How Many New Years Do We Need?

Did you know that there are some 5 new year celebrations in Judaism?

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If we consider that any celebration occurring on an annual cycle represents the start of another year, then each time we start a new cycle we are, in fact, celebrating a “new year.” Therefore, when we count Jewish annual cycles, we have the two best-known harvest festivals (Shavuot and Sukkot), also the month of Aviv (now called Nissan) as the beginning of our biblical year (per God’s instructions to Moses in Exodus 12:1), Yom Kippur is another annual cycle starting a year with being cleansed of our sins, and finally, Rosh HaShanah which is not a biblical new year, but is the rabbinical rebranding, if you will, of Yom Teruah.

In the secular world, the 1st day of January is the recognized, “official” New Year’s Day.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….uh, no… not that one.

Once upon a time, a long time ago someone somehow decided that the first day of January on the Gregorian calendar would be the start of every year. I know there are people out there who will tell me exactly who did this and when, and that it is a pagan holiday and so a real Believer shouldn’t pay it any attention. And for everyone who says it is pagan, there will be someone who says it isn’t.  I am not interested in the history of the New Year, really, or whether or not it should be celebrated.

So, nu? If I don’t care about it, why am I even mentioning it?

Good question. I am mentioning it to point out that there are multiple new year events, and what we need is not a new year, but a new beginning. A day when we start our lives over and change that which we were yesterday into that which we want to become tomorrow.

And what day should this be? It should be…today.

Every day is a New Year’s Day, a day to become not just more of who we want to be, but more of who God wants us to be!

I don’t want to sound like that old, wimpy adage, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” because that is associated with our personal (meaning secular) growth. Now, there is nothing wrong with personal growth, but what we need to do as Believers is to grow spiritually, and that shouldn’t be relegated to an annual thing. It must be daily, hourly, and continually throughout the rest of our life.

Celebrating an event like New Year’s Day is fine in a secular world, but for those who are spiritual, we can’t be restricted to a single day when we start over. We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that when we accept Yeshua as our Messiah, we are a new creation, and we are, but that isn’t the end of it: no, that is just the beginning. Now that we are new, we have to grow into our new selves, and that is a never-ending process which means every day is a new year for us.

Let’s up the stakes on this discussion…God is eternal, and the holiday we know as New Year’s Day is not eternal- it is restricted by time as once every 365 days. But spiritual growth is not subject to a timeline because things of the spirit are eternal; each day is a new eternity. Why? Because we never know when we will be called to God, so whatever we are today is what we might be, forever.

That’s a bit of a scary thought, isn’t it? The Bible tells us that no one knows when they will die and as such, whoever we are now, right this minute, might be all we will ever be for all eternity!

So, celebrate the new year in January, but don’t let that be your only starting point for change. Celebrate every new day God gives you as your own, “New Eternity Day” and let your resolution be this: to be a better example of what God wants you to be today than you were yesterday.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

To Xmas or Not to Xmas: What is the Answer?

Now that all the annoying open registration for Medicare commercials are gone we have a new hot topic, which rolls around every December: the argument about Christmas, specifically addressing this question: “Is celebrating Christmas a sin or not?”

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Let me say, first and foremost, I will not present an answer, mainly ’cause I ain’t got one. I know what is right for me, and what is right for others, whether they agree with me or not. There are valid arguments from both sides of this debate, all of which are verifiable in the Bible.

Let’s start with some things we can all agree on (at least, I hope we can):

  1. We should never worship any God but the true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;
  2. God knows our hearts and minds, and is a compassionate, understanding God who loves his children;
  3. A Holy Day is a celebration (or festival) we are commanded to observe and can be found in Leviticus Chapter 23, whereas a holiday is a man-made celebration not specifically required by God;
  4. Yeshua (Jesus) was not really born on December 25, but most likely sometime around Sukkot;
  5. Constantine created Christmas, which occurs around the same time as the pagan celebration called Saturnalia;
  6. Christmas, which was originally created to celebrate the arrival of the Messiah, has been corrupted and mutated into a marketing machine.

