Monday, May 25, 2015

Decoration Day

Good morning on this memorial day, where we celebrate those who risked their lives (and some gave their lives) so that we could enjoy freedom, and thus I could do silly things like write a blog post twice a week.

But today I would like to show appreciation for the more long-term sacrifice that is involved through military efforts. Yes, there are many who struggle even today with issues like PTSD, but that's not all I refer to.

What about all of those Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and have been met with long-term health effects due to this chemical agent used as part of the United States chemical warfare in Vietnam?

According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange are eligible for benefits if they contract diseases such as AL Amyloidosis, Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Parkinson's Disease, Prostrate Cancer, Respiratory Cancers, and so on.

And of course, that is not the only chemical that can cause lasting effects. All this is to say our soldiers definitely deserve to be memorialized. Even those who survive may not be able to thrive in our world either psychologically or in terms of physical health. That is a huge sacrifice to make.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Priorities Revealed in Decision-Making

When we find ourselves in life, there are many given choices that we would have to make every day. And whether we are purposeful about those decisions or just kinda make them, we are ultimately revealing our true priorities in the way that we interact with this thing we call life.

So, what does that mean when we choose to sin in our lives. None of us would consciously create a plan that involved a terrible terrible sin once a week because (I hope) not one of us is that mixed up in their priorities for that to so openly and honestly reject God.

But since our subconscious decisions reveal a lot about our heart and our priorities, what does it mean when we rather make an effort to sin.

Simply, it reveals that we delight more in that sin at that moment than in  pleasing God. We have decided that our personal pleasure is more important than obedience to God.

Obviously, I don't want to depress you all too much here; there at least is the point where we are specifically trying our best to serve the Lord, but we all will still have moments of weakness, where we sin. We are after all, only human.

But we must realize what that sin actually shows about us within that point of time, and know that there is no such thing as an "accidental" sin. And since every sin reflects an attitude in our hearts of putting something other than God as more valuable in our lives. I think that there indeed can be nothing to be said about "little" sins either.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Marxist Political Thought

Karl Marx. He is certainly not the greatest political philosopher in the world. But I daresay he is not quite as bad as many would claim. His critiques of capitalism are worth noting and will probably be discussed in this blog within the near future. But today we're going to deal more with his view of history and his dialectic.

A dialectic is a form of revisionist history, where you believe that one system will come up against an antithesis, which then forms a synthesis, which of course starts the process all over again. Quite unrealistically, this dialectic is almost always supposed to be consistently moving upwards until it eventually results in a utopia. YAY!

Such is the case with Karl Marx who has a dialectic of economic systems. As history has advanced, we have been developing better and better economic systems via this dialectic. In Marx's mind, these systems from the past and future include: from family/tribal, we moved to primitive communism (which involves a bit of social organization with just a tad of division of labor, then to a feudal economy, which leads to capitalism. Inevitably, capitalism collapses, resulting in communism, which easily transitions into an anarchist communist utopia.

This dialectic is driven by a material element. Specifically, Marx believed that all of history was ultimately about class struggles, or a conflict over the means of production.

In the Capitalist phase, we find ourselves in today, Marx believes that the main problem is that the bourgeoisie (to Marx, this means the class that owns most of society's wealth and means of production) exploit the proletariat (working) class.

A primary reason for this concern had to do with the labor theory of value. The labor theory of value indicated that every object must be worth as much only as the amount of time and labor invested to make it. Thus, subjective value is lost for the sake of purely the amount of time it takes to make a product.

But since the only value is in the amount of time the proletariat puts into manufacture of the product, it is unfair for the bourgeoisie to even make any money off of the work of the proletariat, seeing as how the bourgeoisie put in no effort to make that product.

Further, Marx believes that the fact that the worker never truly gets to see the final outcome of his work, the worker becomes alienated from himself. He comes to work everyday as part of his everyday routine, but he doesn't see what impact that work is making on the world. It's simply a way he spends his time.

