Sunday, October 28, 2018

Introduction to The Lord's Appointed Times

All of the scripture passages contained herein, and in the chapters to follow, will be taken from the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) unless otherwise noted. I have added some words in parenthesis for clarification and ease of understanding.

Before we begin, I want you all to know that at this time I am not a Keeper of the Law of Moses – a Torah Keeper – neither am I a Sabbath Keeper in the traditional sense. But I am a follower of Jesus Christ who remembers the Lord’s Appointed Times, of which Sabbath is just one. Should God reveal to me that I am in error, I will make corrections where He shows me my errors lay.

Leviticus 23: The Lord’s Appointed Times. Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell the people of Isra’el: ‘the designated (appointed) times of Adonai (the Lord) which you are to proclaim as holy convocations are my designated (appointed) times.
“‘Work is to be done on six days; but the seventh day is a Shabbat (Sabbath) of complete rest, a holy convocation; you are not to do any kind of work; it is a Shabbat for Adonai, even in your homes.
“‘These are the designated times of Adonai, the holy convocations you are to proclaim at their designated times.
“‘In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between sundown and complete darkness, comes Pesach for Adonai (the Lord’s Passover). On the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of matzah (Feast of Unleavened Bread); for seven days you are to eat matzah. On the first day you are to have a holy convocation; don’t do any kind of ordinary work. Bring an offering made by fire to Adonai for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work.’”
Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘After you enter the land I am giving you and harvest its ripe crops, you are to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the cohen (priest). He is to wave the sheaf before Adonai, so that you will be accepted; the cohen is to wave it on the day after the Shabbat. On the day that you wave the sheaf, you are to offer a male lamb without defect, in its first year, as a burnt offering for Adonai. Its grain offering is to be one gallon of fine flour mixed with olive oil, an offering made by fire to Adonai as a fragrant aroma; its drink offering is to be of wine, one quart. You are not to eat bread, dried grain or fresh grain until the day you bring the offering for your God; this is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live.
“‘From the day after the day of rest — that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving — you are to count seven full weeks, until the day after the seventh week (feast of Weeks or Pentecost); you are to count fifty days; and then you are to present a new grain offering to Adonai. You must bring bread from your homes for waving — two loaves made with one gallon of fine flour, baked with leaven — as firstfruits for Adonai. Along with the bread, present seven lambs without defect one year old, one young bull and two rams; these will be a burnt offering for Adonai, with their grain and drink offerings, an offering made by fire as a fragrant aroma for Adonai. Offer one male goat as a sin offering and two male lambs one year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. The cohen will wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before Adonai, with the two lambs; these will be holy for Adonai for the cohen. On the same day, you are to call a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work; this is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live.
“‘When you harvest the ripe crops produced in your land, don’t harvest all the way to the corners of your field, and don’t gather the ears of grain left by the harvesters; leave them for the poor and the foreigner; I am Adonai your God.’”
Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘In the seventh month, the first of the month is to be for you a day of complete rest for remembering, a holy convocation announced with blasts on the shofar (Trumpets). Do not do any kind of ordinary work, and bring an offering made by fire to Adonai.’”
Adonai said to Moshe, “The tenth day of this seventh month is Yom-Kippur (Day of Atonement); you are to have a holy convocation, you are to deny yourselves (humble one’s self in fasting), and you are to bring an offering made by fire to Adonai. You are not to do any kind of work on that day, because it is Yom-Kippur, to make atonement for you before Adonai your God. Anyone who does not deny himself (humble one’s self in fasting) on that day is to be cut off from his people; and anyone who does any kind of work on that day, I will destroy from among his people. You are not to do any kind of work; it is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live. It will be for you a Shabbat of complete rest, and you are to deny yourselves; you are to rest on your Shabbat from evening the ninth day of the month until the following evening.”
 Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) for seven days to Adonai. On the first day there is to be a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work. For seven days you are to bring an offering made by fire to Adonai; on the eighth day you are to have a holy convocation and bring an offering made by fire to Adonai; it is a day of public assembly; do not do any kind of ordinary work.
“‘These are the designated times of Adonai that you are to proclaim as holy convocations and bring an offering made by fire to Adonai — a burnt offering, a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, each on its own day — besides the Shabbats of Adonai, your gifts, all your vows and all your voluntary offerings that you give to Adonai.
“‘But on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered the produce of the land, you are to observe the festival of Adonai seven days; the first day is to be a complete rest and the eighth day is to be a complete rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit, palm fronds, thick branches and river-willows, and celebrate in the presence of Adonai your God for seven days. You are to observe it as a feast to Adonai seven days in the year; it is a permanent regulation, generation after generation; keep it in the seventh month. You are to live in sukkot for seven days; every citizen of Isra’el is to live in a sukkah, so that generation after generation of you will know that I made the people of Isra’el live in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am Adonai your God.’”
Thus Moshe announced to the people of Isra’el the designated times of Adonai.

