THE OLD TESTAMENT FEASTS
THEIR RELATIONSHIP & IMPORTANCE
TO NEW TESTAMENT BELIEVERS
by Craig W. Lewis
In the Old Covenant, God set aside The Nation of Israel for Himself. God then gave that nation His law and His sacrificial system which they were to follow as they made their journey to the promised land, (which was the inheritance they were to take possession of).
Along with this came the establishment of seven annual feasts, or festivals. Four were at the beginning of the Hebrew year: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Pentecost. Three were at the end of the Hebrew year: Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles.
These feast days of God found in Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16 were merely shadows of the reality fulfilled in Christ. There are seven feast days which make up the total reality of the Jewish Messiah. God did not just combine all the spiritual truth which would be fulfilled in Christ into one big holiday. He carefully set down each holy day. when it was to take place, the order in which it was to take place, which sacrifices were to be offered, what the priestly conditions were and finally what rites were to be observed. As they participated in each of the Old Testament Feasts, the people of Old Testament times were actually observing their future deliverance in God's Son.
An additional note I wish to make: Three of the Feasts are of special significance to the Kingdom Of God. They are; Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. There are several good teachings by several different authors about these three feasts and their significance to the 3rd Day move of God. A day where the Father is revealing the Kingdom of God to his children. They can be found in section # 8 of the Study Topics Page of our website. The web address is listed at the end of this writing. These topics will be marked with an asterisk.
Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16 provide us with the instructions on the specifics of each of the feasts. Each feast day had different features. Important is the time of the feast, the order of the feast, what type of sacrifice was to be represented, and what activities were limited during the feast. These seven feasts each represented a specific spiritual truth. In this study we will attempt to uncover those spiritual truths which are relevant for us today under the New Covenant.
At the establishment of the New Covenant, God once again set aside a people for Himself. This group of people was His spiritual Israel the Church. What was written in the Law and the Prophets to physical Israel under the old covenant was a foreshadowing or example of what was to come under the New Covenant. The Law of the Old Covenant was a road map or guide to prepare the new spiritual Israel, the church to make the journey to It's promised inheritance, the Kingdom of God.
In Col. 2:16-17 Paul writes, "So, don't let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new-moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. (17), For these rules were only shadows of the real thing, Christ himself." Paul states in 1Cor. 10:11: "All these events happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us, who live at this time when this age is drawing to a close." Paul understood that things that were written and which occurred in the Old Testament were a foreshadowing and example for the New Testament generation. The following is a study of the feasts in the Old Testament and how their spiritual applications have all been fulfilled today.
*THE FEAST OF PASSOVER
The feast of Passover is based on an unique event in the nation of Israelís history. The first Passover occurred while God's people were being held as slaves in the foreign country of Egypt. Pharaoh, Egyptís King, was quite stubborn and denied Mosesí request to let Godís people go and be released from the bondage of slavery. Moses was instructed by God to perform various actions which caused a series of plagues which were designed to change Pharaohís mind about releasing the children of Israel.
In Exodus 12 we can see the conditions God gave to all the people of Israel to protect them from the final plague. The last plague was where all the first born in the land of Egypt were to be slain. Godís method of redemption or freedom for His own was the sacrifice of a lamb. It had to be unblemished and its blood was to be applied to the top and the two sides of the door frames of the house. This blood of the lamb protected the inhabitants of the houses from the Lordís judgment. It was the Lordís Passover and was to become a memorial for the nation through the celebration of an annual feast beginning in the evening on the 14th day of the first month of each year.
It was immediately following this final judgment by God on Egypt that the nation of Israel began their 40 year journey to the promised land. They had finally been redeemed. There is so much that could be taught on at this point concerning the First-Born, The eating of the Lamb, The blood of the Lamb, and their significance to Salvation and our journey to the Kingdom of God but I will save that for another study.
The Feast of Passover as commanded by God is recorded in Leviticus 23:4-5 and in Deuteronomy 16:1-8. This feast was established so that The Nation of Israel would ďrememberĒ their miraculous deliverance by God from slavery.
Luke 22:15 shows us that Jesus earnestly desired to eat the Passover feast with His disciples before He suffered. Jesus connected this final Passover with a change of covenants. "This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in My blood (Luke 22:20)." This was a direct fulfillment of the prophesy of the Prophet Jeremiah. "Behold days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, NOT like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. My covenant, which they broke, although I was a husband to them (Jer.31: 31-32).
