Jewish Holidays


Shmini Atzeret: Giving and Completing

Sukkot is seven days long, but oddly, it also has an eighth day. This mysterious holiday called Shmini Atzeret has no special mitzvot, nor is its purpose explained in the Torah. By noting the parallels between Shmini Atzeret and Shavu’ot, we can learn a lot about the meaning of the day.

Please HaShem Save Now!

Hoshanna Rabba is the seventh day of the festival of Sukkot. It is written that “…on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”’”

What Is the Feast of Tabernacles?

According to Zechariah, there will come a time when people from all nations “will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.” But what is that? Learn about the biblical festival of Sukkot and its meaning for Jews and Christians.

Sukkot and the Early Believers

For the earliest believers, both Jewish and Gentile, the rhythm of the biblical festivals complete with the celebration of Sukkot, was a natural part of their faith. In fact, when we get attuned to the symbolism of the holiday, we realize that so many passages in the New Testament simply assume that all followers of Messiah are observing Sukkot.

Holy Guests: Sukkot and the Transfiguration

One of the most important aspects of Sukkot is inviting guests into one’s sukkah (booth). All throughout the week celebrants travel from sukkah to sukkah, enjoying hospitality and extending hospitality from their sukkot (booths). A peculiar custom that developed was not just inviting physical guests to one’s sukkah, but spiritual guests as well.

The Fast of Gedaliah

The Fast of Gedaliah is another wonderful opportunity for both Messianic Jews and Gentiles to connect with the Master’s words, mourn, and pray for the current state of the world, and it serves as a physical reminder that we need to be eagerly anticipating and working toward Yeshua’s second coming.

Behold, How Good and Pleasant

One of Israel’s greatest strengths is her unity, and while Israel is divided on many issues and by many different expressions of faith, the fall holiday season has a way of uniting us and reminding us all of where we came from.

A Day of Judgment for All Nations

It is not just Israel who is judged during this time but all the nations. Even as the Jewish people are repenting and praying that they will be sealed for life in the coming New Year, so is God also judging the nations.

The High Holidays in the Early Church

With Rosh HaShanah and the beginning of the High Holidays only a few days away, I thought I would post a blog reviewing some of my material on this from my book, God-Fearers. It should be no shock to anyone that the early believers both Jew and Gentile celebrated the festivals of Israel even after coming to Messiah.

The Gift of Repentance

We are offered a chance to join with HaShem in causing the kingdom to break through by repenting, returning to HaShem, and meeting our Beloved in the field. We run toward him and can see him running toward us as we partake of his lavish gift of repentance.

Fire on the Mountain

Jewish tradition hails the Festival of Weeks as the anniversary of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. In Exodus 20:18 the Hebrew really says, “They saw the voices and the torches.” What does it mean, “the people saw voices”? How does one see a sound? How does one see a voice?

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

What is Lag Ba’Omer, and why would a Messianic Jew care? Meet Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai), a second-century hero of the Jewish people and a favorite subject of legend. Messianic Jewish pioneer Theophilus Lucky believed that Rashbi was inspired by the Holy Spirit and the teachings of Yeshua.

We Were There

The Jewish people today are to see themselves as present with the people of Israel in ancient times. We were there for the Passover in Egypt, and we were there for the Messiah’s Passover in the land of Israel. And just as we were there that Passover, we were also there during that Shavu’ot that came fifty days later.

A New Moses for a New Exodus

Yeshua “fulfills” prophecy in Hosea in that events in his live recapitulate the exodus event. By evoking the larger context of Hosea 11:1 and by creating parallels between the life of Yeshua and story of Moses, Matthew presents Yeshua as a new Moses who leads the nation in a new exodus from Egypt.

A Window in Time

We have not truly left the slavery of Egypt until we have received God’s instructions and his Holy Spirit dwells within us enabling us to perform his will. In that sense the Counting of the Omer is a count that should count for something. This is not a passive count but an active count.

