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Shmini Atseret and Simchat Torah

September 30, 2010

Scroll_yad_2 Happy Holiday! Enjoying the last holiday for this holiday season. This holiday is on the eighth day after Sukkot has started and is mentioned briefly in Leviticus 23:36 and in 1Kings 8:66.

Atseret menas “stop” – it’s the last holiday of the season, we stop celebrations after this. It also means “assembly” – a large gathering. The only thing the Bible says about it is “On the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly (atseret); and ye shall do no servile work therein.”

We can draw two important conclusions from this – since it is the last holiday it will be “with us” as our last holiday memory during our day-to-day life afterwards. To keep our eyes on God, it is therefore important that this holiday is on the one hand connected to the Bible, but also that it is joyful – to bring the happiness of the feast with us into the civic day-to-day life. This is why the Jewish tradition has put “Simchat Torah” on this holiday – the day when we finish reading the last part of the Torah – we read the last Parasha and we rejoice in the Word that God has given us. As we know that Jesus is the Word of God, we must also remember that this is a holiday of Jesus – celebrating Him who is God’s Word that became flesh. We will also read the first chapter of the Bible – to remember that once we’ve finished reading the Bible we must directly start over again – because there’s no such thing as “finished reading the Bible”.

Also, if Yeshua was indeed born on Sukkot, as some NT-maths indicate, then that means that he was circumcised and received his name Yeshua on this day. “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” (Luke 2:21)

This is the holiday when we celebrate the Torah – but also the day we celebrate Yeshua. It is the Yeshua-day! And there’s really no difference, since Yeshua is the Word of God! Not only did he give us his Word to live through, but he also sacrificed his Messiah on the cross so we can get forgiveness since we can’t keep the Torah on our own.

I hate when Christians look at the law as a curse that Jesus freed us from. We need to rejoice in the holy law – the Torah – that he gave us. It is a blessing that God cares about us enough to let us know his will for our lives. But we must also know that without Yeshua, the law condemns us – because we can’t keep it on our own.

Happy holiday!

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