In the Tanach (Old Covenant Scriptures), the message of G-d was communicated to His people at many times and in many ways. One of the most vivid ways G-d revealed His plan was through a yearly calendar of feasts. These feasts were all expressions of thanksgiving for G-d’s harvest provision, but also commemorated specific events in the history of G-d’s dealings. These seven feasts are grouped in three divisions:
The feasts of the first month, Abib, are Passover, Unleavened bread and Firstfruits. These feasts focus on the events of the Passover, and speak of the protection that is found under the blood of G-d’s sacrificial Lamb.
The feast of the third month, Sivan, is the feast of Shavuot, or Weeks, celebrated by believers as Pentecost. This feast celebrates the anniversary of the giving of the Torah (Exodus 20) as well as the outpouring of the Spirit (Acts 2). It speaks of the provision that comes through G-d’s Spirit.
The feasts of the seventh month, Tishri, are Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the week-long celebration of Sukkot. Together, these make up the Fall feasts. They point forward to the days when Yeshua will rule on earth in the midst of His people. They speak of the joy and fulfillment to be found in the presence of the Messiah!
The feasts of the seventh month begin with the feast of Trumpets. Trumpets, also called Rosh Hashanah, marks the beginning of the Jewish civil year. The blast of the shofar (ram’s horn) calls the people together and announces the beginning of the Fall feasts. Following the blast of the trumpets are the ten Days of Awe, (in Hebrew, Asseret Yemey T’shuva), ending with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. These days are a time for preparation and self-examination, returning to the L-RD and allowing Him to reveal any areas of sin that may be hindering our fellowship with Him.
The Days of Awe lead up to the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement. In Biblical times, it was on this day that the yearly sacrifice was made to cover the sin of the people (Leviticus 16). The Cohen haGadol, or High Priest, would take the blood of the sacrifice and enter into the holy of holies to pour out the blood on the mercy seat. He would then confess the sins of the people over the scapegoat, which would carry away the sin of the people. Today it is a time to bring before G-d our sins, confess them, and allow the blood of Yeshua, our sacrifice, to cover them once and for all (1 John 1:9-2:2).
With sin covered and removed, preparations begin for the most joyful celebration of the year, the Feast of Sukkot, or Tabernacles. As Yeshua left His home in heaven and tabernacled among us (John 1:14) so the people of G-d left their homes for a week to tabernacle with the L-RD. It is a time of rejoicing and dancing, thanking G-d for the ingathering of the harvest and His gracious provision (Deut. 16:13-17). It looks forward to the millennial kingdom when Messiah will again tabernacle in the midst of His people and all will rejoice in His blessing!
— Robert Heidler
Robert, a Shekinah Messianic Ministries board member, is the Pastor of Believers Fellowship in Denton, Texas. He and his wife, Linda, also have an active ministry in Russia, where they often teach at the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute in Odessa, Ukraine. They have three children.