Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hallelu-Yah!! - Dr. Bill Duerfeldt

From the desk of Dr. Bill Duerfeldt

Hallelu-Yah !!
            There are two Hebrew words which have remained un-translated in virtually every language on the face of the earth, yet their meaning is the same as the original Hebrew.  The first of these is “Amen” (Let it be so.).  The second is “Hallelujah”, which is actually a combination of two words – Hallelu (You Praise) and “Jah” or “Yah” (the abbreviated form of Yahweh, ie – the LORD).  In other words, “Hallelu-Yah” is an exhortation to “Praise the LORD”.  It’s important to note that this exhortation is not praise for just any god.  Rather, it is a call to praise a specific God -- “Yah” – the God of Israel.
            In Hebrew we have single words which have multiple English translations – such as “chesed”, a word I discussed in an earlier article.  Now we’re going to look at the opposite situation.  I want to look at a single word in English – praise – which has multiple variations in Hebrew.  In fact, “Hallal” is only one of nine words in the Hebrew language which is translated as “praise” in English.  As you would expect, each of these nine words is subtly unique from the others, and each conveys different concepts of how our praise to God should vary.  Let’s take a closer look at these nine words.
            Since we’ve already started with Hallal, let’s continue with that one.  Hallal occurs 165 times in the Tanak, and is, by far, the primary word translated as “praise” in the English Scriptures.  This word carries with it the concept of clarity and brilliance – something shiny and pure – such as a clear, sharp tone, or sound.  Hallal also means to sing and to celebrate.  Hallal praise is pure, clear, glorious and celebratory praise to God.   It’s interesting that hallal can also mean “foolish” or even in extreme cases – “madness”.  In other words, our praise to the LORD may at times be so exuberant that it may appear as foolishness or madness to someone else.  I’ve been in worship services like that, especially in Israel during the Festival of Sukkot!  The joy of the LORD is, indeed, a “Divine Madness”, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

            The next word is zamar and is most often translated as “sing praise”.  It can also mean to make music or to play a musical instrument.  One great example of zamar and hallal together is Psalm 104:33-35:  “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live, I will zamar to my God while I have my being.  My meditations of Him will be sweet because I love Him…bless Thou the LORD O my soul, Hallelu-yah!  Other examples can be found in Psalm 17:7, 9:2, and 98:4 to name only three.  Because the word means praising with song and music it is not surprising that with only two exceptions, zamar occurs predominantly in the Psalms.

            Shabach means to laud, to boast of, or to commend to someone.  It can also mean to stroke or to smooth, to make still – the picture of someone stroking an animal to calm it.  Therefore shabach is a form of quiet, peaceful praise; a praise of satisfaction and contentment.  Psalm 63:3-5 is a good example:  “Because Thy chesed is better than life, my lips shall shabach Thee.  I will bless Thee while I live, and lift up my hands in Thy Name.  My soul shall be satisfied…”

            The word yadah occurs almost as often in the Tanak as does hallal.  The root of yadah is yad  (hand), and the concept of yadah is to throw, cast, or to shoot (such as shooting arrows), actions one does with the hands.   In the majority of cases in which yadah is translated “praise”, it is in the context of corporate worship, and is as if the worshipers are throwing their praises heavenward to the LORD.  Good examples can be found in Psalm 100:4: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise, give yadah unto Him and bless His name”; Psalm 35:18: “I will give Thee thanks in the great congregation; I will yadah Thee among Thy people”; and Psalm 138:4: “All the kings of the earth shall yadah Thee O LORD when they hear the words of Thy mouth.”  In 39 instances the word yadah is translated “thanks” or “thanksgiving”, such as in 1 Chronicles 16:34: “O give yadah to the LORD for He is tov and His chesed endures forever.”
            The word barak occurs in the Tanak three hundred and thirty times, more than hallal and yadah combined.  However, in nearly all instances the word is translated “bless” or “blessed”, rather than “praise”.  The concept is one of bending or kneeling down in adoration.  In only one verse in the KJV is barak translated as praise – Psalm 72:15.  Nevertheless, the Scriptures are replete with hundreds of examples of unadulterated praise using the word barak.  Such familiar examples are “Barak the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His Holy Name.” (Psalm 103:1); Baruk be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things.” (Psalm 72:18); and “The LORD lives, and barak be my Rock and let the God of my salvation be exalted.” (Psalm 18:46).  The word baruk – a derivative of barak –is a common expression heard frequently in Israel today.  For example “Baruk HaShem” – which literally means “Blessed be The Name” – is the way many Jewish people convey their thanks to the LORD, without fear of blaspheming the Divine Name.  Baruk also appears in many of the Jewish prayers, such as Baruk atah ADONAI Eliheynu Melek HaOlam… “Blessed are You O LORD our God, King of the Universe.”

