Chag Yeshua... is it a Mitzvah?
James Scott Trimm
Recently the question has been asked, is keeping the Feast of Deliverance (Chag Yeshua) a "commandment"?
The key verse is 3rd Maccabees 6:36:
And when they had ordained a public rite for these things
in their whole community and for their descendants,
they instituted the observance of the aforesaid days as a festival,
not for drinking and gluttony, but because of the deliverance
that had come to them through Elohim.
So the question is, is this a commandment?
To begin with we certainly have a festival here instituted in Scripture.
One also might ask what constitutes a "commandment"?
We have a habit of thinking in English, but the Hebrew word we translate "commandment" is MITZVAH. A MITZVAH has a much broader meaning than what we think of as a "commandment". A MITZVAH can also be a "good deed". If a boy scout helps an old lady accross the street we say that he has done a MITZVAH.
In the Passover Sader we learn how important it is to identify ourselves with our people. We learn that the Passover story is not just the account of how "they" were delivered from Egypt, but we must identify with our people and see this as an account of how "we" were delivered from Egypt. Likewise there are two ways of looking at the deliverance of the Jewish people as recorded in the 3rd Book of Maccabees. We can look at it as "their" deliverance, or we can identify ourselves with our people and look at these events as "OUR" deliverance. That is what the Feast of Yeshua is about, identifying ourselves with our people and celebrating OUR deliverance. The Scripture tells us that a Feast was ordained "for their whole community" and "their descendents". We are that community, we are their descendents. This is OUR festival.
The next question is: Did they have the power to ordain a feast? I believe the Scriptural answer is "yes".
We read in the Torah:
9: And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire;
and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment:
10: And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall shew
thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee:
11: According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they
shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right
hand, nor to the left.
(Deut. 17:9-11 KJV)
2nd Maccabees opens with two attached letters from the Jerusalem Council, the first is addressed to the Jews in Egypt in general (1:1-9) and the second is to Aristobulus, a teacher of King Ptolemy and to the Jews in Egypt (1:10-2:32). The two letters are from “the people that were at Jerusalem and in Judea, and the council, and Judas” (1:10). 2nd Maccabees is very much like the letter from the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:23-29 relaying an official decree from the Council to Jews in the Diaspora. That which we find written in 2Maccabees chapters 1-2 is “the sentence of judgment” of “the judge that shall be in those days” (Deut. 17:9) and we are therefore directed by Torah to “observe to do according to all that they inform you” (Deut. 17:10) and not “decline… to the right hand, nor to the left” (Deut. 17:11)
THE CASE OF PURIM
In the Book of Ester we read:
17 On the thirteenth day of the month Adar, and on the fourteenth day of the same, they
rested: and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
18 But the Jews that were in Shushan, assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof,
and on the fourteenth thereof. And on the fifteenth day of the same, they rested: and made
it a day of feasting and gladness.
19 Therefore do the Jews of the villages, that dwell in the unwalled towns, make the
fourteenth day of the month Adar, a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of
sending portions one to another.
20 And Mordekhai wrote these things and sent letters, unto all the Jews that were in all
the provinces of the king Achashverosh, both near and far,
21 To enjoin them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the
fifteenth day of the same, yearly.
22 The days wherein the Jews had rest from their enemies, and the month which was
turned unto them from sorrow to gladness, and from mourning into a good day; that they
should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending portions one to another,
and gifts to the poor.
23 And the Jews took upon them to do as they had begun, and as Mordekhai had written
26 Wherefore they called these days Purim, after the name of pur. Therefore because of
all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and
that which had come unto them,
27 The Jews ordained and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as
joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days
according to the writing thereof, and according to the appointed time thereof, every year.
(Esther 9:17-23, 26-27)
Now likewise we have here a feast which was established in the Scriptures and ordained by our forefathers as a feast known as "Purim". Is it a Mitvah to celebrate Purim? Do we identify ourslves with our people? Was this THEIR celebration, or is it OURS?
THE CASE OF CHANNUKAH
Again as we read in 1Maccabees:
56 And so they kept the dedication of the altar eight days and offered burnt offerings with gladness, and
sacrificed the sacrifice of deliverance and praise.
57 They decked also the forefront of the temple with crowns of gold, and with shields; and the gates and the
chambers they renewed, and hanged doors upon them.
58 Thus was there very great gladness among the people, for that the reproach of the heathen was put away.
59 Moreover Judas and his brethren with the whole congregation of Israel ordained, that the days of the dedication
of the altar should be kept in their season from year to year by the space of eight days, from the five and
twentieth day of the month Casleu, with mirth and gladness.
And in 2nd Maccabees:
And now see that ye keep the feast of tabernacles in the month Casleu.
(2Macc. 1:9 KJV)
Therefore whereas we are now purposed to keep the purification of the temple upon the five and twentieth day of the
month Casleu, we thought it necessary to certify you thereof, that ye also might keep it, as the feast of the
(2Macc. 1:18a KJV)
Whereas we then are about to celebrate the purification, we have written unto you, and ye shall do well, if ye keep
the same days.