If we are all on the same page so far (which would be really good!), let’s keep going.

First off, Yeshua did not condemn all man-made traditions, only those that superseded the instructions God gave us. As far as holidays go, just because they aren’t required by God does not mean they are forbidden by God. This misuse of the Law of Contraposition is one of the main arguments put forth by those that say if it isn’t in the Bible, it is a sin.  If so, then you also have to do away with Purim, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, the Fast of the 9th Day of Av, Yom HaShoah, as well as the non-religious holidays of New Year’s, Fourth of July, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Labor Day….need I go on?

God said we must observe specific festivals, he also said, more than once and through different prophets that sometimes our celebration of his commanded festivals and sacrifices was an abomination to him. He said that in some cases the sacrifice wasn’t a pleasant aroma but a stench in his nostrils (look it up if you don’t believe me), and that he finds no pleasure in the blood of sheep or bulls.

Now, if God commanded us to perform these rituals, and we did, why is he saying he won’t accept them? Actually, more than that, he said not only won’t he accept them but that he hates what we are doing!

The answer is because our hearts were not in it. We were just going through the motions and not because we loved him and wanted to honor him.

In other words, God is not interested in our performance as much as he is interested in our intentions. Can we agree on that?

The Bible is clear that God doesn’t want performance, but heartfelt worship and honor; what we do in celebration of God is supposed to be done with a genuine desire to honor God. That is what he tells us he wants.

Remember how Yeshua told of the Pharisee and the tax collector both praying in the Synagogue? (Luke 18:9-14) This is a perfect example of what I am talking about, which is that God sees the heart and knows the mind, and when we come to him in supplication, with a contrite spirit and humility, he hears us and appreciates what we are doing. In this drash, Yeshua pointed out that the prayer of the “righteous” Pharisee, who was doing things as they should be done but had an improper attitude, was less acceptable then the prayer of the tax collector, who was a sinner but came before God humbly and spoke from his heart.

My wife was raised Roman Catholic, and Christmas to her represents family time together; the traditions of the tree, decorations around the house, and the gathering of family and friends are all that matters to her. Why Christmas was invented, what this time of the year used to mean, and any other reasons that Christmas is supposedly a sin, have nothing to do with her celebration. Our celebration isn’t even about the birth of Yeshua but is a non-religious activity.  And I think it is that way for many Gentiles.

I also believe that God knows why she is celebrating Christmas and doesn’t have a problem with that. It is no different than Thanksgiving or New Year’s or a birthday (oh, yeah- I forgot that celebrating our birthday is also a sin to some people.)

When Constantine created Christmas, he did not just rebrand Saturnalia but used it to replace Saturnalia, a pagan holiday. Allow me to point out there is a BIG difference between rebranding and replacing. When we rebrand something, it is the same thing with a different name. When we replace something, it is a different thing, altogether.

Here is an example: In January of 2018, Coca-Cola rebranded Diet Coke to be more appealing to the Millennial demographic. According to the website, Marketwatch: “The beverage giant said Diet Coke isn’t being reformulated, but is “re-energizing” for a different consumer demographic.” This is what rebranding means- the same thing with a different name.

Now, to stay with Coca-Cola, when they came out with New Coke, that wasn’t a rebranding but a replacement of “old” Coke. And, as you may recall, it was such a dismal failure that they had to bring the original Coke back into the market. Those were two totally different things.

Christmas, whatever you may think of it, is NOT Saturnalia and it is not associated with Pagan worship. As for the Christmas tree, it is not a pagan symbol: in fact, within Judaism, the tree is very important. There is the Tree of Life (Aitz Chaim Hee), which has been an integral part of our prayers, and the Bible uses the tree symbolically to represent the grafting in of Gentiles. If anything, the tree is the one thing about Christmas that is totally biblical!

I hope we can all agree that when we do something, whatever it is, to honor God and/or honor the Messiah (not worship Messiah, but honor him), and what we do is NOT in direct violation of a given commandment, God will consider our reasons and our desires, and look to our heart to see if we are genuinely desiring to please him.

