Why The Second Temple Did Not Work

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Center for Tanakh Based Studies

By: William J Jackson

In Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 we hear about the possibilities of both blessings and curses for Israel.  As for the curses, the condition was to obey God, or suffer the consequences.  Like most people, Israel was prone to disobedience. So, in 605 BCE Israel would receive the curses promised by God in the form of the Babylonian captivity.  God’s Prophet Jeremiah gives conformation to this in; Jeremiah 25:11, and 2 Chronicles 36:21-22.  On the up side, God also promised that these curses would reversed on a future date (Deuteronomy 4:31, Leviticus 26:42). Understandably many people believe that the curses were ended after the Babylonian captivity, when the Second Temple was built.  Using the Tanakh, we will determine if the curses did end and did God recognize the Second Temple.

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First, to understand if the Second Temple was successful, we need to understand God’s sovereignty through the Temple system. First God established the Tabernacle for Him to commune with Israel.  Undoubtedly the most crucial piece was the Ark of the Covenant where God met with Israel (Exodus 25:22).  After the Tabernacle was completed, God filled it with His glory (Exodus 40:34).   About 500 years later the Ark was moved into the Temple which King Solomon built for Him.  Again, as before, immediately God filled it with His glory (1 Kings 8:10-11, 2 Chronicles 5:13-14, 7:13).  So, if God honored the Second Temple, He would have filled it with His glory at its dedication.  He did not.  Nowhere in the Tanakh or even in Jewish literature does it say that God’s divine presence entered the Second Temple.  One of the major reasons for this might have been that the Ark of the Covenant was not a part of the Second Temple.  As it would be the Ark was missing, probably plundered by the Babylonians or hid1 from them.  Another reason may have been that Israel was still suffering the punishment of her disobedience.

Israel Scattered

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Admittedly, the Second Temple period must have felt like the curse was lifted when the Israelites returned home.  This is our assumption, yet only 5%2 of the Jews returned home, over 95% chose to stay in Babylon.  Also, many Jews never even went to Babylon at the beginning of the captivity.  They fled to Egypt instead (Jeremiah 43).  Additionally, the Babylonian captivity was not the only time large portions of Israelites were brought into internment.  Over a century earlier Northern Israel was brought into captivity.  Here Assyria took a large portion of the Israelite population in 720 BCE (2 Kings 15:29, 16:9).  This exile is where the phrase “the Ten Lost Tribes” was coined. We must remember part of the curse was that Israel would be dispersed among the nations (Leviticus 26:33, Deuteronomy 28:64-66).  This still appears to be true.

Corruption with the Second Temple Priesthood:

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The First Temple existed for 410 years, during that time there was 18 High Priest.  Conversely, the Second Temple existed 420 years and had an astounding 300 High Priests.  Thus, the second temple High Priest were in power, on the average, for about a year and a half, whereas the original Temple’s High Priest spent over 20 years in position.  The short terms for the Second Temple High Priests, no doubt, interrupted continuity in Temple practices.  Also, we need to ask ourselves, “why was there such a turn over with the Second Temple High Priests?” One theory is that during Yom Kippur, if the High Priest was not pure enough, he would have died3 when he entered the Holy of Holies.  It could have been this or the fact that the priestly positions were sold to the highest bidder4 or possibly both.  What we do know is that historically it is well established that the Priest within the Temple during the Second Temple period were corrupt5, 6.  Malachi makes this painfully clear in Malachi 2:1-9.

