Up until the third century, believers everywhere celebrated the Biblical Feasts listed in Leviticus 23. They understood that the Feasts pointed to the coming Messiah, His ministry, and His reign. For generations prior to the first century, the Jewish people had all the prophetic pieces laid out in these feasts, and they were awaiting the Messiah to see these events fulfilled. Now that He had come, they were able to see exactly how Jesus was the perfect fulfillment of the feasts they had been celebrating all these years. When Jesus walked this earth, He not only celebrated the Biblical Feasts with His people, but He chose these times to reveal specific details about Himself as the Messiah. He did it in ways that were relevant to the feast at hand. The celebration of the Biblical Feasts continued for centuries after Jesus’ ascension. It was the calendar of the believer, and it was understood for what it was: a celebration of God’s redemptive plan through Jesus the Messiah. But things changed in the 4th century when the reigning authority abolished the celebration of the Biblical Feasts, among other things.
It was a dark time in human history, but when we read the writings of Paul, it is clear that the intention was never to have stopped celebrating them! In 1 Corinthians 5:8 Paul writes, “Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Paul’s instruction to celebrate the feast (Passover, specifically in this case) is highlighted with the admonition of doing it not out of legalism, but with a sincere heart. Why? Because it’s all about Jesus! If you understand the ways each feast celebrates a different aspect of Him, your heart can’t help but be filled with joy as you celebrate the very One who saves you! Just as the Father tells us to worship Him in spirit and in truth, so we have the privilege of celebrating His Son, Jesus, with joy in the Biblical Feasts!
It has only been in the last ten years or so that believers have once again started to embrace the Biblical Feasts. Passover, a feast that for centuries had been put aside by believers, is becoming a regular celebration for many.
There is a growing interest among believers in the Jewish roots of our faith, and that interest is blossoming into a greater appreciation, not merely of Passover, but of the full redemptive plan as seen throughout all the feasts. And now, for the first time, Word of Messiah Ministries
is partnering with Hope of Israel Congregation
to host a Feast of Tabernacles Banque
t this year on September 28th.
The Feast of Tabernacles is the perfect bookend to the beginning of the feasts we are already familiar with in Passover. Jesus’ atoning sacrifice during Passover was made with a view to the message that Tabernacles brings: His Kingdom come! He started with the end in mind: redemption was made so that we could dwell face to face with Him for eternity in the fullness of His Kingdom. What a tremendous opportunity to teach hundreds of people about this prophetic feast; how one day, we will live under the covering and physical presence of our King, Jesus! He is our Tabernacle, our All in All! We would love for you to join us at this special event. For details on how to register, click here.
In June, I spoke at the Annual Planters Conference
where the theme was Discipleship. I have been privileged to see Messiah raise up many for His service. And sadly, I’ve seen many casualties among believers. By this, I mean those who have come to faith in Yeshua but have never matured enough spiritually to be able to care properly for others. They let issues and problems overshadow their spiritual responsibility. Nonetheless, there are many who have developed into wholesome, caring believers, and despite immense difficulties have excelled in their faith. What makes the difference? Discipleship.
We need to bring the Good News to all people and see them come to faith in Yeshua, but never leave them undiscipled. Because discipleship is the means by which new believers are enabled to grow in their relationship with God, to develop spiritual understanding of the truths of God’s Word, and to gain wisdom for living faithfully for the Lord. Faith in Yeshua makes you a child of God, discipleship is God’s way for you to mature as His child. As there is no salvation without faith in Yeshua, so there is no spiritual growth without discipleship.Discipleship Equals Dedication
Discipleship also means dedication. The Scriptures exhort us to be dedicated (or discipled) servants and “sons.” In Genesis 14:14-16, Abraham’s dedicated servants are the ones who enjoyed the victory. In Proverbs 22:6, it is the dedicated child who will not depart from the faith. These verses use the Hebrew word chanak, which means, “to make narrow, dedicate, train, experience.” And also has the same root as Chanukkah
or dedication. Likewise, our Messiah expects all believers to be involved in this training and maturing process. He has commanded us, saying,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations..
