Oh, what a great religious effort this is, every year! Year after year!
I am always astonished by how much professing Christians, those who have made the claim, that they are followers of Jesus Christ, and yet, will include themselves in the Jewish traditions, namely, the observance of the High Holidays of Judaism, as they are expressed today. There does not seem to be an understanding of how contradictory these practices are to their profession of Faith in Jesus Christ. I have no problem in teaching the Levitical feasts, not at all. But some today, do not teach them properly, in my view. But, rather, teach as precepts, the doctrines of men.
Since the destruction of the Temple, Jews have ceased to observe Yom Kippur as it was done in Old Testament Times. And yet, Christians feel compelled to do so today, even though, what they are doing is not actually in the Levitical sense, feast keeping in a biblical context. Why do you suppose this is? Is it due to simply being misguided? Are Christians today susceptible to being led in worship other than in “Spirit and Truth?”
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is, to the Jewish mind, the day of accounting and Judgement (another name used for Rosh Hashanah is Yom Hadin, the “Day of Judgement”. It is written in Mishnah, not the Torah, but Mishnah, the “Tradition of the Elders”, “On Rosh Hashanah it is written, on Yom Kippur it is sealed…” According to the Jewish Rabbi’s, there is the belief that on Rosh Hashanah, the New Year of Leviticus, the Book of life is opened up… and on Yom Kippur, if we’ve done what we needed to do, as far as repentance, making things right, self evaluation, and so on; we are called upon during the month of Elul, to basically show reflection of our past mistakes during the past year, judge ourselves, our actions, in how we can improve ourselves, as if we stand before the ultimate Judge of all, God, etc., getting ready for the High Day, Yom Kippor, by the observance of said tradition.
Beginning in the month leading up to Rosh Hashanah, if we perform the “traditional” things “rightly”, introspectively correctly, cheshbon hanefes (“an accounting of the soul”) we are set, we are in good standing for the year to come, with the hope of our names even being written in the Book of Life. Let me ask you this, on what authority do the rabbis base this understanding of repentance, and being “absolved” for the New Year? Certainly not on the Levitical Priesthood, certainly not on the Levitical sacrificial system.
Let me make clear, since the destruction of the Temple in Jeremiah’s time, Jews have ceased to observe Yom Kippur as it was done according to Leviticus. Why has it ceased in Israel? The destruction of the Temple in Jeremiah’s day, and with that destruction, the disappearance of the Ark of the Covenant! What we have now, today, are traditions of the rabbis. And it is these “traditions” that the Christian Church seems to be enamored with. Not according to knowledge, but a desire to emulate misguided zeal.
In the month of Elul, the focus is giving an account of your life, and the judgement that would follow, ergo, repentance, is needed for the coming year. Repentance, then, is a given for the feast keeper. Remember, as you think on these things, that, from the Days of Jeremiah, to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, there was no ARK OF THE COVENANT in Israel, in the Temple. Even during the time of Ezra, up to the time of the Prophet Malachi, no Ark of the Covenant. From Malachi to John the Baptist, no Ark of the Covenant. During the life of Israel’s Messiah, the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, there was no Ark of the Covenant behind the curtain, within the Holy of Holies. So, especially from the days of Malachi, to the coming of John the Baptist, tradition of the elders presided over Israel. To the point, in New Testament times, the Tradition of the Elders superseded even the Torah, or at least regarded as equal to the Torah. The authority of the Elders could supersede in the minds of the rabbis, only because of the Ark being absent, thereby annulling the Levitical sacrificial system. I believe this is something they were fully aware of and proclaimed authority due to this fact.
Why is this important? Because, the sacrificial system was mute, without the Ark of the Covenant. Repentance as in the Old Covenant, according to the Levitical Law, was impossible, without the Ark of the Covenant, that held the Mercy Seat. No longer could a sacrifice be made according to the Levitical Law, where the blood was applied, poured upon, sprinkled over, the Ark. For, where was the blood applied? This fact remained a hidden thing in Israel. Within the veil, there stood an empty space, without which, Levitical sacrifice was meaningless. For over 450 years, even as far back as the Days of Ezra, the Sacrifices made were incomplete. How could Israel have a Temple, without the Ark of the Covenant? This becomes very apparent when the New Testament is brought forward into its rightful place in the discussion.
This is how Israel could perform what was eventually conceived of as “keeping the Law”, even though the sacrificial system was come to an end in the physical, (albeit, in the spiritual context, it had ceased during the life of Jeremiah) by keeping the “Traditions” of the elders. These were the indictments held against their own Messiah, Jesus. And, also, against His disciples/Apostles. The indictments were, they did not keep the traditions of the elders.
I won’t go into the time of Ezra here. It is an important study, nevertheless. To gain insight into the Spirituality of Israel from the days of Ezra, to the coming of John the Baptist, carefully study Nehemiah, Ezra, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Haggai, Zachariah, Malachi. We will be taking very close looks at those things that pertain to these prophetic books, in the New Testament. They will show just where the Church has missed it so tragically, and what we can do now, to make all the difference in the world.
The New Testament is so plain, regarding what these things should mean for us today. From the destruction of the first temple and with it the Ark of the Covenant, there was an intent of God for Israel; WORSHIP in SPIRIT and in TRUTH! May we today come to understand this intent, this purpose of God, through His Son Jesus, who is the Mercy of God. He is, Himself, the Holy of Holies, the “Dwelling Place of the Most High”. This, my friends, is our calling as well, to be a dwelling place of the Most High God! This was the intent, that should be revealed, seen from afar by the Prophets, revealed in the person of the Messiah of Israel, Jesus the Messiah of God, the Son of God, God With Us!
I will say in closing, from Ezra to the formation of the Sect of the Pharisees, Israel once again became a rebellious people, full of pagan influences. The coming of the Pharisees brought a semblance of order, but not according to Holiness. Not according to Righteousness. If anyone has questions concerning the formation of Sect of the Pharisees, send me an email.
(I write these things down rather quickly, with a lot going through my mind. Please allow me the right to edit this series as we go.)