The Passover sacrifice of Jesus on the cross fulfilled the SHADOW image projected by the original Passover. Exodus 6: 6-7 told what the results of that first Passover would be even before it had taken place: "I am the Lord and I will free you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with mighty power and great acts of judgment. (7), I will make you my own special people, and I will be your God. And you will know that I am the Lord your God who has rescued you from your slavery in Egypt."
Jesusí death on the cross provided the blood on the door for His people to escape from the slavery in which the law had ensnared them. Paul describes this event in various ways: "This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed " (Rom 3:25).
So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world (law) (Gal 4:3). For Christ, our Passover also has been sacrificed (1Cor. 5:7). Peter notes: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for Godís own possession... for you once were not a people, but now are the people of God (1Pet. 2:9-10).
Christís death brought His new people (spiritual Israel) out from the bondage of the law and like physical Israel in the Old Testament they began a 40-year journey in the spiritual wilderness toward their promised inheritance which was eternal life. It is important to note that the New Testament from Acts to Revelation is written about a 40 year period of time. The time between the crucifixion, the destruction of Israel in 70 AD, and the literal return of Christ. Jesus had told his disciples that ALL of the things he told them about in Mathew 24:4-34 would come to pass in THEIR GENERATION. Not in some future generation 2,00 years later but within those next 40 years. A study of the bible will show that a Bible Generation is 40 years. What He had spoken, ALL were fulfilled in that 40 year time frame. For more in depth study go to the Study Topics and the Deeper Study pages on our website for a variety of subjects which are related.
FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is also a remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt just as the Feast of Passover was. Scripture verses include Exodus. 12:17-20, 13:6-7; Lev. 23:6-8 and Deut. 16:3-8. Israel had to leave Egypt in a real hurry. The time was so short before they left that God instructed that no leaven was to be added to their bread. They were to eat the Passover lamb, the unleavened bread and bitter herbs with their loins girded, their sandals on their feet and their walking stick in their hand. Although the blood of the Passover lamb protected the house and its inhabitants from the Angel of Death; the flesh of the lamb, the unleavened bread and the herbs supplied the the nourishment needed for the nationís quick departure from Egypt. Physical Israel was now ready for her "walk" toward her promised inheritance.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread was to be observed throughout Israelís generations; it was one of the three annual feasts in which all the males of the congregation were to appear together in the place that the Lord chose. Unlike Passover which was observed for one day, Unleavened Bread was to be observed for seven days, starting on the morning of the 15th day of the first month of each year.
In Deuteronomy. 16:3, the unleavened bread is called the "Bread of Affliction." 2 Chronicles 30:13-27 shows the celebration of this feast by Hezekiah.
Much preaching and writing has been done regarding the fact that the bread was unleavened. Leaven or yeast is often related or compared with SIN. It is obvious from the original event that timing was critical and that the Lord expected a quick departure from Egypt with Moses. There was no time for the bread to rise. Leaven added to the dough permeates the whole loaf . Perhaps the Lord did not want any of the leaven of Egypt to infiltrate the bread of His people as they began their journey. And as they celebrated the annual feast day, the Lord commanded: "Eat it with bread made without yeast. for seven days eat only bread made without yeast, as you did when you escaped from Egypt in such a hurry. Eat this bread, The bread of suffering, so that you will remember the day you departed from Egypt as long as you live." (Deuteronomy.16:3).
In Luke 22:19 Jesus connected the unleavened bread at the Last Supper with His sacrificed body. " In Mark 14 and Matthew 26 we see again His disciples are invited to eat of "His body."
The New Testament reveals numerous cases where we as believers are placed "in Christ" We read in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 "...And when we break the loaf of bread, aren't we sharing in the benefits of the body of Christ? (17) And we all eat from one loaf, showing that we are one body." After His resurrection, this descriptive term "Body of Christ" has been used by Christians for the last 2,000 years to represent the Church, the bride.
Galatians 5:1 "So Christ has really set us free. Now, make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law." Paul makes the argument to the Christians in Galatians 5 that Christ had set them free from the yoke of slavery to the law. Since they were positioned "in Christ" neither circumcision nor un-circumcision meant anything. To bring the law again into their relationship was like bringing leaven into His "unleavened" body, "a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough." (Gal 5:9). Often we see leavened being compared to sin in the bible. It's effects will spread through the body. Individually and corporately.
The generation who departed from the bondage of the "leavened" law and began anew within the safety of Christís "unleavened" body began a spiritual walk toward their inheritance of eternal life! 1 Cor. 5:7-8 "Remove this person from among you (the person of leaven or of a sin nature) so that you can stay pure. Christ our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. (8) So let us celebrate the festival not by eating the old bread of wickedness and evil, (leavened, full of sin), but by eating the new bread (unleavened, free of sin) of purity and truth."
