To fast or not to fast on Yom Kippur is a question new Torah observant believers in Yeshua wrestle with each year. If you are just beginning to get acquainted with Yah’s appointed times, trying to figure out how to honor these special days can be a bit daunting. I believe this because we are not following the customs and traditions of Judaism and there no longer exists an active Levitical priesthood requiring animal sacrifices.
However, even if we are not sure how to do the Feasts properly, I believe our Heavenly Father wants us to at least try. This is the spirit of the law in action. We have to do what we can — in faith — while relying on the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to give us wisdom in the matter.
Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement
Again Yahuah said to Moses, “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. You shall hold a sacred assembly and humble yourselves, and present an offering made by fire to Yahuah. On this day you are not to do any work, for it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before Yahuah your Elohim. If anyone does not humble himself on this day, he must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on this day. You are not to do any work at all. This is a permanent statute for the generations to come, wherever you live. It will be a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you shall humble yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to keep your Sabbath.”
Leviticus 23: 26-30
Yom Kippur is to be commemorated each year on the tenth day of the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar. It is considered a High Sabbath observance that spans a 24 hour period. In addition to refraining from work, we are instructed to “humble” ourselves. (Some translations substitute the phrase “afflict your souls” for the words “humble yourselves.” ) What is being said here?
Historically, fasting has been an outward expression of inward remorse, repentance, sorrow, grief, distress, or petition.1
And there by the Ahava Canal I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask Him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions
And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:
However, on some occasions the people would be called out for their hypocrisy in doing so.
“Why have we fasted, and You have not seen? Why have we humbled ourselves, and You have not noticed?” “Behold, on the day of your fast, you do as you please, and you oppress all your workers. You fast with contention and strife to strike viciously with your fist. You cannot fast as you do today and have your voice be heard on high.
“Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for these seventy years, was it really for Me that you fasted?
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
What Type of Fast?
When you research Yom Kippur, you will no doubt get several different instructions on how this important feast day is to be memorialized. Not everybody observes Yom Kippur the same way. However, the prevailing opinion seems to be focused on fasting.
As I was wrestling with this myself, I was prompted to re-read Isaiah 59. This was an eye opener which spoke to me in a very profound way as I was asking for guidance in what to do on Yom Kippur this year. I believe fasting is appropriate during this solemn occasion. However, this fast involves much more than abstaining from food.
I sensed that the Father is asking us to fast from being so “self” focused. We are all feeling the pressures of these last days. However, we must deny ourselves and focus on ways we can be more of a servant to those who are less fortunate.
Instead of focusing on the “politics” of hunger and homelessness, we must concern ourselves with how we can demonstrate the message of Yah’s lovingkindness and the hope of the Kingdom. If we have been prepping for a coming famine, have we done it out of a selfish heart or are we setting aside provisions for those who may not have the resources to do likewise? Are we making ourselves into instruments of peace with our family? Are we fasting from backbiting, gossip, character assassination, or even revenge?
I believe Yah was showing me that when it comes to afflicting myself, I need to do it His way. Re-read Isaiah 59:6-12 and determine for yourself if this is indeed the fast Yah is asking us to do as we focus on Yom Kippur.
Isn’t this the fast that I have chosen: to break the chains of wickedness, to untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and tear off every yoke? Isn’t it to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your home, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will come quickly. Your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of Yahuah will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and Yahuah will answer; you will cry out, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you remove the yoke (of oppression) from your midst, the pointing of the finger and malicious talk, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted (depressed) soul, then your light will go forth in the darkness and your night will be like noonday. And Yahuah will always guide you; He will satisfy you in a sun-scorched land and strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will restore the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of the Streets of Dwelling.
1Deuteronomy 9:9-18, 2 Samuel 12:1-23, 1 Kings 19:4-8:1, Ezra 10:6-17, Daniel 6:18-23, Acts 9:1-9
The role the fall feasts play in helping us fully comprehend the person and mission of our Messiah can not be understated. These autumnal festivals — Yom Teruah (Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Atonement), and Sukkot (Tabernacles) — point to Yeshua’s Second Coming. They are also unique in that they follow a certain Gospel of the Kingdom thematic progression.
