Trumpets For All Israelites: Why the High Holy Days Are More than Just “Jewish” Feasts

Blowing the Shofar is the central observance of the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) is the "Jewish New Year" (Rosh HaShanah).  (Blowing the Shofar - The Nahmias Cipher Report.)

Blowing the Shofar is the central observance of the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) is the “Jewish New Year” (Rosh HaShanah). (Blowing the Shofar – The Nahmias Cipher Report.)

The “Jewish” High Holy Days begin at sundown on September 24, 2014[1], with Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets.  It is also called Rosh HaShanah, the Head of the Year.  Many people call it the “Jewish New Year”.  But what exactly is this festive day?  And should Christians even care about this “Jewish” holiday?

According to Hebrew understanding, Yom Teruah is the day God completed His work of creation by making human beings, the crowning achievement of His work.  In the agricultural cycle of the Ancient Near East, where the Bible was written, this day points toward completion of the growing season when the long-expected “latter rains” come.  It is the completion of the civil year, a tradition even the United States government has adopted.  These are all good reasons for God to command His people to set this day apart by blowing trumpets and observing a special Sabbath day of rest.

Yet there are some confusing things about Yom Teruah.  This “Head of the Year” happens on the first day of the seventh month in the Hebrew calendar.  One would expect that the New Year would be in the first month, but God Himself directed that the first month would be in the spring (Exodus 12:1-2).  That month, called Nisan or Abib in Hebrew, is the month of three great feasts of the Lord:  Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits.  In that time long ago God delivered His people Israel from bondage in Egypt.  Yet the First Month is not the same as the Head of the Year in the Seventh Month, Tishrei.  Both months have prophetic significance according to God’s plan for the redemption and restoration of His creation.  Through the Feasts celebrated in these months the Lord tells a prophetic story.  In the First Month He redeems and delivers His people, and in the Seventh He restores them.  One might say He is pressing the reset button to get things back to the way they were before sin caused all this trouble.  But why is this “Jewish” feast of Yom Teruah, or any of these “Jewish” feasts, important to Christians?

The answer to that is quite simple:  These are not Jewish feasts.

Unlearning the Lie

Christians and Jews alike would do well to unlearn the ancient lie that these feasts apply only to Jews.  They are God’s Appointed Times (in Hebrew, moedim).  They are the special appointments God has set for all His people to meet with Him.  When God first explained this at Mount Sinai, He was speaking to all thirteen tribes of Israel[2], not just to the three tribes that became Jews.[3]  He spoke also to the many thousands of foreign-born Israelites who were the “mixed multitude” that left Egypt (Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4).  These foreigners included Egyptians, Libyans, Ethiopians, Greeks, Canaanites, Nubians, and others of the ancient peoples who constituted the population of Egypt.  When they saw the judgments of God on Egypt they elected to leave their native lands and peoples and join themselves to Israel.  They were integrated into the thirteen tribes and became full-fledged Israelites.

Foreigners who were grafted in to Israel.  Clockwise from top left:  Caleb son of Jephunneh (Moses and the Messengers from Canaan, Giovanni Lanfranco); Rahab the Harlot (The Harlot of Jericho and the Two Spies, James Tissot); Ruth the Moabitess (Ruth and Boaz, Gustave Doré); Uriah the Hittite (King David Handing the Letter to Uriah, Pieter Lastman); Cornelius the Centurion (Baptism of Cornelius, Francesco Trevisani); The Ethiopian Eunuch (Baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch, www.tillhecomes.org).

Foreigners who were grafted in to Israel. Clockwise from top left: Caleb son of Jephunneh (Moses and the Messengers from Canaan, Giovanni Lanfranco); Rahab the Harlot (The Harlot of Jericho and the Two Spies, James Tissot); Ruth the Moabitess (Ruth and Boaz, Gustave Doré); Uriah the Hittite (King David Handing the Letter to Uriah, Pieter Lastman); Cornelius the Centurion (Baptism of Cornelius, Francesco Trevisani); The Ethiopian Eunuch (Baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch, www.tillhecomes.org).