Inevitably, for Marx, this alienation will cause the proletariat to revolt. Without the proletariat to create the products necessary for capitalism to prosper, capitalism will collapse. A communist dictatorship will then take its place.

From here, Marx's view of human nature takes over. As he believes that man is influenced by society, and indeed is basically good, but corrupted by society. Marx believes that as we change the society,, we change the man. This then makes man perfectible and allows for the "inevitable" dissolution of government, and the anarchist communist utopia.

Of course, it doesn't take that close of a look at history to know that Marx's economic determinism hasn't exactly happened as he would have thought. The proletariat did revolt, but capitalism survived. And it isn't about to go away anytime soon. Sorry, Mr. Marx. Sorry.

Friday, May 15, 2015

It's Probably your Fault

Oh, right, I forgot, I shouldn't upset readers by saying that something in their life could have been avoided. People aren't fond of being told they did something wrong. Oh, well, I'm not writing this blog to please or entertain people, so...

In my relationship with the Lord, it would seem that there has been a rough patch once again. Times are tough and the relationship doesn't seem to be growing at all. And I at once just want to know why. Why? Why? Why?

But my first reaction wasn't to look to myself. Though I did not explicitly start blaming God, by refusing to look to myself for responsibility, I implicitly said that it was the fault of the Lord that all seemed to be dead. Perhaps my feeling was just that God is not obligated to give me anything, even a solid relationship with Him, and so maybe right now, He simply isn't.

Though technically true, that God is not obligated to give His children anything, my sentiment ignores the fact that God will always want to give us an opportunity to see Him greater. Indeed, He created us so that we could enjoy Him forever.

This is a similar situation to what the Israelites found themselves in prior to the captivity. They felt their relationship with the Lord become strained. They were sacrificing and fasting, and the Lord just didn't seem to be paying any attention. It is here that Isaiah reminds them (and me yesterday morning),
"Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness."

Or put more bluntly, God's merciful and willing to save you or hear your cries at any time. His ears do not become heavy ever so that he cannot hear. Instead if you are separated from God, it is your fault because of your iniquities.

That is exactly what I needed to hear. We as Christians are perfectly equipped to grow in our knowledge and intimate relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. So when we fail to grow in that relationship, it is not because of failing on God's part, but because of our own individual sinful failure. It will always be our fault.





(Note that suffering and trials are not what is being discussed here. Not all suffering and trials are the fault of man's individual sinfulness. Enjoying God does not equate with peaceful, non-hazardous conditions; instead it equates with peace and joy in Christ in the midst of dangerous and depressing circumstances.)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mothers! They do Things and it's Awesome!

So, yesterday was Mother's Day, which is kinda a big deal. Though we humans are still a little strange in creating celebrations for literally everything, I guess it makes sense to spend some time refocusing us to do what we should do all 365 days of the year. 

And such is Mother's Day as well, another holiday where we celebrate and honor our mothers - of course, an obligation that we as Christians should always hold. But maybe we forget sometimes, and maybe the day serves as a reminder of what all mothers do. 

I mean, they cook, clean, raise kids, take care of their sick household, decorate, and do anything else that their family requires in order to function as a cohesive unit. 

Wait, that's a little old-fashioned, isn't it? I guess in the somewhat feminist view, women do things like work a job, have a career, cook, clean, raise kids, take care of their sick household, decorate, and do anything else their family requires in order to function. Wait, that's still pretty impressive, isn't it? 

So, any way you really slice it, mothers are an integral part of the ideal family unit, and we should honor those people who fill that role 365 days a year. But if nothing else, I hope that you gave your mother due respect yesterday. That's what the day was meant for. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Psalm 23: Surely Goodness and Mercy will "Follow" You

So, with the first week of a long and busy summer done, I seem to have forgotten how to write. Seeing how I am taking an online composition class, I suppose I need to remember pretty soon. 

Have you ever wondered about the blessings of God and just how much they tend to pursue those who do right? Probably not, but that does seem to be message of Psalm 23:6. Psalm 23 as a whole of course, reads, 
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."

