Posts Tagged ‘Feasts of the Lord’

Parashah 47: Re’eh (See)

Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse — the blessing, if you listen to the mitzvot of Adonai your God that I am giving you today; and the curse, if you don’t listen to the mitzvot of Adonai your God, but turn aside from the way I am ordering you today and follow other gods that you have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).

In Hebrew, ‘see’ is re’eh and is the imperative singular like a parent telling a child to ‘see’ something by saying, “Look!”  The singular means that one individual’s response to the commandments will affect the blessing or cursing of the entire nation of Isra’el –– each person is accountable to the others.  The words ‘seer’ or ro’eh means ‘shepherd’ and is derived from the same root as ‘see.’

The word ‘blessing’ in Hebrew is barakah and means ‘to kneel.’  In Jewish thought, the purpose of making a barakah is to ‘kneel before Elohim’ and bless Him as the source of all blessing increasing awareness of Him. When a barakah is made at a meal, the Creator of the food is blessed, not the food.

In general Hebrew blessings begin: ‘Blessed are you Adonai our God, King of the Universe ….’  The blessing for bread is completed with: ‘who brings forth bread from the earth.’ If blessing wine, the blessing is completed with: ’who brings forth the fruit of the wine.’ Our family meal time barachah is completed with: ‘who creates the various kinds of foods.’

One of my favorite Hebrew blessings is called the Shehecheyanu meaning ‘who has given us life.’ While walking down the stairs near the Temple Institute in the Old City of Jerusalem, a Jewish man stopped me, took my hand, and asked if he could bless me. He blessed me with the Shehecheyanu:

Baruch atah Eloheinu melek ha’olam, she-echeyanu, ve’qi’eh’manu ve’higiy’anu lazman hazeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who has granted us life,
sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.

It was the perfect blessing for my first visit to Jerusalem, and the perfect blessing for Isra’el as they arrived at the place where they would cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land.  Only because of Adonai who had given them life, sustained them for 40 years in the wilderness, and enabled them to reach that season in time, did they enter the Land of Promise.

The Hebrew word for ‘curse’ is alah.  Like blessings, curses were invoked in the name of Elohim.  This is why Balaam wanted Balak to curse the Israelites. A curse is more than a loss of blessing, it is a powerful use of words or actions to destroy a soul. When spoken, a curse actually invites demonic activity into the lives of those being cursed and the cursor. Curses are so serious that children who curse their parents are to be put to death (Deuteronomy 5:16). An undeserved curse will return on the one who cursed (Proverbs 26:2). When Yeshua cursed the fig tree, it withered up and died (Mark 11:20-21). When cursed, Yeshua says to speak a blessing in return (Luke 6:28).

Selah
Alla in Hebrew means ‘curse’ and is similar to the Arabic Allah who is the ‘god’ of Islam.

Blessings and curses result from our faithfulness to Adonai’s commandments.  When we keep the Sabbath day as commanded by Elohim, we receive the blessing of rest and put aside the slavery to the never-ending cycle of work. If one chooses not to remember the Sabbath day as Elohim commanded, they lose the blessing of rest and are cursed in a never-ending enslaved cycle of work.

Hebrew Word Pictures
See or re’eh – ראה – resh, alef, hey
– highest authority first strength, revealed

Blessing or barakah – ברכה – bet, resh, kaf, hey
– family highest authority covers, behold

Curse or alah – אלה – alef, lamed, hey
– first strength urges forward revealed

Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal

Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal are mountains west of the Jordan River ‘in the direction of the sunset’ in Canaan near the ‘Pistaschio trees of Moreh.’ These mountains sit in the West Bank near the city of Nablus or Shechem. Mount Ebal is on the northern side of the valley and Mount Gerizim is on the southern.

Pistachio trees, like the Almond, blossom and produce early fruit. These particular Pistachio trees were near Shechem where Abraham had passed, and where the sons of Isra’el committed murder to avenge the dignity of their sister. The specific place was named moreh meaning ‘to teach.’ When the Israelites crossed the Jordan, between the mountains Gerizim and Ebal where there was a grove of Pistachio trees, they would have a time of teaching. They were to put blessings on Mount Gerizim and curses on Mount Ebal as they learned Adonai’s rules for living in the Land of Promise.

The Place with His Name

“You are to come to the place where Adonai your God will put His name.  He will choose it from all your tribes; and you will seek out that place, which is where He will live, and go there”
(Deuteronomy 12:5).

