October 2016


Introduction

The Lord once appeared before Moses and said this

“I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac,
  and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name Lord
 
I was not known to them.” – YHWH  (Ex 6:2-3)

Over here God told Moses that their forefathers do not know his name. But interestingly the word LORD appeared many times throughout the book of Genesis. We understand that man had began calling on the name of the Lord.  (Gen 4:26) . We also read of Abraham naming his altar after the Lord

“And Abraham called the name of the place,
  The-Lord-Will-Provide; (YHWH-Yireh) as it is
  said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord
  it shall be provided.”- Moses (Gen 22:14)

So did God make a mistake? Has he told a lie before Moses? How did Abraham name the place so when he did not know the name of the Lord?

God had not spoken wrongly, Genesis was written by Moses. Some rabbis who compiled the Babylonian Talmud claims that God narrated the story of Genesis to Moses. Even till today the debates rages challenging the authorship of the Pentateuch.

I am not  a bible scholar nor am I an expert in Hebrew literature. But I believe that it was Moses who wrote the first 5 books of Moses. All along in history these 5 books were known as the law of Moses. Perhaps he may get some scribes to help him. But I choose to believe that God had inspired Moses to write the first 5 books. God may have indeed narrated the story to Moses on the mountain or he may have moved Moses to pen down the common history of the Israelites. It really does not matter to me.

I believe that when Moses penned the stories in Genesis, he used the name of God in them. He wanted Israel to know that the God who brought them out of Egypt, was the same God that appeared to their forefathers.

Gen 6 records the self introduction made by God to Moses. God wanted Moses to tell Israel what kind of God he is. He did it so that Israel could re-establish their faith to God. Let us examine this self-introduction in greater details.

Pt 1: I am God Almighty  (El Shaddai)

In Ex 6:3, God said that he is God Almighty.  This is a name that carries in important message. It tell us that if God set up to do something. He will accomplish it. There is nothing on earth that could stop and disrupt of the will of God, not even the Pharaoh of Egypt. 

When Moses came came before the Pharaoh and told the Pharaoh to let Israel to go. The Pharaoh treated it as a joke.  He accused the Israelites for being idle with nothing to do. In response he increased  their labour and they have to make bricks without straw.  This lead to the murmuring of Israel.

“May the Lord look on you
  and judge you! You have
  made us obnoxious to
  Pharaoh and his officials
  and have put a sword in
  their hand to kill us.”- Israelites (Ex 5:21)

But God answered

“Now you will see what I will
  do to Pharaoh: Because of my
  mighty hand he will let them go;
  because of my mighty hand
  he will drive them out of his
  country.”- YHWH (Ex 6:1)

God told Moses that with a strong hand the Pharaoh will get them go. Perhaps at that point of time Israel can only see the hand of the Pharaoh oppressing them and stopping them from leaving. But God is God almighty. Israel eventually saw the great hands of deliverance from God.

We read of how God parted the red sea, saving Israel from the armies of the Pharaoh. We read of how the armies of Egypt perished within the waves of the red sea. We need to continue to place our trust in God. For he is God almighty. 

Today there are people who think that God is not omnipotent. They said that there are things God wanted to do but he cannot complete. They claim that God wanted all men to be saved, but in the end not all men were saved. Let us look at these deeper.

Pt 1.1: God will act according to his own will

Was God unable to save man? Or was man unwilling to be saved by God? These are 2 different matter.  God will that all men to be saved, but he will not force men to accept his salvation.  He will save whoever who is willing to believe in him and follow him.

God will act according to his own will, that is something we ought to understand. For men often thinks that they are smarter than God. They wanted to teach him what he ought to do. They question God “Why are you silent? Why don’t you do this or that? isn’t that a better arrangement?”

“Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
  Or as His counsellor has taught Him?
  With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,
  And taught Him in the path of justice?
  Who taught Him knowledge,
  And showed Him the way of understanding?”-Isaiah (Is 40:13-14)

We often like to tell God what to do, what is worst is when we accuse God of doing wrong and not being just. We speak as if we are wiser than God. That was the mistake committed by the Israelites

They saw God sending Moses to them, but they saw his deliverance brought about hardship. They question among themselves “If God is God Almighty, why did they Pharaoh defy him again and again?”

So they asked God “How long will you wait? How long shall we continue believing?” They have forgotten that he is God Almighty, he had his will, he knows what to do. He does not need us to teach him what to do, or to be his strategist and advisor.

Pt 1.2: Our Response To God Almightiness

Today if we  understand that God is God almighty, our obedience to him will be absolute. We will not dare question God or want him to follow our instruction. We will wait on the Lord and pray for his will to be done. We will not ask God to act according to our wishes.

For we know he is God almighty and he knows what is the best action to take. That is the main message why God introduced himself as God almighty and we must believe in him.

God said he is God almighty, let us not use his almightiness only in life on earth. Today many Christians ask God to help them in their lives on earth. They ask God to heal them, to cast out demons, to guide them in their marriage. I do not deny that these are manifestation of Gods power, but Gods power is more than these.  It is not just here to perform these.

Even if we are healed today we will fall sick again. This is inevitable. Gods power is meant to establish faith. Let us take a look of this closer.

Pt 1.3: Gods Power In Creation And Resurrection

In Mat 22:23-29: Here we read about the Sadducees who do not believe in the resurrection.  They have a good reason to explain why there is no resurrection, they often use these reason in their debates and no one could stand against them. That is why they felt they are right and they brought their argument before Jesus.

They thought Jesus could not answer, but Jesus told them simply that they did not understand scriptures or the power of God. For if they knew it, resurrection is not something impossible.

Likewise some Christians ask “How would those who died in battle come back to life? What if they are swallowed up by a fish? Or blown to Smithereens? how will they resurrect?” those who think like this did not understand the power of God. If they know God, they will know that it is something easy for him. For he had created the world out of nothing. We need to know he is God almighty and he can do it.

Let us consider one more example 

“Then Mary said to the angel, “How can
  this be, since I do not know a man?”

  And the angel answered and said to her,
  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
  and the power of the Highest will
  overshadow you; therefore, also, that
  Holy One who is to be born will be
  called the Son of God. “ – Luke (Lk 1:34-35)

Even today, for a virgin to have a child is a joke, there are many who find it hard to believe. That is why we are not surprised that Mary find it hard to believed.  This is beyond human comprehension. But the angel gave her an answer. That is when Mary remembered  that God is God almighty. That is why she believed and submitted to the word of God.

“Behold the maidservant of the Lord!
  Let it be to me according to your word.”- Mary (Lk 1:38)

If we know God is God almighty, we will be able to resolve many bible difficulties. Even though we are unable to rationalise everything, but God is God almighty. We need to re-establish our faith towards God.  Then we will not doubt God.

Pt 1.4 Do Not Be Ashamed Of The Gospel

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,
  for it is the power of God to salvation
  for everyone who believes, for the Jew first
  and also for the Greek. “ – Pau (Rom 1:16)

Why are there people who are ashamed of the gospel of Christ? That’s beacuse they feel that with the gospel comes difficulty and opposition. We will face opposition from believers as well as unbelievers. Sometimes the opposition may come from even our own family. It is indeed hard to preach the gospel today.

