When I was in grade school, I loved reading choose-your-own-adventure novels. They had a way of immersing you into the storyline, because the real-time decisions you made affected the fate of your character on the pages. Make the wrong decision and you could end up at the bottom of a ravine—or worse.
Because of how frequently we “died” from making foolish decisions in the novels, my friends and I devised a brilliant strategy for staying alive. We looked forward in the story as far down both roads as we could before we made our decision. OK, we cheated. Well, sort of—we read ahead and hit up the spoilers. We would look at the decisions at the bottom of the page, then skip ahead to those pages and read them, preventing ourselves a premature ending.
We didn’t know this at the time, but we were in good company. A 2011 study1, conducted by the University of California San Diego, seems to indicate that people can read the end of a book and still enjoy the story as it progresses. In fact, some might even enjoy it more, because they can focus on the story as it unfolds and not use so much brainpower thinking through the resolution of the plot while reading.
The plot line of a story typically consists of a series of events that are crucial to advancing the story’s action. It’s important within the narrative that these plot points follow a specific order, advancing the story—if they jump around the story simply doesn’t make sense.
In Leviticus 23, there are a series of very important plot points that make for an incredible story. In this passage, God records His annual Holy Days for mankind. He provides a detailed explanation of them to Moses and the people of Israel, including what they represent and what the people were required to do for them. These days symbolize very important aspects of God’s plan for mankind. Each of these days is an essential plot point, and you can’t advance the narrative, you can’t tell the story of what God has planned for us, without all of these days and their rich symbolism and meaning.
We’ve gone through the Passover, which represents the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf and His shed blood for the remission of our sins—the singular event that makes the entire story possible. We’ve celebrated the Days of Unleavened Bread, where we symbolically sought the sin in our lives and put it out, committing to go forward living God’s way. Finally, seven weeks later, we ended the spring Holy Day season with the Day of Pentecost, which represents the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on those who have chosen this way of life. That miracle that occurred on Pentecost in A.D. 31 allows us to work in concert with the Holy Spirit to make godly decisions in our lives today.
And this is the page in the story that we find ourselves on. The Holy Spirit has been poured out; you and I as potential firstfruits of God are working to develop spiritually—learning and growing. We are halfway through the plan on our annual calendar and halfway through the fulfillment of the plan as it has unfolded in human history. The events the Day of Trumpets represent have not yet occurred. We are now approaching the climax of the story, nearing the resolution of the plot and closing in on the ending.
But for us to understand the rest of the story, the part that hasn’t been fulfilled yet, we have to do what grade school me did and flip to the back of the book. We get to skip ahead and take a look at the symbolism and meaning of these final few plot points to appreciate how the story ends.
The Day of Trumpets
Mankind has failed in its rulership of this world. Even in the United States, where we enjoy a number of freedoms, we fight and war with one another, and our leaders are morally corrupt. At its core, mankind has a disease that we cannot cure ourselves. In Matthew 24, Jesus tells His disciples that it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better, but that ultimately, it will get better (verses 26-31).
It will reach a point where God Himself will intervene, sending Jesus Christ back to earth. When that happens, the Kingdom of God will be established. Revelation 11:15 records that at that time the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God. God will directly intervene in this world’s affairs, and will conquer the kingdoms of men. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 describes this as a time when all who have lived their lives in accordance with God’s law, whether alive or dead, will be transformed into spirit beings at the last trumpet, in the first resurrection.
There is a great deal of symbolism in this day, and it represents the climax of our story. It’s the point where everything that occurs after is because of what happens here.
Day of Atonement
Christ’s return may be the climax, but it doesn’t remove the influence of the adversary. Satan is still alive and well—organizing people to fight Christ when He comes. For all of mankind who remain to learn about God and have a chance to see that His way of life works, Satan’s influence has to be put away. Revelation 20:2-3 records this incredible event.
The Day of Atonement represents a time when we are to draw near to God through fasting and humbling ourselves, resisting the adversary and drawing near to God. Removing Satan’s influence allows for the next stage in God’s plan to come to fruition.
The Feast of Tabernacles
The Feast of Tabernacles symbolizes the 1,000 years of peace and prosperity that will immediately follow Christ’s return and the binding of Satan. Those who are alive at this time will have just lived through the Great Tribulation, and the stark difference between that world and Christ’s rule will be noticeable. Those who are brought up in the first resurrection will be serving in the Millennium as spirit beings—a kingdom of priests.
Isaiah 2 and Isaiah 11 describe this period. For 1,000 years, the world will not have the influence of Satan the Devil. Instead, the crops will be plentiful, there will be no war, and animal nature will be changed. The Millennium will be a vision of what the Kingdom of God will be like—a necessary vision for those who are alive, because at the end of those 1,000 years, Satan has to be released for a short time to do what he does—deceive, lie, mislead, twist and accuse.
God has to know the hearts of those alive at this time. Will they choose life, or will they choose death? After 1,000 years of peace, seeing it work, what will they choose?
The Eighth Day
The Eighth Day represents the beginning of the rest of eternity. At the end of the 1,000 years, the second resurrection will take place. All of those who have never heard the Word of God will have their opportunity to learn and understand His ways. They will have the chance to make the decision: Will I follow God, or not?
Those who had their chance to decide in this life and chose the alternative, and those who rebelled against Him after the 1,000 years, will be resurrected and put to eternal death in the third resurrection. They will be cast into the lake of fire that the beast and false prophet² were thrown into.
The story ends with the Kingdom of God on earth: Jesus Christ as King of Kings, a peaceful and prosperous world, a world with no more death and no more tears. God’s people will have the incredible opportunity to be a part of His family, and to serve and worship God forever.
It requires a decision, however, now. On one page, there is a way which leads to death; on the other page, a way which leads to life. Go ahead, as this Holy Day season progresses, and flip to the back of the book—see how the story ends. Look down the road, and use what you learn to make the right decisions along the way.