I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
We are going to pick back up where we left off last time in our examination of the Feasts of the Lord. These seven feasts as given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai are outlined in our Bible in Leviticus 23. As we stated last time, Leviticus 23 is the single chapter in the Bible that really sums up everything with regard to the plan of God. We move from chaos to eternity – and it is all portrayed in the nature and timing of the seven feasts. The Feasts of the Lord are in reality God’s calendar and He does things in accordance to it. We as believers need to be on God’s calendar or at the very least have knowledge of it. You could say that the seven Feasts of the Lord are, “red letter” days on God’s calendar. They are days that mark significant events in the plans and purposes of God, and in His dealing with His people. Every major event in the life and ministry of Messiah Jesus occurred on feast days, and He observed each one of them, right down to celebrating Passover with His disciples on the night in which He was betrayed [See Matthew 26:18].
We need to understand that in the first Coming of Christ, and the Advent of the Holy Spirit and subsequent “birth” of the Church, the four spring feasts were fulfilled. They are again:
- Passover – fulfilled with the death of Jesus on the cross
- Unleavened Bread – fulfilled with Jesus’ burial and sinless life. Even though by the time of Jesus Passover and Unleavened Bread were viewed as a single feast, they were originally separated by one day and were indeed separate feasts, thus they had a separate fulfillment.
- First Fruits – Fulfilled by Jesus’ resurrection.
- Pentecost – Fulfilled by the Advent of the Holy Spirit and “birth” of the Church.
The four spring feasts have been fulfilled. The remaining three feasts, the fall feasts, are yet to be fulfilled. They will be just as exactly and precisely, and literally fulfilled as were the spring feasts. Let’s take a look at them now.
I want to re-visit Colossians 2:16, 17 – “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” [Col. 2:16, 17 KJV emphasis added] I want to look at verse 17 again in The Complete Jewish Bible, “These are a shadow of things that are coming…” [Col. 2:17a CJB] That word “shadow” in both our KJV and the CJB, translates the Greek word, skia (ski-ah), literally a foreshadowing of something coming. So while we should not be legalistic about the observance of the feasts, or judge other believers for observing or not observing, we need to realize they do have prophetic significance, and foreshadow events that are coming. That was true with the four spring feasts, and it is true with the three fall feasts.
Between Pentecost and the beginning of the fall feasts was a gap of three to four months (late may or early June to late September or early October). This gap of time is the prophetic period we live in right now. This time is the Church Age, a time when the light of Israel was able to go to the Gentile nations, and the Gospel preached to the world. All during this time the “Mystery of Iniquity” [2 Thess. 2:16] has been working in the world, filling ever fuller the cup of the Lord’s indignation [Rev. 14:10]. There is coming a convergence of not only all of the signs of prophecy, but also the end of the Church Age, which will usher in the seven last years of time as we know it, the time of the Great Tribulation. The four spring feasts were fulfilled on the day of the feast, at the time of the feast, and in the order in which they were given by God to Moses. The remaining three feasts, the fall feasts, will be just as precisely fulfilled.
I want to share two passages of scripture as we prepare to examine the three fall feasts. First,
Matthew 5:17,“Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete.” [Matt. 5:17 CJB] Again, Jesus did not come to abolish (destroy, or set aside) the Law (Torah), or the Prophets. Rather, He came to complete or make the Torah and Prophets full or full of meaning. Secondly,
Romans 15:4, “For everything written in the past was written to teach us, so that with the encouragement of the Tanakh we might patiently hold on to our hope.” [Rom. 15:4 CJB] The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tells us that those things written in the past, specifically those things written in the Old Testament (Tanakh), were written to teach us or instruct us. Bringing this back to the feasts, the instructions God gave to Moses on Sinai with respect to the feasts (the order of them and the patterns), were given to instruct us. The question is, will we receive the instructions? I pray that we will.
THE FALL FEASTS
Again, there was a gap of time between the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost), the last of the spring feasts, and the first of the fall feasts. If you think about it, the entire experience of the Children of Israel is a perfect picture of the Christian experience. They were set free by applying the blood of the lamb (salvation), they passed through the Red Sea (baptism), they wandered through the wilderness (our life on earth), and finally they came to Jericho (where the shofar, a ram’s horn trumpet was blown, and the walls fell and the people went up into the city).