For many will mock & despise us. Sometimes those who believes in the gospel will encounter difficulties.  Sometimes these difficulties will drive us away so that we would not dare to continue believing. That is why they leave the faith and did not dare to continue

But Paul said he is not ashamed of the gospel. For it is the power of God. He can save those who believe. Even though today it faces massive opposition, even though it appear as if many cannot accept it and reject the gospel.

It doesn’t change the fact that it is the power of God. It is able to save those who believe. Though many do not believe, God knows there are others who are willing to believe it.  Let us not be ashamed of the gospel, let us continue to preach to save those who will believe.

Pt 1.5 Believing The Power Of Gods Word

Let us not focus on those who do not believe and mock us. Let us seek out those whoa re willing to listen willing to believe.  Perhaps those who believe in it are bounded up and in trouble. But the gospel of God is unchained.

Even though Paul was imprisoned, but the word he wrote continue to preach the gospel across all era and time.  Perhaps we see many who preached the gospel failed and fall away in faith. Perhaps they no longer believe in the gospel anymore. But the gospel will continue to save whoever who is willing to believe. We need to believe that Gods word will be victorious in the very end.

Can we still believe in this? Am I speaking out of a blind faith? Am I deceiving myself? Or desperately trying to comfort myself?

That depends if you understand the power of God. If you can still believe he will save those who believe.  It depends if you know that the gospel is the power of God. If we know this we will not be ashamed of it. Even if we are bounded up we know his words will still stand.

If we know it is the power of God, we will face up our difficulties with courage. We will not be ashamed of the gospel.  We will not be sad when others mock us. For God is God almighty. Do we still believe in his power? That is why we need to rebuild our faith in God.

Pt 2: I Am The God Who Remembers My Covenant

“I have also established My covenant
  with them, to give them the land of
  Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage,
  in which they were strangers.
  And I have also heard the groaning of
  the children of Israel whom the
  Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have
  remembered My covenant.”-YHWH (Ex 6:4-5)

God told Moses that he is a God who remembers his covenant. He is here to save Israel and to keep to his part of the covenant. While man often forget the covenant they made with God. God will never forget his covenant. He will never forget his promises to man.

Ex 12:40-43 tells us that 430 years have passed, but God fulfilled his covenant with men. During that period, Israel thought that God have forgotten about them in Egypt.  This is because they have no experience with God. They knew that their forefathers spoke direct to God. But 430 years have passed. Israel had not seen any miracles nor have they seen the power of God.

Pt 2.1 : The Faith To See What Is Unseen

They have not heard or seen a prophet of God. Their experience were only handed down by their forefather. Their only link between their forefathers and them was the grave of Joseph. Which serves as a reminder that one day God will take them out of Egypt.

They knew that God had chosen them to be his people, and promised to give them the land of Canaan. But generations have passed to the extent that 430 years have slipped by, they have not seen the power of God nor heard the voice of God.

Can they still keep their faith and believe? Can they still pass that faith to the next generation? Have God truly forgotten them? Have their forefathers place their trust on the wrong God? We are talking about 430 years and not 40 years.

The Author of Hebrews tell us

“These all died in faith, not having
  received the promises, but having
  seen them afar off were assured of
  them, embraced them and confessed
  that they were strangers and pilgrims
  on the earth.” – Author of Hebrews (Heb 11:13)

The fact is that their forefathers did not receive the promise land. It was faith that took them out from their home city to come to Canaan. Their faith allowed them to continue keeping the word of God in the midst of difficulties. They held on to their faith till the end, even to their deathbed.

To the world these men were pitiable and miserable. Even though they respected their unchanging faith. They will say that these people did not receive the promises of God. It appears as if their faith is futile, and they have followed God in vain. But the author of Hebrews tell us that they have seen from afar and embrace it with great joy

Their faith is like a telescope, enabling them to see their heavenly home. That is why they remain steadfast to the end, holding on to their faith. That is why they did not give up, for they believe in the promises of God. They knew God is almighty. They knew that God is a God who remembers his covenant. He will bring it to fulfilment.  They held on to their faith and not abandon it.

Pt 2.1: The Reminder Of Joshua

“And you know in all your hearts and 
  all your souls that not on e thing has
  failed of all the good things which the
  Lord your God spoke concerning you.
  All have come to pass for you; not one
  word of them has failed”- Joshua (Jos 23:14)

While exodus teaches us how God kept his covenant and saved Israel, Joshua reminded us that God is a God who keep his commandment. He have given the land of promise to the descendent of Abraham. Joshua knew that he is going to die, so he left his last words for Israel. It is recorded in Jos 23:15-16.

Joshua reminded them that Gods word will always come to past. That is why man ought to keep his covenant with God. 

If we go against the covenant we made with God, then God will allow the curse of the covenant to come upon us.  But on the flipside, if we keep the covenant, then we would receive the promise that comes with it.

Joshua reminded Israel that God is a God who keeps his covenant. We being his people must choose to keep our covenant with God.

Do we know that God is a God who keep his covenant? Will we choose to keep to our side of the covenant? So What Covenant have we made with Jesus?

Pt 2.2: The Covenant Of Baptism

The first covenant we made with God is the covenant of baptism. It is when God forgives our sins, he turn us from being a sinner to a child of God. The result of that covenant is for us to inherit the kingdom of God.

What is our side of the covenant? What are we suppose to do? How should we hold on to it?

We need to obey the word of God, change ourselves and become a new man. Have we went against this covenant? Have we transgress this covenant? Have we became a new man? Or do we remain our old sinful self at the point of Baptism

If one could remain consistently zealous and faithful to God it will be something good, but how many of us could persist for so long? Is our faith just like the time when we first believe? Or have we change our faith and stop being zealous for God?

Sometimes we allow the things of the world to ensare us. As the result we forget our covenant we made with God. we only thank God for forgiving our sins, but we have forgotten to keep our part and be a new man.

Is this the only covenant that we have?

Pt 2.3:  The Covenant Of Marriage

We have also made a covenant of marriage before God. The modern world thinks that marriage is merely between 2 parties, but we have in fact signed the marriage covenant before God. It we believe that marriage is instituted by God, than we will conduct our life of marriage before God and receive our blessing.

Have we forgotten our marriage covenant? Jesus told us that the two will become one flesh. Do we go against that covenant? If we want godly offspring who will serve God, we have to do our part to keep this covenant before God.

Have we taken this covenant lightly?

Pt 2.4: The Covenant Of Holy Communion

There is a third covenant that we have signed, that is the covenant of the Holy Communion. In that covenant we are to remember the death of our Lord. We must not let him die in vain. We must not trample the blood of Christ and let it be flowing for nothing.

We often thank God for dying for us and giving us salvation, but have we learnt to respect the blood of Christ and to give honour to it? Have we trample on his blood without realising it?

A Christian ought to know that Christ will come again, that is why we hold the holy communion often. But sometimes in the midst of doing so we have forgotten what it is meant to remind us of?

The Holy Communion is here to remind us that God is will come once again. This is something we so often neglect. We tend to forget that Christ will come again and the world will be destroyed. If we know that the world will not be there in the future. Will we continue to love the world and invest all our time and effort in it?

We often tell ourselves to focus on the things in the world, till the state that we have forgotten our goals and our status as Christians. Will we choose to be like our forefathers who recognise that they are sojourner on earth?

