Yahweh's Set-Apart Days
We are all familiar with the annual holidays, like News Year's Day, Easter and Christmas. Then individual nations, races or religions have their own specific days. But did you know that Yahweh has special days He claims as His own? He lists them for us in His Word.
So why doesn't the world observe these days today? Why are so many people unaware of them? Other gods have taken Yahweh's place and have substituted their own observances in place of Yahweh's times.
All of Yahweh's special days and times are listed in Leviticus 23. If you read the entire chapter, you will have an outline of Yahweh's year.
Before we go there, let's clarify some words.
"Feast" is the Hebrew word mowed, meaning an appointment; a festival, an assembly or a season.
"Convocation" is the Hebrew mikra, defined as a calling out; a rehearsal; a convocation; a reading.
"Holy" is kodesh in Hebrew, signifying a sacred place or thing; consecrated; dedicated or set-apart.
The Weekly Sabbath
In Leviticus 23:3 we find the first of Yahweh's special days. It is the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. Not Sunday. He says it is a day of rest. We are to cease work and desist from exertion. It allows us more time free for prayer and worship; time to attend services and fellowship with Yahweh's people.
The Sabbath is a sign that identifies Yahweh's people. In Exodus 31:13, Yahweh said, "Speak you also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am Yahweh that does sanctify you."
In the next verse, He emphasizes that it is a day to rest - "You shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is set-apart unto you: every one that defiles it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever does any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people." Verse 15 - "Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, set-apart to Yahweh: whosoever does any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death."
For how long was this day to be extant? Only until Yahshua died? No. Exodus 31:16 says, "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant."
Why was the Sabbath made? Exodus 31:17 tells us "It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed."
Note Luke 4:16 in the New Testament: "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read."
Yahshua observed the Sabbath throughout His life. There is no mention, after His death, of His disciples observing another day for the Sabbath. Read Acts 13:14; 15:21; 16:13 and 18:4.
There is no Scriptural command to change that day. There is nothing to contradict Exodus 20:8-11. Verse 8 says, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it set-apart." Many people and churches today claim to keep the Ten Commandments. But they fail to observe the seventh day of the week as the commandment says.
Leviticus 23:5 - "In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is Yahweh's Passover."
Passover? What is that?
In Exodus 12 there is a description of the events of the first Passover. The children of Israel had been captive slaves in Egypt for over 400 years. Yahweh heard their cries of misery and took steps to free them, under the leadership of Moses. Yahweh brought plagues upon the Egyptians, because the Pharaoh would not let Yahweh's people go. Yahweh hardened Pharaoh's heart repeatedly in order to show that He alone was Yahweh, the all-powerful El.
The tenth and last plague was to be the death of the first-born. Yahweh told the Israelites to set aside a male lamb of the first year, one without blemish. On the fourteenth day of the first month, they were to kill it in the evening, putting the blood on the side and upper doorposts of each house. Then they were to remain in their homes and not go out until morning. About midnight, the death angel would go through the land and the first-born would die. But the blood on the doorposts would identify Yahweh's people and He would "pass-over" them.
The Passover was also to be perpetual. Exodus 12:14 says, "And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and you shall keep it a feast to Yahweh throughout your generations; you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever."
For it to be an annual celebration after that, there had to be some modifications. They were not captive and leaving Egypt every year. Nor did the first-born need protection from the death angel year by year.
But the unblemished lamb was slaughtered annually, representing the sacrifice yet to come of the unblemished Yahshua Messiah. He is referred to as a lamb in scripture.
John 1:29 - "Behold the Lamb of Yahweh who takes away the sins of the world."
I Peter 1:19 says we were redeemed not with money, "But with the precious blood of Messiah, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
The night before His death, while observing the annual Passover, Yahshua instituted a change in the symbols of the evening. After He and the disciples finished the meal, Yahshua rose from the table, took a towel, girded Himself and washed the feet of His disciples. After He finished, He said, in John 13:14, "If I then, your lord and master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet." That is one of the first things we do each spring when we observe the Passover.
Luke 22:17-20 - Verse 17 "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves." Verse 18 "For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the Kingdom of Yahweh shall come." Verse 19 "And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me." Verse 20 "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."
This ceremony is also described by Paul in I Corinthians 11:23-26. He tells us that before we partake of these symbols, we should examine ourselves (verse 28). We need to understand why we are doing it, what it means, and to consider our relationship with Yahshua and the Father.
Paul also tells us, in verse 27, that we should not eat the bread or drink the wine unworthily. He is not referring to the person being unworthy, but to the manner and attitude in which a person partakes. We need to come to this service in a repentant frame of mind.
