History proves mankind doesn't know true peace. Yet God promises it will come. How? A series of biblical festivals shows how He will bring permanent peace to the entire world.
When a mighty angel announced the birth of Jesus Christ to shepherds watching over their flocks, a multitude of angels joined in praise to God and expressing God's desire for peace among human beings: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men" (Luke 2:14).
This far-reaching angelic proclamation provides an incredible promise of permanent peace on planet earth. But how will it come about?
The sad reality of this world is that the history of humankind is a chronicle of wars. Some researchers have concluded that in all of recorded human history, the world has experienced only about 30 years of "peace" when no war was being waged. But as the famous 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza insightfully observed, peace is not just the absence of war. At such times, dissatisfaction and hatreds still afflict people, leading to more conflict.
Your Bible, in James 4:1-2, reveals where human conflicts begin: "What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Isn't it the whole army of evil desires at war within you? You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you can't possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them" (Holman Christian Standard Bible).
But this is only part of the story. In addition to the greed, jealousy and selfishness inevitably leading to conflict between human beings, an invisible interloper constantly incites human warfare. Jesus Christ described this evil being, Satan the devil, as "a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44).
This influence and the selfish, carnal hearts of human beings is why Jesus Christ foretold that humanity would continue to experience increasing wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6-7).
Today the world is still beset by war, in Afghanistan and Syria for instance, and rumors of coming war, as with North Korea and Iran. And matters will get far worse, culminating in the time when humanity will come to the very brink of extermination. In Jesus' words, "Unless that time of calamity is shortened [cut short from running its course], not a single person will survive . . ." (Matthew 24:22, New Living Translation).
Thankfully, there's good news on the horizon! That time will be cut short (same verse). And God has ultimately promised permanent peace for all humanity, never to be withdrawn or contested, through Christ Jesus.
The way His eternal peace will be brought to earth remains hidden from much of the world, though it is revealed throughout Scripture and in four little-understood biblical festivals—the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles and the final Eighth Day, sometimes called the Last Great Day.
These four festivals are sometimes referred to collectively as the Feast of Tabernacles season—the last of three harvest seasons, falling in the autumn of the year in the northern hemisphere (which includes the Holy Land). God's eternal peace is guaranteed through Christ in the symbolic meanings of these festivals, which embody God's coming peace on earth and good will toward men.
Trumpets announces peace
This festival season begins with the Feast of Trumpets, which proclaims the return of Christ to at last establish His reign over the entire earth.
God used the sound of a blown trumpet to signal His Feast of Trumpets: "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'In the seventh month [of the Hebrew calendar, overlapping September and October on our modern calendars], on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation'" (Leviticus 23:24).
This loud noise was used to herald imminent war (Amos 3:6). Older American movie "westerns" often depicted 19th-century U.S. cavalry soldiers charging their enemies to the sound of a bugle. This blaring sound is a rousing call to arms.
The intervention of Christ in world affairs will begin not with peace but with terrible calamity and war. Revelation 8–9 and 11 presents the blowing of seven trumpets during the Day of the Lord, in which disasters and war will come on a scale never before seen.
With the last trumpet will come a wonderful announcement: "Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever'" (Revelation 11:15, English Standard Version).
It will also be proclaimed then in praising God: "The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints" (verse 18). Indeed, it is at the last trumpet that the servants of God from this age will be resurrected and changed into immortal beings, crowned then to reign under Christ over the world (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 5:10; 20:4, 6).
It is because of the reign of Jesus Christ and His saints that peace will be able to come to the earth. Moreover, the last trumpet further announces Christ coming in righteous warfare against those who oppose Him. And unlike past wars, this one will lead to the snuffing out of human warfare and the threat of human annihilation.
The Feast of Trumpets thus begins the orderly and speedy countdown to God's permanent peace.
Atonement secures peace
People on earth will need a great display of power and judgment from Jesus Christ to cease from the destructive course they are on. And this will happen as Christ wages righteous war against the massed armies surrounding Jerusalem, dispatching them like grapes in a winepress (Zechariah 14:1-3; Revelation 14:14-20; 19:11-21).
Yet stopping humankind from going to war is not enough. God must also stop the unseen source of human wars operating behind the scenes—Satan the devil, the adversary or enemy of humankind (1 Peter 5:8). The Day of Atonement pictures Christ incarcerating Satan and the demons for 1,000 years, a time known as the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-3).
Satan, the great deceiver of mankind from whom emanates the perverted thinking that leads to conflict and violence, the interloper who palms himself off as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), is behind all human wars.
Satan knows the ultimate rewards God intends for human beings, and he hates us because of that. He knows God promises us the gift of eternal life, to be made divine, as God's very sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18; Hebrews 2:10), and to judge both human beings and angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). Satan also knows that angels were created to be ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:13-14).
Envious and hateful of God, Satan as the destroyer opposes God, attempting to thwart His plan to make human beings divine (compare Isaiah 14:12-14; 1 Corinthians 15:49; Hebrews 2:10; 1 John 3:2; Jude 6).