If we can agree to that, then the celebration of Christmas could be acceptable to God, if he looks at it on an individual, case-by-case basis. That means the question of celebrating Christmas being right or wrong is between God and the person celebrating.

And, being God, even with the millions who celebrate this holiday, he can know each and every person’s heart and reason for celebrating.

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Until the next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Passover 2019 Message

Tonight begins Pesach (Passover) and I am already busy preparing for the Seder. I have invited someone I knew in High School and haven’t been in touch with since then. We now live close to each other and it will be good to have her share this Seder with Donna and me.

The Passover is a very misunderstood festival. The traditional idea is that it is 7 days long, but that is not correct. Also, the teaching that HaBikkurim (First Fruits) is the first day after the beginning of Hag HaMatzot (Festival of Unleavened Bread) is not biblically accurate. The most incorrect belief about Passover of all is that the sacrifice of Yeshua (Jesus) was that of the Passover lamb.

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Let’s start by reading from the Bible some of the passages that relate to Passover.

Leviticus 23:5-6 says:

The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast.

The Passover is really only from dusk on the 14th day of Nissan (then called Aviv) until midnight, which was when the angel of death passed over the houses of the Israelites. That means the passing over of the angel really occurred on the 15th of Nissan, since dusk on the 14th would have been the end of that day and after the sun had set it would then be the 15th. This is also the day on which the Seder is eaten; when we think about it, by the time the lamb was slaughtered at dusk, brought home, roasted over a fire, and everyone sat down to eat the sun would (probably) have already set, so the Seder is really eaten on the 15th of Nissan.

So, then, if Passover is really only from dusk to midnight, where did they get the idea it is for 7 days? It became confused with the next festival, Hag HaMatzot, which starts with the Seder. In Exodus 12:17-20 it says:

“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day.

I believe that because unleavened bread starts with the Seder, and the Seder is for Passover, people just assumed that Passover was for 7 days.

It isn’t.

As for HaBikkurim, this is also celebrated on a day which is not in accordance with when the Bible says we should.

In his letter to the Corinthians (15:23) Shaul, also called Paul, refers to Yeshua as the First Fruits. Traditionally, the celebration called HaBikkurim (First Fruits) is celebrated on the first day after the beginning of the festival of unleavened bread; this doesn’t coincide with the day Yeshua rose, which would have been three days after unleavened bread began. I believe because Shaul referred to Yeshua as the first fruits that Gentile Believers mistakenly associate Yeshua’s resurrection with HaBikkurim. It isn’t the same.

The Torah tells us that the first fruits are to be offered on the first day after the Sabbath of the harvest. Although the instructions regarding this festival come directly after the instructions regarding Passover and unleavened bread, the first fruits sheave to be waved is not dependent on Passover, but on when the crops are harvested.

Again, let’s go to the source, the Bible. In Leviticus 23:9-11 we read that:

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.”

The Torah says, clearly, that First Fruits is the day after the first Shabbat after the harvest. Despite the fact that the second day of Pesach and the last day of Hag HaMatzot are both Shabbat days, First Fruits celebration is NOT based on Pesach or Hag HaMatzot, but on the reaping of the harvest.

Lastly, let’s look at the traditional reference to Yeshua as the Pesach (Passover) Lamb. True, he was the “Lamb of God” in that he, like the lamb chosen to be sacrificed, died for our sins. And as such, he is the lamb of the sin sacrifice. But there’s a problem when we refer to him as the Pesach Lamb- the lamb sacrificed for Passover was NOT a sin sacrifice!

When we read the instructions regarding the different kinds of sacrifice within the sacrificial system God gave us (Leviticus, Chapters 1-7) we notice that for the grain, guilt, sin, and wholly burnt sacrifice that only the Cohen was to have a share of the item offered. It is only with the Thanksgiving sacrifice, also called a Peace Offering that the one bringing the sacrifice was allowed to partake of eating some of the meat.

