The Biblical Festivals That Reveal God's Plan of Salvation

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The Biblical Festivals That Reveal God's Plan of Salvation

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Why do 2 billion Christians remain blinded to God’s plan to redeem and save humankind? Remarkably, you can know that plan!

Starting with the first human couple in the Garden of Eden, humanity has sinned against God—violated His law. Indeed, with the exception of Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life of obedience, all human beings have sinned and have earned the ultimate penalty of death (Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
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; Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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).

But God has provided a way for humanity to be delivered from that fate. He has set in motion an awesome plan to restore human beings to a right relationship with Him so that they may dwell with Him in joy forever. That plan is found in the pages of the Bible.

We must understand, however, that the message contained in the Bible is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. It is solvable, but not without the framework.

If you have ever put together a big jigsaw puzzle, you first established the framework, made up of the straight edges of the puzzle, so that the rest of the puzzle could be more easily filled in.

God’s framework for this prophetic jigsaw puzzle is a succession of important steps outlined in Scripture. These steps are commemorated annually in a series of festivals. Indeed, the biblical festivals reveal and map out the way God intends to save you and the rest of mankind.

God’s system of annual feasts

A system is a group of interacting and interdependent elements forming a complex whole. For example, the human body is made up of a number of systems, each a group of functionally related organs. Likewise, the salvation of humankind is accomplished through a systematic plan entailing steps portrayed in seven annual festivals.

There are three harvest seasons in the land of Israel. Each of these seasons is accompanied by special festivals God instituted that outline His plan for “harvesting” human beings for salvation in His family (see Exodus 23:14-17 Exodus 23:14-17 [14] Three times you shall keep a feast to me in the year. [15] You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread: (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it you came out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:) [16] And 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. [17] Three items in the year all your males shall appear before the LORD God.
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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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).

With the early spring barley season comes the Passover and the weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread. With the later spring wheat season comes the Feast of Harvest or Firstfruits, also known as the Day of Pentecost. And with the late summer and fall ingathering season come four festivals—the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, and the Eighth Day, also referred to as the Last Great Day.

The three harvest seasons of the year show the major framework of the periods in which God intends to save mankind. And contrary to what many believe, today is not the only day of salvation.

God’s annual festivals or feasts, and the Holy Days of rest and worship among them, are listed in Leviticus 23. In stepwise progression, each builds on preceding ones, making the sum greater than the individual parts. Understand what these feasts portray and you will understand God’s master plan of salvation.

Sadly, most who profess to be Christians today do not observe God’s festivals, typically calling them “Jewish” feasts and claiming they are obsolete. Yet God said they are His feasts (verse 2). And He commands that they still be observed—even in the New Testament (see, for example, 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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). Because people do not observe these festivals as God commands, they do not understand their meaning. Obeying God’s commands would give them better understanding (Psalms 111:10 Psalms 111:10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endures for ever.
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).

Passover, the first step

The Passover is the first feast in the cycle. It represents the crucial first step in God’s plan to save mankind—without which the other steps would not be possible.

God revealed the Passover festival to the ancient Israelites during the process of freeing them from captivity in Egypt (Exodus 12). In it the Israelites brushed their doorposts with the blood of a sacrificial lamb (Exodus 12:7 Exodus 12:7And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
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). This sacrifice was symbolic of the later shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ as the “Lamb of God” and “our Passover” to take away sin and its penalty (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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; 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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).

Without the fulfillment of the Passover feast, there would be no salvation. Yet Christ’s Passover sacrifice itself does not accomplish our salvation, nor does our acceptance of it. Rather, this makes salvation possible.

Remission or forgiveness of sins comes through Jesus’ shed blood when one repents (Matthew 26:28 Matthew 26:28For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
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; Ephesians 1:7 Ephesians 1:7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
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; Hebrews 9:22 Hebrews 9:22And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
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; Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then 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.
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). Through acceptance of His blood in faith we are justified, or made right, with God the Father (Romans 5:9 Romans 5:9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
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). Yet salvation itself is accomplished through Jesus’ resurrected life: “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10 Romans 5:10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
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).

