Category Archives: Feasts of YHVH

Let all Creation Praise YHVH !

every-created-thingI have often marveled at Psalm 148 that speaks about everything and everyone in Heaven and on the Earth praising the LORD [YHVH].  We know that our LORD God [Yehovah Elohim] created everything in the universe with His spoken Word.  We also know that the Living Word (Yeshua) was there at the beginning participating in every aspect of Creation (John 1:3).

It is not so amazing that people praise YHVH, since He created us to praise and glorify Him.  He says in Isaiah 43:7 when speaking about His people: “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory…”.  In I Chronicles 16:29, David says in his song of praise to YHVH: “Give to the LORD the glory due His name…Worship the LORD in His holy splendor.”  The beautiful thing about glorifying God is that it brings the greatest joy to our hearts because that’s how YHVH created us.  C.S. Lewis once said: “In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him”.   All through Psalm 16, David talks about praising and glorifying God, and then in Verse 11 He says: “You show me the path of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever”.

If we literally believe that “everything that has breath praises YHVH” (Psalm 150:6), then we can look around us and listen to all the voices of God’s creatures.  We are all familiar with the beautiful songs of the birds of the air.  There are also other less familiar voices that are beautifully expressed in the animal world.  Experts say that Fin whales can hear the bleeps of other fin whales from more than 500 miles away, and under the right conditions, Blue whales can hear each other from over 1,000 miles away!

Humpback whales are famous for singing songs that can last up to 30 minutes. They sing in rhyme, and the songs can be heard by other whales. The songs are passed along in the water so that an entire ocean may have all the humpback whales singing the exact same song at the same time—a kind of great whale choir.  How incredible is our God who created these amazing sea creatures, and how incredible is the sound of their praises sung to their Creator!

Any of us who have children (and we ourselves are children of our parents of course), know that when children praise and respect their parents, their relationship is strengthened and there is much greater joy and peace in the household.  In the same way, the right response from us toward God is praise because He deserves it.  When we show our love for YHVH by praising Him, we fulfill the purpose for which YHVH created us.  When we fulfill this purpose, we experience the greatest possible joy—God is pleased, our relationship with Him is enhanced, and He has received what He deserves.

What is even more incredible to me is that all of Creation is praising YHVH (from Psalm 148:1-8): “…His angels; His heavenly army (recall that Yeshua is the LORD of Heaven’s armies); the sun and the moon; all the shining stars (and scientists know that the stars “sing”); the highest heaven of the heavens; the waters above the heavens; the Earth; large sea creatures and the ocean depths; lightning and hail; snow and fog; strong winds that obey His commands; mountains and all hills; fruit trees and all cedars; wild and domestic animals; crawling animals and birds”.  Verse 13 sums up the whole Psalm by saying: “All creation, come praise the name of the Lord. Praise His name alone”.

Fortunately for us, YHVH’s command to praise Him and glorify His Name is not difficult to follow, for when we truly love Him, our praise will flow naturally from that love.  Start praising Him and rejoicing in His name today in this season of joy (Sukkot) and you will experience the greatest joy possible in His presence.

Healing Our Souls

the-righteous-personYHVH tells us in His Word that He is our Healer (Ex 15:26, Ps 103:1-5; Is 53:4-5).  We know through the sacrifice of Yeshua we can be set free from sin.   And that would have been enough, but Dayenu!  We have a God who always does more.  He heals our bodies and souls completely!  Today, let us focus on healing for our soul wounds.

We all have them.  Some are just under the surface and others are buried deep within us.  It is nearly impossible to reside in this fallen world and remain unscathed.  However, it is up to us whether or not we will remain injured and broken.  It is possible for YHVH to heal  all our soul wounds if we are willing to cooperate with Him. This is often easier said than done, but well worth the effort.

