* Remote chance to be observed a day earlier.
As Yahshua the Messiah fulfilled the Passover through His death, so He fulfilled the Feast of Unleavened Bread through His resurrection. It was during this time when our Savior conquered death and the grave.
I have often considered which is greater – Yahshua’s death or His resurrection? I believe they are equal in importance. Without Yahshua’s death we would have no redemption from sin, and without His resurrection we would have no hope of the resurrection.
If He had never conquered the grave, we would die eternally. It is only through Him that we find the promise of redemption and the hope of eternal life. In John 11:25 Yahshua said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”
As we reviewed His death during the Passover, let us now focus on His triumph over death and proclaim that the Messiah is risen!
A key biblical concept is firstfruits. It was during the Feast of Unleavened Bread when the wave sheaf was offered, being the firstfruits of the barley harvest, Leviticus 23:10-14.
“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto Yahweh. And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto Yahweh for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your Elohim: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”
This a description of the wave sheaf offering. As we see from Deuteronomy 16:9 and from Jewish antiquity, including from Josephus and the Mishna, the Israelites could not harvest or eat the new grain until the wave sheaf was offered:
“Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn” (Deut. 16:9).
Ancient historian Josephus writes, “And while they suppose it proper to honor [Elohim], from whom they obtain this plentiful provision, in the first place, they offer the first-fruits of their barley, and that in the manner following: They take a handful of the ears, and dry them, then beat them small, and purge the barley from the bran; they then bring one tenth deal to the altar, to [Elohim]; and, casting one handful of it upon the fire, they leave the rest for the use of the priest. And after this it is that they may publicly or privately reap their harvest. They also at this participation of the first-fruits of the earth, sacrifice a lamb, as a burnt-offering to [Elohim],” (Antiquities of the Jews, book 3, chapter 10).
The Mishna further teaches with regard to the five grains: “And it is prohibited to reap them prior to the omer offering. The Gemara asks: From where are these matters derived? Rabbi Yoḥanan said: It is derived by means of a verbal analogy between ‘the first’ written in conjunction with the new crop: ‘You shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest’ (Leviticus 23:10), and ‘the first’ written with regard to ḥalla: ‘Of the first of your dough you shall set apart a cake for a gift’ (Numbers 15:20). Just as the obligation to separate ḥalla applies only to bread prepared from the five grains, so too the prohibition against reaping the new crop prior to the omer offering applies only to crops of the five grains” (Menachot 70b:11).
This point is important when confirming the barley for the beginning of the biblical New Year. From the above citations, the harvest could not begin until the wave sheaf was offered.
Knowing the nature of barley, it was crucial that Israel not postpone the harvest by waiting an additional month once the barley was in Abib.
This offering consisted of the very first ripened grain, meaning that the barley had to be sufficiently mature to produce flour, which first occurs in the soft dough stage. This offering also began the count to Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks.
The wave sheaf offering occurred during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is why we count firstfruits from the Sunday within the Feast. We also know that the wave sheaf consisted of an omer of barley, roughly one-tenth of an ephah, or about five pints or a half gallon.
So how does all this relate to Yahshua the Messiah? As we see in 1Corinthians 15, Yahshua was to become the firstfruits of those to be resurrected. “But now is Messiah risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Messiah the firstfruits; afterward they that are Messiah’s at his coming.”
Here we find Paul speaking about Yahshua’s resurrection. He says that Yahshua has become the firstfruits of them that slept. When Paul uses the word “slept,” he’s referring to death or the grave. He goes on to say, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.”
As we know, the man who was resurrected from the dead was Yahshua the Messiah, our Savior. He was the first to be resurrected to eternal life. While certain believers may have been resurrected before Yahshua, none were resurrected to everlasting life as He was.
This is why Yahshua’s resurrection is special. Just as the wave sheaf was the firstfruits of the barley harvest, Yahshua was the firstfruits of mankind to be resurrected to eternal life.
