(This article is a transcript of a talk given initially to a group who were praying for Israel, and later to a more general audience – in both cases it was found that explanation of terminology was beneficial and generally church history as a subject has been little taught.)
As this journal is now being distributed to a much wider base perhaps a few words by way of introduction, particularly to do with terminology, will be found beneficial to newer readers.
Our English Bible comprises a collection of 66 books which generally appear in a set order, 39 in the “Old Testament” and 27 in the New. This division and order has arisen mainly as a result of the move away from Judeo-Christianity in an attempt to separate Christianity from its source. If, however, the Bible is examined in the Hebrew language, one would find the order different: –
|Torah (Teaching, Instruction)
|B’resheet – Beginnings
|Sh’mot – Names
|same order as English – Pentateuch
|Vayikra – And He called
|Greek – five books
|B’midbar – In the wilderness
|Navi’im Rishonim – (early prophets)
|Nevi’im Acharoni – (later prophets)
|Song of Songs
When the acronym for the major divisions is used we then have “the Old Testament” as
|Hebrew first letter Tau
|Hebrew first letter Nun
|from which is derived “T’nach”
|Hebrew first letter Quoph
(pronounced as in “cof”)
|(variously spelt Tanakh / Tanach/ Tenach)
(As will have been noticed on the inside cover of the journal Jesus is the anglicised version of Greek / Roman derivation from the Hebrew Yeshua – literally “Salvation” or “He will save”.)
When I worked in Southern Africa years ago, and before conversion, I did attend church, but found it extremely difficult to grasp (intellectually) the concept of a Harvest Festival in the Spring. Tradition (having been raised in an Anglican Clergy home) said that such was in September / October time – school children were employed in Scotland in those days for the “tatie” (potato) harvest – always in the Autumn (Fall).
The ways of our Lord are truly amazing – this intellectual stimulus caused investigation into the church’s calendar and more importantly into His Word. South Africa, relative to the UK, is ‘upside down’, the sun is in the North at midday and seasons are reversed from what was then to me, “the norm”. So, April was the time when harvest was celebrated.
Later investigation with a regenerated spirit led deeper into the Festivals of the Bible – the Festivals of the Lord.
D’varim (Deuteronomy 16:16 tells us of the three particular Feasts of the Lord: –
1. Unleavened Bread; beginning one day after the Passover which was to be remembered on the night of the 14th of the first month.
2. Feast of Weeks – seven Sabbaths after Passover, and
3. Feast of Tabernacles
Sh’mot (Exodus) 23 also prescribes these, but Va’yikra (Leviticus) 23 goes into more detail and we find initially the reminder of the Sabbath (i.e. literally the seventh day) followed by Passover and Unleavened Bread. Verse 10 is interesting – harvest is mentioned – and bearing in mind what has been said before – we have a harvest in the Spring. Not because the land is in the southern hemisphere, but because the land is blessed with a wonderful climate and there are multiple harvests in the year. I had to do a rethink. Was my childhood teaching that harvest is part of the church calendar, church teaching or Biblical? The conclusion was that both are correct, but that Tabernacles according to Scripture is more than just giving thanks for harvest1 it is literally to live in booths2 in remembrance of the 38 years3 wandering in the wilderness after leaving Kadesh Barnea, waving of fruit4, and to rejoice.5
There is much that has been written about these Festivals – what I am seeking to bring out here is the fact that we have fulfilment of both Passover and Shavuot – Yeshua is our Passover Lamb6, and the Holy Spirit was poured out at Shavuot7 (the Feast of Weeks, also known as Pentecost) – but where is the real fulfilment of Tabernacles? The church has taken on only part of the instruction. Indeed it has been said that Tabernacles is the only ‘Jewish’ Festival with no counterpart in the church calendar! It remains an Old Testament “type” yet unfulfilled.
We return to this dilemma – the church has moved away from Judeo-Christianity in an attempt to separate Christianity from its source.
So, come now and let us reason together!