What are soul wounds?  Our souls are made up of mind, will, and emotions.  Many types of wrongs can damage to our souls.  In many societies, we feel pressured to bury emotional  pain and proceed as if nothing happened.  Over time, some hurts get buried deep for so long that we seem to forget about them.  Isn’t it best to forget and move on?  It is best to forgive and move on, but it is also necessary to take the time to work on healing the soul wounds that often remain.  We must not confuse forgiving others with healing the wounds they have inflicted.  The two are separate although closely connected.

Just as untended flesh wounds get worse and cause complications, so do untended soul wounds fester within us.  Fear, anger, bitterness, resentment, rejection, pain, or guilt must be dealt with properly.  Holding onto such burdens slows us down and weakens our relationships with YHVH and others.  We build walls or strongholds to “protect” ourselves from being hurt again.  However, the strongholds do not guarantee that we will be safe from future harm;  they actually imprison us, making us more vulnerable to our enemies.

YHVH is aware of all our injuries and promises in His word to restore us to perfect wholeness (shalom).  Let us examine some of YHVH’s promises.

Fear, anxietyPeace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27).

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (Rom 7:15-16)

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Tim 1:7).

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Heb 13:6)

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Is 41:10).

Anger, bitterness, resentment:  [YHVH] will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Ex. 14:14)

In your anger do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not give the devil a foothold.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  (Eph 4: 26-27, 31)

Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you (Prov 20:22).

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes (1 John 2:9-11).

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Pet 5:10).

Loss, mourning, rejection: When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken (Ps. 34:17-20)

 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Ps. 147:3).

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, (Ps. 20:11)

Sin, guiltTherefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16).

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Ps. 51:10).

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1).

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (Heb 8:12)

But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:9-11)

How can we cooperate with YHVH to make ourselves whole again?  First, we need to examine ourselves and ask the Holy Spirit to bring soul wounds to our attention.  Next, we take our wounds and lay them at the feet of Yeshua.  Then, we ask YHVH to heal our wounds according to His promises.  We meditate on His promises until they become not mere words, but reality for us.  Healing of soul wounds can lead to physical healing.

Only when we are made whole do we reach the full potential YHVH has planned for us.  During these ten days of awe, let us seek YHVH’s help in examining and healing our souls.

Yom Teruah helps us Remember and Rehearse

yom-teruahWhen we talk about YHVH’s feasts or festivals, we sometimes think of big celebrations with lots of festive foods along with family and friends.  Although some of YHVH’s feasts are meant to be joyous celebrations (such as Sukkot – the Feast of Tabernacles), others are meant to be more somber and introspective.  Yom Teruah (literally the “feast of the blowing of trumpets (shofarot)”) is a combination of both joyous and somber emotions.  In a previous blog (When Yeshua Returns), we have already dealt with the misconception that Yom Teruah is actually the Jewish new year, or what is called Rosh Hashanah (literally “the head of the year”).  Yom Teruah marks the beginning of the seventh month on God’s calendar, so by definition it cannot be the start of the year.

The Hebrew word used most often for YHVH’s feast days in the Scriptures is Mo’ed (feast) or Mo’edim (feasts plural).  However, this word is much better translated as “appointment” or more accurately “divine appointment”.  YHVH meant for these appointments to be holy (set-apart) times on His calendar to meet with Him.  They were also called “Holy Convocations”, which in the Hebrew is Miqra, meaning an “assembly” but also a “Dress Rehearsal”.

Whenever one of YHVH’s divine appointments arrives, we are supposed to look back and remember something that God has done for us in the past, but we are also supposed to look forward to what He will do in the future.  In His Mo’edim, God has essentially given us a “roadmap” of the most important events in human history.  Leviticus 23:24 describes Yom Teruah in this way: “In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation (rehearsal)”.  Where it says “memorial” in this verse, another name is being used for the Feast of Trumpets – it is also called Zihk’ron Teruah which means a call for remembering through the loud blowing of trumpets.  So what are we remembering from the past and what are we rehearsing for the future?