Ephesians 4:15-16 "We will hold to the truth in LOVE, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of the body, the church. (16) Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does it's own special work it helps the other parts grow, so that the WHOLE BODY is healthy and growing and full of love." This unleavened body, through the use of the miraculous gifts was being fitted together for the building up of itself in love. This body of believers are the undefiled ones purchased from among men as first fruits to God and the Lamb.
THE FEAST OF FIRST FRUITS
In the middle of the week of Unleavened Bread, occurred The Day of The Feast of First Fruits. Leviticus 23:9-14 provides an outline of the day. It was celebrated on the first day after the Sabbath in the week of Unleavened Bread. It consisted of waving a sheaf of the barley harvest before the Lord by the priest. In order to reap the full harvest of the land that the Lord swore to give to Israel, the first fruit offering had to be made.
On the day after the Sabbath in the week of Unleavened Bread, Christ rose from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who were asleep.
1 Corinthians 15:20-26 presents the hope of resurrection to the present day church. Christís bodily resurrection from the tomb was the first fruit offering which guaranteed a future harvest by the Lord.*THE FEAST OF PENTECOST
Leviticus 23:15-22 provides information on the Feast of Pentecost. The timing for the feast was reckoned from the day when the barley sheaf was waved at the feast of the First Fruit Offering. Fifty days after that wave offering came the Feast of Pentecost.
It was the second of three great annual festivals when all the males from the nation of Israel were to travel to Jerusalem. So we won't become confused, some other names used in the Bible for this same festival are 1. Feast of Weeks (Ex. 34:22) because it was celebrated seven complete weeks after First Fruits; 2. The Harvest Feast (Exodus. 23:16) because it concluded the harvest of the later grains. And sometimes, 3. The Day of First Fruits (Num.28:26) because the loaves made from the first fruits of the wheat harvest were presented to the Lord at this time.
Acts 2 describes the Biblical fulfillment of the Feast of Pentecost. All the disciples that were gathered together experienced the appearance of the return of Jesus Christ in Spirit. He had returned to reign as King of Kings in the Kingdom of God, not in the human form in which he had walked the earth before his crucifixion, but in his spirit form where he eternally is to dwell in the New Temple, (or Tabernacle), within each of us.
Peterís speech provides the timing for the fulfillment of Joelís prophecy. "And it shall be in the last days, God says, that I will pour forth My spirit upon all mankind...." (Acts 2: 17). The last days of Judaism were rapidly drawing to an end and God had begun the harvest of believers to Himself out of Old Testament Israel.
Paul in Romans 8:23 says "And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit... waiting eagerly for OUR adoption as sons ó the redemption of OUR body." In Ephesians 1:13 and 14, Paul ties in the work of the Holy Spirit with these words "... you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of Godís own possession to the praise of His glory.
Rev. 7:4 ties the sealing in with the 144,000. "And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel." Rev. 14:4 describes the 144,000 this way, "These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste... These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb."
In the last days of Judaism God began to call out a new spiritual people for Himself. They were waiting for an inheritance (eternal life). They were waiting for the redemption of their Body (one body - the Body of Christ which they were being built into). They were virgins, no spiritual adultery, sealed and protected by the Comforter until the return of the Bridegroom who was at that time preparing a place for His bride. This Church who became the Bride of Christ was born at the fulfillment of the Feast of Pentecost.
It is interesting to note that this is the only feast in which God instructed that one of the sacrifices to be offered was to be leavened bread. Yet when it was waved before the Lord at the altar by the priests, it was NOT acceptable to God. I believe that this is very significant in foreshadowing the Pentecostal church age. The carnal, selfish, earthly, natural desires, of a leavened sinful nature has so permeated the church of today that it is almost impossible to separate it out. God requires a spotless bride for his Son. The body of Christ is to be spotless and pure. It will be one body whose sole focus is on the head. That is why the next three feasts were to be observed.
THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS
The seven feasts of Israel in the Old Testament were the shadow image which became fulfilled in Christ in the New Testament. The completion of these holy days as given to fleshly Israel described by God in Leviticus 23 were evidence of the completed work of God in both redeeming His people and bringing them into their promised inheritance which was the physical land of Israel.
The annual celebration of the holy days was a constant reminder to them of Godís provision and shepherding care and prophetically they pictured the future perfect kingdom of God. The New Testament introduces Jesus as the mediator of a better covenant (Heb. 7:22). Once the New Covenant was introduced the Old became obsolete and was ready to disappear (Heb. 8:13).