When we read scripture, we learn that Adam and his family offered sacrifices unto the Lord. These offerings did not end with Adam, for scripture tells us that each of the Patriarchs of our faith built altars and made offerings for special times, seasons and occasions in their lives.

But when Isra’el was subjected to Egyptian bondage for 400+ years, they had forgotten their roots of faith. So after God sent Moses to free them from their captivity, God gave them the Old Testament – or Mosaic – Law. But He also appointed unto the Children of Isra’el times of worship and celebration that they were remember throughout ALL their generations.

Herein I want to share the things that God has been showing me in His word about the His appointed times; those times of worship and celebration that we, as believers in the Messiah, are to keep ‘throughout our generations’ … literally: FOREVER. Before I go into detail about those times I want to share with you why I feel that keeping these appointments with the Lord are as important for us, the followers of Christ, as it was for our ancestors, the children of Isra’el.
Let us remember that though these celebrations are contained in the Old Testament Law, they are times of worship and adoration which transcend the Law. For Jesus came to fulfill the Law, to bring it to completion. But our celebrations of the Lord and all that He is will never be completed. In fact, Jesus Himself made this comment in Matthew 5:17-19, “Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah (the Law) or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke (dot of an “I” or crossing of a “T”) will pass from the Torah (the Law) — not until everything that must happen has happened. So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot (commandments) and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

John 14:15-21, Jesus stated, “If you love me, you will keep my commands; and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforting Counselor like me, the Spirit of Truth, to be with you forever. The world cannot receive him, because it neither sees nor knows him. You know him, because he is staying with you and will be united with you. I will not leave you orphans — I am coming to you. In just a little while, the world will no longer see me; but you will see me. Because I live, you too will live. When that day comes, you will know that I am united with my Father, and you with me, and I with you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me, and the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

So what are the Command that Jesus gave us? We find them in the following passages.

Mathew 5:40-45, “If someone wants to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well! And if a soldier forces you to carry his pack for one mile, carry it for two! When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone wants to borrow something from you, lend it to him.
“You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Love your neighbor — and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Then you will become children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun shine on good and bad people alike, and he sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous alike.

Matthew 22:33-40, “When the crowds heard how he taught, they were astounded; but when the P’rushim (Pharisees) learned that he had silenced the Tz’dukim (Sadducees), they got together, and one of them who was a Torah expert asked a sh’eilah (teacher of the Law) to trap him: “Rabbi, which of the mitzvot (commands) in the Torah is the most important?” He told him, “‘You are to love Adonai (the Lord) your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ This is the greatest and most important mitzvah. And a second is similar to it, ‘You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot.”

In my study of these passages, I have come to believe that we ARE to keep the Lord’s Commandments. And that in keeping these two, we ARE fulfilling the whole of the Law in the Spirit in which God intended it to be kept. I encourage you to discover God’s mind on this matter for yourself. Do not take my word for it, for I am human and my opinions are fallible. But God’s Word is Pure Truth. Paul told Timothy the same thing in 2 Timothy 2:15, KJV, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” I feel this means that each of us should search out the word for ourselves so that we know and understand what God is saying to us as individuals. Then we will stand in His presence as servants who have no need to be ashamed, for we have done our due diligence.
Paul says much on the keeping of the Law and Grace in his writings. Here I want to share a passage from his writings in Galatians. I know that this is a long passage, but I believe the whole of this bears out what I believe is the truth of the matter of Law Keeping, so please bear with me in the reading of this passage.