By Jewish tradition and ancient calendars, it is believed that Yom Teruah commemorates the first day of Elohim’s Creation of the universe.  This fits with God’s biblical calendar.  When the Israelites were delivered out of Egypt, YHVH then said to them: This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 12:2).  This was of course the first day (new moon) of the Passover month (Aviv), which had been their seventh month but was now their first month by God’s instruction.  Thus we know that the seventh month (Ethanim) had been the first month on God’s calendar, which is the calendar He created for us at the time He created the world.  We can give thanks to Yehovah Elohim on Yom Teruah for creating the universe and us as His children.

As far as rehearsing the future on Yom Teruah, we need to look to the verses where the shofar blast is described as a warning or announcement of a future event.  There are a number of Scriptures where we see the shofar being blown as a call to repent and turn back (teshuvah) to YHVH, warning us of the God’s great judgment at the end times, in the “Day of the LORD”. (Joel 2:1, Zech 9:14, Rev 11:15)  In Matthew 24, Yeshua tells us of the great shofar blast when He comes in judgment and to gather His remnant together from the whole Earth: “And He will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather His chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven”.

Abba, as we are celebrating your appointed time to be with You on Yom Teruah, help us to remember all that You have done for us in the past, including the great sacrifice of Your Son for our salvation and deliverance.  Help us to also look ahead at what You are going to do in the future, and make sure we are prepared like the wise virgins who had an abundance of oil for their lamps.  We want to be a part of Your remnant, pleasing to you and prepared in our hearts and spirits to receive Your blessing when You return to this Earth to reign and rule.

Living Torah

Torah on HeartOn this feast of Shavuot (“weeks” in Hebrew), we celebrate both the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai and the re-issuing of the Torah in human hearts as the Holy Spirit was poured out on the followers of Yeshua.  I am writing this blog on Shavuot and will post it today rather than on Friday.  Hopefully this article will clear up misunderstandings about the work that YHVH has planned from the beginning of creation.

The English word for the feast of Shavuot is Pentecost which means “fifty”.   YHVH told the Israelites to count seven weeks (Shavuot) and one day to remember the time He dwelled with them while they were in the wilderness.

The word Pentecost originates from the Greek “pentēkostē and means fiftieth day.  Either way, it comes out to the same amount of time.  However, the similarity between Christian and Jewish perspective ends there.

As I browsed various websites discussing Pentecost, I discovered that many Christians believe that Pentecost was a brand new event totally unconnected to anything YHVH had done before.  There seems to be no awareness of a much older celebration known as Shavuot.  On the other hand, as I visited Jewish websites, there was no recognition of the work that YHVH continues to do in humans through His Holy Spirit.  This lack of knowledge and understanding has led to some grave errors in both Christianity and Judaism.

Let us examine the Christian perspective first.  Many Christians mistakenly believe that the “church” was born on Pentecost.  They do not understand the background that YHVH began His kingdom building long ago and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was a continuation of this work, not a whole new idea.  The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the next step in the process YHVH started long ago.  In other words, YHVH was not “scrapping” His work with the Israelites (Jews) and starting over with other people.  This is evident by the fact that the Holy Spirit was first given to Jewish followers of Yeshua (Acts 2).  What was the purpose of this outpouring?  To empower and perfect us in keeping the Torah (instruction or “law” of YHVH).  We must be holy as He is holy (1 Pet 1:14-16).