Conclusion

The world is indeed beautiful and full of comfort. But one day it will be destroyed. At that time we would meet with the God who introduced himself to Moses. He is God almighty and he is a God who remembers his covenant. Do we remember our covenant with him? Will we remain steadfast till he comes again?

Important Note:
1. The Author do not condone unhealthy life style or the necessity of going against Jewish diet law.
2. The Author is not saying eating fat, unclean meat is the great lifestyle to have
3. The Author thinks that the Jewish diet law is healthy lifestyle and beneficial to health.
4. But men in their own wisdom who tagged scientific research to supplement the word of God
5. By so doing, they had went beyond the word of God, added to the word of God

Introduction

So far in this series, we have looked at the following

1. The Fall Feast (Part 1)
2. Pauls Explanation Of Col 2 (Part 2)
3. Day Of Atonement (Part 3)
4. Feast Of The Tabernacles (Part 4)

Recently, a colleague of mine showed me the website that advocates not eating of pork. The article that he was referring to sparked off to an interesting debate. It is one of the rare time when we see people of other faith advocating the importance of abstaining from pork

Out of curiosity i open the linked article, it seem to have originated from a Christian group that advocate the following of the Mosaic Law regarding clean and unclean animals. As the video began by making reference to Lev 11. The group is trying to make use of the video to explain why God wrote the law regarding food in Lev 11.

The issue of clean and unclean meat had always been a controversy in Christendom. Sometimes it spin up parody site such as “God hate shrimps.” It also drove many people to  work hard to provide scientific explanation to supplement the Law of God. It has also led to many crazy experiment in  YouTube as many well meaning Christian fought hard to justify the reason behind the dietary requirement.

Interestingly, those article seem to focus much on the dangers of unclean mean but did not attempt to explain scientifically how clean meat overcame those dangers. But I guess it is easier to find fault with something rather than discover benefits.  Perhaps they may have discovered to their horror that the same problem exist in clean animals and decide to omit the information in goodwill.

Clean And Unclean Animals In Torah

While everyone is busy condemning unclean meat and justifying the word of God via scientific methods. I have decided to look into the Torah to see how the Law of Moses talks about the matter.

In a nutshell, here are my discovery

1. The law of clean and unclean animals pre-dates the Torah and even Noah’s Flood
        a. God allow 7 pairs of clean animals, 1 pair of unclean animal into the ark (Gen 7:2-3)
        b. Eating of meat is forbidden in the pre-flood world (Gen 1:29)
        c. Abel kept sheep mainly for sacrificial purpose as that was how God taught Adam. 

2. After the flood, God gave all moving creatures to Noah and his descendent for food
        a. Men is allowed to eat every herb, land creatures, fish and birds (Gen 9:3)
        b. But the eating of blood is forbidden (Gen 9:4-7)

3. This remain so until God gave the Law where Israel must eat clean meat (Lev 11:46-47)
        a. Clean and unclean animals are determined by their physical traits
        b. These had nothing to do with Tapeworms or any scientific evidence we see on internet

In fact, if we study the reason and definition of unclean animals, you will realise God is very clear in his definition. Sadly man tried very hard to use human research and freak experiment to make explanation on behalf of God . But by adding our own perspective and research we have unknowing go beyond the words of God and his intended meaning.

Do Not Supplement The Word of God

While many Christians are careful not to take away words from the bible. God do not want us to supplement to what he is teaching. For God specifically said in the Torah

“You shall not add to the word
  which I command you, nor take
  from it, that you may keep the
  commandments of the Lord your
  God which I command you”- YHWH (Deut 4:2)

Trying to supplement the word of God with scientific research is a form of disrespect. For by so doing, we are effectively telling God that his command is unclear and unfair, and his revelations are incomplete. That is why we need to help it to reach perfection by adding our own words to Gods word.

Let us learn Gods definition of clean and unclean animals and let us learn to accept it as it is. Let us not be wise in our eyes, adding  unnecessary “Coke on pork”experiment to say something that the Lord have not spoken. For by doing we only damage our own credibility as many of these experiments are proven to be a hoax.

Let us return to the scriptures and understand God definition of clean and unclean animals and let us study the reason why one animal is regarded as clean while others are not.

Clean And Unclean Animal As Defined In The Mosaic Covenant

I have compiled the information as described in the law of Moses in this diagram below

In simple words here are the definition of clean and unclean animals according to the law of Moses

Question To Consider

Before I end off, here are some questions for my readers to consider

We would examine these in greater detail in the second part of this post,.

Introduction

So far in this series, we have looked at the following

1. The Fall Feast (Part 1)
2. Pauls Explanation Of Col 2 (Part 2)
3. Day Of Atonement (Part 3)

According to Jewish Calendar, this evening marks the beginning of  feast of the Tabernacles.  Today let us look at the feast of the Tabernacles according to the Torah of Moses. In this article we would look at the feast from the following perspective

1. The Feast And Its Purpose
2. Priestly Sacrifice And Its Role In All Feast under The Mosaic Covenant
3. Tabernacles And The Wilderness Journey
4. Christ Fulfilment Of The Feast
The Feast And Its Purpose

Under the Mosaic Covenant there are 3 passages in the Torah that talks about the Feast Of The Tabernacles.

Lev 23:33-43  is the most detailed explanation of the feast. Let us look at the feast in details

1. There is a convocation (gathering) on the first day of Tabernacles (Vs 35,39)
2. For 7 days sacrifices are meant to be made to the Lord (by Priest) (Vs 36)
3. On the eight day there is another Convocation (Vs 36,39)
4. People are to rejoice using Fruit, palm, willows  (Vs 40)
5. All Native Israelites are to dwell in booths (Sukkot) (Vs 42)

God explained the need for dwelling in booth in his own words.

“that your generations may know
that I made the children of Israel
dwell in booths when I brought them
out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord
your God.’”- YHWH (Lev 23:43)

Other records of the feast is found in Deut 16:13-17 and the offering the priest ought to sacrifice in the feast are detailed in Num 29:15-40.

There are also other commands that are given to Israelites on sabbath year (Deut 31:10-13). they are to read the Law as a nation together.

Priestly Sacrifice In All Feast under The Mosaic Covenant

While today man Christian and Karite Friends are so hyped up about constructing Sukkot. One of the most important aspect of every feast of the Lord is often ignored. The most important aspect of all feast is sacrifice. In every of the Fall and Spring Feast Of Mosaic Covenant, they were tied to special sacrifices.  When you compared the amount of sacrifices made, the Feast Of The Tabernacle tops all the feast.

When God talks about the feast, he mentioned of the sacrifices before the constructing of sukkot. The purpose of the Sukkot is to serve as a reminder of the wilderness journey while the sacrifice is for God directly.

Here are all the feast and their sacrifice requirement as stipulated under the Mosaic Covenant

Note: This diagram did not factor freewill offering or the sacrifices of those attending the feast.

The reason why the feast of the Lord had sacramental effects came from the animal sacrifice.

Interestingly, the number  of animal sacrificed was the greatest at the feast of Tabernacles. It is the single feast with the most sacrifices is done. Have you ever wondered why is it so?  I can help remembering how Job would sanctify his children by sacrifice.

“It may be that my sons have
sinned and cursed God in
their hearts.”- Job  (Job 1:5)

Perhaps God is doing this to sanctify his children. For God is dwelling among unclean people.  He is using mandatory sacrifices to sanctify his people, for he know not everyone would come to offer sacrifices. The true sacramental effect of all the feast lies not constructing Sukkot or reading of he law. It is given through the sin sacrifice that is done every day during the feast.