The instructions for eating the Pesach sacrifice clearly shows that the meat is to be taken back to the house and roasted over a fire, then eaten that night. If any is left over, it is to be burned up completely.  This is in perfect concordance with the instructions for the thanksgiving sacrifice we read in Leviticus 7: 29:

When you sacrifice a thank offering to the LORD, offer it so that it may be acceptable on your behalf. It must be eaten that same day. Do not leave any of it until morning.

Because the Passover lamb sacrifice is one where the person bringing the lamb also may eat it, that means it is a Thanksgiving or Peace Offering. And when we review the different reasons to perform this sacrifice, one of them is to thank God for deliverance.

The proper timing for this season is that the Seder meal is eaten after the lamb is slaughtered at evening on the 14th of Nissan, which ends up not being until the 15th of the month, on which we also begin the festival of Unleavened Bread for the next 7 days. Originally, HaBikkurim would be a separate festival that began on the day after the first Shabbat, after the harvest. In truth, there was more than one HaBikkurim celebration since there were usually two harvest seasons: the barley harvest in the spring and the wheat harvest in the fall. Biblically, First Fruits really has nothing to do with Passover or Hag HaMatzot. The traditional celebration of it on the first day after Hag HaMatzot is a decision made by the rabbis of old. It is not unlike what happened with the celebration of Shavuot, considered to be a celebration of the giving of the Law to Moses which occurs 50 days after the first Shabbat after Pesach. When you study the timeline from when the Jews left Egypt to when Moses received the instructions at Sinai, it is not 50 days.  However, just like with Habikkurim and Pesach, Moses at Sanai and Shavuot have been associated for so long that now they are inseparable.

Does any of this change what we are doing, or make it wrong? I don’t think so. God sees the heart, and I really doubt that he is so nit-picky that he will not accept our worship just because we celebrate first fruits on a calendar day instead of based on a physical harvest. Especially since we aren’t an agrarian society anymore.

So go ahead and celebrate Passover, keep that Chametz far away from your mouth for the week after the Seder, and find joy in knowing that Yeshua rose on the first day after the Pesach Shabbat and through that resurrection, we can find eternal joy in the presence of the Lord.

The fact that the current timing of these celebrations doesn’t match exactly when they are to occur according to the Torah is simply a result of the way the world has changed, and God understands that.

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This Passover is special because it also falls on Shabbat, which we call a Shabbat Shabbaton (special Shabbat) so please enjoy it. Passover is a joyful celebration and I wish you all a very pleasant one.

L’hitraot, Pesach Sameach, and Baruch HaShem!!

The Day of Jubilee is on Yom Kippur for a Good Reason

This Shabbat (29 September, 2017) is also Kol Nidre, the first evening of Yom Kippur. As such, the traditional Torah reading is Leviticus 16:1-34 which are the rulings regarding this day.

However, I am going to talk about Leviticus 25: 8-10, which goes as follows:

You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years.  Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land.  And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan.

The Jubilee Year is designed to allow every Israelite to return to take possession of his ancestral land, and to be freed of any and all debts that he has incurred. It allows him  and his family to restart their life in their own home and without any debt. The economy of this action is remarkable: it prevents land grabbing, it maintains a working class, it establishes a moral economy, and it prevents people from being sold into slavery forever. It maintains a family standard of wealth, in that their property will always revert to them, at some point in the future, if they should ever fall on bad times.

It is not unlike the biblical prophecies regarding the Children of Israel that state no matter how many times they are conquered, or how far from home they are dispersed, their homeland and their own, personal property will always be there and one day God will bring them back to it.

Yom Kippur also allows us to restart our life debt free; not free from owing money to someone, but free from the debt we owe to God for our sins.

When we sin we owe God restitution- whether it be blood of the innocent, grain, 1/5th additional to what we took, or any combination of those things. What we owe Him is more, though, than just things- we owe Him our life. When we sin we separate ourselves from God, and our eternal life is then forfeit. The only way we can be reunited and gain back our eternity is to pay the debt. Yom Kippur provides us a single point in time where we can know that our debt will be paid off and we will start anew.