          Todah.  Isaiah 51:3 prophecies these words regarding the return of the Jews to Israel – “For the LORD will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her – todah and the voice of song.”  I believe it is more than coincidence that the word todah is the word in contemporary Hebrew for “Thank You”.  As Isaiah prophesied, when you visit Israel you hear this word dozens of times every day.  Todah appears in the Tanak more than 30 times, and is usually translated either “thanksgiving” or “praise”.  The word connotes a “thank offering” or a “sacrifice of thanksgiving” – a praise to God in gratitude for something He has done on our behalf.  In a Scripture already mentioned above – Psalm 100:4 – the Hebrew says, “Enter His gates with todah and into His courts with praise, give yadah, unto Him and bless His name.”  Or this beautiful verse from Psalm 147:7:  “Sing unto the LORD with todah; zamar upon the harp unto our God.”
Hil’lul carries with it the sense of rejoicing and making merry; a public display of thanksgiving and celebration.  This word appears only twice in Scripture.  In Leviticus 19:24 we read, “But in the fourth year the entire crop must be consecrated to the LORD as a celebration of praise (hil’lul).”  The other is found in Judges 9:27 – “And they went out into the fields and gathered their vineyards, and trod their grapes, and made hil’lul…”.  Although the word is not mentioned in Scripture pertaining to the week-long celebration of Sukkot, I believe the festivities during the Feast of Tabernacles would definitely qualify as hil’lul !

The Hebrew word mahalal is used only once in Scripture, in Proverbs 27:21 – “As fire tests the purity of silver and gold, so a man is tested by the praise (mahalal) he receives.”  The word connotes “flattery” or “boastfulness” rather than true praise.  It is not a word used in the praise of ADONAI.

A hymn or song of praise is a tehillah, a word which also derives from the word hallal.  The Hebrew name of the Book of Psalms is Tehillim (Songs of Praise).  This wonderful word appears over fifty times in the Tanak and is found in such beautiful Scriptures as Psalm 22:3-- “But You O LORD are holy, enthroned on the telillim of Israel.” and in Isaiah 61:3 – “To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of tehillah for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."
And finally, I will quote Psalm 104:3 for the third time – now with all of its words of praise in place – “Enter His gates with todah, and His courts with tehillah, give yadah unto Him and barak His name.”

An arctic people in northern Scandanavia – the Saami – have hundreds of words for snow.  This aspect of their language reflects the critical nature that snow, in its many varieties, has upon their culture.  In the same manner, the praise of Almighty God is a critically important part of the ethnicity, religion, and culture of the Jewish people, and has been from time immemorial.  Indeed, the word Ye’huda (from which English derives the word “Jew”) means in Hebrew “praised” or “one who praises”.  Therefore, to those of us who have been grafted into the Olive Tree, who are now adopted into the family of Abraham, we too can rejoice in the God of Israel through all the various manifestations of praise so richly preserved for us in the Hebrew language.  Baruk HaShem

Dr. Bill Duerfeldt
Asheville, North Carolina

israel today | Messianic Perspectives on the Sabbath in Israel - israel today

There are many different views on the practice of Shabbat (the Sabbath) amongst Messianic Jews and Christians. Israel Today posed the following question to believers who live in the Land of Israel: How do you and your congregation observe the Sabbath?