The Prophets

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Being a Prophet didn’t just mean predicting future events (Jeremiah 30:3), it meant having a relationship where God communicates with you and you influence your people, Israel (Exodus 3:2, 2 Chronicles 24:19, Jeremiah 26:5, Isaiah 51:4). As for the Prophet influencing Israel, this was usually done through the King. Interestingly, there were very few prophets around after the Babylonian captivity.  Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel were around before and after the destruction of the Temple and Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi where around with Israel’s return home.  But with Malachi being the last Prophet in about 400 BCE and the Temple being completed in 350 BC7, God did not provide any Prophets after the Second Temple was completed.  Likewise, Israel did not really receive her freedom from Babylon in 539 BCE.  She would be controlled by Persia (539 – 334 BCE), Greece (334 – 197 BCE), Rome (197 – 636 CE) and so on.  In truth, Israel’s leadership from the destruction of the first Temple until 1948 has been token, with no true King.  Let us remember another aspect of the curse which is “you will be defeated and occupied by your enemy armies” (Leviticus 26:17, and Deuteronomy 28:25). This did not end after the Babylonian captivity in 539 BCE, it has gone on for over two and a half millenniums.

The Future Temple

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Many assume the future Temple spoken of in Tanakh is the Second Temple. Ezekiel talks about this Future Temple in Chapters 40 through 48 in his book. The Second Temple is much smaller, and less elaborate, than the one Ezekiel describes.  Ezekiel’s Temple appears to be one that Israel will earn through true her repentance (Ezekiel 43:9-11).  Also, we have Zechariah 6:12-13 talking about a future Temple being built by “The Branch” which is probably a metaphor for the future Messiah (Zechariah 3:8, Isaiah 11:1-16, Jeremiah 33:15).  Finally, we have Malachi 3:1-4 which states that God will “come to His Temple” while purify and re-establishing His Priesthood.  The Second Temple Priesthood was not purified, it was lacking.  These Temple references are depicting a future Temple earned through repentance which has not happened yet.

Conclusion

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The history of Israel is having the blessings of God, being punished for disobedience and eventually being redeemed.  Many feel that Israel was redeemed after the Babylonian captivity when the Second Temple was built.  The Second Temple does not seem to have been honored by God.  Yes, some of the curses appear to have been lifted recently; Israel being its own nation and the land being productive. However, Israel is still dispersed among the nations (Leviticus 26:33, Deuteronomy 28:64-66).  Fortunately, God does promise a future day they He will gathered His dispersed; Isaiah 11:11-12, 27:12-13, Ezekiel 20:34.

 

Reference:

  1. Milikowsky, Chaim. “Where Is the Lost Ark of the Covenant? The True History (of the Ancient Traditions).” Tradition, Transmission, and Transformation from Second Temple Literature through Judaism and Christianity in Late Antiquity: 208-29. doi:10.1163/9789004299139_010.

 

  1. Spiro, Ken, Rabbi. “History Crash Course #43: The Jews of Babylon.” Ken Spiro. September 1, 2001. Accessed April 26, 2016. http://kenspiro.com/article/history-crash-course-43-the-jews-of-babylon/.

 

  1. “Priest on a Rope: High Holidays – Yom Kippur Response on Ask the Rabbi.” Aishcom. Accessed April 23, 2016. http://www.aish.com/atr/Priest_on_a_Rope.html.

 

  1. Kahane, Rabbi Daniel. Kabbalah of Time: Revelation of Hidden Light through the Jewish Calendar. Place of Publication Not Identified: IUniverse Com, 2013, Page 195

 

  1. Babylonian Talmud, Pesahim 57, 1, Tosefta, Minhot 13, 21

 

  1. Spiro, Ken. “The Second Temple.” The Second Temple. Accessed April 23, 2016. http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/the_second_temple/.were

 

  1. Goldwurm, Hersh. History of the Jewish people: the Second Temple era, Mesorah Publications, 1982. Appendix: Year of the Destruction, pg. 213. ISBN 0-89906-454-X
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Daniel’s 70 Week Prophecy

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Center for Tanakh Based Studies

By: William Jackson

The book of Daniel is a treasure trove of prophecies.  Over the ages many scholars have attempted to break down it’s complex revelations.  There is chapter 2’s statue in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream1, then there are Daniel’s dreams in chapters 7 and 8, one about the four beasts2 and one about a ram and a goat3.  All three dreams depicted future world empires portrayed in chronological order leading up to their destruction by God.  Chapter 9 also renders a futuristic demise but this foretelling has something different – numbers. These numbers, could be used to determine actual dates.  This gives us what the other prophecies do not, a possible time line.  Chapter 9’s prophecy, often termed “Daniel’s 70 Week Prophecy”, gives way to many interpretations.  Some of these are eschatology (end day prophecies) and others are actual events that would take place within the 500 years after Daniel penned his book.  Our analogy of Daniel’s chapter 9 will use the Tanakh and recorded historical events to interpreted his dream.