The presence of so many foreign-born people among the tribes tells us that the concept of “grafting in” is not new.  God intended all along to use Israel as the way to bring salvation to the entire world.  That is why He promised Abraham that through his seed He would bless all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12:3, 18:18, 22:18, 26:4, 28:14; Galatians 3:8).  Once these foreigners attached themselves to Israel, they were no longer foreigners, but Israelites.  They and those who followed their example in later generations included some very notable people:

  • Caleb son of Jephunneh, a Kenizzite (descendant of Kenaz, a grandson of Esau) who became a prince of the tribe of Judah and one of only two men of the generation that left Egypt who entered the Promised Land (Genesis 36:9-11; Numbers 32:11-12).
  • Rahab the Canaanite and Ruth the Moabite, who married into the tribe of Judah and became ancestors of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) (Joshua 2:1-24, 6:17-25; Ruth 1:15-22; Matthew 1:5).
  • Uriah the Hittite, Mighty Man of David and first husband of Bathsheba, mother of Solomon and ancestor of Messiah Yeshua (II Samuel 11:1-27, 23:39; I Chronicles 11:41; Matthew 1:6).
  • Araunah and Ornan the Jebusites, whose threshing floors in Jerusalem became the sites of the altar on the Mount of Olives and the Temple on Mount Moriah (II Samuel 24:18-25; I Chronicles 21:18-28; II Chronicles 3:1)
  • Elijah the Tishbite, one of the greatest prophets of Israel (I Kings 17:1).
  • The Ethiopian eunuch who had come to Jerusalem to worship during one of the Feasts of the Lord and who believed on Yeshua through the testimony of Philip (Acts 8:26-40).

The example of the Ethiopian brings us to the key point of who today could be called an Israelite.  Without question the world’s 18 million Jews are Israelites, being the only physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who can be verified as such today.  These are the people Paul calls, “my countrymen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3).  However, even though all Jews are Israelites, not all Israelites are Jews.  According to the scriptures, Israel includes Jews and non-Jews who acknowledge Yeshua of Nazareth as Messiah (Ephesians 2:10-14; 3:1-7).  There is much in the Torah (the books of Moses) and the prophets which points to this reality, and it is on the foundation of those teachings that Paul presents the case in his letters.  Nowhere is it clearer than in Ephesians, where Paul says:

Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two[4], thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.  And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.  For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.  Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.  For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. (Ephesians 2:11-3: 7 NKJV, emphasis added)

The Mystery of the Gospel

This is the Mystery of the Gospel:  that Gentiles can become Israelites.  By the work of Messiah Yeshua, Gentiles join with Jews to form the One New Man in Messiah which will populate the Commonwealth of Israel.  This is the meaning of being “grafted in” by faith in Messiah.  Paul explains this in his letter to the congregation at Rome:

And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? (Romans 11:17-24 NKJV, emphasis added)

What is this olive tree?  It is the Commonwealth of Israel (Jeremiah 11:15-16; Hosea 14:5-6), both Jews and non-Jews.  We may well ask which branches were broken off of this tree.  The answer is, all of them.  The Ten Tribes of the northern Kingdom of Israel were broken off in 721 BC, when the Assyrian Empire conquered them and sent them into exile.  Then in 586 BC the Three Tribes of the southern Kingdom of Judah were broken off through the Babylonian conquest.  God did not cause the Jews of Judah to forget their identity, but partially restored them after the Babylonian exile so that they could set the stage for Messiah’s arrival and work of redemption.  However, when the leaders of the Jews rejected Messiah, they were broken off of the tree once again (John 8:31-59).  The olive tree of Israel thus remained a bare trunk until Yeshua began grafting people onto it again.

And who did Yeshua graft into the tree?  All who believed in Him, both Jew and Gentile.  That is why Paul can refer to Jews as his “countrymen according to the flesh”, because they are indeed Israelites by virtue of their ancestry going back to Abraham.  However, their status as Israelites is in jeopardy as long as they continue to reject Yeshua as Messiah.  So, too, it would seem, is the status of formerly Gentile Israelites if they do not “continue in His goodness”.  It would do well for us to learn what God meant by this when He explained it to His apostle.