This is an interesting chapter to be sure, and I believe the meaning of one Hebrew word (with touches of meaning on other words as well) is instrumental to understanding the passage.

The word translated as "follow" here in this text is generally used for purposes that involve more energy and less passive than the meaning currently given by the word "follow." Thus, I would say that the definition of rādap in Psalm 23:6 is more along the lines of actively, persistently, and energetically pursuing an individual as if one was chasing or hunting an individual within a military situation.

It would seem that in general rādap means this more active pursuit with energy, rather than the more passive, “follow.” Thus, in order to justify a translation of the word which was that weaker form of the word, we would need to see clear textual and contextual reasons why that meaning was actually directed.

However, we see no such clues. Indeed, we see quite the opposite. The chapter’s emphasis upon trusting the Lord completely and wholly because of His providential care for His people is only strengthened by the thought that the Lord’s goodness and mercy will follow us persistently. This understanding is consistent with the way the Lord’s providence is displayed throughout the rest of the passage.

For example, in verse 2, it explains that “he maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” At first this doesn’t seem to highlight anything important, but if we remember the imagery of a shepherd that David is using here. The shepherd’s job was to find grass where the sheep could eat, and then direct them to another pasture where they could have their next meal.

This aspect of lying down in green pastures is an indication that the Lord provided a pasture that was so green that it would prepare them not just for this meal, but for the next. This providence then is not a weak just getting by care, but rather an exhaustive care for all issues in life. With that in mind, it makes little sense to assume that the use of rādap is weaker than the has been translated elsewhere in the Old Testament, when the Lord’s providential care is being emphasized as being way more than sufficient.

I believe it is important to emphasize the strength of the effort of the pursuit of God’s mercy and goodness in our lives. The military pursuit that this is often translated actually highlights the word rādap in the text. Within this text, that would mean that goodness and mercy pursue us with the same fervor and diligence as a man does who is seeking revenge or carrying out military orders.

As we continually will be in sin, we will continually need the Lord’s mercy and goodness to pursue us vigorously. Simply, pleasing the LORD would be nigh impossible if goodness and mercy only half-heartedly followed us.

More to the context of Psalm 23 as a whole, though, the Lord’s persistent pursuing of His people allows us to have no excuse for not fully trusting in His name. Not only does it provide an ample reason why we should trust Him in that the LORD is interested enough in lowly us, it also provides all that we need to be able to continue to grow in our relationship with Him.

Due to the covenantal nature of the word translated as mercy (hּׅesed), it is clear that one of the other reasons this chapter gives us to trust in the LORD is that he is able to keep His promises and allow His covenantal love to energetically pursue all His people. There is never a time when our sin begins to take us outside of God’s covenantal love. The Lord will always keep His promises, this is reified by the use of rādap to indicated that God’s covenantal love will energetically pursue in this case, David.

This understanding frames the entire chapter within the context of the Lord’s faithfulness in keeping His promises. This then highlights ample reasons why we should trust the LORD in all that we do. Allow Him to be our Shepherd and bless us as He has promised to do because ultimately we can’t fall outside of His promises. But just like any other element of God’s grace, we shouldn’t treat this as license to sin, but instead look for it as another reason why the LORD deserves our worship, service, and love.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Speculate! Speculate! Speculate!

So much rampant speculation. So any conclusions jumped to. So much talking, so little knowledge to back it up. But whoever notices.

Today, as I was having difficulty deciding on what to write about and thought about how easy it would be to choose a topic if I decided that it didn't matter if I knew anything about it. And I honestly wonder now if other writers on the internet even care, especially blogs.

So you know, I have a commitment to truth, and I would rather not lead people astray by not accurately checking information. Admittedly I am a busy college student, whose opinions are not entirely set in stone, so I can't guarantee everything.