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A major component of the 70-week prophecy of Daniel are three specific time frames listed in Danial 9:24-27.  For the benefit of the analysis, I have broken Daniel 9:24-27 into three specific phases:

Phase I: The seven sevens prophecy, Daniel 9:25

Phase II: The sixty-two seven prophecy, Daniel 9:25-26

Phase III: The last seven prophecy, Daniel 9:26-27

Another point that requires clarity is the term week or weeks in Danial 9.  The Hebrew root word “shabua”4 is used for the word weeks throughout Daniel 9:24-27. This can either mean seven days or seven years.  If we are referring to weeks, as in days, usually the plural word “shavuot” would be used.  Since the plural of weeks in Daniel ends in the masculine it implies years in Hebrew.  Next begs the question “why did Daniel calculate all these time frames with shabua (seven year increments)?”  The reason for this might be that the number seven in scripture is considered a sign of perfection and completion5.   Such as seen in the branches of a menorah (Exodus 25:37, 37:23) or how a week ends on day 7, God’s holy day, the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8).

The stage is set in  Daniel 9:24, where Daniel tells us it will take seven seventies (490 years) for God to “…terminate the transgression… end sin… expiate iniquity… and bring eternal righteousness…” to the Israelites. This appears to be the punishment God promised almost a millennium earlier in Leviticus 26:14-39 if Israel disobeyed Him.  As we know from the prophets Joel through Jeremiah, Israel had issues with disobedience as we all do. God would enact these curses.  Jeremiah also confirms this in Jeremiah 25:11-12.

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In phase I (Daniel 9:25) Daniel talks about the seven sevens which is equal to 49 years.  This would probably have begun with the Babylonians captivity of Israel which started 587 BC.  After the Israelites did their 49 years of atonement in Babylon, King Cyrus (Daniel 5:31) would defeats Babylon thus freeing the Israelites.  Let us remember that Jeremiah said that Israel would be cursed for 70 years not 49.  Both are actually right because the initial suppression of Jerusalem happened years before its captivity thus explaining the difference in times.

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King Cyrus

Phase II, starts with the end of verse 25 talking about a special person initiating the rebuilding of the Temple.  This verse is targeting a person who is “a ruler” and “the Anointed One”.  The term anointed in Hebrew is mashiach or messiah.  Many Christians hear messiah and immediately assume that it is their messiah.  Messiah is used when talking about a person or a thing sanctified by God.  For example, King Saul (1 Samuel 24:7, 11; 26:9, 11, 16, 23; 2 Samuel 1:14, 16) and King David (2 Samuel 19:22; 22:51; 23:1; Psalm 2:2; 20:7; 84:10; 89:39, 52; 132:10, 17)6 were considered messiahs.  In Isaiah 45:1, Isaiah predicts King Cyrus, by name, as the anointed one or messiah that will defeat Babylon.  This prediction happened 173 years before the actual event.  King Cyrus is considered both a Ruler and a messiah by the Jewish people. King Cyrus also authorized the reconstruction the Temple (Ezra 1:1-3, 5:13, 6:3 and Isaiah 44:28) which fits this verse.

Phase II talks about the sixty-two sevens, which would equal 434 years. It is said that in 536 B.C. the foundations of the second temple was laid, thus ending the 70-year captivity.   However, the construction of the Temple did not take place immediately and there were some delays with it.  After these delays, construction was continued in 353 BC7. During this second Temple period Israel suffered under Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman occupation which supports the verse that the Temple will be rebuilt “…despite the perilous times” (Daniel 9:25).  The second Temple period will last 420 years.

