All seven of the holy days on God’s calendar foreshadow Christ. God’s holy days revealed the “shadows” of Christ (Col. 2:17). The “holy convocations” or “miqras” can also be translated as “rehearsals” (Lev. 23:2). With the first four holy days, the Jews unknowingly rehearsed for the Messiah’s arrival. With the last three days, we rehearse for His return.
(1) Passover. Christ was the Passover lamb who died for us to allow judgment to “pass over” us (Isa. 53:7; Jo. 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). This day (“Good Friday”) is a day to stop and remember the terrible sacrifice that Christ paid for you so that death would pass you over.
(2) The Feast of Unleavened Bread. During this feast, Jesus was in the grave. Through Christ, we are freed from our sins, the “leaven” in our lives (1 Cor. 5:7; 6:13-20). This is the day to flee from the sins of your old lives the way that the Jews fled from theirs in Egypt.
(3) The Feast of First Fruits. On this day (“Resurrection Sunday”), Jesus rose from the grave and became the “first fruits” of those who were once dead (1 Cor. 15:20). This is a day to give thanks to Him and offer the first fruits of your life as a “living sacrifice.” (Rom. 12:1).
(4) The Feast of Weeks. On this day, God revealed His will for us by pouring out the Holy Spirit unto His believers (“Pentecost”) (Acts 2:3). This is a day to give thanks for the Holy Spirit and to discern God’s will for you through reading the Word and through prayer.
(5) Rosh HaShanah. Rosh HaShanah is God’s New Years’ Day. It is celebrated by the blowing of trumpets (Lev. 23:24-25). Rosh HaShanah was celebrated over two days because no one knew the exact date that it began. Some believe that this foreshadows the rapture, the next event on the Christian calendar. Like Rosh HaShanah, the rapture will be preceded by the blowing of a loud trumpet (Matt. 24:31; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16-17). Yet, no one knows the exact day or hour of His return (Matt. 24:36; Mk. 13:32). This is a day to renew yourself, make your vows to God for the year to come, to study the Word, and to meditate about Jesus’ return. Yet, we should live every day being ready for His return.
(6) Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur is the day of atonement for sin (Lev. 23:26-32). It was a somber time for repentance and prayer for the sins of the nation. Those who failed to repent would face God’s judgment. This foreshadows the day of wrath when Jesus will come to judge the nations (Joel 2:1; Rev. 8-9). This is a day to repent of your sins, give thanks for what He did for you, and to pray and fast for the nations to repent.
(7) Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. Sukkot was the last of God’s holy days. It was the most joyful of all. It celebrates when God came to dwell or “tabernacle” amongst us. It also foreshadowed both when Christ dwelled with us and when He will again “tabernacle” with us during His 1,000-year reign on Earth. This Feast celebrates God. It is a “perpetual statute throughout your generation. . . ” (Lev. 23:41). If you celebrate it, “your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands. . .” (Dt. 16:15).
Ex. 23:16; 25:8; 34:22; 29:44-45; Lev. 23:33-43; Nu. 29:12-40; Dt. 16:13-17; 31:10-13; Zech. 14:16-19; John 7.
(1) Celebrate that Jesus once dwelt amongst us. This festival lasted eight days and began on the 15th day of the seventh month of the religious calendar or the first month of the civil calendar (Lev. 23:39). This celebrates when the Jews made a “sukkot” or tabernacle for God to dwell with the Jews: “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell (‘tabernacle’) among them.” (Ex. 25:8). To observe the time when God dwelt in a temporary structure, the Jews built small booths or tents to dwell in for one week. Few Christians observe this holy day because we are freed from any legal obligation to do so (Col. 2:16-17). Yet, out of devotion and not obligation, we also have reason to celebrate that God dwelt with us. He promises to bless all your labors if you do so (Dt. 16:15).
(2) Celebrate that Jesus delivered you from your bondage of sin. “I will dwell among the sons of Israel . . . They shall know that I am the Lord their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them; I am the Lord their God.” (Ex. 29:45-46). “You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. 23:42-43). Egypt was the land on bitter bondage (Ex. 1:11-22). We too were “once slaves on sin.” (Rom. 6:17). If you are thankful for being delivered from bondage, this is the appointed time to celebrate.