For our purposes of the moment, the important point is that salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22).  We non-Jewish Israelites owe much to the Jews, just as Paul explains:

I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God.  Amen. (Romans 9:1-5 NKJV)

Through the Jewish people the entire world now knows of God’s provision to adopt everyone into His family, the glory of God, his covenants with humanity made possible by His Law, our reasonable service to God, the promises of God, and our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Most of all, thanks to the Jews we have Messiah Yeshua Himself.  No wonder Paul says elsewhere that Jews have much advantage, because to them are committed the oracles of God (Romans 3:1-2).

Jews will forever have a place of honor in the Kingdom of God because if it were not for them, no one could enter the Kingdom.  However, it is not right to expect a newly-adopted Israelite to become a Jew.  That, in fact, was a major point of the contention in Acts and the letters of the Apostles.  Their intent was to ensure that formerly Gentile Israelites could learn to live by God’s standards of righteousness and holiness (that is, the Torah, or Law) without being bound by the burdensome doctrines and traditions of men (that is, the Talmud, or rabbinical law) that had so encumbered the Jews.  At the same time, no one has a right to demand that Jews cease being Jews once they recognize Yeshua as Messiah and begin to follow Him.  They are Jewish Israelites, just as former Gentiles who call on Messiah for salvation are non-Jewish Israelites.

“Gentiles” are people from nations other than Israel.[5]  For many centuries the world has defined such people as non-Jews.  When Yeshua was on earth the first time, the common understanding was that the only way a Gentile could unite with Israel was by becoming a Jew through a formal conversion process.  Yeshua corrected that misunderstanding through His work on the cross.  He then revealed to His apostles that Gentiles become Israelites through faith in Messiah, not through conversion to Judaism.  Consequently, the distinction between Jew and Gentile ceases to exist in Messiah because there are no Gentiles!  The real distinction is not between Jew and Gentile, but between Israelite and Gentile.  In other words, the true distinction is between those who are in the Kingdom of Israel (both Jewish and non-Jewish) and those who are outside the Kingdom (both Jewish and non-Jewish).

Who Has the Spirit?

This became clear in the book of Acts, when God poured out His Holy Spirit on those who believed on Yeshua.  He first did so with the Jewish disciples of Yeshua gathered in Jerusalem, visiting them with the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost), as recorded in Acts 2.  Not long after that, according to Acts 10, the Holy Spirit came upon Gentiles who had determined to believe on Yeshua as Messiah.  When the Apostle Peter witnessed that development, he understood it to mean that non-Jewish believers were no different than Jewish believers, and that all should have fellowship with one another (Acts 10:44-11:18).  Thus began a process of integration that remains a work in progress in the Body of Messiah to this day, and which will remain a work in progress until Yeshua returns on the Day of the Lord.

Peter first saw the Holy Spirit come upon the Body at Shavuot.  That special feast day of the Lord marks both the giving of the Torah, the written word of God, at Sinai, and the giving of the Holy Spirit as witness to Yeshua, the Living Word of God, at Jerusalem.  Peter explained this to the men of many nations gathered at Jerusalem for the feast by quoting Joel:

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.  For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.  But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.  I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath:  blood and fire and vapor of smoke.  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.  And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’” (Acts 2:14-21 NKJV)

That passage, Joel 2:28-31 is from the end of a very disturbing chapter.  It is a hopeful word indeed, but it follows Joel 1, which speaks of plagues of locusts that strip the land bare and leave the people desolate and destitute.  Then Joel says this:

Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain!  Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand:  a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains.  A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations. ” (Joel 2:1-2 NKJV)

What the prophet is telling us is that the Day of the Lord is not pleasant.  The Lord comes in judgment of His people and of the nations.  We have much unpleasantness to endure before the happy times, but the Lord tells us this so we may have hope and believe that He will indeed complete His work of pouring out His Spirit and restoring His Kingdom.  That “trumpet” to be sounded in Mount Zion is the trumpet of Yom Teruah, the day the Lord Yeshua returns.  The shofars sounded on Yom Teruah every year are a clear alarm, a wake-up call for us to get serious and listen to the Lord, and prepare for His coming.

