Feast of Weeks - Pentecost

 

 

Overview

Festivals are regular religious celebrations remembering God's great acts of salvation in the history of His people. Traditionally called "feasts" in the English Bibles, these can conveniently be categorized according to the frequency of celebration. Many of these feasts or festivals were timed according to cycles of seven. The cycle of the week with its climax on the seventh day, provided the cyclical basis for much of Israel's worship; as the seventh day was observed, so was the seventh month (which contained four of the national festivals), and the seventh year, and the fiftieth year (the year of Jubilee), which followed seven cycles of seven years.

These seven holidays which God instituted for His chosen nation of Israel are discussed throughout the Bible (in both the Old and New Testaments); however, only in one place (Leviticus Chapter twenty-three) are all seven holidays listed in chronological order. These holidays are called "the feasts of the Lord" which simply means that they belong to God and are His holidays. Only on God's terms can men participate in them and enter into their benefits (Leviticus 23:4).

The term feasts in Hebrew literally means "appointed times." God has carefully planned and orchestrated the timing and sequence of each of these seven feasts to reveal to us a special story. These feasts (often called "holy convocations") are intended to be a time of meeting between God and man for "holy purposes." Since these seven feasts of the Lord are "appointed times" for "holy purposes," they carry with them great sacredness and solemnity.

Four of the seven holidays occur during the springtime. The first four feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Weeks) have already been fulfilled by Christ in the New Testament [though, first rapture has not yet occurred, which is received by God between the weeks and just before the trumpets, over 1900 years subsequent]. The final three holidays ( Trumpets, Yom Kippur, and Tabernacles) occur during the fall within a brief fifteen-day period in the Hebrew month of Kislev; Kislev corresponds to the months of September/October on the Gregorian calendar. These fall feasts have not yet transpired; however, without absolute certainty these events most assuredly will unfold. As the four spring feasts (holidays) were fulfilled literally and right on schedule in connection with Christ's first coming, these three fall feasts (holidays) will likewise be fulfilled literally and right on schedule in connection to the Lord's second coming. These final three feasts form the basis for what the Bible calls in Titus 2:13: "the blessed hope."

A number of important points must be emphasized concerning these seven feasts of the Lord.

 

Seven Important Points About These Feasts

They were given to the Hebrew (Jewish) nation of Israel by God as a covenant.

They were based on the Jewish lunar (moon) calendar which consists of approximately 354 days in a year.

They relate to Israel's spring and fall agricultural seasons; after all, Israel was and still is largely an agricultural nation.

They typify the timing, sequence, and significance of the major events of the Lord's redemptive career. They begin at Calvary where Jesus voluntarily laid down His life for the sins of mankind (symbolic of Passover) and end when the Lord establishes His messianic Kingdom at His second coming (symbolic of Tabernacles). God in His infinite wisdom made these appointed feasts conform to specific events in the life of His Son Jesus Christ (Yeshua).

Since these feasts are clearly fulfilled in the Messiah, every creature is presented the unique opportunity to "meet" with God and receive His gracious blessings.

There is a binding relationship between the true Church and Israel even though both are distinct entities with diverse promises. Thanks to the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants which God made with Israel, the blessings stemming from these feasts are no longer exclusive to the Jewish people alone but are extended to the Gentiles as well, for God's unconditional covenant with Abraham promised that "In thy (Abraham's) seed shall all nations be blessed" (Genesis 22:18).

There are a total number of seven feasts of the Lord. Seven is the biblical number for completion. It is recorded in Genesis chapter one that God rested on the seventh day after creating the heavens and the earth, not due to fatigue but rather to emphasize completion and satisfaction. What God created was "good" and "satisfying"; therefore nothing else was needed.


To summarize, these seven feasts of the Lord are God's appointed times during which He will meet with men for holy purposes. When completed, these seven special holidays will triumphantly bring and end to this age and usher in a glorious "Golden Age."

Passover

Jewish Calendar

Nisan 14

Gregorian Calendar

March/April

Spring or Fall

Spring Feast

Scripture

Leviticus 23:5
Matthew 26:2

Significance

Passover speaks of redemption; Christ the Passover Lamb was slain at Calvary for the sins of the world.


Introduction

Passover is the first of the seven annual festivals celebrated by the Jewish people and is considered to be Israel's foundational feast upon which the other six feasts that follow simply build upon. Passover, a feast which commences Israel's religious year, is often referred to as the Feast of Unleavened Bread because only unleavened bread was eaten during the seven days immediately following Passover.