But I do wonder (and given the nature of this post may I emphasize that word a little bit more) just what other sources do. It seems enough of a warrant (especially given the other possibilities of misinformation) to maybe not just trust all the information that you read all the time.

So some examples of speculation from the mundane to the serious that might just make you think.

Stana Katic hasn't signed a contract for the next season of Castle, so she and Nathan Fillion are obviously not getting along on set...

Jeb Bush was the frontrunner of the Republican candidacy, so he obviously was going to win the nomination. That certainly looks so certain now. right?

Or just think about any time that a crisis occurs, school shooting, terror attack, or anything else, there is so much talk about what we don't know, and before long, we're talking about the causes of an incident we don't even need.

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Thank You Note

It's been an interesting and kinda difficult week. And it's not because it's Finals week either. Finals have been extremely stress-free, as I did my first one yesterday at 1. Yes, it's been a couple of good long days of studying for good old test-taking.

But there have been circumstances that are hardly ideal about my life here. And no this is not a still technically teenage boy being melodramatic about relationships with the ladies.

Sadly, it would be wrong for me to share these circumstances with you as they are not mine to tell, but what I do want to share is how well the Lord was able to equip me for them.

This blog post that I haven't exactly started (I should shave down my intros) will be simply a public expression of gratitude toward God. If that doesn't interest you, feel free to close your browser tab now.

The Lord put me in a place on Tuesday night where I was heavily realizing all the good that He had done for my life. It was a simple place to put me. I was doing mindless-dishwashing-I-get-paid-for-this-so-I-won't-complain-about-the-repetition work in the dining hall and so I had time to reflect on my life.

This reflection led to a great time to recharge with the Lord. Which was exceptional, since it would be shortly after getting back when I would begin to get hit head-first with the curse (as my beloved OT prof would say regarding trying times).

I don't know how different my perspective could have been or how much more devastated I would have been (not gonna lie, it was pretty devastating) had I not been able to reflect on God's actions to me over just the last semester. That framing was what I thought helped me cope.

But it wasn't like I was guaranteed to be working in the dining hall that day. It was only the second shift that I had elected to take this semester. Thus, it was possible that this entire area of perspective then wouldn't have happened.

Even further though, the timing is important. If I had worked the shift after I had received the news, I would have spent my time being able to reflect, reflecting solely on the negative things that were happening. I wouldn't have acknowledged the richness of God's blessings. In the end, I would likely have become bitter with God.

But God didn't allow that to happen because He knew what I needed to do. He knew where He needed me and at what time He needed me there. So He placed me there in the dining hall with time for Him.

So are the ways that the Lord is able to work in our lives. Why don't I make the time for Him more often? Why do I have to take a dining hall shift to realize the beauty of who He is and what He has done and probably still will do for Me?

And next time, I might reflect on what it means that this blog post talks almost exclusively about God doing things for me, rather than just how great He is, because of His nature. Isn't it amazing how God showed me that as I wrote this?

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Hebrew Calendar

You remember that post nary a year ago where I wrote on one of my favorite books, Nehemiah and documented how that there was actually 4-5 months between when Nehemiah heard about the wall of Jerusalem being torn down and actually being able to act upon it.

This of course says a significant amount of the endurance of Nehemiah's burden where he is still noticeably upset by the events 4-5 months later. It opens up many a great understanding of the text and of what Nehemiah was actually going through at that time.

Understanding the perspectives of the people involved in the narrative texts helps to let the events come alive and for you to understand more of what the author was intending. After all, even though the messages are obviously still relevant today, the author didn't write to Americans in the twenty-first century. Instead, he wrote to the culture of the times.

Thus, it is helpful in understanding especially the Old Testament to understand what is going on within the context of the culture. I feel that a good way of beginning an understanding of that culture is by understanding the calendar. It also is what allows you to catch what was going on in Nehemiah.

So today, we will examine some key tidbits about the Hebrew calendar in hopes of giving you tools that will allow you to memorize it in the future. Much general information was taken from the book, The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar.

