What is man's destiny? How do we reach it? What is the future of our planet?
In the April-June issue, we saw how the first three of God's feasts revealed in the Bible (Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost) began answering these questions. We learned that God's plan involves giving each of us the opportunity to become part of His spiritual family (Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×).
Now we turn our attention to the remainder of God's feasts listed in Leviticus 23—those that come in late summer and autumn in conjunction with the end of a great harvest period in the land of Israel.
The Feast of Trumpets
The fourth feast is described as “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.
American King James Version×). In ancient times, trumpets were used to announce things—to crown a king, to call people to an assembly and to serve as an alarm for war.
Jesus in His Olivet Prophecy, the lengthy prophecy He gave on the Mount of Olives shortly before His death and resurrection, stated that when He returns, a great trumpet will sound as His angels gather the saints (Matthew 24:30-31 Matthew 24:30-31 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And 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.
American King James Version×). Paul adds that the saints who have died will be resurrected to immortality “at the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 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. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
American King James Version×). In Revelation 8, we're introduced to seven angels with trumpets, each heralding global calamity. And when the seventh blows his trumpet, Christ's return as conquering King will be announced (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.
American King James Version×).
The Day of Atonement
The next of God's appointed times, the Day of Atonement, is a day to “afflict” ourselves (Leviticus 23:27 Leviticus 23:27Also 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.
American King James Version×)—referring to fasting (Psalms 69:10 Psalms 69:10When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.
American King James Version×; Isaiah 58:3 Isaiah 58:3Why have we fasted, say they, and you see not? why have we afflicted our soul, and you take no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exact all your labors.
American King James Version×, 5), through which we draw nearer to God. It was observed in the Old Testament by the presentation of two goats—one, representing the Lord, slain as a sin offering and the other driven off to bear away sin in banishment (Leviticus 16).
Returning to the panorama of end-time events, armies will attempt to fight against Christ at His return, but they will be utterly defeated (Revelation 17:14 Revelation 17:14These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
American King James Version×). The leading civil and religious figures at that time, called “the beast” and “the false prophet” respectively, will also be captured and consumed in fire (Revelation 19:20 Revelation 19:20And 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.
American King James Version×). The next thing that happens is that Satan, the spirit power behind those human leaders, is bound so he can no longer deceive human beings while the saints live and reign with Jesus Christ (Revelation 20:1-4 Revelation 20:1-4 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. 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.
American King James Version×). With this deceiving spirit removed, all people will be able to come to God and develop a personal relationship with Him to be “at one” with or reconciled to Him.
The Old Testament goat of banishment represented the coming banishment of Satan. And in that future time, the nations, beginning with Israel, will at last accept the sin offering of Jesus Christ as atonement for their sins.
The Feast of Tabernacles
The next festival is the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, observed by living in temporary dwellings. 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.
American King James Version×; 34:22), it celebrated the abundance of the great later harvest in Israel's agricultural year.
This Feast represents a new age of great blessing, when God through Christ will again dwell on the earth with human beings. With the deceiver gone, all nations will be drawn to God and Jerusalem to learn from Him. Nations will convert their military hardware to peaceful uses and war will cease (Isaiah 2:2-4 Isaiah 2:2-4 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.
American King James Version×). Isaiah 11:6-9 Isaiah 11:6-9 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.
American King James Version×describes a beautiful time when the nature of animals will be changed back to what it was like in the Garden of Eden.
At this time deserts will become fruitful (Isaiah 35:1-2 Isaiah 35:1-2 1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
2 It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.
American King James Version×), and the knowledge of God will fill the whole earth (Isaiah 11:9 Isaiah 11:9They 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.
American King James Version×). The scene will be set for a huge spiritual harvest or ingathering of human beings into God's family.
The Eighth Day
The seven-day Feast of Tabernacles is followed immediately by an “eighth day”—a separate and distinct festival though obviously related to the previous seven days. This eighth day, now often called the Last Great Day, continues the celebration of the end-time harvest, but represents its culmination, when all humanity will at last worship the Lord.
Consider the billions who lived in prior ages when they were deceived by Satan. What will happen to people who have never even heard of Jesus Christ? Acts 4:12 Acts 4:12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
American King James Version×states that the only name under heaven by which people may be saved is that of Jesus Christ. Would God just forget all those billions of potential children? No!
While the firstfruits of this age are raised to eternal life at the blowing of the last trumpet, 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.
American King James Version×tells us “the rest of the dead” (those who died in deception) will come back to life after the thousand-year period. Verse 12 describes them standing before a great white throne with books (Greek biblia , from which we get the word “Bible”) opened to them and another book opened called the Book of Life.
This book was closed in their prior life, but is now open—they will now be given their first chance to have their names written in that book. They will be granted time to live once again as human beings (Ezekiel 37) and will be judged by how they live according to God's laws at that time. This will be the ultimate harvest opportunity for eternal life in the family of God.
For more on how the biblical festivals present the progressive steps in God's awesome plan of salvation, download or request our free booklet God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind . VT