We see a connection here between the wave sheaf of the Old Testament and Yahshua’s resurrection in the New Testament and why the concept of firstfruits is so important during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Remember that it was during this time when the wave sheaf was offered AND when Yahshua rose from the grave.
Yahshua the Fulfilled Firstfruits
In John 20:10-16, we see evidence of how Yahshua might have fulfilled the wave sheaf.
“Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Yahshua had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Master, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Yahshua standing, and knew not that it was Yahshua. Yahshua saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Yahshua saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.”
Several amazing incidents are seen in this passage. Mary was at the tomb weeping for Yahshua. Looking into the sepulcher, she sees two angels who ask her why she’s weeping, and she replies by saying that she did not know where they had laid the body of Yahshua. Upon saying this she turned and saw Yahshua, whom she believed to be a gardener.
There’s a lot of speculation as to why Mary did not recognize Yahshua. Some believe that Yahshua somehow concealed His appearance; others believe Mary’s view of Him may have been obscured. Either of these explanations may be possible but I tend to believe that Yahshua supernaturally concealed his appearance, as we see when Yahshua met the disciples.
Yahshua eventually called out to Mary and when she heard Him she realized it was Yahshua and said, “Rabboni,” which is to say, “Master.” Prior to this moment, she believed Yahshua was dead and that His body had been taken elsewhere. She must now have been beyond thrilled.
Just as the high priest offered the wave sheaf in the Old Testament, Yahshua, being the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, ascended to His Father to offer Himself as the new wave sheaf, John 20:17.
Timing of His Burial
We know from the Bible that Yahshua was in the tomb for three days and three nights. In Matthew 12:40 Yahshua said, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
Based on the Greek, when He said, “three days and three nights,” it referred to three full days and three full nights. “Nights” as well as “days” confirms days of 24 hours each. Most believe that our Savior died on Friday and was resurrected Sunday morning. But counting Friday afternoon to Sunday morning, it’s impossible to get three full days and nights.
So, what was the chronology of Yahshua’s death and resurrection? We find the answer in Luke 23:51-56. “(The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews : who also himself waited for the kingdom of Elohim [Wednesday/Passover]. This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Yahshua. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation [Thursday/start of Unleavened Bread], and the sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid [Friday]. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments [Sabbath]; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.”
As we see from this event, Yahshua was placed in the tomb late Wednesday (before sunset) and He resurrected before the end of the Sabbath, Saturday evening. Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible agrees with this: “[Yahshua] was dead for 3 full days and for 3 full nights. He was put in the grave Wednesday just before sunset and was resurrected at the end of Saturday at sunset. Good Friday should be changed to Good Wednesday. No statement says that He was buried Friday at sunset. This would make Him in the grave only one day and one night, proving His own words untrue (v 40). The sabbath of John 19:31 was not the regular weekly one, but the special sabbath of the feast.”
I Am the Resurrection
Let us transition to the importance of Yahshua’s resurrection. As we’ve already seen, Yahshua was the first to be resurrected to eternal life, and our own resurrection is dependent upon His. Without Yahshua’s resurrection, we would have no hope of our own.
In John 11:20-27, we find Yahshua speaking to Martha, the sister of Lazarus. “Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Yahshua was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Yahshua, Master, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of Yahweh, Yahweh will give it thee. Yahshua saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Yahshua said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Master: I believe that thou art the Messiah, the Son of Yahweh, which should come into the world.”
We know from the account that Yahshua resurrected Lazarus and everyone who witnessed it was amazed. But I believe the most important part of this story is what Yahshua shared with Martha: that He is the resurrection and the life.
As believers, it’s important that we recognize the source of our salvation. Without Yahshua the Messiah, our Savior, we would be without the hope of eternal life.
For me, this is the real message behind the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As Passover represents Yahshua’s death, the Feast of Unleavened Bread represents His resurrection and by extension our own resurrection.
