The Seven Feasts. God's plan for the Ages
The seven feasts ordained by God for Israel to celebrate are located in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus. These feasts were a teaching tool for the children of Israel. They promised a coming Messiah and an ultimate salvation for the nation.
The Hebrew word for feast (Lev 23:2) means appointment (i.e., a fixed time or season). The Hebrew word for convocation (Lev. 23:3) means an assembly of people, but the word carries a deeper connotation of assembling for the purpose of a rehearsal for something. Thus, the seven feasts of God were given as a pattern or rehearsal of future events that will occur at the appointed times, but God first gave Israel the Sabbath as a sign of a perpetual covenant, a great hope for a future millennial rest. This is confirmed in Lev 23:3 and in the following:
Exo 31:13-17 (KJV) Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. 14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. 16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
Every time Israel celebrated the Sabbath they were to remember that God created the heaven and earth in six days and rested on the seventh. The Sabbath was also a sign of another pattern of God’s seven thousand year plan for man. A sign is something that portends something beyond itself, and the Sabbath as a sign taken in conjunction with other Scriptures points to the terminus in God’s plan for the ages. This terminus is the seventh thousand-year period, and it is commonly called the millennium or rest (Heb 4). All of creation groans in travail awaiting the millennium when God will remove his curse from the earth, and Jesus Christ will reign over the earth as the Head of a perfect government. The Scriptures confirm this seven thousand year plan, and there is much historical evidence to confirm it.
The following Scripture verse provides the figurative meaning of the word day when the literal meaning does not make any sense:
2 Pet 3:8 (KJV) But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
One must be careful not to apply the day-equals-a-year interpretation to all of the prophetic Scriptures since this is a violation of basic hermeneutical principles. It is appropriate to take the word day figuratively when it makes no sense when taken literally. A primary example of when day should be taken figuratively (i.e., one thousand years) is the following Scripture:
Hosea 6:1-2 (KJV) Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. 2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
The word day used in the plural and singular in this Scripture clearly makes no sense when taken literally, so the figurative interpretation must be sought. The above Scripture is a prophecy about Israel who rejected their Lord and Savior (i.e., the Messiah). Because of this rejection Israel was torn and smitten, and they will remain this way for two days or two thousand years. It is “in the third day” that Jesus will revive Israel. It is not a coincidence that almost two thousand years have elapsed since Israel’s Messiah came to earth. The third day is only a short time away. The time for Israel’s restoration is very near.
The third and fourth chapters of the book of Hebrews describes a rest [lit. ‘a Sabbath keeping,’ ‘a Sabbath rest’] that is yet future and designed for the people of God. When understood in connection with the prophetic Scriptures about the millennium, it becomes clear that this “Sabbath rest” is the millennial kingdom that is to last for a literal one thousand years. This means that man is given six days or six thousand years to work, but the seventh thousand-year period is the millennial rest that equates with the Sabbath. According to most chronologies taken from Scripture, the earth is very close to the end of six thousand years. For example, Ussher’s chronology places creation at 4004 B.C. Since the millennial rest will be ushered in by Jesus Christ, and there is a seven-year tribulation period before it begins, the return of Jesus for the Church must be very close.
In addition to the Sabbath day, the seven feasts also gave a pattern of prophetic events that were future, and Jesus Christ was to fulfill each one. The following Scripture confirms this:
Col 2:16-17 (KJV) Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday (i.e., feast day), or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow (i.e., type or picture) of things to come; but the body (i.e., substance or fulfillment) is of Christ.
Basically, this Scripture states that Christians are free from observing the legalistic requirements of the Law, but it also states that these feast dates are important as types of future events that will be fulfilled by Jesus Christ. These feasts are landmarks for God’s plan for the age.
Three Interpretations of the Bible
The number three in Scripture represents divine perfection. It is the first of four perfect numbers in Scripture. Seven denotes spiritual perfection. Ten denotes ordinal perfection, and twelve denotes governmental perfection. All things that are especially complete are stamped with the number three. God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Time is past, present and future. The kingdom of God has three aspects. Man was created as body, soul and spirit. Thus, the divine stamp on Scripture includes three interpretations.
The literal-historical includes the literal events that took place, and it is the primary basic interpretation. The second interpretation is often called the spiritual, and it includes the devotional or personal applications that are to be made from Scripture. It is the job of pastors to present the spiritual applications that are to be made from Scripture.