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Phase II would land us seven years before the destruction of the 2nd Temple by the Romans.  Thus Phase III would be initiated in 63 AD when Rome occupied Israel and started a seven-year period of tyranny.  This is the last seven Daniel talks about in Daniel 9:27.  At the beginning of Daniel 9:26 it states “…the anointed one will be cut off…”.  Anointed could be either sacred object, Priest or King and “cut off” means being separated from God (Genesis 17:14, Exodus 12:15, Leviticus 7:20) or destroyed (Job 27:8, Ezekiel 25:7, Zechariah 13:8).  Historically, this could be one of the following or all of the following things:

  • Phannias ben Samuel, the last Jewish High Priest, was killed during the Temples destruction, which supports verse 26.
  • Some say that this might have been Agrippa, the king of Judea who was killed during the destruction of Jerusalem. Agrippa curried favor with Rome which might support the phrase “…appearing to have accomplished nothing” (Daniel 9:26) but Agrippa died in 44 AD probably from an assignation8.
  • Holy artifacts were removed from the Temple by the Roman in 66 AD. These were both anointed and cut off.

Also supporting the final portion of this same verse is the fact that Jerusalem, the Temple and the High Priest were destroyed at the hands of Rome, “… a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple.”. (Daniel 9:26).

Verse 27 continues with “…For half of the week he will put a stop to the sacrifice and the grain offering…” which implies a shift from bad to worse in the last half of the seven years as well as stopping the Temple offerings.  This did actually happen when Florus, the last Roman procurator, stole vast amounts of religious objects from the Temple in 66 AD. This infuriated the Jewish community which inspired riots that would eventually grow into a full scale revolt against the Romans.  While this was going on, the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem did almost nothing9, which speaks to Daniel 9:26 “He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ (1 year) …” This last half of Daniel’s seven is consistent with the First Jewish–Roman War or Great Revolt (66 – 70 AD).

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In conclusion I believe that with the numeric code given to us in Daniel the idea was to portray something specific not something ambiguous like some other theories.  God deals in finite detail, look at the building of the Tabernacle, Exodus 25:1-40, 35:1-35, 39:32-40:38.  When He spoke through Daniel in the rhythm of weeks it meant something precise.  Although I believe that “Daniel’s 70 Week Prophecy” is talking about the Babylonian captivity followed by the Second Temple Period ending with the Roman destruction of the Temple, this could be repeated again.  Often in scripture significant events are repeated.  This might be a dress rehearsal for our “end times”

Summary

Phase I, 49 years, Jewish Captivity in Babylon

Phase II, 434 years, Jewish rebuilding the Temple, the 2nd Temple Period

Phase III, 7 years, Roman occupation of Israel.

Phase III second half:  Roman crushes Israel’s revolt and destroys Temple.

References:

  1. Mandel, David. “Nebuchadnezzar.” My Jewish Learning. Accessed April 16, 2016. Doi, Page 2.

 

  1. Davidly, Yair. “Daniel-7: Beasts.” Hebrew Nations -. Accessed April 16, 2016. http://hebrewnations.com/articles/bible/daniel/daniel7.html. Jerusalem, Israel

 

  1. “Daniel, Book of.” Daniel, Book of. Accessed April 16, 2016. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0005_0_04854.html

 

  1. “Strong’s Hebrew: 7620. שְׁבֻעַ (shabua) — a Period of Seven (days, Years), Heptad, Week.” Strong’s Hebrew: 7620. שְׁבֻעַ (shabua) — a Period of Seven (days, Years), Heptad, Week. Accessed April 14, 2016. http://bibleapps.com/hebrew/7620.htm.

 

  1. Dennis, Goeffrey, Rabbi. “Judaism & Numbers.” My Jewish Learning. Accessed April 16, 2016. http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/judaism-numbers/.

