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The Bible's Prophetic Festivals

Revealing God's Plan of Salvation

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As His Word the Holy Bible reveals, the Creator God made human beings with the intent of their becoming part of His family—billions of children joining God the Father and Jesus Christ in glory forever, sharing Their nature and character.

However, from the time of the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, mankind has been led astray by the rebellious fallen angel now known as Satan the devil. Under his influence, all people have sinned—disobeyed God—and come under the resultant penalties, ultimately death (see Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
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; 6:23).

So is humanity lost beyond recovery? Has God's plan to produce His family been thwarted? By no means, for God had already established a plan to save His precious children before they even existed.

The Bible presents God's awesome plan of salvation. Spanning ages, it encompasses some being led in this age to realize their need for forgiveness of sin on through to the time when salvation will be offered to all who have ever lived. The major steps in this plan are revealed through the biblical festivals God's Word instructs us to observe (laid out sequentially in Leviticus 23). And through these annual commemorations we learn the key role Jesus Christ performs in mankind's salvation.

The Passover

Exodus 12 introduces the Passover lamb as a means of redemption for the ancient Israelites in Egyptian slavery. When God sent a plague of death on the land of Egypt, the blood of the sacrificed lambs around the doors of the Israelite houses allowed the Israelites to be spared. This occasion was to be observed every year on the same day it occurred in early spring as a memorial (see also Leviticus 23:4-5 Leviticus 23:4-5 4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons. 5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’s passover.
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). Yet the sacrificed lamb without blemish more importantly served as a representation of Jesus Christ, who was without any spiritual blemish of sin.

The New Testament reveals that Christ was killed on the very Passover day and that He is “our Passover, sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7 1 Corinthians 5:7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
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). Indeed, He is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 John 1:29The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.
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). Through His sacrifice we are by God's grace forgiven of sin and ultimately spared from sin's penalty of death.

Today Christians are commanded to observe the memorial of the Passover yearly at the same time by drinking of the cup of the New Covenant and eating unleavened bread in remembrance of Christ's incredible sacrifice. By doing so, we solemnly and thankfully remember the Lord's death until He returns (1 Corinthians 11:25-26 1 Corinthians 11:25-26 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do you, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till he come.
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). This festival pictures the start of God's plan of redemption—the washing away of our sins by the very blood of Jesus Christ.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

So, being forgiven of sins by God's grace through the sacrifice of Christ, are we entitled to go on sinning?

Paul asks, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1 Romans 6:1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
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). In other words, do we just stay the way we are and continue our sinful habits while expecting God to look the other way? Paul answers emphatically: “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:2 Romans 6:2God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
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).

Rather, in deep appreciation of what God has done and is doing for us through His Son, we continue to repent of our sins and live a changed life. As we come under God's grace and mercy, we must continue to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1 2 Corinthians 7:1Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
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).

The Days of Unleavened Bread immediately follow the Passover (Leviticus 23:5-8 Leviticus 23:5-8 5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’s passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 7 In the first day you shall have an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. 8 But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein.
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). Historically, the seven days of this festival commemorate the time that the freed Israelites departed from Egypt and its godless ways. For a Christian living under the New Covenant, these days reveal the convicting truth that we must leave our sinful ways and work to overcome sin. We cannot continue in sin!

Yet, unlike the Israelites of old, we have a new and better way to accomplish this spiritual work. This festival begins to tell us how a new life, based on Christ, can be achieved.

This seven-day festival highlights elements of the work of Jesus Christ that are essential for our understanding the salvation process of God the Father. For one, it was during this festival that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, three days and nights from His death, as He said He would (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
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). This central truth of Scripture is key to our salvation, because without a risen Savior we are still in our sins without hope (1 Corinthians 15:14 1 Corinthians 15:14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
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, 1 Corinthians 15:17 1 Corinthians 15:17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins.
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)

Scripture tells us that for this one-week period we are to avoid leavening, an agent that causes bread to rise in baking (yeast in the biblical period), as representing “malice and wickedness” or, in other words, sin (1 Corinthians 5:8 1 Corinthians 5:8Therefore 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.
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). And for this one week we instead eat un leavened bread with our meals (Exodus 12:14-20 Exodus 12:14-20 14 And this day shall be to you for a memorial; and you shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. 15 Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread; even the first day you shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. 16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. 17 And you shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall you observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever. 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. 19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whoever eats that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall you eat unleavened bread.
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). By doing so, we are reminded of our constant need to put sin out of our lives and to put sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:8 1 Corinthians 5:8Therefore 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.
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) into our lives.

