In case you don't already know, the Hebrew year is filled with "appointed feasts" that God commanded the Israelites to acknowledge. He did so to help them to continue to acknowledge Him as their creator and provider. In addition,in our modern age, it is also clear that He did so to help lay out His calendar regarding the prophetic times and seasons. Many of today's interpreters of the End Times and the Book of Revelation are coming up with some of the craziest sounding interpretations of this book because the Christian Church has deemed these times and seasons as irrelevant.
First let's talk about the Hebrew day.
The Hebrew day starts on the beginning of night, the prior day and extends to the end of sunlight on the following day. Therefore, one Hebrew day would include two dates on our (Gregorian) calendar. It looks like this:
Now, let's identify the Hebrew months.
NISAN * IYAR * SIVAN
TAMMUZ * AV * ELUL
TISHRI * HESHVAN * KISLEV
TEVET * SHEVAT * ADAR I & II (Adar II on leap years)
These months are off-set on our Gregorian calendar so that most of them actually fall in two of our months. Here is a diagram of how they look during a typical year.
two primary feast seasons. They were the Spring Feasts and the Fall
The Sacred New Year begins on 1 Nissan (about March).
The Civil New Year begins on 1 Tishri (about September).
The Fall Feasts, followed by the colder fall/winter months (approx. 5 months), in which everything died, were followed by the Spring Feasts, outlining the concept of the resurrection of life.
It needs to be understood that the Israelites were a Pastoral and Horticultural society. Pastoral cultures are those that keep herd animals such as goats and sheep. Horticultural societies are those that grow crops. In the case of the Israelites, these were crops such as barley, wheat, figs, grapes and dates. This is why Christ continually makes reference to these crops in scripture. He was speaking to the Jews in the language that they understood.
THE SPRING FEASTS
The Spring Feasts are:
THE PASSOVER (PESACH) - Nisan 15 (evening of the 14th)
THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD - Nisan 15-22
SEFIRAT HA'OMER - Nisan 16 thru Sivan 5
FIRSTFRUITS - Nisan 17
PENTACOST (SHAVUOT) - Silvan 6-7
PASSOVER- This feast was to commemorate the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. The name is derived from the fact that the Israelites were instructed to spread the blood of a "spotless lamb, of the first year" on the entire door frame. The death angel then "passed over" their homes, killing
the 1st born of all others. This was also the feast that Christ celebrated with His disciples the night He was betrayed. He was crucified and buried the following day, on the Passover Seder (or 1st day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread).
THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD (also called the PASSOVER SEDER) - This feast was to be one of unleavened bread, to commemorate the quick exit of the Israelites from Egypt. When bread is made, it must sit to allow the leaven to cause the bread to rise. The eating of unleavened bread was symbolic of the fact that the Israelites did not have time to allow for this. They were eating "on the run". Fast food! This feast also covers the days that Christ spent in the grave.
SEFIRAT HA'OMER - Being a horticultural society, as we discussed earlier, the Hebrews
were to count 49 days, to allow the wheat time to "mature". This was called the omer count. This festival commemorated the countdown which concluded on the Feast of Shavuot, at the end of the Spring Feasts.
FIRSTFRUITS- This festival was a time when the first barley sheaves were ripe. They were waved before the Lord, giving thanks, and to start the 49 day omer count. This was also the resurrection of Christ, making Him the First fruits to God.
PENTACOST (SHAVUOT) - This was the feast day that the wheat was ripe and reading for Harvest. It was also the day that the first century believers received the Holy Spirit, the Rauch
Ha'Koddesh. There are other very important parallels but we will discuss those later.
This is how the spring feasts are laid out
Between the two sets of feasts is a time known as the "Three Weeks of Sorrow" and
"Between the Straights".
This time started with the Fast of the 17th ofTammuz (Tammuz 17)
and ended with Tish'ah B'Av (AV 9)
FAST OF TAMMUZ 17 - This time of sorrow begins in the Gregorian months of June & July. The purpose of this time was to focus on repentance by recalling specific tragedies that
befell the nation of Israel on this date.
Some of the tragedies include:
1. The tablets that the 10 Commandments were written on were broken by Moses on this date due to the idolatry of the Israelites in worshipping the golden calf.
2. The Tamid (daily) sacrifice was discontinued on this shortly before the destruction of the first Temple due to the fact that Jerusalem was under seize by the Babylonians.
3. Jerusalem's city walls were breached by the Romans, under the direction of Titus, before the destruction of the second Temple.
4. King Manasseh, one of the worst kings that the nation of Israel had, placed an idol in the Holy Sanctuary of the Temple on this date (2 Kings 21:7).
5. The Torah (the 5 Books of Moses) was burnt by Apustemus, the Greek
oppressor who served Antiochus Epiphanies.
If you have read the Books of Daniel and Revelation and are familiar with them, you may already see some correlations!
Here are some more recent events that have taken place on this date:
1. In 1239, Pope Gregory IX ordered the confiscation of all of the manuscripts of the
Talmud (the Hebrew sacred writings).