The spring feasts — Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Shavuot — outline the first phase of Yahuah‘s redemptive plan for humanity. Passover anticipates the moment Yeshua, our sinless Redeemer and High Priest, returns and resurrects us. His wrath “passes over” us as he and his righteous angelic hosts descend to battle the wicked on earth during the event known as the “Day of the Lord.” Unleavened Bread points to the glorified sinless bodies we will receive upon resurrection. Shavuot is a dual feast memorial, symbolic of when we fully receive the Holy Spirit upon resurrection and have Yah’s laws written on our hearts. This is the moment we are finally born-again into sinless bodies that will be incapable of ever sinning again.1
What’s more, taken altogether, the spring and fall feasts vividly illustrate the plan of redemption made possible by the blood of Yeshua.
Feasts and Appointed Times
The word for feast in Hebrew is mishteh ( משתה). It refers, in a general sense, to a banquet where food and drink is offered in abundance. Feasts are held for a variety of reasons: to commemorate an important event, honor a monarch, or celebrate a marriage. Abraham made a great mishteh when Isaac was weaned (Genesis 21:8), Pharaoh arranged a birthday mishteh for his servants (Genesis 40:20), Abigail held a mishteh “like a king” for her husband Nabal (1 Samuel 25:36), and Laban prepared a wedding mishteh for Leah and Rachel (Genesis 29:21,22)
The other word often translated as feast is the Hebrew word moed (מוער). It can mean appointed place or time, an appointment, meeting, fixed time, season or assembly. Technically it means congregation or, by extension, a place of meeting.
In a nutshell, a moed is the worshipping assembly of Yahuah’s people. The plural form of this noun is moedim (מועדים). They are annual gatherings or appointed times that the Most High has mandated by royal decree for all believers.2 These are not non-biblical, secular “holidays” like Christmas or Easter.3 Leviticus 23:2 tells us that Yahuah has proclaimed these particular feasts as His own. They are His feasts (not the “Jews”) and serve as a mark of identity for His people.
Speak to the children of Israel, and thou shalt say unto them, The feasts of the Lord which ye shall call holy assemblies, these are my feasts.
Brenton Septuagint (LXX)
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, The set feasts of Jehovah, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my set feasts.
American Standard Version
Speak unto the sons of Israel, and thou hast said unto them, Appointed seasons of Jehovah, which ye proclaim, holy convocations, are these: they are My appointed seasons:
Young’s Literal Translation
Once you wean yourself from following secular holidays on the Gregorian calendar, you will begin to experience the new depth of understanding that Yah’s feasts bring to your spiritual walk. When the Most High called them His appointed times He wanted His people to understand that He was the Master of the calendar and the author of creation. On the seventh day He rested and expects us to rest each week on the seventh day Sabbath, which is also an appointed time.
And Yahuah spoke unto Mosheh, saying, Speak unto the children of Yashar’el4 and say to them, ‘Concerning the feasts of Yahuah, which ye shall proclaim to be holy assemblies, even these are my feasts. Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Shabbath of rest, a holy assembly; ye shall do no work therein: it is the Shabbath of Yahuah in all your dwellings.
Leviticus 23:1-3 The Cepher
And on the seventh day, Elohim completed His work that He made, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work, which He had made. And Elohim blessed the seventh day and sanctified it (set it apart for a holy purpose), because He rested from all His work on it, which Elohim created to make.
The weekly Sabbath was set apart at creation before Noah, Abraham, or Israel ever existed. In their attempt to unite and harmonize pagan practices, the church at Roman changed the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first day of the week (Sun-day). This was done because they practiced sun god worship of Mithra. The Romans had found a way to control people through familiar concepts and practices.
Constantine the Great changed the Sabbath to Sunday on March 7, in the year 321 CE (Common Era). The Catholic Church quickly followed suit.
“It [the Roman Catholic Church] reversed the Fourth Commandment by doing away with the Sabbath of God’s word and instituting Sunday as a holiday.”
History of the Christian Church (1873), N. Summerbell
The Pope is of so great authority and power that he can modify, explain, or interpret even Divine Laws…The Pope can modify divine law, since his power is not of man, but of God, and he acts as vicegerent of God upon earth.” Translated from Lucius Ferraris, Prompta Bibliotheca (Ready Library).
Translated from Lucius Ferraris, Prompta Bibliotheca
We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.
