  The foundation was laid in the Old Testament and Messiah brings fulfillment in the New Testament.  These principles, that are outlined in the Day of Atonement make possible the ultimate covering of sin by Messiah.  The Day of Atonement is a specific day, the tenth of the seventh month, in which God provided a release of the penalty of sin.  This release requires the shedding of blood and a sacrificial death must take place. ( see Lev 17:11)  A payment for sin must be paid for a Holy God to “cover it.”   A sacrifice is required for God to continue to dwell among His People.  Avram Yehoshua writes, “Sacrifice represents the penalty that God exacts for sin.  The animal dies but is a picture of what should happen to Israel.  Atonement happens on this day due to the sacrifice.” (1)   A Holy and Moral God must deal with sin.  If He turns His back on it, He would be immoral and unholy.  He would have to violate His character to overlook sin.  Because of who He is, His character will not afford un-holiness and immorality.  Therefore, in order for him to maintain trueness to his character and his nature, he must in fact deal with sin.  Therefore, the Lord came up with a plan to deal with sin.  Interestingly enough, it was not men who approached the Lord and asked for forgiveness for their sins.  It was not men who came to Mt. Sinai and said “what can we do to be in right relationship with you?  No, we didn’t choose God, God chose us.  And the Day of Atonement and the ultimate sacrifice of Yeshua His son were all God’s plans, they were all in His mind from the beginning so that we would have perfect relationship and perfect fellowship with him.  We didn’t ask for it, this is something that he gave to us.  All of this bespeaks of the love that God has for us.  His Great Love is evidenced in the fact that He Himself, set up a system to deal with sin, so we could maintain fellowship with Him, it was totally originated in Heaven.

This necessitates a response from those who receive His great Love and Sacrifice.  Our response is that of obedience driven out of a love for God and a heart that is turned fully toward Him.  This is what Yom Kipur is all about!  Intimacy and fellowship with God are the underlying themes of “The Day”.

Events of the Day

“The object of this solemn ceremonial was to impress the minds of the Israelites with the conviction that the whole tabernacle was stained by the sins of a guilty people, that by their sins they had forfeited the privileges of the Divine presence and worship, and that an atonement had to be made as the condition of God’s remaining with them.” (2)

All of the events of the Day centered around the High Priest.  He was the focal point of the day and he was the one who would intercede for Israel in the divine presence.  Likewise, Messiah would become our intercessor in the divine presence.  The bulk of his activities is listed in Leviticus 16.  The entire chapter is dedicated to his activities on this day.  The reader is referred to that chapter and a paraphrase and discussion of those activities is listed below.  The messianic symbolism of the day can’t be overlooked to any objective reader of scripture.

1.  The High Priest lives within the temple precincts for the entire week before the day.  He is maintained in the highest level of purity during this week.  He assumes the majority of priestly roles for the daily sacrifices.  It was extremely important for him to be prepared for the ministry of this day.  Interesting, that Messiah spent thirty years preparing Himself for a ministry of three years.

2.  On the morning of the Day of Atonement, the High Priest is prepared.  He goes to the courtyard for the ceremonial washing.  He removes his “royal robes”, and is dressed in a white tunic.  The motivation for this is Isaiah 1: 18 which states, “Though your sins are scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…”  These are also the normal uniforms of the regular priest.  Again, we see the High Priest humble himself, remove his royal robes, and become a servant to intercede for the people.  Sound like anyone else in the bible?  Jesus laid aside His Divinity, to become a man, to serve us, to willingly go to the cross because of His Great Love for us.  (Phillipians 2:5-11)

3.  Once prepared, He goes and sacrifices the bull, at the alter of burnt offerings, to make atonement for himself and his household.  He lays his hands on the bull and confesses his sins and the sins of the priesthood and the bull becomes his sacrifice providing the covering of sin.  Likewise, Messiah knew no sin, but became a sin offering for us.  (2 Corinthians 5:21).

4.  Having now obtained atonement for his sin, he is permitted to go behind the veil and into the Holy of Holies, the dwelling place of God.  This is only permitted once sin is forgiven.  Perhaps, this is the reason why Aaron’s two sons died upon the dedication of the tabernacle, see Leviticus 10:1 for details.  He offers the incense offering and the cloud covers the ark, or the mercy seat, or the dwelling place of God.  Then, he sprinkles the blood of the bull in the holy place.

