Monday, July 15, 2013

The Fourth Day of Creation

Try as I might to ignore it, the calendar shows summer is fast coming to a close.  Only four more weeks until the rigor of autumn sets in with its 8 pm lights out and blaring wake-up alarms before dawn.  No more late nights reading chapter books with a flashlight beneath the covers.  No more turning off the alarm after a late evening's dip in the pool.

Even in the ninety degree south Louisiana heat, there were still a a few days last week when an almost constant breeze whispered of autumn's approach.  Before my eyes, summer will soon turn to autumn before winter's frozen death prepares the world again for spring's rebirth.

It is hard for me to comprehend that back before the beginning of the world, God had these seasons in His mind, and on the fourth day, He set them in motion when he placed the sun, moon, and stars in space.

Scripture says, "Then 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; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth'; and it was so" (Gen. 1:14-15).

 This passage describes why God created the sun, moon, and stars--first for light and to separate the day and night, and second "for signs and for seasons."  

The Hebrew word in verse 14 for "seasons" is mow`ed, meaning "appointed time, appointed place, meeting."  Of the 223 times this word is used in the Old Testament, 150 of those usages are translated as congregation and 23 are translated as feasts.

Throughout Leviticus 23 (the chapter which succinctly describes the commanded seven Feasts of the Lord), this word for seasons is often translated as feasts.

For instance, the King James version says, "These [are] the feasts of the LORD , [even] holy  convocations , which ye shall proclaim  in their seasons" (Lev. 23:4).  In this verse, the words translated differently as feasts and seasons are the same--mow`ed.  

NASB translates the same verse as: "These are the appointed times of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at the times appointed for them," translating mow`ed as merely "appointed times."

In other words, one of the primary reasons God created the sun, moon, and stars was so they would serve as time markers for the seasons as a sign to show his people when to come together to celebrate His holy feasts, festivals, and Sabbaths.  God's people could watch the movement of the heavens and know which Feast of the Lord was to be celebrated when.

Getting the timing right for these feasts of remembrance and thanksgiving was that important to God.

To this day, the Jewish calendar still follows lunar months to ensure the feasts are kept in their correct seasons, exactly as commanded in Scripture.  The Jewish calendar includes "twelve lunar months of 29 or thirty days, which is about ten days short of a solar year, so seven years in every nineteen have an extra month."1

While this calendar that adds an extra month every seven years may seem odd to those of us who use the Gregorian calendar which follows the earth's progression around the sun, the Jewish calendar more accurately keeps the Feasts of the Lord in their proper seasons, especially considering some weren't commanded to be on a specific date each year, as with our Christmas always falling on December 25, but were, instead, counted so many days from the last feast, as is the case with Pentecost, which is held fifty days after Passover.

Over the past few months, we have explored the seven commanded Jewish Feasts of Leviticus 23 and have seen how God intended them all to point to Messiah, our Lord and Savior Jesus, whose march to the cross was set in motion before creation, itself.  His appointed time to be born in a body of flesh and to die a brutal death was already written in His own blood on a holy calendar.

Revelation 13:8 refers to Jesus as "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."  2 Timothy 1:9 says the grace of God "was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began."

Likewise, on the fourth day of creation when God was just beginning to form the world, He was already thinking of His feasts and Sabbaths, which would point to that appointed time when Jesus would come to earth and offer His life as a sacrifice, an atonement to cover all mankind's sin.

Knowing that God was already thinking of the feasts of Leviticus 23 when He was calibrating the heat of the sun and hanging the moon amidst a septillion stars makes the feasts seem that much more important to continue to celebrate today, even for us who are adopted by faith into the family.

1.  "The Jewish Calendar and the Gregorian Calendar." Wildolive.

Other Articles in this Jewish Feasts Series:
God's Annual Camp-out (Part 2)
A Doorway But No Roof: God's Annual Camp-out
When The Books Are Closed: A Look at Yom Kippur
A One Hundred Trumpet Blast Wake-Up Call
Positioning Passover Pronouns
Preparation Day: 'Go to Church' or Worship
Reorienting Our Lives: 50 Days From the Cross
Understanding the Jewish-ness of Jesus
The Truth About Passover

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