Adonai gave Isra’el a place to worship Him so they would not serve the Canaanite gods.  At the place where ‘I Am’ put His name, the Tribes of Isra’el would bring their offerings, sacrifices, and tithes.  They would eat in His presence and rejoice because of His blessings.

They were not to offer burnt offerings anywhere else, only in the place where Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh put His name.   They could slaughter meat for food wherever they lived according to how they had been blessed. They were not to eat blood, but pour it out on the ground.

“Just take care not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you are not to eat the life with the meat.  Don’t eat it, but pour it out on the ground like water.  Do not eat it, so that all things will go well with you and your children after you as you do what Adonai sees right” (Deuteronomy 12:16).

Book of Second Opinion

“You will not do things the way we do them here today, where everyone does whatever in his own opinion seems right…” (Deuteronomy 12:8).

We have a family joke whenever we encounter someone who believes their opinion has far greater weight than the D’var Elohim. We say they are quoting from the ‘Book of Second Opinion,’ and sometimes we even add a chapter and verse.

The ‘Book of Second Opinion’ gives everyone the freedom to do what is right in their own eyes rather transforming their behavior to the commandments of Elohim. This isn’t freedom in Christ, it is apostasy from the Torah or ‘lawlessness.’ Of course, each person has a different halacha or way of expressing the commandments of Elohim, but ‘expression’ is different from situational ethics and the ‘Book of Second Opinion Chapter 2, verse 18.’

‘Apostasy’ in Greek is apostasia and means ‘to turn away, pervert, and divorce.’ Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words defines apostasy as ‘a declension from apostolic teachings.’ ‘Declension’ means ‘a condition of decline or moral deterioration.’ This definition of ‘declension’ is actually found under ‘Sabbath’ in new testament words. According to Vine’s, apostasy is ‘turning way, perverting and divorcing oneself’ from the Torah: the teachings and instructions of Adonai, Yeshua, and the apostles.

Sha’ul describes the ‘great apostasy’ to the Thessalonians: “For the Day [of Adonai] will not come until after the Apostasy has come and the man who separates himself from Torah has been revealed, the one destined for doom. He will oppose himself to everything that people call a god or make an object of worship; he will put himself above them all, so that he will sit in the Temple of God and proclaim that he himself is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Apostasy isn’t just a denial of Yeshua (Jesus), it is turning away and divorcing oneself from Torah, one of the foundations of faith. Without a solid foundation, the whole building will fall and crumble. Some translations say, ‘man of lawlessness’ because this ‘man’ will deny Torah. Those who separate themselves from Torah are like this ‘lawless man’ and apostatize from the faith. Those who are sanctified, set-apart and ‘Kadosh l’Adonai’ not only remain faithful to Yeshua, but also obey the commandments of Elohim (Revelations 14:12).

“Many will say to Me [Yeshua] on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands]’” (Matthew 7:22,23, AMP).

The Israelites cannot have a ‘Book of Second Opinion’ when they enter the Promised Land because ‘they have not yet arrived at the rest and inheritance that Adonai was giving them’ (Deuteronomy 12:9). This concurs with Yeshua’s words regarding the duration of the Torah (Matthew 5:17-20). Until there is a new heaven and new earth with the New Jerusalem, no one will enter in the eternal Kingdom with the inheritance promised by ‘I am.’ Torah is still in force, and the ‘Book of Second Opinion,’ whether written by Jewish sages or church fathers is just opinions.

Adding and Subtracting

“Everything I am commanding you, you are to take care to do.  Do not add to it or subtract from it” (Deuteronomy 13:1).

Human nature loves to add to or take away from the D’var Elohim because it allows humanity to be ‘god’ and remain sinful, not perfecting holiness out of reverence for Adonai. Re-defining sin from breaking Elohim commandments to whatever we like or don’t like in the behavior of another person has become the standard for righteousness.

There are denominations that don’t allow music or dancing when the Scriptures clearly encourage these powerful ways to worship ‘I Am.’ Some denominations consider drinking a sin when the Bibles says that getting drunk, not consuming a glass of wine, is a sin.  They forget that Yeshua changed water into wine, and blessed two cups of wine at his Pesach seder.

A cautionary statement about adding to or subtracting from the D’var Elohim needs to be addressed. Taken literally, adding would mean that the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures are the only valid Scriptures. This is not true. Yeshua read from the Prophets in a synagogue validating their ‘addition.’ He used the Prophets and the Psalms to explain his suffering, death, and resurrection to his disciples. He quoted Psalm 22 on the cross. Some of Yeshua’s teachings came directly from the Talmud or oral teachings. Peter and Jude quote from the Book of Enoch, and the Book of Jasher is quoted by Joshua –– both books removed from today’s Bibles. Adding and subtracting needs to be discerned rightly and according to the revelation of Truth encompassing all Scripture.