5.  Now, he returns from the holy place, and two goats are brought to him.  They cast lots for the goats.  One is to be sacrificed on behalf of Israel, and the other is to be sent into the wilderness (more on the scapegoat later).  Once the lot is determined, the goat for the sins of Israel is killed after laying on of hands and the confession of the sins of Israel..

6.  The High Priest returns behind the veil and sprinkles the blood of the goat in the Holy of Holies.  Thus he has atoned for Israel after having atoned for himself.  Again, tremendous Messianic parallels that we will discuss later.

7.  He goes out into the courtyard and lays hands on the live goat.  He confesses the sins of Israel over the goat and the goat is taken away alive and sent of into the wilderness.  Thus, the goat carries the sins of Israel far from them and separates Israel from their sins.  Likewise, Messiah has removed our sins from us.  A later tradition developed in Judaism in which a scarlet cord was tied around the horn of the scapegoat.  This goat was later pushed off a cliff outside of Jerusalem and killed.  If the scarlet turned white, sins were forgiven.  Tradition maintains that for forty years after the death of Messiah, the cord remained scarlet and led up to the eventual destruction of the Temple in AD 70.

8.  The high priest enters the holy place and removes his special servant garments, washes and puts on His regular garments.

9.  As a final sacrifice he went out to the great alter and offered a ram as a burnt offering for himself and another ram for the people.

The Scapegoat

The scapegoat is an interesting item in the ceremony.  All of the sins of Israel are confessed over the head of the animal; thus, transferring the sins of Israel onto the goat.  The goat is then lead away to “Azazel”.  Much controversy has arisen over the exact meaning of this word and it is most often translated wilderness in contemporary translations.  As one writer suggest, “Some debate exists as to the exact meaning of Azazel.  Some believe it was a reference to satan, for in Jewish traditions Azazel was the name of a fallen angel.  However, most scholars believe that the word was derived from the Hebrew word azel which carries the idea of escape. This line of thought led to calling this goat the ‘scapegoat’ since it escaped death and was instead driven into the wilderness.” (3)  The other school of thought seems to make more spiritual sense especially in light of the events of the day.  Keil and Delitzsch write, “This complete deliverance from sin and its author was symbolized in the leading away of the goat, which had been laden with the sins, into the desert.  The goat was to take back the sins, which God had forgiven to His congregation, into the desert to Azazel, the father of all sin, in the one hand as a proof that his evil influences upon men would be of no avail in the case of those who had received expiation from God, and on the other hand as a proof to the congregation also that those who were laden with sin could not remain in the kingdom of God, but would be banished to the abode of evil spirits, unless they were redeemed there from.” (4)  The Intervarsity Press commentary states, “It is most consistent to consider Azazel a proper name, probably of a demon.  Early Jewish interpreters had this understanding, as is demonstrated in the book of Enoch (second century B.C.).  this goat is not sacrificed to Azazel (consistent with 17:7) but released ‘to Azazel’.” (5)  When we sin, we agree with satan in rebellion against God.  Thus, a covenant of rebellion is formed against God.  When we repent, the old covenant with death is broken (Isaiah 28:15 &19) and a covenant with God is established.  Thus, the symbolic events of the day are repackaging all the sins of the past year and returning them to their originator marked “return to sender” with no forwarding address. (see Psalm 103: 10-12).

The Messianic fulfillment

“But just as with the tabernacle and the sacrificial system, so too the Day of Atonement contained only the shadow of future good things, but not these things themselves (Heb 10:1).  Its intrinsic limitations are manifest, both in the repetitiveness of it numerous atoning acts and by it recurrence year after year (Hebrews 7:27).  Yom Kippur was an acted prophecy or type of Christ, who has entered into the holy place not made with hands, viz., into heaven itself, and has now appeared before God, by once for all giving Himself as a sacrifice for the removal of sin (Heb 9;23).  Like the first goat, burned out side the camp, he died outside the walls of Jerusalem for us (Heb 13:12) and like the second, the scapegoat, He suffered substitutionary condemnation, sending sin back to its demonic author and abrogating satan’s claims over the fullness of Israel (I john 3:8).  By this act, the purpose of the OT sacrificial worship in its highest development (the Day of Atonement) has been fulfilled. (6)