The third interpretation of Scripture is called the prophetic or doctrinal interpretation of Scripture. The prophetic interpretation is the most neglected of the three interpretations, since it requires a great deal of Bible study and a close intimate walk with the Lord. It is the job of teachers to present the prophetic interpretation of the Scriptures to Christians.
The Prophetic Significance of the Feasts
The first feast commanded by God was Passover. It was celebrated on the 14th day of the first month Nisan (i.e., Abib) in the evening (Lev 23:5). This feast was instituted in Egypt on the night before the exodus from Egypt. The Passover lamb was killed on the evening of the 14th of Nisan and the blood was sprinkled on the doorposts and lintel as a security against the death angel who was to pass over that night.
The New Testament fulfillment of this feast was the death of Christ on Calvary. Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples on the evening of the 14th. The lamb was slain and they celebrated Passover according to the Pharisees who were the conservatives of Jesus’ day. The Jewish day always began at sundown according to God’s pattern in Genesis so the 14th of Nisan began at sundown on a Tuesday evening. Jesus was crucified Wednesday morning—still the 14th of Nisan—at 9:00 (i.e., the 3rd hour) and He died at 3:00 in the afternoon.
The Sadducees were in control of the Sanhedrin, and they celebrated the Passover according to the Greek reckoning of time, which began the day at midnight instead of sundown. This is the reason that Jesus was able to eat the Passover and also die at the precise time (i.e., 3:00 p.m.) that the lamb was traditionally slain by the Sadducees at that time. Caiaphas was the high priest and he was a Sadducee. The Sadducees ate the Passover meal on Wednesday night after Jesus was crucified that day. It was still the day of Passover to them since their day did not end until midnight. An understanding of the Jewish and Greek reckonings of when the day started resolves the apparent discrepancies in the four gospels concerning the crucifixion, the resurrection of Jesus, and the differences in the times that the Passover meal was celebrated.
#2 Unleavened Bread
The feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev 23:7,8) was celebrated for seven days and it began on the evening of the 15th of Nisan. It is significant that the first and seventh days of the feast of Unleavened Bread are annual Sabbaths or High Days. The seven feasts ordained by God for Israel contain seven days that are to be celebrated as Sabbath days (Lev 23:8, 21, 25, 28, 30, 31, 32, 35, 36, 38, & 39). These Sabbath days along with an outline of the seven feasts are presented in chart form at the end of this article.
The reason that tradition holds that Jesus was crucified on Friday stems from a misunderstanding of the annual Sabbaths ordained by God. Preparation Day was the day before the Sabbath so the name Preparation Day became synonymous with Friday. This was true 52 times during the year, but there were seven Preparation Days during the Jewish year that occurred on other days during the week. This was the case during the week that Jesus was crucified. Wednesday was the day of Passover, but it was also Preparation Day for the first day of Unleavened Bread, which was an annual Sabbath or High Day as described in the following verse:
John 19:31 (KJV) The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
The piece of bread (i.e., matzo) used by the Jews to observe this feast today is clearly typical of our Lord, since it is striped (1 Peter 2:24) and pierced (John 19:37). The feast lasted seven days since it was customary to mourn for the dead for three days, which are called days of weeping, and then followed by four days of lamentation making a total of seven days.
According to rabbinical tradition, the spirit wandered about the tomb for three days hoping to re-enter the body, since it took this long for corruption to take place. This is why Jesus had to lie in the tomb for a full three days and three nights to prove that he had gained the keys to hell and death (Rev. 1:18). Thus, Jesus fulfilled the feast of Unleavened Bread precisely at the correct time by being placed in the tomb on the first moments of the first day of Unleavened Bread and remaining there for the full three days of weeping.
The Jews also had a practice of calling the entire eight-day celebration by the name Passover even though only the first day was actually Passover. The remaining seven days were the feast of Unleavened Bread, and the feast of Firstfruits also occurred during this eight-day celebration.
Leaven in the Scriptures always refers to evil or that which corrupts. This is why the Jews were to spend seven days purging out all leaven from within the house. This is a picture of the believer purging out the evil from within himself.
Paul expressed the fulfillment of this as follows:
1 Cor 5:7-8 (KJV) Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: 8 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.
