A Voice in the
"And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: The set feasts of Jehovah, which you shall proclaim as holy convocations, these are My appointed times:" (Lev23:1-2)
In the past we have observed the Feasts that Israel was commanded to observe before God. "Three times a year" all the males were to "appear before Jehovah" for 1) Feast of Unleavened Bread, 2) Feast of Weeks, and 3) Feast of Booths. (Deut16:16) In Ex23:14-16 they are called: 1) Feast of Unleavened Bread, 2) Feast of Harvest, and 3) Feast of Ingathering ("at the end of the year").
We have also observed how #1 includes Passover, Unleavened Bread and Waving the Sheaf of Firstfruits; and how #3 includes Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles. Thus, within the 'three' annual pilgrimages are nestled a total of 'seven' observances.
Typically we have been used to seeing how Jesus' 1) death, 2) burial and 3) resurrection fulfilled the three aspects of #1; and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Feast of Weeks) fulfilled #2. And so, at the "end of the year (age)" we look prophetically for #3 to be fulfilled; it hasn't yet been fulfilled.
Now, while many are able to correctly discern the three aspects of #3 being fulfilled in the 1) Rapture, 2) 70th Week (Jacob's Trouble) and 3) Millennial kingdom; there are many who confuse them, lumping them together. Some have the rapture coming at the end of everything; some don't think there is going to even be a rapture; others don't believe in the coming Millennium. They have 'mushed' future prophecy into a mangled mess in their minds, denouncing those of us who clearly see 'distinct' events yet to come.
While going through Leviticus recently, in the on-going VW-Edition project, a very interesting observation caught my attention about all this from ch23. But before we observe ch23, let us notice something about the way the Scriptures have been put together for us, and then more specifically... Leviticus. And then, I think you-all will agree about what we will see in ch23.
When the O.T. Scriptures were written in their original Hebrew, there were no chapter headings. There were no paragraph markings. There was no table-of-contents to distinguish subject matter and topics to send the reader to "page so-n-so". But what there are is 'word-patterns'. Particular distinctive phrases. Let us observe:
In the account of creation, each day is distinguished by closing each day's account with, "Thus, the evening and the morning: Day One/Two/Three, etc" (Gen1:5,8,13,etc)
When a special section of historical/genealogical 'records' is given in Genesis, such sections begin with the typical expression, "These are the generations of..." (Gen2:4, 6:9, 10:1, 25:12, 37:2, etc)
Now, Leviticus does a similar thing, which I had never noticed before in all my years of reading the Bible. The pattern is the first half of our opening Scripture quoted above:
So now, we get to ch23. The first section, based on this observation, is vs1-8. What we have there is the Sabbath (vs3), Passover (vs5) and Unleavened Bread (vs6).
Next section is vs9-22. It begins with the Sheaf of Firstfruits (vs10) which is observed on the "day after the sabbath" (vs11)(in other words, "Sunday"), counts 50 days to "the day after the seventh Sabbath" (vs16)(Sunday), which is Pentecost. And notice how this section ends: Leaving the gleanings for the "poor and the sojourner" (vs22)
Ch23 has five (5) such sections regarding Israel's festal observances.
Now, let's stop here a minute for observation. The first section has been fulfilled. Do you recognize it as Israel and the O.T. with the Law? When Israel continually sacrificed animals, that all dealt in "death". Passover and Unleavened bread was fulfilled when Jesus was crucified (He gave His life), and was buried. It fulfills the end of Daniel's 69 weeks as Messiah was "cut off". (Dan9:26)
Now we typically see Jesus' first coming as His 1) Death, 2) Burial and 3) Resurrection. Indeed, that is true, as that is how Paul outlines the "gospel" in 1Cor15:3-4. But notice this -subtle- distinction God was making, clear back 1500 years before Christ came. Jesus not only ended one era, but also began another.