The kingdom principles that were laid down in the Day of Atonement, made possible the ultimate fulfillment of Messiah destiny.  God realized that something more was necessary than the rituals contained in Yom Kippur.  It is impossible for “the blood of bulls and goats” (Hebrews 9”12-13) to change our selfish and sinful nature into a new servant Christ-like nature..  Furthermore, because the ceremony had to be repeated year after year, it allowed no room for spiritual progress.  Something else was required for this type of result.  It was the sacrifice of Messiah Himself that would open the door for the dwelling place of God to come into the hearts of men.  A better covenant was needed.  Jesus is the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.  The bible states:

“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands that is, not of this creation.  Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience form dead works to serve the liming God?” (Hebrews 9:11-14 NKJV)

Thus, Messiah fulfills all the kingdom principles outlined in the Day of Atonement.  When Jesus spoke, “it is finished” (John 19:30), and the veil in the temple, the same veil that the High Priest went through on this day, tore into (Matthew 27:51), the presence and the dwelling place of God became the hearts of men.  No longer did it have to be contained within tabernacles and temples because of the sin problem.  The veil tore in two because the presence of God was bursting to get out and once the sin was removed by Messiah, the presence of God exploded out of the Holy of Holies!  God is so motivated by the Great love that He has for us that Jesus willingly came, endured all that torment, pain, and affliction so that we could have fellowship with Him.  The Bible states.

“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this the love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the  propitiation for our sin,” (I John 4:9-10).

What else can be said about this?  The only response to such love is to open one’s heart and receive all that God has purchased for us.  His very presence and everlasting intimacy with Him.  John G. Lake writes, “God has been seeking a habitation a long time.  God found a habitation in Jesus Christ, and He became the dwelling place of God.  Christ’s purpose for the world was that men like Himself should become the dwelling place of god.  It was not purposed that Jesus Christ was to be  a particular or special dwelling place of God.  It was rather purposed that mankind should be just as much a holy and desirable dwelling place of God as Jesus Himself was.  The purpose of the Gospel of God was that through Jesus Christ His Son, many sons should be begotten of God, would be begotten of Christ.” (7)

The Current Observation of the Day

Leviticus 23:27:  “Also the tenth day of the seventh month shall be the Day of atonement.  It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, an offer an offering by fire to the LORD.” (NKJV).

In Leviticus 16:29, God commands that this day is a “statute forever”.  This means that it was God’s intention for us to continue to celebrate the Day. What is to be done if Jesus has fulfilled the requirements?  First, this is a day of confession and repentance of sin.  A day to re-align our hearts with God.  A day for  breaking off covenants with the demonic and the sin that so easily ensnares us. (Hebrews 12:1).  It is a time when we, in humility, remember that we are “saved by grace through faith and not of works” (Eph 2:8).  A day to remember all the love that God has for us and that we also reciprocate towards Him.  Additionally, there is still a powerful role, that we fulfill in the scriptures and in the fulfillment of this day.  In the role of priests, and intercessors.  Our role in this day has powerful implications

This day God has chosen to be a holy convocation.  A convocation in Hebrew can best be described as a gathering of the ‘called out’ ones.  A holy convocation, the holy and chosen people of God, a royal priesthood, a nation of priest and prophets, all of the called out and holy people, are commanded by God to gather on this specific day.  To come together in unity (See Psalm 133).  What does God command this chosen people to do?  To Afflict one’s soul.  Noah Webster defines afflict as, “To give to the body or mind pain which is continued or of some permanence.” (8)  Traditionally, this has always been seen as fasting.  Basically it has this idea:  If sin is the willful taking of that which is unlawful, affliction (fasting) is the willful giving up of that which is lawful for the sake of consecration.  It is a sacrifice of what is lawful for the sake of the call.  This has tremendous power in the Kingdom of God because it is just like Jesus.  He was God and put on flesh, becoming a servant for us.  Hence, when God’s people humble themselves and afflict themselves they identify with the nature of Jesus, and this moves in power.  What we have so far is this, a specific scripture day, when all of the called out ones are commanded by God to gather and fast.