Full story:  israel today Messianic Perspectives on the Sabbath in Israel - israel today

Friday, October 21, 2011

israel today | Christians stand with threatened Jewish settlement - israel today

Some 200 Christians traveled to the threatened Jewish community of Migron in Samaria on Sunday to stand in solidarity with the pioneering Jews who live there.

Despite being originally established with tacit government approval and the cooperation of the Israeli army, Migron has been repeatedly targeted for uprooting as an "illegal" settlement outpost. Most recently, the government of Israel ordered the destruction of the village's first three permanent homes. The rest of the residents have lived for years in trailer homes.

The Palestinian Arabs and the international community claim such outposts are the primary obstacle to peace in the region.

But Jan Willem van der Hoeven and the pilgrims joining him for the International Christian Zionist Center's (ICZC) Feast of Tabernacles celebration brought a different message.

For full report: israel today Christians stand with threatened Jewish settlement - israel today

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gilad Shalit's release after 5 years

Israel Today: http://www.israeltoday.co.il/tabid/178/nid/22983/language/en-US/Default.aspx
Gilad Shalit hugging his father,
with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looking on.

Ahava Love Letter - "Stop Your Whining"

Ahava Love Letter
 “Stop Your Whining”

“If racing against mere men makes you tired,
how will you race against horses?” (Jer. 12:5 NLT)

I woke up recently with the words "Stop your whining" in my head. I believe it was a word from the Lord to me specifically, and possibly for many others.

The word was not spoken as a major rebuke, but it was said with firmness. As I thought further on what I heard, I could see where I had actually been "whining" - or as the dictionary tells it like it is with the definition for "whine"- "to snivel or complain in a peevish, self-pitying way: i.e. "He is always whining about his problems."

Of course there are always good reasons to whine - the current situation in the USA with our government and politicians in power; the loss of jobs for many Americans; the wiping away of lifetime savings; the uneasiness with the wars abroad and Middle Eastern uprisings abounding. By golly, even the weather doesn't act the way it should to please our bodies - it is too hot, too cold, too rainy, too dry, hurricane winds or no breeze at all! Plenty of reasons to whine.

How we often go on and on, complaining and whining about what isn't as we think it should be. Our personal convenience and comfort seems to be what should be foremost on the Lord's mind and daily interest, shouldn't it? So it would seem, if we were "running the show."

Remember when, as young kids, our parents told us to "quit whining?" Remember when those of us who are parents now have told our kids to "quit whining?" In each instance, it meant to stop complaining and just grow up. Change the attitude. Bottom line, I believe the Lord is calling us to basically grow up and get on with it.

We are in a time of preparation for what is to come. It will be a challenging time. More so than what we may be experiencing now. I believe it will be a trying, testing time, and we need to get ready now. We need to stop complaining about our current situations, if we are doing that, and see these days as a time to get ready for what is to come.

I am expecting the Lord to call us into greater things. In order to do what will be necessary to carry out our calling, we will need to release now the unnecessary things in our lives that are holding us back. Hardships overcome now are preparing us to help those who will go through them in the near future.

We are being told to get on with the walking so we can "race against horses."

Ahava to my family of friends,

Steve Martin

Love For His People, Inc. truly appreciates your generous support. Please consider sending a monthly charitable gift of $5-$25 each month to help us bless Messianic Jews in Israel. You can send checks to the address below. Todah rabah! (Hebrew - Thank you very much.)
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Ahava Love Letter #35   Date: Oct. 25, in the year of our Lord 2011    

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Feast of Tabernacles

Jewish CalendarTishri 15-22
Gregorian CalendarSeptember/October
Spring or FallFall Feast
ScriptureLeviticus 23:39
II Chronicles 8:13
Ezra 3:4
Zechariah 14:16
SignificanceTabernacles speaks of the day when the Son of God will tabernacle among men, wipe away every tear, and bring in the "golden age" which men have dreamed of since time immemorial.