The prophetic fulfillment of the feast of unleavened bread was the burial of Christ. He was placed in the tomb on the first moments of the first day of Unleavened Bread. The Jews were to feed on unleavened bread for a period of seven days. The body of Jesus was the unleavened bread according to the following Scripture:
John 6:51 (KJV) I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The next feast day was the feast of Firstfruits, and it occurred during the same eight days as Passover and Unleavened Bread. The day of its celebration was the day after the weekly Sabbath, and it was celebrated by waving one sheaf of the Firstfruits before the Lord (Vs. 10, 11). There was also a burnt offering of a male lamb without blemish (Vs 12), and a meat (i.e., meal) offering of unleavened bread and wine (Vs 13). It is not coincidence that this feast day occurred on the same Sunday that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, ascended into heaven with his blood, sprinkled his own blood on the mercy seat in the tabernacle in heaven, and returned to earth to teach his disciples for forty days.
It should be clear that the feast of Firstfruits was fulfilled by the resurrection of Jesus and the placing of his blood on the mercy seat in heaven. Jesus is the spotless lamb, the unleavened bread, and the single sheaf of grain waved before God.
It is at this point in the seven feasts that confusion sets in since the fourth feast is also called Firstfruits, but it is more commonly called Pentecost, the feast of Harvest, or the feast of Weeks.
Even more confusing is the Old Testament referral to three feasts that are to be celebrated by the Jews in the following Scripture:
Exo 23:14-17 (KJV) Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year. 15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:) 16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field. 17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD.
The three feasts were three separate gathering times during the year in the spring, summer and fall. The feast of Passover, the feast of Unleavened Bread and the feast of Firstfruits were celebrated in the spring gathering. The feast of Firstfruits (Lev 23:10-14) and the day of Firstfruits (Lev 23:15-21 & Num. 28:26) are often confused, and this has presented a problem in understanding the order of the resurrection. Jesus was resurrected on the feast of Firstfruits. There will also be a rapture of the Firstfruits of the Church as a fulfillment of the day of Firstfruits, which is more commonly called Pentecost.
The transliterated Hebrew word for Firstfruits, which points to the resurrection of Christ, is re’shiyth (i.e., ray-sheeth) and it means the very first in time, place, order or rank. This was the first mature sheaf of grain and was waved before the Lord to celebrate the feast (Lev 23:10-11).
The transliterated Hebrew word for Firstfruits, which points to the Firstfruits rapture of the church, is bikkuwr (i.e., bik-koor’). This word means the Firstfruits of the crop, which mature early, but it does not refer to the very first one in order. Both of these Hebrew words are used together in the following passage of Scripture:
Exo 23:19a (KJV) The first (i.e., re’shiyth) of the firstfruits (i.e., bikkuwr) of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God.
In other passages these two words are both translated “firstfruits.” Jesus is the firstfruits (i.e., re’shiyth). He is the fulfillment of the #3 Feast of Firstfruits. As we shall see next, mature Christians are the firstfruits (i.e., bikkuwr) of the #4 Feast of Pentecost - Day of Firstfruits.
Jesus was the Firstfruits and the fulfillment of this third feast. Jesus is the first of the Firstfruits, and those mature Christians who are prepared for the return of Jesus and are looking forward to it are the Firstfruits. Both of the above Hebrew words are translated Firstfruits in Scripture, but there is a clear distinction between them. There are even two separate feasts to celebrate each one.
#4 Pentecost—Day of Firstfruits
Pentecost is also called the feast of Weeks because it takes place seven weeks after the feast of Firstfruits. It always occurs on the “morrow after the seventh sabbath” so it always occurs on Sunday. It would behoove the reader to be well aware of the date of Pentecost each year, since it is conceivable that the Firstfruits rapture will take place on this date.
There are numerous prophetic scholars who are especially interested in the dates of the celebration of Rosh Hashanah (i.e., feast of Trumpets) each year. The reason for this interest is the belief that the rapture at the last trump will take place on Rosh Hashanah, and this belief is probably accurate. Unfortunately, these prophetic scholars overlook the fact that #4 Pentecost must be completely fulfilled before #5 Rosh Hashanah is fulfilled.
Many think that Pentecost was fulfilled when the Church was instituted on Pentecost, but this was only the beginning of the fulfillment of Pentecost. It seems appropriate that the Church Age will begin and end on Pentecost with the rapture of the Firstfruits of the Church.