Nevertheless, the reconciliation that comes through accepting Jesus’ Passover sacrifice clearly provides a foundation for salvation.

In observing this festival today, we do not sacrifice a lamb but partake of the unleavened bread and wine of Passover as symbolic of Christ’s sacrificed body and blood as He instructed (Matthew 26:26-28 Matthew 26:26-28 [26] And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. [27] And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; [28] For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
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; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 [23] For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered to you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: [24] And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. [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.
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).

The next festival shows how we should live following the acceptance of the sacrificial death of our Passover, Jesus Christ.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is vitally important to a Christian’s salvation; it shows us what God expects of us beyond accepting Jesus’ shed blood for forgiveness.

Leaven is an agent, such as yeast, that causes bread dough to expand and rise during baking. God commanded that for the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, leaven is to be removed from our homes and not eaten—and we are to instead eat unleavened bread during this period (Leviticus 23:6 Leviticus 23:6And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread.
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).

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul applied the symbol of leaven to sin (1 Corinthians 5:6-7 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 [6] Your glorying is not good. Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? [7] Purge 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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). Conversely, he explained that unleavened bread represents sincerity and truth—righteousness and holiness (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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).

God set aside seven full days, the number seven representing completion and perfection in Scripture, for His followers to remember that He is holy, and that we should become holy as He is (1 Peter 1:16 1 Peter 1:16Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy.
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), striving to put sin out of our lives. Yet we can only do this with the guidance and help of Jesus Christ.

The ancient Israelites departed from Egypt during the Days of Unleavened Bread, following a pillar of cloud and fire. The One the Israelites knew as God was in that cloud (Exodus 13:21 Exodus 13:21And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:
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). And this divine Being who accompanied them later came to the earth as Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4 1 Corinthians 10:4And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
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).

It is also important to note that when the Israelites later came to the Promised Land, they were to present a special grain offering on the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread—a sheaf of the firstfruits of the barley harvest, which was waved before God for His acceptance (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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).

This represented Jesus Christ as the initial firstfruits of salvation (1 Corinthians 15:23 1 Corinthians 15:23But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
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)—who was accepted in heaven this day after being resurrected during the festival.

Our ultimate example of living the unleavened life is Christ, and we must follow Him in faith to salvation and eternal life. Yet this is actually possible only through what is pictured in the next festival.

Pentecost, the Feast of Firstfruits

Pentecost is the New Testament term for the Old Testament Feast of Weeks, which was also called the Feast of Harvest or Feast of Firstfruits. The word Pentecost means “fiftieth,” as the Israelites were to count 50 days starting with the day of the wave-sheaf offering during the Feast of Unleavened Bread—so that the last day of the count would be the day after seven complete weeks, when a new grain offering was to be brought (Leviticus 23:15-16 Leviticus 23:15-16 [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.
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).

This offering was also to be a firstfruits offering waved before God, taken from the wheat harvest and baked into two loaves of bread (Leviticus 23:17 Leviticus 23:17You 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.
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Leviticus 23:20 Leviticus 23:20And 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.
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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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). Symbolized here are the faithful believers whom God calls the firstfruits of all His harvests (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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). 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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says these have “the firstfruits of the Spirit.”

According to Acts 2, it was on the Day of Pentecost following Jesus’ death and resurrection that His followers received God’s Holy Spirit with a miraculous display of divine power. Thousands more were then converted on this day, also receiving the Spirit upon repentance and baptism.

Modern professing Christians acknowledge the fulfilled promise of the gift of God’s Spirit to humankind on this occasion. However, many effectively deny the power of it, not understanding that one must obey God to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 5:32 Acts 5:32And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God has given to them that obey him.
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). And receiving the Spirit in turn enables further and sustained obedience (compare Romans 5:5 Romans 5:5And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.
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; 1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
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).