Called by Name

While the Jewish people are promised redemption collectively as a nation, Gentile disciples have been handpicked by the Almighty for salvation. All Gentile disciples of the Master have been specifically called by name to participate in the past and future redemptions.

A Taste of Freedom

For most of us, participation in a Passover Seder begins with readying our homes and congregational buildings, preparation for what we’ll be wearing and/or whether or not we’ve purchased our dinner tickets prior to the event, then ends with the seder. What more is there that requires devotional preparation?

Parashat HaChodesh: Transcending Time

A great freedom will come with the ultimate redemption. If time equates to freedom, then ultimate freedom will come in a world where time itself is an unlimited resource. The only way to achieve this is with eternal life, a life that transcends time. This is one reason why Shabbat is a “foretaste of the age to come.”

A Different Night: The Timing of the Seder

In Judaism, time flows like a rolling wave that loops back on itself even as it pushes forward. That means that instead of commemorating the redemption, we have a brief opportunity to re-live it. Instead of rehearsing a future event, we experience a foretaste of it.

How to Make Sure Your Passover Seder Is Biblical

The Bible talks about eating the Passover lamb sacrifice with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, but there are so many parts of the seder that it doesn’t seem to mention. How can we make sure our seder is truly biblical? Can we find the seder in the Bible at all?

The Red Heifer in the Epistle of Barnabas

In Temple times, the special reading of Numbers 19 reminded those in attendance at the synagogue that they needed to prepare for Passover. They needed to undergo the ritual purification with the ashes of the red heifer prior to Passover. Otherwise they would not be ritually fit to eat the Passover sacrifice.

The Sabbath of the Cow

In Temple times, the special reading of Numbers 19 reminded those in attendance at the synagogue that they needed to prepare for Passover. They needed to undergo the ritual purification with the ashes of the red heifer prior to Passover. Otherwise they would not be ritually fit to eat the Passover sacrifice.

Called by the Name “Jew”

Though the name “Jew” has been spoken in hatred and rage, stamped on people’s arms and sown upon their chests as a badge of shame, this title for the ever-wandering descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is no byword, but a blessing. May we Jews merit to bear this name along with the Messiah, the ideal Jew of Jews.

The Jews and All Who Joined Them: A Purim Celebration for All Nations

Whether or not the original writer of Esther had this intention, based on Isaiah 56, I believe this passage prophetically alludes to Gentiles who have been grafted into the olive tree of Israel. Purim is a Jewish holiday but it is also for Gentiles who have found Messiah and cast their lot with the Jewish people.

Birds of a Feather: Haman, Amalek, and Shabbat Zachor

The Amalekites struck down not the warriors and soldiers but the weak, sick, and elderly who were traveling at the back of the pack. These were not the tactics of an army that sought to win a battle or a war but the merciless strategy of an enemy that desired to see Israel wiped off the face of the earth.

Tu Bishvat: Emerging from Dormancy

When man was first created, God crafted the perfect environment for humans to thrive: a garden—an orchard, really. He was surrounded by fruit-bearing trees. Trees are important in the Torah's agricultural system and subject to special laws of holiness.

The Sacred Light of Hanukkah

Jewish law prohibits using the light of a chanukiah for ordinary purposes such as lighting up a darkened room or light for reading. It might sound hyper-litigious, but the rule has a real basis in the meaning the Hanukkah menorah, its connection to the Temple, and the meaning of holiness.

Let No One Judge You

No more Sabbath? Colossians 2:16-17 tells us not to let others pass judgment on us regarding what we eat and drink or regarding the Sabbath and festivals. When Paul is seen as a faithful and observant Jew, his brilliant teachings such as this one inspire us to pursue Torah with joy.

Do I Have to Follow the Jewish Calendar?

When we were young and our parents asked us to mow the grass, we might have responded, “Do I have to?” But we never responded like that when they told us it was Tuesday. No one asks “Do I have to?” of a calendar. It just doesn’t make sense.

Astronomy and Prophecy

A complete study into the Star of Bethlehem will take a person into biblical prophecy, rabbinic literature, Jewish history, astronomy, and the complex interaction between the Jewish people and the Parthians who ruled over all the lands of “the east.” Beyond this, it requires research into the methods and concepts of the ancient magi.