Furthermore, the Days of Unleavened Bread also picture the work of the risen Christ. In fulfillment of a special firstfruits grain offering brought during this festival (see Leviticus 23:9-14 Leviticus 23:9-14 9 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you be come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest: 11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 And you shall offer that day when you wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering to the LORD. 13 And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD for a sweet smell: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. 14 And you shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that you have brought an offering to your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
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; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
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), Jesus, at the time it was to be offered, ascended to the throne of God to present Himself for acceptance as the beginning of God's spiritual harvest of humanity and as the One who leads us all in the way of salvation. Being accepted as the Lamb of God, He entered the Most Holy Place with His own blood and began a new role as High Priest making intercession for us (Hebrews 9:12 Hebrews 9:12Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
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, Hebrews 9:24-25 Hebrews 9:24-25 24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: 25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest enters into the holy place every year with blood of others;
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).

Moreover, this ongoing work makes the eating of unleavened bread throughout this festival all the more significant. Jesus Christ, as the bread of life (John 6:48-51 John 6:48-51 48 I am that bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 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.
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) enters the life of a Christian through God's Spirit. It is then possible to live a new life with and through the help of Jesus Christ as He lives again through and in us.

The apostle Paul spoke of this awesome truth when he wrote, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
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, King James Version).

The Feast of Pentecost

The next festival God revealed to the Israelites (Leviticus 23:15-22 Leviticus 23:15-22 15 And you shall count to you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: 16 Even to the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall you number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meat offering to the LORD. 17 You shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the first fruits to the LORD. 18 And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering to the LORD, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet smell to the LORD. 19 Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. 21 And you shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation to you: you shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. 22 And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not make clean riddance of the corners of your field when you reap, neither shall you gather any gleaning of your harvest: you shall leave them to the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.
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) came in late spring after seven weeks or on the 50th day following the offering of the firstfruits that took place during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. On this day—called the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22 Exodus 34:22And you shall observe the feast of weeks, of the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
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; Deuteronomy 16:10 Deuteronomy 16:10And you shall keep the feast of weeks to the LORD your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give to the LORD your God, according as the LORD your God has blessed you:
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, Deuteronomy 16:16 Deuteronomy 16:16Three times in a year shall all your males appear before the LORD your God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:
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), Pentecost (meaning 50th in Greek) and the Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23:16 Exodus 23:16And the feast of harvest, the first fruits of your labors, which you have sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labors out of the field.
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)—another firstfruits grain offering was presented. This day pictures the next step in God's great plan of salvation.

Acts 2:38-39 Acts 2:38-39 38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
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explains that God's Holy Spirit was poured out on Christ's disciples on this very day. God's Spirit forever changed these people. Peter immediately gave an inspired sermon and exclaimed to the multitudes gathered: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Yes, the promise of receiving the Holy Spirit is available to all those whom God is calling today. Those who receive God's Spirit are said to have “the firstfruits of the Spirit” (Romans 8:23 Romans 8:23And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
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), being themselves “a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18 James 1:18Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
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).

While Jesus, as we saw, was the firstfruits of God's spiritual harvest of mankind, here we see that Christ's followers in this age are also considered firstfruits—Jesus therefore being first of the firstfruits. One implication of God's servants in the present age being His firstfruits is that others will be spiritually converted at a later time—a fact we will see more about shortly.

Progressing from spring to fall festivals

So far, then, we see a logical progression in God's plan of salvation. First of all, Jesus, our Passover lamb, demonstrates God's love for us by dying for our sins.

