Torah Portion Emor(Speak) Leviticus (Vayikra) 21-24
Haftorah Reading Ezekiel 44:15-31
Tonight we read a parasha that covers a variety of subjects. It covers commandments pertaining to the priests and how they are to live, who they are to marry and how they go about their duties. One entire chapter covers the appointed times set by the Father. It is here where I want us to spend a bit of our time tonight. I also want us to talk about the commandments covering the leaving of the edges of your crops and why G-d repeats this commandment when it was covered in last week’s scripture.
Let’s look at Leviticus 23:2, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them. The L-rd’s appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations. My appointed times are these.” We can look at this as a Biblical calendar, G-d’s way of giving us a day planner so to speak. I think this comes at an appropriate time since we will be celebrating one of these appointed times in two weeks. Shavuot begins on May 19ththis year. G-d’s calendar is different from the calendar the world uses. G-d’s calendar is lunar which means it is based on the phases of the moon. Most appointed times occur when the moon is full or in its new moon phase. Shavuot is one that is not connected to this pattern. It occurs on the 50thday after the first day of Passover. Because of this, it has no relationship to the phases of the moon. In scripture it is also tied to bringing first fruits to the Mishkan or Tabernacle.
Now I want us to take the time to cover each of these appointed times as they appear in the Messianic Scripture. I believe we will see from this that these days were part of the life of the believers even after the death and resurrection of Yeshua. Why is this important to us? It is important because it is biblical. It is important to us because it was important to the early believers. This was changed, not by G-d’s command, but by the decree of the government in the 3rdCentury of the Common Era. It was done for the historically recorded purpose of distancing the church from any connection with its Jewish roots.
So lets take a little time and go over each of these days as listed in Leviticus/Vayikra 23 and see where they are mentioned in the Messianic Scriptures.
G-D’S BIBLICAL CYCLE OF TIME AND
IT’S IMPORTANCE TO OUR UNDERSTANDING.
(I have only used verses from the Messianic Writings/NT to emphasize the close connection between that part of G-d’s Word and Torah. G-d’s calendar is found in both.)
SHABBAT is a weekly occurrence in G-d’s cycle of time.
Luke 4:16, Mark 2:27-28, Acts 13:14-15, Acts 17:2
This holy day was an integral part of the spiritual and physical life of the first believers. It is mentioned 59 times in the Messianic Writings and well over 170 times in all of scripture.
Its over-riding purpose is to teach us to take this day each week to rest, study and worship G-d. It is also a precursor to our future, unending, Heavenly Shabbat rest. Shaul/Paul as well as Yeshua Himself are mentioned over and over in scripture going to the synagogue and teaching on Shabbat. After the death and resurrection of Yeshua, believers continued to meet on Shabbat. Acts 17:2 is a good example of Shaul describing his practice of teaching on the Sabbath. Worthwhile to note is that Shaul’s teaching on the Sabbath occurred at least 20 years after the earthly reign of Yeshua. Nowhere in scripture do we see Sabbath being replaced by Sunday.
PASSOVER begins at sundown on the fourteenth day of the month of Aviv. Biblically, the Passover meal is eaten at sundown after cleaning all the leaven out of the home. This emphasizes the necessity of cleaning sin out of our own lives before our redemption/salvation experience of Passover. This holiday symbolizes our spiritual redemption and salvation attained by the blood of the Lamb of G-d being applied to our spirit.
This holiday is mentioned over and over in both the Hebrew Bible and the Messianic Writings. A few examples from the Messianic Writings are: Matthew 26:17, 19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 2:41-42, Luke 22:7-13; John 1:29, John 2:23, John 6:4, John 11:55, John 19:36; Acts 12:4; I Corinthians 5:7.
UNLEAVENED BREAD begins at sundown on the fifteenth day of the month of Aviv.
This holiday lasts for 7 days and has a spiritual purpose, all leaven has been cleaned from the home and none is to be eaten for 7 days. In scripture leaven is a symbol of sin. (Matthew 16:6-12, Mark 14:1, Mark 8:15, I Corinthians 5:6-8, Galatians 5:7-9) This holiday continues for seven days following the one day Passover.