There is confusion among Christians concerning the writings of Paul, especially his letter to the Romans.  Much confusion arises from faulty translation and lack of background knowledge.  In Romans 1:5, Paul tells us Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell [all people] everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name (NLT, emphasis mine).  How can we obey YHVH if there is no law to follow?  YHVH is building a kingdom, not a church (Dan 2:44, Matt 3:2, 4:17).  It is true that we are not saved by our own efforts (Eph 2:8), but it is also true that once we are admitted as citizens into YHVH’s kingdom, we are to obey His laws.  Romans 2:5 states, But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.  Christians have mistakenly generalized YHVH’s mercy to mean that He not only did away with the guilt from our sin, but that He also did away with His Torah, thereby eliminating any possibility to transgress His law.   We no longer are subject to death when we sin (disobey YHVH’s Torah) if we repent.  In Hebrew, the word for repent is teshuvah which means turning back to YHVH.  We do not merely ask for forgiveness when we sin, and then keep on sinning, knowing we can ask forgiveness each time.  We are to literally turn ourselves away from sin and return to YHVH and His ways.  How can we do this?  That is where the Holy Spirit comes in to empower us to do what YHVH requires of us.  When we rely on the Holy Spirit, we have our own personal teacher, showing us how to be obedient, convicting us when we stray, and empowering us to follow YHVH’s ways (John 14:26, 16:13).

 On the other end of the spectrum, those who follow Judaism understand that the Torah was first given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai after YHVH delivered them from slavery to the Egyptians.  They celebrate this giving of Torah (instruction), because YHVH is teaching them how He intends for us to live.  Many Jews today are diligent about following Torah.  However, they are relying on themselves and their own efforts are enough to make them right with YHVH.  They do not realize that they need to first be reconciled to YHVH through Yeshua. 

 Jews who do not recognize that Yeshua is their long-awaited Messiah, believe that Yeshua did not keep Torah and taught others to do the same.  They are confusing Torah with the extra writings and teachings of generations of rabbis who have added to and subtracted from Torah in direct violation of YHVH’s command (Deut 4:2).  Yeshua refused to obey man-made traditions, especially when they went against the true intention of Torah (Matt 9:1-14, Luke 13:15-16).  The purpose of Sabbath is to put aside working for our own gain to spend quality time with YHVH.  Yeshua did His Father’s work of kingdom building.  Healing those who are broken is so important, that it can be done even on Shabbat.

 Messianic believers hopefully recognize that the Torah is still valid and that the Holy Spirit is very much needed in order to carry out our Father’s commands.  They recognize Yeshua as the embodiment of the true Torah and refer to Him as the living Torah.  In Matthew chapters 5-7, Yeshua not only reinforces the validity of Torah, but raises the bar.  Why would he raise the bar when people already had enough trouble in obeying Torah?  Yeshua knew that He would be sending the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us.  When Yeshua returns He will still require us to follow Torah.  We will have a new Temple so that we can fulfill all the requirements.  He will rule with an iron rod (Ps 2:9, Rev 2:27. 12:5).  Until then, we welcome the Holy Spirit’s help as we follow the instructions of our loving Father and King.

Fasting from Your Heart

fasting and praying on knees

“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover them…”  Isaiah 58:6-7

In Isaiah 58, YHVH tells His people Israel that they are not to be hypocrites when they fast, going through the motions with their head and body but not their heart (Isa 58:3-5, Jer 14:12, etc.). In Isaiah 58:6, He is talking about repenting for exploiting their workers. He tells them to turn back to Him and make a genuine change in their lives, showing compassion to others. In verse 7, Yehovah gets more specific when He describes the nature of a truly sincere fast, which would cause the people to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in their actions, such as taking care of the poor and hungry, and clothing the naked.

To me, this is one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture, as YHVH is pointing out to His people how they have fallen short (as we all have in our lives), telling them they need to repent, guiding them (and us) as to what they should be doing, and then promising them wonderful blessings if they will follow His instructions (Isa 58:8-11).