.” (Matthew 28:19-20).
This is commonly called The Great Commission, for it is Messiah’s commissioning of His talmidim
(disciples or students) and servants in the great work He has for them. Discipleship is what spiritually stabilizes the believer in the faith.
“We should no longer be children, tossed to and fro, carried about with every wind of doctrine…but, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, Messiah
” (Ephesians 4:14-15).
Furthermore, discipleship is nurtured through studying and meditating on the Scriptures.
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word...Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You
” (Psalm 119:9, 11).Click here to read about this conference.
On July 28th after sunset, many in the Jewish community will be in great distress. No, they will not necessarily be in harm’s way, but rather they will be in a state of mourning. You see, that date will coincide with the Jewish day of remembrance called Tisha B’Av. What’s in the Name?
Tisha B’Av, or “the 9th of Av” is a day on the Jewish calendar for fasting for the more observant among the Jewish people. Their distress comes from remembering the many tragic events that the rabbis teach happened on the 9th of Av in Jewish history.
These events include:
Who Observes Tisha B’Av?
- The sin of the spies sent ahead into Canaan, caused the Lord to decree that the Children of Israel who left Egypt would not be permitted to enter the Land of Promise.
- The First Temple was destroyed.
- The Second Temple was destroyed.
- Betar, the last fortress to hold out against the Romans during the Jewish revolt led by Simon Bar-Cochba in AD 135 fell, sealing the fate of the Jewish people and beginning the Jewish Exile from Judea.
- One year after the fall of Betar, the grounds of the Second Temple were plowed under.
- In 1492, King Ferdinand of Spain issued an expulsion decree, setting Tisha B’Av as the final date by which not a single Jew would be allowed to walk on Spanish soil.
- World War I began and with it the downward slide to the Holocaust.
Though most Jewish people have been secularized and are perhaps therefore unaware of Tisha B’Av, the Orthodox Jewish community takes it quite seriously. As the mourning period is at its pinnacle on this day, tradition prevents our people from shaving, eating, or partaking of any form of entertainment, etc. Thus if your Jewish friends and acquaintances are observing Tisha B’Av, treat them as those in mourning, and do not invite them to go out to eat, to the movies, or to any other enjoyable events. They will no doubt be quite reserved, solemn, and even sad. In fact, though they may be very good friends of yours, do not expect them even to greet you happily, because it is not permitted.
Tisha B’Av and Messiah
Though Tisha B’Av is a traditional commemoration, the rabbis have identified it with the biblical “fast of the fifth month [Av]” as noted in Zechariah 7:5, a fast which seems to have been instituted for repentance from the sins which brought about the Babylonian exile.
Interestingly enough however, Zechariah goes on to speak of a transformation that will occur in the fast: “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘…the fast of the fifth… will become joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace
This transformation is understood to occur in the Messianic age, when our sorrows will be turned to joy. However, we who have trusted in Messiah Yeshua have already experienced the reality of the Lord’s grace, which is able to transform our sadness into gladness. Those of us who have received His grace can “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). However, we are still responsible for caring about those who are hurting, having compassion on them and even empathizing with them in their distress. What Can I Do?
Should Messianic believers observe Tisha B’ Av? That will be up to you and your congregation to decide for yourselves. If your personal or congregational witness identifies you with those who mourn, or if your congregation is located in a particularly observant Jewish community, it would be most appropriate to observe Tisha B’Av; for the Bible states that we should “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). You could have a day of prayer for Israel and the Jewish people, or at the very least avoid planning a celebration. If your witness is to a secular or less observant Jewish community, then commemorating Tisha B’Av might not communicate any witness at all and just seem odd.
As Paul wrote regarding his own witness in the Jewish community, “To those under the Torah, as under the Torah… to those without Torah as without Torah…
” (1 Corinthians 9:20-21). Communicating the truth of Israel’s Messiah effectively to the Jewish people depends largely on where those people are coming from. In all things let us love as we’ve been loved and “comfort others with the very comfort we have received
” (2 Corinthians 1:4), that in all events and on all days Messiah Yeshua may be glorified and His grace proven to be sufficient for all.