The seventh and final Feast of the Lord is the Feast of Tabernacles. It occurs five days after the Day of Atonement on the fifteenth of Tishri (October). This feast is also called the Feast of Ingathering (Exodus 23:16; 34:22), the Feast to the Lord (Leviticus 23:39; Judges 21:9), the Feast of Booths, or simply "the feast" (Leviticus 23:36; Deuteronomy 16:13; I Kings 8:2; II Chronicles 5:3, 7:8; Nehemiah 8:14; Isaiah 30:29; Ezekiel 45:23,25) because it was so well-known.

After the return from Exile, Ezra read the law and led the Israelites in acts of penitence during the Feast of Tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:13-18). The dedication of Solomon's' Temple also took place (I Kings 8:2) during this feast. Later, Josephus referred to the Feast of Tabernacles as the holiest and greatest of the Hebrew feasts.

On the first day of the feast, each participant had to collect twigs of myrtle, willow, and palm in the area of Jerusalem for construction of their booth (Nehemiah 8:13-18). These "huts" or "booths" were constructed from bulrushes as joyful reminders of the temporary housing erected by their forefathers during the Exodus wanderings (Leviticus 23:40-41; Deuteronomy 16:14). The "booth" in Scripture is a symbol of protection, preservation, and shelter from heat and storm (Psalm 27:5; 31:20; Isaiah 4:6). The rejoicing community included family, servants, orphans, widows, Levites, and sojourners (Deuteronomy 16:13-15).

Besides the construction of the booths, other festivities included the ingathering of the labor of the field (Exodus 23:16), the ingathering of the threshing floor and winepress (Deuteronomy 16:13), and the ingathering of the fruit of the earth (Leviticus 23:39), Samples of the fall crop were hung in each family's booth to acknowledge God's faithfulness in providing for His people.

On the eighth and final day of the feast, the high priest of Israel, in a great processional made up of priests and tens of thousands of worshipers, descended from the Temple Mount to pause briefly at the Pool of Siloam. A pitcher was filled with water, and the procession continued via a different route back to the Temple Mount. Here, in the midst of great ceremony, the high priest poured the water out of the pitcher onto the altar.

Since in Israel the rains normally stop in March, there is no rain for almost seven months! If God does not provide the "early" rains in October and November, there will be no spring crop, and famine is at the doorstep. This ceremony, then, was intended to invoke God's blessing on the nation by providing life-giving water.

It is in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles and this eighth day that the gospel of John records a fascinating event. John wrote: "In the last day (eighth day), that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38). The Son of God was saying in the clearest possible way that He alone was the source of life and blessing; that He could meet every need of the human heart.

Another ritual included the lighting of huge Menorahs at the Court of the Women. This is the probable background for Jesus' statement: "I am the light of the world." John 8:12).

The water and the "pillar of light" provided during the wilderness wandering (when people dwelt in tabernacles) was temporary and in contrast to the continuing water and light claimed by Jesus during this feast which commemorated that wandering period.

The eschatological visions which speak of the coming of all nations to worship at Jerusalem refer to the Feast of Tabernacles on the occasion of their pilgrimage (Zechariah 14:16-21). This feast speaks eloquently of Christ's millennial Kingdom - of a new beginning without the ravages of the curse of sin. In that day, the earth will give her full bounty, all animals will be docile (Isaiah 65:25), armies will no longer march, every man will sit under his own fig tree (Micah 4:4), and righteousness will become a reality in the earth.