- Trumpets (Yom Teru’ah) – Leviticus 23:24
It seems that ever since Isaac was spared by virtue of the ram caught in the thicket by it’s horn, God has enjoyed the sound of the trumpet, or shofar (ram’s horn). He used it of course when Joshua conquered Jericho. In Leviticus 25:8 – 10 He specified its use by having trumpets, “…proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” That quotation appears today on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, assuring us that America was founded by Bible readers. Leviticus 23:24 requires that, “…In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.”
I submit to you that this blowing of the trumpet (shofar), pictures the rapture of the Church. The catching away of the Church will fulfill this feast. I firmly believe that Jesus will return to receive His Church some year on the Feast of Trumpets. Someone asks, “What about the doctrine of imminence?” In other words, according to this teaching, Jesus could return at any moment, and at any time. This belief is based largely on Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:36, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” [Matt. 24:36 KJV] Did Jesus mean to infer in this statement that His coming for His people could be on any day and at any time that no one but the Father knows? I don’t think so. This again is an idiomatic statement, a figure of speech. Jesus’ Jewish audience would have associated these words with the Feast of Trumpets, which is the only one of the Feasts of the Lord that no man knew the day or the hour of. This is because the beginning of this feast was determined by the sighting of the first sliver of the moon. Before man understood the movement and alignment of planets as we do now, two witnesses would be assigned to watch for this first sliver of moon. When they saw it they would report it to the High Priest who would then sound the Shofar to announce the beginning of Yom Teruah, or the, “Day of Blowing” – referred to today as Rosh Hashanah, or the head of the year. As believers in Messiah Jesus we should have a heightened sense of expectancy at this season of the year.
Shouldn’t believers live in a constant state of readiness and expectancy? I believe we should. However, if the feast schedule is indeed God’s calendar, which I believe it is, wouldn’t it make sense that if all of the other feasts were fulfilled on the day of the feast, that the remaining three should be fulfilled just as exactly? I believe the answer is obvious.
Also, think about the word “feast”. As western Christians when we hear the word, “feast” we think of food. We think maybe of one of our pot-luck dinners. The word “feasts” does not mean food, (although most all of the feasts include certain foods), in the case of the feasts of the Lord. The word “feasts” in Leviticus 23:4 translates the Hebrew word, moed (mow-aid). This word means, “an appointed place, appointed time, or meeting.” It is just like if you have an appointment with your doctor. You are to be at an appointed place (his office), at an appointed time (your appointment). Can you just show up at any time or any place you want? Not if you expect to see your doctor! No, you go where and when the doctor has told you to go. It is like that with the feasts of the Lord. They are appointed times.
We are going to give a bit more space to the Feast of Trumpets than some of the other feasts because I think it is the most misunderstood. The Feast of Trumpets occurs in September. We will say more about the blowing of the trumpets on this feast in a moment, but understand that the blowing of the trumpet was a signal to the workers in the field to cease from their work of harvesting and come to worship. Both Jews and their Arab neighbors worked side by side in the fields. When the trumpet would sound the Jew (believer) would leave the field while his co-worker (unbeliever) would stay behind and keep working. This explains Jesus’ words when He said in the Olivet Discourse, “Then two shall be in the field. One shall be taken and one shall be left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill. One shall be taken and one shall be left.” [Matt. 24:40, 41 KJV See also Luke 17:34 – 36]
Because most western Christians have divorced themselves from a Hebraic understanding of scripture, many phrases and terms in the Bible have lost their true meaning. This is no more true than in the prophetic Word. Think for example about the words of the Apostle Paul in the great resurrection chapter, 1 Corinthians 15. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52; “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” [1 Cor. 15:51, 52 KJV emphasis added]
Many Bible teachers associate this phrase, “last trump”, with the seventh trumpet judgment of Revelation. My brethren who hold this view point out that the seventh trumpet of Revelation follows six other trumpet blasts by six angels in specific order, in which earthly and cosmic judgments have been poured out (See Revelation 8 – 9). When the seventh angel sounds from the heavenly Temple, they note that the “mystery of God” is “finished” (Revelation 10:7). Three points are made from these references to point to a mid-tribulation (pre-wrath) rapture as opposed to a pre-tribulation gathering of the saints. I want to share these points with you briefly:
- This is the last reference in the New Testament to a trumpet blast ( 10:7).