(3) Celebrate that Jesus provides food for you. While the two prior holy days were times of renewal and repentance, this was a time of great celebration and joy: “You shall celebrate a feast to the Lord your God . . . because the Lord will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.” (Dt. 16:15-17). This was the last of three feasts where the Jews were required to come together and celebrate the harvests that God had provided (Ex. 34:23; Dt. 16:16). These included the celebration of the barley harvest during the feast of first fruits, the wheat harvest during the feast of weeks, and the fruit harvest during the feast of tabernacles. The feast of Tabernacles became known simply as “the Feast.” (Jo. 7:37). It was the greatest celebration of all. The Talmud states: “He who has not seen Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles does not know what rejoicing is.” In addition to celebrating the harvests in the promised land, the Jews celebrated that God provided manna in the desert (Ex. 16:31; Nu. 11:8-9). He even provided quail after they grumbled about their food (Ex. 16:1-8; Nu. 11:4-6, 32-33). He further protected the Jews’ feet from swelling (Dt. 8:4). Christ later revealed that He was the Manna that rained down from heaven (Matt. 4:4; Jo. 6:33-35). Just as Jesus cared for the Jews in the wilderness (Hos. 13:5), He cares for us. He provides all that we need (Matt. 6:25-34). He protects us on our journey from the evil one (Matt. 6:13). If you are thankful for all God’s provision and blessings in your life, this is the appointed time to celebrate it.
(4) Celebrate that Jesus provides us with “living water” in the desert. During their time in the wilderness, God provided the Jews with their water. For example, God transformed the dirty waters of Marah to provide drinking water (Ex. 15:25-27). In addition, “[t]hey did not thirst when He led them through the deserts. He made the water flow out of the rock for them; He split the rock and the water gushed forth.” (Isa. 48:21; Nu. 20:2-12; Ps. 81:16; 106:41). Jesus was the Rock who gave the living water (1 Cor. 10:3-4). “Trust in the Lord forever, for we have an everlasting Rock.” (Isa. 26:4). During the Feast of Tabernacles, the Jews again celebrated that God gave them the water of life. The High Priest took a golden pitcher of water from the pool of Siloam and poured it into a basin at the altar of the Temple. The water then flowed back through a pipe to the Brook of Kidron (Talmud: Sukkah 4:9). This was done in conjunction with prayers for rain to allow there to again be crops in the land the following year. In connection with this ceremony, the Talmud states: “Why is the name of it called the Drawing Out of Water? Because of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, according to what is said: ‘With joy shall ye draw out of the wells of salvation’” (Is. 12:3). This all foreshadowed Jesus. On the last day of this festival, He stepped forward and cried out: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” (Jo. 7:37-39). Unless we understand the context in which He made this statement, we may fail to fully appreciate its full meaning. If Jesus chose to reveal during “the Feast” that He was “the living water,” why don’t Christians acknowledge this day? If you are grateful for His living water of eternal life, this is the time that He appointed for us to celebrate it.
(5) Celebrate that Jesus provides us with the light of the world. During their time in the wilderness, God guided the people with a visible pillar of light (Ex. 13:21-22; 14:19). When they got to the Promised Land, they celebrated the light that God provided to them. From the second night of Tabernacles until the final day, the people gathered in the outer court of the Temple and lit oil lamps. The lights were to remind the people of the Shekinah glory that dwelt with the people in the Holy of Holies in the wilderness and later during King Solomon’s day. It was also to remind people that the Shekinah glory would return with the Messiah (Ez. 43:1-5). It was also in the context of “the Feast” that Jesus revealed that He is the real light of the world: “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (Jo. 8:12). He guides us with His light today through the Word, which is “a lamp unto thy feet.” (Ps. 119:105). He also gives us light through the Holy Spirit (Jo. 14:26). The Jews were meant to also be a light to the rest of the world (Is. 42:6; 49:6). Today, any believer has this role (Matt 5:14; 1 Pet. 2:4-5). If you are grateful for the light that Jesus created for you, this is His appointed time to celebrate it.
