The Feast of Tabernacles ends with an extra eighth day called "the closing assembly." "For seven days present offerings made to the LORD by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to the LORD by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work." (Lev 23:36) Since the Torah is connected to Sukkot in a special way, this final congregation is celebrated today as a rejoicing over the Torah, God's teaching, and is called Simchat Torah. (In the diaspora, Simchat Torah is celebrated separately, one day later.)
We read in Deuteronomy 31:9-12,
"So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. Then Moses commanded them: 'At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing. Assemble the people — men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns — so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law."
In John's Gospel we see this extra Feast on the eighth day fulfilled in the life of Yeshua. At the end of chapter seven we read how he proclaimed that he was the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles, "On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Yeshua stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.'" (Jn 7:37-38) This is talking about the seventh day of Sukkot, called in Hebrew the "Hoshannah Rabbah." In English it can be translated as "The Day of the Great Hosanna." This is when water was carried in a joyful procession from the Pool of Siloam into the Temple while the people sang Psalm 118,
"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. [Hosanna! Hosanna!] Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." (Psalm 118:24-29)
John's Gospel chapter eight, continues to describe the day after the final day of the Feast. "But Yeshua went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them." (Jn 8:1-2) Yeshua came as the ultimate Torah teacher and here he sat down and taught all the people who had come for the Feast of Tabernacles and remained for this extra day.
At this time some Pharisees and teachers of the Law "brought in a woman caught in adultery…as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him." (vv 3,6) Seeing their hypocrisy Yeshua told them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." (Jn 8:7) The Torah never condemns anyone without the testimony of two or three witnesses and these witnesses must be tested to see if they were innocent and truthful. Through his righteous wisdom based on the Torah, Yeshua set the woman free and told her to go and sin no more. A few verses later he boldly asked those Torah teachers, "Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?" (Jn 8:46) None of them could. Yeshua had not broken the Law. He was the perfect Torah teacher.
The Power of the New Covenant
We rejoice that so many who believe in Yeshua today all over the world, both among Jews and Gentiles, are beginning to find so much joy, happiness and freedom in God's Torah. Christians have for centuries viewed the Law as bondage, and have been taught and trained to stay away from it as far as possible because "the church has a new and much better covenant." What a victory for the devil this deception has been! Christians have been robbed for way too long. It is time for change!
Yes, legalism, thinking that we can earn God's salvation and righteousness by our own works, is a curse. But the Torah, which in most cases is translated as Law, literally means teaching and instruction. Teaching about God's ways and His will for man certainly is not a curse. It is the exact opposite! It is this teaching that leads us to freedom. Freedom is not doing whatever we want, but the power to do what is right. Obeying God's commands is the greatest freedom in life and many are beginning to discover this beautiful freedom today.
And yes, the new covenant is much better than the first. So much better! The problem is that most Christians seem to have completely misunderstood what the new covenant is all about. The new covenant has not done away with the Torah. Once again exactly the complete opposite is true. The Bible makes it very clear that in the new covenant the Torah, rather than having been thrown out, has instead been written in our hearts!
"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." (Heb 8:10)
Here we see that in the new covenant, God's laws, His Torah has been written on our hearts. People who say that the Torah has been done away with in the new covenant, have obviously never understood what the new covenant means. Secondly, we see in this passage that the new covenant has not been given to a different people than the people who received the first covenant. It is impossible for us to have any part in the new covenant without being a part of Israel, through the conversion and circumcision of the heart that comes through the Messiah of Israel.
In the new covenant the Torah has by the power of the Spirit of the Living God been written on our hearts, and we have been grafted in to Israel. The Eternal is beginning to lift the veil over the Scriptures in a powerful way in these days. This is not a matter of judaizing. It is a matter of embracing and obeying God's Word. The words written on our hearts and in the Scriptures never contradict each other.
We can never live without laws. We will either live by God's laws and commandments, which lead to freedom or we will follow man's laws and commandments, which always lead to bondage. We have to choose. There is no middle ground.
"See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you… This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." (De 30:15-16,20)
It is only in the new covenant, through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua's blood and the infilling of the Spirit of God that we can walk in God's Torah and fulfill it to the full. But please understand that the Torah has never been done away with in the new covenant. It has been written on our hearts. "…he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." (Rom 8:3-4) Yeshua died to set us free from all lawlessness, Tit 2:14. A Torah free new covenant is an oxymoron, a contradiction of terms.
Rejoicing Over God's Law
The first disciples said, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." (Jn 1:45) And Yeshua said, "If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me." (Jn 5:46) "Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." (Lk 24:44) No wonder that King David, who was a prophet, prayed, "Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. …Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long." (Ps 119:18, 97)
It is written in Ephesians 4:13, "until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Messiah." It is impossible to reach maturity and a full knowledge of the Son of God without carefully studying the Torah of Moses.Paul wrote to Timothy, "from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures [the Law, the Prophets and the Writings], which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim 3:15-17) Therefore he commanded Timothy, "devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture." (1 Tim 4:13) This is referring to the reading of the Law, the Prophets and the Writings, what today is called the Old Testament, because there was no New Testament yet.
Even though every commandment in the Torah is not for Gentile believers to keep, everything in the Torah has been written to teach us about our Messiah and our salvation in him. During the Closing Assembly, also called Simchat Torah, we can celebrate and rejoice over God's Law and praise Him for it! It is a very important Feast! Take the opportunity to teach on the importance of the Law for all who believe in Yeshua/Jesus. Afterwards rejoice over God's Law with all your might. In the New Covenant it has been written on your heart! If you do not have a Torah scroll, you can hold up your Bible and dance all night before the Lord. Every book in the Bible is based on the revelation found in the Torah of Moses.
During the Millennium the Torah will go out from Jerusalem and all the nations of the earth will follow the Torah. Then there will be peace on earth.
"This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.' The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD." (Isa 2:1-5)
The Feasts of the LORD will be kept in the Millennium. "'From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,' says the LORD." (Isa 66:23) "I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Mt 5:18-19)
May God bless you as you celebrate this great Feast rejoicing over God's Law!
"Prepare the way for the LORD"