The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine (1946), Peter Geiermann,
Unfortunately, many heathen idolatrous customs and traditions have been mixed in with Christianity, and Yah’s appointed times have been ignored or forgotten by the church. When you substitute Sun-day worship for the true Sabbath, you break the fourth commandment.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahuah your Elohim, on which you must not do any work—neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant or livestock, nor the foreigner within your gates. For in six days Yahuah made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, but on the seventh day He rested. Therefore Yahuah blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.
Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as Yahuah our Elohim has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahuah your Elohim, on which you must not do any work—neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox or donkey or any of your livestock, nor the foreigner within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest as you do.
Sabbath days of rest are also incorporated into appointed times such as Unleavened Bread, Shavuot, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and the Last Great Day feast.
The Fall Feasts of Yah
Yom Teruah – Feast of Trumpets
On the first day of the seventh month, you are to hold a sacred assembly, and you must not do any regular work. This will be a day for you to sound the trumpets.
The blowing of the trumpet or shofar (yobel/Strong’s #2986) on this feast day is a call for Yah’s people to assemble. Yom (Strong’s #3117) means”day” in Hebrew. Teruah (Strong’s #8623) can mean either “a shout or blast of war, alarm, or joy.”
These various trumpet sounds conveyed a specific message to the congregation. It instructed the people to either prepare for war or celebration. In these last days it is conceivable that both meanings hold true as we march toward the day when Yah’s Kingdom comes to earth.
Trumpet sounds are mentioned numerous times throughout biblical history.
1 Corinthians 15:52 — resurrection
Revelation 8:6 — 7 angels blowing 7 trumpets
Numbers 10:2-8 — trumpet blasts calling community together and dispersing the camps on their journeys
Psalm 98:6 — instruments used for making a “joyful noise”
Hosea 5:8 — battle cry as a foreign invader enters the land
1 Chronicles 16:6 — priests with trumpets before the ark
Matthew 24:31 — gathering of the elect
Joshua 6:13 — Joshua’s campaign against Jericho
Judges 7:18 — Gideon’s campaign against Midian
Many times in scriptures our Heavenly Father’s voice is compared to that of a trumpet.
After this I looked and saw a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had previously heard speak to me like a trumpet was saying, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after these things.”
For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom, and storm; to a trumpet blast or to a voice that made its hearers beg that no further word be spoken.
Hebrews 12: 18,19
On the third day, when morning came, there was thunder and lightning. A thick cloud was upon the mountain, and a very loud blast of the ram’s horn went out, so that all the people in the camp trembled.
Let’s take another look at Joshua’s strategy for taking the land at Jericho. They were instructed to march around the city 7 times while the priests blew 7 shofars. Finally, at the long blast of the seventh trumpet, the people were to shout a great shout. This is when the kingdom of Jericho came to an end and the people conquered it. They victoriously entered their Promised Land.
The Hebrew word shout is rua (Strong’s #7321) and means to raise a shout or give a blast. Teruah (Strong’s #8643) can mean either a shout or blast of war, alarm, or joy. We see both going on here with the priests blowing trumpets and the people shouting on the 7th shofar blast.
So what is Yom Teruah, all about? In my humble opinion this day of trumpet blasts or soundings should cause us to look back at what happened when Joshua took Jericho and what we can look forward to at the resurrection. Every time we remember Yom Teurah we are rehearsing the day the trumpet will sound and those who have put their trust in Yeshua will rise in the resurrection. At that time we will enter the Promised Land of New Jerusalem and serve our King Yeshua in his Kingdom on earth.
Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement
On the tenth day of this seventh month, you are to hold a sacred assembly, and you shall humble yourselves; you must not do any work.
Yom Kippur comes ten days after Yom Teruah as the mood shifts from the blowing of trumpets, to a spirit of humility before Yah. There is much debate about how we should memorialize this day. Should we collectively fast, pray, or do something else? Why is this called a day of atonement? Before we go further in our effort to unpack the meaning of this important day, let’s dig deeper into the Hebrew words for atonement and humble.
Historically Yom Kippur was a day marked by a sin offering for the entire nation. On this day the high priest would enter the inner veil of the Temple bearing the blood of the sin offering. (Hebrews 9:7) A second goat or “scapegoat” (azazel) was released as a visual illustration of the total removal of sin.
On this day you are not to do any work, for it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God.