In John 6, Yahshua said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of Elohim is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” Yahshua is the source of life for all mankind. Again, without Him, there is no hope of a resurrection or eternal life.
Paul describes Yahshua’s coming and the first resurrection in 1Thessalonians 4:13-18. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Yahshua died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Yahshua will Elohim bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of Yahweh, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Master shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Master himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of Elohim: and the dead in Messiah shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Master in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Master. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
Paul begins by encouraging us not to be saddened for those believers who die or pass away. The reason is, we serve a risen Savior. Again, this is the message we find throughout the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Without Yahshua’s death and resurrection, we would have no hope. It’s only through Him that we find these promises.
Paul also describes Yahshua’s coming and the first resurrection, wherein Yahshua will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of Elohim. Some believe that Paul’s describing a secret rapture, but we see here that Yahshua’s coming is anything but a secret. Everybody in this world will know that the Messiah has returned.
Some might wonder when this will happen. The most likely time is during the Feast of Trumpets. The Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost have been fulfilled through Yahshua’s death, resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
How then are the saints resurrected? The righteous dead will be raised first, followed by the living. They will both be changed from mortal to immortal, and they will then meet Yahshua in the clouds.
Can you even begin to imagine what this moment will be like? Not only will we have immorality and new bodies, but we’ll also be with Yahshua the Messiah forever. There’s not a greater promise in this life. Everything we do in this life should be motivated by this promise.
Resurrected in His Likeness
Many of us probably don’t spend enough time thinking about this promise. I believe this is one reason the Feast of Unleavened Bread is so important: it reminds us that we follow and serve a man who conquered the grave and offers us the same hope now.
Paul also speaks about this promise in Romans 6:4-11. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Messiah was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is impaled with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Messiah, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Messiah being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto Elohim. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto Elohim through Yahshua Messiah our Master.”
Here baptism represents Yahshua’s death. When we are baptized into Yahshua’s Name, we die to Him. When this happens, we are to walk in the newness of life, meaning anew in life. As believers, we’re to obey the commandments and follow the examples of our Savior.
We also find here the promise of a resurrection. Those immersed into Yahshua’s Name will share in the likeness of His resurrection, meaning we will be resurrected in the same form and body as Yahshua was with His own resurrection. As an example, as Yahshua was able to appear and disappear, I believe we too will have this same power and ability.
Paul also references sin in this passage. Even though many refuse to acknowledge or speak about sin, sin is something of which we MUST be cognizant. As disciples of the Messiah, it is our responsibility to avoid and abstain from sin. Nothing will do more harm to our relationship with Yahweh than willful and deliberate sin.
Confess and Believe
In Romans 10:9-11, Paul addresses the hope of salvation we have through Yahshua the Messiah. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Master Yahshua, and shalt believe in thine heart that Yahweh hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”
I want to focus on what Paul says about confession and belief. The word confession is from the Greek homologeo and is defined by Strong’s as, “to assent, i.e. covenant, or to acknowledge.”
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines this word as: “1) to say the same thing as another, i. e. to agree with, assent; 2) to concede; 3) to profess; and 4) to praise or celebrate.”
The King James Version translates this word in the following ways: “confess (17x), profess (3x), promise (1x), give thanks (1x), confession is made (1x), acknowledges (1x).”
As believers, we must be willing to confess and acknowledge the faith we have through Yahshua the Messiah. We should never be ashamed of our faith in Him; we should stand in boldness and confidence. In Matthew 10:33 Yahshua said, “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”
The word “believes” in Romans 10 is from the Greek pisteuo. Strong’s defines this word as, “to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), i.e. credit; by implication, to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well-being to Messiah).”
The last part of this definition is about trusting our spiritual well-being to Messiah. As we see here, belief is more than a verbal acknowledgment; it’s a deep and sincere trust in our Savior, realizing and believing that only through Him do we find remission of sins and the promise of everlasting life. It also entails following Him. This is why it’s so important that we both confess and believe in Yahshua the Messiah, for it is only through Him that we find the hope of the resurrection and life eternal in Yahweh’s Kingdom.