The Jubilee Year and Yom Kippur have this in common- both free us from debt; the former from worldly debt, and the latter from spiritual debt. The year when Yom Kippur and Jubilee fall together is certainly a joyous occasion, even though Yom Kippur is a solemn event.

In case you were not aware, 2017 is a Jubilee Year, and starting on Saturday evening, 9/30/2017 all Jews are to receive back their ancestral lands. I live in Florida, in the United States, and don’t even know what tribe I belong to, but I do know this: I will be forgiven of my sins and somewhere in Israel is a plot of land that belongs to me.

As a Messianic Jew who has accepted Yeshua ha Maschiach (Jesus Christ) as my Savior, you may ask why I need to fast or worship on Yom Kippur. After all, didn’t Yeshua die for our sins? Yes, He did, but He didn’t change the commandments. Yom Kippur, including the fast, is still a commandment of God and all who worship God should obey it. Not because I believe, as my fellow  “mainstream” Jews do, it is the only means of forgiveness, but simply because it is commanded. I think we should also fast and worship as a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people, most of whom have not accepted Yeshua, to show them that believing in Yeshua doesn’t mean one is no longer an observant Jew. Most any Jew will tell you, if you are Jewish and believe in Yeshua as your Messiah, you aren’t a Jew anymore because you have to be a Christian if you believe in Jesus. It’s really sad- they don’t even know what the term “believe in Jesus” means!

Today is a very, very special day- the Yom Kippur of Jubilee Year! We are freed from debt to Man and to sin, and we can start our lives afresh, clean and unencumbered.

Of course, this is a spiritual statement; I don’t suggest going to the local bank branch and insisting that because this is the Yom Kippur Jubilee Year you would like the deed to your house. I think you will find yourself on the sidewalk.

One last note: since Yom Kippur is all about forgiveness, I also suggest there be one other type of debt you relieve yourself of. That is the onerous debt of unforgiveness for others. Starting at sundown tonight we will be praying and fasting, asking God to move from the Throne of Judgement to the Throne of Mercy and to forgive us the debt of our sins, which we owe Him. We must, therefore, also forgive those that owe us a debt of sin, whether they ask for it or not.

Remember Matthew 6:14-15:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Remember also the parable in Matthew 18:23-35 about the man that was forgiven a large debt and refused to forgive one who owed him only a little. It didn’t go well for the one who refused to forgive. It will be the same for you and me if we refuse to forgive, so on this day, more than on any other day, as you pray to God for forgiveness, think also of those that have sinned against you, and forgive them!

Believe me, please, when I say that the heaviness of spirit we feel when we have monetary debts is nothing compared to the emotional emptiness you feel when you are unforgiving.  Debts can be paid, after which they are just a memory, but unforgiveness is a poison that eats away your heart, little by little, until you can’t even love anymore.  It destroys all your relationships, and it hurts everyone you care about and who cares about you.

So celebrate the forgiveness you receive from God by forgiving others, especially those you have refused to forgive because they “don’t deserve it.” It doesn’t matter what they deserve because your unforgiveness separates you from God, and when you forgive them you will be reunited with the Lord in joy, the pain of being hurt will be gone, and a great weight will be lifted.

Forgiveness brings us closer to God, both when He forgives us and when we forgive others.

Do What is Right and Not What is Expected

First off, let me say that Irma is no friend of mine!

 

Nice Irma…..Image result for my friend irma'          Nasty Irma….Image result for hurricane irma images

 

We have some small and large branches down all around the house (nothing damaging the house or porch), a few roof shingle tabs that blew off (nothing serious) and the large Bougainvillea that is on the side of the house has nearly every leaf and flower blown off- it looks more like a skeleton of a large bush than a bush.  🙂

Power is back on (lost it sometime around 0200 and it came back around 1015) but there is no water due to the many mains which have broken. I hope the water comes back soon. Overall, the worst is done- just windy and an occasional shower left behind, but I am leaving most of the plywood up in case the next one, Jose, wants to make trouble, also.

Because I have power and today is a day for blogging, let’s not waste the blessing God has provided and get down to today’s message.

