It’s that time of year again as we head into the Fall Feasts described in the Bible, often referred to by Jewish people as the High Holy Days.
We spoke to several local Messianic Jewish leaders to get their perspectives on these appointed times of the Lord.
Asher Intrater, Pastor of Revive Israel Ministries
I fast on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) because the Bible says to. Yom Kippur celebrates the blood of Yeshua making atonement. It also symbolizes the Great and Terrible Day of YHVH, which is the Second Coming. Fasting and prayer is also a biblical method of restraining the flesh and increasing the work of the spirit in holiness.
There is no such thing as Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) in the Bible. So we do not celebrate this festival. We celebrate Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets, which symbolizes the seven trumpets of the book of Revelation and is a symbol of spiritual warfare and prophetic messages.
All festivals are symbols which point to something, and the meaning is not in the symbol itself but what it points to. A street sign does not have inherent value, but points the way to a direction. If we keep the festivals by biblical standards, under Yeshua, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, and seeking to understand what the festival is pointing to, then it can have great prophetic significance.
Guy Cohen, Pastor of Asher’s Harvest Congregation in Akko
Our atonement was accomplished by Yeshua through which I received forgiveness of sins. Therefore, the meaning of the Day of Atonement and the fast is somewhat unclear. So why fast at all? I believe Yeshua fasted on Yom Kippur, and so I do too, not for forgiveness of sins or to be written in the Book of Life. Rather, I fast so that the High Priest (Yeshua) will receive my prayer for my people of Israel and save them.
In the Bible, the new year begins in the spring, when the Children of Israel came out of Egypt. What is now celebrated as the Jewish New Year in the autumn is actually the Festival of Trumpets, a proclamation of the seventh month ushering in the Day of Atonement ten days later. On this day, it is important for me to listen to the blowing of the Shofar, to cease from work and recall that Yeshua, who will judge the world, will return with the blowing of the Great Shofar. It is important to be careful not to turn these festivals into religious ritual, but to enjoy the meaning of the holydays and to remember that Yeshua gave us these festivals. He is our Torah!
Eitan Shishkof, Pastor of Tents of Mercy Congregation in Haifa
I fast on Yom Kippur because I agree with the long-standing interpretation of the Torah command to“afflict the soul” on this day as fasting. It also unites me with the rest of the Jewish community worldwide. Since Yeshua is our atonement, it gives occasion to honor and worship him as such.
We do celebrate the Jewish New Year in our family and our community. We use both the biblical term Trumpets, as well as the traditional New Year, because this is the normative term throughout the Jewish world, including Israel.
The biblical feasts are essential to our life as Messianic Jews. These festivals were given by the design of God to signify times and seasons for our people and to serve as signposts for their fulfillment in the life of Yeshua our Messiah.
Dr. Akiva Cohen, Messianic teacher and author
I fast on the Day of Atonement to identify with my people. It is also good to humble oneself by fasting on this day and take stock of our sins and God’s great mercy to us in Yeshua. We celebrate both the Jewish New Year and the Festival of Trumpets following both Scripture and Jewish tradition. Our calling before God as Messianic Jews is to witness based upon His specific calling, not only as individuals, but as part of the people of Israel. Furthermore, as Yeshua said, “Moses spoke of me,” and God calls them “my Feasts.” Yeshua is the fulfillment and central liturgical focus of all Israel’s feasts.
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