(6) Celebrate that we will one day be glorified in new “tabernacles” and dwell with God. God’s Shekinah glory entered the tabernacle when it was complete (Ex. 40:34). The feast of Tabernacles celebrated this. God’s Shekinah glory entered Israel’s first Temple after Solomon dedicated it. Without coincidence, this also took place during the Feast of Tabernacles (2 Ch. 5:3; 7:1-4; 1 Kgs. 8; Ezra 3:1-4). Because of our sins, we were separated from God’s presence (Isa. 59:2). Even Moses could not be in the presence of God’s Shekinah glory (Ex. 40:35). Yet, because of Jesus’ death at the cross, we can now be directly in God’s presence. One day, we will be glorified in heaven with new bodies (Phil. 3:21). We “will see His face. . . [and] the Light of God (“Shekinah glory”) will illumine them forever and ever.” (Rev. 22:5). If you are excited about one day dwelling directly in God’s presence, the Feast of Tabernacles is God’s appointed time to celebrate this.
The third festival symbolizes the final stage of our walk with God. This final stage of our walk, our “glorification” through Christ in heaven, is also represented by the three festivals. The feast of the first fruits was the barley harvest. Barley doesn’t taste good, but it is nutritious. Jesus fed the masses with “five barley loaves.” (Jo. 6:9). Even though they were not committed believers, their belief was enough for Jesus to instruct his disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” (Jo. 6:12). As believers, even if they were not strong in their walk, they had overcome death through Christ. The second feast, the feast of weeks, was a wheat harvest. This was also Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down (Acts 2:3). This stage represents a believer (the “wheat”) who has been “baptize[d] with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt. 3:11-12). Fruit is the final harvest. It represents the fruit of the Spirit in a believer (Gal. 5:22-23). Alternatively, each of the three harvests represents a stage in a believer’s walk with God: (1) barley = our justification through Christ, (2) wheat = our sanctification by the Spirit, i.e. being set apart from the world, and (3) fruit = out glorification through Christ in heaven with new bodies and the fullness of the Spirit.
The final stage of your walk is also represented in the Tabernacle. The three stages of your walk are also shown in the layout of the Tabernacle. There was the outer court yard where the sacrifices were made (Ex. 26-27). This is where you Jews justified by the blood of the bronze altar (Ex. 27:1-8). There was then the Tent of Meeting. The priests went there to light both the incense and the Golden lampstand and to prepare the table of showbread (Ex. 25:23-40). This is where the Jews sanctified by the Holy Spirit, i.e. set apart for God. Finally, there was the Holy of Holies where the ark of the covenant was kept (Ex. 25:10-22). Only the High Priest could go there on Yom Kippur. This place represents the final stage of our walk when we will one day dwell with God and be glorified in His presence.
(7) Celebrate that Jesus was the final and complete sacrifice. Finally, we celebrate that Jesus was the one-time sacrifice that freed us from the obligation to sacrifice animals to have our sins forgiven (Heb. 10:14). During the Feast, the Jews made an offering by fire to the Lord (Lev. 23:37). Including two lambs that were normally sacrificed each day (Nu. 28:2), the burnt offering includes a staggering 215 expensive animal sacrifices: (1) 71 one-year old bulls without defect; (2) 15 rams without defect (3) 121 lambs without defect; and (4) eight goats without defect. In addition, the meal offerings included oil offerings, wine offerings, and 336 tenths of “ephahs” of fine flour (Nu. 29:12-39). If God was willing to accept the sacrifice of animals on our behalf, we have no reason to doubt Christ’s ability to atone for even the worst sinners (Heb. 9:14). If you are grateful that you no longer need to buy and sacrifice these expensive animals, this is God’s appointed time to celebrate that.