According to part 3 .We understand that the tabernacle is sanctified during the day of atonement. For God instructed the high priest to purify the temple with blood. The feast of tabernacles happens 5 days after, you will notice that the amount of sacrificial animals was decreasing as the days goes by. the number of bulls fell from 12 on the first day to 7 on the seventh day. (Num 29:12-38)

The author of Hebrew talks about these sacrifices

“For the law, having a shadow
of the good things to come,
and not the very image of the
things, can never with these
same sacrifices, which they
offer continually year by year,
make those who approach perfect.

 For then would they not have
ceased to be offered? For the
worshipers, once purified, would
have had no more consciousness of
sins. But in those sacrifices there is a
reminder of sins every year.
For it is not possible that the blood of
bulls and goats could take away sin”- Author of Hebrews (Heb 10:1-4)

Prophet Samuel also tell us that God would rather want obedience more than sacrifices.

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
  And to heed than the fat of rams.
  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”- Samuel (Sam 15:22-23)

These sacrifices are meant as a reminder for sins, to teach Israel to obey the words of God. ‘

Tabernacles And The Wilderness Journey

God instructed Israel to build tabernacles and stay in them for 7 days. This action is meant to teach the younger Israelites the story of how God made Israel to dwell in booths. During that 7 days they would recall the stories of Israel and their 40 years in the wilderness.

Interestingly when God sent Moses before the Pharaoh he said

“‘Let My people go, that they may
hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.’”- YHWH (Ex 5:1)

God kind of regarded the entire Journey of the Israelites in the wilderness as a giant feast of the tabernacles. Interestingly most of  its participants did not survive the journey and enter Canaan.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites followed Moses into the wilderness. They followed Moses into the red sea, they had food and water provided by God. They were led by the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire.  They suffered all the way to the land of Canaan, yet in the midst of those suffering God grace is shown to them .

The purpose of constructing the tabernacles is to serve as a reminder. This reminder is mentioned off by Moses in (Deut 8:14-17) . That is the spirit and the purpose for constructing the sukkot.

How Christ Fulfils the Feast Of The Tabernacles.

When Christ had sacrifice himself on the cross for us. There is no longer a need for us to perform any sacrifices as required by the law of Moses. By taking away the sacrifice, the sacramental effect of the feast is now made obsolete.

Paul in 1 Cor 10:1-11 drew parallel of the journey to our Christian life

Like wise today we as Christians were called out of Egypt and were baptised into Christ. We are lead by the Holy Spirit of God. We have manna in the word of God and we drink from the rock that followed us in the journey.  Instead of journeying towards Canaan, the modern Christian walk with Christ onto heaven.

Will we finish this journey?  Will we enter our promise land which is promised to us in the new covenant? That depends on the attitude we lead our lives in this world.

Let us not have the same unbelief as the wilderness pilgrims. For we know that almost 99.999% of them failed to enter the land of Canaan. They fail because they were unable to hold on to Gods promise and they were not willing to obey God when he told them to enter the land of Canaan.

Just as God called Israel out of Egypt to enter the land of Canaan . Christians are called out from the world by Jesus. To Christian, the world is just like the wilderness, it is a temporary dwelling for us. . As Christian we ought to keep the spirit of the Tabernacles, to believe in the salvation of Christ and obey him. We read how the majority of the people died in the wilderness and were unable to inherit that promise land. They did so out of unbelief.

At the same time let us remember that it is Christ who called out out to this wilderness. Even though it is difficult. God will help us with the journey. We need to bear with the difficulties we need to face in life. We may not need to build tabernacles but we ought to carry our cross to follow Christ.

The Tabernacle Of God Is Now On Earth

After the sacrifice of Christ is complete, he started the church. It is the heavenly Jerusalem. The Author of Hebrew described it in his book as he contrasted this Jerusalem with the Mount Sinai of Moses where men were not allowed to draw near to it

But you have come to Mount
Zion and to the city of the
living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
to an innumerable company of angels,
to the general assembly and church
of the firstborn who are registered
in heaven, to God the Judge of all,
to the spirits of just men made perfect,
 to Jesus the Mediator of the new
covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling
that speaks better things than that of Abel.”-Author of Hebrews (Heb 12:22-24)

In the covenant of Christ, man do not need to set up a tents to encamp around the tabernacle. But the tabernacle of God is now among man. This heavenly Jerusalem. Instead of building physical tents. Let us rejoice for now the tabernacle of God is on earth

“Behold, the tabernacle of God
is with men, and He will dwell
with them, and they shall be His
people. God Himself will be with
them and be their God.
And God will wipe away every
tear from their eyes; there shall
be no more death, nor sorrow, nor
crying. There shall be no more pain,
for the former things have passed
away.”  -Voice From Heaven (Rev 21:3-5)

This is the eventually the state of the church at the end of this journey. May God will help us in this journey. He will lead us safely to the promise land. May we all finish our feast of the tabernacles. May we all enter the promise land at the end.

Introduction

According to the Jewish calendar, we have just passed the Day Of Atonement 2 days ago . It is the highlight of the fall feast. It is the most important day of the fall feast.

In Part 1 we had given an overview of the fall feast. We had talked about the feast of the trumpets. It was the day where the priest blew the trumpet as an announcement to gather the children of Israel  and to tell them to come up to Jerusalem for the feast.  

According to the law of Moses, the day of atonement is the only day where man can come before the presence of God. Interestingly, when Israel gather for the feast of unleavened bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles. The bible describes them as “appearing before the Lord” (Deut 16:16) . In English “appearing before” and “entering into" are different. In the Old Testament the people of God cannot come into the presence of God. They could only appear before him.

On the day of Atonement, only the high priest can enter into the presence of God. He does so once a year and it is on that day he confess the sin and iniquities of Israel and make atonement for these sin.  Atonement is different from forgiveness. This will be discuss in details later. 

Difficulty Of Drawing Close To God Under Mosaic Law

Under the Mosaic Covenant, it is difficult for men enter the presence of God. The rules concerning the day of the atonement was drawn out by God on the first day when his presence entered into the tabernacle.  The day when God first erect his tabernacle and dwell among man, death reigned on the first day when the son of Aaron perform their duties a priest.

That was the day  2 of the Lord’s priest were killed for dishonouring God. Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron failed in their work as priest and offered profane fire before God. Lev 10 tells us that they burnt incense on their censor using fire not from the altar. This is in direct disobedience to od and God killed them burning them to death before all Israel.

After this incident, God forbade Aaron to enter the Holies of Holies as when he likes. The presence of God is hidden from man by a veil, and this is done for the safety of men. This separation is seen all over the Torah.

When God descended on Mount Sinai to speak to the children of Israel, the people must purify themselves,  even after that God had to create a boundary between himself and hte children of Israel. Even with the boundary, when God descended onto Mount Sinai and spoke to them, they were so terrified that they refuse to hear the words of the Lord.

When they sent Moses to speak to God on their behalf, Moses have to veil his face so that the glory of God have to be hidden from the children of Israel.

These boundaries are drawn by God for the safety of men. In those days serving God in the tabernacle could result to death. So the priest must wear bells (Ex 28:33-35) so that they can be heard while serving in the temple. The priest need to be tied to a rope just in case if he were to be struck dead by God. The people will be able to pull him out with a rope.

