By Rev SEIK PITOI
IF you have been following my teaching articles over the past two Fridays, you will notice that we began with the Feast of Trumpets which commenced last Friday evening, Sept 18. Last Friday’s teaching was on the “10 days of Awe” which commenced on Trumpets and will end with the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) on the evening of Sept 28. As we saw last week, this was a period of 10 days that the Jews set aside to repent and get themselves right with one another and with God. The culmination of it is the Day of Atonement, the most sacred day on the Jewish calendar.
According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict. During the 10 Days of Awe, Jews try to amend their behaviour and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings.
Much of what we read about in these seven feasts in Judaism is derived from men’s traditions. Jesus was careful to warn His people about traditions of men, as opposed to the word of God: “It is no use for them to worship me, because they teach human rules as though they were my laws!’ “You put aside God’s command and obey human teachings…You have a clever way of rejecting God’s law in order to uphold your own teaching (Mark 7:4-9 GNB).
Even today, Messianic Jews differ on certain points of eschatology. For instance, one person said after teaching that Jesus was born on Succoth for a long time, he was now convinced Jesus was instead born on Passover, after studying another rabbi’s writing! Another one said he does not wish shana tovah (happy new year) on Rosh Hashana to anyone, because he just realised that the tradition came from the diaspora and was not biblical.
So many gentile believers run from one Jewish teaching to another. That is incorrect. I believe the safest place to be is in the word of God. God’s word alone is truth – not men’s traditions (John 17:17)!
Leviticus 23 and other places record these feasts and the reason why God gave them to be observed. But for us as Christians, are we required to observe all these feasts and do as the Jews do? No! We are not bound by these feasts as we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God. But we note the significance they have in seeing Christ and His redemptive plan foreshadowed in them all, and we can also learn some valuable lessons from them to enrich our spiritual lives.
In this article, we will discuss some key take away lessons from these final three feasts.
In summary, we are living in a time when we can hear the sound of the trumpet. According to Numbers 10, two trumpets of hammered silver were to be made to be used for “calling the community together and having the camps set out” (Num 10: 2). Prophetically, these two trumpets represent Israel and the Church. Israel is the fig tree among the other trees (the nations), and as we “behold” her, we can see what season we are in! (Luke 21: 29-30). As for the Church, we are to sound the trumpet and warn the nations of what is coming ahead. Every Christian is a trumpet. Living holy and set apart lives draws people to us, and with our mouths, we tell them about Jesus (Col 4:5-6).
Effectiveness in our ministry must come from a repentant and humble heart. We must make sure, as best as we possibly can, that we are in harmonious relationships with those joined to us, as well as with our God. This is only possible if we have had our sins atoned for by the blood of Jesus. He is our atonement, as it was He who carried our sins and paid for them by His blood on Calvary. When He finished His redemptive work, He called out, “It is finished” (John 19:30). He did it all. Do we know we have been truly atoned for by the sacrifice of Jesus? We can only be effective in being a trumpet for God if we have a personal relationship with God through Jesus, and have had our sins atoned for.
Known as Succoth, this feast celebrates the exodus of the Jews from their Egyptian slavery. In their 40 yearlong wilderness sojourn, they did not live in permanent houses. They lived in booths or crude shelters (tabernacles), meaning, their journey was temporary. They would settle some day in the Promised Land. Likewise, as the famous song says, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through”!
Jews commemorate this time by erecting booths (sukkah) in their backyard and celebrating the week’s event in them. But Succoth is also a celebration of the harvest. The hard work done in sowing seeds is compensated with a celebratory time of rejoicing in the harvest. Likewise, because it celebrates the harvest, we can see that the Church is required to go out and bring in a harvest of souls for God’s Kingdom. As stated in our first article, we are on borrowed time. God is holding back the tide of darkness so the Church can mobilise together and go out to bring in the end time harvest.
Finally, Succoth ends with Sinchat Torah, or rejoicing in the Law. This celebration marks the completion of the Torah reading cycle. Likewise, after a season of repentance, we arise and do the work of the Kingdom – then we will celebrate in His presence with the end time harvest that has come in through the preaching of God’s word (Law).
After this season of repentance and prayer, our final work is to gather in the harvest.
Countless millions, in our nation and abroad, are walking into a Christless eternity. God is giving a window of opportunity for the Church to bring them in. The year 5781 (as explained in the first article) is the first year in the decade of declaring and decreeing God’s word of salvation. This season of repentance is ushering in the season of harvest.
The psalmist has said it well: “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6).
Next week, we will feature a prominent evangelist and spiritual leader as he shares his heart for the end time harvest in our nation.
- Rev Seik Pitoi is a freelance writer.