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What Are The Moedim? Understanding the Jewish holidays

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October 10th, 2016
Teachings / By

The Jewish people are unparalleled in culture and tradition — especially when it comes to times of festivities. All throughout the year, the Jewish holidays abound. These days and weeks with major significance to the people of Israel. From the single-day celebration of Purim in the spring to the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah in winter.

There are, however, seven appointed times that take the greatest precedence on the calendars of the Jewish people. Israel calls these appointed times 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 Moedim

The Hebrew language has far fewer words than our English language, yet every word is rich with meaning. How many synonyms can you think of for the word “snow?” One, two, maybe three (for you modern day Shakespeares)? 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”.

They are based on size, thickness, shape, quantity, temperature etc. of the snow. There are dozens of descriptive words to use other than “snow.” Keeping this in mind, an Inuit might argue that if we only have two words for snow, everything will be a less than perfect translation. To them, the word is incredibly rich with meaning.

The same is true of moedim for the people of Israel.

The word does not solely mean a festive time or a season of celebration. It is a time to remember and reflect on all of the times when God revealed Himself as mighty and strong, loving and holy.

Story of a journey

The people of Israel recall when God delivered their fathers out of the land of Egypt. After that, He led them through the wilderness. They reminisce the joyous day their people finally crossed the Jordan river. They stepped into the land of Canaan that promised long before, to their father Abraham.

The moedim affirm a covenant relationship with the LORD. They signify life. Yes, these are the most wonderful days of the year for the people of Israel. But you may wonder, where can we see the moedim in Scripture?

Firstly, we can read all about the moedim 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.

Major holidays

There are four Spring moedim and three Fall moedim. Below is a list of their English names with Hebrew transliteration:

Spring Moedim

Passover – Pesach

Feast of Unleavened Bread – Hag HaMatzot

First Fruits – Yom Habikkurim

Festival of Weeks (Pentecost) – Shavuot

Fall Moedim

Feast of Trumpets – Yom Teruah (Rosh Hashanah)

Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur

Feast of Tabernacles – Sukkot

Messianic fulfilment

There’s a large difference in how believers observe the Spring moedim (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost). These holidays have been fulfilled in the life of Yeshua (Jesus).

In dying on the cross, Yeshua fulfilled the first two festivals. Passover deals with redemption through the death of a lamb. Unleavened Bread is about getting rid of leaven (sin). The death of the Lamb of God (Passover) paid the price for our indebtedness and gave us freedom from sin (Unleavened Bread).

Yeshua’s resurrection from the grave fulfilled the holiday of First Fruits. This holiday 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. We received Him right after Yeshua 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.

The Weight of Moedim

Many of us have heard the term “the second coming of the Messiah.” We recognize that Yeshua died, resurrected and ascended into Heaven. And He is also coming back again, hence the “second” coming. This too is connected to the festivals. Because when He returns for the second and final time, He will fulfill the Fall moedim. This is one of the reasons we anxiously await his return.

To the people of Israel, the moedim are 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 each moedim functions as a sign to us today that they are truly appointed times. They unveil the story of salvation, even for the Gentiles and they connect to many major events in history. The moedim even play a part in the personal life of Yeshua on earth.

This is why they are not only a part of the Jewish calendar. But they are in the calendar of God.

Dustin Herron
Dustin Herron is a men's ministry coordinator at Gateway Church in Southlake, TX, and has a Master’s in Christian Leadership from Moody Bible Institute. He attended a Messianic congregation in southeastern Kentucky while growing up, and through this experience, the LORD cultivated a passion for Israel and for God’s Word in Dustin. He greatly enjoys spending time with his wife, Andrea, and reading in his hammock whenever cooler Texas weather permits.
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