Jews and Joes

Can we fulfill the Chag Festivals without the Altar and the Place of the Name?

First Temple

"I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals; you will be disgraced no more." - Zephaniah 3:18 NLT

Should men observe the three pilgrimage festivals (Chagim of Unleavened Bread, Shavuot, and Sukkot) any where but "the Place of the Name" inside the Land of Israel? And can we truly observe and fulfill these festivals inside modern-day Israel without having יהוהfirst rebuild His Altar and re-fill the Place of His Great-Name with His Shekhinah presence (Ezekiel 43:1-7, a reversal of what happened in Ezekiel 10:19; 11:23)? Isaiah 14:1-2 also confirms that He is going to re-choose and return to Israel.

Men observing the Chag festivals in the sense of “fulfilling the commandment” is impossible currently because the fullness of the commandment requires the men of Israel (Deuteronomy 16:16) to travel to and perform the festivals AT the place יהוה has chosen to put His Name (i.e., Shiloh, Jerusalem) ...which must have a ritually clean and functioning Altar and priesthood (Exodus 12:25; Leviticus 23:10; Deuteronomy 12:5-9, 14:22-23; 16:2-6; 2 Chronicles 30:1-27).

Furthermore, gathering in far off places not chosen by יהוה (Deuteronomy 14:24) to celebrate the festivals is not fulfilling the commandments, but in actuality, the act is breaking the commandments in specificity... especially if a religious system is built-up around a specific place to be gathered to annually in the pursuit of fulfilling the chag commandments. Cloaking festival observance in terms like "memorial" or "remembrance" is a tricky endeavor, especially over long periods of time outside of the city of Jerusalem.

Note: this author is not saying we should not have memorials of the festivals in far-off places. It is simply being stated that such activity is EXTREMELY "tricky" and has often been questionable, bordering on profaning the significance of the ACTUAL place of the Great Name. Many Jewish and Messianic synagogues taking on the name "Temple" is one of many symptoms of this problem. Contentment in exile and forgetting Tsiyon are a couple more.

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The Place

In the Place where יהוה has put His Name Forever

Being in the Land, or more specifically, at the place where יהוה chose to put His Great Name, was of the utmost importance to ancient Israel whenever the chag festivals, offerings, and sacrifices were concerned. It was of such importance, Reuben, Gad, and half-tribe of Manasseh were nearly destroyed for erecting an altar in their own territory the other tribes thought "might" be used to compete with the Tabernacle at Shiloh (Joshua 22:1-34). Note: Prior to Jerusalem, Shiloh was the capital and the Place chosen for the Tabernacle to settle and the shekhinah of the Great Name to dwell (Jeremiah 7:14). It was there that all three festivals were to be observed and celebrated. They were not celebrated, fulfilled, or completed any other place for generations.

For greater detail on "The Place of the Name", see the article: Where is the Place YHVH chose to put His Name forever?

The Festivals come to a temporary End

Text in bold and red bold used for emphasis.

Hosea 2:11: I will also cause all her mirth to cease, Her feast days, Her New Moons, Her Sabbaths—All her Appointed Feasts

יהוה  caused the Chag Festivals to be stopped, but how did He cause them to be stopped? By removing Israel and Judah from the Land and allowing the Babylonians, and later, the Romans, to destroy the First and Second Temples.

So how and when will יהוה  cause the Chag Festivals to be restored? We can reasonably answer this question by reversing the causation of the previous cessations.  

WHEN He restores Israel and Judah back to the Land of Israel and allows the Tabernacle or Temple system to be restored, then the Festivals will be restored in completeness also. This is a touchy subject for many Christians in particular. However, we know some form of restoration will eventually happen because the Anti-Messiah will stop the Altar sacrifices in the middle of Daniel's prophetic 70th week (Daniel 9:27).

Psalm 137:1-6:
(1) By the rivers of Babel, there we sat down and we wept As we remembered Tsiyon.
(2) We hung our lyres upon the willows in the midst of it.
(3) For there our captors asked us for the words of a song, And our plunderers for rejoicing, saying, “Sing to us a song of Tsiyon!”
(4) How could we sing the song ofיהוה in a foreign land?
(5) If I forget you, O Yerushalayim, Let my right hand forget.
(6) Let my tongue cleave to my palate, If I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Yerushalayim Above my chief joy.
Deuteronomy 12:5-9:
(5) but seek the place whichיהוה your Elohim chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His Name there, for His Dwelling Place, and there you shall enter."
(6) "And there you shall take your burnt offerings, and your offerings, and your tithes, and the contributions of your hand, and your vowed offerings, and your voluntary offerings, and the firstlings of your herd and of your flock."
(7) "And there you shall eat before יהוה your Elohim, and shall rejoice in all that you put your hand to, you and your households, in which יהוה your Elohim has blessed you."
(8) "Do not do as we are doing here todayeach one doing whatever is right in his own eyes."
(9) "Because you have not yet entered the rest and the inheritance which יהוה your Elohim is giving you"

The "Where" is Implicated Repetitively

Text in bold emphasizes explicit or implicit INSTRUCTIONS for observing the Festivals IN THE LAND... AT THE CITY OF THE GREAT NAME.

