God clearly describes the feasts, set in the yearly calendar of Israel in Leviticus 23, as His feasts, His celebrations. They are special events full of significance. They are called holy convocations, in Hebrew “miqra”, which also means rehearsals. By instituting the feasts, God was painting a picture of the various prophetic milestones of His entire plan of salvation! And by rehearsing them every year throughout the yearly calendar, His people would be able to recognise the fulfilments when they occurred as being the work of God. Jesus said all things from the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled concerning Him, Luke 24:44.
We can learn some important things from the fulfilments of the springtime feasts:
- each one was fulfilled by Jesus (known as Yeshua in Hebrew) in His first coming;
- each one was fulfilled sequentially;
- each one was fulfilled at the actual time of the feast itself (ie. Jesus fulfilled Passover as the Passover Lamb of God “who takes away the sin of the world” at Passover);
So, applying these lessons to the autumnal feasts we can expect that:
- each one will be fulfilled by Jesus;
- each one will be fulfilled sequentially, in God’s order;
- each one will be fulfilled by Jesus in His second coming;
- each one will be fulfilled at the actual time of the feasts (with one exception, as we will see).
The autumnal feasts, the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh HaShana), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and the Feast of Tabernacles (Succot), will all be fulfilled by Jesus in His second coming at exactly the right time. So let’s briefly look at those feasts in sequence:
The first of these is the Feast of Trumpets, which according to Leviticus 23 occurs on the 1st Tishrei, the first day of the seventh month. This year for us that’s the evening of 2nd October in to 3rd October. The Feast of Trumpets is the only feast that begins on the first day of the month, and so its timing is indeterminate. That is, the timing is set by the appearing of the new moon (each Hebrew month starts with the appearance of the new moon). In todays Hebrew calendar, this feast is known as Rosh Hashanah (meaning the Head of the Year), the Jewish new year, but Biblically it is not the new year, that is two weeks before Passover in the spring. No, this is the Feast of Trumpets, described in Lev.23:24 as “a memorial of blowing of trumpets”. So what is it about?
If it was already a memorial back in Leviticus, what significant event involving the blowing of trumpets that must have already occurred can it be referring to? Biblically, it seems likely to be that found in Exodus 19:13-20. The people of Israel were summoned to the foot of Mount Sinai by the sound of a trumpet blast when God Himself descended onto the mountain in fire. This was an amazing and awesome event, and so, similarly, the Feast of Trumpets points us to the return of the Lord Jesus Himself, who will descend in glory and great and awesome power and might with the sound of the trumpet:
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall ever be with the Lord.” 1Thess.4:16-17.
In Mat.24:29-31, Jesus also describes this awesome event. No-one knows when this will be exactly, but this is the next feast to be fulfilled according to the order set out in Leviticus 23. Please take time to read these scriptures – Isaiah 2:19, Joel 2:10-11, Haggai 2:6 & 7, Mat.24:29-31, Rev.6:12-17.
This event is described all over the Bible, such is its significance. This signifies the beginning of the awesome Day of the Lord, long promised by God when He will pour out His wrath in judgement on the evil deeds of the world. It’s the time when Jesus said unbelieving men’s hearts would be failing them for fear, knowing God’s judgement is coming (Luke 21:25-26). But conversely, it’s the time when He says to those who believe in Him to “look up for your redemption draws near!” (Luke 21:28).
Jesus said in Mat.24:27 that His return will be like the lightning, which flashes across the whole sky. It’s not going to be a secret, quiet thing. The bright as lightning illumination of the whole sky worldwide, will be seen by every eye. This is the majestic supernatural brilliance of Jesus’ glory flashing like lightning from one end of the heavens to the other. It is immediately followed by the actual, physical return of the Lord Himself. Jesus said all the tribes of the earth will mourn and they (every tribe, ie. everyone) will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory!
This is so utterly, amazingly, glorious and indescribable. It’s the return of the glory of God, just like He said it would happen! How can words adequately capture such an event? Read these Scriptures: read again Mat.24:30, Psalm 68:4 & 33, Psalm 97:1-6, Rev.1:7, 1Thes.4:16, Titus 2:13, 1 Pet.4:13, 1 Jn.3:2,3. It is truly awesome!
Returning to Matthew 24, Jesus then describes in verse 31 what has come to be known as the Rapture. That word simply means the catching away of God’s people. Immediately following Jesus’ return in glory, He says in this verse that he will send His angels with a great trumpet blast to gather His elect from one end of heaven to the other. This is what the apostle Paul describes in 1 Thess.4:16-17. It’s the classic rapture passage. In 1 John 3:2-3, reference is made to our being made like Him when He is revealed. In 2 Thess.2:1, Paul also groups our gathering to Him with the return of the Lord.
In Mat.24:36-42 and Luke 17:26-30, Jesus said it will happen as it was in the days of Noah & Lot. Noah had warned the people there would be a worldwide flood. His warnings were ignored, and Jesus said that on the same day Noah entered the ark, the judgement (flood) came. Lot had been warned to leave Sodom. Only he and his wife and daughters heeded the warning. Jesus said that on the same day as Lot fled away from Sodom, the judgement (burning sulphur balls of fire) rained down and destroyed the cities. In the same way, Jesus is saying the rapture (which corresponds to Noah entering the ark, and Lot escaping from Sodom) & the beginning of the Day of the Lord judgement will occur on the same day!