The Days of Unleavens
The next event is listed in Leviticus 23:6-8. Verse 6 "And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of matzoth to Yahweh; seven days you must eat matzoth." Verse 7 "In the first day you shall have a set-apart convocation: you shall do no servile work therein." Verse 8 "But you shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh seven days: in the seventh day is a set-apart convocation: you shall do no servile work therein."
In the King James Version, it says, "feast of unleavened bread." But in the original Hebrew, it simply says, "feast of matzoth."
This seven-day festival begins the evening after Passover. There is more detail in Exodus 12. Noting verse 15, it says, "Seven days shall you eat matzoth; even the first day you shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel."
In the phrase "put away leaven," leaven is the Hebrew word seor, meaning yeast-cake or leaven. It refers to the leavening agent. Today we remove items such as yeast, baking soda and baking powder from our homes - any item that will leaven foods.
The King James says, "whosoever eats unleavened bread" but the Hebrew simply says chamets, meaning anything that is leavened or fermented.
The Scripture goes on to say in Exodus 12:19, "Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eats that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land."
Does this sound unusual? Why these commands? Why such a limit on food?
Exodus 13:3 - "And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand Yahweh brought you out from this place: there shall no chamets be eaten." Verse 9 of the same chapter says, "And it shall be for a sign unto you upon your hand, and for a memorial between your eyes, that Yahweh's law may be in your mouth: for with a strong hand has Yahweh brought you out of Egypt." Verse 10 "You shall therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year."
This continued to be observed after the death of the Messiah. In Acts 12, Herod had James, one of the disciples killed. Verse 3 says, "And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavens.)"
In Acts 20:6 Paul said, "And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavens and came unto them to Troas in five days, where we abode seven days."
If we are to remove the leaven, could that have other significance in our lives? Is there something here we are to learn spiritually as well?
In Matthew 16:6 we find "Then Yahshua said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees."
Going on in verse 12, "Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees."
Also in Luke 12:1, we read, "In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware you of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."
That is also why Paul told us to examine ourselves before Passover. Yahweh wants us to remove sin from our lives - anything that will be a barrier between Him and us. Then Yahweh commands that we shall eat unleavened foods seven days. What could that signify? At the Passover service, Yahshua told them, regarding the bread, "this is my body". In John 6:35, "And Yahshua said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst."
When we take the wrong actions and attitudes out of our lives, we need to fill it with goodness and righteousness. As Paul said in Philippians 2:5, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Messiah Yahshua." We are to be like Him; to act like Him; to look like Him.
"Pentecost" is a Greek word. In the Old Testament, the next special day is called "feast of weeks" or "feast of firstfruits". Read about this day in Leviticus 23:9-20. It tells about the wave sheaf of grain that is cut and waved by the priest. That is done the day after the Sabbath during the days of unleavens, a Sunday. Fifty days are counted for Pentecost.
Verse 21 of Leviticus 23 says, "And you shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be a set-apart convocation unto you: you shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute forever in your dwellings throughout your generations."
This is the same day the disciples were observing - after Yahshua's death - in Acts 2:1, where it says, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all in one accord in one place." Miracles occurred on that day that particular year.
It continued to be observed by Paul, as shown in Acts 20:16, "For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost."
In I Corinthians 16:8, he said, "But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost."
In the land of Israel, there are two harvest seasons. The first harvest, which is in early summer, around Pentecost, is of the grains. In the fall, the fruits and olives and nuts are ready.
This day, the feast of firstfruits, is representative of the Messiah. In I Corinthians 15:23, we find, "But every man in his own order: Messiah the firstfruits; afterward they that are Messiah's at his coming."
There are a few today that strive to follow Messiah and live by the word of Yahweh. The rest of the world has not yet been called. They don't want Yahweh "interfering" in their lives. Their chance at salvation will come later.
These few who follow Messiah today are represented in this day as well. In Revelation 14:4, regarding the 144,000, it says, "These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto Yahweh and to the Lamb." James 1:18 - "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."
Feast of Trumpets
Leviticus 23:24 - "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall you have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a set-apart convocation." Verse 25 "You shall do no servile work therein: but you shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh."
In the Scriptures, we find very little information on this celebration through history. Actually the word "trumpets" does not appear in the original Hebrew. It says, "…you shall have a sabbath, a signaled reminder, a set apart gathering." The word "signaled" is the Hebrew word teruwah, meaning clamor; an acclamation of joy; a battle cry; a clangor of trumpets.