The celebration of Pentecost is described in Lev. 23:15-21. The offering to the Lord includes two loaves of bread baked with leaven (Vs 17). “They are the Firstfruits unto the Lord” (Vs 17). It should be clear that this Firstfruits cannot refer to Jesus, since the loaves were baked with leaven, a symbol of sin and corruption in the Bible. There are two loaves baked with fine flour that came from the sheaves of grain that matured early.
The two loaves of bread represent both Jews and Gentiles, which make up the faithful remnant of the Church. They will be raptured at the beginning of the seven-year tribulation period. This is the same group of Christians referred to as the Philadelphia Church in Revelation 3:7-13. These are the Christians who are kept from the “hour of temptation” (Rev. 3:10) because of their faithfulness. There are quite a few Scriptures that confirm both a Firstfruits and a main harvest rapture of the Church. Both of these are in addition to the Firstfruits resurrection of Jesus (Vss 10-14).
Pentecost is the fourth feast and the third of the seven annual Sabbaths or High Days (Vs 21).
#5 Rosh Hashanah—Feast of Trumpets
The feast of Trumpets (i.e., Rosh Hashanah) is the first of the three feasts that occur in the fall of the year. It is described in verses 23-25, and it is celebrated by the blowing of trumpets. The feast day occurs on the first day of the seventh month called Tishri, so it is a New Moon celebration. The Jews followed a Lunar calendar that is based on the movements of the moon rather that the sun. The day of the feast could not be known ahead of time since it depended on the appearance of the New Moon. As soon as the New Moon appeared the shofar (i.e., ram’s horn) would be blown to signify that the feast day had arrived (Psalm 81:3). Since the New Moon could not be calculated precisely, it became the custom to celebrate two days instead of one. Thus, Rosh Hashanah is now celebrated on the first and second of Tishri to be certain the New Moon appears.
Rosh Hashanah is a memorial of the grace extended by God to Abraham when God substituted a ram to be sacrificed in place of Abraham’s son, Isaac. This is the reason the feast is celebrated by blowing a ram’s horn. The day is also considered by some Bible scholars to be the birthday of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Samuel. It is also considered by many to be the birthday of Jesus Christ. This is the reason that Joseph and Mary were unable to find a room for the night. Jerusalem and the surrounding towns (i.e., Bethlehem) were filled with Jews who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the fall feasts. It would also have been the appropriate time for a census, since the work of the harvest was past and winter had not yet arrived. The shepherds would still be abiding in the fields at night, since the rainy and cold season was still future.
The New Testament fulfillment of the feast of Trumpets is clearly the Main Harvest Rapture of the Church according to the following Scriptures:
1 Th 4:16-17 (KJV) 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: 17 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 Cor 15:51-52 (KJV) Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 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.
The big question in the above Scripture is the meaning of “the last trump.” Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are such High Holy Days that preparation for them begins a month earlier on the first day of the Jewish month Elul. Each day throughout the month of Elul the ram’s horn trumpet is blown. On the day before Rosh Hashanah no trumpets are blown. Then trumpets are blown throughout the day on Rosh Hashanah in varying sequences and differing blasts (i.e., short and long blasts).
Sometime on the second day of Rosh Hashanah the last trumpet blast is sounded, and this trumpet blast is called the Great Tekiah. The Great Tekiah is “the last trump” that Paul was referring to and it will signal the Main Harvest Rapture of the Church on some future feast of trumpets, which will take place somewhere in the middle of the tribulation. This is the reason that numerous Bible scholars pay so much attention to the celebration of Rosh Hashanah each year.
The Main Harvest Rapture of the Church will be the final harvest of all Christians who “remain.” It is the prophetic fulfillment of the fifth feast, Rosh Hashanah. It will happen in the middle of the tribulation. Mature Christians are watching to “be accounted worth to escape all these things.”
Luke 21:36 (KJV) Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
The catching up of John in Revelation 4:1-2 is a picture of the Firstfruits Rapture and not the Main Harvest Rapture. The Firstfruits Rapture occurs at the beginning of the seven-year tribulation. The “open door” in heaven (Rev. 4:1) is the same “open door” that was promised to the church of Philadelphia for being faithful (Rev. 3:8). The main harvest rapture is described in Revelation 7:9-17. The 24 elders (Rev. 4:4) are those who are accounted worthy to participate in Firstfruits. They are overcomers, and they have earned for themselves crowns to signify that they will reign and rule with Jesus Christ during the millennial kingdom.
