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God’s Calendar of Events
As Christians, we are facing a great and glorious future. But it is a future in which the enemy will try to entangle our minds and confuse us, so that we shall not be ready when the Bridegroom comes. We need guidance from the Lord and His Book so that we may understand and be able to read the signs of the times, to be “men who know what Israel ought to do.”
To that end, God the Father intends that you should have in your mind a divine calendar of events leading up to the Lord Jesus’ return. We are deeply interested in the Second Coming of our Beloved. It means so much to us in glorious deliverance, and it’s going to mean so much to the world.
Jesus is coming! His saints to release,
Coming to give to the warring earth peace;
Sinning and sighing and sorrow shall cease.
Jesus is coming again.2
But there’s tremendous confusion in people’s minds concerning the time of the Lord Jesus’ coming and the order of events; there is much confusion taught as Bible truth. The tragedy is that folks approach the Bible with a preconceived idea, a plan, which they have accepted from previous generations. And then they begin to find texts of Scripture to prove their preconceived idea. It’s far better to come, as we are going to approach the subject, and see God’s plan clearly laid out for us. The Lord has given us a calendar, so to speak, about His foreordained plans. Leviticus 23, while describing the Feasts of the Lord, also reveals God’s order of events, so that even the very youngest amongst us who can read and understand a measure of Bible truth can see it there plainly.
That’s the way God works. He never does things in an abstruse way. There is nothing tenuous with the truth of God. Everything is “naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).3 The Lord delights in giving us simple, clear directions, because He wants us to understand. In fact, if you feel you are still lacking in wisdom, let me remind you of a promise in James 1:5 — “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach.”
Let’s examine these six feasts of the Lord to discover the events on God’s prophetic calendar.4
The Feast of Passover (& Unleavened Bread): Leviticus 23:4-8
4“ ‘These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.
5On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. 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. 7On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. 8But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.’ ”
As we read through the various sections of Leviticus 23, you will notice these feasts represent epochal events in the Church’s history, for that’s why God ordered them. They fit in perfectly with all Scripture.
The very first feast of the Lord is the feast of the Passover. If you think about this for a moment, you will understand that this is where we have to start in our Christian walk. There’s not one of us that did not start with what Passover represents.
So on the blackboard of your mind, I want you to write “Number One, Passover,” and put at the side of it what it represents in gospel history, and in your own spiritual history, which is simply Calvary. It is not difficult to go through the Passover, as recorded in the Bible, as God ordered it, and see how particularly and perfectly it fits with the Lord Jesus being the Lamb of God. The Lord Jesus died as God’s Passover Lamb, at the exact time when the Passover lamb should be offered to God. Jesus said, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). And then “when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Matthew 26:30). Gethsemane followed, then Calvary. Calvary — for the Lord Jesus is the Paschal Lamb. He’s our Lamb, sacrificed on your behalf and mine. That commences all Bible history with regard to the Christian Church. We trace everything back to that Man of Calvary.
As old John Bunyan puts it in the pilgrim’s song,
Blessed cross! blessed tomb! blessed rather be
The Man that there was put to shame for me!5
At Calvary the Passover lamb, the Lord Jesus, was sacrificed. It is absolutely wonderful how the Passover which God instituted with His people Israel prefigures our salvation. The children of Israel were commanded by God that when they partook of the Passover lamb, it was to be a whole burnt offering eaten in haste. They were to get out of Egypt quickly after they had eaten the Passover meal. And, of course, my dear brother and sister, God is in our time calling the Church back again to separation from the world. We have become too entangled with the world, and the Lord desires that we should “eat it in haste with your loins girded” (Exodus 12:11 kjv) and leave Egypt, that is, the world, in haste.
When I read about the Passover lamb in the Exodus story, I find God’s solemn command in Exodus 12:46 that no bone of the Passover lamb is to be broken. And when I read of Jesus upon the cross in John 19:31-37, I realize that this was perfectly fulfilled:
31…because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. 36For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled,
“Not one of His bones shall be broken.”6
37And again another Scripture says,
“They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”7
There were no bones broken in God’s Passover Lamb! What perfect fulfillment! And in the piercing of His side, we see coming from the cross the blood that atones for sin and provides full cleansing. It represents “the fountain opened… for sin and for uncleanness” (Zechariah 13:1), something we shall address later.
So we see that God’s initial feast, that of Passover, is the first epochal event in the Church’s history; it commences God’s calendar.
The Feast of Firstfruits: Leviticus 23:9-14
Now what was the next feast after Passover?
9And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 10“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord. 13Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the Lord, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. 14You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.’ ”
The feast following Passover is that of Firstfruits. In God’s calendar, it represents the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the very next epochal event after Calvary.
In 1 Corinthians 15, that glorious chapter on resurrection, the apostle Paul beautifully unfolds the Resurrection and Firstfruits:
- 20But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.
- 1 Corinthians 15:20-24
Notice verse 20, “Now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”; that is, of all of mankind who had died. What perfect accord! The Feast of Firstfruits follows Passover; and the Resurrection follows Calvary.8
As Christians, it is of great interest and import that Christ’s Resurrection was on the first day of the week. Since the Feast of Firstfruits typifies the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, then here in our Leviticus 23 passage it should mention the day of the week on which He rose from the dead — and it does! Look again at verse 11:
“ ‘He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.’ ”
We should note that Leviticus 23, this chapter on the Lord’s feasts, commences by reiterating the seventh-day sabbath (Saturday):
- “ ‘Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.’ ”
- Leviticus 23:3
Now of course, because Jesus rose on the first day of the week (Sunday), and because we have a New Covenant for a new people who have a new birth, He rose on a new day, and gave us a new Sabbath. That’s why we keep Sunday. We are now Christians, and as such we’re not under the law, and so we keep the Feast of Firstfruits by celebrating the Lord Jesus rising from the dead on the first day of the week.
