Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Fulfillment of Appointed Times: The Feasts of Israel

Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7 AKJV)

The Hebrew word (sode) is translated secrets but means “secret counsel.” God reveals His plans to those whom He calls as prophets. The Word of God, from the Old Covenant to the New, Genesis to Revelation, paints a complete picture of His entire plan for mankind. Hundreds of prophecies were fulfilled by the first coming of Jesus, yet God’s people, Israel, failed to recognize the events as they unfolded.

The fulfillment of the prophecies occurred during what the Bible translates as “feasts” but literally means “appointed times.” The Lord instructed Moses:

“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, these are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are My appointed feasts.” (Leviticus 23:2 ESV)

Feasts are more than a time to eat and celebrate. The Hebrew word miqrā’ (mik-raw’) translated as “holy convocation” or “sacred assembly” means a “dress rehearsal.” The Jews would act out through the festivals; a dress rehearsal for what God would bring about. God's number of perfection in the physical is seven, and there are seven feasts God has instructed His people to celebrate forever: 

  1. Passover
  2. Unleavened Bread
  3. First Fruits
  4. Pentecost (Weeks)
  5. Trumpets
  6. Atonement
  7. Tabernacles (Booths)

The first four of the seven feasts occur during the springtime: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost (Weeks). The final three holidays (Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles) occur during the fall. The four spring feasts were fulfilled literally and right on the actual feast day, in connection with Christ’s first coming. Likewise, the three fall feasts will be fulfilled literally in connection to the Lord’s second coming.

Before looking at the future feasts, let’s look at how the past feasts were fulfilled.

Passover (Pesach - pas’-khah)

The Bible tells us that after many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, during which time the Israelites were subjected to backbreaking labor and unbearable horrors, God saw the people’s distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: “Send forth My people, so that they may serve Me.” Despite numerous warnings, Pharaoh refused to heed God’s command.

Moses proclaimed ten plagues upon the land to Pharaoh and each came true. These plagues devastated and afflicted the Egyptians by destroying everything from their livestock to their crops. At the stroke of midnight, after the last prophecy was given, God sent an angel to kill all of Egypt's firstborn while sparing the children of Israel by “passing over” their homes—hence the name of the feast.

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD'S Passover. (Leviticus 23:5 AKJV)

The New Testament points to the Messiah as our Passover lamb:

The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29 AKJV)

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (1 Peter 1:19 AKJV)

God’s people had to bring a lamb into their home for three days and then sacrifice the animal, placing the blood over the doorpost of the home to be safe from the angel of death. Jesus taught God’s people for three years then became a “lamb without blemish or defect” sacrificing Himself for us so that we would be redeemed by His blood. 

Unleavened Bread (Hag HaMatzah) 

Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. (Leviticus 23:6 NASB)

The week after Passover is known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Hebrew word for unleavened bread is azymos (ad’-zoo-mos) meaning bread without leaven; however, the word used for this feast is hagiasmos (hag-ee-as-mos’) which means consecration or holiness. Metaphorically speaking, in the Word of God, leaven represents sin. Before Passover, time is spent removing leaven from the household which is kept from the house for the entire week. This represents keeping our lives free of sin as the house is kept clean of leaven. When we dedicate our lives to the Lord who has redeemed us, we should endeavor to keep it free of sin.

...Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8 AKJV)

We should learn God’s ways and be determined to keep sin far from us. Having “a little” sin is not okay. We should be willing to closely examine our lives and remove anything that doesn’t line up with what God tells us we should do.

First Fruits (Bikkurim bik-koor’)

...When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest... Until this same day, until you have brought in the offering of your God, you shall eat neither bread nor roasted grain nor new growth. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. (Leviticus 23:10 & 14 NASB 1995)

In ancient times God’s people would tie a string to the first buds in a field each year marking them as the “first fruits.” The offering was brought to the temple when it was ripe. This was usually about one-sixtieth of the crop. The actual feast was held at the conclusion of the week we call Passover.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. (1 Corinthians 15:20 AKJV)

Jesus was resurrected on this very day, which is one of the reasons that Paul refers to him as the “first fruits from the dead.” Just as our Lord was resurrected and brought into Heaven after He died, so shall we be when we die.