Now, what are these holy and called out people to do while they are fasting?  Well, Aaron is commanded to offer an incense offering before the mercy seat, “lest he die” (see Lev 16:13).  Incense, scripture tells us in heaven, is seen as the prayers of the saints (Rev 8:4).  So, the called out ones who are afflicting their souls are to pray and the incense offering will go up before the throne of God and prevent death.  We are a royal priesthood, Peter tells us this and this has been God’s plan all along for His called out ones( I Peter 2:9, Exodus 19:6), we minister to the LORD through prayer and fasting (Acts 13:1-3), so, on this particular day, which has been commanded to be a statue forever in three different places (Lev 16:29, 16:31, and 23:31), we are commanded to gather, to fast, to pray, to intercede, and sprinkle the blood of Jesus over our nation, so that the presence of the Spirit can begin to move like never before.  In fact, the New Testament believers called this day, “The Fast”. (Acts 27:9).  They knew it was a special consecrated day, for believers to confess, repent, fast, pray, make sacrifice, that will advance the kingdom of God.  (see Isaiah 58 for Godly instructions on fasting)

As we fast for the advancement of the kingdom, we become more like Yeshua (Mark 9:29).  The putting aside of self and the indulgence of the flesh is one thing, and a necessary thing, for walking in the Spiritual.  However, it is at another level to give up even what is lawful for one to have.  This is the whole basis of fasting which is the opposite of sin.  As stated previously,  sin is taking that which is not lawful, fasting, is a willful giving up of that which is lawful.  It is the sacrifice that makes the difference, this is the heart of Yeshua, the offering of self.  This sacrifice, be it fasting, be it lifestyle, be it finances, or whatever is lawful that someone is giving up, is a powerful force in moving the forces of heaven.  This is the basic premise of any apostolic work or any missionary work and we see it in so many stories throughout church history and in the life of Paul and the apostles.   The laying aside of what is lawful for the sake of the call.  It’s the cross, it is this level of self imposed sacrifice that moves the kingdom.  All intercessory prayer and fasting is based upon this premise.  It is a basic commonality in all types of ministry that are going to be Spirit empowered. Lou Engle’s “The Call” comes close to this type of kingdom activity.

Let’s fulfill the commandment of the “Fast”.  Let the Body of Christ gather together, a holy convocation, a gathering.  Let us fast and prayer with a  heart that is motivated out of a love for God and for the advancement of His Kingdom.  This obedience out of love always moves the heart of God.  He guarantees us action, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Endnotes

1.  Avram Yehoshua, “Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, article on website, http://www.seedofabraham.net.  Page 1.

2.  Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody Mass., second printing, vol. I,  page 479.

3.  Kevin Howard, Marvin Rosenthal, The Feasts of the LORD, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1997, page 123.

4.  C.F. Keil, F Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament,  Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Mass.  Second printing, 2006  Volume one,  page 590.

5.  John H Walton, Victor H Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, Old Testament,  InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill, 2000, page 131.

6.  Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.  1979, page 362.

7.  Liardon, Roberts, John G. Lake, The Complete Collection of His Life Teachings,  Albury Publishing, Tulsa OK,  1999  page 767.

8.  Webster Noah, American Dictionary of the English Language 1828 edition, San Francisco, CA, Foundation for American Christian Education, 2006.

The Feast of Tabernacles

The Feast of Tabernacles

“Blow the Trumpet at the time of the New Moon, at the Full Moon, on our solemn feast day.  For this is a statute for Israel, a Law of the God of Jacob.”  (Psalm 81)

The rabbis used to say that one had never seen or experienced joy until they experienced the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.  This extremely joyful time is celebrated in the month of Tishri (A), at time of the full moon.  The rabbis would say that the month had to come to its fullest so that all of creation could worship God during the Feast of Tabernacles. Joy is commanded during the feast, and is the central theme of the Feast.  Scripture states, “And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the father less, and the widow, who are within your gates.  Seven days you shall keep the feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.”  (Duet 16:14-15 emphasis added for clarity).  Yes, mandatory fun from heaven.  God is so good that he doesn’t just ask you to generate your own sense of joy.  He prepares the way and actually blesses us and give us something to be joyful about.  Indeed, in one of the biblical references to the concluding day of the feast under the reign of Solomon is described as, “He (Solomon) sent the people away to their tents, joyful and glad of heart for the good that the Lord had done for David, for Solomon, and for His people Israel.” (2 Chron 7: 10 parenthetical note added for clarity)

