Recently, we received a very large black envelope. It had gold calligraphy with our names and address on the front beautifully scripted. I excitedly opened the envelope and pulled out a gorgeous invitation. The invitation was sealed in the center, and I thought I heard a crescendo of music as I opened the two halves to reveal the actual information. We had been invited to a wedding in Jerusalem! We excitedly talked about the journey there, the accommodations, who else was going, and what was Diana going to wear. The Fall Feasts that are soon upon us should hold this same excitement as we prepare to celebrate them.
God sent us a beautiful, gorgeous invitation a long time ago. If we look at Genesis 1:14, we find our invitation; “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years’”. There are two words that are important in this verse. The first word is “signs” which in Hebrew is “oh tot”. The word “oh tot” means a signal (literally or figuratively), as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, evidence, a mark, miracle, a sign. So the sun and the moon were placed in the heavens to be a beacon to us, to direct us to something miraculous that the Lord established in the very beginning of creation. The second word that is important in this verse is “seasons”. When we read verse 14, we think of the four seasons that we have grown up with but, the Hebrew word used here for “seasons” is “moadim”. The word “moadim” means appointed time, sacred season, set feast, and appointed place. This word is used referring to the feasts in the bible. In his commentary Rashi states of this verse, “This is written with a view to the future when Israel would receive command regarding the festivals which would be calculated from the time of the lunar conjunction (Genesis Rabbah 6:1)”. So, we see that the God of creation in the very beginning of Genesis is already looking forward to the Feasts that He will give to Israel.
Many of us if we’ve been celebrating the feasts for a while have begun to simply sleep walk through these holidays. If we’ve grown up celebrating them, they become a tradition that we do but, sometimes have allowed to become meaningless. Sometimes, if we’re new to the idea of celebrating the Holy Days we are extremely overwhelmed with all of the information, liturgy, the how to of the holiday, and it all becomes a blur to us. This year I want you to start at the beginning.
The beginning is that moment when I opened up our invitation to the wedding in Jerusalem. When I opened that invitation I felt excitement, expectation, a longing to be with family, and a desire to be in Jerusalem, the city of our God. The emotions and attitude, that I spoke of, is how we need to approach these holidays. In just a few days we will be entering the month of Elul. The month of Elul is the preparation month preceding the Fall Feasts of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. The name of the month Elul (in Hebrew) forms an acronym for the words in the verse in Song of Songs 6:3, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” Another interesting thing about the word “moadim” is that the primitive root word is “yaw ad” which can mean to “betroth” or “engage for marriage”. These two points give us a clue to how God views these days. These are days of intimacy, of communication, revelation, of putting God first, and making te’shuva (return, to turn back away from sin). When we realize that our God prepared these Holy Days at the beginning of time to point us to our need for Him, to allow us to have a relationship with Him and ultimately that our Messiah would fulfill these feasts then we can rejoice in His goodness.
We have received our invitation from our beloved to His feasts and now is the time to prepare our hearts, our homes, and our familes to meet our beloved!
P.S. If you would like to know more about what to do during the month of Elul see my blog, “The King Has Not Left the Building”, link: https://diana-levine.com/2020/08/24/the-king-has-not-left-the-building/