Background

Civil v. Ecclesiastic Year

The Hebrew calendar has to be a bit difficult to even begin to understand. You see, there are 12 months in the calendar, but there are two important distinct calendars using those twelve months. Indeed, the Hebrew calendar utilizes both a civil year and an Ecclesiastic year, which begin with different months!

Indeed, the civil calendar starts with the month Tishri and is used for documenting, well civil events that pertain to governments. It is also used to count the number of the year. The ecclesiastic calendar starts in the month Nisan (also goes by the Hebrew word Aviv, which means Spring).

Ecclesiastic Year                                                       Civil Year
Nisan                                                                         Tishri
Iyar                                                                            Chisleu
Sivan                                                                         Cheshvan
Tammuz                                                                    Tevet
Av                                                                             Shevet
Elul                                                                           Adar
Tishri                                                                        Nisan
Chisleu                                                                     Iyar
Cheshvan                                                                 Sivan
Tevet                                                                        Tammuz
Shevet                                                                      Av
Adar                                                                         Elul

This may seem confusing at first, but it really isn't much different than the way we Americans discuss the calendar year starting in January, and the school year that starts in September. The only difference is that in the Hebrew system, both calendars are formalized. 

The Ecclesiastic calendar is the one primarily used in the Bible and as our goal is to get at understanding the Bible better, we will be examining this particular formalized calender, which for this current year started on 21 March 2015. 

Lunisolar System

In the English calendar are months are kinda arbitrary in their length and can span from 28-31 days depending on what that particular month feels like at the time. Hebrew is much less arbitrary. Hebrew months are determined by the cycle of the moon. 

This used to mean that the new month would start when the new moon was noticed in the sky. Thankfully, the Hebrew month has been standardized to mean that instead we now know that each Hebrew month is either 29 or 30 days in the year and largely it alternates between those two amounts for days by the month it's in. 

But there is a slight hiccup in this system. The Hebrew people needed to calculate the year based on the Sun because many of their festivals must fall during certain parts of the harvest season. For instance, it would be a tad bit awkward to have a firstfruits offering when there are no firstfruits... But a purely Lunar calendar would fall 11 days behind a solar calendar. 

Thus, 7 years in every 19 years, there is an added month before Adar, called Adar 1. This month contains 30 days. Adar simply becomes Adar 2. This is called a Shanah Me'uberet (pronounced shah-NAH meh-oo-BEH-reht), literally: a pregnant year.

Now, I say that a month is added before Adar, rather than that a month is added at the end for two primary reasons. First, in a Shanah Me'uberet, Adar 2's 29 days corresponds to the number of days in Adar in a normal year. More importantly though, the festivities of the month of Adar (most notably Purim) will occur during Adar 2 during a pregnant year, meaning that it's as if the festivities of the month of Adar are postponed for 30 days for the month of Adar 1. 

The Hebrew Calendar Itself

With the background explained, we can go through a look at the calendar as a whole. I will go through the current Ecclesiastic calendar year in comparison (5775-5776) in comparison with the dates of the Gregorian calendar we use today. 

Spring

1.      Nisan/Aviv (Mar/Apr) 30 days     21 March 2015 – 19 April 20152.      Iyar (Apr/May) 29 days   20 April 2015 – 18 May 20153.      Sivan (May/June) 30 days   19 May 2015 – 17 June 2015
Note the alternation of the days beginning pretty clearly; this continues for a little while longer anyway.

 Summer

4.      Tammuz (June/July) 29 days  18 June 2015 – 16 July 20155.      Av (July/Aug) 30 days   17 July 2015 – 15 August 20156.      Elul (Aug/Sep) 29 days   16 August 2015 – 13 September 2015

Fall

7.      Tishri (Sep/Oct) 30 days  14 September 2015 – 13 October 20158.      Cheshvan (Oct/Nov) 29 or 30 days    14 October 2015 – 12 November 2015  (30 days) .9.      Chisleu/Kislev (Nov/Dec) 29 or 30 days  13 November 2015 – 12 December 2015 (30 days)
And this is where our difficulty with the easy to remember alternating pattern begins. The reason why Cheshvan and Chisleu decide to be so annoying with their dates is not entirely clear, though there is certainly an element of it that had to do with the fact that Tishri cannot being on the first, fourth, or sixth day of the week, and so at some point manipulation would be needed to ensure that didn't happen.