Significance Of The Day Of Atonement

The Day of Atonement is very important to the Israelites, for that is the day the temple is purified as it was set up in the midst of unclean people. (Lev 16:116). This is interesting for from here we can see that under the Mosaic Law, the tabernacle of God is in the midst of uncleanness.

Whenever a man offers a sin sacrifice before the Lord. They were in fact desecrating the tabernacle. There is a difference between how sin offering is done on the daily basis verses how it is done on the day of atonement.

The sin offering on the day of atonement is done to purify the temple, for the blood was brought into the veil and sprinkled onto the mercy seat. While typical sin offering requires the blood to be sprinkled before the veil.

The typical sin offering is offered when an individual committed unintentional sin against God. While the sin offering of the day of atonement is offered willingly for the sake of purifying the holy place and the altar.  

The blood from the sin sacrifice is used to sanctify the temple/tabernacle. It was not meant to ask for forgiveness from the Lord. It was also meant to cover the sin that were committed. These sins were carried away by a live goat. 

What Happens On the Feast?

The diagram below illustrate the procedures of the feast of atonement.

There are a few things we will notice.

1. The sin offering in the day of atonement is different from regular offering

2. The sin was carried away by the goat into wilderness, not forgiven

3. The Priest can only enter the presence of God this time. He is not allowed to enter the Holies of Holies at any time of the year

4. The priest and his helpers were made unclean because of the sin of Israel. They must cleanse themselves before entering the camp

The Principle Of Separation In Mosaic Law

Under the Mosaic law, God is dwelling among men. But his presence is confined onto the tabernacle. There is a separation between God and men. Man cannot draw close to God. They can only enter Gods presence once a year. This is so that they would not offend God with their uncleanness and be judged.

Under the Mosaic Law, the children of Israel is separated from the other Hebrews, such as Moabites, Edomite, Ammonites & Ishmaelite. Among the 12 tribes of Israel, the tribes of Levi is separated by God to serve him as priest. Among the Levites, only those who are without blemish can serve God as priest in the Holy Place. Only the descendants of Aaron can enter the Holies of Holies once a year.

Under the Mosaic Law there are separation between Clean and unclean, separation between Aaron, Levites, Israel, from the rest of the world. Separation is the principles found all over the Mosaic Law.

In part 2 we have discussed that God had will that eventually all these separation will be taken down when Messiah comes. Now let us look at how Christ fulfilled the Mosaic law through his death

Christ Fulfilment Of The Requirements Of Mosaic Law

At the death of Christ, when Jesus said “It is finished” there was a great earthquake. Matthew 27:51-54 records of a few things that happen. Firstly, the veil that separate between the Holies of Holies and the Holy Place as torn into two. Secondly, the vision of the ancient saints resurrecting started. All the people who died under the Mosaic covenant came back alive.

These two visions tells us two things.

Firstly. With the sacrifice of Christ. There is no longer a separation between man and God. All man can come before God and ask for forgiveness. The blood of Christ that is sprinkled onto the mercy seat is forever present. Man can now enter the Holies of Holies to ask for forgiveness without ending up like Nadab and Abihu who were judged by God on the spot.

Secondly, those who died under the Mosaic Covenant died in their sins. Their sins are not forgiven at the point of their death. That is why they died a sinful man without receiving salvation from God.  The day of atonement merely atoned (covered) their sins.  The blood of the bulls and ram can never take away sin. Their sin sacrifice are merely reminder of the sins they committed so often.

Their sins were only forgiven when Christ completes the sacrifice on the cross. Therefore when Christ died they were redeemed and they appeared before people. These saints forms the first fruits and were the first human beings saved through the sacrifice of Christ.

Prophecies Of The Covenant Of The Messiah

If we truly understand the fact that the feast of the Old Testament were merely prophecies of the new covenant that Christ will sign with men. We will appreciate the words of the Prophets better

Jeremiah 31:31-34 : God promised that he will sign a new covenant with Israel and Judah. It is a different covenant from the one made with their fathers in Sinai which is the Mosaic Covenant. In that New Covenant God will forgive them of sin. They will all know God and keep the law of God in their hearts.

In that new covenant God will no longer write on tablets of stone, he will write the law in their hearts.

The Lord had also spoken through Ezekiel that in those days he will give them all a new heart, and put his spirit into them. Eze 36:26-27, Eze 11:9.

God also prophesied that he will sign a covenant Israel, in that Covenant he will set his sanctuary among them. His tabernacle will be among them. (Eze 37:26-28) He will dwell in their midst and at that point of time, the nations will also know God. Fro Gods sanctuary will be in the midst  of nations as well.

We have examined many of the old testament prophecies regarding salvation of the gentiles in Part 2. So I would not repeat them here.

The Start Of The New Covenant

The Covenant of Christ was signed by Christ at the point of his death on the cross. When he died on the cross, his death fulfilled the Mosaic Covenant and brought redemption to all the people who died under the old covenant.

The Prophecy Of God cleansing the sin of Israel is now seen in Baptism where the sins of men are forgiven (Acts 2:38) . Whoever who are baptised are no longer separated from God. They were all children of God (Gal 3:26-29)

The prophecy of God dwelling among his people and in the nations is now seen when the Holy Spirit lives in the heart of men. It happened during the day of Pentecost and it happens to us today as well (Joel 2:28-29)

Today those who receive the Holy Spirit have the commandments and law of God written in their hearts. The Holy spirit will teach us the word of Christ write them in our hearts (Jn 16:7-15)

Under the new covenant, there is no longer a need for man to fear coming into the holies of holies. For at the point of baptism, the blood of Christ is sprinkled into our hearts. Our bodies became the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God resides in our heart. Our hearts is now the mercy seat. We have all entered into the Holies of Holies together with Christ.

That is why the Author of Hebrew tells us Heb 4:14-16

What Will Our Response Be?

The covenant of Christ is a better covenant than the covenant of Moses. The Mosaic Covenant cannot forgive sins nor can it bring salvation to anyone. They are a shadow foretelling the coming sacrifice of the Messiah.

Jesus told us that the Mosaic covenant testify of him, and he had fulfilled the covenant with his blood. Even Moses the law given talks about this new covenant. For he once said in the Torah

”The Lord your God will raise
  up for you a Prophet like me
  from your midst, from your
  brethren. Him you shall hear,
  according to all you desired
  of the Lord your God in Horeb
  in the day of the assembly, saying,
  ‘Let me not hear again the voice
    of the Lord my God, nor let me 
    see this great fire anymore, lest
     I die.’”-Moses (Deut 18:15-16)

Moses was talking about the day where Israel was unable to stand before the presence of God when he descended onto mount Sinai. Throughout the entire old testament, they have never been able to keep the law of God nor were they able to come close to God. For their uncleanness prevents them to do so.

Even the Tabernacle erected by God in their midst were constantly made unclean for it was standing in the midst of unclean people.  As the result those circumcised under the Mosaic Covenant were always afraid to draw near to God. They need to send Moses to speak to God on their behalf. Even though there are good man like David, they find themselves always falling short of Gods standard.

As the result God agreed with their suggestions for he knew they were unable to stand before him due to uncleanness. So he set up separation to protect them from his righteous judgement. God did it because he understood the weakness of man.