Tabernacles, affectionately known as “The Feast”, is one of the three holy convocations that occur during the regular biblical calendar.  (Duet. 16:16-17)  These gatherings are Biblically described by the word “miqra.”  It is roughly translated “a gathering of the called out ones” and can also be translated as a “rehearsal”.(3)  This later definition provides us with a prophetic element to the feast that has both an immediate and future fulfillment while the former definition provides the backdrop for the joyous occasion.  Additionally, tabernacles takes place during the time of the fall harvest of crops, which further denotes it as a time of festivity and gratefulness to the Yahveh Yireh (The  Lord who provides. Genesis 22:14)

(A.) Tishri is the seventh month out of the year, and it is considered the most holy of months.  On its New Moon, the feast of Trumpets is celebrated.   Ten days later, the day of Atonement occurs with prayer and fasting.  Lastly, the greatest of all the fall feast occurs, the Feast of Tabernacles.  The Hebrew term is “sukkot”, which is translated as “tabernacle, or tent, or booth,”(1) “refers to a hut made of wattled twigs or branches.  In countries where trees are abundant such wattled structures are common as temporary buildings as they can be constructed in a very short time.  The booths, which were simple shelters made of interlaced branches were the people’s living quarters during the festival.” (2)  The weather in Israel in the fall is perfect with very little temperature changes from day to night, around 80 in the day and 70 at night which allows for comfortable outdoor living.

The Feast lasts eight days (Lev 23:33-36, Duet 16:13-17).  The first and the last days are celebrated as types of Sabbaths where customary and laborious work is forbidden.  These are the days of worshipful gatherings.  During these gatherings, followers of God are commanded to worship the Lord with objects known as “the four species.”  Scripture describes it this way, “And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.” (Lev 23:40)  The orthodox rabbis define these as, “The esrog (fruit/esrog) resembles the heart, the lulav (Palm branches) the spine, the boughs of leafy trees resemble the eyes, and the willows resemble the lips.  By holding all four together, we symbolize the need for a person to utilize all his faculties in the service of God.” (4)  Thus, worship during this feast calls for the consecration of the entire believer to worship is “spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)

The Bible describes this feast with the Hebrew phrase, “Chuqqat L’Olam” which translates to “a statue forever” (Lev 23:41).  This phraseology lends little ambiguity as to God’s intention regarding the Feast.  It was something that was that was to be kept and practiced, rehearsed, from generation to generation.

The purpose of dwelling in booths

“All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may now that I made the children of Israel swell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt:  I am the Lord your God.”  (Lev 23:42-43)

Paul writes, “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea…Now these things became our examples to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted…Now all these things happened to them as examples and they were written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”  (I Cor 10:1-11).  Here Paul tells us that the things which happened to the children of Israel were written for our benefit, so that they might be a memorial to us. Biblical memorials are alive and remind us of the past actions of God.  This builds present day faith, because what the God, who changes not, has done in the past, is what He will do again in the future.  To remember the mighty acts of God is to build faith in what God is going to do in the future.  Paul is telling us that the biblical accounts  of the Old Testament were written for us, so that we could remember the ways that God interacted with His people, and the way He will continue to interact with us.  Tabernacles is a profound example of what God wants to do in the future and what He wants to do while we keep this feast.

Exodus 33 records God dwelling with a nation for the first time in history.  During this period when Israel was living in tabernacles (booths), God was with them as a “cloud by day and a fire by night.” (Ex 13:21-22)  In fact, this scripture emphatically states that, “He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.”  (Ex 13:22)  This gives us some insight into the heart of God.  God has desired to dwell among people.  He wants to be with us.  It is His desire to “tabernacle” (dwell with) us .  This was the lesson and the promise He made to Israel, that He would make them “a nation of priests”(Exodus 19:6)  In the new covenant, Peter writes the same thing, that we are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9)  Christians are a holy priesthood who minister to God and His desire is to tabernacle with His people.  This is to be remembered and experienced through the Feast.