God gave detailed instructions for the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16 and 23:27-32. In Israel's physical tabernacle and temple worship system it involved two goats to symbolically bear sins in judgment—one sacrificed in representation of Christ's sacrifice and the other driven into an uninhabited wilderness in representation of the devil being at last banished.
The word atonement can be broken down as at-one-ment. Jesus' last prayer to the Father was all about human beings becoming at one with God the Father and Christ Jesus (John 17:21-23), both in this life and the next. This will be accomplished for the world at large after Christ's return—when people at last accept Him as Savior, receiving His atoning sacrifice, and when Satan and his demons are locked away.
As commanded in Leviticus, the observance of this Holy Day requires a total fast, going without food or drink, for 24 hours.
Fasting is effectively a gift from God—a method that enables human beings to humbly draw closer to Him and, in the right frame of mind, seek His intervention in breaking the influence of Satan over us. Jesus' disciples asked Him why they couldn't remove demonic influence from someone on a particular occasion. He answered, "This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting" (Matthew 17:21).
Fasting in this sense and the Day of Atonement look forward to the judgment of Satan and the demons—as it relates to their incarceration for 1,000 years and as a foreshadowing of their final judgment and removal after the 1,000-year period, immediately before the White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:10).
The prophet Isaiah shows how Christ's permanent peace follows immediately after Satan's incarceration on earth: "'How the oppressor has ceased . . . !' The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked . . . He who struck the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he who ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted and no one hinders. The whole earth is [now] at rest and quiet" (Isaiah 14:4-7).
The Day of Atonement prophetically marks the time when Jesus Christ begins to establish His glorious and permanent peace throughout the earth, with absolutely no opposition from evil spirits.
Tabernacles is peace
The Feast of Tabernacles, which follows a few days later, depicts and reflects the unprecedented peace and unparalleled prosperity humanity will one day experience.
God codified this great feast of peace, as He did all His annual festivals, in Leviticus 23 (see verses 33-43). The Feast of Tabernacles lasts for seven days, a number in the Bible that relates to completion and perfection. Christ will for 1,000 years teach and transform human beings, lovingly judging them and leading them to perfection or maturity so they can receive God's gift of eternal life (Hebrews 8:10-12).
The pervasiveness of God's peace will rapidly promote unparalleled prosperity, as spelled out in scriptures like the following:
• "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain [His global realm], for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9).
• "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid" (Micah 4:3-4).
• "The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose" (Isaiah 35:1).
• "'Behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord, 'When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it'" (Amos 9:13).
• "So they will say, 'This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden'" (Ezekiel 36:35).
• "And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles" (Zechariah 14:16).
Here the Feast of Tabernacles is as the Feast of Peace—all humanity coming to keep this great feast specifically depicting God's coming peace on earth.
The fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles will fulfill God's promise to humankind heralded by the angels at Jesus' birth: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will to men."
At the end of this glorious time, Satan will be released for a brief period to deceive the nations anew—and, sadly, he will succeed in leading a great multitude into mounting a final battle against Christ and His saints. But this, the final attempt at war, will be short-lived as God swiftly sends fire to consume those involved in the assault. Satan and his demons will be taken out of the picture for good (Revelation 20:7-10), and peace will be restored.
The Eighth Day continues peace
The glorious peaceful setting of the Millennium won't end with this satanic rebellion. There's one more annual festival that projects even greater news beyond what the Feast of Tabernacles represents!
God has planned a much greater harvest of human beings beyond the Millennium, referred to in your Bible as the time of "the rest of the dead" (a second resurrection following the first resurrection of the saints at Christ's return) as well as the White Throne Judgment (see Revelation 20:4-6; 11-13). It correlates with a festival immediately following the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles called simply the Eighth Day.
According to Leviticus 23, we are to observe "the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord . . . On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation . . . It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it . . . You shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest" (verses 34, 36, 39).
This Eighth Day, a separate festival from the Feast of Tabernacles, symbolizes the ultimate gathering in of the greatest harvest of human lives, including all who have ever lived and died from the time of Adam to Christ's return.
God reveals aspects of the fulfillment of this Holy Day in Ezekiel 37:1-14, describing ancient Israel's resurrection to physical existence, and Revelation 20:11-13, which shows that they, along with those resurrected of all nations, will be judged from God's Word. At long last, these vast numbers of people who never understood God's truth will have the opportunity to learn it and make the choice as to whether or not to follow Christ and be saved.
Jesus Christ's 1,000-year reign and His White Throne Judgment reign are equally set in great beauty, peace and prosperity. The setting is the same, yet the people are different—now including all the others who have ever lived.
As all learn to follow God's ways and, for those who remain faithful, are ultimately transformed into Christ's divine likeness, this wonderful day to come continues God's peace on earth, His will toward mankind.
God's will is to share His peace
God is all about peace. He is the "God of peace" (Romans 15:33; Philippians 4:9). Jesus Christ is the "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). He told His disciples, "Peace
I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you" (John 14:27). And God offers His peace still today: "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).
You too can enjoy and exhibit God's peace on earth by learning about and keeping all of God's holy festivals, including the festivals that portray the wonderful and exciting world that is coming. Why not join us in observing the Feast of Tabernacles? His Feast of Peace portrays the promise of the ages—the promise of a world at peace.