'Fall Feasts' in Israel
By C. Hart
CBN News Middle East Correspondent
In Israel today, there are set feasts - or appointed seasons
of the Lord - that are proclaimed as holy convocations. The first of the Fall Feasts is the Feast
of Trumpets, as recorded in Leviticus, Chapter 23. This particular
feast is also called Rosh Hashanah. Jews all over the world consider
this time to be the Jewish New Year, celebrated by eating apples
and honey, and recalling sweet memories.
They greet one another
by saying, "Shana Tovah!" This means "Happy New Year."
But, the biblical New Year actually begins at Passover, in early
Israelis see themselves as fitting into three categories, spiritually.
They consider themselves to be either religious, traditional, or
secular Jews. The majority of Israelis fit into the traditional
category, and 50 percent are reported to keep a kosher home. Most
Israelis seek some way of celebrating the major feasts in Israel,
especially the Fall Feasts.
And, the Lord said to Moses, "Say
to the Israelites, on the first day of the seventh month (roughly,
October), you shall observe a day of solemn (sabbatical) rest, a
memorial day announced by blowing of trumpets, a holy, called assembly.
You shall do no servile work on it, but you shall present an offering
made by fire to the Lord.
Messianic Jewish Bible teacher, Neil Cohen, says he celebrates
this holiday by going to a Messianic congregation on the eve of
Rosh Hashanah, and then spending the next day at home. "It
is a Shabbat; a biblical injunction; a day of no work. Leviticus
23:23 makes it quite clear. It's a solemn assembly."
Jewish people, today, see this feast as a new beginning. They hope,
by their work and good deeds, their names will be written in the
Book of Life. There are 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
(the Day of Atonement) that are holy days to most religious Jews,
worldwide. They call these the "Days of Awe." It's a time
of personal evaluation, and Cohen explains, it's also a time of
repentance and turning from sin. "The 10 days of Awe are a
reflection of the relationship with God and with family."
Today, many Israelis are not assured that their sins have been
forgiven. They realize that, because the temple in Jerusalem was
destroyed in 70 A.D., there is no place for the high priest to conduct
the sacrificial offerings to God for the atonement of their sins.
There is no blood sacrifice. So, when Yom Kippur comes, Jews often
spend the holiday fasting and repenting, but without assurance of
salvation. "The majority of Israelis don't believe in the Messiah.
If they have any concept at all, it's in a Messianic age,"
says Cohen. "Yom Kippur has almost no meaning for the Jews
today, because the whole principle of Yom Kippur was the blood sacrifice.
Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. It's become
a ritual day and a day of hope instead of expectation," he
For Messianic Jews, their faith in Yeshua, Jesus, as the Messiah
gives them hope. "For us, the blood has been shed. Although
not shed on Yom Kippur, the death of Yeshua fulfills the requirement,"
The rabbinical leaders in Israel today teach that Rosh Hashanah
was the day that God created Adam, and the day that God gave the
gift of motherhood to Sarah and Hanna.
According to Cohen, the focus for Bible believers is that it is
the day the trumpet is sounded, heralding the coming of the expected
Messiah. "And, that's the connection," Cohen said, "because
of 1st Thessalonians 4:14-18 – the great trumpet call and
Messiah's return – that's the trumpet call that the Jews are
When you talk to many religious Israelis today, they answer your
questions by explaining what the rabbis say, and not by giving their
own personal opinions, formed by their reading of the Holy Scriptures.
In fact, they will often explain that the oral law (the Talmud)
is just as inspired by God as is the written law (the Tenach, or
the Old Testament). But, the oral law is the rabbinical interpretation
of the written law, and Messianic Jews disagree that it holds the
same weight as the God-inspired Bible.
One of the problems, according to Cohen, is that a basic portion
of scripture relating to the suffering Messiah is never heard in
synagogues. And the rabbis who read a section of the Holy Scriptures
on a weekly basis, called the Haftorah Portion, actually leave out
Isaiah Chapter 53.
"The Haftorah portions, five weeks before Rosh Hashanah begins,
are from Isaiah Chapters 40 through 60; bits and pieces from there.
But, they pass over Isaiah Chapter 53. These are the passages of
comforting His people. And the most comforting thing is that the
Messiah is coming, and He'll suffer on our behalf and release us
from all the pain and suffering. Rabbis don't like that scripture.
Messiah is hidden from the Jews by the rabbis, just as He is hidden
from the Jews by God, Himself," explains Cohen who also admits
that, in this case, the rabbis are actually helping God in fulfilling
the prophetic scriptures.
Isaiah Chapter 53 (Amplified Bible):
"Who has believed – trusted in,
relied upon and clung to – our message of that which was revealed
to us? And, to whom has the arm of the Lord been disclosed?
For (the Servant of God) grew up before Him
like a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground; He has no
(royal, kingly pomp) form or comeliness that we should look at Him,
and no beauty that we should desire Him.
He was despised and rejected and forsaken
by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and
sickness; and, as One from whom men hide their faces.
He was despised, and we did not appreciate
His worth or have any esteem for Him. Surely, He has born our griefs
– sickness, weakness and distress – and carried our
sorrows and pain (of punishment). Yes, we ignorantly considered
Him stricken, smitten and afflicted by God. But He was wounded for
our transgressions. He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities;
the chastisement needful to obtain peace and wellbeing for us was
upon Him, and with the stripes that wounded Him, we are healed and
All we like sheep have gone astray, we have
turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has made to light
on Him the guilt and iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, yet when He was afflicted,
He was submissive and opened not His mouth; as a lamb that is led
to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb,
so He opened not His mouth.
By oppression and judgment, He was taken
away; and as for His generation, who among them considered that
He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression
of my people, to whom the stroke was due – stricken to His
And, they assigned Him a grace with the wicked
and with a rich man in His death, although He had done no violence,
neither was any deceit in His mouth.
Yet, it was the will of the Lord to bruise
Him; He has put Him to grief and made Him sick. When You and He
make Him an offering for sin (and He has risen from the dead, in
time to come), He shall see His spiritual offspring. He shall prolong
His days, and the will and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper
in His hand.
He shall see the fruit of the travail of
His soul and be satisfied; by His knowledge of Himself (which He
possesses and imparts to others), shall My (uncompromisingly) righteous
One, My Servant, justify and make many righteous – upright
and in right standing with God; for He shall bear their iniquities
and their guilt (with the consequences, says the Lord).
Therefore, will I divide Him a portion with
the great (kinds and rulers), and He shall divide the spoil with
the mighty; because He poured out His life unto death, and He let
Himself be regarded as a criminal and be numbered with the transgressors,
yet He bore (and took away) the sin of many and makes intercession
for the transgressors – the rebellious."
Watch CBN's Rosh Hashana Celebration with Pat and Gordon Robertson with Paul Wilbur.
Christianity's Jewish Roots
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