The Warning Of Moses 

But God was not satisfied with the state of this. Therefore he spoke through Moses saying 

“And the Lord said to me: ‘What
  they have spoken is good. I will
  raise up for them a Prophet like
  you from among their brethren,
  and will put My words in His mouth,
  and He shall speak to them all that
  I command Him. And it shall be that
  whoever will not hear My words,
  which He speaks in My name, I will
  require it of him.” – Moses (Deut 18:17-19)

Moses warned us the severity of ignoring and despising the covenant of Christ. Let us not despise the new covenant and insist on keeping  old traditions that were only meant as a shadow of the real covenant of God. Let us stop doing things that had no effect at all to salvation.

Let us learn the Moral standard of the Mosaic law and keep them. For it is the standard of God for discerning right and wrong. But most importantly let us  accept the new covenant that was prophesied in the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets.

May we all understand this and may we choose the covenant of the Messiah. 

In this part I would like to take the chance to look closely at the verse that inspired the title of the Series

“So let no one judge you in food
or in drink, or regarding a festival
or a new moon or sabbaths,
 which are a shadow of things to
come, but the substance is of
Christ.”- Paul (Col 2:16-17)

This verse had been subjected to scrutiny very often. It is often quoted by mainstream Christianity as supporting the abolishment of the seventh day Sabbath. Others are pro-Sabbath  claims that Paul is referring to the rules and regulations from the Rabbi.

That is why whenever the topic of old testament feast and new testament covenant is brought up, this verse will inevitably be quoted.  Therefore I find this topic close to my heart and I would like share how I have viewed this verse.

The truth is, I am not theologically train and I do not know ancient language. Moreover I am no Israelite so all I have is the bible , and I base my understanding purely from my understanding of the law of Moses.

How I interpreted Col 2:16-17

As far as I can remember, Col 2:16-17 had never been about the 7th day Sabbath fro Lev 23:3. My rationale behind this is very simple. The 7th day Sabbath is part of the 10 commandments. This Sabbath is different from the other Sabbaths written in the law of Moses. God had specially place the seventh day Sabbath into the ten commandments, while the other Sabbaths such as new moon, sabbatical year  are recorded separately.

This differentiation is base on the fact in the law of Moses. At the same time when I read the book of acts, Paul is often meeting and preaching on Sabbath (Acts 13:42-43, 16:13 , 17: 2, 18:4) From here we know that Paul continue to keep the Sabbath he worshipped on the 7th day. To imagine Paul saying the Sabbath are no longer necessary in oOl 2 will mean that Paul did not practice what he preach. He would have contradicted himself a big time

My understanding is base on the fact that the Torah differentiate Sabbath as a commandment from the Sabbaths tied to the feast.

While many advocate that one must be consistent in his interpretation, I believe that the key to understand this verse lies in not being consistent. In fact it require us to have a deep understanding of the Torah, moral standard, and the regulations in the law of Moses.

That had always been how I different between the Sabbath as commandment and the sabbaths for feast. This method of understanding had never been a problem to me. Therefore I am a Sabbath keeper that do not believe in keeping of the feast the regulations of the Torah.

A Question To Think about

Perhaps those who feel that sabbath here refers to the man-made laws should answer this question

“How does man-made traditions of man become “a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”?”””

Assuming if they are right that Paul is referring to the man-made laws by the Rabbis, how could these man made laws teach you about Christ? How could their man-made laws be a foreshadow and a prophecy regarding the messiah?  If that is true, these rabbis must be exemplary, to be able to foresee the coming of Christ and create traditions that prophecy about him.

2 Types Of Jewish Christians In Col 2:16-17

From what I understand, I believe Paul wrote Col 2 targeting 2 types of Jewish Christians within the church, one group advocating the keeping of the traditions of men which is the custom of the Rabbis , and the other group which advocate that circumcision and keeping the law of Moses as an necessity for salvation. The latter group is featured prominently in Acts 15.

When Paul wrote Col 2 he is linked all of them under the same umbrella. That is why he talks about new Moon, Sabbaths and circumcision (A shadow of the good things to come) and the regulation made by man (delight in false humility and worship of angels, in food and drinks”, and rules like “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle.

The Covenant Of Christ That Is Open For Gentiles And Israelites Alike

As far as Paul is concern man only needed to keep the covenant of Jesus. Which one of the most important part of that covenant is baptism for the forgiveness of sin. He equate Baptism to the circumcision made without hands. It is the removal of sin, the time when we die with the Lord and resurrection. .

When Paul wrote Col 2, he is well aware of the decision of the apostles and the events  In Acts 15.

In Acts 9, Peter witness first-hand how the Holy Spirit rested on the gentiles who do not observe Dietary law, the feast and the regulations of Moses. This event is shocking to as a Jew. For in the Torah Context, seeing the gentiles with the presence of God is liken to seeing the glory of God descending and not resting in the tabernacle build according to his standard.

Those who follow Torah knew that the presence of God will only rest on what is sanctified and clean as stated in the law of Moses. On the day of Pentecost, the disciples received the Holy Spirit and quoted Joel 2:28-29. They understood that the Spirit of God is now living among them.

They knew that in the New Covenant, God wanted to dwell in the hearts of man. His presence is not confined in the Holies of Holies, but he had in fact moved into them. They felt that they were ready and sanctified because they keep the Torah and are acceptable before God. For all who received are Jews who are circumcised, and followed the Law of Moses. Later on when the Samaritan believes, it was still ok, for they are circumcised, but they keep some part of the Torah.

This concept is put into the test when Peter entered the house of Cornelius. For he is a gentile, deemed unclean by the standard of Mosaic Law,  they are uncircumcised, ignorant of the regulation of the Mosaic Law, they do not keep the feast, they are unclean, Jews were not allowed to come into their house.

But when the Holy Spirit fell onto them, Peter realise that God treated the gentiles to be as clean as the Jews who kept the Law of Moses  Since God had accepted them he is in no position to oppose God. So he baptised them, cleansing them of sin.

Later on there were Jewish Christians who came to Paul and argued that one need to be circumcise and keep the law of Moses. The rule in Acts 15 was made base on the experience of Peter in Acts 10. They said

So God, who knows the heart,
acknowledged them by giving
them the Holy Spirit, just as He
did
to us, and made no distinction
between us and them, purifying
their hearts by faith. Now therefore,
why do you test God by putting a
yoke on the neck of the disciples
which neither our fathers nor we
were able to bear” – Acts 15:8-10

Over here they are referring to the law of Moses. They are well aware from the Old testament that all their forefathers failed at keeping the Mosaic covenant. The Old testament is a record of their repeated failure to keep the covenant. That is why it is a yoke that their fathers are not able to bear.

That is why the apostles did not expect these gentile believers to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses. If they do not need to keep the Mosaic covenant, they are definitely spared of keeping the talmud from the rabbis

That is why they only ruled that these gentiles believers needed to observe only the rules set by God for Noah which is applicable for all descendent on earth. They added the clause about food offered to idols as these gentiles live in a land full of Idols and they live in a world where sexual immorality is a norm. But this does not mean that the gentiles do not need to keep the commandments of God. They are supposed to adhere to the standard of Morality as describe in the Mosaic law In fact they are supposed to go one step higher. Which is to match the standard spoken of by Jesus.

Why Did Paul Link Both Group Together In Col 2?