Many Scriptures talk about the positive results of fasting sincerely from your heart:

  • In Joel 2:12, YHVH tells the people to turn to Him with their whole heart, with fasting and weeping; He goes on to say that they are to rend their heart and not their garments, and then Joel says that YHVH is gracious and merciful and will bless them for turning back to Him (Joel 2:13-14). This is similar to what He says through Jeremiah when He tells His people to circumcise their hearts and turn back to Him (also see Deut 10:16 and 30:6).
  • Yeshua adds meaning to these words when He tells people that they need to fast inwardly (in secret) and not outwardly (walking around in sackcloth and showing everyone how they are being so righteous with their fasting). As in Isaiah and other Scriptures, He also says that Abba Father will reward them openly when they fast secretly (Matt 6:16-18).
  • When King Darius had to throw Daniel into the lion’s den because he had broken the decree that no one was to worship a different god than the official god of their kingdom, Darius stayed up all night fasting. When he came down to check on Daniel in the morning, he found him alive and well. What really fascinates me about Darius is that he called Daniel the “servant of the living God” even before he knew that he had been saved from the lions (Daniel 6:18-23). This tells me that Darius was sincerely fasting from his heart and that he was praying to the true living God and not one of his false gods. It is also apparent from this passage that Darius was moved with compassion, which inspired his fasting.

What do these Scriptures teach us about our heart attitude when we are fasting and praying? If we are fasting because we think it makes us a better Christian, or we think it’s the right thing to do to get God to answer our prayers, or we are simply following Abba’s instructions to fast but our heart is not in it, what are we accomplishing? We are only fasting outwardly to convince others (or ourselves) that we are righteous people who are following God’s will. We need to look into our hearts and find out what our true motives are when we fast or pray.

Are we truly seeking to draw closer to YHVH and to be pleasing to Him? If that is true, then the fruit of the Spirit should be evident in our lives, starting with our love and compassion for others.

Look again at Isaiah 58 and ask these questions of yourself: are you helping to undo the heavy burdens of others; are you sharing your bread with the hungry and bringing to your house the poor who are cast out; are you clothing the naked and taking care of the widows and fatherless? If you are, then Yehovah will reward you openly: your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily…Then you shall call, and YHVH will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ Isaiah 58:6-9

When Yeshua Returns

when Yeshua returns

Is it Rosh Hashanah or Yom Teruah?  What is the meaning of blood moons?  Is this the beginning of the Jubilee of Jubilees? There are currently numerous arguments and speculations concerning the fall feasts and current events.  As we reviewed the Scriptures (Lev 23:23-25, 25:8, Num 29:1) on keeping the feast of Yom Teruah, we began asking questions during our praise and worship time with YHVH.

The Bible indicates that this fall feast is provided so that we may rehearse the sounding of the trumpets as a warning to look inwardly to ensure that we know and are keeping YHVH’s commandments (Neh 8:2-6).  Yom Teruah is not the beginning of another year, but it may signal a new beginning yet to come, the release of all the inhabitants of the land (Lev 25:8-10).  Scripture teaches us that every seven years (smitah) the land must be rested and anyone in the tribes of Israel was to be released from indentured servitude.  Every fifty years is a jubilee (juval) when all debts are forgiven and everything in Israel is restored and every person in Israel is released.  Any land sold to another tribe is to revert back to the original tribe.  All people in Israel are to be set free (Lev. 25:10).  According to the reckoning of others, the next Jubilee will be the 70th Jubilee. Since years were lost during the Babylonian exile, how do we determine which is the correct year to celebrate it?  How will we know?

As we reviewed the Scriptures on Yom Teruah, the shmitah and Jubilee, we began asking questions about how to correctly celebrate the appointed times and how to best understand current events.  We believe that the Holy Spirit provided the following explanation.  Yeshua will return amid the blowing of trumpets and shofars on the Yom Teruah before we are to celebrate the Jubilee of Jubilees (70th Jubilee).  It is Messiah Himself Who will announce release to all the inhabitants not only of Israel, but all the earth.  The King of Kings will judge His enemies and provide covering for His sheep on Yom Kippur.  Our spiritual enemies will be confined for 1,000 years and we will be released from their torment.  There will be joyous celebration and Yeshua will celebrate with us!  We will then know it is time to blow the shofar on Yom Kippur to indicate the Jubilee of Jubilees.  The first time Yeshua came was to provide atonement and a way for us to be released from slavery to the enemy (salvation and deliverance).  The second time, Yeshua will take captive our enemies, both human and spiritual, and remove them from our presence.