Ancient Israel used the trumpet as a call to assembly, an alarm, a warning, a call to war. The sound could reach farther than an unamplified human voice.
There are yet trumpets to be sounded that will be heard around the world. When the Messiah is to return at the end time, Matthew 25:31 says, "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
I Corinthians 15:52 mentions, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
Day of Atonement
Leviticus 23:27 - "Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be a set-apart convocation unto you; and you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh." Verse 28 "And you shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before Yahweh your Elohim." Verse 29 "For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people." Verse 30 "And whatsoever soul it be that does any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people." Verse 31 "You shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings." Verse 32 "It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall you celebrate your sabbath."
In studying the Hebrew language, it can be seen that the word atonement is actually plural. It is a day of atonements; of expiation. It is a day that we fast - no food or water for 24 hours - to afflict our souls. It draws to our attention that we are weak; that we need Yahweh. In ancient Israel, it was a day of sacrifice and blood, as described in Leviticus 16. Animals were slain for sin offerings and the iniquities of the people confessed. It was an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. This only covered the sins - it did not do away with them. As Hebrews 10:4 says, "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins."
But Yahshua did make that supreme sacrifice once and for all. Hebrews 9:12 says, "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." Verse 13 "For it the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh:" Verse 14 "How much more shall the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to Yahweh, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living Yahweh?"
After Yahshua's death, Paul made a reference to this day. Acts 27:9 says, "Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them."
Notice he said the fast. He knew the people would understand what day he meant.
The Feast of Tabernacles
Leviticus 23:34 - "Speak to the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto Yahweh." Verse 35 "On the first day shall be a set-apart convocation: you shall do no servile work therein." Verse 36 "Seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh: on the eighth day shall be a set-apart convocation unto you; and you shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh: it is a solemn assembly; and you shall do no servile work therein." Verse 40 "And you shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your Elohim seven days." Verse 41 "And you shall keep it a feast unto Yahweh seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: you shall celebrate it in the seventh month." Why this observance? Why dwell in booths? Verse 42 "You shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths:" Verse 43 "That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am your Elohim."
In Exodus 34:22, this time is also referred to as "…the feast of ingathering at the year's end." It was at the end of the growing season; the last of the harvest had been brought in and stored away. It was a good time to meet together; to worship Yahweh; to make offerings to Him and to thank Him for the harvest. After the feast, the rainy weather quickly set in, bringing winter.
The Last Great Day
This is the eighth day, coming at the end of the seven-day feast of tabernacles. This could be the day referred to in John 7:37, where it says, "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Yahshua stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." He said this to the whole multitude, making the offer to anyone who was interested.
Though not understood by many, the dead are not in either heaven or hell. According to Yahshua's words in John 3:13, "And no man has ascended up to heaven." All who have died are merely "asleep", awaiting resurrection.
Those who have died in Yahshua will be resurrected first, but all others will wait in their graves until a later date. Revelation 20:4 - "And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Yahshua, and for the word of Yahweh, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Messiah a thousand years." Verse 5 "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection."
At the end of that time, all others will be brought up to see what their final fate will be. Revelation 20:12 says, "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before Yahweh; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
Yahweh has not judged all peoples yet. There is yet a judgment to come.
You might find it interesting to read all of Zechariah 14. In brief, this chapter describes events that have yet to occur. In verse 4, it makes reference to the returning Messiah standing on the Mount of Olives. According to verse 9, it says that He will be king over all the earth. But verse 16 says, "And it shall come to pass, that everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, Yahweh of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles." The prophet continues, describing the punishment if they do not obey.
To Consider ...
Here are a few things you might not have thought of and might want to consider.
Yahweh gives a specific list of days He expect His people to observe.
Yahweh has a definite outline of how He wants to be worshipped.
These celebrations did not end with the death of Messiah. His followers continued to observe them. These days were not "nailed to the cross".
Many people dismiss these days as being Jewish, but Zechariah 14 shows that Yahweh will insist on the Gentiles being included in these commands.
Ancient Israel kept these days, Yahshua kept these days, the early church continued to keep these days, and they will be observed in the future. So why not now?
When you read about these days and look at the calendar of today, you may wonder how this works. It doesn't seem to match or make sense. But the calendar of the world is not the same one Yahweh uses. His year, month one, starts in the spring. Not in the middle of winter.
Also, His day is different. It does not start at midnight. It starts at sunset. In Genesis 1 there are several statements that say the evening and the morning were the first, second, etc. day. Leviticus 23:32 describes the day as being from even to even.
Isn't it time to "get with Yahweh's plan"?
Sabbath - the seventh day of every week, known commonly as Saturday.