The Seven Hebrew Feasts and the Christian - Part 2
Last week we introduced the seven feasts which the Hebrews began celebrating after their deliverance from bondage in Egypt. In that introduction we highlighted that the New Testament tells us that these feasts were a shadow, something symbolizing what Christ had later fulfilled when He came to earth and gave His life on the cross of Calvary. We looked at the first four of these, reviewing the details of each feast and how they applied to the spring of your life as a Christian, your new birth, your being born again. Today, we want to finish this look by reviewing the last three of the Hebrew feasts, those feasts that occurred in the autumn or latter part of the year.
To keep you from having to refer back to last week’s note, here is a visual that was given last week to help explain the feasts and when they occurred.
First Hebrew Month - Spring
Seventh Hebrew Month - Autumn
Passover - 14th day of the month
Trumpets - 1st day of the month and a Special Sabbath
Unleavened Bread - 15th day of the month lasting 7 days. First and last day are Special Sabbaths
Day of Atonement - 10th day of the month and a Special Sabbath
Firstfruits - 16th day of the month. This is a Special Sabbath
Tabernacles - 15th day of the month and lasting eight days. First day and eighth days are a Special Sabbath
Pentecost - Occurs 50 days after the feast of Unleavened Bread - Special Sabbath
Feast of Trumpets or Ingathering
The feast of Trumpets or Ingathering was to be held on the first day of the seventh month of the year, what we would refer to typically as late September or very early October for our frame of reference. It represented the time of the final harvest of the year. The last three Feast’s all occurred in this seventh month. This was also to be a day of rest, a Special Sabbath, doing no work. The people celebrated all that the Lord had given them and had done that harvest season as they had gathered in the final portions of their crops for the year.
For the Christian, it is a time which represents your thankfulness to Him for working through you to produce fruit throughout the year and ask His blessings to do so every day and throughout the future. You are to be used by God in tending to an earthly harvest from the fields that are white unto harvest. You are teaching and baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
For those older Christians, this feast represents the autumn of your Christian life. It is a time where your work in those same great fields that are white unto harvest as Jesus told His disciples in John 4:35, has come to completion. Your work as a soldier of Christ and a witness of Christ, both the two main themes for the Christian laid out in Revelation, is approaching its end.
“But Greg, that sounds kind of like death”, you may say. Well, that is what this feast does represent for a Christian at the end of their life but not as a sad event. Yes, we all die. We all die unless Christ comes back first, at which point we are now prepared to meet Him upon His return. But as Paul points out in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, those Christians that have already died by that point will rise first and then we promptly join them in the air in a bodily resurrection. This concept is further expressed in Revelation 14:4 which we referenced last week in the Feast of Firstfruits where we saw that Jesus actually was the Firstfruits, the first of many, to be resurrected with that third day celebration. Since this feast is about the fall harvest of the full crop, the next part of Revelation 14 comes into focus. Revelation 14:14 describes Christ making a great swath through the world with a sharp sickle “reaping” those faithful to Him. Then an angel with a sharp sickle is joined by another angel in charge of the great fire. This angel makes a great swath and “gathers” as one gathers grapes and places them in the great winepress of God’s wrath. Both of these actions are a reference to the sorting out at the final harvest mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 13:24-30. As a Christian you are “reaped” by Christ, signifying a single sweep of the sickle that does not harm the kernels of grain in any fashion. Non-Christians however are “gathered” in the second group by an angel.
As a Christian, your physical death is not to be a sad event. It is literally a homegoing as you have heard so often at the funeral of a Christian loved one. Your body lays dead, awaiting the resurrection which scripture clearly outlines. Your spirit however, never died. It was made alive in the first stage of your Christian life, that stage where you were born-again becoming a new creation, participating in spiritual regeneration or spiritual resurrection, protecting you from spiritual death. Your physical body awaits the resurrection to life outlined in so many places such as Daniel 12:2, Matthew 22:30-31, Luke 20:35-36, John 11:24, Acts 24:15, Romans 6:5, 1 Corinthians 15 (most of the chapter is devoted to this topic), Philippians 3:10-11, Revelation 11:12, and Revelation 20:4-6. Read all of them as you have time. It will bring great comfort to you; if you are a Christian.