This is part of the great meaning of Pentecost, along with the fact that God’s people of this age are counted as the firstfruits of salvation—in anticipation of other fruits to follow in the age to come.

Pentecost is the last of the spring festivals —the last of those that portray events relating to the time of Christ’s first coming and the present age. The feasts that follow in the autumn in the land of Israel look ahead to His second coming.

The Feast of Trumpets

As mentioned earlier, the great ingathering harvest in Israel came in late summer and early fall. It was celebrated with the Feast of Ingathering or Tabernacles (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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; 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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), but the festival period actually commenced with the Feast of Trumpets two weeks earlier.

On this day there was a “memorial of blowing of trumpets” (Leviticus 23:24 Leviticus 23:24Speak 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.
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). This represents the time of the coming of the Messiah to take over the rule of the world, as Jesus will do when He returns (Revelation 19:11-21 Revelation 19:11-21 [11] And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war. [12] His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. [13] And he was clothed with a clothing dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. [14] And the armies which were in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. [15] And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. [16] And he has on his clothing and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. [17] And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the middle of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together to the supper of the great God; [18] That you may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. [19] And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. [20] And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. [21] And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat on the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
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; Revelation 19:12 Revelation 19:12His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
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:10; compare Zechariah 14; Isaiah 11:1-10 Isaiah 11:1-10 [1] And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: [2] And the spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; [3] And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: [4] But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. [5] And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. [6] The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatted calf together; and a little child shall lead them. [7] And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. [8] And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. [9] They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. [10] And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
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).

Jesus’ second coming will be heralded by supernatural trumpet blasts. During a period known as “the day of the Lord” and “the great day of His wrath” (Revelation 6:17 Revelation 6:17For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
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), God will bring judgment on the rebellious nations of the earth. Revelation 8-9 presents the cataclysmic circumstances that will follow the blowing of six successive trumpets.

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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then describes the blowing of the seventh trumpet, when this world’s governments are transferred over to the rule of the returning Christ. It is also the time of the rewarding of God’s saints—His faithful servants of this age (Revelation 11:18 Revelation 11:18And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
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). They will, at this last trumpet, be resurrected from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:52 1 Corinthians 15:52In 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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; 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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)—at last receiving ultimate salvation from death through transformation into immortal spirit beings.

The seventh trumpet also heralds further judgment on those who remain defiant, who persist in destroying the earth and its inhabitants (Revelation 11:18 Revelation 11:18And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
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).

Jesus Christ, through the meaning of the Feast of Trumpets, directs His attention to saving His people as well as the rest of humankind (Revelation 19:11-21 Revelation 19:11-21 [11] And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war. [12] His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. [13] And he was clothed with a clothing dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. [14] And the armies which were in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. [15] And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. [16] And he has on his clothing and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. [17] And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the middle of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together to the supper of the great God; [18] That you may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. [19] And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. [20] And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. [21] And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat on the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
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), breaking the power of the world’s leaders and humbling the nations to the point that they will accept His intervention and rule.

But the major obstacle to mankind learning God’s ways will still have to be removed, and that is pictured in the next occasion God instructs us to observe.

The Day of Atonement

The next of God’s appointed times is a solemn day of drawing near to Him through fasting (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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). On this day, the Israelites were to sacrifice a goat to represent the Lord, the high priest was to take its blood into the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle (the only time he went in during the year) and he was to confess the people’s sins over a live goat, which was then driven off into the wilderness (Leviticus 16).

The sacrifice of the first goat, representing the Lord, along with the high priest taking its blood into the Most Holy Place signified the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His intercessory work as High Priest. This was to bring atonement—a word meaning “at-one-ment” with God. Yet further atonement was required through the driving away of the second goat. What does this symbolize?