“For Adonai your God is testing you, in order to find out whether you really do love Adonai your God with all your heart and being.  You are to follow Adonai your God, hear him, obey his mitzvot, listen to what he says, serve him and cling to him; and that prophet or dream is to be put to death, because he urged rebellion against Adonai your God … in order to seduce you away from the path Adonai your God ordered you to follow” (Deuteronomy 13:4-6).  

The False Prophet

Adonai warns about those who use dreams to cause a rebellion against Him. John says to ‘test the spirits’ because not every spirit comes from Elohim (1 John 4:1). Because the D’var Elohim is readily available to everyone, it should be easy to test the prophet or the wolf wearing a sheep coat. Most believers, however, do not study the Scriptures for themselves and lack the knowledge to ‘test the spirits.’

The punishment for a false prophet was death. Since there is no longer a governing court to render justice to the false prophet, rebellious leaders are given a platform, a television show or a youtube channel. Some wolves wearing fleece have mega churches with bank accounts that make them appear righteous, but their twisted teachings and feel-good doctrines deceive everyone who listens them (2 Timothy 3:1-8).

“You are the people of Adonai your God.  You are not to gash yourselves or shave the hair above your foreheads in mourning for the dead, because you are a people set apart as holy for Adonai your God.  Adonai your God has chosen you to be his own unique treasure out of all the peoples on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:1-2).  

This command about false prophets wasn’t new for Isra’el; it had been given 40 years earlier. Now, it became a reminder to the Israelites that when they entered the Promised Land, they were not to act like the nations –– tattooing and cutting themselves as ritual worship of other gods. Isra’el is Elohim’s unique treasure in all the earth. How we treat the tabernacle of our souls is of great importance to Adonai.

Disgusting Foods

“Because you are a holy people to Adonai your God, you are not to eat anything disgusting”
(Deuteronomy 14:2-3).

Because Isra’el is a holy people, set-apart for Elohim, they were given dietary instructions. The regulations did not mention health and wellness because they were faith-based works of obedience. Sha’ul taught, “We do not abolish Torah by faith. Heaven forbid! On the contrary, we confirm Torah” (Romans 3:31). The Greek word for ‘confirm’ is histemi and means ‘make it stand.’ Leviticus 11 lists the animals that Adonai called ‘clean’ to eat and what He called ‘unclean’ and disgusting. It is faith which confirms His instructions; it is faith make makes His instructions stand thousands of years later.

Selah
‘Heaven forbid’ is an idiom for ‘a curse be upon it.’

The Yearly Tithe

“Every year you must take one tenth of everything your seed produces in the field, and eat it in the presence of Adonai your God.  In the place where he chooses, to have his name live you will eat the tenth of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the first born of your cattle and sheep, so that you will learn to fear Adonai your God always” (Deuteronomy 14:22-23).

The significance of obeying this command was to fear Elohim forever.  The tithe consisted of one-tenth of the produce, grain, wine, olive oil, cattle, and sheep to be eaten in the presence of Adonai. It was not given weekly at a church service, but was brought once a year to Jerusalem.  If the distance was too far to travel with the produce or livestock, then it was exchanged for money and used to buy the items necessary to fulfill the command at the Temple. Remember the moneychangers?  This was their job, and they perverted it by taking over court of the Gentiles so thatYeshua overturned their tables.

Every three years the tithes were collected in the villages and given to the Levites.  These tithes would be their sustenance and wage for serving at the Altar and teaching the Israelites Torah.

“And Yeshua entered the temple [grounds] and drove out [with force] all who were buying and selling [birds and animals for sacrifice] in the temple area, and He turned over the tables of the moneychangers [who made a profit exchanging foreign money for temple coinage] and the chairs of those who were selling doves [for sacrifice]” (Matthew 21:12, AMP).

Selah
In Jerusalem, there are still money changers. They exchange currency: dollars to shekels.

Sh’mittah

“At the end of every seven years you are to have a sh’mittah” (Deuteronomy 15:1).  
At the sh’mittah, all debt was abolished whether with a native Israelite or a foreigner. Slavery between brothers was dissolved unless the slave wanted to remain in the house of his owner. The owner would then take an awl and pierce through his ear and the man would remain his slave forever.