I was reading Dear Abby the other day and read a letter from someone saying they receive a present from friends which is always a hand-colored picture from a coloring book. They always get a different hand-colored picture each time there is an event where people exchange gifts. The writer was complaining that this is all they get, and they wanted to know how to tell the givers not to give these anymore.

Abby said to accept the gift graciously, then do whatever they wanted to with it. I agree with the first part of her answer, but the second part disturbed my spirit because it doesn’t address the real issue, which isn’t about the gift at all, but is all about the  attitude of the people receiving the gift.

I am somewhat proud to say that even before I knew the Lord, I still thought that when someone gives a gift they should do so because they wanted to give a gift, and not in expectation of receiving something as nice (or nicer) back. Gift giving should be that- giving. Not expecting a return on investment, not requiring an invitation to their party because you invited them to yours, and certainly not expecting that the gift has to be used or given any special consideration. We should give a gift because we want to give a gift. That’s all there should be to it.

The people in the article didn’t appreciate the meaning behind the hand-colored pictures, and only saw the “thing” they received. They (apparently) expected better, maybe something prettier or more expensive, or more useful. In this, they were exhibiting what the world expects- eye for eye, gift for gift, invitation for invitation. I give only so that I will receive.

This is called Altruism: for instance, in the animal world bats are altruistic in that they will care for and feed the sick among them, knowing that if they become sick they will be fed. In human circles this is expected, but I believe humans should be above that;  we should not be altruistic in our relationships, we should be philanthropic.

Yeshua teaches that if someone asks for a shirt, give your cloak as well, or if they ask to carry their pack for a mile, carry it for two miles ( Matthew 5:40; Luke 6:29-30) because we are to give without expectation of receiving back.

God has made covenants with us, in which there is an exchange, but the most important things God gives us, namely Grace, salvation, and forgiveness, He gives without expectation of receiving anything back.

My answer to the writer of this letter would have been to accept the gift graciously, then take the one they liked best, frame it and put it in a conspicuous place in their house. This way they will constantly look at it, and maybe it will be a reminder that they are blessed to have friends who don’t want to just “give something” but want to give of themselves in the gift. Maybe by recognizing the love and compassion behind the simple gift they will become more compassionate and loving, themselves.

Do what is right, and do it for the right reasons. Never give in expectation of receiving. Even if someone is constantly unappreciative and never gives you anything, don’t refuse to give to them. When it comes to giving, we should follow the pattern of the Golden Rule: Gift unto others what you would like to receive yourself.

L’Shanah Tovah! (Happy New Year)

It’s 5777.

I had someone tell me, just yesterday, that this should be a very good year. The number ‘5’ reminds us of the 5 books of Moses (Torah) and of the 5 divisions to the Psalms. The number ‘7’ is probably the MOST powerful number in the bible. It represents completeness, as the world was completed in seven days; the 7th day is the Sabbath, the word for luck, Mazel, is equal to the number 77, and when the bible wants to emphasize something, it says it three times.

So, if you’re into numerology, 5-7-7-7 should be a very good year.

Of course, the entire celebration is not really a new year celebration according to God. In Leviticus 23, the chapter that gives us the Festivals of the Lord, this is Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets (also Yom Ha-Zikaron, Day of Remembrance.) It begins the 10 Days of Awe, a period of somber and humble introspection as we approach Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement. During this time we are to review our past year with emphasis on how well, or how poorly (in most cases) we did with regards to doing that which pleases God.

The new year celebration is actually a holiday, not a Holy Day, as I define them: Holy Days are what God told us we must celebrate to Him, and a holiday is what men have created to be a day of celebration. Therefore, Yom HaZikaron is a Holy Day, a day of remembrance (as defined by God), but Rosh Hashanah is a holiday, a Rabbinic ordinance that tells us to celebrate the beginning of the year. It is a civil new year. The religious, or spiritual, new year is when God told us it is to be, which is the first day of Nisan: the first day of our freedom from slavery in Egypt.