Secondly, we learn through the Days of Unleavened bread that we are to not only strive with all our being to overcome sin in our lives, but we are to look to the risen Christ to deliver us from sin's power and help us live righteously.

Thirdly, we learn through the Day of Pentecost that God promises to give to us of the Holy Spirit—His power, mind and life—as firstfruits in the spiritual harvest of His family. It is through the Spirit that we can “put to death the [sinful] deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13 Romans 8:13For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.
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), and walk as Christ walked.

Now let's take a look at the last four festivals mentioned in the Bible. Coming in late summer and autumn in the land of Israel, the prophetic fall feasts represent events that come later than those pictured by the spring festivals. Indeed, they foreshadow wonderful events yet to take place in God's great plan.

The Feast of Trumpets

Leviticus 23:23-25 Leviticus 23:23-25 23 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 24 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall you have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. 25 You shall do no servile work therein: but you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.
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commands God's people to observe “a sabbath rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets.”

Trumpets had great meaning for the Israelites. They were used in the calling of special assemblies (Numbers 10:1-10 Numbers 10:1-10 1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 Make you two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shall you make them: that you may use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. 3 And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to you at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 4 And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves to you. 5 When you blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward. 6 When you blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys. 7 But when the congregation is to be gathered together, you shall blow, but you shall not sound an alarm. 8 And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations. 9 And if you go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresses you, then you shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and you shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies. 10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, you shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.
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) and to sound the alarm for war (Jeremiah 4:19 Jeremiah 4:19My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
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). Moreover, God had come down in a manifestation of power at Mount Sinai to reveal His law with the blaring of a trumpet (Exodus 19:16-19 Exodus 19:16-19 16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightning, and a thick cloud on the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. 18 And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. 19 And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice.
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).

Scripture also prophesies that trumpets will serve as heralds of great future events soon to take place on the earth. The book of Revelation tells us that seven trumpets will be sounded by angels to announce awesome end-time events. The first angel's trumpet will announce a great plague of hail, fire and blood, which will destroy a third part of the earth's vegetation (Revelation 8:7 Revelation 8:7The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast on the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
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).

More trumpet blasts will be heard, culminating with the seventh and last trumpet (Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
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). This trumpet announces the return of Jesus Christ to the earth and the establishment of His glorious Kingdom over all nations.

We are also told by the apostle Paul that this trumpet will signal the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the transformation of all Christ's followers from physical flesh to glorified spirit existence (1 Thessalonians 4:16 1 Thessalonians 4:16For 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:
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; 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 50 Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 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.
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). Jesus Himself said that His chosen people will be gathered at the “great sound of a trumpet” (Matthew 24:31 Matthew 24:31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
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). 

As we observe this festival of Trumpets today, we are to keep in mind the great events that will soon take place on the earth, culminating in the return of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the saints.

The Day of Atonement

The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32 Leviticus 23:26-32 26 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation to you; and you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. 28 And you shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. 29 For whatever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. 30 And whatever soul it be that does any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even to even, shall you celebrate your sabbath.
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) is mentioned in the New Testament in Acts 27:9 Acts 27:9Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,
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, where it is called “the Fast,” as marginal notes in many Bibles today affirm. It was thus familiar to New Testament Christians as a day they still observed with fasting.

This Day of Atonement, on which we are to fast, is called “a sabbath of solemn rest” (Leviticus 23:27-32 Leviticus 23:27-32 27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation to you; and you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. 28 And you shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. 29 For whatever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. 30 And whatever soul it be that does any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even to even, shall you celebrate your sabbath.
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). The ancient rituals for the day are explained in great detail in Leviticus 16. A central ceremony involved two goats, one sacrificed in representation of the Lord and the other called in Hebrew ez ozel, meaning “goat of departure.” Some early translators used the word “scapegoat,” thinking the goat escaped free. The word has since come to mean one who is innocent made to bear blame. Neither sense fits here.

In some other translations, such as the New Revised Standard Version, the Hebrew word Azazel is used, some maintaining that Azazel is the name of a demon.