Leviticus 23:1-44:
(1)  And יהוה spoke to Mosheh, saying,
(2)  “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘The appointed times of יהוה, which you are to proclaim as set-apart gatherings, My appointed times, are these:
(3)  ‘Six days work is done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a set-apart gathering. You do no work, it is a Sabbath to יהוה in all your dwellings.
(4)  ‘These are the appointed times of יהוה, set-apart gatherings which you are to proclaim at their appointed times.
(5)  ‘In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between the evenings, is the Passover to יהוה . 
(6)  ‘And on the fifteenth day of this month is the Festival of Unleavened Bread to יהוה – seven days you eat unleavened bread.
(7)  ‘On the first day you have a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work.
(8)  ‘And you shall bring an offering made by fire to יהוה for seven days. On the seventh day is a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work.’ ”
(9)  And יהוה spoke to Mosheh, saying,
(10)  “Speak to the children of Israel, and you shall say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I give you, and shall reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest to the priest.
(11)  ‘And he shall wave the sheaf before יהוה, for your acceptance. On the morrow after the Sabbath the priest waves it.
(12)  ‘And on that day when you wave the sheaf, you shall prepare a male lamb a year old, a perfect one, as a burnt offering to יהוה, 
(13)  and its grain offering: two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to יהוה, a sweet fragrance, and its drink offering: one-fourth of a hin of wine.
(14)  ‘And you do not eat bread or roasted grain or fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your Elohim – a law forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
(15)  ‘And from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, you shall count for yourselves: seven completed Sabbaths.
(16)  ‘Until the morrow after the seventh Sabbath you count fifty days, then you shall bring a new grain offering to יהוה. 
(17)  ‘Bring from your dwellings for a wave offering two loaves of bread, of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour they are, baked with leaven, first-fruits to יהוה. 
(18)  ‘And besides the bread, you shall bring seven lambs a year old, perfect ones, and one young bull and two rams. They are a burnt offering to יהוה, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet fragrance to יהוה. 
(19)  ‘And you shall offer one male goat as a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old, as a peace offering.
(20)  ‘And the priest shall wave them, besides the bread of the first-fruits, as a wave offering before יהוה, besides the two lambs. They are set-apart to יהוה for the priest.
(21)  ‘And on this same day you shall proclaim a set-apart gathering for yourselves, you do no servile work on it – a law forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
(22)  ‘And when you reap the harvest of your land do not completely reap the corners of your field when you reap, and do not gather any gleaning from your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the stranger. I am יהוה your Elohim.’ ”
(23)  And יהוה spoke to Mosheh, saying,
(24)  “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you have a rest, a remembrance of blowing of trumpets, a set-apart gathering.
(25)  ‘You do no servile work, and you shall bring an offering made by fire to יהוה.' " 
(26)  And יהוה spoke to Mosheh, saying,
(27)  “On the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be a set-apart gathering for you. And you shall afflict your beings, and shall bring an offering made by fire to יהוה. 
(28)  “And you do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before יהוה your Elohim.
(29)  “For any being who is not afflicted on that same day, he shall be cut off from his people.
(30)  “And any being who does any work on that same day, that being I shall destroy from the midst of his people.
(31)  “You do no work – a law forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
(32)  ‘It is a Sabbath of rest to you, and you shall afflict your beings. On the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you observe your Sabbath.”
(33)  And יהוה spoke to Mosheh, saying,
(34)  “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Booths for seven days to יהוה. 
(35)  ‘On the first day is a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work.
(36)  ‘For seven days you bring an offering made by fire to יהוה. On the eighth day there shall be a set-apart gathering for you, and you shall bring an offering made by fire to יהוה. It is a closing festival, you do no servile work.
(37)  ‘These are the appointed times of יהוה which you proclaim as set-apart gatherings, to bring an offering made by fire to יהוה, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a slaughtering and drink offerings, as commanded for every day –
(38)  besides the Sabbaths of יהוה, and besides your gifts, and besides all your vows, and besides all your voluntary offerings which you give to יהוה. 
(39)  ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you gather in the fruit of the land, observe the festival of יהוה for seven days. On the first day is a rest, and on the eighth day a rest.
(40)  ‘And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of good trees, branches of palm trees, twigs of leafy trees, and willows of the stream, and shall rejoice before יהוה your Elohim for seven days.
(41)  ‘And you shall observe it as a festival to יהוה for seven days in the year – a law forever in your generations. Observe it in the seventh month.
(42)  ‘Dwell in booths for seven days; all who are native Israelites dwell in booths,
(43)  so that your generations know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Mitsrayim. I am יהוה your Elohim.’ ”
(44)  Thus did Mosheh speak of the appointed times of יהוה to the children of Israel.