This brings us to the great question:  Why did our God give us His Spirit?  Was it just to let us experience signs, wonders, prophetic dreams and visions, and nice comfortable feelings?  We know from Yeshua Himself that the Spirit is our Comforter, Teacher, Counselor, and more (John 14:15-18, 25-26; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:12), but what does that really mean?  What is He teaching us?  For the answer we must go back to the Torah.  Indeed, without an understanding of God’s Torah, we have no real understanding of the rest of the Bible all the way to Revelation.

Sephardic Jews Observe Hoshanah Rabah, by Bernard Picart.  The Great Day of the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) features a procession with palm fronds.  In recognition that Messiah would appear at Sukkot, the people of Jerusalem waved palm branches as Yeshua entered the city just prior to His death at Passover and resurrection at Firstfruits (Matthew 21:1-11).

Sephardic Jews Observe Hoshanah Rabah, by Bernard Picart. The Great Day of the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) features a procession with palm fronds. In recognition that Messiah would appear at Sukkot, the people of Jerusalem waved palm branches as Yeshua entered the city before His death at Passover and resurrection at Firstfruits (Matthew 21:1-11Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40John 12:12-19).

The Spirit, The Torah, and the Covenant

On the last day of his life, Moses told the people of Israel this:

You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land— the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders.  Yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.  (Deuteronomy 29:2-4 NKJV, emphasis added)

It is remarkable that in all the time of the Exodus and the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness that God had not given His people Israel hearts to perceive, eyes to see, and ears to hear, and yet He expected them to obey His commandments.  It appears that God was testing our ancestors to teach them and us that obedience brings life and blessing, but disobedience brings cursing and death (see Ezekiel 18:25-32).  It is a simple thing:  if we violate the principles of our Designer we begin operating outside of the intended specifications, and that results in eventual destruction of ourselves and those around us.  That is the same principle He demonstrated in His test of our father Adam and mother Eve.  Yet in Deuteronomy 29 He explains that our fathers and mothers who journeyed with Moses did not have the capacity to perceive, see, and hear.  That sounds unfair, and perhaps it would be if God had not also said this through Moses on that very same day:

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. (Deuteronomy 30:6 NKJV, emphasis added)

We see here that God promised to make a remedy for the problem of inability to understand His Law.  Eight hundred years later He explained that remedy through His prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.  He said this through Jeremiah:

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah[6]—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord:  I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord.  For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”  Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar (the Lord of hosts is His name):  “If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the Lord, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.”  Thus says the Lord: “If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:31-37 NKJV, emphasis added)

The Lord expands on His explanation in Ezekiel.  It is so important that He tells the prophet twice.  Here is the Lord’s word to Ezekiel before the destruction of Jerusalem:

Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, your brethren, your relatives, your countrymen, and all the house of Israel in its entirety, are those about whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Get far away from the Lord; this land has been given to us as a possession.’  Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Although I have cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.”’  Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”’  And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there.  Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:14-20 NKJV, emphasis added)

Later He repeats the promise to Ezekiel after the destruction of Jerusalem:

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.  And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.  For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.  Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.  Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.  I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.  I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you.  And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations.  Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations.  Not for your sake do I do this,” says the Lord God, “let it be known to you.  Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!” (Ezekiel 36:22-32 NKJV, emphasis added)

According to these passages, the “New Covenant”, or, more accurately, “Renewed Covenant”, is not given to “do away with” the Law of God, but to make it possible for us to enter again into covenant with Him and keep His commandments as the restored nation of Israel.  That is why God gave His Holy Spirit at Jerusalem.  That is how He makes us One New Man out of peoples who were not a nation before this.  That is how the difference between Jew and Gentile disappears through Messiah Yeshua our King.