Daily Animal Sacrifices During Feast of Tabernacles
|Day 1||13||2||14 + 2 (16)||1||Nu. 29:12-16; 28:2||32 Animals|
|Day 2||12||2||14 + 2 (16)||1||Nu. 29:17-19; 28:2||31 Animals|
|Day 3||11||2||14 + 2 (16)||1||Nu. 29:20-22; 28:2||30 Animals|
|Day 4||10||2||14 + 2 (16)||1||Nu. 29:23-25; 28:2||29 Animals|
|Day 5||9||2||14 + 2 (16)||1||Nu. 29:26-28; 28:2||28 Animals|
|Day 6||8||2||14 + 2 (16)||1||Nu. 29:29-31; 28:2||27 Animals|
|Day 7||7||2||14 + 2 (16)||1||Nu. 29:32-34; 28:2||26 Animals|
|Day 8||1||1||7 + 2 (9)||1||Nu. 29:35-38; 28:2||12 Animals|
|TOTAL||71 Bulls||15 Rams||121 Lambs||8 Goats||215 Animals|
Christmas was most likely not Christ’s actual birthday. The Bible does not say that Christ was born on Christmas. Most experts also agree that this was most likely not His real birthday. Why then do we celebrate His birthday on that date? In 324 A.D., Roman emperor Justinian recognized Christmas Day as Christ’s official birthday. The day was previously a pagan holiday. Emperor Justinian wanted to bring together the pagan peoples and the new Christian church for the same holiday. “December 25 in ancient Rome was the ‘Dies Natali Invictus,’ ‘the birthday of the unconquered…”’ It was also “the day of the winter solstice ...” (Werner Keller, The Bible as History p. 331).
The Weather on December 25th. It is possible that Jesus’ birthday by chance happened on a Pagan holiday. Yet, every other major event in Christ’s life fell on one of God’s holy days. Moreover, the weather and the Jewish customs about when animal flocks were to be in the field both strongly suggest that Christ was not born on December 25th. At the time of Jesus’ birth, there were “shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” (Lk. 2:8). Meteorologists have recordings of the temperature at Hebron, near Bethlehem, at that time. “The temperature readings show over a period of three months that the incidence of frost is as follows: December -- 2.8 degrees; January -- 1.6 degrees; February ---0.1 degrees.. . . ” Thus,“[a]t Christmas-time Bethlehem [wa]s in the grip of frost, and in the Promised Land no cattle would have been in the fields in that temperature. The Talmud also states that the flocks were put out to grass in March and brought in again at the beginning of November (p. 331-332). Thus, it was both too cold and the wrong time of year for shepherds to be in the field. When then was Christ mostly likely born?
(1) The Timing of John the Baptist’s Birth and Mary’s Conception. Jesus’ mother Mary became pregnant when John the Baptist’s mother Elizabeth was six months pregnant (Lk. 1:26). We also know when Elizabeth conceived based upon what the Bible says that her husband Zacharias was doing at the time. Zacharias was a priest of the division of Abijah (Lk. 1:5; 1 Chr. 24:10). He received an announcement from God regarding the birth of John the Baptist while burning incense in preparation for Passover during the month Sivan (Lk. 1:5-25). The angel came to Mary during the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (Lk. 1:26). Nine months later would put Jesus’ birth during the festival of Sukkot or during the Jewish month of Tishrei. (Chumney, The Seven Festivals of the Messiah (Treasure House 2003 p. 189). If Jesus was not born on the Feast of Tabernacles, God would not have given us such precise details regarding the timing of Mary’s conception. Moreover, for Christ’s birthday to fall on one of God’s seven holy days fits within the pattern of each major event in Christ’s life falling on one of God’s seven holy days. His birth should be no exception.
(2) God “dwelling” With Us. Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would be called Immanuel, which means “God with Us” (Is. 7:14). John tells us that the Word (of God) became flesh and “dwelt sukkat” (or tabernacled) among us (Jo. 1:14). Col. 2:9 states, “For in Him the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily.” The very purpose of Sukkat was to celebrate when God came to dwell with His people (Ex. 25:8; 29:44-45). We celebrate Christ’s birthday to remember when Christ came to dwell or tabernacle with us.