Four Blood Moons and a Tetrad

The tetrad of four lunar eclipses (blood moons) falling on four biblical holy days has generated enormous amounts of excitement, speculation, and enthusiasm about the potential prophetic implications. Do the blood moons really indicate that the final redemption is close at hand, or is it all just hot air?

The King in Disguise

In Jewish tradition, the High Holidays of the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) are regarded as days of judgment. Rosh Hashanah, the civil New Year, is comparable to the end of the heavenly fiscal year, so the tradition arose that God reviews the books at the end of each year.

Fasting with Intention

Yom Kippur (or "The Day of Atonement") is synonymous with fasting. For many people in both Jewish and Messianic communities, Yom Kippur is quite possibly the only day of the year on which they fast. Even secular Jews who are not religious will sometimes fast on Yom Kippur.

The Prayer Liturgy of the High Holy Days

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are holidays for which intense liturgical prayers have been written and carry a very different range of emotion. These days (and the days in between) are known as the High Holy Days. In Hebrew, they are called Yamim Nora'im, "Days of Awe."

The Compassionate Father

We are currently in a season of repentance. We, the collective whole of God’s people both Jew and Gentile, young and old, rich and poor, free and enslaved, are praying prayers of repentance from the Siddur that reflect our humble posture as we approach our just King during this time of corporate repentance.

Setting SMART Goals for Rosh HaShanah

There are very practical and effective things we can do to increase our spirituality. This does not have to be vague or amorphous. Elul is the time to take stock of ourselves and make effective resolutions. We can set and reach our goals. It takes a little practice saying “Yes!”

My Sins Are Found in the Pool of Siloam

When our kids were at an age when they could understand what it meant to “cast your sins into the water,” we would talk together as a family about things that we were trying to overcome. It seemed like every year we gleaned new lessons from this activity. What a beautiful picture of forgiveness.

Shabbat Nachamu, Tu B'Av, and Love

Arising from the fast and mourning of Tisha B'Av comes a time of joy, love and consolation. The Shabbat following the Ninth of Av is known as Shabbat Nachamu, based on the first verse of the Haftarah reading, Isaiah 40:1, "Console, console my people, says your God."

Fall of the Temple

The rebels were slain and defeated everywhere they turned. A great number of them were weak and unarmed. They had their throats cut wherever they were caught. All around the altar lay dead bodies heaped one upon another. The ramp going up the altar ran with their blood. The dead bodies that were slain above slid down the ramp. (Josephus)

For Such a Time as This

When I think of Purim, I think of the wonder and awe of God's sovereign plans for us. The theme of "For such a Time as This" perfectly pictures God's hand in the life of Esther, an orphan, reared by her uncle and then miraculously placed in the palace courts of the king.

Five Reasons To Celebrate Hanukkah

Given that Hanukkah is a historically Jewish festival and that its celebration is not a mitzvah (commandment) of the Torah, why would Gentile believers in Yeshua celebrate it? Obviously Jewish believers have a cultural affinity for the festival, but is there any real biblical significance to it? Is there any reason Christians might want to incorporate the celebration of Hanukkah into their homes?

In the Shadow of the Almighty

In the Gospels, the Master tells His disciples that "some will not taste death" before seeing Him come in His glory. This is a problem. Assuredly, all twelve of the disciples tasted death, and the Master has not yet come in His glory. So what did Yeshua exactly mean?

The Season of our Joy

Each season has unique, special memories and its own particular meaning and character. Sukkot is named 'Season of our Joy' and the central symbol of the season is the sukkah, built to remind us of the temporary dwellings that our forefathers lived in as they traveled through the wilderness away from out of slavery in Egypt.

The Mighty Wind and Tongues of Fire

Most Christians know the story of Pentecost in Acts chapter two: the mighty wind, the tongues of fire, Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) and the speaking in every language. Very few, however, are aware of the Torah background behind this event.