Why We Celebrate Our Hebraic Roots...
Just as knowledge of your natural heritage, culture and ancestry provides for a better understanding of who you are in the natural so does knowledge of your spiritual heritage, culture and ancestry. We recognize and celebrate our Hebraic (Jewish) roots. Jesus, Our Savior, was born into the Earth as a Jew (Hebrew). He grew up in a Jewish (Hebrew) home and observed Jewish (Hebrew) customs. Understanding our Jewish (Hebraic) heritage is key to understanding our faith and the precious promises made available to us by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
We recite the Shema which is one of the central Hebrew prayers that acknowledges Yahweh as one Lord. The scripture reference for the Shema is found in Deuteronomy 6:4 and Mark 12:29.
We Observe The Feasts...
Four Spring Feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Pentecost
Three Fall Feasts: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot
Pesach (Passover) (Lev 23:5-8, Luke2:41, John 5:1,6:4, Acts 12:3-4) is rich with meaning for Believers for it epitomizes redemption and purification. Pesach marks the beginning of the biblical year and was the first harvest of the spring.
Exodus 12 and the earlier chapters tell the story of Pesach. Nine plagues had not convinced the Pharaoh of Egypt to release the Jewish people. God had one final plague in mind. In order to be protected from this plague, each family had to kill a lamb and apply its blood to the door of their home. When the angel of destruction passed through Egypt, he passed over the homes with blood on the door.
Now as we celebrate Pesach, we remember not only God’s actions during the time of the Exodus but also Yeshua’s death for us, which secured our atonement. The traditional observance of the feast points us to the resurrection of the Messiah.
Feast Of Unleavened Bread - Leviticus 23:6-8 describes this festival which is closely connected to Pesach, which also uses unleavened bread. Unleavened bread (matzot) may well picture "pure" bread in that it has no yeast-like agents. In this sense it remains "uncontaminated". For this reason leaven frequently represented evil (I Cor. 5:6-7). This feast became part of the Passover week observance because of the command to eat matzot for seven days during Pesach (Ex. 12:18).
When Yeshua ate His last Passover meal, He took the matzah, broke it—as we do even today—and said it represented His body, which would be given as a sacrifice for us (Matt. 26:26), hence, the signficiance of "pure" or unleavened bread.
Cermony Of Firstfruits - According to Leviticus 23:9-14 the ceremony of firstfruits occurs immediately after Pesach. The very first part of the harvest is waved before God, a symbolic way of presenting it to God, "to be accepted for us" (v. 11). Traditional observance associates this ceremony with Passover week. The beginning of the fifty-day period of counting the omer, observed by traditional Jews, reflects this ceremony today.
Three days after His death and right after Pesach, Yeshua rose from the dead (Matt. 28:1f). By rising from the dead, "Yeshua became the first-fruits of those who died" (I Cor. 15:20). Like the firstfruits (Lev. 23:11), His ressurection was "accepted for us" as He was "raised for our justification" (Rom. 4:25). So, the ceremony of the firstfruits and its traditional counterpart, the beginning of the counting of the omer, should remind us of Yeshua's ressurection. The resurrection demonstrated that He was indeed the Messiah and that His sacrifice had in fact secured atonement for us.
As we recall the significance of Passover week, we recognize several truths. The blood of the Passover lamb reminds us of Yeshua’s great loss of blood at His crucifixion, and the matzah recall if His body sacrificed on our behalf. The ceremony of firstfruits pictures His resurrection. Thus, the Messianic significance of Passover week related to the atonement made for us by Yeshua the Messiah, effected by His death and resurrection.
Shavuot, Festival Of Weeks (The Latter First Fruits) (Lev 23:15-21) occurs seven weeks (49 days) after Passover. It is also known as Pentecost. Along with other offerings two loaves of leavened bread were presented to God. Deuteronomy 16:9-17 indicates that although this festival accompanied the harvest, it was intended to remind us that we were once slaves in Egypt, before God set us free.
Shavuot is one of the three festivals for which every Jewish male was required to go to Jerusalem.
The New Covenant significance is probably well known. Through Yeshua, the first fruits have come in; the implicit promise of the latter harvest will also come. Increasing numbers of Jewish people will believe in the Messiah until the final day. With all the spiritual meaning behind Shavuot, Believers can find great blessing in celebrating it.
Rosh HaShanah, (Leviticus 23:23-25) is considered to be the beginning of the Jewish new year and occurs in September or October of our calendar. The purpose of this holy day is summed up in one word—regathering. Since the fall holidays are a call to re-gather to a pure faith in God, Rosh HaShanah has come to represent the day of repentance. Also, in the scriptures, this day is referred to as the "memorial of the blowing of trumpets". Today, we observe it as the New Year because, according to tradition, God created the world on this day. Rosh Hashanah is frequently called the day of remembrance or the Day of Judgment in view of its inauguration of the days of awe. The first name stresses God's faithfulness to His covenant and promises, the second His righteousness and justice. The holiday conveys joy and delight, as illustrated by the custom of eating sweet things (e.g., apples dipped in honey).
In Leviticus the term "memorial" does not mean remembering something which is past. It calls attention to something about to occur. As we observe Rosh Hashanah, we should anticipate the time of Yeshua's return.
Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) (Lev 23:26-32) is the most holy day in the Jewish calendar. The Bible describes this day as most solemn, a time of introspection and repentance. What began with Rosh HaShanah ten days earlier, namely repentance and self-evaluation, was completed with the Day of Atonement and regeneration.
God desired Israel to live sanctified lives and gave the Mosaic law to instruct His people in holy living and to show His grace through the sacrificial system.
As we wait this day, we can celebrate Yom Kippur by thanking God for the atonement available through Yeshua and by praying that more of our people will recognize and accept Him as their atonement. The tenor of the day also provides us with an opportunity for self-searching, repentance and recommitment to God ( II Cor. 13:5; I Jn. 1:9).
Sukkot (Feast Of Tabernacles or Booths) (Lev 23:33-44) can be thought of as the Jewish "Thanksgiving". This is an eight-day period of rejoicing. Some believe that the Puritans based their first American Thanksgiving on Sukkot. This is a time of remembering and rejoicing (usually occurs in October).
Traditional observance has maintained the spirit of great rejoicing during Succot. As in biblical times, meals are to be eaten in booths as a "picture of man's sojourn under God's wings," and also as a reminder of freedom from Egypt (Lev. 23:43). Participants carry the lulav branches and the etrog [a lemon-like fruit] in a procession through the synagogue and wave the branches in four directions. The waving of the branches goes back to earlier times when Near Eastern people welcomed visiting dignitaries in this way.
As we celebrate Succot each year, we can anticipate that time when the booths will no longer picture our present "sojourn under God's wings". Then they will remind us of the past, before the reign of Yeshua HaMashiach the King. In the meantime they remind us to depend on God and not on material goods (Mt. 6:25-33).