 

  1. Price, Randall. “The Concept of the Messiah in the Old Testament.” Accessed April 15, 2016. doi: Page 1.

 

  1. “The Second Temple Is Built.” – Tisha B’Av and the 3 Weeks. Web. 14 Apr. 2016

 

  1. Cooley, M. G. L., and B. W. J. G. Wilson. The Age of Augustus. London, England? London Association of Classical Teachers, 2003.

 

  1. Telushkin, Joseph. Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know about the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History. New York: W. Morrow, 1991.

 

 

Christianity, Violating The Commandments

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The Ten Commandments are a critical component to the Christian and Jewish faiths.  Additionally, God and His Prophets are quick to tell us that we are not to take from or add to these Commandments or this will violate them (Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32, Joshua 1:7, Proverbs 30:6).  Ironically, if we hold these Commandments up against the Christian New Testament we will see that over 70 percent of their writings go against these Commandments.  We have listed the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20 in order coupling them with New Testament contradictions. Since not all religious sects number the Commandments the same1,2, we made allowances for this in our listing.

I. I am the Lord your God

Begs the question, who does God consider to be His people?  If we look in Tanakh (Old Testament) was see it is those that follow His Commandments are His people (Deuteronomy 29:9-15, 1 Kings 2:3, 2 Kings 23:3, Isaiah 56:1, Zephaniah 2:3, Daniel 9:4, Psalm 25:10, 103:17-18, 132:12, Proverbs 3:1).  It makes sense that this is the first Commandment because if any other Commandments are compromised, so is this one.

I/II. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.

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a. The Trinity; Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19, 1 Corinthians 8:6

b. Satan is a god in the NT; John 12:40, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 1 John 5:19

II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.

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Christians are told to look towards the cross, a crucifix or image; 1 Corinthians 1:17-18, Galatians 3:1, 5:11

II/III. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

The Christian messiah places himself as separate and subservient entity to God (Matthew 19:17, John 14:28, 1 Corinthians 11:3, 15:28, Colossians 3:1, 1 Peter 3:22, 1 Timothy 2:5), yet he denies direct access to God for salvation (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Hebrews 7:25).  This is a vain attempt to minimize a God who stated “… beside Me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11, also Isaiah 43:3 and Hosea 13:4)

III/IV. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

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The Sabbath is Saturday (Exodus 20:8-11, 34:21, Deuteronomy 5:12-14). Yet, the Catholic Church changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday in 321 CE3.  The majority of all other Christin religions still keep within Emperor Constantine’s first civil law regarding Sunday observance:

On the venerable day of the sun let the magistrate and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however, persons engaged in agricultural work may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain growing or for vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.

 —Schaff’s History of the Christian Church, vol. III, chap. 75.

– It is funny how this being the only Commandment God tells us to remember most have forgotten.

IV/V. Honor thy father and thy mother.

The Christian messiah said he required anyone who was willing to be his disciple to be against their parents; Luke 14:26

V/VI. Thou shalt not murder.

The Christian messiah and apostles tell us anger is equal to murder; Matthew 5:21-22, 1 John 3:15. Conversely, Deuteronomy 4:2 tell us we are not to add to the law.  In this case, Christianity has not only added to but has made this Commandments almost unattainable.  This creates a demand for the Christian messiah.

Secondly, God not only forbids murder but He forbids the sacrificing of one’s own children (Leviticus 20:2-5), yet the New Testament has God sacrificing His son; John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 Peter 3:18

VI/VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

As with murder, the Christian messiah has added to this Command; Matthew 5:28.

VII/VIII. Thou shalt not steal.

VIII/IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor.

X. Thou shalt not covet anything that belongs to thy neighbor.

For those of us that studies our way out of Christianity we would also consider that two out of the last three Commandments are also compromised.  However, for those still in the Christian faith at the very least the first seven contradictions should be obvious.