(2Macc. 2:16 KJV)
5 Now upon the same day that the strangers profaned the temple, on the very same day it was cleansed again, even
the five and twentieth day of the same month, which is Casleu.
6 And they kept the eight days with gladness, as in the feast of the tabernacles, remembering that not long afore
they had held the feast of the tabernacles, when as they wandered in the mountains and dens like beasts.
7 Therefore they bare branches, and fair boughs, and palms also, and sang psalms unto him that had given them good success in cleansing his place.
8 They ordained also by a common statute and decree, That every year those days should be kept of the whole nation of the Jews.
(2Macc. 10:5-8 KJV)
Now likewise we have here a feast which was established in the Scriptures and ordained by our forefathers as a feast known as "Channukah" (The Feast of the Dedication). Is it a Mitvah to celebrate Channukah? Do we identify ourselves with our people? Was this THEIR celebration, or is it OURS?
In John 5, Yeshua is in Jerusalem for an unnamed feast. It has been argued that the only feast that makes sense is
Purim in AD 28. The feast of John 5 fell on a Sabbath (5:9). The only feast day to fall on a Sabbath between AD 25
and AD 35 was Purim of AD 28.
Certainly our Messiah Yeshua observed Channukah. John 7:1 tells us that starting at that time, Yeshua avoided going to Judea and taught only in Galil because the Judeans wanted to kill him:
After these things, Yeshua was walking in Galil,
for He did not want to walk in Y’hudah,
because the Judeans wanted to kill Him.
(John 7:1 HRV)
The next few verses tell us that when Sukkot came, Yeshua felt compelled to go to the Temple in Jerusalem, but came
there secretly, not even letting his family know, and traveling apart from them:
2 And the Feast of Tabernacles of the Judeans was near.
3 And His brothers said to Yeshua, Depart from here and go into Y’hudah, that Your
talmidim might see the works that You do:
4 For there is no one who does anything in secret, and desires that he be [known] in
public. If you do these things, show your nefesh to the world:
5 For not even His brothers had trust in Yeshua.
6 Yeshua said to them: My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.
7 The world is not able to hate you, but it hates Me because I testify against it; that its
works are evil.
8 Go up to this feast: I will not go up now to this feast, because My time is not yet
9 He said these things, and He stayed in Galil.
10 And after His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He also went up: not in the open,
but in a secret manner.
(John 7:2-10 HRV)
Yochanan then goes on to cover the events which transpired during this Sukkot visit (John 7:11-10:21).
John 10:22 then opens with:
Now the Feast of Chanukkah was held in Yerushalayim,
and it was winter. And Yeshua was walking in the Temple,
in the porch of Shlomo.
(John 10:22-23 HRV)
Clearly Yeshua had returned to Jerusalem, something he normally avoided doing at this point in time, just as he had come for Sukkot, now he had come for Channukah. In context John 10:22 is not simply incidental, it is intended to be read in context with John 7:1-10 to indicate that Yeshua risked his life to come to Jerusalem to be there for Channukah, juts as he had done so for Sukkot. Normally in this time he avoided Judah and taught only in Galil. Clearly Yeshua had come to observe Channukah just as he had come to observe Sukkot, despite the fact that many Judeans wished to kill him, because he thought it urgently important to observe the feast.
Now just as Yeshua observed Purim and Channukah, if we say we are in Him, we should observe these as well. While we do not have a speccific record of Yeshua keeping Chag Yeshua, we do know that this feast was "ordained" by our
forefathers and established in the Scriptures in just the same way as the feasts of Purim and Channukah which we do have record that he kept. This would lead us to the conclusion that Yeshua would have kept Chag Yeshua as well.
He who says, I am in Him,
ought to conduct himself
according to His conduct.
(1Jn. 2:6 HRV)
If Yeshua kept these extra-Torah feasts that were ordained by our forefathers and established in the Scriptures, then we should certainly keep them as well.
Now likewise we have in Chag Yeshua a feast which was established in the Scriptures and ordained by our forefathers as a feast known as "Chag Yeshua" (The Feast of the Deliverance). Is it a Mitvah to celebrate Chag Yeshua? Do we identify ourslves with our people? Was this THEIR celebration, or is it OURS?
HaSatan wishes "to steal and to kill and to destroy" (Jn. 10:10) and he knows the time is short and has stepped up his war with those who proclaim both Torah Observance and Faith in Messiah (the two pillars of Nazarene Judaism) (Rev. 12:12, 17; 13:7). But no weapon forged against us will prosper (Is. 54:17).
We really need our supporters to step up to the plate
Please help us bring the message of Torah and Messiah to a lost world and create Scripture study materials for believers. Folks we REALLY need you to step up to the plate now more than ever! We are struggling to keep our home (Click Here to find out more)
To make a donation, go to http://www.nazarenespace.com, click on the Pay Pal box and give whatever you can afford. (You can also donate directly thru PayPal by sending paypal donations to firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also mail donations to
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053