So the next section begins in the middle of the first of the 'three' annual pilgrimages. The last item from #1 is also the first item of the second section. The "day after the sabbath" the waving of the firstfruits. Jesus' Resurrection, as Jesus was the "firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1Cor15:20)
In addition, 50 days later, their bread was to be baked "with leaven". (vs17) For everything else, they were not to use leaven in any of their sacrifices, or else, "that soul shall be cut off". (Lev2:11, Ex12:15) Their firstfruit grain offerings, also, were with "green" (signifying 'life') heads of grain. (Lev2:14) Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday, and Pentecost was on Sunday. The Holy Spirit came in Acts ch2 on Sunday "the day after the seventh sabbath" (vs16) (Note: Is it any wonder the Church typically meets on Sunday?), and thereafter the Church grew and expanded (like leavened bread) throughout the world (Ac17:6); being indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Rom8:9), overflowing and "springing up into eternal life". (Jn4:14)
Now, here's the precious part for us who are Gentiles. Why would God speak of the leaving of "gleanings" in connection with the Feasts? Why would that not be included with one of the laws about land possession, or land-sabbaths, or the treatment of the poor and the welfare system, etc? Because it wasn't about 'welfare' or 'farming' techniques, but was a foreshadow of the -gentile- "Church". In God's foreknowledge, He knew that Israel would rebel, and in that context He already had provisions for "servants" that He would "call..by another name". (Is65:15) When the Jews in Rome grumbled, Paul says, "..the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it" (Acts28:28) as God has "looked upon the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name." (Acts15:14)
But why merely the "gleanings"? By the time the Church came into being, how did Jews look upon Gentiles? As "dogs". (Mt15:26-27) They were, to the Jewish mind, somehow "less" in estimation. Think of how many whites and blacks look 'down' at each other... well, Israel's view of Gentiles was even lower than that. But God was preparing the mind of Israel for the Church, as Paul speaks to the Gentiles as "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel" how they have been "..made near by the blood of Christ" (Eph2:12-13)
So, this second section of ch23 is about the "Church". Why does it begin with the sheaf of firstfruits? What was the message of the early Church, that the Jewish leaders despised and rebelled against? They were preaching "..in Jesus the 'resurrection' from the dead." (Acts4:2) When we have been buried with Christ for salvation, we are also raised to "newness of life". (Rom6:4) The O.T. dealt in 'death' with their continual animal sacrifices and blood. (Heb9:22) The N.T. deals in "eternal life" through God's "only begotten Son"! (Jn3:16, 14:6)
But also notice that the (predominantly) Gentile "Church" is not the -main- harvest. It is the 'gleanings' for the "poor and sojourners". Sojourners, not the permanent native residents, as Paul speaks of the "wild" branches being grafted in. That which calls itself "Church" has got rather a 'big-head' these days, thinking themselves to be the main enchilada; but Paul warns against boasting against the "natural" branches, which is Israel. (Rom11:17-18)
So, vs1-8 is O.T. Israel; that was past tense. Vs9-22 is N.T. Church; present tense, not quite fully completed yet.
Now, what of the future?
For the Feast of Ingathering (#3)(Ex23:16,34:22) there is what are typically called: 1) Trumpets (Lev23:23-25), 2) Atonement (vs26-32), and 3) Tabernacles (vs33-36).
Let's pass over 2 & 3 quickly first, and then come back to "trumpets". Fulfillment of all three of these is yet future tense. While Rosh Hashanah (trumpets) is on the Jewish calendar, the most solemn annual observance is Yom Kippur (Atonement). It is at this occasion that the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies (once a year) to atone for the sins of Israel, and there was the ritual of the scapegoat that symbolically took the sins far-away into the wildernesss to never return. (Lev16, Heb9:7) It was the feast where they would "afflict [their] souls". (Lev16:29) It is the fulfillment of this that is likely to be the 70th week of Jacob's Trouble (Jer30:7), where the "sons of Levi" are "purified". (Mal3:3)
While Sukkot (booths) is a Jewish holiday, it is apparently not significant enough in the modern mind for it to even appear on the calendar above my desk, here, dedicated to "Images of the Holy Land". But we know that its fulfillment will be the Millennial rule of Messiah, as the Feast of Booths ("tabernacles" is not -quite- as accurate in those passages as "booths" is) will be the primary annual celebration for all nations of the world. (Zec14:16,18-19)
Yes, Feast of Booths will be a bit in the future yet. And certainly Israel needs to do some heart/soul searching as Atonement is soon upon them, as they are now seeing the precursors of that time. But, taking these feasts 'in-order' (which, thus-far, since everything has been fulfilled in order, there is no Scriptural reason to suspect that God will now suddenly change the order of what He established, and proclaimed through these annual feasts, which Israel observed yearly for 1500 years), the -next- one to be fulfilled as the current one comes to a close, is the one commonly called, "Feast of Trumpets".
First of all, as we speak of fulfillment "in-order", please notice that it comes -before- Atonement and Booths. If Atonement is the 70th week, whatever 'Trumpets' is, it comes -before- the 70th week. "Each one in his own order: a) Christ the firstfruits (which began the Gentile Church 'age' we are presently in), b) and afterward those who are Christ's (Christians/Church) at His coming. c) Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God, even the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power." (1Cor15:23-24) Is not this "end", as described here, the very definition of what we understand the 70th week to be, as Christ's enemies are defeated in order for Him to set up His Millennial rule of peace, righteousness and justice?
So, what fulfills "Trumpets"?
