Posts Tagged ‘appointed times’

In the days of Nehemiah …

“It was the first day of the seventh month” (Nehemiah 8:2).

After our family began celebrating the ‘appointed times’ found in the Leviticus 23, days, times and seasonal cycles stood out on the pages of the Scriptures.   This specific verse in Nehemiah is no different.  It sets the time for the events to follow as the ‘first day of the seventh month’ or Yom Teruah – the Feast of Trumpets.  This ‘appointed time’ of God begins His season of the fall feasts which are about repentance, atonement and a vision of the coming Millennial Kingdom.

The events in Nehemiah 8 are not some random occurrences in the history of Israel.  They are a testimony to the restoration of the Feasts of Elohim to a people who had lived in exile for over 160 years.  Though there was a first wave of Jewish return to Jerusalem 70 years after being taken captive, Ezra and Nehemiah were in the second wave 90 years later.  It was during this time that the priests gathered the people together on the ‘first day of the seventh month’.

Yom Teruah 445 B.C.E.

A wooden platform was made on which Ezra, the priest,  stood and could be seen and heard by all of the men and women who came to listen to the reading of the Torah.  As he opened the Torah scroll, everyone stood.  Then Ezra blessed Yahweh, the great God.  As the people answered with “Amen”,  they lifted up their hands, bowed their heads and fell prostrate before Elohim with their faces to the ground. 

“Amen” has a very interesting root history.  It comes from the Hebrew word aman meaning ‘to nourish, support, make sure and strong’.   The word emunah or faithfulness also has its root in aman.   The Jewish sages say that amen is an acronym for el melek ne’eman or “God is a faithful King’.  According to Revelation 3:14, Yeshua is the “the amen, the faithful and true witness …; he is the faithful King.”   Thus the people were saying as they were about to hear the Torah read, “God is a faithful King.”

Days of Awe and Repentance

The Levites, whose responsibility it was,  explained the Torah to the people.  After being in a foreign country for several generations, they needed to translate the Hebrew so that the returning ‘Persian’ Jews would  understand what was being read.  When they heard the teachings and instructions that God gave them through Moshe, the people began to weep. 

Repentance or ‘turning back to God’  is central to the fall ‘appointed times.’   With the hearing of the Torah for the first time standing in Jerusalem, the people wept.  They grieved.  They understood they had lost the very essence of their national heritage from the LORD and had not lived accordingly.

Ezra, along with the rest of the Levites told them not to weep, not to be sad for this day was ‘set apart to Elohim their God.’  It was an ‘appointed time’ of Yahweh.  They were told to go out, eat rich food, drink sweet drinks and give portions to those who couldn’t provide for themselves.  Even today sweet foods are eaten on Feast of Trumpets with apples and honey being the traditional foods evolving from Psalm 119:103 How sweet to my tongue is your promise, truly sweeter than honey in my mouth!”

Mouth of God

Yeshua said in Matthew 4:4 “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God.”  What does the mouth or ‘voice of God’ sound like?

Ram's Horn ShofarWhen John was exiled on the island of Patmos, he has a revelation of Messiah.  He says,  “I came to be, in the Spirit, on the Day of the LORD; and I heard behind me a loud voice, like a shofar ….”   The voice of the LORD sounded like the blowing of a shofar.   A shofar, or the horn from a ram, is blown on the Feast of Trumpets.  Obviously, it is only when breath goes through the shofar that it can make a sound.  Being vessels of Elohim’s Spirit, it is taught that the ‘breath of God’ or ruach ha kodesh blows through a shofar when it sounds.  

(Note: John heard the voice that sounded like a shofar on the Day of the LORD.  This is in reference to the events surrounding the coming Millennial Kingdom and a time of judgment, not the first day of the week.  The events for the Day of the LORD will begin on ‘the first day of the seventh month’ or Yom Teruah.)

The Spring of Living Water
Pool of SiloamThe original city of Jerusalem had very different boundaries than modern-day Jerusalem.  In fact, remnants of the city are found in what is known today as the City of David.  Within the ‘older’ city of Jerusalem, the Water Gate led down to the Gihon Spring which was located in the Kidron Valley.  This spring was the main source of water for the Pool of Siloam.   The priests would go to the Pool of Siloam collect the water for each day’s water libation ceremony.  During this event, they would pour water over the altar in the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles.   On the last and greatest day of this feast, Yeshua stood and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to me and drinking! Whoever puts his trust in me, as the Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being!” (John 7:37-39).