While the Jewish people have celebrated Passover annually since the time of Moses, in reality, there was only one Passover. It occurred almost 3500 years ago down in Egypt. It was there, at that time, that a lamb was sacrificed, and the blood was applied to each doorpost and lintel. When done in faith and in obedience to God's command, that home was "passed over" by the death angel and the firstborn was spared. All subsequent observances over the centuries were memorials of that one and only first Passover.

Historical Meaning

For more than 400 years, the Jewish people had lived in Egypt (Exodus 12:40). However, the time had come for God to fulfill His covenant with Abraham and bring them back to their homeland as He had promised (Genesis 46:3-4; 50:24). Therefore, God raised up one man to deliver His chosen people; this man's name was Moses. One day God spoke to Moses in a desert through a burning bush; this bush burned but was not consumed (Exodus 3:2). It was there that God revealed to Moses that He had seen the affliction of His people down in Egypt, had heard their cry for help, and had known their sorrows. Now, He was coming down to deliver them out of Egyptian bondage and bring them into the promised land (Exodus 3:7-8).

In Exodus 11, God detailed, through His servant Moses, the tenth and final judgment plague which would befall the Egyptians and their so-called "gods" or "deities." At midnight, the Lord would pass through the land of Egypt and kill the firstborn of each home where a lamb was not slain and where blood was not applied to the doorpost and lintel.

The effects of this tenth and final plague would even reach the palace. Since the pharaoh of Egypt was worshipped as a god, a god's son would die. Some scholars believe that King Tut's mysterious death was due to this tenth plague. With this final climatic plague, God would dramatically set His people free from the bondage of Egypt.

In Exodus 12, God outlined in detail the steps to be taken by those who trusted in Him so that they, unlike Pharaoh and the Egyptians, would not be struck down by the final plague. On the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, they were to select a year-old lamb without blemish or spot out from the flock and keep it until the fourteenth day of the month (Exodus 12:3). During this time frame, each family would become personally attached to their lamb so it would no longer be just an ordinary lamb (Exodus 12:3) but their very own pet (Exodus 12:5). This would deeply impress upon them the costly nature of the sacrifice; an innocent lamb was to die in their place.

On the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month, as the sun was setting, the lambs were to be publicly killed by "the whole assembly" and then subsequently eaten (Deuteronomy 16:7); none of the animal was to be left over on the following morning (Exodus 34:25). Although collectively, everyone was responsible for the death of the lambs, each family was to individually apply the blood of their lamb to the doorposts of their own home as a visible sign of their faith in the Lord (Exodus 12:13). At that moment, the innocent lamb became their substitute making it possible for the Lord's judgment to "pass over" them. Therefore, the Lord instituted Passover as "a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt" (Exodus 12:42).

The Service

God commanded that Passover be observed as a memorial forever (Exodus 12:14). He also declared that it was to be kept by a service (Exodus 12:25). This service was to incorporate the lamb, the matzah (unleavened bread), and bitter herbs as well as raise questions in the minds of children so that the Exodus story could be rehearsed from generation to generation (Exodus 12:26-27). The Lord, however, did not detail the order of the service; He only mentioned that it was to be kept.

As recorded in Exodus 12:8, God required three symbolic foods to be eaten that Passover night: the lamb, matzah (unleavened bread), and bitter herbs (called "maror" in Hebrew). The sacrifice was to be a young lamb, depicting innocence. It was to be roasted with fire portraying the judgment that would befall it instead of their own firstborn. Matzah was to be eaten symbolizing the purity of the sacrifice since leaven, with its souring characteristic, was often a symbol of sin (I Corinthians 5:6-8). In addition, bitter herbs were to be eaten as a reminder of the suffering of the lamb.

Several centuries before Christ, a somewhat traditionalized Passover service began to emerge. The ritual Passover service was called the Seder from the Hebrew word meaning "order." It prescribed the traditional order of the Scripture readings, prayers, symbolic foods, and hymns in the Passover service. The basic order of the Passover Seder today remains much as it was during the time of Christ even though the service continued to be embellished with more song and traditions up through the Middle Ages. [however, we no longer live by these laws, but rather, by the Spirit of the law, so those continuing such practices are not abiding in the Holy Spirit, e.g. Jews today that still reject Jesus Christ].