A close inspection of Sh’mot and D’varim together (remember one is a reiteration of the other) reveals that Moshe (Moses) at the tender age of 80+ was called by God in the desert and he “turned aside”8 to see the “burning bush” (the burning bush that did not, in fact, burn!), and later had what is generally accepted as an amazing encounter with God for 40 days and nights without food or water as he dwelt in the presence of the Almighty, “face-to-face”9, and indeed it must have been a truly amazing encounter. Now reread for yourself the story in D’varim 9, 10 and then Sh’mot 33 – we find Moshe up the mountain, down, up again, receiving the Ten Commandments, seeing the horror / abomination of the golden calf, making an ark (another one?) and hewing two further tablets for the Master to rewrite, as it were, the Ten Commandments, Moshe literally having shattered the first.10
Where is the break? When does he stop and take refreshment?
He doesn’t! He is on his face for the ‘middle’ 40 days interceding for the people. His own needs forgotten – the closest one could come to the sacrifice of Yeshua. But here we remember what was said about our Lord in D’varim 18:18, “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren…..”
Let me return now to the three Festivals – first Passover. Sh’mot 12 and13 instruct11 that Abib (Nisan) is to be the beginning of months (why do we insist that January 1st is New Year’s Day? Selah – I personally believe the reference to “All Fools Day” on April 1st actually has its roots in anti-Semitism, but I have not found any authoritative source for this view), and on the 10th thereof the Passover Lamb is to be selected and kept until 14th when it is to be slain and its blood smeared on the inside of the doorposts and lintels.
(Palm Sunday – selection; Passover four days later – another midrash!)
Secondly Shavuot is reckoned by historians and Biblical scholars to have occurred fifty days after the crossing of the Red Sea. What do you imagine as you read “Moshe stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night(my emphasis) and made the sea into dry land…..” This was not a two minute “Charlton Heston drama”,12 this was a testing of Moshe and the people in the extreme. How would these waters “stand up”? Would all 2-3 million people plus animals be able to cross this 25 mile wide cavernous opening in the sea – yes it would have to have been that wide to move the “crowd” in the space of one night! But on to Horeb / Mount Sinai. The evidence affirms that “the law” – or as should be taught – “the instruction” was handed down to Moshe and in effect the civil nation of Israel is birthed, if I am allowed to put it that way.
The timing of the third Festival, Tabernacles, is found in V’yikra 23:34 – the 15th day of the seventh month – Tishrei. Again, there is much to be to be said on this, but with regard to the timing, and it is on this that I am focussing, this is 5 days after the precursor to Tabernacles, i.e. the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement.13
If some sums are now done – adding up the days after Passover we find the following:-
|Month of Passover
|15 (30 day month less 14th)
(Less 50 after Passover = 127 days)
There are therefore 127 days from Shavuot until the Feast of Tabernacles and allowing one day ‘either end’ for inclusive counting the resultant is that the Day of Atonement is amazingly close to 120 days after Shavuot.
Is it too much of a coincidence that Moshe was on the mountain for 40 days + 40 days interceding+ 40 days back up on the mountain i.e. a total of 120 days – his intercession was successful – God accepted and the people are given the Ten Commandments, again. The italicised headings in Bibles are not always reliable, but in mine they read “The Covenant Renewed” – in this instance I believe they are right.
However, we must remember that it was those who did not look to the physical, the golden calf, but those who looked to the invisible14, who were eventually completely delivered into the Promised Land – we also must look to the invisible – and trust.
The ‘western gentile church’ considers Passover to be the time when sin was dealt with at the Cross – and this is true. It is at the Cross where we experience atonement.15 This then leads to the question, “Why does the Lord prescribe ‘The Day of Atonement’ in the seventh month?”
The answer to this question, I believe, lies in the fulfilment we still have to see, the national salvation of Israel. Other Scriptures speak of the outpouring of God’s Spirit, other Scriptures speak of the (final) ingathering of His people. We have seen a taste of this in the return of millions already to the land – how much more when the land is ready for God to bring about the fulfilment of His Word – and Zechariah 14:16-17 will happen.
In Part 1, after a brief comparison of the three mandatory Biblical Festivals with the church’s inclusion of only two in its calendar, we arrived at the conclusion that the Lord in His Word has pointed very clearly in Moshe’s intercession for his people to that of Yeshua HaMaschiach. We see the time of Passover being that when sin is dealt with, but that at the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Succot there is the foretaste of National Salvation for Israel.
This thought could lead us into believing in a prescribed “day” for the Lord’s Return, and it would be wrong in any way to seek such. Rather we should take hold of the principles that are being taught by our Lord.