The elder in Revelation 7:13 asks John a rhetorical question about where all these other Christians came from, and John answers the question by saying that they came out of great tribulation (See Rev. 2:22). Please note that they washed their robes and not themselves (Rev. 7:14). They were already saved (i.e., spiritually reborn) when the tribulation began, but they were unfaithful Christians who had defiled their garments by sin and disobedience (See Rev. 3:4). They have now been cleansed according to 1 John 1:9.
It is at the end of chapter 7 of Revelation that all Christians are in heaven and God is about to release his wrath upon the earth. No Christian will go through the wrath of God on the earth. The Firstfruits rapture has fulfilled the day of Firstfruits (i.e., Pentecost), and the main harvest rapture of the Church has fulfilled the feast of Trumpets (i.e., Rosh Hashanah). At this point there are two remaining feasts that must and will be fulfilled by Jesus Christ. The remaining feasts are the Day of Atonement (i.e., Yom Kippur) and the feast of Tabernacles (i.e., Succoth).
The feast of Trumpets is the fifth feast and the fourth of the seven annual Sabbaths or High Days (Vs 25).
#6 Yom Kippur—Atonement
The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, is the most revered of Israel’s holy days. Yom Kippur is celebrated on the 10th day of Tishri, and the Jewish people start preparing their hearts for it during the previous month of Elul. The feast of Rosh Hashanah begins on the 1st of Tishri, and this begins the sober countdown to Yom Kippur. The first ten days of Tishri are called the Ten Days of Awe, and they are for the purpose of repentance by Israel.
The weekly Sabbath that falls in these ten days is even called Shabbat Shuvah, the “Sabbath of Repentance.” It is a Sabbath of turning away from sin and preparation for the coming judgment. Yom Kippur means a day of covering and it is a day observed as Israel’s annual cleansing from sin. It is a day of fasting and the most holy of all Jewish feasts. Traditionally, Yom Kippur is the day that Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the second set of stone tablets. Israel had received forgiveness for the sin of idolatry with the golden calf.
The New Testament fulfillment of the Day of Atonement will be the day that Jesus is revealed from heaven and sets his feet down on the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4). This is often called the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures refer to it as his “coming in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mk 13:26).
His appearing will take place at the height of the battle of Armageddon, and it is the day that Israel will be saved as a nation. Two-thirds of the Jews shall die but one-third will be brought through the fire, and they will call upon the name of the Lord and be saved (Zech. 13:8,9). This is the day that Israel will receive her atonement for her sins, and she will be reconciled to God. The day this occurs will almost certainly take place on some future day of Atonement at the end of the seven-year tribulation period.
The period in between the fulfillment of the feast of Trumpets (i.e., the main harvest rapture) and the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement (i.e., the salvation of Israel as a nation) is known as the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7). This is the last three and one-half years of the seven-year tribulation, and it will be a time of terrible affliction and sorrow for Israel.
Before the Jews can be annihilated, Jesus will return to save them. This will likely be on the Day of Atonement. The Jews will see Jesus, recognize him as their true Messiah, and acknowledge him as Lord and Savior. The nation will be saved in a day (Rom. 11-26).
Moses confirms in the following Scripture that Israel receives her Atonement in the tribulation period:
Deu 4:30-31 (KJV) When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; 31 (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
The following Scripture celebrates the glorious salvation of Israel when they look upon Jesus and realize the one they crucified is their true Messiah:
Zec 12:10 (KJV) And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
The Day of Atonement is the sixth feast and the fifth of the seven annual Sabbaths or High Days (Vs 28).
The feast of Tabernacles is the seventh and final feast ordained by God for Israel to celebrate (Vss 33-36). This feast is known in Jewry today as Succoth, and it is celebrated in the third gathering in the fall of the year after the harvest. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh month Tishri and the feast continues for seven days. During these seven days the people were to dwell in booths (i.e., small shelters called sukkah) that were made from the branches of palm trees and willows from the brook. This was to remind them of the Palm trees of Elim (See Ex. 15:27-16:1) and the willows of Babylon (Psalm 137). It was also to remind them of their fathers who lived in tents during the forty years in the wilderness.