So it is in perfect accord with Scripture and with God’s calendar of events that the Lord Jesus could only rise on the first day of the week — “on the day after the Sabbath” (Leviticus 23:11) — so that He might become “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).9
The Feast of Weeks: Leviticus 23:15-22
Now we come to the third feast:
15“ ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. 16Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. 17You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord. 18And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be as a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the Lord. 19Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering.
20“ ‘The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. 21And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
22“ ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God.’ ”
This third feast of the Lord is the Feast of Weeks. In Acts 2, we come upon its other name, with which we are more familiar — Pentecost. We owe this name to the Greek-speaking Jews of that era. The word Pentecost comes from the Greek word pentēkostḗ, meaning fiftieth, derived from a Greek word found in the Greek Old Testament10 translation of Leviticus 23:15-16:
And ye shall number to yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day on which ye shall offer the sheaf of the heave-offering, seven full weeks: 16until the morrow after the last week ye shall number fifty [pentḗkonta]11 days…12
By this language change (perpetuated by early Greek-speaking Jewish and Gentile Christians), it is this Greek word Pentecost (rather than the Hebrew word for Weeks — Shavuot, the Jewish name for the festival) that comes down to us. Perhaps this is the reason why many of us forget that what Christians celebrate as Pentecost is originally the Jewish Feast of Weeks, also called the Feast of Ingathering.13 It celebrates the wheat harvest, the final harvest of the year. Even as the Feast of Firstfruits, fifty days previously, had been the offering to God of the first-ripe barley of the coming harvest to God, so this third feast, the Feast of Pentecost, was the full gathering-in — with another firstfruits — of the wheat.14
This Feast of Weeks points to that great epoch of the Church when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in the upper room (Acts 2). On the Day of Pentecost the Lord began His great Ingathering into the Kingdom of Heaven, with Jews “from every nation” (Acts 2:5) as His firstfruits, soon to be followed by a grand harvest of Gentiles.
This feast is instructive for us in another way as well. The very fact that there was a Feast of Firstfruits, when the first ripe fruit was offered, and then afterwards there was the general ingathering, shows that many of the Lord’s people will not have qualified for the first resurrection at the return of the Lord Jesus. God gives qualifications.
Consider the words both of the Apostle John and of Paul in this regard. John writes:
- 1Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.… 4These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. 5And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.
- Revelation 14:1,4-5
And think of what the apostle Paul wrote longingly:
- 10…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection15 from the dead. 12Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 3:10-14
Paul longed to qualify for a special resurrection, and he continued to serve the Lord wholeheartedly in hopes that he might.
There are blessings, friends, that God has hidden for those who will be overcomers. Let me draw your attention to the words of the Holy Spirit, who constantly emphasizes the call to overcoming, and warns us that unless we overcome, we will not inherit certain blessings which are reserved for the firstfruit Christians. If you have a spiritual “ear,” then “hear what the Spirit says”:
- 21“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
- Revelation 3:21-22
In addition to this overcomer-passage, please take the time to read and ponder Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-29; 3:5-6 and 12-13. The Bible is very clear on the whole subject.
Leaven and Leavened Bread
Curiously, in this Feast of Pentecost, of Ingathering, we find leavened bread. Do you remember how God emphasized at Passover that there should be a Feast of Unleavened Bread? Unleavened bread is bread mixed in the ordinary way with good, fine wheat flour and water, but baked without leaven. Leaven, of course, is what we call yeast, which we put into bread dough to cause it to rise.
Now the remarkable thing we discover when we come to this Feast of Weeks, of Pentecost, is that the Lord’s command is for leavened bread, not unleavened bread. Refer back to Leviticus 23, our chapter about the feast of the Lord, and notice verse 17:
“ ‘You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven.’ ”
Now why is there leaven at Pentecost, but no leaven at Passover?
Leaven in Scripture stands for any spiritual principle which cannot be seen of itself, but when hidden or mixed with other substances, or with other things, other times, other persons, will manifest itself afterward — just as leaven does. If you mix leaven with dough, no one can know that the leaven is in the dough, because it’s not visible. But put the dough in a warm place to rise, and the fact that there is leaven in it will soon be manifested by the way it rises.
There is a conflict of opinion amongst Christians. Some say that leaven in the Bible always stands for good and the Holy Spirit. Others say that leaven in the Bible always stands for bad and the devil. Neither is valid, because leaven in the Bible stands for neither good nor evil. It stands for any spiritual principle that lies hidden, but is revealed by an outward manifestation of its inner working.
The Mystery of Iniquity
There are two great examples of the working of leaven in the Bible. The first is the leaven of wickedness, which the Scriptures call “the mystery of iniquity” or “the mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). There is a mystery on the earth; it’s a hidden thing. It’s that theologically indefinable term SIN. No one who is a true theologian would admit that they could give you an adequate definition of sin, nor an adequate explanation of its coming into existence — sin’s origin. It’s hidden in a mystery. But though no one can see Sin, one can see many examples of the outworking of that secret and hidden thing, which is “the mystery of iniquity,” that is, sin.