Also, when you get down to trying to memorize these names (I will be making that easier for you very shortly, just you wait), it will be difficult to deal with Cheshvan and Chisleu both starting with C being right next to each other. Easy way to keep it straight is that is remains in alphabetical order.

Winter

10.  Tevet (Dec/Jan) 29 days 13 December 2015 – 10 January 201611.  Shevat (Jan/Feb) 30 days   11 January 2016 – 9 February 201612.  Adar (Feb/Mar) typically 29 days 
Conveniently for teaching purposes, the current Hebrew calendar year is a Shanah Me'uberet, so we get to examine the effects on this in real time. So the months of Adar look like this:
12. Adar 1 30 days 10 February 2016 – 10 March 201613.  Adar II 29 days 11 March 2016 – 8 April 2016 

How to go from Here

So this is kinda a lot of information, and those Hebrew words seem kinda rough, so how are you ever suppose to remember them? Have no fear, my mom developed a wonderful mnemonic device that should greatly aid you with this effort. She may have a slight sense of humor that you may or may not catch. 

Normal                                                                Nisan
Intelligent                                                            Iyar
Students                                                              Sivan
That                                                                    Tammuz
Apply                                                                  Av
Effective                                                             Elul
Techniques                                                         Tishri
Can                                                                     Cheshvan
Comprehend                                                       Chisleu
This                                                                    Tevet
Simple                                                                Shevet
Aid                                                                     Adar

Other than that, it's just a lot of hard work, that may not seem worth it, but maybe you should at least copy this down and interact with it when reading some Old Testament narratives. You never know when you might find a gem like we discovered with Nehemiah not that long ago. 



Appendix: Calendar with Major Festivals (and Explanations)


       I.         Background
A.    Civil v. Ecclesiastic Year
1.      Civil year is when they change the number of years and starts with Tishri
2.      Ecclesiastic year is the calendar referenced in the Bible and starts with Spring “Aviv” Nisan
3.      There are also other “years” in the Hebrew calendar, marked by the trees or the reign of kings.
4.      Since we want to understand more about interpreting Bible, we will follow the Ecclesiastic year.

B.     Lunisolar system
1.      Months are determined by the cycle of the moon. All are 29 or 30 days in length.
2.      The lunar calendar falls 11 days behind a solar calendar
3.      Ergo, 7 years in each 19 years, there is an added month before Adar, called Adar 1 (of 30 days). Adar becomes Adar II.