Website: http://www.christcenteredmall.com/teachings/feasts/tabernacles.htm

Sukkot, The Festival of Booths

More Jewish Holidays: Sukkot, The Festival of Booths

The Jewish holiday Sukkot (pronounced Soo-kote), is also called “The Festival of Booths” or “The Festival of Ingathering.” The story is told in both the Jewish Torah and Christian Bible in Leviticus 23:33-42 and Deuteronomy 16:13-15.

The happy holiday of Sukkot comes in late September or early October, hot on the heels of the Jewish New Year and solemn Day of Atonement (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, see my previous article here). For 2010, this falls on September 23 and goes through Setember 30.

Sukkot celebrates the harvest season and also commemorates the 40 years in the desert when the Hebrews lived in temporary shelter (in the book of Exodus). King Solomon consecrated the first permanent Temple to the Lord during a Sukkot celebration.

The ancient Hebrews were to commemorate the harvest occasion by building booths made out of tree branches and palm fronds, living in them for seven days and holding grand celebrations. This can be found in Nehemiah 8:14-17:

They found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month, and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: ‘Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make booths’ - as it is written.

So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves booths on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim. The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great. (see also Leviticus 23:41-43 and Ezra 3:4)

Today, the booth, called a sukkah (“sook-ah”) is usually erected by a synagogue’s congregation or workmen and still made with as authentic materials as possible. The celebration can be just on the first day or take place on each of the seven days. Kids loving camping out in the booths. Families and guests will be served grape wine or grape juice to signify the fruit harvests, and something like a delicious, thick sponge cake to symbolize the grain harvests. Mmmm, delicious!

Because this is such a joyous celebration, you may find a Jewish synagogue or Messianic congregation in your area that opens their celebration up to the public so that whole neighborhoods can learn of this tradition. Take the opportunity to go!

Want to learn more about the Jewish people, their holidays and their culture? Are you a Jewish person who may be delighted to know that many Christians love you and support the existence of Israel? This is an excerpt from Sheryl’s chapter on the Jewish Holidays in her book, What Every Christian Should Know about the Jewish People: Improving the Church’s Relationship with God’s Original Chosen Nation.
For full reports, visit the website:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sukkot - Feast of Tabernacles - by Dr. Bill Duerfeldt

Dr. Bill Duerfeldt

Sukkot – Feast of Tabernacles

            Of the Feasts of the LORD, three are especially important – Pesach (Passover); Shavu’ot (Pentecost); and Sukkot (Tabernacles).  These three were called the Pilgrim Feasts, because in times past, every Jewish male age 13 or above, living in Israel, was to make a pilgrimage up to Jerusalem during these three feasts.  Even those living outside Jerusalem in the Diaspora, if they could afford to do so, also came to Jerusalem during these three feasts. 

            At this time of year – in the autumn -- we are entering the season of Sukkot.  This year, in 2011, Sukkot will begin at sunset on 12 October and end at nightfall on 19 October.  But before I discuss Sukkot, let’s begin by taking a look at Leviticus 23:1-2 – “And the LORD spoke to Moses saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel and say the Feasts of the LORD which you shall proclaim are holy convocations; they are My feasts.”(NKJV). 

 I want to draw our attention to two things.  First, these are the Feasts of the LORD.  God says, “…they are My feasts”.  I’ve heard many gentile Christians over the years refer to them as “the Jewish feasts” or “the Jewish holy days”.  These feasts are not reserved only for the Jews.  They are “the LORD’s feasts!” 

Second, I want us to look at the word “feasts” in the Scripture above.  The word translated “feasts” is the Hebrew word  מֹועֲדָֽם  (mo’ed’im).  The New American Standard Bible translates this word as “appointed times” which is more accurate to the original Hebrew than the NKJV or most other English translations.   Mo’ed (or plural mo’ed’im) primarily means “appointed time”, or “appointed meeting”.  To use the word in the English vernacular, it is an “appointment”.   Now, before my retirement, when I was a practicing physician at Ohio University, every day I had a certain number of appointments with my patients.  With each appointment, there was a two-fold expectation – first, I expected my patient would be there to see me; and secondly, my patient would expect me to be there to meet them. 