The Importance

Several important facts must be understood concerning the holiday feast of Passover.

  • First of all, there was only one Passover in the history of mankind; this even occurred when the Lord passed through the land of Egypt executing judgment. Every observance since then has been a memorial commemorating that occasion (Exodus 13:3).

     

  • Secondly, Passover is an ancient feast, one that spans some thirty-five centuries of human existence. [technically speaking it does not continue on in the kingdom of heaven;  the law does not pass, but when we come to Christ, we enter into the law of the Spirit indwelling through grace, and do not keep these festivals. They have fulfilled their purpose with the coming of Christ]. This holiday forms the primary background for understanding the events of the Upper Room, the symbolism of the Lord's Table (Communion), and the meaning of the Messiah's (Jesus) death.

     

  • Thirdly, Passover holds great distinction among the religious feasts of the world. Passover is the oldest continually observed feast in existence today, celebrated for some 3,500 years. Even today, more Jewish people keep Passover than any other high holy day. It is a strong, cohesive force within the fabric of Jewish community and culture. [it is being used to reject Jesus Christ, so it can not be that strong].

     

  • Finally, Jesus (Yeshua) was crucified during the Passover event. He and His disciples ate a Passover meal together on the eve of His death. During this meal Jesus said, "This is my body," and "this cup is the new testament in my blood" (Luke 22:7, 19-20). All of those lambs sacrificed down in Egypt (one per household) pointed to the one true Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Writing to the Corinthians, the apostle Peter noted for all of time, "Christ, our passover (Lamb), is sacrificed for us" (I Corinthians 5:7).

Unleavened Bread

Jewish Calendar

Nisan 15

Gregorian Calendar

March/April

Spring or Fall

Spring Feast

Scripture

Leviticus 23:6
Deuteronomy 16:8

Significance

Unleavened Bread speaks of sanctification. Jesus was set apart. His body would not decay in the grave.


The following day, on the fifteenth of the Hebrew month of Nisan, God appointed another festival. This feast would last seven days and be called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. On the first night, and again on the seventh, there was to be a time of convocation (meeting) between God and man.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:16) is often called Passover because only unleavened bread was eaten during these seven days immediately following Passover (Exodus 12:15-20; 13:6-8; Deuteronomy 16:3-8). Unleavened bread reflected the fact that the Israelites had no time to put leaven in their bread before their hasty departure from Egypt; it was also apparently connected to the barley harvest (Leviticus 23:4-14).

A common Jewish tradition in preparing for the Feast of Unleavened Bread is to sprinkle leavened (yeast) bread crumbs throughout the house and then subsequently sweep them all up and collectively burn them outside. You might be asking yourself, Why would they do this? Well, in the Bible, leaven symbolizes error or evil. It is the substance that causes fermentation. The Lord said to His disciples "Beware of the leaven (false doctrine) of the Pharisees" (Matthew 16:6; Mark 8:15). In addition, the apostle Paul warned the Church at Corinth that "a little leaven (yeast) leaveneth (ferments) the whole lump" (I Corinthians 5:6). Paul was simply saying that if sin goes unchecked, it will permeate and infect everything and everyone around them.

The Lord Christ Jesus was crucified on the cross at Golgotha on the day of Passover. He was then buried in a newly hewn tomb donated by Joseph of Arimathea. However, unlike all other corpses, the body of Jesus (Yeshua) would not decay in the grave. There would be no decomposition of His body, no, none indeed. God the Father would not "allow thine Holy One (His Son Jesus) to see corruption (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27). The Feast of Unleavened Bread proclaims that Christ's physical body would not experience the ravages of death while in the grave; for He was sanctified (set apart) by God the Father.


 

Firstfruits

Date

Nisan 16 or Sivan 6.

Gregorian Calendar

March/April
May/June

Spring or Fall

Spring Feast

Scripture

Leviticus 23:10
Luke 24:7

Significance

Firstfruits speaks of the Lord's triumphant resurrection; death simply could not hold her foe. On the third day, Jesus rose victoriously from the grave.


The third feast occurs on the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread; it is called the Feast of Firstfruits.

Barley, which is the first crop to be planted in winter, is now beginning to ripen for its spring harvest. The first sheaf or firstfruits of the harvest is subsequently cut, and, in a carefully prescribed and meticulous ceremony, is presented to the Lord. The Lord's acceptance of the firstfruits is a pledge on His part of a full harvest to come.