Key components of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) are construction of sukkahs (tabernacles or booths) where meals are eaten during the eight days of the feast.  Sukkahs serve as a remembrance of the tents in which the Israelites lived during the Exodus and 40 years in the wilderness.  In the painting on the left, Feast of Sukkot Prayers, by Shalom Kaboshvili, the man at the left holds the Four Species (fronds and boughs from a palm, myrtle, and willow, and an etrog (citron)), the plants specified in Leviticus 23:40.  The picture on the right, Sukkot (Das Laubhütten-Fest), by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, depicts a German Jewish family taking the evening meal in their sukkah.

Key components of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) are construction of sukkahs (tabernacles or booths) where meals are eaten during the eight days of the feast. Sukkahs serve as a remembrance of the tents in which the Israelites lived during the Exodus and 40 years in the wilderness. In the painting on the left, Feast of Sukkot Prayers, by Shalom Kaboshvili, the man at the left holds the Four Species (fronds and boughs from a palm, myrtle, and willow, and an etrog (citron)), the plants specified in Leviticus 23:40. The picture on the right, Sukkot (Das Laubhütten-Fest), by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, depicts a German Jewish family taking the evening meal in their sukkah.

But What About These Feasts?

So it would appear that we are no longer Jews and Gentiles, but Israelites.  If this is true, then perhaps we should consider how Israelites are to act.  It is not hard to figure out since our King has already blessed us with the answer.  We can start with His Feasts, the holy days He set apart to meet with us.  They are:

  • God’s weekly Shabbat (Sabbath), which is on the day we call Saturday, and which is a perpetual sign of God’s Covenant with His People (Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 31:12-17; Leviticus 24:8; Ezekiel 20:12).
  • The four Spring Feasts, Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost (Shavuot). The first three point to the sacrifice and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua, God’s Passover Lamb (I Corinthians 5:7-8, 15:20).  Shavuot reminds us when God gave both the Torah and the Holy Spirit (Exodus 19:1-6; Acts 2:1-4).
  • The three Fall Feasts, Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), Atonement (Yom Kippur), and Tabernacles (Sukkot), which look to God’s coming to meet with His people in triumph, in judgment, and in perpetuity (Leviticus 23:24-43).

Each of these has prophetic significance, each has fulfillment in Messiah, and each is commanded by God for all Israel to observe “as a statute forever, throughout your generations” (Exodus 27:21, Leviticus 23:14, 21, 31, 41).  If we truly want to please our Lord, then it should not be too hard for us to examine these Appointed Times and learn to observe them.  If we meet God there, then He will teach us what to do next.

At this coming season we will celebrate the Fall Feasts, the High Holy Days.  These are the feasts that Yeshua will fulfill upon His second coming.  Yom Teruah is the day that Yeshua returns to earth to establish His Kingdom.  It is the day of resurrection, as Paul explained:

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I tell you a mystery:  We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 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. (I Corinthians 15:50-52 NKJV, emphasis added)

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.  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.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:15-17 NKJV, emphasis added)

It is on Yom Teruah that the judgment of the Nations begins, culminating on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  That is why the previous month of Elul, and the ten day period between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur (called the Ten Days of Awe) are vital to every person and nation, because it is in this time that we must repent according to the Lord’s requirements.  After Yom Kippur the books are closed and those who are admitted to life enter into the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), when Messiah our King tabernacles with us.

The Feast of Trumpets is the only feast day that happens on a New Moon, the first day of the month.  There is still some uncertainty among believers about how to calculate that New Moon.  God will soon clear up that uncertainty for those who are listening, and we will not be caught unaware like the wicked and the ignorant when Yeshua returns for His Bride (Daniel 12:9-10; Matthew 25:1-13; I Thessalonians 5:1-10; Revelation 3:3, 16:15).

The Feasts are something we, the Body of Messiah, can practice together regardless of what our identity was before we came into the Kingdom.  And this we must do.  We all want to see the One New Man appear, but that will not happen if we continue to think of ourselves as Jews and Gentiles.  The One New Man comes out of our understanding that we are all Israelites, made so by Messiah and united under His Kingship.