If the world knew that vast numbers of demons—powerful evil spirits led by the rebellious archangel now known as Satan the devil—truly existed, that they hold sway over the earth and that their avowed purpose is to debase and destroy humankind, people might well turn to God to save them.

The reason they don’t is obvious when you understand it. Satan, as the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
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), has blinded them from this fact. He has deceived the whole world, palming himself off as an angel of light, which he once was. He is now our adversary, who walks the earth like a roaring and devouring lion (Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
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; 2 Corinthians 11:14 2 Corinthians 11:14And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
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; 1 Peter 5:8 1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:
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).

Humanity has willingly turned from God and has come under Satan’s dominion. Jesus said, “Their eyes they have closed” (Matthew 13:15 Matthew 13:15For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
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). Although Satan is ultimately responsible and accountable for mankind’s blindness, we still have a responsibility in this great deception. We can repent and change.

The Day of Atonement is the appointed time for celebrating the removal of Satan and the demons from the world scene (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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; Isaiah 14:16-17 Isaiah 14:16-17 [16] They that see you shall narrowly look on you, and consider you, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; [17] That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
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). With Satan’s expulsion, human beings can truly experience “at-one-ment” with God, as God intends (John 17:20-21 John 17:20-21 [20] Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; [21] That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me.
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). Indeed, God will remove all forces that have set themselves to destroy His plan, which is to expand His family through the salvation of billions of human beings.

The Day of Atonement is also a reminder of Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Following Jesus’ return, His sacrifice will begin to be applied to the world at large, as all are led to accept it in repentance, being no longer under the influence of the devil.

For the first time in the history of mankind, we will fully experience peace on earth, with God’s will for people no longer being resisted by Satan.

The Feast of Tabernacles

Finally, what God had promised through the ages, to bring peace on earth (Luke 2:14 Luke 2:14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
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), will arrive. Isaiah 9:6-7 Isaiah 9:6-7 [6] For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. [7] Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
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foretold both the first and second comings of the Messiah in stating: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder … Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7 Isaiah 9:6-7 [6] For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. [7] Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
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).

As pictured in the Feast of Trumpets, Jesus will take over the rule of this world (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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). Satan will be deposed and incarcerated, as shown in the Day of Atonement (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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). Then Jesus and His resurrected and transformed saints will reign on the earth over all nations for 1,000 years, a millennium (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 20:4-6 Revelation 20:4-6 [4] And 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. [5] But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. [6] Blessed 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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).

During this 1,000 year messianic reign over physical nations of the earth, Christ will live with humankind. This is celebrated in the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles or Booths, referring to tents or temporary dwellings (Leviticus 23:33-43 Leviticus 23:33-43 [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. [37] These are the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing on his day: [38] Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD. [39] Also 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. [40] And you shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. [41] And you shall keep it a feast to the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. [42] You shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: [43] That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
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).

For the duration of this festival, God’s people live in temporary dwellings, recalling in part the time when God “made the children of Israel dwell in booths” following the Exodus (Leviticus 23:43 Leviticus 23:43That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
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). In fact, God Himself also dwelt in a tabernacle in journeying with the Israelites through the desert.

Yet this Feast also looks forward to the wonderful, though temporary, conditions of the millennial age—which anticipates a permanent new heaven and new earth to follow (Revelation 21-22).

As previously noted, this festival was 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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), celebrating the great harvest of late summer and fall in the Promised Land.

This harvest depicted the ultimate spiritual harvest of humanity to come—the later fruits following the firstfruits of this age. The future harvest begins with those who live through the terrible events at the end of this age and into the millennial period. It then continues with their progeny throughout the 1,000 years, generation after generation.