Galatians 2:21-3:29; “I do not reject God’s gracious gift; for if the way in which one attains righteousness is through legalism, then the Messiah’s death was pointless.
You stupid Galatians! Who has put you under a spell? Before your very eyes Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah was clearly portrayed as having been put to death as a criminal! I want to know from you just this one thing: did you receive the Spirit by legalistic observance of Torah commands or by trusting in what you heard and being faithful to it? Are you that stupid? Having begun with the Spirit’s power, do you think you can reach the goal under your own power? Have you suffered so much for nothing? If that’s the way you think, your suffering certainly will have been for nothing! What about God, who supplies you with the Spirit and works miracles among you — does he do it because of your legalistic observance of Torah commands or because you trust in what you heard and are faithful to it?
It was the same with Avraham (Abraham): “He trusted in God and was faithful to him, and that was credited to his account as righteousness.” Be assured, then, that it is those who live by trusting and being faithful who are really children of Avraham. Also the Tanakh (Old Testament scripture), foreseeing that God would consider the Gentiles righteous when they live by trusting and being faithful, told the Good News to Avraham in advance by saying, “In connection with you, all the Goyim (all nations) will be blessed.” So then, those who rely on trusting and being faithful are blessed along with Avraham, who trusted and was faithful.
For everyone who depends on legalistic observance of Torah commands (the Law) lives under a curse, since it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the Scroll of the Torah.” Now it is evident that no one comes to be declared righteous by God through legalism, since “The person who is righteous will attain life by trusting and being faithful.” Furthermore, legalism is not based on trusting and being faithful, but on [a misuse of] the text that says, “Anyone who does these things will attain life through them.” The Messiah redeemed us from the curse pronounced in the Torah by becoming cursed on our behalf; for the Tanakh says, “Everyone who hangs from a stake (who hangs on a tree) comes under a curse.” Yeshua the Messiah did this so that in union with him the Gentiles might receive the blessing announced to Avraham, so that through trusting and being faithful, we might receive what was promised, namely, the Spirit.
Brothers, let me make an analogy from everyday life: when someone swears an oath, no one else can set it aside or add to it. Now the promises were made to Avraham and to his seed. It doesn’t say, “and to seeds,” as if to many; on the contrary, it speaks of one — “and to your seed”— and this “one” is the Messiah. Here is what I am saying: the legal part of the Torah, which came into being 430 years later, does not nullify an oath sworn by God, so as to abolish the promise. For if the inheritance comes from the legal part of the Torah, it no longer comes from a promise. But God gave it to Avraham through a promise.
So then, why the legal part of the Torah? It was added in order to create transgressions, until the coming of the seed about whom the promise had been made. Moreover, it was handed down through angels and a mediator. Now a mediator implies more than one, but God is one.
Does this mean that the legal part of the Torah stands in opposition to God’s promises? Heaven forbid! For if the legal part of the Torah which God gave had had in itself the power to give life, then righteousness really would have come by legalistically following such a Torah. But instead, the Tanakh (Old Testament scripture) shuts up everything under sin; so that what had been promised might be given, on the basis of Yeshua the Messiah’s trusting faithfulness, to those who continue to be trustingly faithful.
Now before the time for this trusting faithfulness came, we were imprisoned in subjection to the system which results from perverting the Torah into legalism, kept under guard until this yet-to-come trusting faithfulness would be revealed. Accordingly, the Torah functioned as a custodian (the Law was our schoolmaster) until the Messiah came, so that we might be declared righteous on the ground of trusting and being faithful. But now that the time for this trusting faithfulness has come, we are no longer under a custodian (a schoolmaster).
For in union with the Messiah, you are all children of God through this trusting faithfulness; because as many of you as were immersed (baptized) into the Messiah have clothed yourselves with the Messiah, in whom there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor freeman, neither male nor female; for in union with the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), you are all one. Also, if you belong to the Messiah, you are seed of Avraham (Abraham) and heirs according to the promise.

Paul says the following about the Law and the Spirit in Romans.

