Parashat Emor

[Read Lev. 23]

Colossians 2:16-17 (TLV) “Therefore, do not let anyone pass judgment on you in matters of food or drink, or in respect to a festival or new moon or Shabbat. These are a foreshadowing of things to come, but the reality is Messiah.”[1]


“While this passage is often taken to mean “avoid legalism,” there is another truth stated. It is true that the “festivals” are not the ultimate goal of faith, yet they do hold tremendous lessons for G-d’s children. The festivals are not antiquated tangents to faith but, on the positive side, they are in fact legitimate shadows or models of G-d’s truth. This is something that should be explored in a positive way, not shunned as legalism.

For example, the Sabbath has much to teach about our weekly lives. Passover is rich in the symbolism of the Messiah’s death, burial and resurrection. Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are not obsolete, but continue to declare the reality of Yeshua’s return to this earth.

In short, all the Feasts of the L-rd were given to Israel and to “grafted-in” believers to teach, in a practical way, more about G-d and His plan for the world. When analysed with the right spirit, there are some exciting new truths waiting to be rediscovered through participation in the Jewish/Biblical holy days!”[2]

So as we go through each of these appointed times of Adonai, let’s ask the question, “How is this holy day a shadow of Messiah?”

Shabbat – Lev. 23:3

Firstly let’s see how Yeshua habitually celebrated the Shabbat. [Luke 4:16-21] This is actually one of the best descriptions of a 1st century Synagogue service from all of Scripture, and indeed even in historical literature.   Later we see that Yeshua reminds everyone that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, and that He is lord of the Sabbath. [Mark 2:23-27 (also see Matt. 12:1-14, and Luke 6:1-5)].  “The Torah itself specifies that some mitzvot are more important than others.  . .  Keeping Sabbath is important, but the animal sacrifices required by Numbers 28:1-10 are more so, so that the cohanim work on Shabbat in order to fulfil them.”[3]   We also understand that the rest that we find in Yeshua, is a Sabbath rest which we must come into. [Heb. 4:9-10, Matt. 11:28-30]

Pesach – Lev. 23:5-8

Having just gone through the Passover Seder, and having seen how many amazing ways this feast shadows Yeshua, I will only go over a couple of points. Firstly we see that John the Immerser said of Yeshua, “Behold, the lamb of G-d who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One about whom I told you, ‘He who comes after me is above me, because He was before me.’” (John 1:29) Also Sha’ul (Paul) says of Yeshua in 1 Cor. 5:6-8, “Your boasting is no good. Don’t you know that a little chametz leavens the whole batch of dough?  Get rid of the old chametz, so you may be a new batch, just as you are unleavened—for Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.  Therefore let us celebrate the feast not with old chametz, the chametz of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened bread—the matzah of sincerity and truth.” And finally, we know from all the Besorah (Gospels) that Yeshua died at Pesach. (Matt. 26:17, Mk. 14:12, Lk. 22:1, Jn. 13:1)

Firstfruits (Sfirat HaOmer) – Lev. 23:9-14

This feast often gets swallowed by the week of Pesach, however for those of us who trust in Yeshua, it is one of the most important. This feast would occur on the day after the Sabbath which the Pharisees said was always the 16th of Nisan, and the Sadducees said was the first day of the following week. Either way, on the year that Yeshua died, he was raised to life on the Feast of First Fruits! Sha’ul says that Yeshua’s resurrection is the “Firstfruits of those how have fallen asleep.” [1 Cor. 15:20-23]   Yeshua also compares the Firstfruits wave offering, with His own life. “Yeshua answers them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified! Amen, amen I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. … And as I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to Myself.” (Jn. 12:23-24, 32)

Shavuot (Pentecost) – Lev. 23:15-21

This feast is like a Jubilee of weeks, and is inextricably linked to Passover and Firstfruits by the command to “count” the seven weeks leading up to it. We see two incredible fulfilments of this day. The first is the giving of the Torah to Moses, and the second is the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh who writes the Torah on our hearts. [Acts 2:1-5, Jer. 31:30-33] The Ruach is the assurance of our salvation as John says in 1 Jn. 4:13, “We know that we abide in Him, and He in us by this—because He has given us of His Spirit.”   As an interesting side note, the Prophetic portion traditionally read at Shavuot is Eze. 1, and in Eze. 1:4 says, “I looked, and behold, a storm wind came from the north, a great cloud with flashing fire and brightness all around it, and something like a glowing alloy[a] out of the fire.”  This is what was seen on the day that the Ruach came down and tongues of fire settled on the those waiting in the Temple as Yeshua had commanded! (also see Exe. 36:27)

Rosh HaShanah (Yom Teruah) – Lev. 23:23-25

Since this is the first of the autumn feasts, Rosh Hashanah has always been seen as a feast of regathering. Also, since it precedes Yom Kippur by only ten day, it has also been a time for repentance. It is a time to take stock in of our spiritual condition and make the necessary changes in our way of life. The ancient service of Tashlich is done on that afternoon. This is where bread crumbs or pebbles are thrown into running (living) water to rejoice in G-d’s promise of forgiveness. [Mic. 7:19]   Many rabbis believe that the ultimate agent of the regathering at Rosh Hashanah will the Messiah ben David.