The Mystery of Godliness
But, praise God, there is also the mystery of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16). Here there is also a hidden principle which cannot be seen. For instance, no one has ever seen the Holy Spirit. It is as impossible to see the Holy Spirit, as it is impossible to see God:
- No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
- John 1:18
Yes, it is impossible to see that Blessèd One, the Holy Spirit, but we can tell that the Holy Spirit is present by His manifestations. There is a spiritual principle in Jesus’ words: “By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). You know the presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst by the manifestations of His gifts. When the Holy Spirit visits us, He manifests Himself in visions, or in tangible interpretations, or in prophecy. It will surely come to pass, for He’s a gracious Lord, and will not fail us. The Holy Spirit we will not see, but the manifestations of the Spirit we will see. That is leaven.
Remember also that the Lord Jesus said,
- “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
- Matthew 13:3316
There have been three great ages:
- the age of individual conscience, when every man did that which was right in his own eyes, from Adam until Moses;
- the age of Law, when man lived by a revelation direct from God as to what he should do or should not do. The Age of Law extended from Moses until the time of Jesus, when He abolished the law, having fulfilled it.
- the age of the Holy Spirit, from the time of the Lord Jesus onwards. This is the age in which we are now living.
Refer back to Matthew 13:33. “The Kingdom of heaven,” said Jesus, “is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” In the same way as that leaven, the Holy Spirit was present in all three of the great epochs or ages.
- In the first age, the Holy Spirit spoke through prophets like Enoch (Jude 14-15) and Noah (2 Peter 2:5).17
- The Holy Spirit was also present in the second age, the time of the law. Remember the seventy elders who prophesied, Moses who spoke for God18 and wrought miracles, as well as Caleb and Joshua and the judges of Israel, men filled with the Holy Spirit, along with Elijah and all the other prophets.19
- And then came the third age, with the Lord Jesus and the glorious, abundant giving of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh.20
Now notice that Jesus, in the parable of the leaven in the three measures of meal mentioned just above, says that the Kingdom of heaven is like three measures of meal; but our Feast-of-Pentecost passage in Leviticus 23 mentions only two measures of meal. How do we account for the difference? Well, when did God give these instructions to Moses? In the age of Law. One “measure of meal” had already passed — the age of Conscience. The second “measure of meal” was just then beginning — the Age of Law. So God, through Moses, mentions only “two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah.” When at last we come to Jesus, and the inauguration of the Holy Spirit’s ministry, the Lord Jesus says, “leaven in three measures of meal.” We need to take notice of what we may think are insignificant details in this precious book God has given to us!
“The Corners of Your Field”
Our Leviticus 23 passage holds one more surprise about Pentecost. Let’s read verse 23 again and consider a few important points:
“ ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God.’ ”
- Think about the phrase “when you reap the harvest of your land.” The Feast of Pentecost celebrates the culmination of the wheat harvest, so we should expect that Pentecost, which marked another epochal event in the Church — the baptism in the Holy Spirit — to have a harvest-stamp on it. And it does! That is why at our first Pentecost we read, “That day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41). That was a mere sample of what God intended to do as the age of the Holy Spirit, the Church’s epoch of Ingathering, moved forward!
- Now we come to the remainder of the verse: “You shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger.” Why not reap the entire field? Why leave “the corners”? And who are “the poor” and “the stranger”? I am one of “the poor” and one of “the strangers.” So are most of my readers. The poor, the strangers are the Gentiles who were to come in. God was saying to the Jews, “This glorious harvest will not be only for you. Leave the corners! The strangers and the poor — the Gentiles! — are going to come in.”21
Do you remember the story of of Jesus’ encounter with the Syrophonecian woman in Mark 7:24-30?22 This woman, a Gentile, came to Jesus…
- 27…and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” 28And she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.” 29Then He said to her, “For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”
- verses 27-29
No matter what we call it — the “children’s crumbs,” in this story of the Syrophonecian woman, or the “gleanings” and the “corners of the fields” in the ordinances of the Feast of Pentecost — we Gentiles have come in. Praise God!
The Feast of Trumpets: Leviticus 23:23-25
Now we move from the Feast of Pentecost — the Church’s present epoch — to the next feast on the Church’s calendar of events, the Feast of Trumpets.
23Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24“Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’ ”
You will recall that when the Lord instituted the first Passover, He said,
- “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.”
- Exodus 12:2
Over the years the Jewish people have added many traditions and made changes to the appointed celebrations and feasts. Some changes were minor. For instance, the first month (the month of Passover) was originally called Abib (e.g., Exodus 13:4; 23:15), but was later changed to Nisan.23
Then came the Roman destruction of Jerusalem — and more specifically the Temple — in 70 a.d. Without a temple and its altar, there was no way to continue God’s prescribed sacrifices for sin. Thus in the centuries immediately following, Judaism had to re-invent itself and its traditions. Without the atoning, expiating blood of the old sacrificial system, the rabbinic council focused instead on the soul-searching, repentant emphasis of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which fell each year on “the tenth day of this seventh month” (Leviticus 23:27).24
As we have seen in Leviticus 23:24 above, the Feast of Trumpets began on the first day of the seventh month. With the new emphasis on Yom Kippur, the rabbis introduced a new holiday at the beginning of the seventh month — Rosh Hashanah, “the head of the year”; in other words, a new “New Year’s Day,” as it were.
However, shifting the emphasis of the year from the first month to the seventh month, introducing Rosh Hashanah as “the head of the year,” and removing the emphasis from the Feast of Trumpets — all of this meant that the Jews made “the Word of God of none effect” (Mark 7:13) by their tradition. Perhaps the change was allowed by God, “lest” as Jesus said, “they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them” (Matthew 13:15).25 This altering of God’s original sequence means that the whole precious secret of the Lord’s calendar of events that is open to you and to me is hidden from the Jewish people.