(3) The Month of Tishrei. Sukkot took place during Tishrei, the first month on the civil calendar. Nisan was the first month of the religious calendar. We have both a physical and a spiritual birth. Jesus died in the first month of the religious calendar, Nisan. A logical pattern would exist for His birth to correspond with the first month of the civil calendar, Tishrei.
(4) The Season of Joy and Rain. Upon Jesus’ birth, the angel of the Lord told the shepherds that he brought “good news of great joy which will be for all the people.” (Lk. 2:10). Sukkot was the season of joy (Dt. 16:13-15). Tishrei was also in the rainy season. Rain is a symbol of blessing, life, and God’s Word (Dt. 11:10-17; 32:1-3; 1 Ki. 18:41-46). The lack of rain is a symbol of judgment (1 Kgs. 8:33-43). Hosea said that the Messiah would come like rain on the earth (Hos. 6:3). The Holy Spirit also later poured out like rain (Acts 2:1-8, 14-21).
(5) The Manger. Baby Jesus was laid in a manger (Lk. 2:12). The Greek word for manger “phatn’e” is also translated in the Bible as a “stall” (Lk. 13:15). The word Sukkot literally means “shelters, stables, booths, stalls, or huts.” Jacob is likewise said to have made a “booth” or “stall” for his animals while traveling to Succoth (Gen. 33:17). The people were to live in booths during Sukkot. Although His booth or stall was meant for animals, Jesus would have fulfilled the Law by being born in such a booth or stall.
(6) The Lack of Lodging. During the time of Sukkot, the Jews all had to travel to Jerusalem (Dt. 16:16). Bethlehem was only four miles from Jerusalem. There may have been no lodging available at the time because of the number of religious pilgrims in the area.
(7) Sight of Jesus’ Star. The wise men, possible rabbis living in Babylon, knew to come because they saw Jesus’ star in the east (Matt. 2:2). During Sukkot, they would be living outside in structures where they would see the stars at night.
Without condemnation, we can celebrate both Christ’s real and the “observed” birthday. In 1643, the Puritans outlawed Christmas observances in England because they believed that the date had a pagan origin. Colonists in New England followed the English laws and also outlawed Christmas. But immigrants to the New World brought Christmas customs from many lands and the old festivities were soon restored. Armed with the truth, it might be tempting to become prideful and judge someone for observing Christ’s birthday on the wrong day. Yet, God is clear that we cannot be judged for deciding not to observe a holy day (Col. 2:16-17). We are under no legal obligation to celebrate Christ’s birth. Thus, we are not and cannot be judged for observing His birthday on the wrong date. As any parent knows, you celebrate a child’s birthday on both the child’s real birthday as a family and again on a date when other people are available. The Feast is Jesus’ real birthday. Christmas is the “observed date” for everyone else to come and celebrate again with us.
The Millennial Reign. The millennial reign will happen after the rapture and after the Day of Judgment. Jesus will dwell (“tabernacle”) with His believers for 1,000 years. Near the end of this period, the devil will be released from his jail and deceive God’s people. The devil, his angels, and the people who reject Christ will all then be judged (Rev. 20:1-15). Beyond this, most Christians presume that the Bible says nothing about the Millennial Reign. They presume this only if they haven’t studied the Old Testament.
(1) During the Millennial Reign, nations of believers in Christ will be forgiven. (the 70 bulls). If we exclude the eighth day the Feast which had a special meaning explained below, a total of 70 bulls were sacrificed during the week (see chart above). By rabbinic tradition, the 70 bulls represent a sacrifice for each of the original 70 nations that descended from Noah (Gen. 10) (Walter Riggans, Numbers (Westminster John Knox Press 1983) p. 216). During this time, the believers of the nations of the Earth will be forgiven of their past sins.
(2) The redeemed Jews and Gentiles will gather together under Christ. (the Grain Offering). As part of this Feast, the people were told to gather the “product of goodly trees.” (Lev. 23:40). The Feast of Tabernacles also foreshadows a day in which Jews and Gentiles worship God together in a new Jerusalem. Without coincidence, Zechariah foresaw that the nations of believers in the Messiah would come together to worship at Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles (Zech. 14:16-21). Thus, until the very end of the Millennial Reign, the divisions, the conflicts and the wars of the world will come to an end.