We know from Scripture that Yeshua will return to a desolated world (Matt 24:29).  We also know from Scripture that Israel is not to plant or harvest during a shmitah or Jubilee year.  So, if there is much destruction in the land, how will people eat?  Scripture tells us that Israel’s former enemies and oppressors will come bearing many gifts (Is 60:11).  We believe these will be mainly people from the enemy nations who were not personally guilty of oppression against Israel.  We believe the remnants of the enemy nations will be eager to reconcile with Yeshua and with Israel.  Just as the Israelites took possession of Canaan and enjoyed the products of others’ labors, the inhabitants of Israel will now have the products of their enemies’ labors delivered to their doorstep (Is 60:5).

It is useless for us to try to mesh current events and Scriptural prophecy to fit into our own time frame as many people are doing now.  The one thing we know for sure is that YHVH is in control and will do all that He has promised in His own way and in His own time.  It is not our job to predict or even speculate how everything will play out.  It is our job to be working in the harvest and doing our individual assignments from YHVH.  Then, when Yeshua returns, He will find the faithful servants He expects to find (Matt 24:45-51).  What will you be doing when Yeshua returns?

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.  I am the [alef] and the [tav}, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

 Blessed are those who do [téreó, meaning to keep, guard or observe] His commandments [entolé],  that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city (Rev 22:12-14).

Where do we look on Yom Teruah?

blowing of trumpets

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky: all the tribes of the Land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with tremendous power and glory. He [Messiah] will send out His angels with a great trumpet [shofar] blast; and they will gather together His chosen people from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Yeshua tells us in Matthew 24:30-31 (CJB) that in the last days, He [Messiah] will sound a great shofar, and send out His angels to gather His Body from all the ends of the Earth. YHVH has provided the Feast of Trumpets [Yom Teruah] as a rehearsal to help us prepare for this great End Times event.

When you see phrases like the “blowing of the trumpets” or “loud shouting”, these are translated from the same Hebrew word, Teruah, which simply means a loud noise. One of my favorite uses of this word in Scripture relates to the moving of the Ark of the Covenant in II Samuel 6:15: “So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of YHVH with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet [shofar]”. This same event was described in I Chronicles 15:28: “So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of YHVH with shouting, to the sound of the ram’s horn [shofar], trumpets, and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres.” In both descriptions, you see the combination of loud shouting and the blowing of the Shofar, which both come from the word Teruah. An occasion like the moving of the Ark elicited many loud sounds from the people in the procession, both from instruments and with their voices raised in praise to Yehovah.

There are many other passages in Scripture that tell us how the Shofar is used: as a wake-up call to turn people back to YHVH (Jer 6:17, Eze 33:3-6), a call to battle (Isa 18:3, Jer 4:19, Josh 6, Judges 7), or the announcement of an appointed time with Yehovah (Ex 19:16-19, Lev 23:23-25, Num 29:1). These last two verses refer to the blowing of the Shofar and “loud shouting” on the Feast of Yom Teruah, or the Day of the Blowing of Trumpets.

Going back to the original Hebrew, a better translation of Numbers 29:1 would be: “On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy rehearsal. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets”. Leviticus 23:24 could also be more accurately translated as: “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of trumpets, a holy rehearsal”. Why would this and other Fall Feasts be described as rehearsals? Most likely because the Fall Feasts have not yet been fulfilled. Putting all these Scriptures together, it seems clear that Yom Teruah will find its ultimate fulfillment in the “great shofar blast” described in Isaiah 27:13 (and quoted by Yeshua in Matthew 24:31): “And in that day a great trumpet [shofar] will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship YHVH on the holy mountain at Jerusalem”.