The fulfillment of the first three feast days occurred during Jesusí earthly ministry. Pentecost brought the Spirit to minister while Jesus went to prepare a place for His disciples.
The key to understanding the fulfillment of the last three autumn feasts is to understand the necessity of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary.
Heb 9:22-28. "In Fact, we can say that according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified by sprinkling with blood. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. (23) That is why the earthly tent and everything in it (the earthly natural realm), which were copies of things in heaven (the spiritual realm of God) had to be purified with the blood of animals (natural created creatures). But the real things in heaven (the spiritual realm of God) had to be purified with far better sacrifices (a spiritual sacrifice), than the blood of animals. (24) For Christ has entered into heaven, (the spiritual realm of God), itself to appear now before God on our behalf. He did not go into the earthly place of worship, for that was merely a copy of the real Temple in heaven (the spiritual realm of God). (25) Nor did he enter heaven, (the spiritual realm of God), to offer Himself again and again, like the earthly high priest who enters the Most Holy Place year after year to offer the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, He would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But no! He came ONCE FOR ALL TIME, at the END OF THE AGE, to remove the power of sin FOREVER by His sacrificial death for us. (27) And just as it is destined that each person dies only once and after that comes judgment, (28) so also Christ died only once as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again but not to deal with our sins again. This time he will bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for Him."
So, according to the Law all things are cleansed with blood and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Therefore it was necessary for the copies (earthly temple) of the things in the heavens (spiritual temple) to be cleansed with the blood of animals, but the heavenly things themselves with a better sacrifices the blood of the Spiritual Lamb of God. The Spotless firstborn among many who are to come. For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven (the spiritual temple) itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. (remember this was written to those 1st Century Christians who were awaiting his soon return).
During the period after the Cross until the Destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., the Holy Spirit signified this... "that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing (physical temple), which is a symbol for the present time, (to them in the first century)" (Heb. 9:8-9).
Jesus at His ascension sat down at the right hand of the Father waiting for His enemies to be made a footstool. Jesusí enemies were everyone who would not accept Him as the Messiah, which included the Judaizers who tried to bring the New Testament saints back under the bondage of the Law.
The destruction of the physical temple in A.D. 70 perfectly fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah 14:4 where Jesusí feet trample His enemies by splitting the Mount of Olives in two thereby rendering the house of the Old Covenant desolate.
With the destruction of the earthly tabernacle the way into the more perfect, heavenly tabernacle was now prepared and ready to be opened. The TRUMPET sounds!
THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS
The feast of Trumpets was introduced to Israel in Leviticus 23:24-25: "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, In the seventh month on the first of the month, you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord."
Numbers 29:1 - 6 tells us of the various sacrifices which were required of them to be brought to the altar.
The last three feasts occur at the first day of the seventh month.
Trumpets is a memorial feast begun with the sound of the shofar or ramís horn. This horn is a reminder of the proposed sacrifice by Abraham of his son Isaac . A remembrance of the the time that Abrahamís arm was stopped by God and a ram substituted for Isaac.
God made Himself known to Israel by the sound of the shofar - just as God had revealed His presence to them at Sinai (Exodus. 19:16, 19).
After the return from the Babylonian captivity when the sons of Israel inhabited the cities, both Ezra 3:1 and Nehemiah 7:73b-8:2 reveal an interesting gathering. All the people gathered as One Man to hear the words of the book as presented by Ezra the priest. Anyone who could listen with understanding partook on the first day of the seventh month.
Psalm 81:3-5 alludes to both of the feasts of Trumpets and Tabernacles: "Blow the trumpet at the new moon, At the full moon, on our feast day. For it is a statute for Israel, An ordinance of the God of Jacob. He established it for a testimony in Joseph When he went throughout the land of Egypt."
The prophet Zephaniah speaks of the great "day of the Lord" as a "day of the horn and alarm" (Zephaniah1:16).
Prophetic passages such as Isaiah. 27:13 and Zechariah 9:14 use the shofar as the horn of choice in calling Godís people together to worship in the holy mountain and to announce the appearing of the Lord.
The Day of The Lordis the Day of Sounding the Trumpet.
There is a bounty of eschatological trumpets in the New Testament. Keep in mind that there was no way admittance into the fullness of the New Covenant or the New Heavens and the New Earth could be made while the physical temple remained in place (Heb. 9:8-9). But once the temple was removed and no stone was left upon another, the final eschatological steps of redemption could and were made by God.