Following the ascension of Jesus into heaven, major doctrinal errors began to creep up in churches. Most notable, some people at the Church in Corinth began to spread the false Hellenistic belief called gnosticism. Gnosticism rejects the concept of a physical resurrection; therefore it rejects the physical resurrection of Christ.

Enter the apostle Paul onto the scene. The Corinthians' thesis was this: There is no bodily resurrection, only immortality of the soul. Paul then responded, if there is no bodily resurrection, then Christ was not raised from the dead. If these gnostics were correct, the implications would be devastating: Paul had a lying problem, their faith was in vain, their loved ones who had died in Christ had perished, and they were of all men most miserable.

Fortunately, the apostle Paul "saved the day" when he issued a triumphant response to combat this erroneous statement: "But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept" (I Corinthians 15:20). Paul had in mind the first sheaf (firstfruits) of the barley harvest (Leviticus 23:10). When God accepted the firstfruits, they became the guarantee that the rest of the crop would indeed be harvested, for Jesus (Yeshua) himself is the "first fruits" (I Corinthians 15:23). Although a number of people mentioned the Bible were resurrected from the dead (including Jairus' daughter and Lazarus), they simply died again in due season. However, Jesus was the first to be resurrected from death and the grave, never to die again. He alone is the "Firstfruits."


 

Weeks

Jewish Calendar

Sivan - 50 days after Firstfruits.

Gregorian Calendar

May/June

Spring or Fall

Spring Feast

Scripture

Exodus 34:33
Leviticus 23:15-16
Deuteronomy 16:10,16
II Chronicles 8:13

Significance

Weeks (Shavuot), also known as Pentecost, speaks of origination. Symbolizes Jesus giving us the gift of the Holy Spirit which inaugurated the New Covenant and Church Age.


The Feast of Weeks, also known as Harvest (Exodus 23:16), Shavuot (Hebrew), the Day of Firstfruits (Numbers 28:26), or Pentecost, was a festival of joy and thanksgiving celebrating the completion of the harvest season. It was the second major feast in which all able-bodied Jewish males were required to attend (the other two being Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles). It was celebrated as a sabbath with rest from ordinary labors and the calling of a holy convocation (Leviticus 23:21; Numbers 28:26).

Essentially a harvest celebration, the term weeks was used to describe the time period from the grain harvest to the barley harvest and finally to the wheat harvest. It is called the Feast of Weeks because God specifically told the sons of Jacob that they were to count seven sevens of weeks (seven complete weeks) from Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:9), and then on the "morrow" this fourth feast was to be observed (Lev. 23:16). Seven sevens of weeks are forty-nine days. Add one additional day ("on the morrow"), and it brings the total number of days to fifty. This fourth feast was to occur precisely fifty days after Firstfruits (Christ's resurrection). Therefore, the feast was given the name "Pentecost" (Acts 2:1) which means "fifty."

On this occasion, the children of Israel were not to simply bring the firstfruits of the wheat to the Temple (as they brought the firstfruit of the barley at the Feast of Firstfruits), but rather two loaves of bread. These two loaves were specifically commanded to be made with fine flour and baked with leaven (Leviticus 23:17), and they were to be used as a "wave offering" for the people.

These two loaves, however, could not be eaten until after the ceremony was completed (Leviticus 23:14; Joshua 5:10-11) and could not be placed on the altar due to its leaven content. In addition to the wave offering, two lambs, one young bull, and two rams were to be offered as burnt offerings before the Lord (Leviticus 23:15-22; Numbers 28:26-31). The feast was concluded by the eating of communal meals to which the poor, the stranger, and the Levites were invited.

What Does It All Mean?

The Feast of Weeks is a symbolic festival which pointed to the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the Church. The Son of God arose from the grave on Firstfruits. He then spent forty days with His disciples in post-resurrection ministry (Acts 1:3).

Immediately after forty days, Jesus informed them that it was necessary that He leave them and ascend to His Father in Heaven (in order to apply the benefits of His once and for all sacrifice). However, He told His disciples that they would not be left abandoned and comfortless. He would then send them His Holy Spirit who would come alongside to help in His absence (John 14:16-17).

The disciples were commanded to tarry at Jerusalem until He came (Acts 1:4), and they knew exactly how long they would have to wait. The coming of the Holy Spirit would occur on the next Jewish holiday - a festive time when Jews from different countries were to be in Jerusalem to celebrate the completion of the harvest season. This annual feast was none other than Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks. The disciples waited as they were commanded; however, their wait was not long - only ten days. And then it happened. The Spirit of God descended on those first-century believers.

