Torah Portion: Emor(Speak)Lev.21:1-24:23
Haftorah Reading: Ezekiel 44:15-31
Tonight we count the 31st day of the Omer. Remember the Omer is counted until the appointed time of Shavuot. We count the Omer each evening. What ties these two holidays of Passover and Shavuot together? Spiritually I think of Passover as the celebration of the Israelites being freed from slavery in Egypt. For us as believers, at Passover we celebrate being freed from the power of the evil one. On Shavuot we celebrate the giving of Torah. As believers it is also a time of celebrating and growing into the fullness of what G-d has for His children. I mention this because I want to begin our time together with a subject I have pondered this week.
I want us to think about G-d’s appointed times and why most believers today have little knowledge of these important events. To begin, I would like us to read I Corinthians 5:6-8. I would like to hear your interpretation of these verses. First of all, who is being addressed in this passage? What message or messages are being conveyed here? Consider these questions and we will return to discuss it later.
Most Christians think of the appointed times talked about in scripture as Jewish holidays. Therefore they have no connection to them. However, in Leviticus 23:1-2 we read, “And the L-rd spoke to Moshe saying, speak to the children of Israel and say to them, the feasts of the L-rd…” These feasts of the L-rd are His set aside times for His people. These feasts are the same feasts that Yeshua and His disciples kept and celebrated. These times gave special meaning to them and were celebrated well into the second century after the coming of the Messiah and even into the fourth century. Now back to I Corinthians 5:6-8 where Shaul instructs the church at Corinth to keep Passover. He said Messiah gives us a deeper understanding of G-d and His love for us. He never tells the people to discontinue the celebration of these appointed times. On the contrary in these verses He clearly gives them instructions on how to keep the Passover, “not with old leaven nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” His discussion was on how to celebrate Passover not whether or not to celebrate it. So the question has to be asked, what happened?
In Leviticus 23:14 G-d says clearly that these times are “to be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.” That means they are never to be cancelled. In chapter 23 we read a listing of these appointed times, they include the weekly Shabbat, the Feast of Passover, Pentecost (Shavuot), Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
According to Leviticus 23 we see these festivals are for all of G-d’s people for they are His appointed times. Paul said in Romans 3:29, “Is G-d the G-d of the Jews only? Is He not also the G-d of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also,” G-d never offered us as non-Jewish believers any alternative festival days or non-Jewish appointed times. Neither the gospels nor the Epistles grant non Jewish believers their own special days.
When we consider the first believers, they met in the synagogue and Temple on the Shabbat and festival days to celebrate and observe G-d’s holy days. When the believers left the cradle of their early faith it marked the beginning of the neglect of the appointed times. Shabbat was slowly replaced by Sunday and the other appointed days of G-d’s calendar fell into disuse.
This week I read a quote by a Jewish believer, Joseph Shulam that I want to share with you “It is important for both Jewish and Gentile disciples of Yeshua to get free from the false teachings and traditions of Catholic Christianity and the pagan holidays that were adapted by the churches, and return to the same faith and roots of Yeshua’s faith and teaching that all came and are based on the Torah and nothing else.”
To follow up on Joe Shulam’s words I would like to go discuss what we all can learn from our role as G-d’s people in today’s world. In the Messianic scriptures we read in I Peter 1:16, “Be holy for I am holy.” In Matthew 6:9 we read, “Our Father in heaven hallowed be your Name.” What does the phrase hallowed be your name mean to us in how we live?
We sanctify His Name by living every part of our lives according to His word. We conduct ourselves in a G-dly manner in the words that come out of our mouths, in the actions we take with family, friends, and business affairs. Our faith should affect every part of our day to day life. In Matthew 5:16 it says, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” We are to conduct ourselves every minute of the day in a way that reflects our Heavenly Father. Everything we do, everything we say is to reflect to the world the goodness, mercy and grace of G-d. By this we sanctify His name.
In our world today we are held to this same principle. We are to sanctify G-d’s name in all we do. We are ambassadors of G-d Almighty. We are to live each day honoring Him.