Most who disagree with this perspective quote and emphasize verses 21 and 31 above where it is written: "a law forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings" where both verses are referring to the observance of the Festivals. This would seem like a compelling rebuttal (somehow in spite of references like verse 10) until one realizes the exact same thing is said in verse 14 where offerings brought to the Priests are also said to be "a law forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings". So, were we suppose to make those offerings regardless if we lived in the Land of Israel or Moscow or Berlin or New York City? Of course we weren't and aren't suppose to erect altars and bring offerings to places in far off countries, but we could and should and will bring our tithes and offerings to Jerusalem from far off lands in order to observe the Chag Festivals. We simply do not have THE Altar to bring them to yet and we simply are not suppose to observe the Chag Festivals in other Lands (e.g. verse 10). It does not matter how emotionally attached one becomes to traditions which go against the design of יהוה, the tradition may actually break the original design.

The context of Leviticus 23 explicitly and implicitly show the Festivals were intended to be observed IN the Land of Promise AT the Place of the Name. Offerings at the Temple have certainly not continued perpetually in spite of verse 14's indication that they should continue forever, thus why should we extract a different perspective from verses 21 and 31? The Festivals have not continued perpetually and why have they not? Because  יהוה said He was going to stop them and He did so (Hosea 2:11), as punishment for our ancestors breaking their part in the covenant which they promised to keep.יהוה didn't break His part, but was incredibly long-suffering in the marriage... even in spite of His bride's rebellion.

Exodus 12:24-25
(24)"And you shall guard this word as a law for you and your sons, forever."
(25)"And it shall be, when you come to the land which  יהוה  gives you, as He promised, that you shall guard this service." [Context: Pesach/Passover]

Deuteronomy 16:2 "And you shall slaughter the Passover to יהוה your Elohim, from the flock and the herd, in the place where  יהוה  chooses to put His Name."

Deuteronomy 16:6 "but at the place where  יהוה  your Elohim chooses to make His Name dwell, there you slaughter the Passover in the evening, at the going down of the sun, at the appointed time you came out of Egypt."

See Table of Festival Requirements.

The Bride of YHVH, the Assembly of Israel

It was not until after the entire assembly of Israel was gathered together did they together agree to the marriage contract-covenant given by Moses (Exodus 19:4-9) and it was not until after... did יהוה and His prophet’s refer to Israel as His wife.  But while Israel was still young, she became an adulteress (Hosea 2:1-13) She was not faithful to her ketubah, the Torah, the marriage contract, and she was thus cut off from יהוה, her Husband, and His Land. She was given a bill of divorce (Jeremiah 3:1-25) and she was taken captive by the Assyrian Empire.

Isaiah 54:1-8
(1)  “Sing, O barren one, you who did not bear! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who have not been in labour! For the children of the deserted one are more than the children of the married woman,” said יהוה.YH.
(2)  “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not. Lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes.
(3)  “For you shall break forth to the right and to the left, and your seed inherit the nations, and make the deserted cities inhabited.
(4)  “Do not fear, for you shall not be put to shame, nor hurt, you shall not be humiliated. For the shame of your youth you shall forget, and not remember the reproach of your widowhood any more.
(5)  “For your Maker is your husband, יהוה of hosts is His Name, and the Set-apart One of Yisra’el is your Redeemer. He is called the Elohim of all the earth.
(6)  “For יהוה has called you like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when you were refused,” declares your Elohim.
(7)  “For a little while I have forsaken you, but with great compassion I shall gather you.
(8)  “In an overflow of wrath I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I shall have compassion on you,” said יהוה, your Redeemer.