Day of Atonement
The Day of Atonement was celebrated on the tenth day of the seventh month of the year, in other words, nine days after the feast of trumpets. It was the most important Holy Day to the Hebrews, even more important than the first feast – Passover. On the Day of Atonement, the Jews would prepare sacrifices, many of them. I will only mention a few here. It was a very bloody day. The priest Himself had to have sacrifices and then there were sacrifices for the nation as a whole. Among these for the nation were two goats. One would be sacrificed for the sins of the people to restore fellowship with God. This blood as well as the blood of the sacrifice for the high priest were sprinkled on the mercy seat behind the veil in the temple. This was the special place only the high priest could enter. This Holy Day was the only day all year that the high priest could enter behind the veil and even then, they tied a rope around him in case he sinned and was struck dead approaching the Holy of Holies so they could pull his dead body out. The priest also laid hands on the goat and prayed, transferring the sins of the people to the goat. This “scapegoat” would then be led out into the wilderness and released signifying the sins were physically now separated from the people, in other words as far as the east from the west. This practice was repeated every year at the same time for the sins of the people that prior year. When the priest came out of the Holy Place he would raise his hands and bless the people. The people were now cleansed of sin until the next sacrifice and were again considered able to fellowship with God, at least until they sinned again which is why there were also daily sacrifices and weekly sacrifices. All of Leviticus 16 is devoted to this special Holy Day if you want to read more details.
For the living Christian, this time of your life represents a time of recognizing that what Christ did on the cross for you was forever, not just the previous year or until your next sin. The Christian no longer has to make the sacrifices that were made on the Day of Atonement because the final sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice, has been made already by the only true High Priest, Jesus Christ Himself, Hebrews 2:17, 10:1, 10:14. Christ gave His own blood and sprinkled it on the mercy seat on the day of Passover when He died. When Christ said “It is Finished”, he meant all of it, even the sacrificial requirements of this end of year feast, which is why the temple veil was rent or torn top to bottom at that time. You can now rest and enter into the Holy of Holies because there is no more veil covering or blocking access to the mercy seat of God. Christ is your High Priest and He came out from behind the veil, raised His hands as Aaron did and blesses you, declaring you forgiven. As a Christian, you now have direct access to God and can “boldly access His throne of Grace”, Hebrews 4:16. Christ Himself was and is the atoning sacrifice, 1 John 2:2.
A special note regarding the Day of Atonement is what would occur after every 49 years or seven times seven of these Day of Atonement special Sabbaths. On the completion of this 49th year, on the tenth day of the seventh month, the trumpets were to blast and a year of Jubilee declared as outlined in Leviticus 25:8-11. That is a year where all debts are canceled, all slaves are freed, all land reverts back to the original owners, and no work is to be performed the entire year. Even non-Jews that dwelt in the land benefited from all of the same privileges. The people were to live solely off of the land and the fruits / grains which naturally came up from the ground, just like it was some great, magnificent garden. The Hebrews never did celebrate one of these and after failing to do so six times, God judged them and dispersed them to other nations. After seventy years of dispersion, God allowed them to return to Israel as told to us in Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah.
The special point I want to highlight with this is that the Jubilee, which was to start on the Day of Atonement, is a sign of what awaits us at the end of this earth when God declares the end of the age. The trumpets of heaven will finally blast as they were supposed to on the year of Jubilee. These trumpets represent a call to the throne of God by all mankind. There, those that are God’s children will have their names read from the “The Book of Life” for their sins have been atoned for. Those who have not had their sins atoned for due to their rejection of the sacrificial blood provided by the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ Himself, will not find their names written in that book. Those of us with our names written in the book, those that have had their sins atoned for, those that did accept or receive the message of the bloody cross from Passover sacrifice, will be “blessed by the Great High Priest” and are now ready to walk into the New Heaven and the New Earth that are outlined in the last two chapters of the Bible. “But Greg, what could be better than that”, you may ask. Well, let’s look at the last of the seven feasts.