Matthew 24:31And He will send forth His angels with a Great Trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
1 Cor. 15:52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (From carnal to spiritual beings) Changed from Adamic natured to Christ natured.
1 Thess 4:16-17For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet them in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord." Note: One must study what the meanings of various symbolic words which were used in that day mean in today's vernacular. See Study Topic # 95, "Jewish Imagery, Sun Moon & Stars." on our webpage listed below.
Hebrews 12:18-24 paraphrased: You have not come to the elements of the physical covenant of O.T. Israel. But you have come to Mount Zion and the heavenly, (spiritual), city of Jerusalem and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect. (Entrance into totality of the New Covenant - eternal life and eternal kingdom of God).
John was in the Spirit on The Day of The Feast of Trumpets (Day of The Lord), in Rev. 1:10 "when he heard a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet which told him to write to the seven churches."
John was in the Spirit on that same day of the Feast of Trumpets in Rev. 4:1 when the voice like that sound of the trumpet said,"Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.
During the Old Covenant, the temple was the external symbol of the dwelling place of God with His people. Once the temple was removed by fire in 70 A.D., the New Covenant people of God who were positionally placed "in Christ" during the first century needed a new heaven and a new earth in which to dwell. This corporate "Body of Christ" needed to be raised into the heavenly realm so that they could enjoy the place that Jesus prepared for them.
When this "Body" was raised, the "Dead" were also raised. These were the "Dead" in Sheol who were waiting for the resurrection on the "last day" ( John 11:24) or at the "time of the end" (Dan. 12:1-4). Isaiah 26: 19-21 also ties this day with the second coming.
What the completion of the Feast of Trumpets provides for us today is a picture of God's perfect timing. The physical temple is destroyed on the last day of the Old Covenant. All the dead from that Old Testament period are raised along with those who are alive after the tribulation of that time. Judgment is made in the physical realm by the destruction of the elements of Judaism in 70 A.D.. Judgment is made in the spiritual realm by giving the reward of eternal life to those who accepted Christ as the fulfillment of the law and the prophets whether they be Jew or Gentile. The heavenly realm is now prepared. All the gathered elect are perfect and standing ready for perhaps the greatest and most exciting moment of all times When Christ Jesus is revealed.
This moment is fulfilled in the completion of the Holy Day of Atonement!
THE FEASTOF ATONEMENT
The Day of Atonement occurred on the tenth day of the Israelite seventh month. The Divine particulars concerning this day are found in Lev. 16, 23:26-32; & Num. 29: 7-11. This holy day introduces the high priest dressed in his holy white linen tunic. His entire body had to be cleansed in water because he alone would enter the most holy place and stand directly in the Presence of the mercy seat to make atonement for himself, the nation of Israel and for the holy place itself.
Lev. 16:16 describes the necessity of cleansing the holy place:"And he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel, and because of their transgressions, in regard to all their sins, and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities."
An abundance of sacrifices are noted including the peculiar double goat sin offering - one for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat (Lev. 16:8). This Day was a Sabbath of REST for Israel. "..it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you shall be clean from all your sins before the Lord (Lev. 16:30).
The people of God in the Old Testament lived a daily life of sacrifice to a holy God. However, the blood of bulls and goats could never remove sin and thus their conscience either as an individual or as a nation could never be clear. The Day of Atonement provided a one-day clearing away for the entire nation of their sins, and allowed for a brief moment a clear conscience and the possibility of standing in the presence of God.
The Book of Hebrews probably best describes the spiritual nature of the fulfillment of the Feast of Atonement in the New Testament. The theme of the book is the superiority of Christ over the shadow elements of the Old Covenant. The words "better," "perfect," and "heavenly" appear frequently. The time frame is set in Hebrews 1:2"in these last days, God has spoken to us in His Son."
Christ is described as better than the prophets, the angels and Moses. Hebrews Chapter 4 shows the necessity of a Sabbath rest for the people of God and Chapter 5 begins the description of the superiority of the high priesthood of Christ.
The description of this high priestly ministry had to be extremely comforting to the first century church who were experiencing many trials and great tribulation. The introduction of Christ in His Melchizedek priesthood role prepared the reader for the impending fulfillment of the Day of Atonement.
The first century Hebrews who had been enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift and made partakers of the Holy Spirit and tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come could have fallen away and returned to the death-producing elements of the Old Covenant. They needed staying power to endure until the coming of the high priest out of the heavenlies i.e the high priest who would return "and appear a second time for salvation, without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him (Heb. 9:28).