The two loaves which were brought to the Temple represented both Jew and Gentile; however they became one in Christ with the advent of the Spirit's coming. Writing to the Ephesian believers, Paul said" "For he is our peace, who hath made both (Jew and Gentile) one, and have broken down the middle wall of partition between us ... to make in himself of two (Jew and Gentile) one new man, so making peace" (Ephesians 2:14-15).

There was to be leaven in those two loaves, for the Church had not yet been glorified. During this age, there is still sin within the Church. Messiah Yeshua (the head) is unleavened. On the other hand, the Church (the body) still has leaven within her. Therefore, leaven was to be included in those two loaves.

 

Trumpets

Jewish Calendar

Tishri 1-2 (new moon)

Gregorian Calendar

September/October

Spring or Fall

Fall Feast

Scripture

Leviticus 23:24-25

Significance

Trumpets depicts the Rapture of the Church and the judgment of the wicked.


The Feast of Trumpets is the first of the fall feasts. The Jewish people call this feast Rosh Hashanah, which literally means "Head of the Year," and it is observed as the start of the civil year (in contrast with the religious year which starts with Passover) on the Jewish calendar.

The Feast of Trumpets is so important in Jewish thinking that it stands alongside Yom Kippur ("Day of Atonement") to comprise what Judaism calls "the high holy days" on the Jewish religious calendar. It begins the "ten days of awe" before the Day of Atonement. According to Leviticus 23:24-27, the celebration consisted of a time of rest, "an offering made by fire," and the blowing of the trumpets.

Modern Rosh Hashanah (Ezekiel 40:1) is traced back to the Feast of Trumpets which is the sounding of the trumpets on the first day of the seventh month (Tishri) of the religious calendar year (Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1). The trumpet referred to here was the shofar, a ram's horn. It was distinctive from the silver trumpets blown on the other new moons. Silver trumpets were sounded at the daily burnt offering and at the beginning of each new month (Numbers 10:10), but the shofar specifically was blown on the beginning of the month Tishri.

The interval of time between the last of the spring feasts (Pentecost or Weeks) and the first of the fall feasts (Trumpets) corresponds to the present Church Age. In other words, we are presently living between Israel's fourth and fifth feasts. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost started the Church Age; and Trumpets, which will signal Christ's second coming to rapture the Church and judge the wicked, will end the Church Age.

The Feast of Trumpets occurs on the first day of the Hebrew month, Tishri. It would occur at the new moon. Only the slightest crescent would be visible. However, clouds could obscure the moon, and witnesses were required. Watchfulness was a critical ingredient of this feast. The rabbis later added a second day to this feast to make sure they didn't miss it. This need for watchfulness and preparedness in connection with the Feast of Trumpets is echoed and reechoed throughout the New Testament in connection with the Lord's coming:

"Watch, therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." (Matthew 24:42).

"Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober-minded." I Thessalonians 5:6

"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ" (II Timothy 2:13).

"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation"" (Hebrews 9:28).

"Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, in which the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, in which dwelleth righeousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless" (II Peter 3:11-14).

For a more detailed explanation, please see the Rapture of the Church teaching.

 

Yom Kippur

Jewish Calendar

Tishri 10

Gregorian Calendar

September/October

Spring or Fall

Fall Feast

Scripture

Leviticus 23:27-36

Significance

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) points to a great host of people, Jews and Gentiles, who will be saved when Jesus physically returns to earth.


Four main elements comprise this significant feast.

 

  A Holy Convocation

    The purpose of the "holy convocation" was to draw the focus of the people to the altar of divine mercy. The Lord called the people of Israel to gather in His presence and give their undivided attention to Him.

  Prayer and Fasting

    The people of Israel were to humble (afflict) their souls (Leviticus 23:27). This was explained by later tradition to indicate fasting and repentance. Israel understood that this was a day for mourning over their sins. The seriousness of this requirement is repeated in Leviticus 23:29: "If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people" (Leviticus 23:29).

  Offerings

    Offerings are central to the Day of Atonement; in fact, the Bible devotes an entire chapter (Leviticus 16) to them (also see Numbers 29:7-11). In addition to these, when the Day of Atonement fell on the sabbath, the regular sabbath offerings were offered.