It also reminds us of the dependency that is necessary for the supernatural provision of God.  God was with the Children of Israel and He provided for all of their needs.  He provided food from heaven, water from rocks and clothing that never wore out..  Tabernacles reminds us of our calling to worship God from our calling as priests, and to place ourselves in a position of dependency upon Him to meet all of our needs.

The Progression of God’s Dwelling Place

The dwelling place of God is intimately tied into the Feast of Tabernacles.  It is one of the things God wants us to remember during the feast.  As the biblical narrative unfolds, some interesting points appear as the connection between where God lives and the Feast of Tabernacles becomes increasingly clear.

David desired to build a temple for God so the Divine Presence didn’t have to live in a tent or a tabernacle.  God told David that he could not do this but his son Solomon would build the temple.  Interestingly enough, Solomon finished building the temple at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.  The Temple was dedicated to God during this Feast.  (I Kings 7 & 2 Chronicles 5)  Again, the glory cloud (Shekinah glory) filled the temple.  The same cloud that lived in the tent now lived in the temple.  Sadly, Israel and Judah fell into apostasy and went into exile leaving the temple and the land desolate for 70 years.  However, God did leave a prophecy that the people would return to the land. (Jeremiah 25:11-12)

Seventy years later, a priest named Ezra leads the people back  to Jerusalem and clears out and restores the temple.  Can guess when the regular sacrifices and worship were restored?  Yes, during the Feast of Tabernacles.  (Ezra 3 Nehemiah 8:13 )  As the Old Testament period begins to wind down, God gives us a prophecy about the temple and the dwelling place of God.  During the time of the rebuilding of the temple, a prophet named Haggai (whose name is derived from the Hebrew “Hag”  which means feast) gives a prophetic word that comes on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles.  So, during the feast, Haggai gives this prophecy, “The glory of the latter temple shall be greater than the glory of the former temple.” (Haggai 2:9)  This word finds its fulfillment in this, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  (John 1: 14)  The dwelling place of God had progressed from the tabernacle, to the temple, and then, into a man.  The second Adam who was begotten of God.  Jesus the Messiah, was the dwelling place and the temple of God.  In fact, He describes His body as a temple. (John 2:19)  The temple is were God tabernacles or dwells.  With the coming of the Holy Spirit, anther progression is evident.

Paul describes the New testament believer as the “temple of God.” (I Cor 6:19)  That we now are the actual housing of the presence of God.  Haggai’s word has the prophetic fulfillment that the glory of the latter temple, Jesus and the New Testament believer, is greater than the glory of the former temple, the temple is Jerusalem.  The Body of Christ, His holy priesthood and building, is a greater glory and a greater outreach of and for God, than any building in Jerusalem no matter how ornate.  Tabernacles celebrates this progression of the dwelling place of God.  As John G. Lake writes, “God and man become one.  The heart of man, the mind of man, the soul of man enter into God and God into him.  The divine fires of the eternal Christ, by the Holy Ghost, come from heaven, and the lightings of Jesus flash through the life, bless God, and the powers of Christ invigorate and manifest and demonstrate through that relationship.” (5)

The final fulfillment of the Feast of tabernacles and the dwelling place of God we find in the closing chapters of the book of Revelation.  John has a vision of the New Jerusalem descending from heaven.  Here is how the voice from heaven describes the ultimate fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles, “ Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.” (Rev 21:3)  During Tabernacles, we look forward to the time when all of eternity will be a tabernacle with God.  This is expressed by the prophet Isaiah in his vision of the millennial reign.   He speaks, “Then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night, for over all the glory there will be a covering.” (Isaiah 4:5)  Remember that the cloud by day and fire by night that was with the children of Israel in the desert only rested above the tabernacle of the meeting, but in the millennium, it remains above every dwelling and above every gathering place.  The Glory of the Lord shall rest upon us all.  This what we celebrate, pray for, and anticipate during tabernacles.  This is the essence of revival.

Tabernacles at the time of Jesus

The New Testament verifies that Jesus kept the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.  (John 7-8).  Scripture tells us that on the last day of the feast Jesus stood in the temple and shouted, “If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit…“ (John 7:37-39)  This statement is awesome enough on its own.  However, when one understands the backdrop against which this statement is made, it becomes even more impressive.  That backdrop is a water libation offering.