Hope of the Resurrection
A remarkable passage with an amazing promise is found in 1Peter 1:3-5. “Blessed be the Elohim and Father of our Master Yahshua Messiah, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Yahshua Messiah from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of Elohim through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Through Yahweh’s abundant mercy He has begotten us with a lively hope by the resurrection of Yahshua the Messiah. According to Thayer’s, “begotten” means, “to produce again, beget again, beget anew; metaphorically: thoroughly to change the mind of one, so that he lives a new life and one conformed to the will of Yahweh.”
While we believe that being born again is not complete until the resurrection, the process begins when we are baptized into Yahshua’s Name. At this time we should also have a change in heart and mind, conformed to the will of Yahweh. This undoubtedly is what Paul meant when he wrote about walking in newness of life.
Peter also speaks of the resurrection and the promise of everlasting life. He describes it as an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, which fades not away. The word “incorruptible” comes from Greek aphthartos, meaning, “uncorrupted, not liable to corruption or decay, imperishable.” “Undefiled” comes from the Greek amiantos and means “not defiled, unsoiled; free from that by which the nature of a thing is deformed and debased, or its force and vigor impaired.”
From this we discover that in the resurrection we will be free from death including those elements of nature that cause weakness or defilement of body. These promises will never fade away. All of this is based on Yahshua’s death and resurrection, without which we have no hope.
The day began with anxious expectation. Only a few days earlier Yahshua had made an extraordinary statement about this day.
We read of it in Acts 1:4-5:
“And, being assembled together with them, [He] commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, you have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence.”
The disciples had misunderstood, thinking it was about the prophesied Kingdom. “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Master, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, it is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power. But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Yahshua wasn’t ready to establish His Kingdom on earth then. Many more would need to be tried and tested for their desire to follow Him, eventually to take up important positions as priestly rulers. This school had only begun.
None of the disciples could have imagined what was about to happen as they were there in that upper room 2,000 years ago. As they had since their conversion, they gathered to keep this Feast known as Firstfruits or Feast of Weeks, also called Pentecost.
The Enabling Power of the Spirit
Which of them could have foreseen the dramatic transformation the events this Feast of Shabbuoth (Heb. “weeks”) would bring to his life and the lives of other believers.
They would embark on a critical part of Yahweh’s plan ultimately to bring His Kingdom to earth, with all His faithful to rule with Him. The important groundwork for that plan is set by this observance. It was at this time that the covenant with His people was ratified at Sinai. And Israel assured Him that they would do all He had said, including keeping His laws.
The Feast of Weeks provides us the ability by which the Covenant can be kept – as well as the means by which Yahweh’s message can be taken to the World – all by the giving of Yahweh’s Holy Spirit.
This is also called the Feast of Firstfruits which began that great calling to fulfill Yahweh’s plan of salvation with the called-out firstfruits of brethren.
The Feast of Weeks is unique as a multi-faceted, meaning-packed observ-ance. It is the final of the annual moedim to have had a second fulfillment in the New Testament.
Briefly, this Feast encompasses the core of the salvation plan. It gives us:
• the law to bring us in line with Yahweh’s will,
• the Spirit, not only to help us obey but also to empower His chosen to take the truth to all the world, and
• the harvest of both the natural fruit and the spiritual firstfruits for the kingdom.
Some confuse this Feast with the day of the barley wavesheaf during Unleavened Bread. The fact is, Pente-cost falls scripturally 50 days from the Feast of Unleavened Bread, not during it. Additionally, there are two different wavesheaves, one being the Passover barley, represented by Yahshua, and the other the Pentecost wheat, which depicts the saints.
Exodus 34:18-23 discusses the implication of firstfruits. The firstborn as firstfruits are a key class of people in the Scriptures.