Weeks or Pentecost (Shavuot shaw-voo’-ah)

You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD. (Leviticus 23:15-16 NASB 1995)

The Church was established on this day when God poured out His Holy Spirit and 3,000 Jews responded to Peter’s great sermon and his first proclamation of the gospel. This feast occurs between two sets of three feasts: 50 days after the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and before the Feast of Trumpets. The first three feasts were all linked together, just as the last three feasts will be linked together as they are fulfilled.

Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)

The very first fall feast is Rosh HaShanah which means Head of the Year. It is technically the first day of the Hebrew year, yet one’s fate for the next year is not sealed until the end of Tabernacles. Many believe that this relates to the rapture or the “catching away” of God’s people because of two things:

  • The final day of the feast is held on one of two days, so the exact day is unknown. 
  • It is about blowing a shofar

Let’s look into the scriptures concerning these items:

Rapture (Catching Away)

For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 AKJV)

This is the first letter written by Paul. In every chapter of this book, Paul talks about the return of the Lord. The Greek word keleusma (kel'-yoo-smah) is translated “trump” or “shout.” The fuller meaning is with a loud summons, a trumpet call. This definition is confirmed by another of Paul’s letters:

Behold, I show 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 Corinthians 15:51-52 AKJV)

Here it specifies what type of call it will be, a trumpet call. Does this mean that this will occur during the Feast of Trumpets? We need to look at what else is said to understand more about this event.

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night… (1 Thessalonians 5:2 ESV)

This seems to say that we will have no way of knowing when the “Rapture” will happen; however, if we continue to read just two more verses, Paul clarifies:

But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light…(1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 ESV)

The day when the trumpet is blown will only come like a thief if you are in darkness! All those who are abiding in Christ, who is the Light, should see that the time is near. To see if the Feast of Trumpets can be applied to the Rapture, we must understand what this feast means.

Say to the Israelites, On the first day of the seventh month, you shall observe a day of solemn [sabbatical] rest, a memorial day announced by blowing of trumpets, a holy [called] assembly. (Leviticus 23:24 AMPC)

Notice it says trumpets, not a final single trumpet. On this day, the trumpets were blown as a memorial (to remember) the giving of the Law of Moses. This was God’s system of justice before Jesus came. It was also when God made His ways known to His people.

When referring to Trumpets, most people are only aware of the actions that happen on the actual day of the feast: the shofar is blown 100 times then the last blast is blown at sunset on the new moon. Because of the difficulty in pinpointing which day the new moon would arrive on, Israel celebrates trumpets on two days; though, the original intention was to celebrate it only on one day. These blasts are said to be blown to arouse God’s compassion and to confuse Satan so that the feasts can occur without persecution from the enemy.

For orthodox Jews, this feast starts on the first day of the month of Elul: the time most people know as the Feast of Trumpets occurs on the first day of the next month. Beginning on the first day of Elul, for the next 30 days a trumpet is blown every day to remind Israelites to wake up to God and make right any sins against their brothers to avoid judgment.

Just like the Spring feasts, these Fall feasts are intertwined in their meaning. 40 days before the Jewish Feast, Yom Kippur (Feast of Atonement), is a special time of Divine grace and forgiveness culminating on that day. This means three of the feasts are linked in their meaning:

  • Feast of Trumpets - 1st and 2nd of Elul
  • Days of Awe - 1st - 10th of Tishrei
  • Feast of Atonement - 10th of Tishrei:
  • Feast of Tabernacles - 15th of Tishrei - the 22nd of Tishrei

These 40 days represent the days Moses spent on Mount Sinai receiving God’s Law. The sounding of the trumpet on the days preceding Yom Kippur are telling us to return to God and His ways. It is a time of repentance and preparation. It is a time of growing close to God through prayer and finding mercy, “Like a newborn innocent child.”

According to the Jewish teachings, the shofar calls unto us: Wake up, there is work to do! This is for those who have been lulled into mental lethargy by unimportant earthly things and have neglected their spiritual needs! The shofar is a shout to "Wake up now! Give your soul a chance!”

One of the idioms for this day is, “The Day of the Awakening Blast.” The shofar was sounded when war was waged against a dangerous enemy. It is an Israeli call to arms like war drums. This makes it clear that the blowing of the shofar for the Feast of Trumpets is about waking up, not a “final blast” to call us home.

The fulfillment of the final fall feasts will occur on the actual day of the feasts; however, there is evidence that the days in between are years, not days. For more information concerning this topic, see the Revelation classes at the Courts of Heaven Academy.