  Prohibition from Labor

    The Day of Atonement was a "sabbath of rest" (Leviticus 23:32), and the Israelites were forbidden to do any work period. If they disobeyed, they were liable to capital punishment! (Leviticus 23:30)



Whereas the Feast of Trumpets occured on the first day of the Hebrew month, Tishri, at the new moon, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) occurred ten days later on the tenth of the month. The ten days from Trumpets to the Day of Atonement are known as "the days of awe" which include penitence, prayer, and fasting in preparation for the most solemn day of the Jewish religious calendar - the Feast of Tabernacles. Unlike biblical times, the modern Jewish Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) does not include animal sacrifices.

The focal point of this feast involved the high priest entering the holy of holies. However, before entering, he had to first bathe his entire body, thus going way beyond the mere washing of hands and feet which were required for other occasions. This washing symbolized the high priest's desire for purification. Rather than wearing his usual robe and colorful garments (Exodus 28 and Leviticus 8), he was commanded to wear special garments of linen.

The high priest sacrificed a bullock as a sin offering for himself and for his house (Leviticus 16:6). After filling his censer with live coals from the altar, he entered the holy of holies where he placed incense on the coals. Next, he took some of the blood which was taken from the slain bullock and sprinkled it on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant (Leviticus 16:13) and also on the ground in front of the mercy seat, providing atonement for the priesthood (Leviticus 16:14-15). Then he sacrificed a male goat as a sin offering for the people. Some of this blood was then also taken into the holy of holies and sprinkled there on behalf of the people (Leviticus 16:11-15). Next, the high priest took another goat (called the "scapegoat"), laid his hands on its head, confessed over it the sins of Israel, and then released it into the desert where it symbolically carried away the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:8,10). The remains of the sacrificial bullock and male goat were taken outside of the city and subsquently burned; the day finally concluded with some additional sacrifices.

According to Hebrews 9-10, this ritual is a symbol of the atoning work of Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest, who did not need to make any sacrifice for Himself but rather shed His own blood for our sins. As the high priest of the Old Testament entered the holy of holies with the blood of sacrificial animals, Jesus entered heaven itself to appear on our behalf in front of the Father (Hebrews 9:11,12). Each year the high priest repeated his sin offerings for his own sin as well as for the sins of the people. This ritual was an annual reminder that perfect and permanent atonement had not yet been made; but Jesus, through His very own blood, accomplished eternal redemption for His people (Hebrews 9:12). Just as the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement was burned outside Israel's camp, Jesus suffered outside the gate of Jerusalem so that He might redeem His people from sin (Hebrews 13:11-12).

According to Jewish custom, three books are opened on the Feast of Trumpets: the Book of Life for the righteous, the Book of Life for the unrighteous, and the Book of Life those those in-between. If a man is deemed righteous, his name is written in the Book of Life for the righteous at the Feast of Trumpets. If a man is unrighteous, his name is written in the Book of Life for the unrighteous, and he will not survive the year. If a man is deemed in-between, judgment is delayed for ten days from the Feast of Trumpets to the Feast of the Day of Atonement. It is during that period of time that a man is given opportunity to repent before the book is closed and his destiny sealed. Thus, at the Feast of Trumpets, the Church will be raptured and the Lord's wrath will begin on the earth. It will occupy a relatively brief period of time.

At His physical return to the earth, many Jews who survived the Lord's purging (wrath) of the earth, will be saved. The prophet Zechariah wrote of that event this way: "And it shall come to pass, in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn" (Zechariah 12:9-10).

And Paul, in the context of a believing remnant from among the nation of Israel at the end of the age, wrote: "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits: that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (Romans 11:25-26).

But it will not be Israel's Day of Atonement. From among the nations of the world, many will not take the mark of the Antichrist. And when the Lord Jesus returns to the earth, many will repent of their sins before the Book of Life is forever closed. The Lord has these Gentiles in mind in His Olivet Discourse. He taught: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all the nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shephered divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:31-34)

It is the multitude from among the nations, along with those from among the sons of Jacob, who will enter the millennial Kingdom still in mortal bodies (as distinct from the raptured and glorified Church who will inhabit New Jerusalem).

 

Tabernacles

Jewish Calendar

Tishri 15-22

Gregorian Calendar

September/October

Spring or Fall

Fall Feast

Scripture

Leviticus 23:39
II Chronicles 8:13
Ezra 3:4
Zechariah 14:16

Significance

Tabernacles speaks of the day when the Son of God will tabernacle among men, wipe away every tear, and bring in the "golden age" which men have dreamed of since time immemorial.


