One of the main functions of the priest is to teach the people the difference between holy (kadosh) and common (chol) and between clean or pure (tahor) and unclean or impure (tameh).
“They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.” (Ezekiel 44:23)
Likewise, a major function of our spiritual leaders is to teach people how to live in purity and holiness according to God’s Torah rather than the culture of the day.
As followers of Yeshua, how much more should our lives represent the God of Israel in the beauty of holiness!
“In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 3:12)
The Moadim: God’s Appointed Feasts
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: These are My appointed festivals [moadim], the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.’” (Leviticus 23:1–2)
Parasha Emor also lists eight appointed or scheduled meeting times, called moadim in Hebrew, which God’s people are to keep.
This Parasha, therefore, is called Seder Mo’adim (the order of the festivals) because it describes them as mikrei kodesh (holy convocations or callings of holiness) to be celebrated at their appointed times. The Ramban, a leading Torah scholar of the middle ages, referred to them as sacred gatherings.
It is important to remember that the Lord declares that these appointed feasts are His.
They are His appointments in His Biblical calendar, setting aside these special times to meet with His people for the purpose of celebrating, remembering, and/or observing great spiritual events or truths.
The following are the festivals or moadim mentioned in this Parasha:
- Shabbat (the seventh day Sabbath),
- Pesach (Passover),
- Chag HaMatzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread),
- Bikkurim (Firstfruits),
- Shavuot (Weeks / Pentecost),
- Yom Zikaron Tru’ah (Trumpets, also called Rosh HaShanah or Jewish New Year),
- Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and
- Sukkot (Booths / Tabernacles).
“On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.” (Leviticus 23:40)
The festivals are a balance between feasting and fasting; for example, Sukkot is a time of joy and feasting in contrast with Yom Kippur which is a somber time of fasting and repentance.
“For everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
The Hebrew word for festival, chag, shares the same root with chug, which means circle. This reminds us not only of the cycle of the Biblical calendar; but also the cyclical nature of life itself.
Not only do the seasons cycle and return over and over again, but also times of sorrow may be turned to joy, tragedy to triumph and darkness to light.
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.” (Psalm 30:11)
Each of these God-appointed times contains lessons about the Messiah Yeshua—what He has already accomplished, such as salvation and redemption, as well as what He is doing in our midst now—sanctification, and what is yet to come—resurrection.
Although many feel that these moadim are not meant to be observed by non-Jewish followers of Yeshua, in the time of the apostles, Gentile believers in Yeshua as the Messiah celebrated them alongside Jewish Believers.
When the Gentile Church became increasingly alienated from its Hebraic roots, they formed their own celebrations, such as Christmas and Easter.
Scripture definitely indicates, however, that both Gentile and Jew will celebrate Sukkot together in Jerusalem in the time to come.
We do not have to wait until then to enjoy God’s appointed times.
Through observing these divine appointments today, we can come into a beautiful unity with all of God’s family as the commonwealth of Israel—the one new man—Jew and Gentile united in Messiah.
We may also use these opportunities to grow in our relationship with the One who initiated them, drawing ever closer to Him and flourishing as the holy ambassadors of His Kingdom that we are called to be.