All these event that Preceded Col 2. As far as Paul is concern, anyone who advocate the keeping of Jewish Talmud or force the people to observe the regulations of Moses (dietary law, feast, and circumcision ) were all wrong. They are linked together because they are wrong in the same way.

For Jesus had already fulfilled all that is required of him from the Law and now they have entered the period where the spirit of God is poured out and the gentiles are receiving salvation. These gentiles are already regarded as clean and accepted even though they did not observe the Law Of Moses. They are cleanse from sin when they have accepted the covenant of Christ sign through baptism

For both Ezekiel (Eze 47:7-9) and Zechariah (Zech 14:8-9)  talks of the when the messiah comes living water will be flowing from Jerusalem. This waters had the abilities to heal. While many feels that it can heal ecosystems, but in fact he is referring to the time of the church where the conduct of baptism heals away sin.

At the same time, the prophets talk about the gentiles coming on the receive salvation. One of the verse that captured my mind deeply is this

“Thus you shall divide this land
among yourselves according to
the tribes of Israel. It shall be
that you will divide it by lot as
an inheritance for yourselves,
and for the strangers who dwell
among you and who bear children
among you. They shall be to you
as native-born among the children
of Israel; they shall have an
inheritance with you among the
tribes of Israel.”- Ezekiel(Eze 48:22-23)

This era of the gentiles coming to God is herald in when Jesus threw out the money changers in the temple. In which he said

“For My house shall be called a
house of prayer for all nations.”- Jesus (Mk 11:17)

After the coming of the messiah the kingdom of Israel will be restored. The gentiles will come and listen to the law of God

“Many nations shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the
mountain of the Lord, To the
house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways, And
we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion the law shall go
forth, And the word of the Lord
from Jerusalem.”- Micah (Mic 4:2)

“On that day “HOLINESS TO THE LORD”
shall be engraved on the bells of the
horses. The pots in the Lord’s house
shall be like the bowls before the altar.
 Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah
shall be holiness to the Lord of hosts.
Everyone who sacrifices shall come and
take them and cook in them. In that day
there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the
house of the Lord of hosts.”- Zechariah (Zech 14:20-21 )

Are they referring to the Kingdom Of Israel established by the messiah? Is it a physical kingdom or something else?

“My kingdom is not of this world.
If My kingdom were of this world,
My servants would fight, so that I
should not be delivered to the Jews;
but now My kingdom is not from
here.”- Jesus (Jn 18:36)

This new kingdom is the Kingdom established by the messiah. It is created through the sacrifice of his blood. In that kingdom, there is no differentiation between Jews and gentiles, for Baptism eliminates that.

“For as many of you as were baptized
into Christ have put on Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free,
there is neither male nor female;
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Paul Gal 3:27-28)

In the light of these scriptures we know that both groups in Col 2 are wrong in the same way. And that is why Paul refer to them in the same passage at  Col 2

But Is There Evidence Of The Disciples Keeping The Old Testament Feast?

Much as I wanted to say they did not, the scriptures did record of them keeping the feast. (I Cor. 16:8-9). These occurrence happen after they believed in Jesus Christ. But they did it with the same understanding that I have describe earlier in the blog post. They did it not because it was a requirement of faith for salvation. But rather it is their habit to do so.

Paul entered the synagogue of the Jews for three Sabbaths in Thessalonica. It was his tradition on the Sabbath to enter the synagogue just as it was when Peter prayed in the Jewish hours of prayer three times a day (Acts 3:1; 10:9). The Jews kept the Sabbath day in the synagogues with practices according to the customs and traditions of the Misna and the rules added by the Pharisees but the Paul and Silas were not bound by them.

Paul was pretty clear of this when he wrote about it in Romans

“He who observes the day,
observes it to the Lord; and
he who does not observe the
day, to the Lord he does not observe.
He who eats, eats to the Lord ,
for he gives God thanks, and
he who does not eat, to the Lord
he does not eat, and gives God thanks.

For none of us lives to himself, and
no one dies to himself. For if we live,
we live to the Lord; and if we die, we
die to the Lord. Therefore, whether
we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
For to this end Christ died and rose
and lived again, that He might be Lord
of both the dead and the living.”- Paul (Rom. 14:6-9).

I believe this kind of Summarise my view on Col 2

Introduction

I realised that the fall feast had just started in Israel. While today the internet is peppered with countless of modern day studies by numerous scholars in academia, at the same time we have  many Christian scholars linking these festivals with the second coming of Christ. While all these excitement is generated within Christendom I wonder what is their significance to normal believers like me.

Before I continue I must admit, I am no scholar, I  do not know  the intricate process of playing around with ancient Greek and Hebrews text nor can I appreciate the excessive reliance & use of lexicons and ancient dictionaries by the modern academics.

First Things First

My approach when studying the fall feast is simple. My first rule is not to dwell on excessive speculations of the feast and their significance to the end day. Instead I choose  to focus on what the feast Is truly about, based on the objective of the feast as described in the law of Moses.

The second rule which I applied is to avoid linking the feast with other prophecies in the bible using keywords. With the help of modern website, it is now possible to run a key word search and pick up every verse in the bible that contains the key word. But appearance of the word in a verse doesn’t necessary indicate a link between the verses.

For example, the bible talks of many instances of the blowing of trumpet. Some are blown in battle, some in war, some for during  resurrection while some are used to herald the coming judgement of the Lord . These trumpets may not necessary have a link to the feast of the trumpet.
As far as I am concerned, I wanted to seek the meaning and the spirit of the festivals base on its definition in the Law Of Moses.

The Basic Principle Between Old And New Testament

As a Christian I believed in the words of Jesus.

“Do not think that I came to destroy
the Law or the Prophets. I did not
come to destroy but to fulfill.”- Jesus (Matt 5:17)

The author of Hebrews tells us

“For the law, having a shadow
of the good things to come,
and not the very image of the
things, can never with these
same sacrifices, which they
offer continually year by year,
make those who approach
perfect” – Author Of Hebrews (Heb 10:1)
Throughout the book of Hebrews, the author of Hebrews compared and contrast the covenant made between God and Israel in the old testament to the covenant that Jesus made with both the circumcised and the uncircumcised.

The author of Hebrews talk about how the covenant with Christ is better than the former covenant of Moses. Whoever who approach God with the new Covenant would be made perfect and sanctified. In the Mosaic Covenant, God had to be veiled away and man can only approach God for atonement once a year. Under the covenant of Christ, our sin are once and for all forgiven and today the spirit of Christ dwells in the heart of the believers. The Holy Spirit became the counsellor to teach and help the members to achieve perfection.

This contrast is most plainly seen from the fall feast. That is why I feel it is worth our time to look at this feasts and see the difference between the two Covenant.

An Overview Of The Feast

The fall feast begins around the time of October this year, but due to the differences in calendar, they can start as early as September. It spans across a period of about 22 days. Besides celebrating the completion of the harvest. The fall feast also heralds the beginning of the sowing season, the season of the early rain. (Autumn rain)

Feast Of Trumpet

It begin with the new moon (AKA Rosh HaShanah) to most Christians it will be know as the Feast of Trumpets. On that day the blowing of the trumpets signals the beginning of the festivals. It is meant also as a reminder of Israel to finish their harvest and to go up to Jerusalem for the feast

Day Of Atonement

After 10 days from the trumpet, on the 10th of the month. There is an event known as the Day Of Atonement (Yom Kippur). In Hebrew, to Atone (Kaphar) is to cover. It is the appointed day for the high Priest to make atonement for Israel. This is a yearly event when the High priest would enter the Holies of the Holies where the presence of God is present.