To this end I return to the title given for the talk – “The Anticipation of the Outpouring and Ingathering”. The Scripture Reading was from the seventh chapter of the Gospel according to John, in particular verses 37-39.
“On the last day, that great [day] of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
The setting for Yeshua was in the Temple16, on the last day of the Feast, a day of a great holy convocation17, and the scene would have been the culmination of the ceremony of the pouring out of the water at the base of the altar. The participants of the feast would have been split into three groups or bands and would have involved, it has been calculated, at least 446 priests and as many Levites.18
All, together with the thousands of worshippers would have been carrying in his right hand the ‘lulabh’ (a tied together myrtle and willow around a palm branch)19 and an ‘ethrog’20 in the left.
The first of grouping remained in the Temple to attend to the preparation of the morning sacrifice.
The second group processed ‘below Yerushalim’ to a place called Moza (which has been identified with the Emmaus Road) in order to cut leafy branches, mainly of willow, to make a leafy canopy for the adorning of the altar.
The third group followed a priest carrying a golden pitcher down to Siloam and accompanied by much music to fill the pitcher with water from “the living spring”21.
With what must have been military precision, the groups arrive at the time the sacrifice is being laid on the altar. Now, according to a tradition attributed to Moshe, not a prescription of Torah, after a three-fold trumpet blast by the priests, as the golden pitcher was carried through the “Water-gate”22 and into the Court of the Priests. Joined by another priest who carried wine for the drink offering, the two were to pour out wine and water at the ascent to the altar, into the two funnels leading down to its base. It was at this point that the people shouted to the priest to raise his hand to ensure the water was poured into the funnel, before the crowds would burst into responsive singing of the ‘Hallel’ Psalms23. On one occasion, according to Josephus, the High-Priest Alexander Jannaeus poured the water on the ground, which caused a riot where 6,000 people were trampled to death – he nearly lost his life in the incident.
This serves as a sober reminder of the price of following man’s traditions!
Scripture tells us that “He will not cry out, nor raise His voice , nor cause his voice to be heard in the street”24 but here we have an instance where He does “stand and cry out” – He is not in the street but in the Temple, witnessing an act of symbolism of which He would fulfil. (It is worthy to note in passing that the only other references to our Lord’s crying out are to be found in Luke 8, where He is telling the parable of the sower, John 11, where He calls Lazarus from the grave and John 1244, where He is again in the Temple. His utterances on the Cross, of course, are distinct from the implication of the Isaianic prophecy.
On that last day of the feast He had to raise His voce to be heard over the cacophony of the baying crowd. He was giving opportunity to make the people aware of His invitation. He was again speaking of the Holy Spirit and the Love of the Father which Paul encapsulates so well in Romans 55, it was at Calvary where blood and water flowed. It is confirmed by John –He who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood.25
It was necessary Him to raise His voice for all to hear – and take note – He was telling His listeners then and today of what He was about to do. He has told us both in Torah and in these last days what He was about to do. Is it not time for us to raise our voice and seek to reaffirm “the Outpouring (which has begun) and the Ingathering (which is yet to be fulfilled). Remember, we have the prophetic word made more sure,….26
(This article was first published in two parts in the third series of Tishrei Journals, Numbers 8 and 9, March and June 2010)
1. Sh’mot 23:16
2. V’yikra 23:42
3. D’varim 2:14
4. D’varim 16:13-17
5. V’yikra 23:40
6. 1 Corinthians 5:7
8. Sh’mot 3:3
9. Sh’mot33:11; B’Midmar 12:8
10. D’varim 10:2
11. 12:1; 13:4
12. A reference to the Cecil B deMill epic film of Moses where Heston played the part of Moshe
13. V’yikra 23:27
14. Hebrews 11:27
15. Romans 5:11 (some versions use reconciliation, literal translation is atonement)
16. John 72,8,10,14,28
17. Vayikra 2336
18. For a fuller account of this refer to Edersheim, “The life and Times of Jesus the Messiah”
19. Vayikra 2340
20. The so-called ‘paradise apple’ – but a species of citron
22. So named after this ceremony
23. Psalms 113-118
24. Isaiah 422; Matt 1218ff
25. 1 John 56
26. 2 Peter 119