The LORD’s mo’ed’im are no different.  He is saying in essence, “These are My appointments with you.  I, the King of the Universe, will be there, and I expect you to be there too!”  Since the days of Moses the LORD has been keeping His appointments and meeting regularly with His people.  With the coming of Yeshua, we gentiles, who believe that He is the Jewish Messiah, have been adopted into the family of Abraham.  As new members of the family we, too, have been invited to the LORD’s appointments.  Yet for nearly two millennia we have shunned His appointments, choosing instead to set up our own calendar of religious holidays, few of which have anything to do with God’s mo’ed’im. 

So…instead of meeting on Shabbat, we gathered in our churches on Sunday; instead of Pesach we celebrated Easter; and so on.  The Church came closest to celebrating one of the LORD’s mo’ed’im with Shavu’ot, but even here we called it Pentecost and fixed a date for it completely unrelated to the Passover.  Sadly, the celebration of Christian Pentecost is so far removed from the observance of Shavu’ot that one Jewish website correctly notes -- “Shavu’ot has no particular similarity to the Christian holiday of Pentecost, which occurs 50 days after their Spring holiday.”  (www.jewfaq.org)

What a tragedy that the Body of Messiah has consistently ignored the LORD’s appointments for all these past centuries.  But, Baruk HaShem, in these last days the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) is restoring within the Body of Messiah a renewed hunger and appreciation for the Jewish roots of our Faith.  And in that process, He is showing us the richness of God’s Presence which can be ours by celebrating the Feasts of the LORD!

סֻּכֹּות Sukkot in Hebrew is a plural noun.  It is usually translated “tabernacles” or “booths” in our English translations of the Tanak (Old Testament).  Unfortunately, neither of these words really conveys the true idea of a “sukkah” (singular).  Let’s return to Leviticus 23:34, 40, 42, & 43 to get a little better idea of what a sukkah actually is -- "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'The fifteenth day of this seventh month [shall be] the Feast of Tabernacles (Chag Sukkot) [for] seven days to the LORD…'And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days…'You shall dwell in booths (sukkot) for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths (sukkot), that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths (sukkot) when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I [am] the LORD your God.' "

Therefore, we see that a sukkah (singular of sukkot) is a fragile, flimsy structure made of branches of palms, the boughs of leafy trees, willows, and the like.  It is to be created from the bounty of nature.  It is insubstantial and temporary in its construction to remind us of the temporary endurance of the physical world as to the eternal security we have in Adonai alone.  (For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  For we know that if the earthly “sukkah” which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  2 Cor.4:18 and 5:1.)  The roof is partially open so one can see the stars at night.  This is to remind us of God’s majesty (The heavens declare the glory of God…” Psalm 19:1).  If it rains, the rain (a symbol of the Holy Spirit) will come through the roof, reminding us that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  (For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor thing to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Yeshua HaMashiach, our Lord!  Rom.8:38-39).   

It is decorated inside with the produce of the earth – grapes, figs, pomegranates, dates, and so forth, because this feast is also called The Feast of Ingathering.  (When you have gathered in the fruit of the land you shall celebrate the Feast for seven days.  Lev.23:39)   In modern Israel, many families now string colored lights (much like our Christmas lights in America), and other colorful and glittery objects.  The Jewish people will make their sukkot on their porches or on the balconies of their homes or in their back yards.  They will have all their meals in their sukkot and many families will sleep in them as well.