“Messiah ben David (son of David), Elijah and Zerubbabel, peace be upon him, will ascend the Mount of Olives. And Messiah will command Elijah to blow the shofar. The light of the six days of Creation will return and will be seen, the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and G-d will send full healing to all the sick of Israel. The second blast which Elijah will blow will make the dead rise. They will rise from the dust and each man will recognise his fellow man, and so will husband and wife, father and son, brother and brother. All will come to the Messiah from the four corners of the earth, from east and from west, from north and from south. The Children of Israel will fly on the wings of eagles and come to the Messiah . . . (Ma’ase Daniel as quoted in Patai, p143)”[4]

Of course, when we think of the sounding of the trumpet (shofar) we are also reminded of “the last trump.” Sha’ul goes into detail about this in his letter to the Thessalonians. [1 Thes. 4:13-18] There are also many other references to this (Isa. 27:12-13, Matt. 24: 30-31, 1 Cor. 15:50-58 and Rev. 4:1).   So am I saying that I have 2016 reasons why Yeshua will come back on this Rosh Hashanah? May it never be! But would it surprise me if He came back on a Rosh Hashanah? No, I would not.

Yeshua on White HorseYom Kippur – Lev. 23:26-32 (Lev 16)

On the 10th of Tishri, this day is considered the most holy of the Holy Days. It is the only scripturally mandated fast day of the year, although there are other fasting days recognized throughout the year. The name itself tells us what this day is all about, Kippur or Atonement or covering. This is how Adonai provided a way for our forgiveness. In Lev. 17:11, Adonai says, “For the life of the creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your lives—for it is the blood that makes atonement because of the life.” Every part of this day shows us why Yeshua had to die for us. The book of Hebrews from 4:14 to 10:31 explicates how Yeshua as our heavenly Cohen Gadol (High Priest) took His own blood before the heavenly altar and covered our sin. In (Isa. 1:16-20) it talks of our sins being washed away and then in (Rev. 7:13-17) we see those who have had their sins washed away by the blood of the Lamb!   One final note: A common saying for Yom Kippur is, “May you be sealed for a good year in the book of life. This brings to mind (Rev. 20:11-13).


Sukkot (Tabernacles) – Lev. 23:33-44

In (Jn. 1:14) it states that Yeshua Tabernacled among us. And while it is not explicitly stated, many scholars have pointed to Yeshua’s birth as having occurred at this time.[5] This comes from many other evidences such as: When did Yeshua’s ministry start? When were the shepherds watching their flocks outside? Why was there no room in the inn? (Lk.2:7), When was John the Immerser conceived? (Lk.1:5)    Yeshua also publically declared Himself to be the living water, during the water ceremony (Simcha Bet Hashoevah) in John 7. [Jn. 7:37-44] May we all be filled with this living water, the Ruach HaKodesh! In closing, I see another fulfilment in the Age to come. (Rev. 21:1-3) “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city—the New Jerusalem—coming down out of heaven from G-d, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I also heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the dwelling of G-d is among men, and He shall tabernacle among them. They shall be His people, and G-d Himself shall be among them and be their G-d.”



Dr. Richard Booker wrote that Yeshua not only celebrated all of these Feast Days, but that His major life events occurred on these days. He then goes on to ask several important questions, “Now since Jesus celebrated these festivals and was the spiritual reality of all of them, doesn’t it seem important to learn how these pictures pointed to Him and what they can mean for us? And since these are the Feast of the Lord, wouldn’t it be good for all of God’s covenant people to celebrate Jesus through these exciting pictures? And [finally] since we all need God’s peace, power and rest, wouldn’t it be beneficial for believers to understand how the pictures can help us internalize the redemptive work of Jesus in our lives?”[6]

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Tree Of Life Version (TLV), 2014.

[2] Kasdan, Barney, God’s Appointed Times, (new. ed., Lederer Books, 1993), viii

[3] Stern, David H., Jewish New Testament Commentary, (Jewish New Testament Pub.,1992), 45

[4] Kasdan, God’s Appointed Times, 65-66

[5] Kasdan, God’s Appointed Times, 95-99

[6] Booker, Richard, Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts, (Destiny Image Pub., 2009), 22


For further research also see: “The Feasts of the Lord” by Kevin Howard and Marbin Rosenthal