The plan of salvation and the coming Kingdom itself are revealed in Yahweh’s seven annual Feast Days. These aren’t just ho-hum holidays kept because Yahweh had a whim. They are unlike all of man’s holidays that are here one day and gone the next with no lasting impact.
In stark contrast, Yahweh’s Feasts are jam-packed with profound, salvation truth, as well as prophetic meaning! What’s more, these holidays are com-mandments from Yahweh. They are part of His law given to all men. He says in essence, “These are My Feasts, and you will observe them if you want the blessing of salvation.”
These observances represent a great plan for His people, and when you are properly schooled in and complete the plan, you are ready for graduation.
All of Yahweh’s Feasts revolve around the harvest seasons, and it is the theme of harvest in a spiritual sense that gives these days real meaning.
John 3:13 tells us that no one but Yahshua has ascended to heaven. Therefore, He is the first of the firstfruits. He became the fulfillment of the spiritual wavesheaf offered during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Recall His cautioning Mary in John 20:17 not to touch (hold onto) Him because He had not yet ascended to His Father as the wavesheaf firstfruit offering.
Some wonder why Yahshua ascended to heaven following His resurrection and then came back to earth for 40 more days, and ascended again just before Pentecost.
The answer is so that He could fulfill the ordinance of the firstfruits offering. The firstfruits of the barley harvest with Israel was to be presented, or waved, before Yahweh on the morrow after the Sabbath within the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Leviticus 23:11.
Yahweh had to accept the firstfruits before the rest of the harvest could commence. If there was a shortcoming, if it was the wrong grain, if the grain was not firstfruits or if it didn’t for some other reason meet His expectations, then He would reject it.
As the perfect sacrifice, Yahshua met all the criteria and was accepted as the firstfruits offering at His resurrection for the harvest of souls.
Judged by What We Do
All of this relates to the quality and nature of potential human firstfruits. The bride had to make herself ready. She had to meet certain expectations and qualifications. Yahshua said in Matthew 16:27 that when He comes He will reward everyone according to their works. He said the same thing in Revelation 22:12.
When the books are opened, each will be judged according to their works, Revelation 20:12. The life they lived and the obedience that they showed would have to stand the test of the law.
The barley and its firstfruits are gleaned long before other major grains. Yahshua is portrayed by the barley.
The Apostle Paul writes of this in 1Corinthians 15:22-23: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah shall all be made alive. But every man IN HIS OWN ORDER: Messiah the firstfruits [wavesheaf]; afterward they that are Messiah’s at His Coming.”
Fifty days later the firstfruits of the human harvest is presented, depicted in the wheat harvest by the wave loaves of bread, Leviticus 23:15-21.
Finally comes the general harvest in the autumn, at the Feast of Tabernacles, also called the Feast of Ingathering.
Harvest is a central theme in all of the major Feasts. Is it any wonder that the Feasts begin chronologically with the tender ears of barley in the spring and end with the general ingathering of all the produce in the fall?
The barley had to be at a certain stage of maturity for the wavesheaf, just as Yahshua had to be spiritually confirmed to be the firstfruits in advance of the brethren. Just as firstfruits are not of ripe and dried grain, so Yahshua was not taken as an old man, but in His early 30s, at the beginning of the most productive age of an individual.
He prepared the way for us to help Him, and so He offers His Spirit for that.
In chapter 1 of Acts, Luke picks up where His Book of Luke left off, discussing the life of Yahshua the Messiah and His last act on earth at that time, called the transfiguration, vv. 1-2.
By those acts He did after His resurrection, they could not deny that He was the risen Messiah.
Had they left Jerusalem or had they not come for the Feast of Firstfruits, or Shabuoth, they would not have been present to receive Yahweh’s Spirit.
The same lesson is for us to make every effort to attend Yahweh’s Feasts.All indications are that Yahshua will return at a Feast, at a “time appointed” (moed), as Daniel 8:19 reveals.