Tabernacles or Booths
This last feast or festival was a commemoration of the time when the Hebrews dwelt in temporary shelters for forty years in the wilderness. This feast was initiated on the fifteenth day of this seventh month of the year or just four days after the end of the Day of Atonement. The significance of this feast to the Jews was it commemorated a time when God provided for them during their time in the wilderness while they waited to enter their Promised Land. Remember God provided manna daily, water out of rocks, etc., for forty years. Their clothes or shoes did not even wear out. The people lived in temporary dwellings, called tabernacles or booths all those years. More importantly, this period represents a time when God dwelt with them in the cloud that guided them day and night and whose light even allowed them to travel at night. He was not just on the mountain at Sinai any longer. He was with them, every day and every night in the cloud. God was literally with them.
For the Christian in the here and now it is a time of truly knowing that God is with you and caring for your every need. He is also guiding you now, personally through the Holy Spirit. He is your manna to eat, your cloud to guide and shade you in the day, and your fiery cloud to light the way, even when the path grows dark.
For the Christian nearing the autumn of their life, it is a celebration looking forward to that time in the future in the New Heaven and New Earth where you are in a resurrected physical body and have direct physical access to God. Revelation 21:3–4, says that “God’s dwelling place is now among the people and He will dwell with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death and no more crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.” Then in Revelation 22:4 it says that we shall “see His face”.
There is one more “shadow” in this last feast that I want to draw your attention to. This feast mentions an “eighth day” on which the people are again to declare a “Special Sabbath”. This was the last “Special Sabbath” of the year. This number “eight” is used a few times in the Bible but not as much as numbers such as seven or three or four or twelve. The number eight is used as in the number of survivors from the flood aboard Noah’s ark, 2 Peter 3:20. These eight started over on an earth that looked totally different than the one they knew before boarding the ark. The number eight is used as the day which a Hebrew male child was to be brought to the priest to be circumcised after his birth, signifying the cutting away of the flesh, in essence the cutting of a sacrifice, and that this child is now under the covenant of God. The number eight to the Hebrews symbolically represented regeneration or new beginnings. For the living Christian, the Tabernacle feast therefore takes you back to the beginning, the Passover step where you first met God. This eighth day reference takes you back and reminds you that you are now a new creation, something God wants you to never, ever, ever forget.
For the saint that is looking to the future after death, this last day Sabbath on the eighth day symbolizes further what we earlier alluded to. It symbolizes that God begins again with the New Heaven and New Earth, a place where now we see God face-to-face. What will be different this time compared to the Garden of Eden in Genesis? Revelation 21:1 tells us that “there was no longer any sea”. The sea and the great deep or abyss within it throughout Scripture often symbolically represents the place where evil resides and comes from. There are many places in the Bible that allude to this from the first chapter of Genesis through Revelation, outlining God’s sovereign restraint over Satan. For the purposes of this note just rest in the very clear point that Paul makes in 2 Thessalonians 2:8. There Paul tells us that Christ will, upon His return to this present earth in glory, defeat evil forever with the very breath of His mouth. It will happen very, very quickly. Satan may look like something fierce but He is literally a spec, a lowly snake that can only strike out at Christ’s heel but is in the end, crushed under Christ’s mighty foot. Evil will be destroyed forever, no longer just cast out of heaven down to earth. Evil will be placed in the fiery pit to never be heard from again. In the New Heaven and New Earth there will be no more sea!
I pray you understand the length of this note and the one last week is only there so that you could just get a small taste of how big our God is. God was telling us in the Old Testament, celebrating it over a thousand years, exactly what He would do at the cross and also telling us what He would do for His church and what awaits us in the future. Let me try and summarize this for you below.