Some claim that the Azazel goat represents Jesus Christ just as the first goat, but this is an illogical interpretation once we understand the fate of the Azazel goat. Leviticus 16:22 Leviticus 16:22And the goat shall bear on him all their iniquities to a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.
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tells us, “The goat shall bear on itself all their [i.e., the Israelites'] iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he [the suitable man chosen for the task (Leviticus 16:21 Leviticus 16:21And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
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)] shall release the goat in the wilderness.”

This goat was not allowed to return to dwell among humanity. It was driven away and banished. This is the exact opposite concept of the role of Jesus Christ, who as Immanuel —meaning “God With Us” (Matthew 1:23 Matthew 1:23Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
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) —has promised to always be with us. He tells us He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5 Hebrews 13:5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
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). So, in contrast to the goat of departure, Jesus will be with us always.

In direct contrast to Jesus Christ, it is Satan who will be banished from the face of humanity. At Jesus' return, the devil will be apprehended and cast into a bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1-3 Revelation 20:1-3 1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
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)—and later taken out of the picture for good (Revelation 20:10 Revelation 20:10And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
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).

The Day of Atonement pictures the wonderful time when humanity at large will repent and accept the atoning sacrifice of Christ, as pictured by the first goat, and Satan will be banished, as pictured by the driving away of the second goat. We will be given complete victory over the devil through Jesus Christ.

The Feast of Tabernacles

The next annual festival, the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-36 Leviticus 23:33-36 33 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 34 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days to the LORD. 35 On the first day shall be an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. 36 Seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation to you; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and you shall do no servile work therein.
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), was celebrated by the ancient Israelites with makeshift shelters, recalling their transitory dwelling when they left Egypt and made their way to the Promised Land.

Also called the Feast of Ingathering (Exodus 23:16 Exodus 23:16And the feast of harvest, the first fruits of your labors, which you have sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labors out of the field.
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; Exodus 34:22 Exodus 34:22And you shall observe the feast of weeks, of the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
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), this festival celebrated the late summer and early fall harvest in the land of Israel. In a spiritual sense it represents the great ingathering of God's spiritual harvest of mankind following Christ's return. Indeed, this feast looks forward to the time of the earthly rule of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Himself observed this feast during His ministry and told others to do so as well (John 7:8-14 John 7:8-14 8 Go you up to this feast: I go not up yet to this feast: for my time is not yet full come. 9 When he had said these words to them, he stayed still in Galilee. 10 But when his brothers were gone up, then went he also up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. 11 Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he? 12 And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, No; but he deceives the people. 13 However, no man spoke openly of him for fear of the Jews. 14 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.
American King James Version×
). The Bible even states that instead of being done away, this feast will be observed by the gentile (non-Israelite) nations during Christ's reign over the earth (Zechariah 14:9 Zechariah 14:9And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
American King James Version×
, Zechariah 14:16-18 Zechariah 14:16-18 16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17 And it shall be, that whoever will not come up of all the families of the earth to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even on them shall be no rain. 18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, with which the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
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).

Scripture tells us that the resurrected saints will reign with Christ. Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:4And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
American King James Version×
says: “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them … And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (compare Daniel 7:27 Daniel 7:27And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
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).

The wonderful truth is that when Christ returns, true Christians from this age will rule under Him as kings and priests (Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
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; Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
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)—leading the rest of the world into God's ways.

The Eighth Day

Immediately following the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles is another Holy Day or Sabbath—referred to in Scripture simply as “the eighth day” (Leviticus 23:36 Leviticus 23:36Seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation to you; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and you shall do no servile work therein.
American King James Version×
, Leviticus 23:39 Leviticus 23:39Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep a feast to the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath.
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). This day pictures the most joyful of all events yet to take place in God's great plan.

We should consider that the celebration of the ingathering of all humanity is not complete with the 1,000-year reign of Christ. For what about all those who died in this age who were not called as part of God's firstfruits? There will yet remain billions of people from this age who are not saved. So are they forever lost?

