The Fall appointed times (mo’adiym) for Israel are outlined in Leviticus 23:23-44. These special days cover a 22-day time period on Israel’s annual calendar.
The season begins on the first day of the seventh Hebrew month with what the Scriptures call Yom T’ruah (Numbers 29:1)—meaning Day of Loud Blasts of Sound. Though this day has traditionally become associated with the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn), and is considered in Judaism to be the new year (Rosh HaShanah), in Scripture, the sound of t’ruah can be made by many things—not the least of which are clashing cymbals (Psalm 150:5), and the shouting of people, as when the walls of Jericho fell (Joshua 6:5,20).
The Scriptures also call this day Zikhron T’ruah (Memorial with Loud Blasts of Sound), which suggests that the loud sounds are meant to jog Israel’s collective memory, reminding her of important things as they relate to God. Given this day’s position on the calendar, it may be that God intends for us to remember our sins and the sacrificial means by which He provides atonement for them.
After Israel rests and remembers on Yom T’ruah, ten days later comes the holiest day on Israel’s calendar. From the evening after the ninth day of the month and throughout the tenth day, Israel is to observe Yom HaKipuriym—Day of the Atonements. Traditionally known as just Yom Kipur, this is the day when the High Priest alone would enter the Tabernacle/Temple and perform the atonement rites for all Israel. The day was so holy that no one else was permitted to go inside the Tabernacle until the atonement was done (Leviticus 16:17). Israel was to participate in accomplishing their atonement by doing nothing.
This goes to the command for the day: deny yourself, which is also the life-call of all who are in the Messiah. Yeshua fulfilled Yom HaKipuriym by becoming not only our sacrifice, but the High Priest who administered that sacrifice once and for all (Hebrews 9:11-12). On Yom HaKipuriym, we deny ourselves the basic necessities of food and sustenance, but we also receive our atonement anew by recognizing the need to empty ourselves of our selves—to fulfill the command of our Master, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his [execution stake] and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24, cf. Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23).
Kipur means to “cover over,” and comes from the word kofer, meaning “ransom”—that is, the price or cost to redeem a life. As followers of Messiah, Yom HaKipuriym is the annual opportunity to recall the eternal covering of our sins, and to recommit ourselves to living a life worthy of the hefty price Yeshua paid.
Israel’s annual calendar goes out with a bang, and the seven-day Feast of Sukot. A sukah is a makeshift, temporary shelter—a hut of sorts. According to the Scriptures, beginning on the fifteenth day of the seventh Hebrew month, the people of Israel are to use the various trees and flora surrounding Jerusalem to make such flimsy structures in which to live, feast and celebrate for an entire week. This is “so that your generations may know that I [Adonai] had the sons of Israel live in sukot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:43).
After an exhausting week of joyful celebration, thanking God for the bountiful harvest of the year, Israel celebrates one final rest day—the Eighth Day Assembly—to recuperate and prepare for the season ahead.
Over time, the Jewish people added the extrabiblical ceremony of Hoshana Rabba on the seventh day of Sukot. This prayer for rain for the coming year’s crops is, in essence, a plea to God for salvation. It is no coincidence, then, that it was during the traditional water libation ceremony that the Master Yeshua boldly stood up among His people and shouted above the religious pomp and circumstance, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38).
Salvation for Israel
Like so many of the Jewish people of Yeshua’s time, most Jewish people today look for God in invented, religious ways, and not the ways of their own Scriptures. The annual mo’adiym remind us that God has a simple way to remember and reach Him, and that all Israel needs to do is follow the way of His Word. Our job as Believers is to point Jewish people to the simple truth that they don’t have to beg God to save them, but that Salvation has already come! They only need to drink from the rivers of living water, and in Yeshua, they will never be thirsty again!