Speaking of that calendar, let’s return to our consideration of “Trumpets” and where it stands in the epochs of the Church. Have you noticed, there is no feast, no epoch between Pentecost and the Feast of Trumpets? Why? The Feast of Pentecost is that long period in the Church’s history when the Holy Spirit is dealing on the earth, when any one of us may have an identical baptism in the Holy Spirit as the Apostles had in the upper room. During my lifetime,26 through the Charismatic Movement, God has been giving this glorious news, as it were almost by compulsion, over all the earth. We have lived in absolutely extraordinary days. Fifty years ago who but God could have imagined a company of people of all denominations who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit? And we are now numbering many millions.
This was the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
So, the Feast of Pentecost is still ongoing. The Feast of Trumpets is next on the prophetic calendar. More than 2000 years of history roll away before ever the Lord again comes on the earth. Oh, how we’ve hungered and thirsted after Him! How we’ve longed to hear the sound of His trumpet! How we’ve longed to hear the rolling of His chariot wheels!27
Weary was our heart with waiting,
And the night-watch seemed so long,
But His triumph-day is breaking
And we hail it with a song!28
I would say, friends, that now we are waiting for the trumpet call. Why? What is the Feast of Trumpets? The Feast of Trumpets is the Second Coming of Jesus! Listen to the words of the apostle Paul:
- For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:16
If we turn to the first Corinthian epistle, Paul further clarifies the matter:
51Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:
- 56The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 15:51-57
This sounding of God’s trumpet, the return of Christ, is prefigured in the Feast of Trumpets. Think of the phrase we’ve just read: “at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound.” Now consider again the previous passage from 1 Thessalonians: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.” In each passage, we’re dealing with the same trumpet.
But why is it referred to as “the last trumpet”? Because in the book of Revelation we find that there are seven angels with seven trumpets. According to the book of Revelation, which is the unveiling of the Lord Jesus, what happens when the last trumpet is sounded? We find the answer in Revelation 11:15—
Then the seventh angel [that is, the last angel] sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
Hallelujah! Praise God!
Now you can understand why there is no other feast in between Pentecost and the Feast of Trumpets in God’s calendar. The Lord is explaining to you that all you have to look for and listen for is the sound of your Beloved coming.
We’re looking for Jesus with glory to come—
’Tis Jesus who died on the tree.
A cloud of bright angels to carry me home—
O that will be Heaven to me.31
I’m looking for that, friends. I am just longing for glory day! Are you?
Is it the crowning day?
I’ll live for today, nor anxious be;
Jesus, my Lord I soon shall see;
Glad day, glad day!
Is it the crowning day?32
— — —
What rejoicing in His presence,
When are banished grief and pain;
When the crooked ways are straightened,
And the dark things shall be plain.
Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!33
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God,” the very last trumpet that heralds this fourth event in God’s calendar — the Feast of Trumpets, the return of Jesus.
The Day of Atonement: Leviticus 23:26-32
Now comes a mystery, which has been so difficult for Christians to comprehend. Up to now you have probably agreed with me every step of the way. But then there comes a strange thing, which only enhances the glory of the Word of God when you understand it. Here is that mysterious feast that comes after the Feast of Trumpets.
26And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 27“Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. 28And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. 30And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.”
Whatever is the Holy Spirit telling us by this? How can there be a Day of Atonement after the Feast of Trumpets, when Jesus returns? How is it imaginable that after we’ve met Him in glory, a day of affliction and misery and unhappiness, sadness and confession will immediately follow?
Yes, it will come to pass. But not for us. For Israel.
You don’t keep Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, do you? Ah, but each year, on this very day, orthodox and conservative Jews solemnly observe the Day of Atonement and they afflict and humble their souls. They might not be as religiously observant during other times of the year, but for those seven days, they will go to their synagogue very regularly. They will afflict their souls with fasting from sundown to sundown. God’s warning was solemn: “For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people” (Leviticus 23:29). Yes, they may obey, but they don’t understand the epochal significance.
What does this Day of Atonement represent? First, let’s allow the apostle Paul to lay the general groundwork on what is going to happen to Israel in the end.
25For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27for this is My covenant with them,
when I take away their sins.”34
- 28Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
- Romans 11:25-29
“And so all Israel will be saved.” It doesn’t mean there is special salvation for everyone who has been born a Jew, “for they are not all Israel who are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). But the godly remnant, those faithful ones amongst them, blind though they are, at the second coming of Jesus, when the glorious Feast of Trumpets comes, are going to repent. They are going to turn again to the Lord, and “so all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26).
What is the great sign of the coming of Jesus and the special Day of Atonement which follows? The great sign is “the fullness of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:25). Well, what is the fullness of the Gentiles but the population explosion? Experts tell us that in 500 years’ time the earth will be so full of people, there won’t be enough food to feed them all. Nor will there be any place for them to live, unless they are willing to live at the bottom of the oceans, at the bottom of the rivers, on the tops of the mountains, in the north and south poles — anywhere there is any space at all. So the “fullness of the Gentiles” is being fulfilled, a true sign of the coming of the Lord Jesus!
We need not be fearful about overpopulation. Doesn’t our heavenly Father know His own business? He was the one who commanded, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it”! Do you think that human beings are going to become so numerous that our heavenly Father won’t know what to do with all these people? God is a great Father. He wants lots of children. And His well-beloved Son died that every one of them might be converted, if only they will accept Him and become His dear children forever. Let the world worry, if they will; you live as the Lord Jesus would have you live, and all will be well.35
So we’ve seen the restoration of Israel as a nation, and we’re on track towards experiencing the consummation of “the fullness of the Gentiles.” Both are signs of the soon coming of Jesus. So when does Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, come? At the Feast of Trumpets! How do I know that? The book of Zechariah holds the key.