One long standing tradition during Sukkot is called the Arba Minim (the Four Species) or the “waving of the lulav”.  Here I am going to quote directly from one of my favorite Jewish websites – the one I mentioned above – www.jewfaq.org .  Ms. Tracy Rich, who maintains the website writes, “We are commanded to take these four plants and use them to "rejoice before the L-rd." The four species in question are an etrog (a citrus fruit similar to a lemon native to Israel; in English it is called a citron), a palm branch (in Hebrew, lulav), two willow branches (aravot) and three myrtle branches (hadassim). The six branches are bound together and referred to collectively as the lulav, because the palm branch is by far the largest part. The etrog is held separately. With these four species in hand, one recites a blessing and waves the species in all six directions (east, south, west, north, up and down), symbolizing the fact that G-d is everywhere.

Sukkot is, above all else, a festival of joy.  In fact, Adonai actually commands us to be joyful during Sukkot!  You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son, and your daughter…and all who are within your gates, for seven days you shall keep the feast to the LORD your God at the place that the LORD will choose, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful. (Deut.16:14&15)  The rabbis say, “You don’t know full joy until you have danced at Sukkot.”

Of the three major feasts mentioned above, Yeshua has fulfilled two of them already.  On Pesach He became our Passover Lamb.  On Shavu’ot He sent the Ruach HaKodesh to be our comforter, guide, and source of power for His Body the Church.  Yet, Yeshua has yet to consummate this final Feast of Joy and Ingathering.  Because of this, many Christian scholars and Jewish rabbis surmise that the Messiah will come during Sukkot.   Yeshua said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone”. (Matt.24:36)  But remember, Sukkot is a weeklong festival.  Of the day and hour we may not know, but maybe – just maybe – we might know the week!

And finally, we might want to get in practice for celebrating Sukkot because we’ll be doing it for a long time – even in the New Jerusalem.  And it shall come to pass [that] everyone who is left of all the nations…shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep Sukkot. (Zech.14:16)  The Word tells us that even God Himself will build a sukkah and dwell in the midst of His people.  “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying – ‘Behold, the sukkah of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them.’” (Rev.21:1-3)

Dr. Bill Duerfeldt
Asheville, NC

Ahava Love Letter - "Celebrations"

Ahava Love Letter

“The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be
holy convocations, these are My feasts.” (Lev. 23:2 NKJV)
Dear family of friends,

You love to celebrate, right? Getting together with family and friends, for food, fun and fellowship. All of us love joyous times to party - for a special occasion such as a wedding, graduation, sending one off on a long journey, or simply before or after a sporting game.

The Lord certainly loves to party. He has a big feast planned for all believers, called the Wedding Supper, (Rev. 19:9) which comes after everything is basically “said and done.” (Glad I am going to be there!) I think that big celebration will be the major culmination of all the other feasts that He calls His.

There are seven major ones given to us in the Bible. Three are most widely known: Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). As a Gentile believer, who believes in the New and Old Covenants of the Bible, I am learning to join in celebrating the Lord’s feasts. That is what He calls them throughout His Word – His feasts. (Leviticus 23:2, as quoted above.)

As I have read and experienced our Jewish roots these past 30 plus years, I have come to appreciate the very significance of understanding the Lord’s purpose in giving us these holy feasts to share in. Not only have I come to realize the spiritual impact they have on my life, but I also see more and more the purpose in sharing this knowledge with all believers, especially among my fellow Gentiles. (But as the One New Man, we celebrate together with our Jewish brethren!)

Being in Jerusalem during Sukkot has been very special on several occasions for my wife Laurie and I. Participating in the joys of the nation of Israel, along with the thousands of believers who come from all the nations to gather as the Lord enables, have been several of the many highlights of our Christian walk.

“Next year in Jerusalem” is being spoken from my lips again this year. I hope those words are on yours too!

Ahava to my family of friends,

Steve Martin

P.S. Dr. Bill Duerfeldt has written a good article further explain the Feast of Tabernacles. See his article also.