Many of these first-century saints had fled Jerusalem (Heb. 6:18) heeding the prophetic word of Christ to flee the city (Matt. 24:16). These saints had been taught by the apostles about the sacrificial work of Christ on the Cross which constituted their release from the bondage of the Law. Now they were ready to comprehend the high priestly role of Christ which would transport them forever into the of Kingdom of God, and into the fullness of the heavenly Jerusalem.
Melchizedek in the Old Testament was a priest of the Most High God who resided in Salem (Peace) and blessed Abram. Christ could never have been an earthly high priest since he was not born of the tribe of Levi (Heb. 7:14). He had obtained a more excellent priesthood through the heavenly order of Melchizedek.
This order incorporated the role of both priest and king. John sees Christ in both roles in the Book of Revelation. In Chapter 1, John describes Christ in His high priestly garments standing in the holy place amidst the lamp stands. The lamp stand or menorah was in the holy place in the earthly temple. John sees Christ standing amidst the symbols of His completed Church in His high priestly garments. It is no wonder that John falls down as if he were dead. This vision speaks of the immanency of the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. John knew exactly where he was standing in regard to the spiritual holy of holies.
In Chapter 19 of Revelation John sees the kingship role of Melchizedek fulfilled when he declares "King of Kings, and Lord of Lords (Rev.19:16).
The Feast of Trumpets spiritually raised the Body of Christ, "You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel (Heb. 12:22-24).
While destruction was being made on the physical earthly temple of the Old Covenant world, the New Covenant saints waited eagerly for the cleansing of the spiritual heavenly temple. Isaiah describes the scene:"Come, my people, enter into your rooms, and close your doors behind you; Hide for a little while, until indignation runs its course, For behold, the Lord is about to come out from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; and the earth will reveal her bloodshed and will no longer cover her slain (Isaiah 26: 20-21).
Fleshly Israel was judged in 70 A.D. for not accepting the precious blood of Godís own Son, and thereby received upon them all the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah (Matt 23:35-36).
Spiritual Israel, on the other hand, was elevated to meet her heavenly priest, king and bridegroom. Christís return out of the heavenly holy of holies proved that the sanctuary had been cleansed and was ready to be occupied!
We need to realize the reason of why the heavenly sanctuary had to be cleansed. What could possibly have contaminated this spiritual realm? One possibility might be that Satan had access to God and was an "accuser of the brethren" (Zech. 3:1, Rev. 12:10). Satan seemed always to be able to be in Godís presence taunting Him concerning the unfaithfulness of His created beings as witnessed by the story of Job.
In particular, during the Old Covenant, Jesus described Satan as a strong man. "Or how can anyone enter the strong manís house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man?" (Matt. 12:29). Once the Law was established, the transgression increased. This gave Satan continual ammunition against Godís people. But, In Rev. 12: 7-9 "Satan is cast down to earth because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their (first century church's) testimony."
An interesting observation may be made to the double goat sacrifice during the Feast of Atonement. Two identical goats were chosen and lots were cast: one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat Azazel (Lev. 16:8).
The high priest sacrificed the goat for the Lord which was the sin offering for the people and brought its blood inside the veil and sprinkled the blood on the mercy seat. Atonement was made for the holy place and for all impurities of the sons of Israel. He than mixed the blood of the goat sacrifice with the blood of the bull sacrifice which was the high priest offering and cleansed the altar (Lev. 16: 18-l9).
The first century "Body of Christ" seems to have a much more intimate relationship with the person of Christ than is normally taught. They were to present their bodies as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). In Rev. 6:9-11 these martyred saints are seen as being underneath the altar crying out for vengeance. Is it possible that these saints (Christís Body) represent the sacrifice of the slain goat presented to the Lord and which became co-mingled with the blood of the offering of Christ as the high priest?
Now, what about the goat that was set aside as the scapegoat (Azazel) ? The word "Azazel" is not mentioned again in the Bible. However, in the apocalyptic literature, The Book of Enoch, it is stated: to Azazel ascribe all sin (10:8).
The first century, Body of Moses, (Old Covenant, fleshly, Israel) had laid on its head all the guilt of the blood from Abel to Zechariah. The scapegoat was then released into the wilderness as a permanent witness to Azazel (Satan) of Godís judgment and their inability to enjoy the benefits of the promised land!
When Christ completed His atoning work on the Day of Atonement, the first century church was able to enter His Sabbath rest. The 144,000 of Rev. 14 were standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb; they had been found blameless.
This first century church which had been built up to become the Body of Christ was the vehicle from which the bride of Christ was taken.