Under the righteous rule of God, humanity will live in unprecedented peace and unparalleled health and prosperity (Zechariah 14:8-11 Zechariah 14:8-11 [8] And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. [9] And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one. [10] All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin’s gate to the place of the first gate, to the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel to the king’s winepresses. [11] And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.
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; Isaiah 2:1-4 Isaiah 2:1-4 [1] The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. [2] And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. [3] And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. [4] And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
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Isaiah 2:11 Isaiah 2:11The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
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Isaiah 2:35 Isaiah 2:35
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; Micah 4:1-8 Micah 4:1-8 [1] But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow to it. [2] And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. [3] And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. [4] But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken it. [5] For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever. [6] In that day, said the LORD, will I assemble her that halts, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; [7] And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from now on, even for ever. [8] And you, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.
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; Amos 9:13-15 Amos 9:13-15 [13] Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that sows seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. [14] And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. [15] And I will plant them on their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, said the LORD your God.
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). Ezekiel 36:35 Ezekiel 36:35And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.
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says the environment will be like the Garden of Eden: “So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’”

At that time, God will extend His New Covenant relationship to all mankind, beginning with Israel:

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Hebrews 8:10-11 Hebrews 8:10-11 [10] For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: [11] And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
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).

These conditions will continue into the period pictured in the next festival, which comes at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, though distinct and separate from it.

The Eighth Day

On the day following the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles— the eighth day—the Israelites were to observe a final Holy Day in the annual cycle God gave (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.
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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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).

Though a separate festival, the Eighth Day is connected to the Feast of Tabernacles or Ingathering because it further celebrates the future spiritual harvest of mankind, portraying events that will immediately follow the millennial reign of Christ and His resurrected and transformed saints.

The 1,000-year period of peace and prosperity for the entire global human family serves as a stepping stone to a vast increase in the late harvest of human lives. 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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says that “the rest of the dead” will live again when the 1,000 years are finished. This includes all people who lived but were not converted to God’s way from Adam to Christ’s second coming—which could number in the scores of billions.

They will be raised to physical life and at last given the opportunity for salvation during a period of judgment (compare 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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; Matthew 11:20-24 Matthew 11:20-24 [20] Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: [21] Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. [22] But I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. [23] And you, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in you, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. [24] But I say to you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.
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; Matthew 12:41-42; 1 Peter 2:12 1 Peter 2:12Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
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; Revelation 20:11-12 Revelation 20:11-12 [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.
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). This is sometimes called the Great White Throne Judgment, as Revelation 20:11-12 Revelation 20:11-12 [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.
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describes the risen dead standing before such a throne.

The White Throne Judgment is not an instant sentencing but a period of evaluation and corrective measures spanning the new lifetime of those resurrected—paralleling the lifetime judgment of God’s saints today, whom He wants to save, not lose (see 1 Peter 4:17 1 Peter 4:17For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
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; 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 [31] For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. [32] But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
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).

Sadly, not everyone will choose salvation. Those who ultimately refuse to repent will be destroyed in a lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15 Revelation 20:14-15 [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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; Revelation 21:8). But the vast majority of mankind will be saved—transformed into immortal spirit like those in the first resurrection.

Indeed, the whole creation will be transformed. The great beauty, peace and prosperity on earth during Christ’s millennial reign will continue through the White Throne Judgment period. And after this, the present earth and sky will give way to, as mentioned earlier, a new heaven and new earth—at which time God the Father as well as Jesus Christ will dwell with glorified humanity forever (Revelation 21-22).

Solving the puzzle

Thus, God’s festivals help us to solve the prophetic puzzle of how mankind is to be saved, bringing God’s plan into focus.

From the harvest of Jesus Christ as the initial firstfruits, to the harvest of the rest of the firstfruits of this age and finally to the ultimate harvest of the remainder of mankind in the age to come, God’s plan entails everyone, yet in a specific order.

And we are reminded of this plan each year through God’s seven annual festivals, which come in accordance with the three major harvest seasons in the land of Israel.

What a great blessing and privilege it is to understand that God will ultimately offer salvation to everyone—and that we have the opportunity to live according to His calling today!

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