The word atonement used in this verse is the Hebrew word kaphar (Strong’s #3722) which means to cover over, pacify, forgive, appease or make propitiation.
When we examine the word humble, it gets a bit stickier as it relates to Yom Kippur. Rabbinical tradition holds that a day of fasting was required of this day. They apparently equated fasting with humility. But is this how we are to interpret it? When you compare scriptures using the Hebrew word for humble — anah — you may come to a different conclusion. Here are a few examples:
Then Yahuah said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not their own, and they will be enslaved and afflicted four hundred years.
He humbled you, and in your hunger He gave you manna to eat, which neither you nor your fathers had known, so that you might understand that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
So the Egyptians appointed taskmasters over the Israelites to afflict them with forced labor. As a result, they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.
If anah meant fast, then the Israelites would have been fasting a long time during their Egyptian enslavement. Forty years of fasting in the wilderness would have annihilated these people. In both Matthew and Mark’s gospels the Pharisees asked Yeshua why his disciples did not fast.
Jesus replied, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while He is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
When prophesying about the New Jerusalem in the coming Kingdom, Zechariah mentions fasting done in the seventh month.
This is what the LORD of Hosts says: The fasts of the fourth, the fifth, the seventh, and the tenth months will become times of joy and gladness, cheerful feasts for the house of Judah. Therefore you are to love both truth and peace.
Arguments can be made for both sides I guess. So, does Yah command us to fast on this day? I don’t believe He has. It is possible to do a fast and not have a heart that is submitted to Yeshua, our High Priest and coming King. I tend to agree with brothers and sisters in the faith who choose to honor this unique Sabbath day by submitting to his Torah commandments and confessing our individual sins and the sins of our nation with a spirit of humility.
Sukkot – Feast of Booths
On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, you are to hold a sacred assembly; you must not do any regular work, and you shall observe a feast to Yahuah for seven days.
Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles is considered a festival of joy because it was during this time that Rachel found out she was pregnant with Benjamin and Abraham learned that Sarah was with child. Abraham is the first to celebrate Sukkot; building booths or sukkahs for himself and his servants. It was also during this festival that Jacob passed the priesthood to Levi.
And Levi discharged the priestly office at Bethel before Jacob his father in preference to his ten brothers, and he was a priest there, and Jacob gave his vow: thus he tithed again tithe to the Lord and sanctified it, and it became holy unto him.
Book of Jubilees 32:9, R.H. Charles translation
On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the produce of the land, you are to celebrate a feast to Yahuah for seven days. There shall be complete rest on the first day and also on the eighth day.
The feast of Sukkot, along with Unleavened Bread and Shavuot are considered pilgrimage festivals.
Three times a year all your men are to appear before the LORD your God in the place He will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. No one should appear before Yahuah empty-handed.
When you study the Scriptures and take careful note, you will also see how a December 25th birthday for our Messiah is not believable. For one thing, we are told that the shepherds were watching over their sheep at night. After month seven the cold and rainy season would have set in and the sheep brought inside. The first chapter of Luke provides more evidence to the timing of Yeshua’s birth.
There was 6 months between the birth of Yochanan (John) and the birth of Yeshua according to scripture. Hebrew tradition asserts that John was born at Passover. Yeshua would then be born 6 months later; perfect timing for Sukkot. The course of Abijah5 and this reasoning would not add up for Yeshua to have been born in December. In Luke 2:10 it states that “great joy” would be to all people. Sukkot was already known as the “Season of Our Joy”. What would make it more joyful than a savior being born and tabernacling with us at that very season? Sukkot is a picture perfect time for the birth of The Messiah. Most Messianic Jews teach that Yeshua was born on the 1st day of Sukkot and then circumcised on the 8th day of Shemini Atzeret (incidently, both of these days are Sabbaths). Sukkot would have been perfect timing! Hebrews 9:11 speaks of Yeshua being a more perfect “tabernacle”.
Leisa Baysinger, Our Ancients Paths
John was conceived by Elizabeth when his father Zechariah’s priestly course ended. Mary conceived Yeshua by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) at the sixth month mark of Elizabeth’s pregnancy; placing his birth around the time of Sukkot. It is interesting that the name Abijah means “Yahuah is my father.” Huppah and Jeshebeab’s courses (13 and 14) came around the time of Sukkot in the fall. Huppah means “covering or canopy.” Jeshebeab’s name means “may the father sojourn or dwelling of the father.” This gives us a new perspective on the Word that became flesh and tabernacled among us!