“Throughout the seven days of the festival a special priest carries water in a gold pitcher from the Pool of Siloam to be put into a basin at the foot of the alter by the high priest.  It symbolized prayer for rain which begins on the next day, on Sh’mini Atzeret (the eighth day), and pointed toward the outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) on the people of Israel.” ([6] parenthetical notes added for clarity)  This ceremony is considered one of the most joyful in all of the feast.  It is noted in the Talmud and the Encyclopedia Judica, as a “time of religious joy were the worshippers draw true inspiration from the Holy Spirit. (7)  The last day of the feast, or the eighth day, was the culmination of the joyful festivities.  On this day, during the ceremony the Great Hallel was sung, which is also called “The Great Hosanna.”  It consisted of the Psalms 113-118 with the concluding passages are “Save now, I pray, O Lord (Hebrew is Hosanna) O Lord, I pray send now prosperity, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 188:25-26)  Here is the sequence of events for this ceremony.  The priest would leave the temple out of the Fountain Gate and make his way toward the pool of Siloam.  (Incidentally, Siloam means “sent one”  or the pool of the sent one, or the pool is sent, it was constructed during Hezekiah’s time which does explain the name in light of the biblical narrative relating to Hezekiah.  Also, this is the pool which the “angel” stirs in John 5 that brings healing.  There was a supernatural presence to this pool both symbolically, as representing Messiah, the sent one from God, and physically, as it waters yielded healing when stirred by the angel)  Crowds would gather, with the four species in hand, particularly the lulav (or palm branch), and a joyful procession would follow the priest down to the pool.  He would fill his pitcher and return to the Temple.  By this time, large crowds had gathered and the High Priest would emerge to the cheers of the people. The worship and prayers to God would be accompanied by the waving of the lulav or the palm branches. The High Priest would encircle the alter seven times and upon each circle the roar of the crowd would grow larger.  The chanting of the Great Hosanna, prayers for rain and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit were all shouted at the same time as worshippers waved large palm lulav toward the alter.  After the seventh lap, the High Priest would pour the water at the base of the alter as the cheering crowd watched him raise his arm to the full extent indicating that all of the water had been poured out.  It is against this backdrop that Jesus makes the aforementioned statements.  As Alfred Edersheim notes, “The pouring of the water was immediately followed by the chanting of the Hallel.  But after that there must have been a short pause to prepare for the festive sacrifices.  It was then, immediately after the symbolic rite of water pouring, immediately after the people had responded by repeating those lines from Psalm 118, and prayed that Jehovah would send salvation and prosperity, and had shaken their lulav toward the alter, that there rose so loud as to be heard throughout the Temple, the Voice of Jesus…At the close of the most solemn rites of the feast, asserting, within the hearing of all, His claim to be regarded as the fulfillment of all, and the true Messiah.” (8)

Shortly after the aforementioned events, Jesus makes the following statement, “I am the light of the world,  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life,”  (John 8:12)  Again, a very powerful statement, but when understood against the backdrop of the ceremonies of Tabernacles, it becomes more impressive.  Beginning on the second night of the Feast, large crowds would gather into the “Court of the Woman” in the temple precincts.  Seven very large menorahs were brought out and lit in the evening.  The Levites would bring out the temple instruments and worship would take place as priest danced before the Lord with torches and as the Levites led the people in worship. (9)  With the full moon and the seven menorahs, every courtyard in Jerusalem was said to be well lit.  Light, in both Jewish literature and in scripture, is symbolic of Messiah.  Therefore, Jesus meaning could not be mistaken that He was claiming again, His Messiahship and alluding to the fact, that, those who followed Him would not walk in darkness, but would be in the light, just as every courtyard in Jerusalem was in the light during the Feast of Tabernacles.

70 bulls and the Gentiles?