Zechariah 12 has a wonderful account of the second coming of Jesus. The chapter describes a global war with Israel at the center of it all. We have had intimations — dress rehearsals, if you will — for this final battle, with Israel as the powder barrel, in such conflicts as the Sinai War (1956), the Six-Day War (1967), the Yom Kippur War (1973) and various conflicts in Lebanon. In each of those wars we have seen how the major nations align themselves, either with Israel or its enemies. Prophetically, we are poised on the verge of that major catastrophe, but be of good courage. For though at the time of the final conflict it will seem that all hope is lost, yet the Lord Jesus is coming at the peak period of that great battle. Let’s look at Zechariah 12:1-9—
1The burden of the word of the Lord against Israel. Thus says the Lord, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him: 2“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. 3And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. 4In that day,” says the Lord, “I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness; I will open My eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. 5And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength in the Lord of hosts, their God.’
- 6“In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place—Jerusalem. 7The Lord will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not become greater than that of Judah. 8In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the Lord before them. 9It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”
- Zechariah 12:1-9
Ezekiel, in chapters 38 and 39 of his book, gives more information about this conflict. I won’t deal with that now, other than to say that the forces of “Gog… from the far north” will come against Israel (Ezekiel 29:2). Gog is God’s name for mighty Russia, who has been involved in supplying multiplied billions of dollars of arms and aid to Israel’s enemies. That’s an interesting study for another time. But we need to focus on God’s message through Zechariah, because we’re just warming up to our subject:
- “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
- Zechariah 12:10
Israel is going to see the One they pierced. They’re going to mourn for Him. Here is the great national day of mourning that comes after the Feast of Trumpets. Do you see it now? It has to come after Jesus’ return; the Jews cannot mourn for Him until they see Him. Jumping ahead just a few verses in Zechariah we read:
- And one shall say unto Him, “What are these wounds in Thine hands?” Then He shall answer, “Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”
- Zechariah 13:6 kjv
Israel will recognize its Messiah. And when that happens…
- 11In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12And the land shall mourn, every family by itself…
- Zechariah 12:11-12a
“In that day.” What day? The great Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement! That’s why God says that all those who will not mourn He will cut off. This is Israel’s great and last opportunity to acknowledge the Messiah, when He returns in glory. No wonder Paul says, “And so all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26)! The Lord remembers His ancient covenant. And when the Lord Jesus returns, He’s going to give a wonderful opportunity for Israel to acknowledge Him as the one whose hands were wounded, for them and by them.
It’s for this reason that Zechariah follows the deeply personal time of mourning with these words:
- “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”
- Zechariah 13:1
This is the fountain about which William Cowper writes in his immortal hymn:
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.36
At that juncture, “all Israel” will consist of those mourners who acknowledge their rejected Messiah as the Passover “Lamb slain from the foundations of the world” (Revelation 13:8). They will respond both as individuals and as a nation:
When I saw the cleansing fountain
Open wide for all my sin,
I obeyed the Spirit’s wooing,
When He said, “Wilt thou be clean?”
I will praise Him! I will praise Him!
Praise the Lamb for sinners slain;
Give Him glory, all ye people,
For His blood can wash away each stain.37
That’s the great and wonderful story of the coming of Jesus, and the great mourning that’s going to come upon Israel. Now you see the wisdom of God in putting Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement — that day of mourning — after the Feast of Trumpets. You and I would have put it before, and spoiled it, forgetting God’s everlasting covenant with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!
So we’ve moved from the Feast of Pentecost, looking to the epoch of the Feast of Trumpets when Jesus returns, and culminating in the national mourning of the Jews on God’s appointed Day of Atonement. Yet there is one more item to consider in God’s prophetic calendar.
The Feast of Tabernacles: Leviticus 23:33-44
At last we arrive at the sixth and final feast.
33Then 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. 35On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. 36For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.…
39Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. 40And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.’ ”
44So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the Lord.
In God’s annual cycle of feasts we come at last to the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths.38 What is the Feast of Tabernacles and how is it celebrated? You will notice in the Jewish community about October time, on the heels of Rosh Hashanah (the new year, after the week of mourning and the Day of Atonement), they have a time of feasting and rejoicing. In their gardens, or their apartment rooftops, or their patios, they build open-air “summer houses,” temporary shelters made of green, leafy branches and palm fronds. For a week they will spend some time each day in these booths, taking refreshment, and perhaps even meals, while sipping tea, coffee, and other beverages. Weather permitting, they may even sleep in these temporary shelters. It is God’s way of reminding them of their wilderness wanderings, as we saw in God’s instructions regarding the Feast:
- All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.
- Leviticus 23:42-43
Thus with this memorial command in mind, the Jewish people observe the Feast of Tabernacles annually.
Viewed in terms of the epochs in God’s prophetic calendar, how perfect it seems that after the Feast of Trumpets — the return of the Lord Jesus — and the Day of Atonement — when Israel makes up its mind to own their Messiah — that the Feast of Tabernacles should depict God’s final peace on earth — what the Church calls the Millennium. Isn’t it absolutely right that this should be so after the coming of Jesus? After the cataclysmic battle described in Zechariah, won’t it be good for the inhabitants of the earth to come out of their bomb-proof shelters, and be able to make green summer houses to live in? Praise God! This marks the beginning of the Millennium, when the Lord is going to reign over all the earth.
The Feast of Tabernacles is God’s prefiguring of “abundance of peace”39 over all the earth.
6“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
7The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
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.