Look at another example. When God led Moses and the children of Israel out of Egypt, His cloud of glory became light for the Israeli’s, but darkness & gloom for the unbelievers, the Egyptians (Exodus 14:19-20). And God delivered the children of Israel on the same day as he judged the Egyptians! God’s word and character are wonderfully consistent!
Therefore, when the Lord physically and bodily returns, He will gather His people to Himself (2Thes.2:1) & will initiate the Day of the Lord judgements (Is.2:10,11,19, 13:9-11) on the same day!!!
The next feast described in Leviticus 23 is the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. This occurs on the 10th Tishrei, this year the 11th/12th October. This in fact is a day of fasting, the most solemn and holy day of the year, the time when the nation’s sin was atoned for by the High Priest entering the Holy of holies on behalf of all the people.
God declared to Israel that “on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you”. Leviticus 16:30. The blood that the High Priest offered on the Day of Atonement every year was symbolic of the blood of the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”, the blood shed by Jesus on the cross at Passover, to pay for the sin of the whole world.
Why then is there a separate “day of atonement” for Israel? Because Israel must reach the stage when she, as a nation, atones for her sin against the Lord. Individually, many Jews are turning to Yeshua as their Saviour even today. In fact, there are more Jewish believers in Yeshua today than at any time since New testament times. It’s as a nation that Israel must atone for her sin.
And in Daniel 9:24, we see this described. The angel speaking to Daniel says:
“Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.”
The fulfilment of the Day of Atonement is the day when all Israel will be saved, Romans 11:26. It is referred to in Zechariah 12:10, when “they will look on Him whom they pierced”, when Israel will look upon Yeshua & repent & turn to Him as a nation. Halleluyah!
It’s interesting to note that this day, according to Daniel 9, comes at the end of the 7 year tribulation period, and applying the same rules we saw in the fulfilments of the spring feasts in that the feasts are fulfilled sequentially, it comes after the rapture has already taken place!
Next in God’s prophetic timetable is the Feast of Tabernacles, Succot. This begins five days after the Day of Atonement, on the 15th Tishrei, the 16th/17th October this year, and is celebrated on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Traditionally, it is a celebration of God’s protection of people of Israel throughout their wilderness wanderings after the deliverance from Egypt under Moses. It also celebrates the end of the harvest and God’s provision for the people. It is celebrated by singing Psalm 118 as the people ascend Mount Zion. Jesus celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles, as we can see in John chapter 7.
The Feast of Tabernacles’ fulfilment I believe has two aspects. Firstly, it is entirely likely that Jesus born on the Feast of Tabernacles. John’s gospel describes His incarnation as “the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us.” John 1:14. The Greek verb skenoo used by John means “to pitch tent, encamp, tabernacle, dwell in a tent.” The wording is clearly alluding to the Feast of Tabernacles when the whole Jewish nation dwelt in temporary booths, as a memorial of the exodus from Egypt and the wanderings through the wilderness. Later, in John 7 & 8, Jesus referred to Himself in terms wholly associated with the Feast of Tabernacles, namely light and water. The significance of Jesus being born at Tabernacles is clear: God became a Man and dwelt amongst men in a temporary abode (a physical body) in fulfilment of this feasts’ imagery & symbolism. (We will look into this in more detail in a future article.)
The second aspect of the Feast of Tabernacles’ fulfilment is the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem as Messiah, to be crowned the King of Israel, and from where He will reign throughout the 1000 year Millennial reign of Christ on earth! Part of the singing of Psalm 118 at this feast, mentioned earlier, related to the spiritual deliverance of the nation, and her salvation, (verses 19-24), especially singing about the “stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” It was also from this Psalm that the people in Jerusalem mistook what was happening when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey. Known as “Palm Sunday” in Christian circles, in Matthew 21:9, they were quoting from Psalm 118, declaring the Messianic praise as Jesus entered the city. But they had the wrong feast! It was Passover then, not Tabernacles! Jesus was fulfilling Scripture then to die as the Passover Lamb of God.
However, at the fulfilment of the Feast of Tabernacles Jesus will indeed enter Jerusalem, this time as King of kings and Lord of Lords, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah not the Lamb of God. And the people will be singing Psalm 118, genuinely and correctly declaring Him as their Messiah and King! It truly will be the triumphant entry!
Finally, there’s another amazing feature about this feast. In Zechariah 14:16-19 we are told this feast will be celebrated every year thereafter. So every year throughout the Millennial reign of Christ on earth, all the world will celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles! This is the only feast we are told this about. It’s very interesting, is it not?
So we can see God’s amazing autumnal celebrations are packed with significance and illumination into both Jesus’ first coming 2000 or so years ago, and His physical return to this world in the future. He has set all this, ahead of time, in the calendar of the people He chose to bear His Name to the whole world. We, by His grace, have been grafted in to become part of the commonwealth of Israel, Ephesians 2: 12, and so, as we learn about God’s feasts, we can understand more of His wonderful plans and purposes.
God bless you!