Month 7:22, Week 3:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5936:199 AM|
SHEMINI ATSERET, SHABBAT 7:3
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 7 October 2012
Shemini Atseret 2012
The Eighth Day Assembly of Yahweh
Continued from Part 7
"Then I, John, saw the qodesh (holy, set-apart) city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from Elohim (God), prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the sukkah (tabernacle) of Elohim (God) is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. Elohim (God) Himself will be with them and be their Elohim (God). And Elohim (God) will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.' Then He who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new'" (Rev.21:2-5, ).NKJV
Shabbat shalom and Chag Sameach Shemini Atseret kol beit Yisra'el!
Shemini Atseret No Ordinary Assembly
And so it is we come to the end, to a festival - Shemini Atseret- which literally means 'the Eighth Assembly', and yet it is not an ordinary assembly, because unlike other Hebrew words that are translated 'assembly' - moed (appointed gathering), moshav (seat), miqra (convocation), sod (secret assembly), edah (appointed meeting), qehillah or qahal (invited gathering), each of which have their own particular nuances - the word atseret carries with it the sense of 'restraint' or to be 'held back'. This is not an invited assembly - it is as close as you can get to a forced one: the host is not allowing the guests to leave. He is compelling them to remain a little longer. Who is the host? Yahweh, of course. And those who have been invited to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb are forced to remain an extra day, a prophetic or heavenly 'day' corresponding to a thousand years (2 Pet.3:8)...not that they would, of course, want to leave, but those who have not received the Sukkot (Tabernacles) anointing who are stillw alking in the flesh might want to. In other words, we are being held back for the Millennium - we're not supposed to go 'home' and that's the whole point - a new home is being built for us! We're moving to the New Jerusalem from wherever we lived before.
Sukkot is Over
The days of dwelling in booths or tabernacles for seven days is over. Sukkot (Tabernacles) is a seven-day moed (appointment), not eight (Lev.23:41-43). This means that hitherto we have been in error in continuing to dwell under tents for eight days. We're told only to do it for seven. This eighth-day festival is entirely unto itself.
Symbolic Meaning of the Number Eight
Eight is the number of resurrection and of new beginning. Circumcision was an eighth-day observance (Gen.17:12) and marked a new beginning, placing the child under the former covenant. Noah, a friend of Yahweh, was the eighth person on the ark (1 Pet.3:20). Yah'shua (Jesus) was resurrected on the symbolic 'eighth' day (Mt.28:1-6; Jn.20:26), starting a new dispensation, and the New Heaven and New Earth shall be made on the 'eighth' day of the old millennial era, in reality the first day of yet another new epoch stretching into eternity:
Like the eighth note of the octave, Shemini Atseret completes one cycle - once completed - and starts a new one. Of course, that new cycle has not started with us for Yah'shua (Jesus) has not yet returned physically and we must now wait for half a year before Pesach (Passover) rolls around again.
"Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13, NKJV).
Shemini Atseret as a Sabbath
Nevertheless, this is also a regular sabbath which we, as the redeemed people of Messianic Israel, are commanded to observe, using it to rejoice in our deliverance and freedom (Dt.5:15). It, like Sukkot (Tabernacles), which we have just observed, and Shemini Atseret, is a feast and is a perpetual sign of a covenant, a qodesh (holy, set-apart) day for a Qodesh (Set-Apart, Holy) Elohim (God) by a qodesh (holy, set-apart) people. It is a day in which Yahweh regulates all activity, commanding social worship, a gathering designed to keep Messianic Israel together to be reminded that we owe our existence to Him. We are only to use substitutes like radio, TV or online internet gatherings in the absence of any possibility of assembling with others. Additionally the sabbath is to be used to:
There is No Authorised 'Simchat Torah'
- 1. Consult the prophets (2 Ki.4:23);
- 2. Teach children scriptural emet (truth) in their dwellings (Lev.23:3); and
- 3. Correct violators by teaching them correct sabbath observance (Is.56:2; Ezek.22:26).
The sabbath is not for regular work, merchandising, commercial sports, electioneering, holidaying or revelry. And like the first day of Sukkot (Tabernacles), Shemini Atseret is designated a sabbath day of rest. It is not a 'Simchat Torah Party' as it is often observed in Judaism - in fact, it hasn't anything to do with Torah directly at all...that's what one of the two main remembrances of Shavu'ot (Weeks, Pentecost) is for, remembering the giving of Torah on Mt.Sinai as Israel's Betrothal Covenant and, of course, the Baptism of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) at the first New Covenant or Messianic Shavu'ot as described in Acts.
Heaven on Earth - How Can It Be?
Today might appropriately be called the first day of heaven on earth. Obviously it isn't anything like that in reality - it is a literal hell on earth for millions of suffering people whether they are starving, whether they are being politically or religiously oppressed, or because of wars. For these such a notion of Heaven on Earth must seem like something out of the pages of a fairy tale. But even for those of us who are not living in a war-torn area, or who are not hungry, or where there is still some liberty left, there is still plenty of darkness and suffering. Right here in Sweden there are lost and unhappy people who are basically pretending that they have paradise when they don't. And I have no doubt it is the same in your own country, those of you who are from elsewhere. People everywhere need to know that there will be a literal Shemini Atseret one day, that there will be Paradise on Earth, and they need to know how they can start bringing the hope of it to be a believable reality down here by having that Paradise planted within. And that, of course, means the inner transformation of the soul by Yah'shua (Jesus) through the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) that all the other seven festivals are all about and point to. Shemini Atseret doesn't just 'happen' - it has to be believed in, sought, claimed, planted, nurtured, birthed, matured and occasionally pruned to stimulate new growth. That takes a lot of time, effort, patience and devotion.
And so, even though this set-apart day is not yet over until sunrise tomorrow, this annual assembly is over. We have clearly got a long way to go - I know I have. We face uncertain times in the weeks and months ahead. It's a desperately evil world and it's getting worse. The sabre-rattling and clamouring for war by evil men is being heard everywhere and for no righteous reasons. And here we are, in the middle of it, trying to make sense of it as unwilling actors in a theatre play, as Shakespeare said in his own play, As You Like It:
What rôle are you performing? What drives you to do what you do? Yourself, the world and its dark powers and principalities, or Yahweh? Where are you headed? With so many galloping toward the precipice, waging unwinnable wars of selfish ambition, the play is not a good one to be in. Though we must interact with it to some extent, we do not need to follow the devil's script. If we have lost the meaning of life, the reason we are down here, and have allowed ourselves to be sucked into the demonic theatre, now is definitely the time to exit. Whether you are in the sunrise or the sunset of your life, you have a meaningful part to play in Yahweh's own drama, so that when your time to exit comes, you can rest in the assurance that your life has not been wasted but has been of value and purpose.
All the world's a stage
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exists and their entrances...
So let us use the six months interval between this the last annual festival and the beginning of the next cycle at Pesach to think about these things, change direction where necessary, and move out of the darkness and into the light of Yah'shua (Jesus). Amen.