SHEMINI ATZERET & SIMCHAT TORAH
"Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts." (Jeremiah 15:16)
All scripture (including the Torah) is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so the man of God will be thoroughly equipt for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are celebrated together on Tishrei 22 and 23. Sometime after the 11th century, Shemini Atzeret also came to be known as Simhat Torah, "Rejoicing of the Torah." In the Diaspora, this name was applied only to the second day of Shemini Atzeret. This joyful celebration which we call Simhat Torah, is an expression of the joy of being thankful and obedient to the fulness of all of God's laws, because God empowers us to do this, for they are written on our hearts.(Ezekiel 36:26-27)
"On the eighth day you shall hold a solemn gathering; you shall not work at your occupations." (Numbers 29:35)
The Torah commanded Israelites to appear before God, who commanded them to use these special times or feasts, to focus upon the words of the Torah corporately as a nation. (Deuteronomy 31:10)
At various times in Israel's history, public reading of the Torah served to rekindle the fires of spiritual revival. (II Kings 22:8-23:15 and under Nehemiah in 8:1-9:34).
The observance of God's laws, was Messiah's greatest joy. Yeshua haMashiach/Messiah, believed that doing the things contained in the law and being a teacher of the law, would cause one to be called great in the kingdom of heaven. He spoke of a righteousness which would assure one entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
Messiah said: "Think not that I Am come to destroy the law, or the Prophets, I aAm not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say to you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.
Whoseover therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
For I say to you that except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:17-20) Again, our Messiah, and holy Lord said: "Lo I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will O God." (Psalm 40:7,Heb.10:7) Messiah walked this earth, as the word made flesh. (John 1:1-3) He loved God's law. When he spoke of Torah, he extended it's meaning, saying: In the law it is written, "Thou shall not commit ery"--but I say unto you, "He that looks after a woman to after her, has comitted ery with her already, in his heart..."(Matt. 5:28)
The scriptures indicate that Messiah participated in the Jewish feasts. As a child, "born under the law," (Gal. 4:4) he accompanied his stepfather Joseph and his mother Mary when they celebrated the appointed feasts, singing Hallel and the traditional observances the festivals entailed. (Luke 2:41)
He observed Shabbot/Sabbath, and appeared as many as four times at the Passover feast. (John 4:45; 5:1; 6:4; 12:12), He attended at least part of the Feast of Tabernacles (7:10,14), and the Feast of Dedication (10:22-23). Shortly before Messiah's , he disclosed new meaning in the revelation of Passover, far beyond what been previously understood, by addressing forgiveness of sins and the topic of everlasting life (Matt. 26:26-29)
"He went unto the Mount of Olives. And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down, and taught them." (ohn 8:1-2) This last day of Succot, when Messiah taught in this verse, was Shemini Atzeret. Once again, in ancient times this was also called Simchat Torah, the rejoicing in the Torah. So, in John 8:5, we see Yeshua haMashiach, the Living Word, (John 1:1) being confronted on the day referred to as "the rejoicing in the Torah."
REJOICING IN TORAH & THE FIRST CENTURY MESSIANIC BELIEVERS
The Apostle Paul found various reasons to rejoice in the law. He states:
"So then, they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse: for it is written: Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.Mankind is justified by grace through faith in Messiah.
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident: For "The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but the man that doeth them, shall live in them. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for as it is written: Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. That the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles through Yeshua haMashiach/Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
The Gentiles, who have not the law, at times do by nature the things contained in the law. These, Paul said, show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing and excusing one another.
In Romans 9:30, Paul tells of Gentiles having attained to righteousness--even, "the righteousness by faith," whereas, some Jews have not obtained the law of righteousness. (Rom. 9:31)
Moreover, in talking of Jewishness, the Jewish Apostle John, who received revelations from the ascended Messiah, describes those who say they are Jews but are not, and are in God's eyes, liars, whose house of worship is the synagogue of Satan. (Rev. 3:9)
Messiah told his disciples to "stay in Jerusalem till they were endued with power from on high." (Acts 1:8) What did this mean? It meant that this "Feast of Pentecost" was going to be different than anything these 120 Jewish people had ever seen in all their years of Judaism.
We read in Acts 2:5, there were dwelling at Jerusalem, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. When the out-pouring of God's Spirit came upon 120 people praying in Jerusalem, Peter stood and declared that "this is that" spoken by the Prophet Joel. At this time, 3000 Jews asked: What must we do to be saved? And Peter said: Repent, be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38) This same gospel went to the Samaritans, (Acts 8:16) to the Gentiles (Acts 10:46-48) and the Ephesians. (Acts 19:5) This full gospel of Yeshua haMashiach/Jesus Christ, wasn't just for the 1st century. Acts 2:39, states: "For this promise is for you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off (The Gentiles) even as many as the Lord our God shall call. In Ephesians 2:13, Paul write to Gentile believers saying: At that time, you were without Christ being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, without God in the world. But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who were sometimes afar off, are made nigh, or near by the of Christ.
The 12 apostles of the Lamb believed Torah reading was good. Paul states that he personally "believes the things written in the law," in the following verse:
"However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the law and that is written in the Prophets." (Acts 24:14)
Paul used the Old Testament as a textbook for discipling all believers, stating: "All scripture is God-breathed (including the Law) and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
He teaches non-Jewish believers have became united with Jewish believers with no difference between those found "In Christ." "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Yeshua haMashiach/Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28) All are God's chosen people under the New Covenant, according to apostolic doctrine.
Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." (Colossians 311-12)
The Apostle Paul, tells of his own healing by the ministry of a Messianic Jew following his conversion when the risen and glorified Messiah appeared to him. (Acts 19:5)
"And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews living there, came unto me and stood and said: Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour, I looked up upon him." (Acts 22:12)
Saul, whose name was changed to Paul was excited to see Jews come into the fulness of their inheritance in Messiah!
When they hear this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul you see, brother,how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. (Acts 21:20)
WITH REGARD TO ALL BELIEVERS FOLLOWING THE JEWISH APOSTLES TORAH OBSERVANT LIFESTYLE
Paul taught the Gentiles to follow his own example and lifestyle, saying: "Join with others" in following my example brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you." (Philippians 3:17) He affirmed the whole law, saying: "We know the law is good if one uses it properly. Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly, and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for ers of fathers and ers of mothers, for manslayers. For -mongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for purgured persons, and if there be any other thing contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust." (1 Timothy 1:8) And again, "So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. (Romans 7:12) This proper application of the law to the life of the believer, was paramount in the teachings of Paul, i.e. "Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)
The word "end" here is "telos" meaning at times "end," or goal,or aim, as stated in 1 Timothy 1:5: "The goal ("telos") of this command is love. Paul is not stating the law is no longer useful, for this contradicts many other passages in which he affirms the law, such as "I believe everything that agrees with the law and that is written in the prophets. (Acts 24:14)Since Messiah is the empowerment to fulfill the law, through the love of God, we must bear in mind that Messiah is our righteousness. There were Judaizers in the first century, who opposed the doctrine of salvation through Messiah's shed . Nevertheless, the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem, gave the Gentiles commands from the law, such as:
As they (the apostles) traveled from town to town they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. (Acts 16:4)
"Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from . For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren." (Acts 15:19-22)
Luke tells us that in the 1st century, the Torah and the Prophets were publicly read every Shabbat in the synagogue. (Luke 4:17) With this as a basis for Apostle Paul's instruction to Timothy, in I Timothy 4:13 the apostle mandates that the scriptures be read regularly at public gatherings. (Acts 13: 15, 15:21, 2 Corinthians 3: 14-15) In time, it became the custom to complete the cycle of Torah readings for the year, on Simchat Torah.
The Torah command to "keep the feast" is mentioned in connection with the Day of Pentecost, where Messiah commanded the 120 disciples to stay in Jerusalem for the entire Feast of Pentecost period, "for ye shall receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and ye shall be my witnesses, in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and unto the uttermst part of the earth." (Acts 1:4-8)
This means the first New Testament believers kept the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost in Jerusalem, for the full 8 days.
In Acts 20:16, Paul feels it encumbent to set sail, hastening to be at Jerusalem for Pentecost. At the feast, taking opportunity to share the revelation of Messiah entrusted to him, which he has a tremendous burden to do. The disciples repeatedly warning him to stay away, (Acts 21:4-12) and the Lord Himself appearing to him, giving him prophetic direction. (Acts 20:16, Exodus 19:15; 20:1-17)
On Shabbat/Sabbath there was no traveling allowed, neither at sea, as it forced others do have to work. From Omer 24 till Omer 27 there must have been a strong West wind, to allow the ship to cover the distance. In Acts 21:13-26, we observe that Paul is going up to the Feast. In Acts 21:27, the apostle is arrested.
"Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them, entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until an offering should be offered for every one of them." (Acts 21:26)
The account mentions that Paul is sacrificing in the Temple, according to the Torah. And this happened, after the and resurrection of Messiah.
Simchat Torah: The festival of "Rejoicing in the Torah," is the most joyous occasion of all.
It was at this season that we read the following of Messiah:
THE PRAYER FOR MAYIM (RAIN)
Winter season in the Holy Land is the rainy season. If the rains come down in their due season and in right measure, as we see in Joel 2:23, there will be an abundant harvest. If the promised rain fails to fall, the country endures the devastation of drought or famine. Throughout summer months, there is no rain, for this is the dry season. The spiritual truth seen here is that Yeshua hamashiach/Messiah, is our "Teacher of Righteousess," whose Spirit falls like rain, to bring the harvest to completion.
There are various scriptures that speak of praying for the early and latter rain, that God will pour it out of the heavens, onto the parched earth to bring the harvest. And to pour it into our parched hearts to bring forth a harvest in our lives, thirty, sixty, hundred-fold.
He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil.
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
But this is that spoken by the Prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass that in the last days, I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams. And on my servants and on my handmaids I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy! (Acts 19:5, "They spoke in tongues and prophesied) Acts 2:1-11, Acts 10:46,)
Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.
PRAISING HIS NAME WITH DANCING
In contemporary Jewish celebrations the annual cycle of weekly Torah readings is completed at this time. The last portion of the Torah is read, then readings begin again with first chapter of Genesis. This annual completion of the readings is a time of great celebration, with processions around the synagogue carrying Torahs and singing and dancing. As many people as possible are given the honor of carrying a Torah scroll in these processions.
Messiah said: I AM Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." (Rev. 22:13) Yearly, we read through God's Genesis, and the law, the Prophets, continuing through the gospels, the epistles on through the Revelation of Yeshua HaMashiach/Jesus Christ.
In Jerusalem, it is now customary on Simchat Torah morning for some congregations to join together in a dance processional through the city to the Western Wall. The procession is led by those carrying scrolls of the Torah carried under canopies, as thousands of people, young and old, eight and ten abreast, dance and sing their way to the Western Wall in the procession that stretches for as far as the eye can see. This aspect of the holiday is known as Simchat Torah, which means "Rejoicing in the Torah."
Tom & Alana Campbell
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