Recall In Genesis that no suitable helper had been found for the first Adam, so Eve was removed from his side, (from the Body of Adam). In the same way the suitable mate for the last Adam was taken from the Body of Christ. "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready (Rev. 19:7).
The prophet Isaiah beautifully sums up the return of Christ for His people and the intimacy of their future union: "We have waited for Thee eagerly; Thy name, even Thy memory is the desire of our souls" (Isaiah. 26:8).
Iniquity has been removed. Christ has returned. The marriage of the Lamb has occurred. The Spirit and the Bride stand perpetually to invite future generations to partake of the glorious Feast of Tabernacles which follows the Feast of the Atonement.
*THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES
or Feast Of Booths
or Feast of Shelters
The Feast of Tabernacles, sometimes called the Feast of Booths, or Feast of Shelters, occurred on the fifteenth day of the Israelite seventh month. In Hebrew the seventh month (Tishri/Ethanim) meant "Flowing". Leviticus 23:33-44 provides us with some of the highlights of the feast.
The feast was celebrated for seven days and it was an assembly which occurred after the harvest. There is added an additional eighth or LAST DAY that is a day of rest (Lev. 23:39). It is a feast of rejoicing with the fruit of beautiful trees, palm branches, boughs of leafy myrtle trees and the willows of the brook.All native born Israelites were to live in booths as a remembrance that the Lord had brought them out of Egypt and provided protection and provision to sustain them.
Numbers 29: 12-40 tells of the offerings and sacrifices for the celebration. These are altogether peculiar in that the number of burnt sacrifices either individually or cumulatively is always divisible by the perfect number seven.
Tabernacles makes up the last of the three great annual feasts in which it was necessary that all the males of Israel participate.
The prophets Zechariah and Haggai were the first prophetic voices to be heard after the Babylonian Exile. Both prophets cry out to the people to rebuild the temple of the Lord. In Hebrew their names together mean "The Lord remembers my feast."
Zechariah 14:16-21 relates a future celebration of the Feast of Booths which would occur after all the nations had gone up against Jerusalem, after the Lord had been declared King, and after judgment had been meted out.
The feast would include worship of the King by all the nations. Any nation which will not worship Him is punished with no rain. Holiness will reign in that day even unto the bells of the horses and the utensils in which to cook. And NO Canaanite will enter the house of the Lord.
During the latter days of the Temple a water ritual was introduced into the celebration at Tabernacles. A priest drew water from the Pool of Siloam and returned to the Temple. The water was poured out upon the altar while priests recited Isaiah 12:3 "with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." Palm branches were waved in the air.
In connection with this ritual, in John 7:2 the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was at hand. In verse 37 on the last GREAT day of the feast, Jesus stood up and cried out "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, From his innermost being shall FLOW rivers of living water." Again, In the Hebrew the feast month (Tishri/Ethanim) meant flowing.
Peter seems to allude to this feast when at the Transfiguration, after seeing Jesus standing with Moses and Elijah, He declares the necessity of building booths (Matt:17:4).
Rev.7:9 announces the appearance of a great multitude, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. They are revealed in verse 14 as the ones who came out of the great tribulation. Verses 15-17 read as follows:
"For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes."
In Rev. 21 John sees the "new heaven and a new earth" and in verse 3 he is made aware that "the tabernacle of God is among menóthat God, Himself, is dwelling among his people." In verse 6, the Alpha and the Omega declares "I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost." In verse 7 "overcomers shall inherit; while cowardly and unbelieving and abominable experience the second death." Finally, John describes the beautiful city of Jerusalem, which is actually the bride and wife of the Lamb. But in this new city no temple is there (verse 22). The Lord God and the Lamb constitute the temple and dwelling place. They provide all the light necessary for illumination. Nations are able to walk by the light provided, kings bring their glory into it and the gates are never closed. It is important to note though, that nothing unclean is able to enter into the city.
Throughout the Bible, God always wanted to dwell with His people. Although Godís tabernacling with His creation provided complete provision and protection, man always fell short in fully accepting Godís conditions of fellowship. Even Adam and Eve could not resist the temptation to eat of the Tree of Good and Evil.
When God chose Israel and established His law, Israel overwhelmingly agreed to keep all the laws required to maintain a relationship with the Lord. Knowing that man could never sustain these requirements, God provided a sacrificial system where a temporary atonement could be made. Within this covenant of law, God inaugurated the seven feast days as a visual picture of His complete redemption and salvation message which Israel acted out on a yearly basis.