Many Bible students realize that one day we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10 2 Corinthians 5:10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad.
American King James Version×
). What most don't realize is that for those who died without the true knowledge of the plan of salvation, the time will come when they will be resurrected to physical life and given their first opportunity to really understand God's plan and make an informed choice about it.

Revelation 20:11-15 Revelation 20:11-15 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
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speaks of this time yet to come 1,000 years after the “first resurrection” (Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
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), when “the rest of the dead” will in a second resurrection be restored to life (Revelation 20:5 Revelation 20:5But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
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). Ezekiel 37:1-14 Ezekiel 37:1-14 1 The hand of the LORD was on me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the middle of the valley which was full of bones, 2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, see, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, you know. 4 Again he said to me, Prophesy on these bones, and say to them, O you dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus said the Lord GOD to these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live: 6 And I will lay sinews on you, and will bring up flesh on you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD. 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, see, the sinews and the flesh came up on them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. 9 Then said he to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus said the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up on their feet, an exceeding great army. 11 Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall you know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, said the LORD.
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describes the same period—a time when those who seemed doomed with all hope lost (Ezekiel 37:11 Ezekiel 37:11Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
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) will be raised to life again. They will be astonished to find out that God will offer to them His Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 37:14 Ezekiel 37:14And shall put my spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall you know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, said the LORD.
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) and give them the opportunity to really know for the first time just who the true God is (Ezekiel 37:13 Ezekiel 37:13And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
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).

This vision, then, speaks of the time when all humanity who never sufficiently understood God's truth will at last come to know it. It will be at this time that they will have to decide whether or not they will serve God. In other words, their salvation is dependent on whether or not they will choose to accept Jesus' shed blood for their sins and serve God faithfully once they come to know Him.

This will be a time of judgment in the sense that the new lives of these multitudes will be under evaluation. Those who stay on the right path with God's help will be saved. Those who ultimately reject God are the only ones who will be condemned in the end. Undoubtedly, most of humanity will make the right decision to obey Him and continue in His ways.

God, in His great wisdom, has a plan to offer everyone who has ever lived an opportunity to inherit eternal life. He is calling some to repentance now, and the rest He will call during the millennial reign of Christ and the second resurrection period that follows.

If you have read this far and are coming to understand God's great plan, perhaps you are being called at this time. May God help you to respond to His call to receive Jesus Christ and follow His ways—including observance of these important festivals that show the way to eternal salvation in God's family!

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    Comments

  • Eric V. Snow
    This doctrine about the observance of and the meaning of the annual Holy Days listed in Leviticus 23 is crucial to understanding the ultimate purpose of our lives as human beings. So many people wonder throughout their lives, “Why am I really here?” Many others, the great majority, simply take for granted the religious beliefs that they learned from their parents and grandparents. But this teaching is a great liberator. It teaches us that the vast majority of ignorant, unsaved people aren’t burning away in hellfire forever. This teaching is important also for helping to solve the old problem of evil, why a good almighty God allows evil into His creation. All this evil is part of this physical life only, not eternal life forever after, as in the traditional teaching about eternal torture in hellfire states. Also, notice how the Feast of Tabernacles also has a “Christian living” meaning, much like the Days of Unleavened Bread does. The temporary shelters of the Feast symbolically teaches us that Christians are only temporary dwellers on this earth, as they pass through various trials and experiences that prepare them for the next life. Notice Hebrews 11:8-9 Hebrews 11:8-9 8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing where he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
    American King James Version×
    , 13-16, 23-25.
  • KARS
    Hi Mr. Szymkowiak & Mr. Robinson, I am the reader of our family and I make it a habit to read all scripture references. Please note that your reference in the paragraph subject: “The Feast of Tabernacles” needs correction. Your reference for ingathering is “Exodus 23:16 Exodus 23:16And the feast of harvest, the first fruits of your labors, which you have sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labors out of the field.
    American King James Version×
    ” oops “Dueteronomy 34:22”, should be Exodus 34:22 Exodus 34:22And you shall observe the feast of weeks, of the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
    American King James Version×
    . :o) Thank you for your informative lesson. Have a wonder Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, and Eighth Day. Warmly, KARS

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