Yesterday, Sept.26, was the Day of Atonement in Israel. No cars were on the roads. Instead they were filled with families walking down the middle of the streets, children cycling, roller skating, zipping around on scooters, and having a good time.
Most Jews are secular, but the nation still celebrates the seven ancient Feasts of Israel, and the Day of Atonement is the most solemn one. They are supposed to stay home, fast, examine their lives, and repent of their sins, and many people do this. It is the day of the year when Jews serious about God get serious! They want to be forgiven of any sins and they want to be right with God.
It is the one day of the year when everything, but everything, is shut. Even the Arab groceries dotted around the back streets close. Anyone who dares to drive through an Orthodox area may well have their car pelted with rocks.
Our daughter told me once that one reason she loves living in Israel is that the national holidays are the biblical holidays. Of course they all start the previous evening and finish late afternoon the next day. So although in our western way of arranging things, a holiday on Sept 26 would start that morning and finish that evening, the Jewish day starts the previous evening.
Remember Genesis? 'Evening and morning, the first day.' So biblically, a day starts the previous evening. It is very strange to western minds, but that is how it is, and Israel today is probably the only nation on earth that still uses this system of time for the Sabbath and the feasts.
Every week the Sabbath day, Shabbat, which is Saturday, starts on Friday afternoon. Stores and offices, bus and train staions, close round about 3pm and the streets become very quiet in Israel, as most people go home for a nap and then have a wonderful roast meal on the Friday evening, often with guests. People sometimes invite themselves, or even ask if they can bring a group of foreign visitors to your home, and they are always made welcome. Somehow there is always enough food to go round.
Then the Saturday itself is a day of rest, with the religious Jews, a small minority of the population, attending synagogue. Messianic Jews (Christian Jews who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah) attend their own Christian fellowships. There are reckoned to be about 15,000 Messianic Jews in Israel now. In the 1970s there were only a few hundred.
Many Arabs have also been converted to faith in Christ. Some have their own Christian fellowships, and some attend the mainly Jewish fellowships. It is wonderful to find the love between Arabs and Jews at these gatherings. When Jesus comes into a person's heart, the old animosity has to go! When we are born again, He makes us a new creation; the old is gone, the new is come. It is truly wonderful what Jesus does when you open your heart to Him! He literally makes you a new person, totally different, different goals, different likes and dislikes; it is amazing what Jesus does.
Shabbat, Saturday, finishes in late afternoon, but most things stay shut all day. Sunday morning is business as usual, with everything open, the streets buzzing with traffic. It seems odd at first, but you soon get used to it. Just don't run out of milk late on a Friday afternoon! But even if you do, there is usually an Arab corner store open, even though Friday is supposed to be their worship day.
As for the Jewish feasts, we talk about them in our book 'Goodbye America, Goodbye Britain,' pp 34-39. The seven feasts form a framework of human history, and if you know the feasts, you know the past and the future! The secrets of the feasts! It is all there in plain sight, but hidden from most people. Modern day Christians know virtually nothing of the feasts and this is just plain ridiculous, because they are not difficult to understand and they are so important. You can understand what is happening in the world now if you know about the feasts.
Four are already fulfilled, all on the very day each feast was being celebrated. Three are yet to be fulfilled. The next one to be fulfilled will be the Feast of Trumpets, which typifies the Rapture of the Church. It's coming, folks! HE is coming. And we who believe and follow Him are going! The feasts are important!
You can read about the feasts for yourself in: Exodus 12, 23, and 34; Leviticus 23; Numbers 9, 28 and 29; Deuteronomy 16. Remember that the Old Testament scriptures point to Jesus. On the Emmaus Road, the risen Jesus expounded the scriptures to the two 'fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken...' The scriptures listed here are among those the Lord would have mentioned! I was certainly in the 'foolish, slow of heart' category for a long time, but thank the Lord, He has also helped me to understand at least the main things about the feasts and how they relate to His first coming, the foundation of the church, and His Second Coming. I am quite sure there is a lot more in the details which I have not yet learned. After all, it is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to search it out (Proverbs 25:2).
Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum was the first Bible scholar I ever heard teaching about the feasts. He came from America to our town in England many years ago, invited by a young pastor who ran a small fellowship in Fleet, Hampshire. It was advertised in the local newspaper, and wow, amazingly for England, the rented school hall was absolutely packed out!
Arnold spoke for three nights to a rapt audience of Christians from various churches, and we had never heard anything like it! He always does a Q&A session and I remember asking him: 'Is there anything left that has to happen before the Rapture?' 'No, nothing; it could happen any time,' was his reply. I guess Arnold is one of those 'kings' in Proverbs 25:2 who has searched out this matter, and I am very blessed to benefit from his searching!
As for the Day of Atonement, the fulfillment of that will be when Israel recognizes Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, and prays for Him to return. The ancient Day of Atonement depended on the blood of animals being shed for the forgiveness of sin. When Jesus shed His holy blood at Calvary, He was the Passover Lamb, the once and forever sacrifice, with no further sacrifice ever needed for sins to be washed away. When the Jews finally realize the truth of that, Jesus will return (and us with Him!).
*As with all my articles, this is copyright, but feel free to print out, copy, and send to friends etc, but not for payment. The Lord Jesus wants us to know these things! Tell people!