So far, the House of Joseph (10-Israel) has not been re-gathered as prophesied and we have certainly not had an Exodus 19:4-9 type experience where we have corporately agreed to follow the marriage contract. Prior to the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) coming to die for Israel, we were forbidden to remarry יהוה because of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (the specific commandment hostile toward 10-Israel). According to the Apostle Paul, that commandment has been removed (Romans 7:1-4). Now we can, as an assembly, be remarried and/or restored to יהוה (Jeremiah 3:1-25; Matthew 15:24), but it hasn’t happened yet (see Revelation 19:7-10). As a bride being made ready for marriage, we are learning about the Torah and trying to observe what we can, but we are unable to perform it fully because it was DESIGNED to be kept IN the Land of Promise IN Covenant as a Constitution of the Nation. The current situation can be likened to a betrothed couple who cannot and do not enjoy the closer intimacies of a married couple. In a beautiful and wonderful sense, the Festivals were and will be the most intimate times shared by  יהוה  with His people (once they all become "a people" again).

As the prophet Isaiah depicts further above (ch.54), the prophet Hosea depicts the House of Joseph (10-Israel) being a “people”, then “NOT a people”, and then “a people” again (Hosea 1:9-10; 2:23). There is an apparent parallel between Israel being “married” to  יהוה and also being “the people” of  יהוה.We seem to have been forgotten, even forgetting our own identity, and yet in the Latter Days... we then remember and return to  יהוה  and His Land, becoming a "people" and "remarried".

In a similar parallel, if we look at the story of Jacob as a prophetic shadow picture, regarding his marriage to Leah (Jew-dah's mother) and then his marriage to Rachel (Joseph's mother) and then the eventual return of Jacob with all his family to the Land promised to him, we'll see something very interesting. What is the first thing Jacob does after facing Esau? He made Sukkah "booths" at Sukkoth.

Genesis 33:17: Jacob journeyed to Sukkoth, and built for himself a house and made booths for his livestock; therefore the place is named Sukkoth.

We, both houses of Jacob, will truly celebrate the Festivals/Chagim again, and the time may be closer than we realize (see Time of the Last Days). 

 

Shalom... and may Yerushalayim be made complete with the presence of יהוה,
Hanok ben-Isaak

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 

1. Question: Did not Deuteronomy 14:22-26 make allowance for Chag observance in far off places?

It is understandable why Deuteronomy 14:22-26 is used to justify choosing a place to observe the three pilgrimage festivals in far off places... except for the fact that the passage still says "in the place which יהוה shall choose". For example, for the Chag of Sukkot... you are not given liberty to just choose some random camp-out spot to throw up a bunch of tents... and for the Chag of Unleavened Bread, you are not permitted to choose Jim Bob's house in the middle of no where to journey to. According to the Hebrew Scriptures, we (as the Bride) are NOT allowed to make these choices. The Husband is naturally the One Who should make this choice... and that is why HE did make the choice and will make the choice again.

This is the conundrum anyone should find him/herself in by interpreting chapter 14 as a justification to break the explicit protocol of the Chag Festivals.

Furthermore, if you read the passage closely and carefully, you’ll see that the purpose of selling one's tithe locally was to relieve the burden of CARRYING grain or traveling with livestock a far distance to Shiloh or Jerusalem where the Set-Apart Place was. Those local to Shiloh or Jerusalem only had a short distance to bring their tithes for the Chagim. For those living a significant distance away.... could purchase those things they would have otherwise brought... and for Passover, they could arrive a month late... giving them more time to harvest, sell, and travel (Numbers 9:9-13).

One major reason all these passages reference a vague place of "God's Choosing" is because for many years the Set-Apart Place moved frequently... following Yah's Shekhinah... especially in the Wilderness period... and it would be a long time before His presence would finally be moved and settled at the Temple on Mt Tsiyon in Jerusalem.

2. Question: Didn't the Israelites keep the Festivals in the Wilderness before entering the Land... so shouldn't we?

Here are some things that existed during the Israelite Wilderness period which do not exist right now... which makes the premise of this question inconsistent:
  • We do not have a Moshe-figure leading us in the power and authority of יהוה… after having broken the yoke of Pharaoh. They did.
  • We are still living within the domain of [proverbial] Pharaoh. We are not in the wilderness yet. They were.
  • The marriage covenant between יהוה and His people has not been re-established yet. The Marriage of the Lamb and the promise of Jeremiah 31:34 are yet future events.
  • We do not have the Husband יהוה leading us by Cloud and Fire… nor do we have Him manifesting in His Shekhinah presence in and over His Tabernacle... constituting "the Place of the Name". This is probably the most critical difference.
  • We are not all together in one unified assembly or body…. following the directive of the ONE Husband. Even if you have the allegorical view that we are to be the new "living stones" of the future Temple, the stones themselves haven't been brought together into one building yet. If you think this proverbial house is already built and operational, you're deluding yourself.