As the people gathered at the Water Gate, it is symbolic of the pathway to the living water of the Word of God.  With the reading of the Torah by Ezra, the Jewish people had been ‘washed in the water of the Word’ and began preparing themselves as a pure and holy bride (Ephesians 5:25-26).   

Building Sukkot

On the second day,  the heads of the clans of the people joined the Levites and Ezra to study the words of the Torah again.  They found that Elohim had ordered through Moshe that the people of Isra’el were to live in booths or sukkot during the ‘appointed time’ in the seventh month known as the Feast of Tabernacles.  They were to announce the festival of Sukkot in all of their cities and in Jerusalem.  

“Go out to the mountains, and collect branches of olives, wild olives, myrtles, palms, and other leafy trees to make sukkot, as prescribed” (Nehemiah 8:15).

Olive TreeAccording to Jeremiah 11:16, God calls Israel an olive tree. In Romans 11,  Sha’ul speaks about branches of olives and wild olives that make up the Olive Tree of Israel.    The natural branches represent the 12 Tribes of Israel  and the wild branches of the nations that join with them.  Both receive the same living water of the Word through the same Spiritual root.   Though both branches will continue to produce either natural olives or wild olives, they both will continue to produce olives.

“A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). 

Middle Eastern MyrtleMyrtle trees are considered an evergreen and are very hardy.   They produce a purplish-black berry called the mursins.  This fruit can be dried then ground and used as a flavoring.  It is one of the four leafy trees bound together for sukkot that have over time has been given the symbolism of ‘good smell, but no taste’, like a person who has ‘good deeds, but does not study the Torah.’

The prophet Zechariah lived during the time between the first and second returning remnants.  He has a vision of God, angels and horsemen standing in the midst of a myrtle tree.  This vision was given to him to reinforce God’s promise that the exiles who would return to Jerusalem would be prosperous.  In order for the Jewish people of Zechariah’s time to prosper, they would need to repent and serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, rebuild the Temple, and learn Torah.  In the time of Nehemiah 8 and Yom Teruah, the repentance had begun. 

“Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 1:16).

Palm TreePalms, or lulav in Hebrew,  were also part of the branches collected to make a sukkah.  It is known for its uprightness, fruit and its beauty.  The Jewish sages say that the palm tree, which has taste but no smell, can be compared to a person who studies Torah, but has no fruit of good works. 

The first mention of palm trees in Scripture is when the Israelites are camped at the oasis of Elim during their trek in the wilderness.  It is during the Feast  of Tabernacles that palm branches are waved signifying the coming Messianic kingdom. This is why palm branches were waved when Yeshua entered Jerusalem during the Passover season.  The people believed that the kingdom of God had images-1arrived; however, it was the wrong ‘appointed time’ and season.    In Revelation 7:9, multitudes from every tribe and nation will be waving palm branches and giving glory to the King of Kings.  Today, the lulav is a special binding of three species of branches along with an etrog (a type of citrus fruit).  It is used to worship the LORD during Sukkot and to remind everyone that one day the nations of the world will gather in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16). 

The people went out from the city, collected branches from specific trees and made sukkot for themselves on the roofs of their homes, in their courtyards, in the Temple courts and in the open spaces by the Water Gate and the Efrayim Gate. The entire community of those who had returned from the exile made sukkot and lived in them for the commanded time of eight days.   They had not done this since the days of Joshua and they celebrated Sukkot with great joy.  They also read the Torah every day from the first day until the last day of the ‘appointed time.’

In Our Day

The Feast of  Trumpets begins on the first day of the seventh month and Sukkot begins on the fourteenth day.   In our Gregorian calendar these fall festivals occur in our months of September/October.   They are a vision of the coming Kingdom of God when Israel, the natural branches of the Olive Tree will gather in Jerusalem along with the nations, the wild branches of the Olive Tree, to worship the King of Kings.  Everyone will wave olive, palm and myrtle branches for they will not just study Torah, they will bear righteous fruit of the etrog in the Kingdom of the Most High God.

The Jews in the days of Nehemiah prepared for this coming Kingdom by repenting and returning to the Torah of God and celebrated the ‘appointed times’ on their commanded days.  As wild olives, we can also embrace the vision of the coming Kingdom millennia later through the same ways: repentance and turning back to God, learning Torah,  and proclaiming the ‘appointed times’ to those who stand by the Water Gate desiring spiritual nourishment from the spring of living water.  Amen. “Yah is the faithful King.”  