During the sh’mittah, no planting or harvesting of the land was to be done. The land was to settle or rest, only bringing forth what naturally grew for food. If Isra’el obeyed this command, they would receive a blessing.

Selah
Piercing the ear was a sign of permanent slavery (James 4:4).

“You will lend money to many nations without having to borrow, and you will rule over many nations without their ruling over you…. Guard yourself against allowing your heart to entertain the mean-spirited thought that because the seventh year, the year of sh’mittah is at hand, you would be stingy toward your needy brother and not give him anything. God will bless you in all your work, in everything you undertake – for there will always be poor people in the land.  That is why I am giving you this order. You must open your hand to your poor and needy brother in your land” (Deuteronomy 15:6, 9-11).

The Mo’edim of Adonai

Moshe’s last words remind the Israelites about the ‘appointed times’ or mo’edim. With his final words, he names the place that bears Adonai’s name – Yerushalayim.

Pesach
The Israelites were to keep Passover in the month of Aviv. They were to sacrifice the Passover offering only in the place where Adonai put His name, not in any other place.

Matzah
They were to eat bread without chametz for seven days for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It was to be known as ‘the bread of affliction’ and a reminder of the exact day the Israelites left Egypt.   

Shavuot
They were to count seven weeks from the day the barley harvest began.   On that day, they were to present a voluntary offering and rejoice in the presence of Adonai celebrating the Feast of Weeks.  

Sukkot
They were to keep the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days in the fall after they gathered the produce of the threshing floor and winepress. They were to rejoice before Adonai for seven days.
For each these mo’edim, Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot, all Israelite men were to appear in the presence of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh at the place where He put His Name – Jerusalem. 

Yeshua and the Blessings

“Prompted by the Spirit, he went into the Temple courts; and when the parents brought in the child Yeshua to do for him what the Torah required, Shim‘on took him [Yeshua] in his arms, made a b’rakhah to God…” (Luke 2:27-28).

“He asked them, ‘How many loaves do you have? Go and check.’ When they had found out, they said, ‘Five. And two fish.’ Then he ordered all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. They sat down in groups of fifty or a hundred. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, and, looking up toward heaven, made a b’rakhah” (Mark 6:37-41).

“Then Yeshua took the loaves of bread, and, after making a b’rakhah, gave to all who were sitting there, and likewise with the fish, as much as they wanted” (John 6:11).

“However, when Yeshua saw it, he became indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me, don’t stop them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Yes! I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it!’ And he took them in his arms, laid his hands on them, and made a b’rakhah over them” (Mark 10:14-16).

“Also he [Yeshua]  took a cup of wine, made the b’rakhah, and gave it to them, saying, ‘All of you, drink from it! For this is my blood, which ratifies the New Covenant, my blood shed on behalf of many, so that they may have their sins forgiven’” (Matthew 26:27-28).

“He led them out toward Beit-Anyah; then, raising his hands, he said a b’rakhah over them; and as he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51).

©2018 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this Torah portion, the weekly readings of the Prophets and New Testament, Study Helps, and springboard for midrash, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.

Yeshua in His Father’s Feasts

Yeshua in His Father’s Feasts is a personal or group in-depth study guide/student manual that reveals the shadows and realities of the Messiah in the prophetic visions in the Feasts of the LORD. It will fill in the holes of your Bible when reading the words ‘Jewish feast’ or ‘the feast of the Jews.’  This study will illuminate often-overlooked phrases and idioms that allude to the ‘appointed times’ of God.

Both the prophet Micah and King Solomon state that without prophetic vision and knowledge, God’s people perish. Studying the Biblical holy days will revive the searching soul and bring insight and understanding into the complete salvation found in Yeshua – his past, present, and future work.

This newly revised study guide/student manual includes Scriptures from the Torah, Prophets, Psalms, Gospels, and Letters. It includes activities for families and children that will enhance celebrating the Biblical ‘appointed times’ as well as suggestions for digging deeper into traditional and Biblical Jewish customs surrounding Yeshua In His Father’s Feasts.

If you are doing a group study, a leader’s manual for the revised second edition student manual can be purchased that not only has the answers to the questions, but also ideas for spurring discussions.

