by Rance Cook, Last Days Review
Why should Christians be concerned about the “HIGH HOLY DAYS”? Aren’t they just Jewish tradition? The answer to that is simple. Although our Jewish brethren certainly do honor the High Holy Days—and very seriously so, They are NOT just Jewish in origin. They are BIBLICAL in origin. They and other feasts and days of repentance were entrusted to the Jewish people but that was done by God Himself for ALL mankind!
There is much confusion among some Christians about the book that we refer to as the OLD TESTAMENT. I heard a preacher one time telling his audience that the Old Testament was REPLACED by the New Testament and therefore it is a waste of time to read the OLD because only the NEW is relevant for today. When he said that I frankly thought of finding a place to hide far far away from the “splatter zone” if God decided a lightening strike was in order! :-)
The Bible, including the Old and New Testaments are ONE BOOK. Regardless of what some “high falutin” (country slang for big headed) egg heads may have to say on the subject, the Bible is a perfect document that cannot be faulted in any way. Folks who say it is full of contradictions simply do not understand the overall text and as far as I am concerned are self deceived and shoving their respective fingers up God’s nose! If anyone is unclear about how I feel about that I could clarify… However, moving on—
The words “OLD TESTAMENT” are unfortunate in a way because it can lead people to think that it is somehow a musty and dusty old historical record—or worse, for some (of the high falutin egg heads) just a collection of silly stories that could not possibly have happened. Frankly that is a result of thinking about the Word of God strictly with the human mind and leaving out the HEART! Jesus Himself said (John 3:3) “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” By this He goes on to explain that every person is born first through the water of their mothers womb but in order to enter the Kingdom of God, a person must also be born of the Spirit!
The ONLY way to be born of the Spirit is through repentance (Matthew 3:2) and by—”confessing with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9-13) “For with the HEART one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”. So who does this apply to, just Christians?
As I have stated in previous articles, Jesus did not come to earth to start a new religion called CHRISTIANITY. Rather, His mission during His first coming was to offer Himself (through death) on the cross of Calvary, to pay the price for your sins and mine. Romans 10:11-13 goes on to say “For the scripture says, whoever believes on Him (Jesus) will not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek (Gentiles), for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” The terms “WHOEVER and SHALL” are all inclusive! That includes every person from every country and every religion or cultural background. It includes atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Gentiles and people from every single arena of human kind.
There is only ONE way to God and that is through a relationship with His ONLY begotten Son Jesus Christ (Hebrew Name–Yeshua HaMashiach). This one true God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who’s name” Jacob” was changed by God Himself to ISRAEL! In order for anyone to receive this absolutely free gift of salvation, all other gods must be forsaken. This Jesus Christ is the long awaited Messiah of Israel. He came the first time as the Lamb slain for our sins, and it was His shed blood that redeemed us (Revelation 5:9). You can see an extremely vivid picture of what He had to go through as the Lamb which was slain, in Isaiah chapter 53. When He returns for His people (both Jew and Gentile), He will come in the form of the LION from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, (Revelation 5:5).
Some say, “what a small minded God to allow ONLY such a narrow entrance into heaven—surely all roads lead to the same place”! Sorry, but there is only one way and only One God. Since He is God, whether we like it or not, we have to do it His way. And by the way, the problem is not that He is small minded, rather it is because He is BIG minded. Very big. The real problem lies in our lack of understanding of His ways and thoughts.
The Apostle Paul, speaking in 1 Corinthians 1:18-19 explains exactly why we must think of God and His Holy Word through the HEART rather than just the mind. One will NEVER understand the message of the cross until they understand that distinction.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” For it is written “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent”! Translation—Destroy the wisdom of the wise= high falutin eggheads who think they are smarter than God!!!
So how exactly does a person think through the heart while not putting his or her brain completely on hold? The answer lies in study of the WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD, which includes both Old and New Testaments. There is an age old saying that goes like this: “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed”! The Old Testament is the very foundation for the New Testament and you cannot take that foundation away any more than you could take the foundation from under a skyscraper building and expect it to continue standing.
You may also have heard that the Word of God is alive. How true! While the paper and ink are no more than that, the Words inscribed within are inspired by the Holy Spirit and when read, particularly by a believer, literally take root within us and grow into a greater understanding.
In Hebrew, the Old Testament is the TANAKH (pronounced “ta-nach”) and the New Testament (Covenant) is the B’RIT HADASHAH. Literally, there are no vowels, so TANAKH is written as an acronym, TNK. (In the Hebrew). The acronym Tanakh is comprised of the following: 1.) “T” which stands for TORAH or TEACHINGS (which are the first 5 books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). 2.) “N” which stands for NEVI’IM, or Prophets. 3.) “K” which stands for KETUVIM, or Writings. Thus, the “Old Testament”.