In Numbers 29, God commands the children of Israel to sacrifice many sacrifices during the Feast.  The sacrifices begin with large numbers and move to decreasingly smaller numbers (Numbers 29:12-39).  No reason is given for the sacrifices but the rabbis give us an interesting interpretation.  Rabbi Eleazar states, “To what do those seventy bullocks (that were offered during the seven days of the Festival) correspond?  To the seventy nations.  To what does the single bullock (Of the Eight day) correspond?  To the unique nation.(10)  Assuming the Rabbi Eleazar is correct in his symbolism, this paints a beautiful picture of the nations of the world uniting with Israel for unified worship before their God.  One common body, worshiping their Creator, as the apostle Paul writes, “one new man from the two.” ( Ephesians 2: 15)

Shadows of tabernacles in the New Testament

The Triumphal Entry

At the time of Jesus entry into Jerusalem prior to His crucifixion, the disciples begin to through palm branches onto the road and to shout, “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Matthew 21:1-11)  Does any of this sound familiar?  Exactly, it is the same event that is described during the temple services that we described above.  What were the disciples and the people really claiming about Him.  That He was in fact the fulfillment of Tabernacles and that God was now dwelling among men.  Proof responds, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”(Luke 19:40)  Thus claiming His Messiahship as the only true one there who was worthy of such worship.   The scribes and the Pharisees recognized it as worship and were astounded that Jesus would receive it.  Proving that Jesus was either a crazed religious fanatic or the actual fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles.   This event happens prior to the Passover, but its rich symbolism from the Feast of Tabernacles must not be missed.  It has evolved into the modern church holiday known as Palm Sunday.  Perhaps it should be recognized as Lulav Sunday.

The Transfiguration on the Mount

“Surely I say to you that there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man in His Kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28)

Shortly after making this statement, Jesus takes three disciples onto the mountain.  Right before their eyes, He is transfigured into His Glory.  Moses and Elijah show up and begin to discuss his “exodus” (for so it reads in the Greek).  Peter, although misguided,  recognizes the significance of these three individual standing together, the fulfillment of Tabernacles.  Thus he states, “Let us make here three tabernacles, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”(Matthew 17:4)  Although He was mistaken, he gives us another key insight into the prophetic significance of this holy day.

The Feast continues into the Millennium

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up for year to year to worship the King, the Lord of host, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.  And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, on them there will be no rain.  If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain, they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”  (Zechariah 14:16-18)

In the preceding verses, Zechariah describes a scene where the nations of the world have gathered against Jerusalem, and then, “And in that day, His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which faces Jerusalem on the east.” (Zechariah 14:4)  This is the second coming of Messiah, as the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown commentary notes, “The place of His departure at His ascension, shall be the place of His return, and the manner of His return also shall be similar (Acts 1:11) …This was the scene of His agony, so it shall be the scene of His Glory.” (11)  Even so, tabernacle among us and inside of us, Oh Lord.

The worshipers at Tabernacles prayed for literal rain, and they prayed for symbolic Holy Spirit rain.  They believed they were going to receive both types.  Interesting that the plague on the heathen nations will be the absence of rain.  Famine, both spiritually and physically.  This is a plague.  It would appear that other nations of the world are going to be left after the return of Messiah and the inauguration of the millennial reign.  This nations will be required to come to Jerusalem and acknowledge the Kingship of Messiah.  What better time to recognize His Kingship than the Feast of Tabernacles!

Endnotes

**All scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version  of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Nashville, TN.**

1.  Strong, James,  The Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible,   Thomas Nelson Publishing, Nashville, TN  1995, Strong’s number 5521.

2.  Bromiley, Geoffrey, The International Standrd Bible Encyclopedia,  Eerdmans Publishing Co, Grand Rapids, MI, 1979,  page 535.

3.  Strongs, number 4744.

4.  Scherman, Nosson Rabbi, The Stone Edition Tanach,  Mesorah Publications, ltd,  Brooklyn New York,  2003, page 305.

5.  Liardon, Roberts, John G. Lake The Complete Collection of His life Teachings, Albury Publishing, Tulsa, OK, 1999, page 462.

6.  Stern, David, The Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, Clarsville, Maryland, 1992, page 179.

7.  Jerusalem Talmud, Sukkot 5:1, and Encyclopedia Judaica 14:365.

8.  Edersheim, Alfred, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Hendrickson Publishing, 1993 Page 584-585.

9.  The Talmud, Sukkah 5: 2-4)

10.  Sukkah 55 from the Talmud as quoted in:  Nadler, Sam, The Feasts of Israel, Word of Messiah ministries, 2002, page 142.

11.  Jamieson, Robert; Faussett, A.R.; Brown, David, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Hendrickson Publishing