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Reference

  1. Chan, Yiu Sing Lúcás (2012). The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. Lantham, MA: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 38, 241.

 

  1. Block, Daniel I. (2012). “The Decalogue in the Hebrew Scriptures”. In Greenman, Jeffrey P.; Larsen, Timothy. The Decalogue Through the Centuries: From the Hebrew Scriptures to Benedict XVI. Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 1–27. ISBN 0-664-23490-9.

 

  1. Thomsen, Emily. “Catholic Church Admits They Made the Change | Sabbath Truth.” Sabbath Truth. Web. 09 Apr. 2016.

 

54 Weeks Past the Cross – Passover Ponderings

Looking Through a New Lens
54 Weeks Past the Cross – Passover Ponderings
By Terrie C

Passover will always be a special time for me. If you’ve been following my first year after walking past the cross, this isn’t news to you. What I’m learning is that every year, Passover finds me at a new level of understanding. I saw the Feast of God and its “foreverness” the first time I read the scriptures for myself in my fortieth year. Because I tried to fit Jesus into it, though, its true depth and beauty escaped me. I am a girl who enjoys irony, so it does not escape me that the first thing I learned, that was askew in the writings called the “New” Testament, was the proclaiming of Jesus as the “Passover Lamb”. Learning what the lamb was (and wasn’t), pulled the spiritual rug out from under my feet, and I didn’t find my footing again until I walked past that cross.

 

My first Passover without Jesus was last year. I was still catching my breath to learn how many things were different after I “ripped” the back out of my Bible! I was seeing the true beauty of redemption for the very first time. This year finds me contemplative and quiet. I’ve read many articles about the different ways of observing (or regarding), Pass Over, and I’ve read and re-read the scriptures that pertain Passover. Who should be at that table and who shouldn’t? What about the instruction to travel to Jerusalem? How does one like myself, who is neither Jew nor Christian, honor God’s Holy Day? That’s where my eyes, heart and mind have been this week. I’ve even been cropping time off on social media since easter rolled around; because it seems like many believers drop the “walk in love” philosophy at this time of year! Perhaps they forget that it’s more important to reflect God’s light than it is to be right.

 

Na, this year, I am compelled to skip it. I’ve yet to see a great discussion in a comment thread from two (or more) opposing views, scripturally. It ends up a scripture-taken-out-of-context slinging match. I just don’t have the heart to “watch”. These are all people who call God “Father”! Sometimes I fully understand why He sent that flood to wipe everyone out. If it weren’t for the friends on social media who do shine His light and point to Him, I think I’d deactivate my accounts altogether. The internet though, is my only avenue right now to “gather” with others who walk a path similar to mine, and so I’ll stay. I will not, however, be distracted from Passover this year by outside influences. One thing I am learning here on this side of the cross, is that each Holy Day feels brand new every year!

 

Do to the fact that I am flawed, each year during Passover I always find that I’m in need of deliverance; each year at Passover, I am given, and I accept, the Torah as my instructions to right living; because I need to fully know that God is my source.

Sukkot; also called the Feast of Tabernacles, comes around only once a year as well, and it reminds me how much I need Hashem. Similarly: and because I still occasionally commit a willful (not accidental) sin, Yom Kippur reminds me each year that my spirit will stand naked before my Maker one day to give account. The same line of thinking can be applied to all the Feasts for me! I’ll leave the arguing about the Feasts to others. As for myself, I’m just going to concentrate on the new and deeper meanings that I know each feast will bring to my life personally as time passes.

 

Thinking on these things brings to mind one more special day on God’s calendar, The Sabbath. Perhaps we can become slack in remembering its deeper implications, too. This weekend, I intend to look at the Sabbath Day through this new lens. Each of the special days God has marked in Scripture deserve our full attention and honor. I intend to focus my attention there, and worry less about what other people are doing, or how they’re doing it!

 

May the Passover season find you with your face on The Father, and with peace in your heart. What an adventure we are on!