This leads us back to the various special days that God decreed in the Bible that His people should observe—in perpetuity. Of course we all know that He was just speaking to the Jews, right? You know when I teach publicly (as in with an audience), I ask my generally Christian listeners if they believe that the 10 commandments ( Exodus 20) still apply to them. You know, no worship of false gods, honor mom and dad, no murder, no adultery etc, etc. I always get a chorus of shouted “Amen Brother”, “Of course it does”, and ” You betcha buddy”!
Then I ask, well how about the 4th commandment? “REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY AND KEEP IT HOLY”! Silence prevails. More silence. now more uncomfortable silence while I let them squirm a little. But then they invariably come to their Christian senses and someone reminds me, “well Rance, after all WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE and observing the Sabbath is just some Jewish legalistic stuff”! More silence. Gosh if that is the case then maybe the Godly admonitions to refrain from murder, adultery, honoring poor ole mom and dad—and oh yes, worshipping false gods are also just so much Jewish legalistic stuff? Hmmmm? Well, you decide.
While it is very true that any follower of Jesus Christ (Jew or Gentile) is saved entirely by grace, as we look around the Christian world today, particularly in the Western hemisphere, what do we see? A divorce rate nearly as high as in the secular world. Pastors falling into sin at an unprecedented rate. Men of God in a major denomination molesting children. Burn out, suicide, alcoholism, pornography, drug abuse and I could go on and on. Of course those things do not plague all Christians thank the Lord. The point is that Jesus Himself clarified the Sabbath issue in Mark 2:27-28 when he said “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also the Lord of the Sabbath”.
For those, either Jew or Gentile who observe the Sabbath for purely legalistic purposes or for the intention of gaining salvation through that or any other physical deed then yes it is legalistic. The Jewish people that I know are observing the Sabbath because they love God and He said it was important. At least for those that I know, legalism has nothing to do with it! Perhaps if we believers in Christ as the Messiah of Israel, were to spend some time with God and our families—and REST one day each week? Maybe our divorce rate would drop. Maybe our teenage sons and daughter would not go astray. Perhaps less pastors would fall into sin and internet pornography in the church would fade into the past. Well, once again, you decide!
But as long as I have your attention, please allow me to ask you a question? No raised hands or verbal responses please. Just think about this for one moment. Let’s play a game and pretend that Jesus Himself dropped in for a week long surprise visit. You know, just to kind of check things out and see how we are doing? Minus any emergencies, blind people needing their sight or the dead needing to be raised, what do you suppose Jesus would be doing on the Sabbath? Oh come on now my fellow Christians, you know deep down in your hearts exactly what the Jewish Messiah would be doing. Did He not observe the Sabbath in the Bible? Did He not go up to Jerusalem for the Feasts? We know for certain that He was there for the Spring time events because He died precisely on Passover, was buried on Unleavened Bread and rose from the grave on First fruits. The coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2 was precisely 50 days later on Pentecost.
So the question is, are there other great lessons that can be learned from the Old Testament? Do you think that the various feasts and High Holy days that God prescribed for HIS PEOPLE——-in perpetuity, are something that we can learn from? By the way, who are HIS PEOPLE?
This time of year is sometimes confused with the Biblical holiday of Feast of Trumpets, (Hebrew “Zichron Trua”) as they are during the same time. The English translation is “A memorial blowing or shouting.” It begins the 10 DAYS OF AWE, a time of repentance. Now for those of you who have read your Bible, yes it also says that Passover (usually in March or April) is the beginning of months, or head of the year. However, that is a subject for another time. The subject at hand are the High Holy Days of which the world is in the midst of as I write this article. It begins with Rosh Hashanah and ends 10 days later with the completion of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). Yom Kippur begins just two days from now on September 17th, 2010, which is also 9 Tishri in the Biblical year of 5771. The end of the High Holy Days, the 10th day, is September 18. Five days later is Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. This Feast lasts for 7 days and the atmosphere is markedly different than during the Days of Awe which are a time of repentance.
Tabernacles is a time of rejoicing! The word SUKKOT (which has alternative spellings depending upon who is writing it) means “BOOTHS”. It is a time in Israel and elsewhere in the world that observant Jews and some Christians build small temporary huts or dwellings on their roof or in their yard. It is a time of great family fun and commemorates the way in which their Jewish forefathers lived in the wilderness for 40 years during the Exodus with Moses. You can see the Biblical reference in Leviticus 23:43.
This Feast is the last of the fall season. If the Lord accomplished the key events of His death and resurrection on the Spring Biblically appointed days, could it be possible that He could accomplish the events of His second coming on the Biblically appointed days of the Fall? We certainly will not know for sure until it happens. But, I can tell you that ALL of the Biblically appointed times are important beyond our wildest expectations. It is time that the Church in general realize that Jesus Christ, Yeshua HaMashiach, is and always will be a Jew. He is the Jewish Messiah and one day very soon He may be on His way back to get His Bride (Revelation chapter 19:7-9), the Church which is made up of Jews and Gentiles who have repented for their sins and placed their faith in Him!
God bless you all—may you all be counted worthy to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (That’s a homework quiz. HINT! You can look it up in the book of Revelation).