There he will make sacrifices first for his own sin and the sin of his family. Then he will make sacrifices for the sin of Israel. He will enter the Holies Of Holies with the blood of the sacrifice and spinkle the blood on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. As he depart from the temple, he would have to pour the blood on the altar to sanctify the altar.

It was the instruction from God that the high Priest to enter the sanctuary once a year. This rule was set after 2 Priests was killed by the Lord when they offered profane fire before the Lord. (Lev 10:1-17, Lev 16:1-2). These priests were killed on their first day of service, for they did not follow the command of the Lord.

The Day Of Atonement contains many prophecies regarding the Messiah, one I would dwell in greater details in later blog post

To prevent unnecessary deaths, God  only allowed Aaron to come into his presence once a year.

Announcement Of The Year Of Jubilee

The day of atonement is also used to declare the year of the Jubilee, it is a once in 50 years event where all debts, properties and payment are all forgiven. It is a day where all Israelites who are made a slave could get his freedom.

Feast Of Tabernacles

From the 15th – 22nd of the month marks the feast of the Tabernacles. The Israelites have to dwell in booths for 7 days. They are supposed to have a gathering on the 1st day and the 8th day of the feast. The purpose of the feast of Tabernacles is clear. It is meant as a re-enactment of the 40 years of dwelling in the wilderness. Lev 23:42-43. On the Sabbath years, which happens once every 6 years, they are suppose to read the Law of Moses. This serves as a reminder to the Israelites to keep the law of God.

The Feast And Their Sacrifice.

While the Christians of today like to talk about the things done on these festivals. We often neglect the fact that all these sacrifices are heavily tied to the sacrifices. The main sacramental effect behind the feast came from the many animals that are sacrificed during the festival.

I have compiled the dates for the fall feast base on the Jewish Calendar of 2016. I have also tabulated the number of sacrificed animals in the diagram below.

A Chart of ceremonies and sacrifices made during the fall feast

A Chart of ceremonies and sacrifices made during the fall feast

Indeed, the Children of Israel is suppose to come up to Jerusalem for the feast, but the main part of the feast was the sacrifices to be made to the Lord. During the fall feast , sacrifices are constantly made on the altar.

Base on the Mosaic law, the fall feast requires a total number of 280 animals to be sacrificed on the altar. On average, it would always be 1 animal killed every hour.  The animal sacrifices are made in the form of burnt r sin offering. By offering these animals, the sin of Israel was atoned.  This was the method used in the Old testament for forgiveness of sin.

We know from the author of Hebrews that the blood of Animals can never take away sins (Heb 10:1-4) they are only meant as a reminder of sin and cannot lead to forgiveness. All these sacrifices are symbols of the sacrifice of Jesus that is to come. All the feast of the Lord are prophecies that describes the salvation of Christ. They are not the solutions to sin. The offering of Jesus is the eternal sacrifice.

The Effect Of The Blood Of Christ For Atonement

After the death and resurrection of Christ ,  there is no longer a need to sacrifice on the feast days. Without sacrifices, the sacramental effect of the festival are lost. The feast no longer holds an effect to salvation.

What is more important is that these feast were a copy and image of what is to come. They are a copy of the reality that is happening in the spiritual realm. Today at baptism, the blood of Christ sanctifies believers. That is why in the new covenant there is no longer the need for the high priest to enter the Holies of Holies with blood. For today our high priest is Jesus, he had open a way for us to enter the holies of the holies. (Heb 10:19-21)

Since we can enter the heavenly sanctuary with Christ, that is why today as Christian we are given the right to come directly before God to ask for forgiveness. the blood of Christ will continue to wash us and sanctify us, as long as we repent with sincerity.

Since we can enter the heavenly sanctuary with Christ, why is there a need for us to continue the practice of walking into the physical sanctuary with blood?

The Location Of The Mercy Seat In The New Covenant

There is another significance of this in the last days. For God once promise through Ezekiel that he will dwell among man.  Ez 37:14. This prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to live in the hearts of the believers. From then on,  our heart is the mercy seat where the presence of God dwells.

In this new covenant with Christ there is no longer a need to enter the Holies of Holies to meet the Lord. For the Spirit of God had moved from the Holies of Holies in the temple and dwells in the hearts of man. Any Christian who received the H/S had the mercy seat and the presence of God with them. Therefore we are in the Holies Of Holies forever. Since we are always within the Holies of Holies, is there still a need for us to depend on the High Priest to enter Gods presence on our behalf?

This made the day of Atonement Obsolete, both in its role to forgive sin and its role in allowing man to enter the presence of God.

That is why the fall feast are no longer relevant to the Christians under the new Covenant.

Keeping The Spirit Of The Feast

That is why Paul remind us in Colossians

“So let no one judge you in food or in drink,
or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,
which are a shadow of things to come, but the
substance is of Christ.”- Paul (Col 2:16-17)

That is why it really doesn’t matter if we want to do anything special on those days anymore.

However, Christians ought to learn from these feast and keep the spirit of these feast. For the Christians of today are part of this never ending feast in the presence of God. There are things that we ought to learn from the feast.

Blowing The Trumpet To Tell Others Of Gods Atonement

We are supposed to blow the trumpet and to declare the salvation of God to the rest of the world. Just like how the ancient Israelites blow their trumpet to signal the day of Atonement. We need to accept the baptism of the Lord for sins to be forgiven (Acts 2:38) For that is when the blood of Christ is sprinkled into our lives.

To Remove Our Heart Of Stone And Keep Gods Commandment

When our hearts are sprinkled with the blood of Christ, our heart became the mercy seat of God where the spirit of God dwells within us. We need to take out the stone tablets in our hearts and allow God to put in the heart of flesh. We must allow the spirit of God to once again inscribe the commandments of God in our heart. For the Lord once said

“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 (Eze 11:19-20)

To Dwell In Tents, Living A Life With A Hope In Heaven

Let us keep the feast of the Lord every day in our hearts. Let us be prepared to suffer for Christ, let us be willing to put aside our worldly comfort to dwell in tents serving the Lord in the wilderness. Let us live our lives as if pilgrims living in tent, knowing that this world it only a temporary stop. Let us remember that the promise of God is waiting for us in the promise land. While we live in this wilderness, let us dwell in the wilderness in the world with contentment, walking in the Lord.

To Believe In The Salvation Of God

Most importantly, let us not die in this wilderness because of our unbelief, for many of the Israelites failed to enter Canaan because they refuse to believe that God will give the land to them. As the result they fall in the wilderness one by one. Let us learn to appreciate the promise and salvation of God, let us look onto the bronze serpent and live (Num 21:4-9, CF Jn 3:14-16). Let us be like Joshua and Caleb, who survived the journey from Egypt to Canaan and receive their inheritance.

Conclusion

If we are able to do all of these then we are forever keeping the spirit of the fall feast. Our hearts will always be the Holies of Holies, for we have already entered the heavenly sanctuary with the blood of Jesus. If we can do this we are keeping the fall feast on a dally basis.

May we all reach the promise land safely.