Most of us soon learn that modern life requires careful planning and time management. Who hasn’t been late for an appointment, class or family function at one time or another?
Who hasn’t confused a birthday or an anniversary date or altered vacation plans at the last moment? Ever been late to pay a bill? We as earthbound citizens of 21st Century America tend to be time conscious as we attempt to stay attuned to our daily obligations. We use many methods to do this. The calendar business alone is a multi-million dollar enterprise as are the other technologies available to help us stay on schedule and hopefully on time, which for some of us, is still just a wishful thought. The days of tying a note on our finger to remind us of something important went the way of the Edsel, the dodo bird, and the Soviet Union a long time ago. (Note, though, that ‘honey-do’ lists remain valid.) Computer programs for time management, DayRunner systems, handheld organizers or PDA systems, pagers, instant messenger and voice mail each seek to ‘simplify’ our life and aid us in our quest for timeliness and date keeping. Our sophistication in the realm of time management knows few boundaries as we employ the latest technology to help us not forget that which we deem important to our daily lives throughout the passing year. For better or for worse, we are people with an eye on the calendar as we try to keep our appointed times on a daily basis. Consider, then, this question:
Does GOD have a calendar of His appointed times?
The answer, ascertained in the light of the Bible, is quite clear: He does! The reckoning of time is notable in Scripture from the opening page of Genesis through the testimony of the Book of Revelation. Genesis, for example, informs us that after the six days of creation, the Creator of the Universe crowned His own efforts with the seventh day, or shabbat (Sabbath) rest. Yeshua (Jesus) reminded some of the Pharisees that, “the shabbat was made for man...and that He, “the Son of Man, is Lord of the shabbat.” (Mark 2:27-28) This seventh day, distinguished from the first day through the sixth day, was to be a recurring point of remembrance for the people of Israel throughout our generations, an attestation of His sovereign work and His sovereign provision. Indeed, the shabbat remains a covenant sign for Israel (Exodus 31:16-17) and available to all who honor the GOD of Israel regardless of background (Isaiah 56:6-8). Consequently, the shabbat is the most celebrated of the LORD’s appointed times, is mentioned first among the feasts of Leviticus 23, and has been observed for millennia by the Jewish people and others made aware of its great significance and message of grace. Each week a joyous new celebration of the LORD our GOD, a new Shabbat, begins at sundown on Friday evening.
Besides the shabbat, Scripture informs us of six other major holy days. These special days are often termed the Feasts of Israel or the Biblical holy days. They, too, are detailed in chapter 23 of the book of Leviticus. The warming air of springtime ushers in the three spring feasts. These feasts are Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Weeks, also known as Pentecost, or Shavuot. As autumn draws near the fall feasts arrive, each at its divinely ordained time. These remembrances include Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, or Tabernacles. These appointed times serve as a season of reflection, prayer and celebration, reminding us anew of the goodness and the kindness of GOD and His blameless character. Not surprisingly, therefore, each of these holy days, both the spring and fall feasts points us directly to Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth as the central Person of the season. Yeshua, who is the Lamb of GOD that takes away the sins of the world and the firstfruits of the resurrection of the dead, will return at the appointed time with the blast of the great shofar of GOD to set up His throne in Jerusalem. All the nations will behold His glory as Isaiah 40:5 seems to declare. Those who now place their trust in Messiah Yeshua are entering into an inner shabbat rest in the Holy Spirit as they wait expectantly for His return:
“There remains therefore a rest (Greek word is sabbatismos, likely derived from the Hebrew word, shabbat) for the people of GOD. For he who has entered into His rest has himself also ceased from his works as GOD did from His.” (Hebrews 4:9-10)
As the fall feasts of the LORD draw near, let us reflect on the calendar of the LORD and realize that Yeshua gave His life so that we might serve Him daily with gladness as a repentant yet redeemed people. We gather this season in community as a body of believers, in order to reflect on the great love of GOD for mankind. We should consider with truthfulness the degree of daily faithfulness we have exhibited in response to His sacrificial love. The feasts of the LORD are a great blessing, reminding us that He is LORD, our times are in His hands. Why not enjoy His appointed times as we look to Yeshua, the Author and the Perfecter of our faith? We will certainly be enriched and our obligations, too, may take on a new light in the light of Him.