When the woman (assembly) is carried on eagle’s wings into the wilderness, it’s for her protection; we will want to be with His people at that time. And it will likely happen when His people are gathered at an annual Feast.
But When Does Fulfillment Happen?
The first time such a thing occurred, ancient Israel as a unified body was taken into the wilderness to keep a Feast to Yahweh, as Moses explained to Pharaoh. Yahweh protected Israel from Pharaoh’s pursuing army.
Compare Exodus 19:4: “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself;” with Revelation 12:6: “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of Elohim, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (3½ years).
In Revelation 12:6 spiritual Israel is:
• taken to the wilderness (just as Israel was);
• to a place prepared of Yahweh (we are commanded to keep the Feasts where Yahweh places His Name, just as Israel did);
• there the Assembly is fed for a period of time (just as we feed on Yahweh’s word at His Feasts and as Israel ate manna).
So you are gathered with the brethren at a Feast, either Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, or Trumpets and the fall Feasts – the 3 main times as potential times for Yahshua to return.
There you find protection while others who are not obedient are left out in the world to suffer from tribulation or Yahweh’s wrath unleashed on the wicked.
Yahweh always works in parallels, in duality, in type and antitype – especially with prophecy – meaning ancient and modern fulfillment.
Pentecost and a New Dimension
The Bible is such a complex collection of books that the majority of what it has in it has a parallel to something else or to another place or time.
We see only through a dark glass. We see only the tip, while the rest of the iceberg lies submerged and out of sight.
Back to Acts 1.
Yahshua continues advising the disciples in verse 5, showing that there would be a distinction, an advancement, from John’s baptism, which would begin with Pentecost and the giving of the Spirit.
In verse 6 they were looking for Yahshua to restore the Kingdom to Israel right then. His answer came in verse 7: “And he said unto them, it is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” He didn’t say something like, brothers, you have it all wrong, the Kingdom will be the newly established church.
We read in verse 8: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Power is the Greek dunamis from which we get our word dynamite. It means force. That is what the Spirit is. A force emanating from the Father and Son to help witness Yahshua throughout all the earth.
In John 1:7 we see that John came to bear witness, the Greek word is marturia. It means an active witness, not just a single display.
Too often the idea is that I must get baptized and receive the Holy Spirit for the sake of my salvation, and then there is nothing more for me to do. I’ve now accomplished what was necessary.
All the while a whole other purpose for the giving of the Spirit is ignored.
The Holy Spirit is given for a key reason, individually and for humanity as well. We are converted to Truth for a purpose, not just to do nothing. Not just to sit back and say, “Well, I’m saved,” and do nothing more.
That notion is foreign to the Scriptures. Yahweh doesn’t function that way. Yahweh is a Mighty one of activity and creativity, of work and power and purpose and function. He expects nothing less of His family of people. To get out there and get the job done of teaching the truth to the world.
Imagine Yahshua taking a day off from evangelizing. “Let’s just go to Ceasarea, Peter and James, kick back, enjoy some wine, and watch the ships come in.” Imagine Yahshua doing nothing, as the do-nothing doctrine of faith alone for salvation is negated by Yahshua’s own actions. We have a job to do and we need to be discovering, learning, and teaching it. To serve Yahweh we need to know the Book.
Tradition has provided a simplistic, superficial purpose for the Spirit.Yahweh’s Spirit is not for showboating to draw attention to oneself in charismatic displays.
The Holy Spirit is not like fire-works, something pretty to watch, something to dazzle the eyes and excite the imagination. The Spirit is given to accomplish a work, its the power of dynamite (dunamis). Dynamite moves mountains.
When you scan the whole trajectory of Yahweh’s Feast days you see a dynamic plan in operation on the most basic, personal level:
• Passover, Yahweh separates a people out from the Egypt of sin.
• This is followed by the eating of unleavened bread, rooting out the falsity from our lives and hearts and replacing it with truth.
