Throughout history the Biblical feasts of Israel have been a staple of Jewish life. God instituted seven major feasts and provided specific instructions for them in the book of Leviticus (chapter 23). While the Biblical year begins with Passover in the spring (Exodus 12:2), the Jewish civil new year occurs in the fall, and we are approaching that day.
The Hebrew late-summer month of Elul (which we are in right now) is a preparation time, marked by repentance and asking forgiveness from those wronged during the previous year. For many, it is customary to go to the mikveh (ritual bath) before Rosh Hashanah…Israel’s New Year’s Day. It is a time of “cleansing” in order to start the new year on the right path.
The first of the Hebrew month Tishri begins the season of fall feasts. Though known civilly as Rosh Hashanah, Biblically, we recognize this first fall feast as the Feast of Trumpets, which (in 2015) begins at sunset on September 13. Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) follows at sunset on September 22, and the final fall feast is the week-long celebration of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) from sunset on September 27 to October 4.
As the feast days draw near, I will share more about them and their significance. Meanwhile, I am reminded of God’s promise that, one day, all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26). That will result from national repentance. The Old Testament prophet, Zechariah, issued a call to repentance in his day (Zechariah 1:1-6), as did other prophets.
In the New Testament passage of Mark 11:12-14, Jesus cursed a fig tree, which is also significant of Israel’s lack of repentance. You see, while the olive tree is often used in Scripture to represent Israel spiritually, Israel is represented civilly by the fig tree. Jesus came as the Jewish Messiah, yet He knew His people would reject Him. Just as there was no fruit on the fig tree in which Jesus cursed, so there is no national repentance of Israel regarding the Messiah.
Thus, during this season where the focus of many Jews is on repentance, forgiveness and cleansing, my prayer is that national repentance and revival will break out. We know that, ultimately, according to Ezekiel 36:26, God will remove the heart of stone and will give a new heart and a new spirit to Israel. Let’s pray for that day! Dare to be a Daniel!