- The use of the word, “mystery” and the announcement that “the mystery of God should be finished” ( 10:7), is linked with Paul’s resurrection of the dead in 1 Corinthians 15:51, as Paul called the resurrection a “mystery”.
- The theory that this is the “last” trumpet in a series of blasts from seven angels.
Again teachers who emphasize these three points use them to say that the harpazo, or catching away of the Church will occur at some point at the middle of the seven-year Great Tribulation period. While these are interesting, even compelling points, I believe another thought is the correct view. So what exactly does the term, “last trump” mean?
Paul was a Jewish rabbi with a Pharisaical background. He understood very well the feasts of the Lord. He understood the significance of the ram’s horn or shofar. In rabbinic thought, the left horn of the ram is the “first trump”, whereas the right horn is known as the, “last trump.” On the 29 days prior to the Feast of Trumpets, the shofar (ram’s horn) begins to sound. Then on the day of the feast there are a total of 100 shofar blasts blown. The shofar makes four distinct sounds. They are:
- Tekiah – One very long blast that sounds like an alarm signifying kingship
- Shevarim – Three short notes rising in tone, representing a man moaning in repentance
- Teruah – Nine staccato notes in rapid succession
- Tekiah ha-Gedolah – The longest and loudest sound emitting from the shofar, in which the blower (called Baal Tekiah) blows air into the shofar until he runs out of breath, usually lasting about ten seconds, and is identified as the “last trumpet” sound.
So, the term “last trump” I submit to you is directly connected to the first of the fall feasts, the Feast of Trumpets. Paul spent a year-and-a-half in Corinth, the longest he was at any one place with the exception of Ephesus, and in so doing laid down a lot of foundational teaching in this church. He taught concerning the future rapture/resurrection of the Church, and no doubt did so at least in part by teaching them the Feasts of the Lord and their prophetic significance. He didn’t explain the term “last trump” in his epistle to them, because they already would have understood he was referring to the “last trump”, the Tekiah ha-Gedolah.
The High Priest actually blew this trumpet so that the faithful would stop harvesting to worship. Now when the trumpet sounds in accordance to 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16, the dead in Christ will rise from their graves and living believers will cease their harvest, and rise from the earth to meet the Lord in the air. At that time the Church will be taken out of the world, and thus fulfill the Feast of Trumpets. The Feast of Trumpets will be fulfilled with the coronation of the king, the wedding of the bride united with the groom, and the resurrection/rapture of the Church! It was the introduction to the most solemn time on God’s calendar, the ten days of awe leading to the next of the fall feasts, Yom Kippur or Atonement.
- Atonement (Yom Kippur) – Leviticus 23:27
According to Jewish tradition, on Rosh Hashanah the destiny of the righteous (tzaddikim) are written in the Book of Life, and the destiny of the wicked, the resha’im are written in the Book of Death. Most people don’t make it in either book, but are given ten days to repent, until Yom Kippur, before sealing their fate. During this time if a person turns to God and makes amends to those whom he has harmed, he may be given another year to live in the following (Jewish) year. On the other hand, if he does not repent, a decree will be given that he will die in the coming year. In other words, though the books are “opened” on Rosh Hashanah, the deeds done during the first ten days of the new year will determine whether one is written in the Book of Life or the Book of Death. The ten days then between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as, “The Days of Awe” or Teshuvah, the days of repentance.
Now, as believers in Messiah Jesus we believe that our judgment day has come and justice was served by the sacrificial offering of Jesus for our sins (2 Cor. 5:21). We have no atonement to make. The Lamb of God has once and for all bore our death sentence on our behalf; He received the wrath of God that was rightly ours. Then why bring these things up? I do so for two reasons: 1) If you are an unbeliever reading these words, if you have no redemptive covenant with God, I call on you to turn from your sin and to earnestly and sincerely embrace the free gift of eternal life, the forgiveness that God so freely offers you. I call on you to confess Jesus as Lord of your life and to believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 10:9, 10). 2) If you are a believer in Messiah Jesus I challenge you at this season of the year to examine your heart, allow the Holy Spirit to turn His searchlight on every “room” of your heart. Is there bitterness, unforgiveness, unconfessed sin, pride, or rebellion? You simply need to confess (1 John 1:9) that sin, turn from it, and return to the Father.
