The Return of the Moedim Messiah
After the spring moedim (Pesach, Chag HaMatzot, Reishit Qatzir, and Shavuot) comes a long, hot, and dry summer in the Land of Israel. But the moedim return in the Fall and with them comes cooler weather and relief from the heat.
Like the spring moedim that foretold Messiah's first coming, Yom Teruah marks the beginning of the fall festivals that foretell His second coming (oh, Lord, may it be soon!). In this moed we can see Messiah returning with a great trumpet blast and vanquishing His enemies in preparation for Judgment Day and the Day of Atonement.
The blessing of the moedim return with Yom Teruah: the Feast of Trumpets, the first of the fall moedim.
Prophecy speaks of the Great Trumpet that will herald the return of the Messiah King following the long, hot, and dry centuries since His appearing.
In the previous article, we noted above that the Greek word used in the Septuagint for teruah was salpiggon ("trumpets", singular salpigx). This word is used in the writings of the apostles eleven times including these prophetic passages:
"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other." (Matthew 24:30-31)
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
In these verses we see that a trumpet, a salpigx, is associated with the return of our King, Messiah Yeshua. Note earlier that we identified one of the "special commands" of the day as this: It is a reminder by "blowing of trumpets" (Leviticus 23:24). Scripture does not specify of what this day is to be a reminder. For followers of Messiah Yeshua, it is a reminder that He promised that He would return in power and great glory (Matthew 24:30) and we long for His glorious appearing.
The day or the hour?
Yom Teruah is the only moed that falls on the first day of the month. All of the other moedim fall on a day that is well into the month: the fourteenth, the tenth, fifty days after Passover, etc. Because of this unique requirement, the Sanhedrin council [the Jewish "Supreme Court"] mandated that Yom Teruah is always celebrated for two days. These two days are celebrated together as though they were just a single day of forty-nine hours (from candle lighting time about eighteen minutes before sundown on the first day to havdalah time forty-two minutes after sundown on the second day). This is to sanctify the right day in every situation and allow for the sighting of the new moon when it is dark.
If the new moon is sighted as it is setting after sundown that means that the entire day before sundown was Yom Teruah. If the Israelites had not sanctified that day then they would have violated the commandment regarding Yom Teruah. Therefore they honor the first day they expect to sight the new moon.
If the new moon is sighted as it is rising after sundown that means that the day that began at sundown is Yom Teruah. If the Israelites had not sanctified that day then they would have violated the commandment regarding Yom Teruah for the hours from sundown until the moon was sighted. Therefore they honor the second day they expect to sight the new moon.
This ensures that although no man knows the day or the hour that Yom Teruah actually begins they are able to properly honor the day.
Messiah Himself pointed to Yom Teruah as the day of His return using this well-known condition:
"And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." (Matthew 24:31-36)
Messiah uses a parable of a fig tree to indicate that there will be indications of the season of His return. Then He uses an expression that clearly points to Yom Teruah, the day of the shofar blast that announces the arrival of the King! We should be aware of the time and the seasons and keep a lookout for Him. He tells us:
"Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. (Luke 12:35-38)
We should be dressed in readiness for His return.
Can We Know?
Messiah uses phrasing that points clearly to the day of which "no man knows the day or the hour" to describe the date of His return: Yom Teruah.
Some have made note of various passages in Scripture that appear tell us that we cannot know when Messiah will return. For example:
Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. (Matt 25:13)
This passage is found in relation to the parable of the ten virgins. It is the foolish virgins who were unprepared to whom Messiah is speaking in this verse. The five prudent virgins were prepared for the coming of the bridegroom.
Here is another passage that is used:
For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. (1 Thes 5:2)
This verse is found in Paul's first letter to the believers in Thessalonica. Just two sentences later he also tells them this:
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. (1 Thes 5:4-6)
Paul tells them that they are not in darkness that the day of the Lord's returning would overtake them like a thief! They knew the times and seasons (verse 1) and so they would not be unprepared.
Another verse that is often used comes from Peter's second letter:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. (2 Pet 3:10)
Here Peter is referring to Paul's reference in 1 Thessalonians above. He even notes that some who are "untaught and unstable distort" Paul's writings "to their own destruction" (verses 15-16).
The last verse used to say we cannot know the time of the Yeshua's return includes the words of the Master, Himself, from the book of Revelation:
So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. (Rev 3:3)
Here Yeshua is speaking to the believers in Sardis whom He declares to be "dead" (Rev 3:1). It is these dead believers who, if they do not "wake up", will be surprised at Messiah's coming.
Messiah uses common phrasing that points clearly to the only well-known day of which "no man knows the day or the hour" to describe the date of His return: Yom Teruah.
May He return soon!
Until then, let us celebrate the moed with its traditions.