(3) During the Millennial Reign, the curses on the Earth will be lifted. (the 98 lambs). If we exclude the lamb sacrifices for the eighth day of the Feast and the two daily lambs that were normally sacrificed (Nu. 28:2), a total of 98 lambs were sacrificed over the holy week (see chart above). Some Jews claim that there are exactly 98 curses found in the Torah. These curses all date back to the original sin in Genesis, which cursed all of creation (Gen. 3:19; Rom. 5:14-19). These Jews assert that the 98 lambs lifted the 98 curses from Deuteronomy 28 (Riggans, Numbers p. 216). The New Testament tells us that it was Christ who lifted the curses (Gal. 2:10-13). The Bible also foretells a time when the people will come together and live under God’s rule without the ravages of sin. The Earth will give bountifully. The animals will be docile (Isa. 65:25). The entire Earth will be blessed. Our bodies may also be physically changed. Today, the Holy Spirit dwells within us in our temporary bodies, which are like the temporary structures that the Jews built. In heaven, God has bodies ready for us that will not undergo corruption (Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 15:51-57; 2 Cor. 5:1-4). Because the Earth and the animals will be restored during the Millennial Reign, this suggests that the diseases, birth defects, and other ailments that we suffer from as a result of the original sin of Adam and Eve will be lifted during this time period as well.
(4) During the Millennial Reign, God’s Shekinah Glory will glow on top of Mount Zion. (the Oil). During the Millennial Reign, God will tabernacle with the redeemed on Earth again (Ez. 37:27-28). His Shekinah glory will be visible again (Isa. 60:1, 19; Zech. 2:5). At that time, Mountain Zion will have a cloud by day and a fire by night (Isa. 4:5-6).
(5) Christ’s administration will be just. (the two rams). The Feast included two daily ram sacrifices. The ram offering was a “trespass” offering for the people’s sins against the Lord (Lev. 5:14-19). It is a symbol of divine justice. A wrong must be paid to restore a victim. Two is also a number of confirmation. The two rams suggest a time of justice both in Jesus’ civil reign and His spiritual reign. Wrongdoers who seek God’s forgiveness will be forgiven (1 Jo. 1:9). Wrongdoers will be asked to restore persons that they have wronged through restitution (Lev. 5:15). The Bible’s laws will be followed. Finally, people will be asked to forgive others for their wrongs (Lk. 6:37; Matt. 6:14; Mk. 11:25).
(6) Initially intense but declining fellowship with Christ. (the drink offering). The sacrifices also included a drink offering. This symbolized communion with Christ (Mk. 14:24; Jo. 6:53). It also symbolized a life filled with joyful devotion (Phil. 2:17). At the beginning of the Millennial Reign, the number of sacrifices suggest more intense devotion than in any prior time in human history. Where the prior sacrifices ranged from one to at most three bull sacrifices in one day, the first day of the Feast had 13 bull sacrifices. This suggests a time of great singing, dancing, celebration, and devotion across the world. Imagine a religious revival being celebrated by every nation on Earth at the same time. Yet, the number 13 is not an even number or a number symbolizing order. Each day during the first seven days, the number of bull sacrifices decreases by one. By the seventh day (and the end of the Millennial Reign), the number of bull sacrifices had dropped to seven, almost half the intensity of worship from when the reign began. At this point, Satan will be released from his prison (Rev. 20:7). He will deceive the nations and gather together armies “like the sand of the seashore” (Rev. 20:8). They will surround the “camp of the saints and the beloved city.” At that point, “fire came down from heaven and devoured them” (Rev. 20:9). All this will happen because people will grow complacent in their walk. If you have ever wondered how the people on the Millennial Reign could live under Christ directly and rebel, the answer can be summarized in two words - - declining worship. Only after the worship had faded due to the sin in people’s hearts will the devil be able deceive them. This should cause us to pause and ask how seriously we are taking our worship.