SHAVUOT/FIRST FRUITS This holiday comes exactly 50 days after Passover and is really in many ways seen as the ending of Passover. It is known in scripture as, First Fruits/ Pentecost and also is seen as celebrating the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai.
In the cycle of holidays, Passover being our redemption, Shavuot can be seen as the next step in our spiritual journey. It is important that our spiritual birth be followed by a time of study and learning what G-d’s Word/ Torah teaches us about how to live our life as His people.
In the Messianic Writings it is mentioned in Acts 2:1-13 where the Messianic movement began in Jerusalem with the falling of the Holy Spirit and the spreading of “the message” to the known world. We read in Acts 20:16 and I Corinthians 16:8 where Shaul mentions this holiday in his journeys.
ROSH HA SHANA is known as, “The Day of Blowing.” It is the beginning of a ten-day period leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This time is announced by the blowing of the shofar, calling people to repent.
In the Jewish faith it is taught that the books of Heaven are opened on this day, the people spend the next 10 days examining their lives. People are to forgive anyone that has wronged them and also ask forgiveness of others where needed. The term, “Book of Life,” is also seen in the Messianic Writings in Luke 10:20, Philippians 4:3 and Revelations 21:27. In each of these verses it talks about our names being written in the Book of Life. According to the Jewish faith, this terminology refers to the books in Heaven that are opened on Rosh Hashanah and ten days later closed on Yom Kippur.
YOM KIPPUR is spiritually seen in G-d’s calendar as the final judgment. It is the most important and most holy day of the yearly cycle. On this day the Books of Life and Death are closed.
This holiday is mentioned in at least two places in the Messianic Writings. In Acts 27:9 Shaul speaks of the importance of returning to Jerusalem in time for the Fast. For the purposes of this paper, the verses of Hebrews 9:12-15 compares Yeshua, our High Priest in Heaven to the High Priest in Jerusalem entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur to offer the sacrifices on behalf of the sins of the people. “He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” This gives us a beautiful picture of what Yeshua has done for each of us as the Lamb of G-d.
SUCCOTH/TABERNACLES is the holiday that ends G-d’s religious year in scripture. This holiday is also known as the “Season of Our Rejoicing.” It signals that things have been set right between G-d and His people. Forgiveness has been given and we take joy in it. We live in a temporary structure called a succah or booth for eight days. This emphasizes our complete dependence on Him and the joy that it brings to us. We can read of this holiday in John 7:2-3 and John 7:37-38.
This paper was written as a result of our Torah Portion this week, where in Leviticus 23 the holidays are mentioned. To study the holidays is to study the Messiah. This study is by no means all that could be said about the importance of understanding the close relationship of the Hebrew Scriptures and the Messianic Writings. In fact, I believe if we do not understand and appreciate this connection we cannot fully understand the depth of what the writers of the Messianic Writings are really saying. This handicaps our spiritual walk. We must always understand we are grafted in to a Jewish tree of faith not the other way around. This requires us to understand the scriptures from a Jewish viewpoint rather than a Greek or Western point of view.
The Biblical calendar is different from the one in which we are accustomed. It is lunar and based on the phases of the moon. Our day-to-day calendar is a solar calendar.
In Leviticus 23:22 we read the repeating of the commandment to leave parts of a harvested crop for the poor to be able to come and take from the leftover portion. One thing that stands out here is the word “leave” in English. This word might imply that we are leaving this as a gift to the poor. In Hebrew the word is “ta’azov,” which means forsake. This means the landowner must not involve himself in the allocation of the leftover crop that goes to the poor. It is as if this part of his field does not belong to him at all, rather it belongs to G-d. He is to allow who ever needs it to come and take from the field. This is much different from giving directly to someone. (And there are times to give directly also) Human nature allows us to get some satisfaction from giving directly and the person knows who gave to him. In leaving some of your crop in the field and walking away you are completely out of the picture. Here G-d is saying to us, everything you have comes from My Hand. So I want you to be a conduit to pass on My Part of what I have blessed you with. And to give to whom ever I choose.
This is important for us to remember. G-d gives to His people for their use. However part of that use is that we do not hoard it but we abandon part for the poor and needy without having any say in who G-d sends to take it. Our offerings should be used for whom ever G-d sends to the field.