On the eighth day you are to hold a solemn assembly; you must not do any regular work.
Numbers 29: 35
The eight day which is attached to Sukkot is also called Addition or the Eighth Great Day. The Book of Jubilees attributes this added day to the feast of booths to Jacob.
And he celebrated there yet another day, and he sacrificed thereon according to all that he sacrificed on the former days, and called its name ‘Addition,’ for this day was added. And the former days he called ‘The Feast.’ And thus it was manifested that it should be, and it is written on the heavenly tablets: wherefore it was revealed to him that he should celebrate it, and add it to the seven days of the feast. And its name was called ‘Addition,’ because it was recorded amongst the days of the feast days, according to the number of days of the year.
Book of Jubilees 32:27-30, R.H.Charles translation
I sincerely hope what is written here will help you in your quest to know more about the Kingdom of Yahuah. As believers in Messiah we have a wonderful inheritance awaiting us if we don’t stray off the ancient paths. If this information is new to you, that’s alright. You can begin researching everything that is included in the articles posted on this blog and information included in our book The Gospel Worth Dying For (in PDF or paperback).
Download the 2022/2023 Feast Calendar
We have prepared a calendar for you to follow as you dig deeper into your understanding of the feasts of Yahuah. It has been synced with dates on the Gregorian calendar and is available below as a free PDF download.
1 Most of us were taught to focus solely on the second half of the Bible; suggesting that the Old Testament was not relevant to New Testament believers in Messiah. This old/new covenant dichotomy as led to much confusion. The Bible’s message is a united whole. The narrative is integrated and will not make sense if treated as two separate messages. The promises given to Abraham will not be realized until the Kingdom comes down to earth. Our New Covenant promises will not be realized until we are resurrected and born again from the womb of Sheol. This side of immortality we have a down payment on those promises through the presence of the Ruach HaKodesh and experience the new birth proleptically. (Hebrews 8:1-12 and Jeremiah 31: 27-34).
2 Each festival of Yah is a moed (מוער). However, when the word chag (חג) is used, it denotes the three annual “pilgrim” festivals which were mandatory for all Hebrew males: Unleavened Bread, Shavuot, and Sukkot.
3 The Christmas festival was a part of pagan sun worship long before the birth of Yeshua. Originally called Saturnalia or Paganalia, it served as a compromise in attempts to lure pagans into Christianity. During the time of Constantine’s rule the Roman church assigned December 25 as the date for the celebration of Yeshua’s birth around 320 or 350 CE. (Jeremiah 10:1-8)The Scriptures however place Messiah’s birth at the time of the fall feasts. Easter, with its fertility bunnies and eggs, is also a pagan celebration taken out of Babylon. It is not another way of honoring Passover. (1 Corinthians 11:23-24) Easter’s pagan rites of spring is connected to Nimrod and the sun god Baal. Easter worship began during the early 2nd century by bishop Sixtus of Rome.
4Israel: He will rule as Elohiym or prince of Elohiym; the upright in Elohiym. Yashar’el: a symbolical name of Ya’aqov; also (typically) of his posterity: the nation of the 12 tribes; the name of the kingdom of the 10 northern tribes after the split of the kingdom of Shalom. (The house of Yashar’el). The identity of all believers in MASHIACH. [Cepher definition]
Note: Do not confuse Yashar’el with the modern day nation of Israel. Biblical Israel or Yashar’el is rooted in the entirety of the Scriptures. This includes the Bible canon of 66 books and other extra biblical writings. Judaism incorporates “Jewish” rabbinical interpretation, Talmudic caveats, and tradition into its theology. Judaism does not represent the message of the Gospel once and for all delivered to the saints.
5 David set up the 24 priestly divisions and handed the instructions over to Solomon. During David’s reign there were two priests, Abiathar and Zadok. However, when Abiathar participated in the rebellion against David which was fomented by Adonijah, he was removed. At this time Zadok (a descendent of Eleazar) and his descendants occupied the office of High Priest. The divisions collapsed after Judah was carried off to Babylon in 586 B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) (1 Kings 1:1-8; 1:24-26)
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