(7) The final judgment of the wicked. (the goats). During the Feast of Tabernacles, one goat was sacrificed each day (see chart above). The goats represented sin. During this Feast, the people were also told to gather their harvest or crops of the land (Lev. 23:39). This agricultural festival is also called the Festival of Ingathering (Ex. 23:16). A harvest is frequently used as a symbol for God’s judgment (Matt. 13:39; Hos. 6:11; Joel 3:13; Rev. 14:14-20). The wicked will not receive rain or blessings (Zech. 14:1-9, 16-18). Christ says that the goats or chaff (the non-believers) will be separated from the wheat (the sanctified believers) (Matt. 9:35-38; 25:31-46; Lk. 10:1-2; Jo. 4:35-38; Rev. 14:14-18). At the end of the Millennial Reign, the people who rebel against God will be judged (Rev. 20:9). The devil and his demons will be judged (Rev. 20:10). The people not written in the lamb’s book of life will then face judgment at the “great white throne” (Mal. 4:1-3; Rev. 20:11-15).
The Eighth Day. After the seven-day festival, the people were together for a holy convocation on the eighth day (Lev. 23:36). Seven is a number of completeness in the Bible. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh (Ex. 20:11). The ordination of the priests also lasted seven days (Lev. 8:35-36). The priest’s duties, however, began on the eighth day (Lev. 9:1). The eighth day was also the day that a child was to be circumcised as being part of the covenant with God (Lev. 12:3). Christ also rose from the dead on a Sunday, the eighth day or the first day of the new week (Matt. 28:1). The eighth day symbolizes a new beginning. God will create a new heaven and Earth on the eighth day after His rest from creation (God’s seventh day) comes to an end (Rev. 21). While the first six days of creation have a listed beginning and end, God’s seventh day does not. His time of resting from creation will end at the end of the Millennial Reign. The sacrifices on the eighth day are reserved for the believers who overcame and joined Christ in heaven. Even the Jews understood that the sacrifices on the eighth day were reserved for God’s people (Riggans, Numbers p. 216). Something beyond words awaits us when God creates again for His believers. If this is exciting to you, the Feast of Tabernacles is God’s appointed time to celebrate and give thanks for what He has waiting for you.
A 7,000 year plan for Redemption? A day to the Lord is like a 1,000 years (Ps. 90:4; 2 Pet. 3:3-8). The Millennial Reign is to last 1,000 years (Rev. 20:1-5). This leads some to suggest that the Millennial Reign is a day according to God’s time. Because seven is a number of completeness, this leads many to believe that there will be 6,000 years of human history followed by the 1,000-year Millennial Reign. Each 1,000 year time period would represent a day in God’s time. This theory, however, does not work with the Ussher / Lightfoot creation date of 4004 BC. More than 6,000 years have already passed on that calendar. Under the Jewish civil calendar, the beginning of the new year of the year 6,000 will take place September 30, 2,239. Yom Kippur would be 10 days later. This is still 232 years away. Yet, the accuracy of the Jewish calendar is subject to debate. Thus, no one knows the day or the hour of Christ’s return or when history will end (Matt. 24:36; Mk. 13:32). We must live each day expecting Christ’s return. If there is 7,000 years of human history, we don’t know if the Millennial Reign will begin very shortly, in a number of years, or even hundreds of years from now. It is and will always be a mystery.
A Time outside of Time. Some believe that the number eight also represents a time outside of time. The number eight is an Arabic numeral that when turned sideways is suggestive of the infinity symbol. Time will have no meaning after the Millennial Reign.
Christ’s circumcision on the eighth day. We know that Christ was circumcised on the eighth day as required by God’s law (Lev. 12:3; Lk. 2:21). If Christ was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, he would have been circumcised on the final day of the Feast. His circumcision would symbolize a new beginning for believers.
Worship out of devotion, not obligation. Although we cannot be judged for failing to observe the holy days (Col. 2:16), these are God’s appointed days to worship and give thanks. While most people perceive religious gatherings as somber events, this time should be one of joyful singing and feasts. If a church were to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, the sacrifices tell us how to do that. Although we don’t sacrifice animals today, we are told as “a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5). Each animal tells us something unique about our sacrifices.