— Isaiah 11:6-9 —
Even “all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12) because there’s going to be universal joy. Perhaps those trees will be clapping because when the Light of the World, the Sun of Righteousness returns, the light of the sun itself will respond with sevenfold brightness:
Moreover the light of the moon
will be as the light of the sun,
And the light of the sun will be sevenfold,
As the light of seven days,
In the day that the Lord binds up
the bruise of His people
And heals the stroke of their wound.
— Isaiah 11:6-9 —
I’m very glad that it doesn’t say, “The heat of the sun will be sevenfold”! No, only seven times more light. God is very wise in what He does. No wonder the earth is going to spring forth in beauty. No wonder
…waters shall burst forth in the wilderness,
And streams in the desert.
7The parched ground shall become a pool,
And the thirsty land springs of water;
In the habitation of jackals, where each lay,
There shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
— Isaiah 35:6b-7 —
There will be no problem in the earth then of feeding the people, because the ground is going “to bring forth by handfuls” (Genesis 41:47). In those days
“…the plowman shall overtake the reaper,
And the treader of grapes him who sows seed;
The mountains shall drip with sweet wine,
And all the hills shall flow with it…”
says the Word of God in Amos 9:13. Through the prophet Micah, God says that
Everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree,
And no one shall make them afraid;
For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
— Micah 4:440 —
And through the prophet Isaiah,
…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 anymore.
— Isaiah 2:4 —
This is the last of the great feasts of the Lord in God’s prophetic calendar, the conclusion of the matter — the Feast of Tabernacles.
Our study of the Feast of Trumpets (and the return of Jesus) took us into Zechariah 12:1-9, while our reading about the Day of Atonement and Israel’s national repentance led us through Zechariah 12:10-13:1. Zechariah’s final chapter returns us briefly to the invading northern army which comes upon Jerusalem, the suffering there (Zechariah 14:1-2), and the powerful, overwhelming victory of the Lord over the invaders (vv. 3,12-15). It also tells of the great earthquake that will occur when the Lord Himself will appear…
…and in that day His feet will stand
on the Mount of Olives,
Which faces Jerusalem on the east.
And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two,
From east to west,
Making a very large valley;
Half of the mountain shall move toward the north
And half of it toward the south.
— Zechariah 14:4 —
We know that there is a great earthquake fault which extends more than 4000 miles, running south from Lebanon, through the entire Jordan Valley and Dead Sea, under the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea into the the Great Rift Valley of eastern Africa. When that massive earthquake hits, it’s going to split the Mount of Olives in two. A river will flow from Jerusalem (Ezekiel 47:1-8), in fact, twin rivers will flow, one westward to the Mediterranean and the other eastward toward the Jordan and the Dead Sea (Zechariah 14:8). The same quake will open up a new channel, a new outlet, for the Dead Sea, so that it will flow out “into the sea.” The land will be raised in elevation. So the Dead Sea will be healed in that day, says the word of the Lord, through that great earthquake. God has all this laid out in the Bible— a most marvelous and wonderful book.
When the dust settles, one thing will be clear to all the survivors:
And the Lord shall be King over all the earth.
In that day it shall be “The Lord is one,”
And His name one.
— Zechariah 14:9 —
That it will have been a devastating war becomes apparent when we consider a simple phrase: “everyone who is left” —
- And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
- Zechariah 14:16
Note that last phrase — “and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” The Feast of Tabernacles is the last feast, and the feast we’re going to keep right throughout the Millennium. By the King’s command, while the Lord is reigning on the earth, every nation will be required to send representatives to Jerusalem every year during the Feast of Tabernacles. Otherwise they will be visited by drought and plague (Zechariah 14:17-19). Until the Millennium’s end, they will celebrate the glorious Feast of Tabernacles, dwelling in peace:
In His days the righteous shall flourish,
And abundance of peace,
Until the moon is no more.
— Psalm 72:7 —
That’s because the Most High, even the Lord Jesus, the Prince, the Messiah is going to reign on the earth.
Surveying the Whole Prophetic Calendar
As children we learned the months of the year and their order, associating various months with the cycle of seasons and their annual celebrations. In the same way, now that we have examined the feasts of the Lord more closely, we have come to appreciate why the Lord ordered His feasts as He has, and how they show us where we stand in God’s prophetic calendar for the Church:
- Passover: Our salvation, made possible because of the death of God’s Paschal Lamb;
- Firstfruits: Jesus’ bodily resurrection speaks to us of “the firstfruits of them that slept,” with a promise of our coming resurrection;
- Pentecost: We are now in the season of and engaged in the glorious task of ingathering. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
- Trumpets: We anticipate the return of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords —
We soon shall hear the archangel’s voice;
The trump of God shall sound, Rejoice!41
- Day of Atonement / Yom Kippur: The long-awaited salvation of Israel as they accept their Messiah;
- Tabernacles / Booths: The King’s reign is established on the earth and the Millennium commences. Then…
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
— Isaiah 9:7 —
That is why you and I say from the bottom of our hearts, “Even so come, Lord Jesus.” Amen.
- Copyright held by Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship, Inc. Edited and annotated by Jim & Denise Kerwin. ↩
- This is verse 3 of the hymn Jesus Is Coming (O Sing the Glad Word). ↩
- Unless otherwise noted, all scripture passages are taken from the New King James Version® (nkjv). Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ↩
- Note from the transcript of the original message:
The children of Israel had these six “feasts of the Lord” given by God. Down through the centuries, they added two other feasts or celebrations, but neither is a “feast of the Lord.”
The first feast was added in the time of Esther, the Feast of Purim (“Lots”), instituted in Esther chapter 9 and celebrating the Jews’ marvelous deliverance from the hand of Haman the Agagite.
