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God’s Fall Feasts

by Robert Berendt
Richard McGuirk/iStock/Thinkstock
 

Four of the seven annual Holy Days that God calls “My feasts” (Leviticus 23:2) fall closely together in the seventh month in God’s calendar. On the first day of the month of Tishri, the Feast of Trumpets (also called Rosh Hashana) occurs. It is followed nine days later by the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). On Tishri15, the Feast of Tabernacles begins and lasts for seven days starting with a Holy Day. This feast is followed by the last of the seven annual Holy Days on Tishri 22. Since this day is right after the Feast of Tabernacles, it is celebrated along with Tabernacles.

One amazing fact that the Bible teaches us is that the Word which “was with God and was God” (John 1:1) became flesh and dwelt among men (John 1:10, 14). John tells us that the world was made by Him and through Him, but the world did not know Him. When we correctly understand those verses, we can see that what we have noted as days that God calls “My feasts” are also the feasts of Jesus Christ. We are also informed that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). That knowledge should make us pay more attention to the Holy Days today. Jesus Christ, before coming in the flesh, gave those days to Israel with the thought that Israel would teach the whole world. The “law” was intended to be taught by God’s holy nation Israel, but sadly Israel failed totally.

The Feast of Trumpets points to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Trumpets were used to herald the approach of some great events or rejoicing. Jesus referred to the sound of a trumpet when He returns with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30-31). This day signifies the direct intervention of God in the affairs of this world. It is shown to be a day of great terror and darkness as the return of Jesus Christ will not be quiet and peaceful. Satan will make war and humans will be infected with Satan’s hateful attitude. God will act swiftly and decisively to end the influence of Satan. There will be great turmoil (Revelation 19:19-21).

The Day of Atonement is a most solemn Holy Day. It is a day of fasting and of rejoicing. God pointed out the great meaning of this day as a time of renewal. It was the day on which the responsibility for the sins of the world was laid upon Satan (the Azazel goat) and the blood of the sacrificial goat (symbolizing Christ) was taken and offered for the cleansing of the people. This day was symbolic of a new beginning for mankind in their relationship with God. We rejoice knowing that the blood of Christ has atoned for our sins and we stand before God cleansed through Him (Romans 5:11). The King James Bible uses the word “atonement” in this verse and the New King James uses “reconciliation.” As a further joyful event, every 50 years, the Jubilee year was celebrated on the Day of Atonement. This was the year where people could start over again by being freed of all debt and the return of their possessions. It was a year in which God provided food and crops were not to be seeded. No wonder it was greatly anticipated and joyful – though it was also solemn and a day of fasting. This day symbolizes the elimination of sin and unity of man with His Creator. It symbolizes starting over with a clean slate with God.

The Feast of Tabernacles symbolizes God “tabernacling” with man. God did appear in the tabernacle of old with Israel, though their sin cancelled the relationship. The meaning is still great for Christians today, as the Father and Son now dwell within the converted person and within the church (1 Corinthians 6:19). In the future, God will make His abode with His children. A new Jerusalem will be here on earth and the laws of God will go forth from there (Isaiah 2:2, 3). Dwelling in temporary “booths” depicts man’s temporary physical residence on this world where Satan operates. God’s people today are likened to Israel – but we are to come out of this world and all of its ungodly ways. God is leading His people as pilgrims to the “Promised Land” from where His laws will go forth to the world. We also remember that our bodies are only temporary in the flesh and we look forward to the permanent spiritual body God has promised.

The seventh annual Holy Day is attached to the end of the Feast of Tabernacles since it is the day after that Feast is over. It is a solemn day of rest (Leviticus 23:39) and is sometimes referred to as the Eighth Day of the Feast of Tabernacles, though it is a separate holy Sabbath. There is no direct explanation of a purpose for this last Holy Day. Some have thought that it simply is a conclusion of the three times God commanded that His people appear (Exodus 23:14, 17). That explanation seems weak. Coming after all the Holy Days which are rich with meaning have ended, it might rather be the final or culminating act of God to complete the plan the Holy Days reflect. There will be a time where there is no more death – therefore no more physical beings (Revelation 21:4).

God’s just and perfect way must leave room for the long dead and forgotten to come to know Him. They could not make a choice or a determination to obey Him unless they first have heard the Truth. The Church of God has taught this last Holy Day shows what will occur after the thousand years and is the final work God does for mankind. The dead will be resurrected and taught the truth. Only then can they choose to repent and obey God and receive forgiveness. This would be offered to the whole house of Israel (Ezekiel 37) and to the rest of mankind. We find an allusion to this theme in Revelation 20:11-15. The dead stand before God – these are the dead who had not yet been resurrected. The books (Bible) were opened to their understanding and their judgment begins. We have thought this period would last for about 100 years (Isaiah 65:15-25).

At the end, all humans will have been judged after a fair opportunity. Those who succeed go on to eternal life. Those who fail go to the second death (Revelation 20:14 and 2:11). The only time when there will be no more death can be when there are no human beings alive. Revelation 21:4 speaks of a time when there will be no more death. It is fitting that this is the conclusion of the Holy Days of God, as they outline His plan.

What is going to occur beyond the Last Great Day? All of eternity stretches out before us, but little is said about that, except that we will be like Him (Psalm 17:15, 1 John 3:2). Keeping the Holy Days that Jesus declared are His greatly increases our understanding of the Father and Son – and gives us the training we need to be part of His future. That is why the days are joyous and happy days – celebrating the most awesome future that can be imagined.

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