Simplicity Series #43
Sabbath Series—Part 3 continued

The Sabbath Reveals the Redemptive Plan of God


As we saw in the last post, the seven annual feasts in Israel were designed to reveal and anticipate the plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. In other words, in the seven feasts we have a divine outline that anticipates the Person and the work of Jesus the Messiah. The first four feasts in the spring were each fulfilled precisely in order and on time. Here is a quick review, with some additional notes:

  1. Passover. The lamb was selected on the tenth day of Nisan (the day Jesus entered Jerusalem in the triumphal entry), and it had to be a male lamb without blemish (Exod. 12:1–4; John 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:18–19). This lamb was then sacrificed on the 14th day—the very day Jesus was crucified (Lev. 23:5; 1 Cor. 5:7).
  2. Unleavened Bread. This feast spoke of purification or sanctification resulting in the sacrifice of the lamb. It began on the 15th of Nisan, and lasted for seven days (number of perfection). This feast commemorated the Israelites’ departure out of Egypt (Exod. 12:14–15, 33–34; Lev. 23:6). When Hezekiah restored temple worship, this feast was celebrated with great joy (2 Chr. 29:20–25; 30:1–2, 21–27), and this celebration was then followed by Josiah (2 Chr. 35:1–3, 17–19), with a feast unparalleled since the days of the prophet Samuel.
  3. Firstfruits. On the 17th day of Nisan (three days after the lamb was sacrificed), the first of the harvest was celebrated. Since the day after Passover was a “High Sabbath” (Lev. 23:7; John 19:31, not on Saturday), and Saturday was the weekly Sabbath, this feast was to begin on “the day after the Sabbath” (Lev. 23:11). Thus, Jesus our “Firstfruit” (1 Cor. 15:20, 23) was raised on Sunday, “the first day of the week” (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).
  4. Shavuot/Pentecost. Fifty days from “the day after the Sabbath” (Lev. 23:15–16) brings us to “the day after the seventh Sabbath,” another Sunday. This feast represented thanksgiving for the full harvest. This was the very day that the Holy Spirit was given (Acts 2), representing the transition from the “Old Covenant” to the “New Covenant” (Jer. 31:31–34; Ezek. 36:22–27; Matt. 26:26–29; Mark 14:24–25; Luke 22:20). Two loaves were waved by the priest on this day, both containing leaven, representing Jew and Gentile, both with sin, yet accepted by the Lord on the basis of sacrifice. On the day of Pentecost—a Sunday—both “Jews and proselytes [Gentiles]were present (Acts 2:10).

So we see how meticulously the first four feasts have been fulfilled. Now we turn to the last three feasts, the fulfillment of which is yet future:

Trumpets, Leviticus 23:23–25

Between the first four and the last three feasts was a long delay (summer), which we believe represents the Church Age. Then, in the seventh month comes the Feast of Trumpets. This began ten days of self-examination and repentance, which ended with the “Day of Atonement.” According to Zola Levitt, “The trumpet was the signal for the field workers to come into the Temple” (The Seven Feasts of Israel, p. 12).

It seems reasonable that the Rapture of the Church (1 Thess. 4:13–18) would occur at this time, in the near future, for “the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51–52). Mr. Levitt even sees a parallel between Joshua 6:5, where, at the sound of the trumpet … all the people shall shout … and the people shall go up,” and 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18. On a more somber note, this feast that brings the summer to an end, will find only a remnant of Israel in the faith. As Jeremiah foretold, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!” (Jer. 8:20).

Day of Atonement, Leviticus 23:26–32

The ten days between Trumpets and Atonement were called “Days of Awe” and were intended for serious contemplation and purification. “You shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord” (Lev. 23:27). This represents the idea of repentance and turning to Jesus Christ—the perfect offering. This feast looks to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, anticipated by the prophet Zechariah.

“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced, Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son … In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness … And one will say … ‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’” Zechariah 12:10; 13:1, 6

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” Romans 11:26–27

Remember that this was also the one day that the High Priest entered into the Holy of Holies to offer sacrifice for the sins of the people. This picture has been fulfilled for us by Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:11–15, 24–27), who offered Himself on our behalf.

Many assume, when we read Paul’s words, “And so all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26a), that it means all Jews. In reality, it refers to that “remnant” that will survive to the end of the Tribulation, just as Jesus foretold (Matt. 24:13).

Tabernacles, Leviticus 23:33–43

Following the very somber Day of Atonement, a joyous celebration was held, called Sukkot, or Tabernacles/Booths. In remembrance of how God provided shelter for Israel in the wilderness, the Jews would make shelters outside their homes of palm fronds and branches (Lev. 23:40). For seven days, they would feast and rejoice over the providential care of God. It was also a time to remember God’s commission to Israel to be a light to the Gentiles.

During this feast, 70 bulls were sacrificed (Num. 29:12–36) on behalf of the 70 nations listed in Genesis10. This was the one feast of the year that Gentiles were welcome to attend; and it was on this feast that Jesus offered “living water” to the great multitude (John 7:37–39), which was also “on the eighth day” (Lev. 23:36). It also looks forward to the inauguration of the kingdom of God, as John says, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). In fact, so important is the Feast of Tabernacles, that throughout the 1,000-year Kingdom Age, it will be celebrated every year “to worship the King, the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 14:16), and any nation that does not go to the feast will be judged with drought and plague (Zech. 14:17–19).

An Added Eighth Feast?

Not given in the list of the seven feasts is the feast of Chanukah, also known as “the Feast of Dedication” and also “the Festival of Lights.” This feast celebrates the cleansing and rededication of the Temple after it was defiled by Antiochus during the time of the Maccabean revolt. John records for us, “Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem … and Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch” (John 10:22–23). Here, “the light of the world” (John 8:12) illumined the Temple for the last time.

Interestingly, this feast was 75 days after the Day of Atonement. We know the last half of the Tribulation—following the defilement of the Temple by Antichrist—is 42 months, or 1,260 days (Rev. 12:6; 13:5). Jesus Christ comes at the end of this time to fulfill the “Day of Atonement,” and 75 days later (1,260 + 75 = 1,335 days), the kingdom is officially inaugurated (Dan. 12:12). Apparently, the 30 additional days mentioned in Daniel 12:11 (1,290 instead of 1,260) will be a time of restoration, or perhaps the celebration of the wedding feast.

While we need to be cautious not to assume too much regarding future events, we can be assured that, just as our Lord fulfilled the first four precisely, so He will do with the last three—and perhaps the added eighth as well.

Above all, in the light of prophecy, our ever-increasing understanding of God’s Word, and rapidly changing current events, we ought as never before to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:12–13).

Until the next post, keep standing firm!


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