The second feast that the Jews added was the Feast of Lights — Hanukkah — when they celebrated the deliverance of Israel from the cruel tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes. Each year during this feast they remember the finding in the liberated temple of one vial of consecrated oil, which miraculously lasted them, so tradition says, for eight days until the new oil could be consecrated. Since that time they have celebrated this Feast of Lights, Hanukkah, the feast of the renewing of the temple.
Purim and Hanukkah were not “feasts of the Lord” in the sense that the Lord had commanded them; but He accepted them. For example, John’s Gospel records the Lord Jesus walking “in the temple, in Solomon’s porch” during what we now call Hanukkah. (See John 10:22, where the annual event is called “the Feast of Dedication.” The name “Feast of Lights” is a later term.)
So when we consider these two feasts, Purim and Hanukkah, we must remember they were added considerably after God designated the six “feasts of the Lord.” Purim was added during the days of the Persian Empire, after many Jews had returned from the Captivity; and the Jews started celebrating Hanukkah less than two centuries before Jesus’ birth. The events of the first Purim occurred nearly a thousand years after God charged Moses with the six feasts in Leviticus 23. And the events celebrated during Hanukkah were nearly 1300 years after the events of the Exodus. Though these feasts were accepted by the Lord, they were not directed or charged by Him, so there is no need to account for them in God’s “calendar.” ↩
- The full quote from Pilgrim’s Progress is this:
“Thus far did I come loaded with my sin,
Nor could anything ease the grief that I was in,
Till I came here. What a place is this!
Must here be the beginning of my bliss!
Must here the burden fall from off my back!
Must here the strings that bound it to me crack!
Blessed cross! blessed tomb! blessed rather be
The Man that there was put to shame for me!” ↩
- The quotation is from Exodus 12:46. ↩
- The second quotation is from Zechariah 12:10. We will have reason to look at this verse as we make our way through the feasts. ↩
- Note from the transcript of the original message:
No one knows for certain the day of the week on which the Lord Jesus was crucified. You will have great confusion in your mind if you attempt to pull things into shape, and try to show that He died on Good Friday, and then for three days and three nights after that He was in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:40). Try as one might, the traditional Friday-to-Sunday sequence can’t yield “three nights.”
When we turn to the scriptures, we discover that none of the four Gospel writers give the day of the week on which the Lord Jesus was crucified. We celebrate “Good Friday” based a secular traditional view, which the Western side of the Church took for granted. The Eastern side of the Church for a good number of years kept the 14th day of the month Nisan as the day on which the Lord Jesus was crucified. On whatever day of the week that fell, they then counted three days and three nights forward and celebrated His resurrection. But the Western side of the Church saw that was not consistent, because the Bible is perfectly clear about what day of the week Jesus rose from the dead. Each one of the gospel writers stipulates that He rose from the dead on “the first day of the week.”
Yet as we have noted, not one of the gospel writers mentions the actual day of Jesus’ crucifixion. It’s more than likely that the Lord Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday or a Thursday. The reason we have been confused and called it Friday is because it says that “the next day was the Sabbath.” But we have forgotten John 19:31 which says, “For that Sabbath was a high day.” The regular seventh-day Sabbath is not “a high day.” We are confused in mixing up a regular seventh-day Sabbath with one of the other special sabbaths which God ordered.
Whichever day of the week the Lord Jesus was crucified is of far less concern to us than God’s primary point — He rose from the dead! ↩
- More from the original transcript: Would that we had time and space to pursue the deep teaching on the question of resurrection! But it is beyond the scope of our present article. I would like to at least draw your attention, though, to the great fact that the Apostle Paul says, “Each one in his own order” (1 Corinthians 15:23). How we have missed the point of this! So many think that all people on the earth are going to rise on one resurrection morning at the end of time, yet the Bible completely contradicts this idea. First “Christ, the firstfruits”; then “afterwards those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end” (1 Corinthians 15:23-24a), that is, the general resurrection. There are three resurrections mentioned in those few words just quoted. When the Lord Jesus rose from the dead, He brought some firstfruits with Him (Matthew 27:51-53). He brought them up gloriously from the depths of the earth, where they had been kept, shut up in Paradise. (Paradise was a place of rest, the section of Hades reserved for the righteous dead, prior to Jesus’ resurrection.) So the Lord Jesus took away the keys from the arch-usurper of Hades, because the enemy of our souls, who had taken charge of Hades, had the power of death. The Lord Jesus, in dying, put death to death, and took the keys of Hades. Afterwards, Jesus made a new proclamation that He had never made before, saying to John, “I have the keys of Hades and Death” (Revelation 1:18). That’s why we rejoice on Easter Sunday morning! ↩
- That is, the Septuagint or LXX. ↩
- Pentḗkonta is the cardinal-number (“counting number,” as in one, two, three, etc.) form of the word in Greek. Pentēkostḗ is feminine-gender form of the ordinal-number (“order number,” as in first, second, third, etc.) word pentēkostós — fiftieth (50th). ↩
- This King-James-like English rendition is from Sir Lancelot Brenton’s English translation of the Greek Old Testament. ↩
- The Feast of Ingathering is another name given to this celebration, as seen in Exodus 23:16; 34:22. ↩
- Firstfruits in Pentecost? Shouldn’t firstfruits be only for the Feast of Firstfruits? Good questions!
Different fruits and grains ripen in different seasons. Barley is planted in the winter and harvested the earliest. In the Feast of Firstfruits, the grain is understood to be barley, and so it was traditionally. We see this planting pattern as early as Israel’s sojourn in Egypt:
Exodus 9:31-32 — 31Now the flax and the barley were struck (by the plague of hail), for the barley was in the head (i.e., nearly ready to harvest) and the flax was in bud. 32But the wheat and the spelt were not struck, for they are late crops.