The seventh and final Feast of the Lord is the Feast of Tabernacles. It occurs five days after the Day of Atonement on the fifteenth of Tishri (October). This feast is also called the Feast of Ingathering (Exodus 23:16; 34:22), the Feast to the Lord (Leviticus 23:39; Judges 21:9), the Feast of Booths, or simply "the feast" (Leviticus 23:36; Deuteronomy 16:13; I Kings 8:2; II Chronicles 5:3, 7:8; Nehemiah 8:14; Isaiah 30:29; Ezekiel 45:23,25) because it was so well-known.

After the return from Exile, Ezra read the law and led the Israelites in acts of penitence during the Feast of Tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:13-18). The dedication of Solomon's' Temple also took place (I Kings 8:2) during this feast. Later, Josephus referred to the Feast of Tabernacles as the holiest and greatest of the Hebrew feasts.

On the first day of the feast, each participant had to collect twigs of myrtle, willow, and palm in the area of Jerusalem for construction of their booth (Nehemiah 8:13-18). These "huts" or "booths" were constructed from bulrushes as joyful reminders of the temporary housing erected by their forefathers during the Exodus wanderings (Leviticus 23:40-41; Deuteronomy 16:14). The "booth" in Scripture is a symbol of protection, preservation, and shelter from heat and storm (Psalm 27:5; 31:20; Isaiah 4:6). The rejoicing community included family, servants, orphans, widows, Levites, and sojourners (Deuteronomy 16:13-15).

Besides the construction of the booths, other festivities included the ingathering of the labor of the field (Exodus 23:16), the ingathering of the threshing floor and winepress (Deuteronomy 16:13), and the ingathering of the fruit of the earth (Leviticus 23:39), Samples of the fall crop were hung in each family's booth to acknowledge God's faithfulness in providing for His people.

On the eighth and final day of the feast, the high priest of Israel, in a great processional made up of priests and tens of thousands of worshipers, descended from the Temple Mount to pause briefly at the Pool of Siloam. A pitcher was filled with water, and the procession continued via a different route back to the Temple Mount. Here, in the midst of great ceremony, the high priest poured the water out of the pitcher onto the altar.

Since in Israel the rains normally stop in March, there is no rain for almost seven months! If God does not provide the "early" rains in October and November, there will be no spring crop, and famine is at the doorstep. This ceremony, then, was intended to invoke God's blessing on the nation by providing life-giving water.

It is in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles and this eighth day that the gospel of John records a fascinating event. John wrote: "In the last day (eighth day), that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38). The Son of God was saying in the clearest possible way that He alone was the source of life and blessing; that He could meet every need of the human heart.

Another ritual included the lighting of huge Menorahs at the Court of the Women. This is the probable background for Jesus' statement: "I am the light of the world." John 8:12).

The water and the "pillar of light" provided during the wilderness wandering (when people dwelt in tabernacles) was temporary and in contrast to the continuing water and light claimed by Jesus during this feast which commemorated that wandering period.

The eschatological visions which speak of the coming of all nations to worship at Jerusalem refer to the Feast of Tabernacles on the occasion of their pilgrimage (Zechariah 14:16-21). This feast speaks eloquently of Christ's millennial Kingdom - of a new beginning without the ravages of the curse of sin. In that day, the earth will give her full bounty, all animals will be docile (Isaiah 65:25), armies will no longer march, every man will sit under his own fig tree (Micah 4:4), and righteousness will become a reality in the earth.

 

Conclusion

Fifteen hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ, these seven feasts foretold the major redemptive works of His life. The four spring feasts related to His first coming: His death was depicted in Passover; that His body would not decay in the grave is seen in Unleavened Bread; His resurrection is illustrated in Firstfruits; and the beginning of the Church is typified in Pentecost (Weeks).

The three fall feasts portray events to be associated with His second coming. The Feast of Trumpets depicts the Rapture of the Chruch. The Day of Atonement points to a great host of people (both Jew and Gentile), who will be saved when they see Him coming and appropriate the benefits of His death. The Feast of Tabernacles tells of the day when the Son of God himself with dwell (tabernacle) among men, wipe away every tear, and bring in the "golden age" which men have dreamed of since time began.

Indeed, only an omniscient God who could have foretold these astounding events!

 

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