So, what does all this mean to us as the Body of Messiah? No matter whether or not end times prophecy is fulfilled this year and this is indeed the Great Shofar blast that signals the return of Yeshua to reign on the Earth, the blowing of the Shofar on Yom Teruah is nevertheless very significant for believers. Yom Teruah is always meant to be a special time of awakening for our souls and repentance for our hearts so that we are prepared to be received by Yeshua as the Bride of Messiah when He returns. So on this Yom Teruah, we need to look at our inner selves and take stock of how we are doing at lining up our souls with our born-again spirits (Rom 12:2). I know I have areas that need work based on my report card – how about you?

Fountains of Living Waters

Out of their heart

“for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to fountains of living waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Rev 7:17

In last week’s blog about YHVH’s Feast of Shavuot, I talked about YHVH giving us His written Torah, and then pouring into our hearts the living Torah when He gave us His Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) at Pentecost (Shavuot). In Scripture, water sometimes represents the Holy Spirit. In several passages, YHVH uses the images of living or flowing water, or pouring out of water (see John 54:10-11;7:38, Joel 2:28, Zech 14:8, Rev 7:17). There is even a related scripture where YHVH speaks judgment over His people who have abandoned Him “…,Because they have forsaken the LORD [YHVH], the fountain of living waters.” (Jer 17:13)

Abba is saying that His Holy Spirit is not only active but constantly in motion, inspiring us and empowering us to flow in the gifts that He blesses us with. The clearest scriptural confirmation of this is in John 7:39, right after Yeshua said “If anyone thirsts, let them come to Me and drink. The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of their heart will continuously flow rivers of living water.” In verse 39, John [Yochanan] commented on Yeshua’s offer to pour out His Holy Spirit on His people when he said: “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified.” This passage also reminds us of the most beautiful prophecy about the giving of the Holy Spirit in Joel 2:28: “…I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.”

Yehovah did not want us to miss His prophecies on the giving of the Holy Spirit, so He even wrote this message in the stars. If you grew up in the 60’s, you probably know the worldly (or New Age) significance of the Zodiac sign called Aquarius. Regrettably, the original meaning of this sign has been corrupted by pagan mythology and worldly Greek philosophy. From the original Hebrew name of this sign, “poured forth” or the pourer forth of water”, we can see that YHVH was telling us that He (The Pourer Forth of Water) would in the future be pouring out the Holy Spirit on his children. We now know that this is what happened at Pentecost [Shavuot], which was the fulfillment of Joel 2:28.

As we meditate on the beautiful message in Joel of the One who pours out His Spirit on all flesh, we remember to look to the One who is doing the pouring, and receive from Him what he desires to give us. But receiving this outpouring (or infilling) of Yehovah’s Ruach HaKodesh into our hearts through the baptism of the Holy Spirit is only the first step. How can we be active vessels of His Holy Spirit, allowing the Ruach to flow through us continuously like rivers of living water (John 7:38)? Jeremiah speaks about YHVH’s judgment on His people: “My people have forsaken me, the spring of living water. And they have dug wells, broken wells that can’t hold water.” (Jer 2:13)

Even though we are leaky vessels as imperfect humans, YHVH can use us in powerful ways when we are flowing in the power and gifts of His Ruach [Holy Spirit] within us. An active, functioning well is one that responds when someone primes the pump: the water flows out to those who need it. In the same way, we need to be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and ready to pour out His living water into the lives of others. The Ruach pours wisdom, gifts, and power into us – we have opportunities every day to use His gifts and power to help and disciple others.  How will you use the living waters of the Holy Spirit to bear fruit in this needy world?

The Real Meaning of Chanukkah

History of HanukahProbably the most well-known Jewish feast in the modern-day world is Chanukkah (more commonly spelled Hanukah). Chanukkah (1 Maccabees 2-4) is not one of the original feasts Yehovah instructed us to observe. It is a feast to commemorate a series of miracles God performed for the Jews in the dark days of Antiochus Epiphanes, so my belief is that Yehovah honors our celebration of this feast, as long as we stay focused on Him as the “reason for the season”.