Ten Days of Awe

The first ten days of the month of Tishrei are known as the Ten Days of Repentance. The Feast of Trumpets occurs on the first two of these ten days. During this time, God is known for being especially close to the Earth so it is easy to receive forgiveness for our sins. To make sure they escape judgment, God’s people spend more time in the Torah and less time focused on worldly endeavors to escape the judgments of the coming year.

The recent revelation of God as the Judge of Heaven and Earth and our rightful place in the Courts of Heaven through Jesus will be greatly used during the Ten Days of Awe. When the Outpouring of God’s Glory begins, He is close to the Earth and we can quickly receive mercy for our sins. This is a critical piece that needs to happen before the Tribulation can begin. In the Book of Revelation, it clearly states that:

“...they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11 AKJV)

Overcome is the Greek word nikaō which may mean when one is arraigned or goes to law, to win the case, maintain one's cause. Because the legal term, “testimony,” is also used in the same sentence we know this is the right definition for these words. We must know about and overcome the enemy in the Courts of Heaven before the end comes. Every time we make a confession about sin and we turn from it we are giving testimony which our Lord uses in the Courts, causing the enemy to lose ground on the spiritual battlefield. As this revelation spreads, so will the victory of the body of Christ until Satan is truly overcome!

Many scriptures are read in the first few days and the last part of this time period is when “it is a time for doing what we have learned.” The sabbath between Trumpets and the Atonement has an interesting name: Shabbat Shuvah (Sabbath of Return). According to Hebrew tradition:

It is customary in almost all Jewish communities for the rabbi of the city or congregation to expound on teshuvah, (repentance, return to a Jew’s true essence) and to emphasize the severity of transgression so that the people turn their hearts toward repentance.

If we had left during Trumpets, why would we need to return to God’s ways? The message on this sabbath could easily be seen as the Two Witnesses who give testimony and urge God’s people to repent, to turn away from sin, and turn back to God’s ways. Everything about this time period speaks of events that take place before the Rapture, so it is unlikely that the Feast of Trumpets will be the removal of God’s faithful from the Earth.

Atonement (Yom Kippur)

...On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD. You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the LORD your God. (Leviticus 23:27-28 NASB 1995)

At the end of Ten Days of Awe is the Feast of Atonement. During the Days of Awe, God’s people tried to amend their behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against Him and against other human beings. According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person's fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict.

The service concludes with the closing prayer, which begins shortly before sunset, when the “gates of prayer” will be closed. Yom Kippur comes to an end with a recitation of the typical closing prayer and the blowing of the final shofar or trumpet. This marks the Feast of Atonement as the time of the Rapture. 

Tabernacles/Booths (Sukkot)

...The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days to the LORD. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. (Leviticus 23:34-35 AKJV)

This feast celebrates two specific items, one current and one past:

  • Temporary dwellings are made to remember the passage through the wilderness when they were guided by God
    • after they left Egypt
    • before they entered the Promised Land
  • The harvest is brought as an offering

Every day, four kinds of food are brought before the altar and waved while prayers are said, praising God. Then prayers are said requesting divine assistance. On the seventh day, the seal verdicts are finalized upon the signed fate. This is a joyous celebration, culminating as the focus is on God and what the next year will bring as fate is released at the end of the feast.

Since Tabernacles is celebrating the journey through the wilderness into the harvest, it makes sense that Christ would not be ruling: Israel was not yet in possession of the land because when they lived in booths they journeyed toward the promised land. All the other feasts were completely fulfilled, this one will be too. This means Christ will return at the end of it, somewhere in that last day.

In the first Revelation class in the Courts of Heaven Academy, we have seen that there are actually 19 years left in God’s timeline before Christ returns to rule. The fall feasts of Israel are a 19-day period of time:

        7 years of Tribulation - ending on the Feast of Atonement
        5 years before Tabernacles begins
        +      7 years of Tabernacles
       19 years of Daniel’s prophecy of weeks

In Daniel, days are actually years. There will be years in between the fall feasts, instead of days. Because we cannot be sure if the Feast of Trumpets began on the first day or second day, we cannot know when the exact day or hour the Lord will return. All we can do is wait and see. We will know if the trumpets have really sounded when the leader creates a seven-year peace agreement. When that event occurs, we know that the Feast of Atonement is on the way in the next decade! 

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