Romans 7:7-8:5, Therefore, what are we to say? That the Torah (the Law) is sinful? Heaven forbid! Rather, the function of the Torah was that without it, I would not have known what sin is. For example, I would not have become conscious of what greed is if the Torah had not said, “Thou shalt not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, worked in me all kinds of evil desires — for apart from Torah, sin is dead. I was once alive outside the framework of Torah. But when the commandment really encountered me, sin sprang to life, and I died. The commandment that was intended to bring me life was found to be bringing me death! For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me; and through the commandment, sin killed me. So the Torah is holy; that is, the commandment is holy, just and good.
Then did something good become for me the source of death? Heaven forbid! Rather, it was sin working death in me through something good, so that sin might be clearly exposed as sin, so that sin through the commandment might come to be experienced as sinful beyond measure. For we know that the Torah is of the Spirit; but as for me, I am bound to the old nature, sold to sin as a slave. I don’t understand my own behavior — I don’t do what I want to do; instead, I do the very thing I hate! Now if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am agreeing that the Torah is good. But now it is no longer “the real me” doing it, but the sin housed inside me. For I know that there is nothing good housed inside me — that is, inside my old nature. I can want what is good, but I can’t do it! For I don’t do the good I want; instead, the evil that I don’t want is what I do! But if I am doing what “the real me” doesn’t want, it is no longer “the real me” doing it but the sin housed inside me. So I find it to be the rule, a kind of perverse “torah,” that although I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me! For in my inner self I completely agree with God’s Torah; but in my various parts, I see a different “torah,” one that battles with the Torah in my mind and makes me a prisoner of sin’s “torah,” which is operating in my various parts. What a miserable creature I am! Who will rescue me from this body bound for death? Thanks be to God [, he will]! — through Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah, our Lord!
To sum up: with my mind, I am a slave of God’s Torah; but with my old nature, I am a slave of sin’s “Torah.”
Therefore, there is no longer any condemnation awaiting those who are in union with the Messiah Yeshua. Why? Because the Torah of the Spirit, which produces this life in union with Messiah Yeshua, has set me free from the “Torah” of sin and death. For what the Torah could not do by itself, because it lacked the power to make the old nature cooperate, God did by sending his own Son as a human being with a nature like our own sinful one [but without sin]. God did this in order to deal with sin, and in so doing he executed the punishment against sin in human nature, so that the just requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us who do not run our lives according to what our old nature wants but according to what the Spirit wants. For those who identify with their old nature set their minds on the things of the old nature, but those who identify with the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Because of the way in which Paul describes the Torah – or Law – of the Spirit, and the torah – or law – of sin and death, I believe that we are to keep the Law in the Spirit in which God intended it from the beginning, but we are NOT bound to the letter of the Law – or Torah. For Jesus said that “if we love Him, we would keep His commandments – His Law. And His Law is a Law of love and compassion, not a Law of do’s and don’ts.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul goes on to say this about our liberty in Christ Jesus:

2 Corinthians 2:14-3:18, But thanks be to God, who in the Messiah constantly leads us in a triumphal procession and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of what it means to know him! For to God we are the aroma of the Messiah, both among those being saved and among those being lost; to the latter, we are the smell of death leading only to more death; but to the former, we are the sweet smell of life leading to more life. Who is equal to such a task? For we are not like a lot of folks who go about huckstering God’s message for a fee; on the contrary, we speak out of a sincere heart, as people sent by God, standing in God’s presence, living in union with the Messiah (Christ).
Are we starting to recommend ourselves again? Or do we, like some, need letters of recommendation either to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You make it clear that you are a letter from the Messiah placed in our care, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on human hearts.
Such is the confidence we have through the Messiah toward God. It is not that we are competent in ourselves to count anything as having come from us; on the contrary, our competence is from God. He has even made us competent to be workers serving a New Covenant, the essence of which is not a written text but the Spirit. For the written text brings death, but the Spirit gives life.
Now if that which worked death, by means of a written text engraved on stone tablets, came with glory — such glory that the people of Isra’el could not stand to look at Moshe’s face because of its brightness, even though that brightness was already fading away — won’t the working of the Spirit be accompanied by even greater glory? For if there was glory in what worked to declare people guilty, how much more must the glory abound in what works to declare people innocent! In fact, by comparison with this greater glory, what was made glorious before has no glory now. For if there was glory in what faded away, how much more glory must there be in what lasts.
Therefore, with a hope like this, we are very open — unlike Moshe (Moses), who put a veil over his face, so that the people of Isra’el would not see the fading brightness come to an end.
What is more, their minds were made stone-like (their minds were blinded); for to this day the same veil remains over them when they read the Old Covenant (Old Testament); it has not been unveiled, because only by the Messiah (in Jesus) is the veil taken away. Yes, till today, whenever Moshe is read, a veil lies over their heart. “But,” says the Torah, “whenever someone turns to Adonai (the Lord), the veil is taken away.” Now, “Adonai” in this text means the Spirit. And where the Spirit of Adonai is, there is freedom. So all of us, with faces unveiled, see as in a mirror the glory of the Lord; and we are being changed into his very image, from one degree of glory to the next, by Adonai the Spirit.

So, you have read what I believe about the Law, why should we keep the portions of it that pertain to the Lord’s Appointed Times of celebration? I feel that in understanding these times and keeping them, we will enhance our understanding of the Jewish roots of our faith in Christ and thereby deepen our walk of faith in Him.

Now that I have thoroughly bored you with The Law, I am ready to start our journey through “The Lord’s Appointed Times” and what keeping them means to us as believers in Jesus Christ, our Messiah, today.
Let’s get started!