First of all, let's look at this word typically translated "trumpets". That is not really a most accurate term. The actual word suggests, "alarm of war, blast, shouts, war-cry, shout-for-joy". The only way "trumpet" can really come into the meaning, is as an adjunct to the word "blast", as in, "trumpet blast". Indeed, in this matter, the NASB (while rated as one of the perVersions) is more faithful to the text in this spot, in that they have italicized the words "of trumpets", because they don't technically appear in the text. However, from historical context, and other passages that talk about blowing trumpets and shofars for battle, we can 'assume' that trumpets are involved.
But most technically, the meaning of this Feast can have two implications: 1) Celebration with joy, and 2) Call-to-arms and battle cry. And I suspect it actually includes both, but more likely a heavier emphasis on the second..
Rosh Hashanah is considered to be the Jewish 'New Year'. I don't know any place in Scripture that says this, but Jewish tradition (and we know how flawed that is in many things! -Mk7:13) says that it represents the time of year, the anniversary (if you will), of when God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen1:1) That the "shouts of joy" would represent how the "sons of God shouted for joy" when the "foundations of the earth" were laid. (Job38:4-7) And so, many scholarly types will use the date of Rosh Hashanah upon which to pin the passing of the millennia since Genesis 1:1. I don't know enough on the matter to either agree or disagree with that suggestion.
However, considering that Atonement of the 70th week follows, and understanding the nature of the warfare in the heavenlies where satan and his demons are cast down to the earth (Rev12:9-13), as the one who sits on the white horse goes forth "conquering", and the kingdoms of the world change hands over to Christ (Rev6:2, 11:15); which sounds pretty much like 'warfare' to me (doesn't it to you?); does it not make sense that this next Feast to be fulfilled is a 'battle-cry'! We also know that there will be warfare on the earth.
In the past we have made the observation that, in order for the 70th week to commence, what the world is waiting for is God's "starting-gun". We have spoken of it in the manner of a race or timed event that is begun with the "bang" of a starting pistol. So many things in the world keep developing, and coming to the fore...and people's expectations are that some major events are 'just-about-to' burst forth. But these preparations continue to develop, but nothing yet bursts forth. That is because God has not yet said, "Now!" In ancient times when armies would face off and line up opposite each other, when the time to charge came, it was done with blowing of trumpets, to coordinate everybody to charge at the same time...and as they began to charge, they would shout the 'battle-cry'.
Notice: "For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shouted command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God..." (1Th4:16) "For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised.." (1Cor15:52)
"As it was in the days of Noah...So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons' wives, went into the ark BECAUSE OF THE WATERS OF THE FLOOD...so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man" (Lk17:26, Gen7:7)
In many sporting events, the beginning of the contest occurs when the official gives a signal. In basketball, the referee throws the ball up in the air, and the representatives from the two sides compete to get their hands on it first. In hockey, the two face off, and the ref drops the puck...and they "go-to-it". Well, the coming 70th week, the Time of Jacob's Trouble is going to be like basketball. The "Referee" is going to "snatch up the Church" into-the-air. When the contestants see the Church rising up to "meet the Lord in the air.." (1Th4:17), 'that' is their signal that the final 'contest' has begun.
Seeing how events were fulfilled in the past, it will be so again: the 'second section' (Church)(vs9-22) must conclude for (vs23-25)(rapture) to commence; which must conclude in order for (vs26-32)(70th week) to commence.
Will this battle-cry also involve -physical- military (battle) conflict? It could-well-be. It could-well-be that as we see the war drums beating over there with Israel, that 'just' as the conflict begins... 'that' will be when we go up to meet the Lord. The Rapture of the Church is part of the 'battle-cry' (No, not a "secret" slinking away in fear!) for the "end" to commence. Noah and crew were finishing getting into the ark -as- the flood waters had begun. It seems apparent that Israel's final conflicts have also already begun.
"So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near; at the doors!" (Mk13:29) To be sure, just as Israel observed them year after year... It is a "set feast"; it will be right on schedule... Even if we don't know the "day and hour" (Mt24:36), God does. It is -His- "appointed time".
Chart: to help visualize this article
Lev 23 Jewish Required "Set Feasts" Who Fulfills It --------------- --------------- --------------- 1) vs1-8 every sabbath vs3 Sabbath Israel ---------------------- 1st annual vs5 Passover Crucifixion | Passover vs6 UnlvnBread Messiah "cut off" | | --------------------------------------- | 2) vs9-22 | vs10 Sheaf 1stFrt Resurrection/OTsaints ---------------------- Church 2nd annual | Pentecost vs16 50days1stFrt Holy Spirit | vs22 Gleanings Gentiles | ---------------------- 3rd annual 3) vs23-25 | Ingathering vs24 Trumpets Dead-in-Christ/Rapture | | --------------------------------------- | 4) vs26-32 | vs27 Atonement Israel 70th Week | | --------------------------------------- | 5) vs33-36 | vs34 Booths Millenium Israel & World ---------------------- ---------------------------------------