    II.         Calendar
A.    Spring
1.      Nisan/Aviv (Mar/Apr) 30 days     21 March 2015 – 19 April 2015
a.       Passover 15 Nisan – 22 Nisan
                                                        i.            Background
1)      To celebrate what the Lord did in delivering the Israelites from Egypt. Killling Firstborn… Passed over Israelites’ houses
2)      Also marks the beginning of harvest season
3)      Ordained in Exodus 12-15
                                                      ii.            Observances
1)      Sacrifice a lamb
2)      Eating unleavened bread. Symbolizes that the Israelites were in a hurry when leaving Egypt, couldn’t wait for bread to rise.
3)      Must sell all leaven and have none in possession for the duration of the holiday. Spring cleaning!
4)      No work on the first two or last two days of the festival.
                                                    iii.            Other Scriptural references
1)      Joshua 5:10. After the act of circumcision on the Canaanite side of the Jordan River.
2)      2 Kings 23:21-23 Part of Josiah’s reforms to bring people to God. No Passover like it ever.
3)      Ezra 6:20-22 Part of the dedication of the Temple after it was rebuilt.
4)      The Last Supper: Luke 22:1, 7-22, Matt. 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, John 13:21-30, I Cor. 11:23-25
5)      I Corinthians 5:7-8 Christ is our Passover.
2.      Iyar (Apr/May) 29 days   20 April 2015 – 18 May 2015
3.      Sivan (May/June) 30 days   19 May 2015 – 17 June 2015
b.      Shavu’ot     6 Sivan
                                                        i.            Background
1)      As of post-exilic era, commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai (note: not receiving because they are always receiving)
2)      Referred to as Marriage day in Talmud between the people and God.
3)      Commemorate the Firstfruits of the harvest.
4)      Count 49 days between second day of Passover and Shavu’ot. This reminds the Israelites of the connection between the two. They were physically emancipated at Passover, but the giving of the Torah spiritually rescued them from idolatry.
5)      Ordained Lev. 21:15-22
                                                      ii.            Observances
1)      No work. Treated like a Sabbath
2)      Burnt, sin offering, peace offering.
3)      Firstfruits harvested, baked, and brought to the temple
4)      Stay up the night before Shavu’ot, studying Torah, and pray as early as possible in the morning.
5)      Eat a dairy meal once on the day
6)      The book of Ruth is read
                                                    iii.            Application in Scriptural Interpretation – Ruth
1)      Can glean from the fact that Ruth is read at this festival some insight into how the Hebrews interpret this passage.
2)      Marriage between Ruth and Boaz is a bigger picture of a marriage between the world and Christ
3)      Ruth’s rescue with Boaz is indicative of a bigger rescue promised to the Israelite people through Christ.
B.     Summer
4.      Tammuz (June/July) 29 days  18 June 2015 – 16 July 2015
5.      Av (July/Aug) 30 days   17 July 2015 – 15 August 2015
c.       Tisha B’av    9 Av
                                                        i.            Background
1)      Translated: the ninth of Av
2)      To commemorate many tragedies that have occurred to the Israelite people on the ninth of Av, such as the destruction of the first temple (586 BC) and destruction of the second temple (70 AD)
3)      Created after the destruction of the first temple (II Kings 25:8-9; Jer. 52:12-13)
4)      From the Talmud Taanit: “It cannot be said that on the seventh day the calamity occurred, because it is also written "on the tenth." Neither can it be said that it happened "on the tenth," because it says "on the seventh"--hence it must be assumed that entrance to the Temple was gained by the enemy on the seventh, and they ate and did damage therein on the seventh, on the eighth, and on the ninth. Toward the evening of the ninth they set it on fire, and it continued to burn all day on the tenth, as it is written [ibid. vi. 4]: "Wo unto us! for the day waneth, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out." And this bears out the statement of R. Johanan, who said as follows: "Were I living in those days, I would have ordained the fast for the 10th of Abh; for on that day the greater part of the temple was burned." The sages of that day, however, held that the day when the calamity began should be observed as a fast-day.”
                                                      ii.            Observances
1)      Culmination of a three week period of mourning, starting with the fast on 17 Tammuz
2)      Fast and mourning. Refrain from even so much as idle conversation. No bathing, no washing, no leather shoes, no sex, and no study of Torah.
3)      Book of Lamentations is read
4)      If the 9 of Av falls on a Sabbath, then Tisha B’Av is postponed to the tenth.
                                                    iii.            Other Scriptural references
1)      Zech. 7:3

