What a WONDERFUL day of reading we have ahead of us!
Today’s reading is Nehemiah 8-9

Click here to read today’s passages on BibleGateway.

Rabbit Trails

We ended our reading yesterday with the sentence “and when the seventh month had come, the people of Israel were in their towns.” Neh 7:73

As I touched on yesterday, this is a very important sentence but requires familiarity with the Hebrew calendar in order to recognize it. YHWH’s appointed times are according to the Hebrew calendar so as Believers we must acquaint ourselves with it to some degree in order to be able to keep those times.

So what happens in the seventh month? Let’s go back to Leviticus 23 to see.

•Lev 23:23 says 23 The Lord said to Moses, 24 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. 25 Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the Lord.’”

The first day of this month is the Feast of Trumpets, a day of rejoicing. It is an amazing day to experience if you can get together with a group of Believers!

•Lev 23:26 tells us of another day, the Day of Atonement.
26 The Lord said to Moses, 27 “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present a food offering to the Lord. 28 Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God. 29 Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people. 30 I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day. 31 You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. 32 It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.”

Also check out Leviticus 16 for more information on this day. This is a solemn day, where we consider how we have sinned against the Father. There are many traditional ways of observing this day but most of them involve fasting and YHWH did declare it a sabbath so it is a day of rest as well, according to His guidelines on keeping Sabbath. I need to point out that a lot of what folks think of when they think of Sabbath “rules” these days are actually just manmade tradition rather than commandment, which, I hope you’ve caught onto by now, is vastly different and never to be confused with God’s Word.

So we’ve got two of the seven appointed times taking place back to back in this seventh month, are we done? Nope!

Leviticus 23:33 The Festival of Tabernacles
33 The Lord said to Moses, 34 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. 35 The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. 36 For seven days present food offerings to the Lord, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the Lord. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work.

Now the Feast of Tabernacles has many different names. Some call it the Feast of Booths, some just call it “Tabernacles”, and some call it “Sukkot”. If you were part of a church a generation or so ago you may recall having church outside for a week and decorating the outdoor area with vines and arbors and such. Many churches still celebrated Tabernacles until somewhat recently and many are returning to doing this.
Make sure you read the rest of Lev 23 for more information on observing Sukkot.

I want to delve a bit into these appointed feasts, very briefly, and show you how they are all connected to our Messiah. We could easily spend months on this topic alone so today I’m just going to do a simple summary.

-Each feast teaches us about the character of YHWH, our past as a family of Believers, and our future. They all, collectively foreshadow our Messiah.

-We tend to break the feasts down into two categories: Spring Feasts and Fall Feasts.

-When they were instated by the Father (to be observed forever, throughout our generations according to YHWH’s words) they all foreshadowed the coming of the Messiah. Since then, and His first coming, the truth foretold by the spring feasts have been fulfilled.
The fall feasts are yet to be fulfilled but we are getting awful close!

-In this passage, the people are celebrating the Fall feasts. Trumpets represents the second coming of our Messiah. WHAT A DAY OF REJOICING! That is why this is such a fun feast to celebrate and very exciting.

-Day of Atonement represents the day when Messiah will return and final judgment will be meted out onto the earth. He is our high priest and while this day bears some connection to when He atoned for our sins, that was a fulfillment of the Passover, with Him being the spotless lamb.

-Sukkot – This foretells of the time when the Father will establish His kingdom, where Believers will dwell with Him forever. You can understand why this is also known as the season of our joy.

I’ve recommended it many times but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it again with this conversation. If you want to learn more of the Biblical Feasts I highly recommend this book. It is no small thing to say that the introduction alone changed the course of my walk entirely. Yes, it is a little pricey but Messiah paid the price for our sins and we can pay the price for this book in order to better understand just what He did.  Click here to see it on Amazon. It looks like it is getting harder to come by. I have two copies and won’t give one up for the world so I suggest getting it while you can if you are interested.

On to our reading. So we begin on the first day of the seventh month, that is Trumpets, and Ezra has assembled all of the people to read the book of the Law. While some are noticeably grieving upon hearing it, they are reminded that this is a day of rejoicing and admonished not to grieve (Neh 8:9). I think of myself, how I grieve over my sins against the Father, but then I am reminded of the gift and blessing of His guidance, teachings, Grace, and forgiveness and I can’t help but rejoice!

We may walk a narrow path but it is the most well lit path anyone could hope for thanks to His Word!!

Why did the people weep when they heard the law? They realized they had offended YHWH and their hearts were receptive to correction, seeking to please the Father just as Josiah did when the book of the law was found. They recognized their own guilt before the Father but Ezra comforted them. “Do not be grieved, for the joy of YHWH is your strength!” (Neh 8:10) What a blessing, what a relief, to recognize our sin, be able to turn from it, and be shown Grace as a result! 

We move on to see them celebrating Sukkot – my favorite Biblical feast.

Note: The beginning of chapter 9 seems to read very clearly (to me) as if they were observing the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Eagle eyed readers have already noticed that Sukkot was a bit out of order and this would continue to be the case if they were keeping Yom Kippur at the beginning of chapter 9. I have not done deeper research into this and so I have nothing to add here except for the fact that there are three moedim to be observed in the seventh month and it appears to me that the people are observing all three within that month. It is clear to see from Nehemiah’s prayer and Ezra’s efforts that their every intent is to fully obey YHWH and keep all of His statutes, so we could possibly surmise that they were unclear as to exactly when these times were to happen and were keeping them to the best of their abilities – just as we do now as followers of Messiah living in the diaspora.

Diaspora – that may be a new word to you and that is totally fine! The context in which I use it refers to all children of YHWH dispersed throughout the world, away from Jerusalem, with no temple, awaiting our home in the Father’s kingdom.

Neh 9:6-38 is an EPIC prayer! It covers so much Biblical history, characteristics of YHWH, characteristics of His people, true repentance, etc. I encourage you to read it – twice, at least.
I am not kidding, please read it twice.
Tomorrow, we’ll see Israel willingly, joyfully enter into this renewed covenant with Him!

Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21

We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!

May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!

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Christy Jordan
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