Exodus 12:1-2 “ Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.” 

So, since the holiday of Rosh Hashanah is not decreed by God- in fact, it is in conflict with the Holy Day God said we should celebrate- should we ignore it?

Good question. I wish I had a good answer!

My book goes into this in the chapter regarding Holy Days vs. Holidays. All I can talk about is what I do- I worship God as He said we should (well, I do not do a very good job of it, but I keep getting better) and when there is a conflict, if we can call it that, I try to do what would please God. Since God said this is a day of remembrance, I think we should look inside ourselves and try to determine how to be better next year. And when we celebrate the American (worldly) new year in January, don’t we do that as part of it? Don’t we sing, “Auld Lang Syne”? Don’t we look forward to a better year?  Don’t we wish each other better success as we move into the future? Don’t we make resolutions (just to break them) to improve ourselves?

I do not see a real conflict between celebrating the day of remembrance as a new year, so long as we do the things I described above. Instead of a conflict, I see it more as just a different spin on the idea of remembrance.

For me, I want to hear the trumpets call me to remember, call me to look inside, call me to gather myself together to work towards being a better “me”, a more Godly “me”, a “me” that will please the Lord more in the coming year. And a “me” that is thankful, humbly and respectfully, for the forgiveness I already have though Messiah Yeshua. I will not abuse that forgiveness by taking advantage of His promises; I will not trample the blood of Messiah into the dirt by using His sacrifice to allow me to half-way atone.

As I prepare for Yom Kippur, and celebrate these Days of Awe, this time of holy introspection and review, I do ask God to move from the Throne of Judgment to the Throne of Mercy- not for myself, because Yeshua has covered my sins, but for my people, for all people, so that they may look inside and see the spirit of God we all have and recognize their sinfulness.

Only when we are willing to “own” our sin can we truly begin to give it away.

Enjoy this new year; may we see the return of Israel to her land and the coming of Messiah Yeshua on clouds in majesty and power! Hallelujah!!

L’shanah tovah tiketavu!

Parashah Pesach (Exodus 12:21 – 12:51)

Weren’t we in the book of Leviticus last week? How’d we get back to Exodus?

Today, actually tonight, begins Passover (‘Pesach’, in Hebrew.) As such, this being one of the most important and happiest of all the Holy Days God gave us, we read this portion of the Torah and then get back to Vayikra next week.

Passover is a Holy Day that is somewhat misunderstood, by both Jews and Christians. If you ask most any Jewish person how long Passover lasts, I’ll bet the answer you get is “7 days”, but that’s wrong. “Passover” only lasts from evening until midnight, when the angel of death passed over Egypt. The 7 days that we fast (no leavened products, i.e.. nothing with yeast) is called Hag Ha Matzot. It is the Feast of Unleavened Bread that lasts 7 days. Another thing that is misunderstood is that Passover is when God said we should celebrate the new year; God never said that Rosh HaShannah is the Jewish new year. In Exodus God tells Moshe that this day (the day the Jews left Egypt) is to be the first day of your year. Rosh HaShannah, the Jewish New Year, is a Rabbinical holiday and not a God ordered Holy Day. The day that it is celebrated on is a God-ordered Holy Day, but that day is called (by God) Yom Teruah, or Day of Trumpets. It is a memorial day.

From the Christian viewpoint, because of the undeniable association of the sacrificial death of Yeshua (Jesus) on the day after Passover, leading to His resurrection on the third day (Sunday, the beginning of the Jewish week, as we are told in the Bible) the sacrifice of the Passover lamb is considered to be what Yeshua underwent, which was a sacrifice to absolve us of our sin. Especially since He is often referred to as the Lamb of God. Even the Jewish people, for the most part, believe that the Pesach lamb was a sin sacrifice.

Oh, oh…not so, oh no. The Passover lamb was sacrificed, yes, but it was a thanksgiving sacrifice, a peace offering, not a sin or guilt offering.