©2016 Tentstake Ministries Book Nosh

When was Jesus born?

“For to us a child is born,  to us a son is given,  and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace  there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty  will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

A sukkah for Yeshua’s birth

Most Christians acknowledge that Jesus (Yeshua) was not born on December 25 in the middle of winter.  Yet few realize that Yeshua’s birth is outlined in the Bible if they could unravel some of the clues given to them in the gospels and refer back to the Hebrew Scriptures.   The account of our ‘reason for the season’ begins in the book of Luke chapter one when Zechariah was in the Temple at Jerusalem burning incense to God.   The time of  his Temple service is the key to understanding  when of the birth of his son, John took place, as well as the birth of Yeshua. 

1.  Zechariah was a Levite priest in of the lineage of Abijah, a descendant of Aaron (Luke 1:5, Numbers 3:2).

“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron” (Luke 1:5).

2. All Levitical priests, including Zechariah, were required by God to serve in the Temple during Passover, Pentecost (Shavuot), and Tabernacles as well as two weeks extra per year according to their family lineage (Deuteronomy 16:16).

“Three times a year all your men must appear before YHVH your God at the place he will  choose:  at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot/Pentecost) and the Feast of Tabernacles” (Deuteronomy 16:16).

3.  Abjiah was eighth in line for Temple duties. This means that as a descendant of Abijah,  Zechariah was eighth in line for his Temple duties (1 Chronicles 24:10).

“With the help of Zadok … David separated them [the descendants of Aaron] into divisions for their appointed order of ministering. … The first lot fell to Jehoiarib … the eighth to Abijah ….  This was their appointed order of ministering when they entered the Temple of  the LORD according to the regulations prescribed for them …” (Numbers 1:1-19).

4. Zechariah would have served during the week of Passover and Unleavened Bread  in the Temple as part of his required Temple service.

The Biblical calendar is not the same as the Julian/Gregorian calendar we use today.  Passover is our March/April, Pentecost (Shavuot) near June, Tabernacles or Sukkot September/October. The Scriptures utilize a Biblical calendar with the first month being in spring at the time of Passover (Exodus 12:2).

Zechariah would have served in the spring for Passover/Unleavened Bread.  After Passover, he would have returned home until his lineage service began, eight weeks or about 50 days later.   

5.  Zechariah would have returned to the Temple for his two week duties as part of the lineage of Abijah.  This would have fallen in mid-June during the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot (Pentecost). 

Altar of Incense

6.   An angel of the LORD appeared to Zechariah during his time in the Temple at the Altar of Incense.

As a descendant of Aaron, he would have ministered in the Most Holy Place.  It is at the Altar of Incense that intercessory prayer is made by the priesthood. The angel of the LORD met Zechariah at this specific place and time.  He told him he was going to have a son who he was to name John.  Because of his unbelief, Zechariah is made mute by the angel until the time of his son’s birth. 

“… your prayers have been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John”  (Luke 1:13).

7.   Zechariah returns home after his Temple service. He and Elizabeth conceive a child.  Elizabeth remains in seclusion for five months.

“When his time of service was completed, he returned home.  After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion”  (Luke 1:23-24).

8.  One month later, “when Elizabeth was in her sixth month,” the angel Gabriel visited Mary (Luke 1:26).

Some people question whether this was the sixth month of the year or the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  With the wording of Elizabeth being in seclusion for five months and then  “in the sixth month,” it would seem that the months are contiguous and based on Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  Also, the angel tells Mary “Even Elizabeth your relative  … is in her fifth month” giving a witness to the timing of the angel’s visit  (Luke 1:36).

9.  Mary conceives a child by the Holy Spirit and immediately goes to visit Elizabeth.

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth” (Luke 1:39).

When Mary greets her cousin, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps.  According to the time period given for Elizabeth’s seclusion,  this most likely would have been the first contact she had with another woman and maybe even the first time she felt the movement of her child.  It is apparent that her unborn son knew the blessing of the Spirit of God on Mary.  The meeting of these two pregnant women had such profound significance that Luke recorded it with details.   Elizabeth’s baby leaps for joy in the womb recognizing the newly conceived Messiah of Israel.

“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy”  (Luke 1:44).

Six months after Zechariah’s Temple service in mid-June would be about mid-to-late December.   The Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah occurs at this time as a memorial to the rededication of the Temple after it was defiled by the Greeks. It is also known as the Festival of Lights because the Temple Menorah was once again lit after its desecration.  It was during Hanukkah, the time of dedication, that the Spirit of God came upon Mary and she conceived Immanuel, God with us, the Light of the World.

Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55 not only has prophetic significance about her baby, but is quite the declaration of humble ‘dedication‘ regarding the ‘light of the world.’

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name” (Verses 46-49)

Elizabeth’s baby leaps in her womb

10. Mary stays with Elizabeth for about three months.

“Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son” (Luke 1:56-57).

Mary returns to Nazareth very close to the time Elizabeth would deliver her baby.  The timing for the birth of Elizabeth’s baby would be mid-March/April or near Passover.    

11.  On the eighth day after the baby’s birth, he is circumcised and named.

Continuing with the Biblical timeline, Zechariah’s son would have been born right before Passover.   This means that Zechariah would have gone to the Temple for his regular service at Passover and while there, he names his son, John, in the presence of astonished people.    This is the first time he has spoken since the angel visited him months before at the Altar of Incense on Shavuot.

“At that moment, his power of speech returned, and his first words were a b’rakhah [blessing] to God” (Luke 1:64).

12. From the information given about the conceptions and pregnancies of Mary and Elizabeth, it can be calculated that John and Jesus (Yeshua) were born six months apart.

Six months after Passover in the spring (March/April) would be the fall (September/October), the time of ‘ingathering’ or the Feast of Tabernacles.  The Feast of Tabernacles also falls approximately nine months after Hanukkah in December.

Because of the Roman census being taken by Caesar Augustus, Bethlehem was bustling with Jews from everywhere in Israel.  All native born Israelites, specifically men, were required to live in booths or sukkot for the week of Tabernacles. Women and children who were with their husbands filled all of the the inns to capacity. 

“Live in booths (sukkot) for seven days:  All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:42).

Under these crowded conditions, Joseph and Mary are given a temporary dwelling, called a stable in most Bible translations, and Mary gives birth to her son.  The baby was placed in a cattle feeding trough (Luke 2:4-7).

“ … And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger (sukkah) …” (Luke 2:6).

A Jewish family in their Sukkah

According to the command in Leviticus 23, the Israelites were to live in a sukkah for seven days.  Consistent with the rabbinical definition of a temporary dwelling or sukkah, a stable would have been  an acceptable substitute.  Because of the timing of Yeshua’s birth during the Feast of Tabernacles, many people believe that it was not a literal stable, but a sukkah.   The Greek word for ‘manger’ in Luke 2:7 is phatne and can mean ‘cattle stall’ or sukkoth just like what Jacob built for his livestock (Genesis 33:17).  The equivalent Hebrew word for ‘manger’ is the singular sukkah. 

Using this information along with the established timeline, Yeshua would have been born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles and would have lived with his parents in the sukkah for the first seven days of his life until he was circumcised and named on the eighth day.   Whatever the specific accommodations,  Joseph fulfilled God’s requirement to live in a temporary dwelling during Sukkot as did Yeshua who was the firstborn son of God.

13.   The angels rejoiced because ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…’ (John 1:14, Luke 2).

The Greek word for ‘dwelling’ in this verse is skenoo and means  ‘spread his tent’ among us.  As a booth or sukkah is a temporary dwelling like a tent, this verse could read, “The Word became flesh and spread his tent (tabernacle) among us” making a direct allusion to Yeshua being born at the Feast of Tabernacles. 

The Lulav: Willow, Palm, Myrtle and Citron (Etrog)

14.  On the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the priests in the Temple would wave large branches of several different trees  in the Temple.

These branches were called lulavs and represented the different nations of the world.  Hundreds of priests waving large branches from the willow, the palm and the myrtle, would have created an enormous sound like a ‘rushing wind’ as they walked toward the Temple.  In Hebrew,  the word for God’s Spirit is ruach and means ‘wind.’  As the priests were waving these tree branches, they were unaware of the birth of Yeshua.  They had no idea that the salvation of Israel, through the ‘wind’ of God and a humble woman, had come to live in a little baby. 

“So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month… celebrate a festival to the LORD for seven days …. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the LORD  your God for seven days” (Leviticus 23:39-41).

15. There were shepherds in the hills outside of Jerusalem  (Luke 2:8-15).

Tower of the Flock

“As for you, O watchtower of the flock, O stronghold of the Daughter of Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem” (Micah 4:8).