3. Question: Doesn't "the Name" dwell wherever His people are? Wherever two or more are gathered?

Lets assume for a moment that the answer to the first question is "Yes". Since the people of Yah are scattered all over planet Earth at this moment, that would mean that THE Place of the Great Name is everywhere on the Earth at this very instant. Does that notion not pose any problematic ramifications? Why is there a prophecy that all nations will go to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot in the future if it would be otherwise okay for them to just observe Sukkot wherever they are in far off places? 

There must be some difference between the presence of Yah at the Place of His Great Name and the presence of His Spirit/Ruakh within His people even when they are in far off places.

4. Question: What are the consequences of not observing the Festivals?

For the Israelites who lived prior to the deportations of the Assyrian Empire, the consequence was to be "cut-off from the people" (i.e. Leviticus 23:29). For modern descendants of 10-Israel, it is difficult to be cut-off again while still in a state of having been "cut-off" as "a people". Currently, there is no "people" to be cut-off from because 10-Israel ceased to "a people" according to Hosea 1:9-10. We are still exiled and not gathered back to the Land of Israel yet, minus the few who have become companions to the House of Jew-dah.

5. Question: What are the consequences of observing the Festivals outside of Jerusalem?

The most notable consequence is the diminished significance of Jerusalem, the past and future Set-Apart Place for the Name of  יהוה. When the Assembly of Israel gathered to Jerusalem for the Festivals in antiquity, the Name of יהוה was greatly exalted and esteemed. And conversely for example, when 10-Israel begins ritually observing Sukkot in places like Chandler, Oklahoma, there becomes a greater risk over time for names like "Monte Judah" to be exalted over the Most High's Name and the Place where He put His Name. He has not put His Name in Chandler nor Salt Lake nor Samaria... but eventually He will choose to restore the Place of His Name... and it is to that Place we must gather. By the way, I greatly appreciate and respect Monte Judah... and I hope he emphasizes to his following that his Sukkot gatherings are only rehearsals.

6. Question:  יהוה  knows my heart. Isn’t it okay to celebrate His Festivals without the prescribed sacrifices and offering?

Indeed, our hearts may be full of good intention, but any practice we extract meaning and purpose may be a practice which יהוה abhors, no matter our intention. For example, consider II Samuel 6, where Uzzah, with a good heart no doubt, reached out to catch the Ark of the Covenant from falling to the ground, but יהוה responded in anger and killed Uzzah. He of course weighs our hearts and intentions, but all of His commandments have purpose. He prescribed a certain way for the Ark to be moved and He prescribed a certain place for the Festivals to be observed. 

7. Question: If we don't celebrate the Festivals, then why observe any of the Torah at all?

What we can do as individuals, we can do as individuals. What we can't do, we can't do. This is a profoundly simple concept. The Torah was the Constitution of the Nation of Israel, but it also provided guidance for individuals in situations not necessarily dependent on the nation to exist. Much of the Torah, we can't do even if we wanted to because of certain pre-conditions, such as having a Temple and priesthood and elders. Furthermore, all of the Torah is NOT required of every individual. Some of it is for the Priest. Some of it is specific to a man or to just a woman. The binding status on the nations of Israel may not be applicable yet, but regardless, the Torah of Moses and its basic outline, the Ten Commandments, were life-giving to ancient Israel and to those who follow its precepts now. King David considered it to be "Light" and Israel was called to be a Light to the Nations. Just look at the legal systems of the world that were founded on the Ten Commandments and many other precepts within the Torah. Look at the life and stability it brought to the peoples and nations which have leaned on it, even in part. And look at the world now... leaning on "progressivism" and "liberalism" (i.e. Torah-lessness) and compare the moral confusion and decay we now see all around the world (see the article Doing Torah is good for all peoples).

8. Question: Why can't we just build our own altar and start bringing offerings?

Read Joshua 22 and you'll understand why such an action would be inadvisable. Also see the article: What is "Wickedness"? to better understand the indignation aroused in Israel during the Joshua 22 episode.

9. Question: Didn't the disciples of Yeshua (Jesus) observe the Festivals with Yeshua and after He was resurrected? 

Yes, and they had a Temple with an altar with a priesthood in Jerusalem until 70 AD. We have NO record of Paul or the other disciples teaching their followers to observe any of the three Chag Festivals outside the Land. 

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