Thus among the Jews it was understood that the firstfruits of the Feast of Firstfruits consisted of barley. The firstfruit offering mentioned in this passage concerning the Feast of Weeks (or Pentecost) is of wheat. This helps us to understand the triple-description of this feast in Exodus 34:22 —
“And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.”
- Editor’s note: Paul uses a special word here and only here. Resurrection in the Greek is normally anástasis (as in v. 10 above). But Paul creates a unique word — exanástasis (ex + anástasis; ex = out or out of + anástasis = resurrection; literally out-resurrection). So the passage could read, “…if, by any means, I might attain to the out-resurrection from the dead,” by which many perceive a reference to the first resurrection that Pastor Gutteridge is addressing in the passage above. ↩
- See also the parallel passage in Luke 13:21. ↩
- One might also include Abraham in this group, for the Lord said of him, “He is a prophet” (Genesis 20:7). ↩
- Hearing God’s word directly and delivering His message to people is the essential definition of a prophet. This is something Moses did for forty years. When he gives the prophecy about God’s future prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15-18), Moses introduces it by saying, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst…” (Deuteronomy 18:15). ↩
- In this list of second-age prophets, one should not omit David, of whom Peter (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) says, “…David… being a prophet” (Acts 2:29-31) because he foresaw the Resurrection. Not only that, but Peter noted that “the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas” and his betrayal of Jesus (Acts 1:16). And don’t forget David’s many prophetic psalms and passages concerning Messiah! ↩
- Pastor Gutteridge shared an interesting aside at this point in the message:There are those who are inquiring concerning the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Don’t inquire too long. Don’t make it a psychological thing. Don’t make it an intellectual pursuit. I have known ministers with open mindedness and understanding who inquired too long, and the Holy Spirit abandoned their search, because they were searching only intellectually. And they ended up by opposing those things that once they said they were inquiring into with an open mind. I would say, friends, don’t bother too much about the feel of the water, whether it’s too hot, too cold or too lukewarm, too this or too that. Jump in and get the blessing of it! ↩
- To the Jews, this inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s Kingdom was part of the “mystery” of Christ’s redemption that Paul was sent to proclaim (Colossians 1:27; Romans 11:25). ↩
- Editor’s note: We know from the writing of early Church fathers that Mark’s Gospel has always been considered to be a true expression of the Apostle Peter’s teaching and ministry through his “son” Mark (1 Peter 5:13). The reader will recall that it was through Peter’s obedience and preaching that the Gentiles were first granted “repentance unto life” and were brought into the New Birth (Acts 10; 11; 15:7-11). Therefore it should not be surprising that this incident with the Syrophonecian woman, a Gentile, in Mark 7:24-30 should appear first in “Peter’s” Gospel. ↩
- Abib/Nisan overlaps from March to April in our modern Gregorian calendars. We encounter the changed name Nisan in Nehemiah 2:1. We find it again in Esther 3:7, where we are told that wicked Haman had the lot, the pur, cast “in the first month, which is the month Nisan.”
By that soothsaying means, he determined that all the Jews in the Persian Empire should be exterminated in “the twelfth month, which is the month Adar.” Because of God’s intervention through the courage of Esther and Mordecai, as we know, the plot was thwarted. Instead, with full royal sanction, God’s people triumphed over Haman and their enemies in that twelfth month, which is why the Jewish holiday of Purim is celebrated during Adar. ↩
- The seventh month is called Tishri, and it corresponds to a period that overlaps September and October. We will look into Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in the next section. ↩
- Jesus was quoting God’s words in Isaiah 6:10. Paul also makes use of this same quotation in his closing statement to the Jewish elders in Rome (Acts 28:27). ↩
- Pastor Gutteridge delivered this message in the early 1980s. ↩
- Chariot wheels associated with Jesus’ return? No, it’s not in Scripture, but the imagery occurs in nearly two dozen hymns of the 18th and 19th centuries. ↩
- This is the second half of the first verse of There’s a Light Upon the Mountains, the full lyrics for which are available through the link. ↩
- Here Paul quotes from Isaiah 25:8. ↩
- Paul is paraphrasing Hosea 13:14 from the Greek Old Testament (the LXX). ↩
- Pastor Gutteridge quotes the fourth verse of J.E. French’s We Find Many People Who Can’t Understand. ↩
- This is the chorus of Jesus May Come Today (also known as Is It the Crowning Day?). ↩
- These two stanzas represent the third verse and chorus of Face to Face with Christ, My Savior. ↩
- Paul quotes Isaiah 59:20-21. ↩
- The “fullness of the Gentiles” can also encompass the fulfillment of the teaching mandate in Matthew 28:19 to “make disciples of all nations.” We also catch a foretaste of this in Revelation 5:9, where we see a worshiping throng “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” This is well on its way to fulfillment as the Church prioritizes missions at the command of our Lord. ↩
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- This is the first verse and chorus of Margaret J. Harris’ hymn When I Saw the Cleansing Fountain (also known as I Will Praise Him). ↩
- In this context, what is a “tabernacle” or a “booth”? The Hebrew word sukkāh can mean a temporary shelter, such as a booth, hut, tent, canopy of some sort. The word is also used of a lion’s lair in a thicket of bushes. On your September or October calendar you may see a day marked “Sukkot” or “Sukkoth” — the Jewish name for the holiday (derived from the plural of sukkāh). ↩
- See Psalm 37:11; 72:7; and Jeremiah 33:6. ↩
- See Zechariah 3:10 as well. ↩
- These are the closing lines of the triumphant last stanza of Charles Wesley’s Rejoice, the Lord is King! ↩