The roots of the three fall feasts may surprise you. They have a hallowed history of tradition, observance, and prescription in God’s Word and religious ceremony. However, they are also rooted in the beginning, in Genesis, a poetry reveal that makes their engagement more endearing than ever.
This trilogy of faithful celebrations unwinds three touch points in Genesis 2 & 3, a parallelism rich and breath-taking, which reiterates God’s sure promise to usher us to the lovely garden-life of Eden for all time.*
- Feast of Trumpets, with its fierce, flashing blasts, brings us to the threshold of the season—similar to the threshold guarded by flaming sword in on the Garden’s east side (Genesis 3:24).
- Yom Kippur, the Day of Kapparah or covering, corresponds to the dire need for cover caused by Eve and Adam’s actions that they realized instantaneously; of course, fig leaves would never do (Genesis 3:7).
- Feast of Tabernacles, celebrated in temporary shelters, points to restored, eternal fellowship with the LORD God, ADONAI in the garden he planted, under trees pleasing and fruit-laden (Genesis 2:8-9).
May this gardener’s view, digging down to the roots of the Fall Feasts, bring you fresh hope and a revitalized fellowship with Lord this holiday season.
Yom Teruah – Feast of Trumpets
begins sundown September 18, 2020
Jewish fall holiday season begins on the first day of Tishri, the seventh month of the Biblical calendar, with a “day of sounding,” Yom Teruah. Part blast of joy, part battle-cry, the trumpets are intended to alarm, to wake up with startling shake up—a sort of, “Ah-hem, May I have your attention, please?” minus any measure of merriment and idleness. The sounding is not euphonic but cacophonic, a prelude with intensity.
This holiday has been superimposed with a Jewish New Year celebration, or “head of the year,” Rosh HaShanah, because Tishri became the first month of the civic calendar when the year’s number is advanced. After all, families and communities were regathering for these holidays when the fruit trees were full and ready for harvest, a time of spiritual inventory and familial reflection and renewal. Perhaps a logical time to retire one year and begin the next.
However, this first day of Tishri is not a sort of glitzy, all-night party as we might imagine New Years; it is the head of the year for its spiritual significance, seriousness and contemplation. Considering the epic events encircling our days—raging wildfires, early freezes, pandemic pestilence, hurricanes, urban terrors—I think it best to return the day by its Biblical roots, and stay close to the Words that teach us to watch for such signs.
May these attention-getting trumpets from Old and New Covenants resound in our minds, hearts, and spirits to remember the Lord and be summoned to meet him.
And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation.
Leviticus 23:23-24 RSV
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.
Exodus 19:16-17 NIV
When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.
Joshua 6:20 NIV
So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouts, with the sounding of rams’ horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps.
1 Chronicles 15:28 NIV
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy before the LORD, the King.
Psalm 98:4-6 NIV
And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Matthew 24:31 NIV
…in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:52 NIV
After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Genesis 3:24 NIV
Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement
begins sundown September 27, 2020
Yom Kippur, “day of atonement,” is the holiest day of the Jewish year, marked with a reverence like no other. Observed on the tenth day of Tishri, this was the one and only day in ancient Israel that the high priest entered the holy of holies, the inner chamber of the Tabernacle in Sinai, later the Temple in Jerusalem. He appeared before the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant to bring a sacrifice to ADONAI, as a covering or pardon for the people’s sins. The sacrifice would cover them until this day next year.
This day calls us to grapple with the grief and great breech our sinfulness causes. While solemn repentance has always been an appropriate response for this appointed time, expressed in the call to fast on this day, humility on our part is not a propitiation for our perpetual condition of causing sin and casualty. Inherently, then, this ceremony called for the day when Messiah would come, to be the Atonement, the covering, kappanah (same root word as Kippur), a way of eternal reconciliation between people and God Almighty.
Take to heart Words from Old and New Covenants in appreciating the covering God has made on our behalf.
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord. You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God.
Leviticus 23:26-28 NASB
Praise waits for you, God, in Zion. Vows shall be performed to you. You who hear prayer, all men will come to you. Sins overwhelmed me, but you atoned for our transgressions.