May be purchased on amazon.com

Reviews:

“This is the best Bible study I have ever done. I can’t seem to put it down and I am learning more and more about my faith everyday. I have been a believer for 60 years and I am learning truths I was never taught in church. I even asked my pastor if he knew all of this and admitted, he did not.” (M. Graves)

“I have been growing in my faith from reading and studying the Feasts in this guide. Thank you for your faithfulness to Yeshua!” (S. Corben)

“Few Christians understand that the context for the Jewish Messiah of the New Testament of their Bibles is the culture and language and history of the nation of Israel. This book helps explain why that culture, language and history is necessary knowledge for understanding the identity of the Messiah and how knowing the Jewish Messiah enlarges the understanding of the Biblical feasts. Good, basic foundational information from which to launch further study. Very enjoyable and eye-opening.” (W. Lopez)

“Loved it. Will keep going back for future Wisdom that truly matters.” (J. Banta)

“I have learned so many things about the Bible that I never saw before. I loved learning about the fall festivals and I became aware of more and more people teaching about these special times. I especially learned that Christmas and Hanukkah are very different holidays. I am grateful to have done this Bible study.” (L. Herbert)

“My eyes are seeing so much more in Scripture, especially the new testament, after doing this study.” (M. Gravenhorst)

I Can Only Imagine

Several weeks ago I had a discussion with my son about gentile believers going to the synagogue to hear God’s Word so they can be a light for Yeshua.  His question was, “What would a small synagogue of 50 think of 1000s upon 1000s of Messianic gentiles standing outside asking to hear God’s Word? Wouldn’t they want to know why?  Wouldn’t that be a great opportunity to share Yeshua with his brothers and sisters?”  What a concept!  Our denominational ideologies have not only divided us from each other, but our church doctrines keep us out of the very place God-fearing gentiles used to go: the synagogue.  

Today I woke up with the song, I Can Only Imagine repeating over and over in my mind.  I thought of the conversation with my son and created some new words. 

Imagine Unity of Faith

I can only imagine what it would be like if all who have been called out of darkness would gather together at a Passover seder centered on the Light.

I can only imagine what it would be like if all who have been set free from sin and death would throw out the lump of leaven and live the life of the Sinless One. 

I can only imagine what it would be like if  all who cry out,  ‘He is Risen’ were waving a Firstfruits grain offering to their glorious High Priest.

I can only imagine what it would be like if all those who speak in tongues were speaking the Spirit of Truth declaring Yeshua to the nations.

I can only imagine what it would be like if all who blissfully believed they will be removed from this earth blew the shofar on Yom Teruah inviting the Savior to return to this earth.

I can only imagine what it would be like if those who judge Israel and the Jewish people for killing their Christ prayed on Day of Atonement so ‘all Israel would be saved.’

I can only imagine what it would be like if those who believed they are part of a Temple built of living stones would temporarily dwell in a sukkah for eight days to proclaim the coming Messianic Temple.

I can only imagine what it would be like if every God-fearing gentile who trusted in Jesus (Yeshua) gathered at community synagogue on the Sabbath thirsty to hear the teachings and instructions of the God of Israel that come not from Rome or the Vatican, but from Mt. Tzion and Jerusalem.     

I believe Yeshua’s brothers and sisters would want his salvation, the Father would hear the shofar blasts, the earth would shake and the dead would rise, there would be a Wedding Feast (Passover) like never before with everyone speaking a heavenly language.

I can ONLY imagine because seders and lumps of leaven been replaced with a Friday called ‘good’.  Firstfruits have been traded for Istar’s pork roast.  Tongues have turned the nations into people possessed with familiar spirits. Shofars remain silent on the ‘appointed times.’ The brothers and sisters of Yeshua remain lost, their country boycotted and judged as ‘not the Israel of the Bible,’ and the promised Kingdom that is desired lingers longer.

I can only imagine what it will be like when the High Priest rules from Jerusalem with his royal priesthood, when all nations come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles and every man invites his neighbor to sit under his own vine and fig tree, when the Bridegroom sits with His Bride at the Wedding Feast with countless guests from every nation, tribe and tongue,  when the Sabbath is eternal and yod-hey-vav-hey dwells with mankind forever in the New Jerusalem.

I can only imagine.

©2016 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.  

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).

Sukkah

Most Christians acknowledge that Jesus was not born on December 25 in the middle of winter. Yet few realize that his birth is outlined in the Bible if they could unravel some of the clues given to them in the gospels that refer back to the Hebrew Scriptures. The account of the ‘reason for the season’ begins in the book of Luke chapter 1 when Zechariah was in the Temple 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 Jesus (Yeshua).

