Three special feasts, all ordained by God Himself, are celebrated at this time of year by the Jewish people of Israel. It is a very special time of the year.
The Feast of Trumpets is the first of the three. It comes on New Year's Day on the modern Jewish calendar, and in Hebrew it is called, Rosh HaShanah. God instructed Moses: "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month ye shall have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation." (Leviticus 23:24)
The blowing of the trumpet, or the ram's horn in that day, was the signal for the people to go to the tabernacle for a praise and worship service. It was a special time for all the Jewish people to thank and praise God for all His great blessings throughout the previous year. And, of course, it has the same purpose today. It took place this year on September 18.
The second celebration is the Day of Atonement, which in Hebrew is called, Yom Kippur. But it is more a fast than a feast. Again, God told Moses: "Also on the tenth day of the seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be a holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord." (Leviticus 23:27)
The Day of Atonement was, and still is, a day for confession of sin.
The people are to "afflict their souls," or to genuinely repent and mourn for their misdeeds and disobediences to God and to His Word and His commandments.
But it is also the commemoration of the one day each year when the Jewish High Priest entered the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and the Temple to make a special sacrifice on behalf of all the sins of all the Israelites.
It was a most solemn occasion then, and it is remembered in a most solemn way today. In Israel everything shuts down, including businesses, stores and shops, cars and buses, and even the radio and television stations. Everyone stays at home, and the serious ones spend the time renewing their relationship with God.
The third fall feast is the Feast of Tabernacles, which begins just five days after the Day of Atonement, and it lasts for a full seven days, or from one Sabbath to the next Sabbath. In Hebrew it is called the Feast of Succoth. Again God instructed Moses: "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, the fifteenth day of the seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord." (Leviticus 23:34)
God wanted the people to commemorate the fact that He provided food and shelter for them during their forty years in the wilderness. The term, tabernacles, refers to the tents or the temporary dwellings in which they lived during that time.
So each year now for the Feast of Tabernacles, devout Jewish people build little temporary shelters outside their houses. In these they eat and sleep and worship, acknowledging the God Who brought them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land to be their God.
This special feast was commemorated by Jesus (John 7), and it will also be an important part of worship during the coming Millennial Kingdom. The Bible tells us: "And it shall come to pass, that everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Israel shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles."(Zechariah 14:16)
The Lord will establish His Tabernacle in Jerusalem, and all the world will come every year to appear before Him and worship Him. How fitting a conclusion to the Feasts and the festival year.
Dr. Al Snyder is a former professor of Communications at Liberty University in Virginia and North Greenville University. He has done extensive missionary work in Israel and Africa.