Leviticus 23:27 provides a day of confession, the highest of holy days, “Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.”
The Prophet Daniel saw this heavenly court room scene, and recorded it in Daniel 7:9, 10, “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” [Daniel 7:9, 10 KJV]
In Hebraic understanding the books are opened, and the court of Heaven is seated on Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur (Atonement) is the day of reckoning. It was the day of cleansing for the nation and for the sanctuary. Yom Kippur (Atonement) was the only day of the year when the High Priest could enter the place beyond the second veil, the Most Holy Place or Holy of holies, where the manifest presence of God dwelt between the wings of the cherubim on the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant. Because of this, the great Day of Atonement was known as the day of, “face to face.”
Listen, every person who has ever lived, or is living now will have their own “face to face” with God. For the believer we will stand before the, “Judgment Seat of Christ.” Not for sin, thank God Jesus our Great High Priest bore our sin, and as the scapegoat, the second goat on the Day of Atonement, bore them away. The Bema or Judgment Seat will be all about our service, or obedience (or lack thereof) with regard to our assignment in the body of Christ. It is there that we will give account for the deeds done in the body, and receive reward for our labors, or suffer the loss thereof (See Romans 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10).
When Jesus returns to earth for the second time, He will return not as the Lamb, not as Messiah Ben-Joseph, but as the lion of the tribe of Judah, Messiah Ben-David, the conquering King and eternal Judge! Every person living or who has ever lived outside a redemptive Covenant with God will stand before God for sentencing. There will be no defense, no alibis, and no plea bargaining. The books will be closed, and justice meted out. John the Revelator saw this tragic scene in Revelation 20,
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” [Rev. 20:11 – 15 KJV]
There will be a judgment on the nations at this time as well. Matthew describes this in Matthew 25:31 – 46. This judgment will be all about how the nations of the world have treated Israel and the Jewish people. This will determine whether or not a nation has any part in the Kingdom Age, and just what that role will be, or if they will face judgment.
Atonement (Yom Kippur), will be wonderfully fulfilled when Jesus returns to earth to judge the nations and set up His kingdom. There is so much more we could look at here. We didn’t really explore the two goats of Yom Kippur and how Jesus fulfills both types, as well as other aspects of this most solemn day of the Festival schedule. Perhaps we will in a future installment.
- Tabernacles – (Sukkot) – Leviticus 23:33 – 35
“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD. “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD.” [Leviticus 23:33 – 35 KJV]
The word, “tabernacles” in verse 34 translates the Hebrew word, sukkah (Soo-kah), and it refers to a thicket, or booth, a crude temporary dwelling. This feast was to remind the children of Israel that they dwelt in temporary shelters when wandering through the wilderness. This was to remind His people that God provided shelter for them in their wilderness years. Each year on sukkot (Tabernacles), devout Jews build little shelters or “booths” outside their houses and worship in them.
Prophetically, Tabernacles has a double fulfillment (as does Yom Kippur for that matter, but that is for another study). First, we know from John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” [John 1:14 KJV] Notice the word, “dwelt” here in the KJV. This translates the Greek word, skenoo (ski-nah-oh), and it literally means, “to fix one’s tabernacle, abide or live in a tabernacle (or tent).” So, the eternal Word, God made flesh, “pitched His tent” among us. That was one fulfillment of sukkot, or Tabernacles. There is however a future fulfillment as well.
Tabernacles also speaks of the Lord’s shelter in the world to come, His great Tabernacle that will exist in Jerusalem during the Kingdom Age. According to the Prophet Ezekiel, the Lord will establish His Tabernacle in Jerusalem, “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.” [Ezek. 37:26 KJV]
The Prophet Zechariah prophesied that the world will come every year to this Tabernacle to appear before the King and to worship Him, “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.” [Zech. 14:16, 17 KJV]
Finally, John saw a time in the future when God would indeed Tabernacle with His people on the Earth, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” [Rev. 21:3 KJV]
Thank God for the wonderful way our God instructs us. One of the ways God shows His people things to come is through the seven feasts of the Lord. These are God’s appointed times. The festival schedule is God’s calendar, and He does things in dealing with His people and relative to His plans and purposes in accordance to it. This is the fall festival season. May we live with a heightened sense of awareness and watchfulness during this time.
Until next time,
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson