The Jewish people are unparalleled in culture and tradition — especially when it comes to times of festivities. All throughout the year, from the single-day celebration of Purim to the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah, there are days and weeks with major significance to the people of Israel. There are, however, seven appointed times that take the greatest precedence on the calendars of the Jewish people. These appointed times are known as the moedim (מועדים).
Though this Hebrew word can be defined as “appointed times,” this definition fails to give the word true justice in its translation. The Hebrew language has far fewer words than our English language, every word is rich with meaning — here’s what I mean.
How many synonyms can you think of for the word “snow?” One, two, maybe three (for you modern day Shakespeare’s)? Well, the Inuit people, who live in the far northern areas where snow is all too common like Alaska, Siberia, and Greenland, have over 50 different words for “snow” based on size, thickness, shape, quantity, temperature, etc. there are dozens of descriptive words to use other than “snow.” Keeping this in mind, do you see how an Inuit might argue a less than perfect translation upon finding out that we are using only one or two words to refer to frozen, flaky precipitation?
The word “snow,” to the Inuit people, is incredibly rich with meaning, and there is much more behind this single word than what comes to our minds when we hear it. The same is true of moedim for the people of Israel.
The word doesn’t solely mean a festive time or a season of celebration. It is also marinated in remembering and reflecting on all of the times God showed Himself mighty and strong, loving and holy.
The people of Israel are beckoned to recall when God delivered their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and how He led them through the wilderness. They are prompted to reminisce the joyous day their people finally crossed the Jordan river into the land of Canaan, which was promised so long before to Abraham. The moedim signify covenant relationship with the LORD. They signify life. Yes, these are the most wonderful days of the year for the people of Israel.
Where can we see the moedim in Scripture?
The moedim can be found highlighted in chapter 23 of Leviticus, but ultimately they are interwoven all throughout the Torah. Each one has direct ties back to a time when the LORD blessed the people of Israel, or at least when He was active on their behalf. Something that makes them even more amazing is how each moedim points to the Messiah and the story of salvation — but we’ll have to dive into that later. Here’s a list of the moedim in English and in Hebrew:
Passover – Pesach
Feast of Unleavened Bread – Matzah
Feast of First Fruits – Yom Habikkurim
Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) – Shavuot
Feast of Trumpets – Yom Teruah (Rosh Hashanah)
Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur
Feast of Tabernacles – Sukkot
Spring vs. Fall
There are four Spring moedim and three Fall moedim, but there’s a large difference in observance for believers — the Spring moedim (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost) have been fulfilled in the life of Yeshua.
In dying on the cross, Yeshua fulfilled the first two festivals.
Passover deals with redemption through the death of a lamb, Unleavened Bread with getting rid of leaven (sin). The death of the Lamb of God (Passover) paid the price for our indebtedness and gave us a way to be free from sin (Unleavened Bread).
First Fruits was fulfilled in Yeshua’s resurrection from the grave. First Fruits deals with offering God the first of the produce. 1 Corinthians 15:20 says it perfectly, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Finally, Pentecost (or Shavuot) was fulfilled in Acts 2 upon the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost deals with the seal of covenant relationship with God as the people received the Law on Mt. Sinai. Yeshua gave us the promise of the Holy Spirit and we received it right after He ascended into heaven. Ephesians 1:13 says, “In him you also… were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit living inside of us is the fulfillment of Shavuot.
Many of us have heard the term “the second coming of the messiah.” We recognize that Yeshua died, resurrected, ascended into heaven, and that He is coming back again, hence the “second” coming. This is connected to the festivals, because when He returns for the second and final time, He will fulfill the Fall moedim.
The Fall moedim are yet to be fulfilled, but will be upon Christ’s second coming. This is one of the reasons we anxiously await his return.
What have we learned?
To the people of Israel, the moedim are important — really important. They are commanded by God and are times of celebration and remembering. They have distinct fulfillment in Yeshua. The Spring moedim have been fulfilled, and the Fall festivals will be fulfilled upon Christ’s return.
The intricacy of what each moedim fully means, how they unveil the story of salvation (even for the Gentiles), their connection to many major events in history, and the role they play in the personal life of Yeshua all function as a sign to us today that the moedim are truly “appointed times” — not only on the calendar of the Jews, but also on the calendar of God.
Purim —The celebration of how God saved the Israelites from the hand of King Ahasuerus (sometimes referred to as King Xerxes) and the wicked schemes of Haman through the bravery of Mordecai and Queen Esther. This story can be found in the Old Testament book of Esther. Hanukkah — Often referred to as “The Festival of Lights” or “The Festival of Dedication,” this season is a celebratory time reflecting on the rededication of the second temple as the Maccabees took back control of Judea and re-established the operation of the temple from Antiochus IV Epiphanes in the 1st Century BCE. This festive time is also referenced in the Bible — in John 10:22. Seven moedim — There are technically eight “appointed times” in Leviticus 23. The very first moed (singular of moedim) is mentioned as the weekly sabbath. Torah — The five books written by Moses; Genesis through Deuteronomy.