Go back and read the first chapters of Leviticus we just went through- it describes how the different sacrifices are to be administered by the Kohen. There is only one type where the person offering the sacrifice also partakes in the eating of the sacrifice, and that is the peace offering. God demands that the Passover lamb be roasted and eaten by those offering it, so that makes the Passover sacrifice a peace offering, not a sin offering.

But didn’t Yeshua offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin? Yes, He did. Well, when do the Jewish people offer their sin sacrifice? That’s on Yom Kippur.

You see, Yeshua is both sides of the coin, so to speak: His sacrifice to overcome our sin was on Passover, and the Passover sacrifice is a peace offering to God. When we think about it, isn’t the Messiah supposed to bring us all back into relationship with God?  So when He sacrificed Himself as a sin offering, didn’t that also allow us to come into relationship with God? Wasn’t the curtain torn from the top down? From God to us? When Yeshua died on that execution tree, His sacrifice was both the sin sacrifice that comes at Yom Kippur (the final one that will be at the End of Days) and the peace offering that brings us back into relationship with God. His sacrifice counted then as two- the sin sacrifice to cleanse us before God and the peace offering that will bring us into relationship with God. They may be a little backwards to us, since our time is linear, but God’s time is different. What Yeshua did back then was for then, and for now, and for the rest of time; one sacrifice to accomplish two things, from then until forever.

Isn’t God just amazing?!? It gives you goose-bumps. Now do you see the real association between Passover and Yom Kippur? We usually associate Passover with freedom from physical slavery and follow it up with Shavuot, the giving of the Law on Sinai as a “one-two punch” against sin. For those that accept Yeshua’s Messianic calling as true, these two Holy Days also represent the freedom from spiritual slavery and the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, which only because of Yeshua’s sacrifice can now indwell forever. Prior to Yeshua the Ruach fell on the person, but was lifted up later. Only because of Yeshua can that Ruach now indwell and remain.

And there’s another misunderstanding- as nicely as this all fits, Passover is not really associated with Shavuot, but with Yom Kippur. Passover and Yom Kippur are the two sides of the same coin, sacrifice for sin to cleanse us and peace offering to bring us back into relationship with God. Again I ask, isn’t that what the Messiah is supposed to do?

I also do two things at once to my Christian friends at this time of the year: I teach them by kidding with them and rebuking them at the same time. I ask them if they ever considered that as they are celebrating and honoring the resurrection of Yeshua, they are eating something that He would find to be an abomination and an insult on His table?

Think about it before you buy that Easter ham. Also think about it when you have bread and cake all next week. Yeshua told his Talmudim (Disciples) to beware the Hametz (yeast) of the Pharisees;  Yeshua and all His followers fasted from yeast during the celebration of Hag ha Matzot. Do you want to do as Yeshua did? Do you really want to please God?

If you do not normally fast during the 7 days after passover, try it. I am sure there are many who fast from something for a day or a week to get closer to God. Don’t you think that fasting as God says you should would bring you that much closer to pleasing Him? To being in communion with Him?

Forget the ham- do a turkey or a chicken. No lamb- that is not allowed because the lamb is the demanded sacrifice and it must be done at the Temple, but the Temple doesn’t exist anymore so we don’t do lamb on Passover. Chicken, turkey, maybe a nice brisket, no bread- only matzah for the next week. No cakes, no nothing with any yeast in it at all.

Try it. Do what God says and He promises to bless you (read Deuteronomy 28.) Don’t get all caught up in that drek about obeying Torah means you aren’t under the blood- that’s nothing but a bunch of fertilizer taught by those who don’t understand and don’t want to obey God to those who don’t want to make their own decision about how to worship God.

Here are my two most favorite ways to eat matzah: spread butter lightly over it with salt (warm the butter a bit first or it will crack the matzah)- YUM!!! And for breakfast eat Matzah Brei: soak matzah in warm water, when it’s soft wring out the water (carefully) and then drench the matzah is an egg wash with a little milk (and cinnamon), then fry in a frying pan greased with butter. Serve hot with syrup or sugar. It’s sort of a Jewish french toast, and I cannot believe you won’t LOVE it!

Chag  Sameach!!