Psalm 65:1-3 WEB
All of us like sheep have gone astray, We have turned, each one, to his own way; But the Lord has caused the wickedness of us all [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing] To fall on Him [instead of us].
Isaiah 53:6 AMP
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—
Romans 3:25 NIV
For this reason [Jesus] had to be made like [Abraham’s descendants], fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
Hebrews 2:17 NIV
Here is what love is: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the kapparah for our sins.
1 John 4:10 CJB
Right away they saw what they had done, and they realized they were naked. Then they sewed fig leaves together to make something to cover themselves.
Genesis 3:7 CEV
Sukkot – Feast of Tabernacles
begins sundown October 2, 2020
In a beautiful expression of darkness to light, the pair of holidays, Yom Kippur and Feast of Tabernacles, move us from the depth of our depravity to delighting in life with God. Celebrated on the fifteenth day of Tishri, Sukkot, “booths,” is the most joyful celebration of all, a seven-day- plus-one-more appointment to meet the Lord and celebrate in triumphal feasting.
Bring back branches! Set the table outside under the stars! Recount how the Lord provided for his people throughout their wandering life, living in temporary shelters—also translated as tabernacles, booths, or tents—in the desert until they reached their homeland.
Grow in confidence that God’s provision is permanent even in transient times. His Presence is eternal, and our lives under his covering secured in the Lord Jesus. This holiday is a melodic contrast of temporary and permanent, the fleeting and the forever. Celebrated in waving tree branches, creating a canopy of boughs overhead, and feasting on the fruits ready for harvest at this time…laughing with family gathered around the table, lingering in company night after night away from regular work, the festivity brushes God’s people with graces of Eden.
Trees and fruits and fellowship with the LORD God, a blessed hope and assurance, a promise of all to be restored.
“‘But on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered the produce of the land, you are to observe the festival of Adonai seven days; the first day is to be a complete rest and the eighth day is to be a complete rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit, palm fronds, thick branches and river-willows, and celebrate in the presence of Adonai your God for seven days.
Leviticus 23:39-40 CJB
You shall dwell in booths for seven days; all that are native in Israel shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
Leviticus 23:42-43 RSV
They found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make temporary shelters”—as it is written. So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves temporary shelters on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim.
Nehemiah 8:14-16 NIV
You crown the year with your bounty. Your carts overflow with abundance. The wilderness grasslands overflow. The hills are clothed with gladness. The pastures are covered with flocks. The valleys also are clothed with grain. They shout for joy! They also sing.
Psalm 65:11-13 WEB
Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.
Psalm 118:25-27 NIV
Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.
Zechariah 14:16 NIV
In my Father’s house are many places to live. If there weren’t, I would have told you; because I am going there to prepare a place for you. Since I am going and preparing a place for you, I will return to take you with me; so that where I am, you may be also.
John 14:2-3 CJB
Adonai, God, planted a garden toward the east, in ‘Eden, and there he put the person whom he had formed. Out of the ground Adonai, God, caused to grow every tree pleasing in appearance and good for food, including the tree of life in the middle of the garden…
Genesis 2:8-9 CJB
I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
Revelation 21:3 WEB
Find more devotions on God’s appointed celebrations in God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, in Garden Work section on Celebrating the Harvest, beginning on page a-36
Find a rich treasury of heritage and meaning in The Complete Jewish Study Bible, Illuminating the Jewishness of God’s Word (Peabody, Mass., Hendrickson Publishers Marketing LLC, 2016). Many thanks to Lisa Rubin at Messianic Jewish Publishers for a personal copy! Visit www.messianicjewish.net/
*This structure of Hebrew poetry is known as Chiastic Parallelism, where a series of ideas builds and then returns along the same series to its beginning idea, A-B-C-C-B-A, reversing the sequence. See Tomas B. Clarke’s discussion on Chiasmus
AMP notes Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org
CJB notes Scripture quotations taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net.
NASB denotes Scripture quotations taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
NIV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.®
RSV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
WEB denotes The World English Bible, a Public Domain (no copyright) Modern English translation of the Holy Bible. However, “World English Bible” is a Trademark.