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Ahava Love Letter #34   Date: Oct. 11, in the year of our Lord 2011    

Friday, October 7, 2011

Yom Kippur: Israel stops and Reflects

Yom Kippur: Israel Stops and Reflects

Yom Kippur – the solemn Day of Atonement-begins Friday night. The Yom Kippur War broke out in 1973 during prayers.
By Arutz Sheva Staff
First Publish: 10/7/2011, 1:08 PM

Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur
The highest of the High Holidays – Yom Kippur – is to begin on Friday night, and Jews around the world are completing their last preparations for the solemn day that ends the Ten Days of Penitence.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a Divinely-designated day that the Torah explains “will atone for you [plural] to purify you from all your sins before G-d.” Such atonement, however, must generally be accompanied by teshuvah, a process that must include introspection, admission of sins, remorse, and a commitment not to repeat them.

One must also appease and ask forgiveness from those he has harmed or insulted over the year.
Many people visit the graves of their parents on the days before Yom Kippur, in preparation for the Yizkor service memorializing lost parents which is said during the fast.

The prayers for Yom Kippur, which begin with the Kol Nidre prayer said at night, then take up most of the day, are replete with the various concepts of teshuvah, as well as acknowledgement of G-d’s goodness in affording mortals this opportunity to exonerate and improve themselves. One of the dramatic prayers is a review of the High Priest's preparations and one time yearly entering the Holy of Holies in the Temple, during which the each member of the congregation prostrates himself before G-d. There is also a piyyut, liturgical poem, recalling the ten martyrs killed by the Romans, one of whom was Rabbi Akiva.

The fast begins just before sundown on Friday night, and ends some 25 hours later, after the special Ne’ilah (locking, signifying that the gates of heaven are to be locked at the end of the fast) prayer, said standing. At the prayer's end, the Shma Yisrael - Hear O Israel the Lord our G-d, the Lord is One - is recited aloud by the entire congregation, followed by another two verses, including sevenfold loud repetition of the words "G-d is the Lord". 
The end of the fast is signalled by a dramatic, lone shofar-blast and the immediate singing of "Next year in rebuilt Jerusalem".  In many Israeli synagogues, this is a signal for joyous dancing as the fast's end signals a lightening of spirits.

In addition to eating and drinking, also forbidden on this day are wearing leather shoes, washing up, make-up and perfumes, and marital relations.

The prohibitions notwithstanding, the day is considered a festive day, in that we celebrate G-d’s beneficence in going against natural law and allowing us to revoke and nullify our misdeeds. It is also a “day of friendship and love," according to the prayer liturgy.

The day before Yom Kippur, the 9th of the Jewish month of Tishrei, is also considered a special day, and we are required to eat and drink even more than we normally do. "Whoever eats and drinks on the 9th,” the Talmud states enigmatically, “is as [meritorious as] if he had fasted on both the 9th and the 10th." The custom of kaparot is done on the 9th.

The State of Israel is essentially closed down on Yom Kippur, with no public transportation or electronic broadcasts, and practically no open stores or services. Bicycling on main roads and city streets has become a popular pastime on the holy day, to the dismay of many, as there is no traffic to be seen, but the Tel Aviv municipality has decided to close the rental facilities over the fast.

Even more prevalent on this day are prayer services. Organizations make arrangements for secular-friendly prayer services around the country, which have become extremely popular and well-attended in recent years.
Israelis who are old enough to remember Yom Kippur 1973, recall how people were shocked to see cars driving down the streets in the early afternoon. They were rounding up soldiers  as the Yom Kippur War had broken out during the day - almost all of the soldiers, religious and secular, were at their local synagogues and army cars went from synagogue to synagogue with lists, while sirens wailed shortly afterwards in Jerusalem and worshipers raced to shelters, Memorial services for the war's fallen soldiers will be held on Sunday.

For more information on Yom Kippur, click here

May we and all Israel be inscribed for a happy, healthy and blessed new year.

Parts of this article were written by Arutz Sheva's veteran former staff member Hillel Fendel.