1.  Zechariah is 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 (Pesach), Pentecost (Shavuot), and Tabernacles (Sukkot) 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) 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 is 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 serves in the Temple during the week of Passover and Unleavened Bread  as part of his required Temple service.

The Biblical calendar is not the same as the Julian/Gregorian calendar we use today. Passover comes in March/April, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) in June, the Feast of Tabernacles in September/October. The Scriptures utilize a Biblical calendar beginning with the first month 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 returns 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 or Shavuot (Pentecost). 

Altar of Incense

6.   An angel of Adonai appears to Zechariah while he is 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 Adonai 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 visits Mary (Luke 1:26).

Angel Visits Mary

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 suggests 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 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).

Elizabeth’s baby leaps in her womb

When Mary greets her cousin, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps. According to the time period given for Elizabeth’s seclusion, was probably 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 the 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).

mid-to-late December. The Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah occurs at this time as a memorial to the re-dedication of the Temple after it was defiled by the Greeks. It is also known as the Festival of Lights because the Menorah was once again lit after the desecration. It was during Hanukkah, the days 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 a powerful 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).

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. At that time, 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 nine months earlier.

“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 Yeshua are born six months apart.

Six months after Passover in the spring (March/April) would be the fall (September/October), the time of 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 the Feast of Tabernacles. Women (and children) who were with their husbands filled all of 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).

13. Mary gives birth to a baby boy in a stable and lays him in a manger.

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).

Yeshua in a 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 dwelling. Because of the timing of Yeshua’s birth during the Feast of Tabernacles, many 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 like Jacob built for his livestock (Genesis 33:17). The 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 ‘temporary dwelling’ accommodations, Joseph fulfilled God’s requirement to live in a sukkah during the Feast of Tabernacles as did Yeshua, the firstborn son of God.

14.   The angels rejoice because “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14, Luke 2:8-14).

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

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

Palm, Willow, Erog, Myrtle

These branches are called lulavs and represent 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 ‘breath.’ 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 ‘breath’ 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).

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

“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).

Tower of the Flock

The shepherds in the hills near Bethlehem, a short distance from Jerusalem, were special shepherds. They camped at the Migdal Eder and raised the sheep for the Temple sacrifices. 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’ birth, there was an actual military watchtower above the hills that was used to protect Bethlehem. This tower was also used by the shepherds 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 prophecy of Messiah’s birth to be fulfilled.

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

Eight days after a son’s birth, the father would take the child to be circumcised and named as the mother would still be in her days of purification after childbirth. Joseph takes his infant son to the nearest Levite priest in Bethlehem to be circumcised and names him, Yeshua, as he was commanded by the angel.

“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 is circumcised and being named by his father, crowds were in the Temple courts dancing, singing, and rejoicing in the Torah. Without their knowledge, a short distance away in Bethlehem, 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).

18.   Mary’s purification is complete.

“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 the LORD, 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).

Redemption of the Firstborn

Forty days after Yeshua’s birth, Mary’s days of purification were completed. She and Joseph take Yeshua to the Temple for the ‘Redemption of the Firstborn’ according to the Torah command in Leviticus 12:8. At this time, they offered the required sacrifice of 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 expected the Word to become flesh and the salvation of Israel to be revealed. Simeon spoke prophecies over Yeshua in the presence of his parents, while Anna, a widow, overheard and saw what was happening and began thanking God and speaking about Yeshua to everyone who was waiting for the redemption of Israel.

“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 2:25,36).

19. At this time, a sign appears in the heavens (Matthew 2:1-2).

Every kingdom in the known world at that time 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 times.’ 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 the ‘sign’ in the heavens and began their journey toward Jerusalem to honor and worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Hebrew word ‘star’ in this verse is kokhav and is used in Numbers 24:17 with the scepter from Jacob –– all terminology for stars and planets that are ‘signs in the heavens.’

20.  The magi or wise men arrive 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).

By the time the wise men arrive in Bethlehem, Yeshua is no longer an infant wrapped in cloths and lying in a sukkah. He is nearly two years old and living in a house. It is at his home with his parents that he receives the gifts of the wise men.

This is the Biblical outline for the conception, birth, and early life of 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 at the Migdal Eder heard the angelic hosts proclaim ‘peace on earth among people of goodwill.’ They went immediately to see the ‘Lamb of God’ in Bethlehem. At that moment, wise men from the east saw a ‘star’ and began traveling to Bethlehem to greet the ‘newborn king.’ While all Israel rejoiced in the Torah, the living Torah was circumcised and named Salvation –– Yeshua.

©1997 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.