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29 NKJV)


[1] The dates given here are from the Hillel II calendar, the calendar widely accepted throughout the Jewish and Messianic communities worldwide.  There is, however, disagreement on the method of calculating the calendar, particularly the New Moon marking the beginning of each month.  That is why many Karaite Jews and Messianic believers will celebrate Rosh Hashana on September 23, 24, or 25.  For more information on the Hebrew calendar, see Demystfying the Calendar.

[2] The tribe of Joseph was actually two tribes:  Ephraim and Manasseh.  Joseph received the birthright blessing and with it a double portion of inheritance (I Chronicles 5:1-3).  Our patriarch Jacob adopted Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, and gave them an equal status with their uncles (Genesis 48:1-22).  The Bible lists all thirteen tribes, but usually refers to “the twelve tribes of Israel”, either by referring to Ephraim and Manasseh together as the tribe of Joseph, or by referring to the twelve tribes that inherited territories in the land of Israel (Levi, the priestly tribe, did not have a separate inheritance because God chose them for His own purposes (Numbers 18:1-7; Joshua 14:4-5).

[3] There is no mention of the word “Jew” in the Bible until the time of the Babylonian conquest of Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, about 800 years after the Exodus from Egypt (II Kings 25:25; Jeremiah 32:12 and subsequent references in Jeremiah).  It is only in the Babylonian captivity and afterward that “Jew” became the term to describe the visible remnant of Israel.  Jews alone retained their Israelite identity after the other Ten Tribes were scattered throughout the nations.

[4] Paul does not say here that Messiah abolished the Law of God, as many have erroneously argued for the last two thousand years.  He says that Messiah abolished the enmity (hostility, hatred, antagonism) that the Law had caused between Jew and Gentile.  That enmity came about because both Jews and Gentiles believed that the Law applied only to Jews, and therefore Gentiles were excluded from access to God and from the blessings of obedience unless they formally converted to Judaism.  This was apparent in the visible symbol of the “wall of separation” in the Temple at Jerusalem which marked the line Gentiles could not cross on pain of death.  As Paul explains, Yeshua did away with that wall of separation so that Gentiles could have full access to God and enjoy the blessings of His covenants.  Had Yeshua really done away with the Law itself there could be no covenants.  God’s covenants with His people can operate only because they are governed by the principles of His Law.  That is illustrated for us in human legal proceedings.  If two parties want to establish an agreement or contract, they can do so only if there is provision in the law of the land for such a proceeding.  If there were no law, there could be no contract.  So it is with the Law of God as He gave it to us through Moses, and as Yeshua Himself taught it and lived it.  It is a provision of God’s grace and mercy that His Law remains in effect until heaven and earth pass away, just as Yeshua said (Matthew 5:17-19; Deuteronomy 4:25-31, 30:19-20, 31:28-29; II Peter 3:5-7).

[5] “Gentiles” is the Greek word “ethnos” (ἒθνοσ; Strongs G1484), meaning, “(1) a multitude (whether of men or of beasts) associated or living together; a company, troop, swarm, (2) a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus; the human family, (3) a tribe, nation, people group, (4) in the OT, foreign nations not worshipping the true God, pagans, Gentiles, (5) Paul uses the term for Gentile Christians”.  The Hebrew equivalent is “goy” (גּוִֹי; Strongs H1471), meaning, “(1) nation, people; usually of non-Hebrew people; of descendants of Abraham; of Israel, (2) of swarm of locusts, other animals (fig.)”

[6] Notice that God is speaking of the non-Jewish Israelites, the House of Israel, and the Jewish Israelites, the House of Judah.  This is “all Israel”, and from this we understand the meaning of Paul’s assertion that “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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About The Barking Fox

I am . . . - A lifelong disciple of Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth. - An avid student of the Bible. - A devoted husband and father. - A 29-year veteran of the United States Army. - A historian who connects people with their own stories.

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