In contrast to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the feast of Tabernacles (i.e., Succoth) was a time of rejoicing and thanksgiving for the harvest that had been gathered and the forgiveness that God had extended to the people. The feast even became known as “The Season of Our Joy.” Other names for the feast are the Feast of Booths, the Feast of In gathering, and simply The Feast. It is highly significant that the feast is observed after the final gathering of the harvest.
The number seven is very prominent in the feast of Tabernacles. It is the seventh feast in the seventh month, and it is celebrated for seven days. The New Testament fulfillment of this feast is clearly the establishment of the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ at the end of the seven year tribulation period. The last day of the feast is called the Day of the Great Hosanna. This is the day that all the inhabitants of the earth will literally worship the Great Hosanna. The prophets referred to it as the Great Day of the Lord.
The following Scripture details the celebration of the feast of Tabernacles:
Deu 16:13-15 (KJV) Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: 14 And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates. 15 Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.
Even the land will rejoice when the millennial kingdom is established in fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. The following Scripture describes this event:
Isa 35:1-2 (KJV) The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. 2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.
The first and eighth days of Tabernacles are the sixth and seventh annual Sabbaths or High Days (Vs 39) that are celebrated by Israel.
God ordained that Israel celebrate seven feasts at three seasonal gatherings during the year in the spring, summer, and fall. These feasts served as pictures or rehearsals for prophetic events that were yet future. The first gathering in the spring was the celebration of the feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits. These three feasts pointed to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer and Messiah of Israel. It is no coincidence that the fulfillment of these prophetic pictures occurred at the precise time set by God. Jesus died on Passover, was buried on Unleavened Bread, and was resurrected on Firstfruits.
The second gathering in early summer was the feast of Pentecost. It is no coincidence that the initial prophetic fulfillment of Pentecost occurred when the Church was instituted on this date and 3,000 people were saved. Israel has been set aside for 2,000 years as the fulfillment continues throughout the Church Age.
The final fulfillment of this feast will occur when the Church age ends and the Firstfruits of the Church are translated and caught up to heaven. These Firstfruits are the faithful members of the Church who have reached maturity in the current Church Age and they are given the “open door” They are the 24 elders who are seated on thrones, and they are all wearing crowns at the beginning of the seven-year tribulation period.
Pentecost is also called the Day of Firstfruits since it is the day that the Firstfruits of the Church are harvested. Not all Christians will have crowns and not all Christians will be in this first harvest. Jesus will reject the great majority of the Church because of unfaithfulness (i.e., immaturity). The hot summer sun (i.e., the fires of the tribulation under Antichrist) will cause many Christians to reach maturity before the main harvest of the Church. This will be the fulfillment of the feast of Trumpets, which occurs in the fall.
The third gathering season occurs in the fall with the celebration of the feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. The rapture of the remainder of the Church will be the fulfillment of the feast of Trumpets, and it will occur before the wrath of God is unleashed upon the earth. The Revelation of Jesus Christ and the salvation of the nation of Israel in one day will be the prophetic fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. The establishment and completion of the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ will be the prophetic fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles.
Since the fulfillment of the first four feasts occurred on exactly the days that the feasts were to be celebrated, it seems wise to speculate that the fulfillment of the remainder of these feasts will occur on their respective feasts dates also.
Jesus rebuked the spiritual leaders of his day for not seeing the season of Christ’s first advent (Luke 12:54-56). Christians today are doing the same thing. The study of the feasts should sound the alarm and send a wake-up call to all Christians who have fallen asleep and are lukewarm and indifferent to the prophetic Scriptures.
There is a significant change in societal attitudes toward believers. This is most evident on television talk shows where Christians are mocked and scorned. The surge in the homosexual rights movement, the right to abortion movement, the women’s rights movement, and the increase in ethnic cleansing is only the beginning of a depraved society gone mad with selfishness and self-centeredness. The difficult times ahead will cause society to blame Christians for the ills that befall. It will become intolerable for Christians who are left for the main harvest rapture, which will take place in the middle of the tribulation. The 42 months of tribulation for Christians will be a time of maturing fire when many Christians will fall to a martyr’s death (Rev 6:9). However, there is an “open door,” an abundant entrance, waiting for those who diligently seek him in the present time.
2 Pet 1:10-11 (KJV) Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.