6.      Elul (Aug/Sep) 29 days   16 August 2015 – 13 September 2015
C.     Fall
7.      Tishri (Sep/Oct) 30 days  14 September 2016 – 13 October 2015
d.      Rosh Hashanah 1 Tishri
i.                    Background
1)      Translated: head of the year. Tis the beginning of the civil year. Year number changes here
2)      Ordained Lev. 23:24-25 called day of remembrance in Bible
ii.                  Observances
1)      Used as opportunity to turn around oneself and become a better person.
2)      Unless holiday falls on a Sabbath, a shofar (ram’s horn) is blown in the Synagogue.
3)      No work
4)      L'shanah tovah ("for a good year") commonly used as a greeting
5)      Read the story of Abraham to try to receive an empathic heart.
6)      Starts the “ten days of repentance” leading into the Day of Atonement
e.       Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) 10 Tishri
i.                    Background
1)      It is a day to afflict the soul and find atonement for sin. Atones only for sins between you and God…
2)      Ordained Lev. 16:29-30, 23:26-32
ii.                  Observances
1)      Must seek reconciliation from others before the Day of Atonement to
2)      Complete Sabbath
3)      25 hour fast starting an hour before sunset until sunset the next day.
4)      No bathing, no washing, no leather shoes, no sex,
5)      Spend day in synagogue praying
6)      Priest allowed to enter the Holy of Holies
7)      Sacrificial lambs
iii.                Other Scriptural references
1)      Hebrews 9:6-14
f.       Sukkot (Feast of the Tabernacles) 15 Tishri – 21 Tishri
i.                    Background
1)      Commonly referred to as “The season of our rejoicing” Z'man Simchateinu
2)      Commemorates the forty year period the Israelites wandered in the wilderness
3)      Also a harvest festival.
4)      Ordained Lev. 23:33-43
ii.                  Observances
1)      Live in temporary booths (must have two and a half walls, like the letter Hay)
2)      No work permitted on the first day
3)      Binding together four species of plants and waving in all six directions (up, down, west, east, north, south) to signify that God is everywhere.
iii.                Other Scriptural references
1)      Ezra 3:4 As part of the spiritual revival before the rebuilding of the Temple.
2)      Nehemiah 8:13-18 Part of Nehemiah and Ezra’s reforms that took place as a part of revival after the rebuilding of the wall.
3)      Zechariah 14:16-20 Prophesied that in the day of the Lord, all will go up and keep the feast of the Tabernacles
4)      John 7:2-14 Jesus attends the Feast of the Tabernacles right as the desire to kill Him becomes stronger.
g.      Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah 22 Tishri 
i.    Background 
1)      Immediately follows the Feast of the Tabernacles
2)      Host (Lord) asks them to stay another day
3)      Simchat Torah = rejoicing in the Torah
iv.                Observances
1)      No work permitted
2)      Finishing a week of Torah reading in the Synagogue
3)      Much celebration with the Torah, like marching and dancing with the Torah scrolls.
8.      Cheshvan (Oct/Nov) 29 or 30 days    14 October 2015 – 12 November 2015  (30 days)
9.      Chisleu/Kislev (Nov/Dec) 29 or 30 days  13 November 2015 – 12 December 2015 (30 days)
D.    Winter
10.  Tevet (Dec/Jan) 29 days 13 December 2015 – 10 January 2016
11.  Shevat (Jan/Feb) 30 days   11 January 2016 – 9 February 2016
12.  Adar (Feb/Mar) 29 (except leap month this year) so 30 days  10 February 2016 – 10 March 2016
13.  Adar II 29 days 11 March 2016 – 8 April 2016
h.      Purim 14 Adar
i.    Background
1)      Commemorates the protection from extermination in Persia in the book of Esther
2)      Purim means “lots” reference to how Haman determined the day the Jews would be exterminated.
3)      On the thirteenth day of the month Adar, Israelites were saved from their enemies; 14th day then set aside as a day of merriment and fasting
4)      The walled city of Shushan did not receive rest until the 15th day of the Month Adar; thus, in cities that were walled at time of Joshua, Purim festivities occur on the 15 Adar
5)      Ordained Esther 9
iii.                Observances
1)      Preceded by a minor fast, marking the Fast of Esther (Esther 4)
2)      Hear the reading of the book of Esther (booing, hissing, stomping, and using noisemakers to blot out the name of Haman)
3)      Commanded to drink and be merry
4)      Making gifts to charity, sending gifts of food to friends