In Genesis 12, God tells Abram to leave, to cross over the Euphrates and go the place I will show you. In doing so He told Abram that He would bless all nations – Jew and Gentile – through him, his seed – Isaac, Jacob. This blessing would occur through the seed of Judah, Jacob’s son. There would come one named Immanuel, God With Us, the One that would save all of those promised to Abram or Abraham. We know Him as Jesus Christ.
In Genesis 15, God seals or ratifies this promise, the covenant with Abram in a vision while Abram was in a deep sleep placed on Him by God. In that dream God tells Abram that his descendants will be in captivity for 400 years but that He would deliver them after that time. That statement by the Spirit of God was of the time in Egypt and their exodus.
Here the Feasts begin at the end of a 430-year period in Egypt:
Passover – You are rescued from the bondage of sin and given the gift of everlasting life by trusting in the blood of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Unleavened Bread – You are made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ. You are then so excited and grateful for the grace which has been extended to you that you immediately start to align your life with the inward reality of the miracle Christ performed for you.
Firstfruits – This feast on the third day reminds you of another event that happened in / after three days. It reminds you of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the Firstfruits, the first of many that will be resurrected to live in glory with Him and with the Father.
Weeks or Pentecost – You have been baptized by the Holy Spirit, given power to accomplish your mission as a witness and soldier in the army of the Lord. Your journey will take you through the wilderness which at times may be hard and may even lead to death. But God is with you. It is He that sustains you. He speaks directly to you via His Spirit. You trust, abide in, and rely upon Him in this harsh wilderness; a wilderness we call life on this earth. It is a wilderness where God sustains us - His church, through trials and tribulations that Satan means for harm but that God knows only makes His church stronger which enables it to grow more. Those outside the true church want nothing to do with this wilderness and even mock and ridicule us. This wilderness is not your home though. There is a land awaiting you, a true promised land that you are journeying toward.
Trumpets or Ingathering – You will one day physically be caught up to the heavens with Christ when He returns to earth in glory and quickly, swiftly, defeats Satan once and for all. Until then you are to work in the fields that are white unto harvest, going into all of your world proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Day of Atonement – You have access now to God’s throne of Grace because your sins have all been atoned for. Our God is faithful and just to abide by the atoning sacrifice of the blood of His own Son which has been sprinkled on the mercy seat. Your Lord and Savior stands by the throne of God right now, continually interceding for you and reminding God of the sacrifice that He Himself made for you. Your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Tabernacles – Just as the Hebrews dwelt in the wilderness and were cared for by God, so are you. You do not live in the great cities of self-indulgence called Babylon in the Bible. You live in the wilderness and rely upon God. It is not an easy life at times but it is the life for you on this earth. It may be harsh but having God with you now via the Holy Spirit, makes it all worthwhile and in a sense, heaven here on earth, if you can thankfully and joyfully allow yourself to see it that way as God intends. You don’t have to wait until heaven to experience the kingdom of God. You can begin now. There is a promised land at the end of your journey through this wilderness just as there was for the Hebrews. You have been through hardships, trials, tribulations, and many have even given their life for Christ. After this life, walk now, into your new home, a New Heaven and a New Earth where God dwells with you and you see him F2F. Let Him wipe the tears from your eyes and then enjoy the light of His face every minute of every day.
This note is the last of many that have come to you each week for the last two years. We will be returning to in-person Sunday School class this coming Sunday. I may still send out some things from time to time as led or asked to do. You will never know how much your encouragement through this two-year period of my own wilderness journey has meant to me. It has been so sweet and the best of my life, up unto this point. I am so blessed by you but more importantly by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. I pray you can all say the following with me. It is He who saved us, who called us, who has done everything for us and still does today. It is He who allows us to witness, personify Him on earth, and to fight for His most Holy and worthy cause. It is He who is waiting to receive us with open arms as we leave this earth one day. We are redeemed and oh how we love to proclaim it. We are redeemed by the blood of the lamb. We are only redeemed due to His infinite mercies. His child, now and forever, we are.