We have encountered books with such titles as “The Feasts of Israel.” Such books can be enjoyed by Christians because they are designed to teach lessons of the Holy Days, but without actually expecting anyone to observe or celebrate these days. However, Scripturally these days are not called ”the Feasts of Israel.” In the King James Bible, in Leviticus 23:2, they are called “the feasts of the LORD,” not the “feasts of Israel.” In the original Hebrew, they are called “Mo’edei YHWH.” A “mo’ed” is an appointed time.
Almost 3500 years ago, our Heavenly Father unveiled the “Eseret D’varim” (the “Ten Commandments,” but more literally, the “Ten Sayings”) to the people of Israel. Passover begins as the 14th of Abib (Nisan) is turning into the 15th of Abib at sunset. Abib (Nisan) is the first month on the sacred calendar of Leviticus 23. “In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.” The third month on the sacred calendar is Sivan, roughly equivalent to late May to early June.
Beginning during the season of Passover and Unleavened Bread is a counting of weeks to the Festival of Weeks: “You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete Sabbaths [seven full weeks, RSV, NIV, CJB, ESV, et. al.]. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD…On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations” (Leviticus 23:15-16, 21).
The second of the Biblical moedim that God prescribes is Pesach, or Passover. It is specified, “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover” (Leviticus 23:5). Of all the Biblical holidays, this is probably the one with which most Christians are familiar. Their familiarity with Passover is no doubt due to the fact that the Exodus of the Ancient Israelites from Egypt is one of the most important themes in the Bible, as it depicts the Holy One of Israel as the God of freedom, able to deliver people from slavery, but also as it depicts our Exodus as born again Believers from death in sin to new life in Yeshua.
In the Autumn of every year, the Jews celebrate their most solemn festival, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Would it surprise you to learn that Yom Kippur is a Christian holiday as well, that the New Testament church observed the day, only with a different sense of its meaning? Very few Christians take any note of the day at all, and that is surprising, since the day is all about the ministry of Christ. They cheerfully observe Easter which is not in the Bible at all, and ignore the Day of Atonement which is not only biblical, it lies right at the heart of the meaning of the Christian Faith. Maybe it is because observing the Day of Atonement requires a fast, but it is probably because no one ever thinks of it.
Many Christians do struggle with the issue of keeping the Lord’s appointed times or moedim, either by wanting to act as though they were important only for a previous time, or they keep them at a spiritual arm’s length. Yet, it is undeniable that one of the significant ways that today’s Messianic movement has utterly ballooned in number, is because evangelical Believers have been drawn to the richness of keeping the appointed times in Messiah Yeshua. Others have noticed this, and have not been too positive in their assessment of it. Consider the following quote by author Tim Warner, a fundamentalist Christian, of The Last Trumpet website. He says the following in his article “Christians, and the Feasts of Israel”: “Lets [sic] get one thing straight right up front. Keeping the Feasts according to the Torah REQUIRES OFFERING ANIMAL SACRIFICES. There is no avoiding this conclusion. And, any changes to the festivals by rabbis to accommodate the fact that there is no longer a Tabernacle/Temple or Levitical priesthood, or, any changes by Messianic Christians to accommodate the fact that the New Testament says Christ’s sacrifice has ended the animal sacrifices, makes it impossible to observe these feasts according to the Torah.”