The shepherds in the hills near Bethlehem, a short distance from Jerusalem,  were special shepherds.  They camped at the Migdal Eder and raised the sacrificial sheep for the Temple offerings.  According to the prophecy in Micah, the Jewish people believed that the Messiah would be revealed at the Migdal Eder, “the tower of the flock.”

At the time of Yeshua’s birth, there  was an actual military watchtower above the hills that was used to protect Bethlehem.  This tower also was used by the shepherd to guard the Temple sheep from robbers.  It was from these sheep that the Passover lambs were chosen.  When the angels came announcing the ‘good news’ to all the world, these shepherds would have completely understood the meaning because they were at the exact location for the prophesy of Messiah’s birth to be fulfilled. 

16.  Eight days later, it was time for the baby’s circumcision and naming (Luke 2:21).

Eight days after a sons’ birth, the father would take the child to be circumcised and named because the mother would still be in her time of purification and could not enter the Temple area.  When Yeshua is eight days old, Joseph takes his infant son to Jerusalem to the Temple and names him Yeshua as he was commanded by the angel.  Yeshua means ‘salvation.’

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home with you as your wife; for what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘the LORD saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21-22).

Rejoicing in the Torah – Simchat Torah

The Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated for seven days.  The following day, the eighth day, there is a special celebration called Simchat Torah  which means ‘Rejoicing in the Torah.’   As Yeshua was being named by his father, crowds were in the Temple courts dancing, singing, and rejoicing in the Torah.   In their midst, without their knowledge, the living Torah had just been named Salvation.

“On the eighth day, when it came time to circumcise him, he was named Yeshua, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived” (Luke 2:21).

Redemption of Yeshua, the firstborn

 

17.   Mary’s Purification Completed

“When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest a year-old lamb … and a young pigeon or dove…. He shall offer them before YHVH … and she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood.  …If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves …” (Leviticus 12:6-8).

Forty days after Yeshua’s birth, Mary’s time of purification was completed. She and Joseph took Yeshua to the Temple for the Redemption of the Firstborn according to the Torah command in Leviticus 12:8.   It was at this time, they offered the sacrifice of the doves. 

“When the time of her purification according to the Torah of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written) …” (Luke 2:22).

There were two prophets in the Temple who knew and expected the Word to become flesh, salvation of Israel to be revealed.  Simeon and Anna, two witnesses to Messiah’s birth, spoke prophecies over Yeshua in the presence of his parents.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. …There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher” (Luke 2:25,39).

18. At this time, a sign appeared in the heavens

(Matthew 2:1-2).

Every kingdom in the known world had astronomers who studied and understood the signs in the heavens.   Each culture, but more specifically the Jewish culture, looked to the heavens for the fulfillment of  Biblical prophecy.   Constellations, planets and stars moved to tell God’s story as well as to set His ‘appointed time’s.  Other middle eastern cultures studied the Hebrew concepts and understood their connection to the people of Israel.

Astronomers from the east (probably from what is modern day Iraq/Iran) saw this “sign” in the heavens and began their journey toward Jerusalem to bow down and worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.   The word ‘star’ in this verse is the Hebrew is kokhav and is referred to in Numbers 24:17 along with the scepter from Jacob, all terminology for  stars and planets that are ‘signs in the heavens.’

19.  The magi or wise men arrived in Bethlehem.

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him” (Matthew 2:9).

The journey of ‘the wise men,’ (number unknown and probably a lot more than three) took a long time to get to Israel as they were on foot and traveled a great distance of nearly 500 miles.  When they finally arrived in Jerusalem, Yeshua was no longer a baby nor living in a sukkah.  The Scripture calls Yeshua a child and the wise men came to his home with their gifts.  They returned back to Iran/Iraq by a different route because Herod was angry that there was another ‘king’ and sent out an edit for the murder of all baby boys under the age of two in and around Bethlehem (Matthew 2:13-18).

This is how the conception, birth, and life began for Yeshua.  According to the information written in the Torah, Prophets, and Gospels, Yeshua was born in the ‘season of our rejoicing’, on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles in a sukkah. The shepherds knew from the angelic hosts that ‘peace on earth and good will toward men’ had come as the ‘lamb of God’ in the town of the Migdal Eder, Bethlehem.  While all Israel rejoiced in the Torah given by God, the living Torah, the begotten Son of God was circumcised and named Salvation.

© 1997 Tent Stake Ministries

(For a hard copy of this teaching,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive from the Book Nosh or on Amazon.  Thank you.)