These feasts were later revealed to be amere shadow of what was to come. The substance or reality of these festivals belonged to Messiah (Col. 2:16-17).
The fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles provided the first-century church with total access to the presence of God and the Lamb in the culmination of the New Covenant experience.
The timing for the feast is related in the prophetic book of Zechariah. Fleshly Jerusalem had to be destroyed (70 A.D. ) and provision had to be made for escape by Spiritual Israel (Zech.14:4-5). The Lord had to be declared king and judgment made (Zech.14:9-15).
The Day of Atonement portrayed Christ and His role as high priest returning from the heavenly holy place to gather His people to Himself (Heb. 9-28). This inaugurated the opening of heaven and the revealing of His name, "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" (Rev. 19:16).
Spiritual Israel (the first-century church) had been gathered together to await Messiahís return The ingathering Feast of Tabernacles follows the return of Christ in 70 A.D. as pictured by The Trumpets and Day of Atonement events. Rev. 7:9 shows this victorious crowd waving palm branches in the heavenly arena.
Judgment had to be made against fleshly Israel. Zechariah 14:4 indicates that the Lordís feet must stand on the Mount of Olives in a picture of Godís wrath against His disobedient people. Revelation 16 and 17 reveal the destruction of Babylon the great, the mother of Harlots. Rev 16:20 shows no islands or mountains left after Godís cup of wrath is drunk in the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem in 70 A.D..
The most joyous of all the festive seasons, the Feast of Tabernacles, could now be celebrated. God had done all that was necessary to bring His new covenant people into a full relationship with Himself. The preparation of the bride and the consummation of the marriage at the Feast of the Lamb produces a beautiful picture in the last chapter of the Book of Revelation.
Nehemiah provides a picture of the holiday booths being made on the roof of the house (8:16). With the blood of the Passover being applied to the doorpost of the ground floor, and Jesusí Last Supper taking place in the upper room (Luke 22:12), it is significant that Tabernacles is celebrated on the roof. For now in a booth laden with fruit and foliage, we have a picture of the Paradise of God (Rev. 2:7), the new Garden of Eden in the heavenlies. In this glorious realm, we can delight in the fact that the LORD IS THERE (Ezekiel. 48:35).
Godís people have been elevated to a status of intimate relationship with the Father. In Rev. 22: 17 the Spirit stands with the bride for all eternity to extend the message of the eternal gospel to unbelievers who are born throughout all generations.
The "water" message of Jesus in John 7:37 remains intact for all humanity to hear. "Come. And let the one who hears say, Come. And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of lifewithout cost (Rev. 22:17).
This refreshing water is now extended to all nations. Failure by the nations to accept the offer, results in the lack of water or rain (blessing) as predicted in Zech. 14:17.
Tabernacles remains as a perpetual feast for all believers today. When you accept the offer to "come and drink freely" you enter the promised land of the New Covenant relationship with the Lord. It is a land free from the curse of sin. All sin remains outside the courtyard of the temple comprised of the Lord Himself. No Canaanite enters the house of the Lord (Zech 14:21).
To fully appreciate the climax of salvation provided by God through the feast of Tabernacles, hear the prophet Isaiah speak. Isaiah 25:6- 9: "And the Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine. And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His peoples from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken. And it will be said in that day, Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord from whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation."
In order to have complete atonement for sin, Jesus had to have fulfilled all the aspects of each individual Old Testament Feast in the order which they are laid out in the Old Testament.
This is why we can see ALL believers today in a ongoing feast of Tabernacles. We are not waiting to be in Godís presence. We ARE in Godís presence. And we ARE in Godís presence because we were invited in when Christ returned for His first-century BODY of believers at His coming (See Second Comings, Section # 23 on The Study Topics Page and Section # 10 on the Deeper Studies Page of our website listed below). We believe the message we should be extending to everyone today is not SOMEDAY Jesus is going to do something else to prove who He is.
Instead, come and enter into all His Glory NOW! Come and Reign with Him as Kings and Priests in God's Heavenly, (Spiritual) Kingdom.
*The Three major feasts that all male Israelites were required to attend.
The Feast of Passover, Feast of Pentecost and Feast of Tabernacles
More studies can be found on Study Topic and Deeper Study pages on the website Listed below.
Suggested related topics of study would be the following:
All of the writings by various Authors under:
Study Topic # 8 O.T Feasts.
Study Topic # 95 Jewish Imagery
Study Topic # 23 Second Comings
Deeper Study Topic # 29 Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Deeper Study Topic # The Writings of Eusebius (Book 8b Martyrs)
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