2. In 1391, over 4,000 Spanish Hebrews were killed in Toledo and Jaen, Spain.
3. In 1559 the Jewish Quarter of Prague was burned and looted.
4. In 1944, the entire population of the Kovno ghetto was sent to the death camps.
5. In 1970, Libya ordered the confiscation of all Jewish property.
TISH' AH B'AV (AV 9) - The "Time of Sorrow" ends on this date.
There are several tragic events that also took place on this date:
1. The 12 spies sent by Moses to observe the Land of Canaan
returned from their mission, 10 or which gave a bad report, resulting in
the punishment from God that the Israelites would wander in the desert for 40 years.
2. The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians after the breaching of the walls on Tammuz 17.
3. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, scattering the people of Judea and beginning the Jewish exile from the Holy Land.
4. The Romans crushed Bar Kokhba's revolt and destroyed the city of Betar, killing over 100,000 Jews.
5. Following the Roman siege of Jerusalem, Roman commander Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the Temple and the surrounding area.
Here are some more recent tragic events that took place on this date:
1. The First Crusade was declared by Pope Urban II, killing 10,000 Jews in the first month and destroying Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland.
2. The Jews were expelled from England in 1290.
3. The Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492.
4. In 1914, World War I broke out, causing unprecedented devastation across Europe and set the stage for World War II and the Holocaust.
5. In 1942, the Jews experienced a mass deportation from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.
6. In 1994, the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing 86 and wounding 300 others.
The "Weeks of Sorrow" have been a very tragic time for the Hebrew people and it should also be seen as a prophetic time for events to occur in the future.
THE FALL FEASTS
The Fall Feasts are:
ROSH HASHANAH (FEAST OF TRUMPETS) - Tishri 1
YOM KIPPUR (DAY OF ATONEMENT) - Tishri 3
SUKKOT (FEAST OF TABERNACLES) - Tishri 15-21
HOSHANA RABBAH (7TH DAY OF SUKKOT) - Tishri 21
SHEMINI ATZERET (8TH DAY OF ASSEMBLY) - Tishri 22
SIMCHAT TORAH (CELEBRATION OF THE TORAH) - Tishri 23
ROSH HASHANAH (FEAST OF TRUMPETS) - This day serves as the CIVIL "New Years Day". The word Rosh Hashanah literally means "the head of the year". This day marks a ten day period of prayer and reflection called the "Days of Awe", or High Holy Days. This day also commemorates the creation of the universe. Known as the "Feast of Trumpets", this day is also called the "Day of Remembrance", referencing God's commandment to blow the shofar (ram's horn trumpet) to coronate God as King of the Universe. Hebrew tradition holds that this day is the day that those deemed already righteous are written in the "Book of Life" and those deemed already wicked are written in the "Book of Death". Those deemed "in-between" are given the next ten days, to Yom Kippur (Judgment Day) to repent.
The blowing of the shofar on this day is very important to remember!
YOM KIPPUR (DAY OF ATONEMENT) - This is the holiest day on the Hebrew calendar. This day is known to provide prophetic insight to the return of Christ and the final judgment. This day was the only day the High Priest could enter the Holy of Hollies to call upon the name of God in order to offer a blood sacrifice for the sins of the people! Yom Kippur marks the final day of the ten day period known as the "Days of Awe". This is the day that the names of the people are sealed in the Book of Life or the Book of Death. This is also the day that caps the 40 day period (starting on Elul 1) that Moses was on Mt. Sinai, receiving and learning Torah. Moses came down the mount to find the Israelites worshiping the golden calf and broke the tablets with the 10 Commandments on Tammuz 17. He then returned to the mount on Elul 1 to receive God's revelation through the Torah. He descended the mount, with the second tablets, on Tishri 10, Yom Kippur.
This is a very important day!
SUKKOT (FEAST OF TABERNACLES) - This is an eight day feast that represents restored fellowship with the Lord. It commemorates the time when God provided from the nation of Israel in the Sinai, during the 40 years. This is a joyous time that followed Yom Kippur, the judgment of the people. To "Tabernacle" means to "dwell with". This will be a time when our Lord will literally dwell with his people. When John 1:14 is read with this Hebraic understanding, it takes on a prophetic meaning.
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt [tabernacle] among us..." ~ John 1:14 (KJV)
HOSHANA RABBAH (7TH DAY OF SUKKOT) -This day was a climactic day of praise to the Lord. This day was viewed as a day that the heavenly judgments that were made on Rosh Hashanah and sealed on Yom Kippur are actually sent out to be filled. It is on this day that willow branches were placed around the alter while the people marched around the alter crying out, "Hosanna" (meaning "Save us, please!"). This was also the "Great Day" referred to in John 7:37-38 when Christ stood up in the Temple and cried,
"If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whosoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water"
SIMCHAT TORAH (CELEBRATION OF THE TORAH) - This day is to celebrate
the "Joy of the Torah". Portions of the Torah were, and still are, read at each weekly Shabbat (Sabbath) so that the entire Torah would be read in a single year, concluding on Simchat Torah.
This is how the these Joyous Feast days are laid out