Antiochus Epiphanes, theSyrian King of the Jews within the Greek empire, had forbidden all observance of the true Sabbath, YHVH’s Feasts, and circumcision (in I Macc 2:8-12). He mandated that anyone who studied or kept the Torah would be put to death. He also defiled the Temple and erected a statue of Zeus in the Temple on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev, in 168 BC. In fact, all the ancient chief pagan gods had their birthday on Kislev 25 – note that the modern solar-based calendar was not adopted until 46 BC, so the Roman world was still using the lunar-based calendar at this time.

Judas Maccabeus and his four brothers (all Jewish priests) took up their swords and battle hammers to defeat the Syrian rulers and their pagan sun god religious system in 165 BC. Interestingly, Maccabee (iaB<q;j) means “hammer”, so one could rightly say that they “hammered” their enemy. Once they had defeated the Syrians and taken back their temple, the Maccabee brothers and their followers spent seven days cleansing the Temple of all the pagan altars and idols, and then re-dedicated the Temple on the eighth day. Once they had won this victory and purified their Temple, the leaders mandated that a feast called Chanukkah be observed every year starting on Kislev 25 and lasting for 8 days. The Hebrew word Chanukkah (חֲנֻכָּה) actually means “to dedicate”, so this feast is most often referred to as the Feast of Dedication. This feast celebrates the miracle of Yehovah giving them the victory over pagan sun god worship, as well as the cleansing and re-dedication of their temple to the true God, Yehovah.

There are many Jewish traditions and legends surrounding Chanukkah, such as the story of the oil in the Menorah lasting 8 days when it should have only lasted 1 day. However, the real reasons for the 8-day duration of the feast are two-fold: to commemorate Yehovah’s miracle that allowed them to defeat the Syrians and re-dedicate the Temple; and, to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) which they had not been able to do for 3 years (see II Maccabees 10:6).

One strong confirmation that Yehovah honors our celebration of Chanukkah is that Yeshua looked favorably on the feast, as He went up to the Jerusalem Temple mount and taught the people during the feast (John 10:22-23). Based on Jewish tradition, rabbis at the time of Yeshua believed that the Messiah would reveal Himself at the time of Channukah (from the Talmud). In John 10:24, the leaders asked Yeshua: “Why do You keep us in suspense? Are You the Messiah?” In John 9, Yeshua had just done the one miracle that was undeniable proof of His Messiah-ship; He had healed a man born blind, which the leaders said only the Messiah could do!

But because the people were expecting a political/military Messiah who would rescue them from the Romans, they did not recognize Him as the Messiah. Yeshua answered them (John 10:25-26) “I told you, but you did not believe: the works that I do in My Father’s Name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you”. The Jewish leaders denied His miracles in John 10:20-21: “And many of them said, ‘He has a demon, and is mad; why hear ye Him?’  Others said, ‘these are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’”

Yeshua then presented people with an eternal solution to their problems. In John 10:27-28), He said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. He turned the people from the short-term, physical solution they wanted to a spiritual solution. He said that we are the desecrated temple and need to be cleansed and rededicated to Yehovah. Remember that we are now the temples of the Holy Spirit and we must keep our temples clean (I Cor 6:19). He taught us that we need a long-term (eternal) relationship with Yehovah to fix our spiritual emptiness, because a physical solution cannot fix spiritual problems.

The defeat of their enemies and the re-dedication of the Temple brought back fresh hope to the Jewish people. How fitting that this month, called Kislev in Hebrew, means hope. This relates to the people looking hopefully to the longer, brighter days of Spring, since Kislev 25 occurs very close to the Winter solstice (the shortest day of the year). Yeshua, the Light of the world, brings us eternal hope.