(1) A time for Church revival. (the 71 bulls). The Feast included 71 bull sacrifices (see chart above). The 71 bulls symbolizes what the church as a body must do together during this holy week of celebration. Christ’s blood fulfilled the role of the actual blood sacrifice (Heb. 9:11-14). The church cannot atone for its own sins. Yet, this leaves the Church with three things that it must do. First, just like the bull that was sacrificed, the Church must wash its insides (the sins within us) and its legs (the filth of the world) with holy water (Lev. 1:9; Jo. 13:10). This involves reading and washing with the Word to expose its sins (Eph. 5:26). Second, the Church must confess its sins (1 Jo. 1:9). Third, the Church must let Christ be its strength by being humble and without pride (Phil. 4:11-13).
(2) A time for forgiveness and restitution. (the two rams). The Feast also included two ram sacrifices. The two rams were symbolic of God’s provision of a substitute offering for our sins. Abraham showed faith that God would provide one so that he would not need to kill Isaac (Gen. 22:1-19). Later, the ram became a trespass offering to substitute payment to God for our sins (Lev. 8:18; 5:15). Jesus then became our “trespass offering” to God to pay for its sins against Him (Is. 53:10-11; 1 Jo. 2:2). In the context of the first ram, the Church has three things that it must do to be renewed. First, to be forgiven, the Church must seek God’s forgiveness (1 Jo. 1:9). Second, the Church must pay restitution to restore any victim of its prior wrongs (Lev. 5:15). Finally, to be forgiven and renewed, the church must forgive others for their wrongs against it (Lk. 6:37; Matt. 6:14; Mk. 11:25).
(3) A time for the Church to worship and pray. (the 121 Lambs). The feast included a staggering 121 lamb sacrifices (see chart above). Jesus was the Passover lamb (Isa. 53:7; Jo. 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). Just as He was led submissively like the lamb to the slaughter for us, the Church must submit to Him (Rom. 12:1). Just as the lamb’s blood of Jesus created a “soothing aroma” before God, the Church’s prayers should create a soothing aroma before Him (Ps. 141:2; Rev. 5:8; 8:3). The 121 lambs therefore correspond to multiple prayers and worship songs by the congregation during this week. This is a time for joyful worship.
(4) A time for dedication. (the Grain Offering). The Feast also included a daily grain offering. This symbolized a person dedicating the best of his or her labors. The grain offering was given out of thanks for being freed of sin (Lev. 2:1-16; Dt. 29:8-11). The Church offers itself as a “living sacrifice” (Ro. 12:1). On the first day, the people also rested from work (Nu. 29:12). We are not obligated to do this (Col. 2:16). Yet, rest is a time for reflection and renewal (Heb. 4:9-10). It is also a chance for God to bless you (Is. 58:13-14).
(5) A time for purification. (the Oil). The grain offering had to be mixed with oil. Oil mixed with the grain symbolized the Holy Spirit leading a person’s life offering (1 Sam. 16:13). During Sukkot, produce was gathered, including grapes for wine and olives for olive oil. To turn these fruits into wine and olive oil, the fruit needs to be crushed. The food offerings were also burnt offerings (Lev. 23:37). The Holy Spirit purges sin from us through fire and tribulation (1 Cor. 3:13-15; 1 Pet. 1:7; Mal. 3:3). The Spirit cannot fully manifest itself in terms of the fruits within us if our own will has not been fully crushed.
(6) A time to break from the sins of the past. (the Goats). The Feast also included goat sacrifices each day. The goats were a sin offering to cast off a person’s sins (Lev. 16:13). The Church must repent of sins and promise to cast them off.
(7) A time to restore communion with Christ. (the Drink Offering). Finally, the Feast includes a drink offering each day (Nu. 29:6). The drink offering celebrates our communion with Christ (Mk. 14:24; Jo. 6:53). Like Paul, our lives should also be a “drink offering” filled with joy (Phil. 2:17). The joy of Christ should be light for others (Matt. 5:14).