• Then comes the Feast of Weeks, where we are empowered with the Spirit to bring others to the truth of Yahweh.
So now Yahshua prepares the dis-ciples, telling them not to go anywhere, but to be at Jerusalem where they must wait for the promise of Yahweh. That promise was the force of dunamis – active power to be used to bring a forceful witness to the world through communication, example, and miracles.
His people are a witness to the greatest power in the universe. We should never be afraid to express or speak out when it comes to who we are as His called-out people.
The danger comes in pompously turning prideful with any spiritual gift.
This Ruach haKodesh, Yahweh’s Spirit force, is manifest by the gifts it bestows, detailed in 1Corinthians 12, like wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, prophecy, even just the stamina to “continue on” when discouraged or just being too tired to go any further.
Each of us is given one or more of the Spirit’s gifts when we are immersed into Yahshua’s Name.
The Gift of Tongues: Real Language
So let’s see how that promise of the Holy Spirit is fulfilled in Acts 2. Peter and the rest had been waiting in that large upper room.
This Pentecost would come nine days after his ascension to heaven.
Verses 1-2: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” One accord means “of one mind.” These were not a group of mixed worshipers brought together to beg down the Spirit. The Holy Spirit was imposed automatically from Yahweh to the gathered believers.
Verses 2-3: “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.”
In John 20:22 after Yahshua was resurrected He stood in a room with the disciples and breathed on those who were with them, giving them the firstfruits of the Spirit. That same breath of life made Adam a living man. Psalm 104:29 says that when Yahweh takes that spirit of life away we die; and again in verse 30, that He sends His Spirit and man is made a living being.
The Holy Spirit is the active force of Yahweh, and we see it in action in various ways.
The account continues in Acts 2:4-11: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” “Other” is the Greek heteros, meaning different kinds of glossa or languages.
“And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language [dialektos, dialect].
“And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? [tongue, from root dialegomai: to dispute, to preach, to reason, to speak a language].… we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of Elohim.”
Peter’s Powerful Sermon
Peter answered those who questioned the tongues’ authenticity: “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel,” 2:14.
He then recites Joel 2:28: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith Yahweh, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.”
Peter launches into more prophecy of the earth in the final days in verse 2:19: “And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of Yahweh come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of Yahweh shall be saved.”
We find all of this after the Spirit was poured out in Acts 2. The people had asked in verse 12, what does this mean? They heard people speaking in their languages, which was amazing enough, but it was what they heard being spoken that really amazed them.
Work – Dunamis – Power
The narrative continues in verse 22 concerning the wonderful works of Yahweh that v. 11 speaks of. Peter’s words through the power of the Spirit convicted 3,000 people. Now that’s power!
This New Testament Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) was unique. It marked the genesis of a dynamic work to bring the truth to the entire world employing the active power of the Holy Spirit.
Some grow angry when they hear truth that counters what they believe. That is only because our world is solidly entrenched in layer upon layer of erroneous traditions that many have been taught to believe is true.
Only dynamite of the Spirit will loosen them from it.
This Feast has big implications. Israel had been released from Egypt at Passover, purged from past sin. Then in the Feast of Unleavened Bread that follows, they were to remove all that leads to sin in their lies.
Now at the Feast of Firstfruits they received Yahweh’s law, His blueprint for the Kingdom. At this Acts 2 Feast, Yahweh’s Spirit was given to help them obey and to take the message of salvation to the world.
What does it mean for us today?
Time to Get Active
Pentecost is a time for action. To let that Spirit in those who were immersed bear fruit by teaching others of the truth of salvation that they have never heard.
When they left that Feast the disciples began to work. The rest of Acts is a testimony to the growth of the Assembly made possible by the Spirit.
Should we not do the same? To be a part of making things happen for the sake of Almighty Yahweh? To tell friends and relatives and anyone interested in the truth about Yahweh’s salvation plan?
Pentecost is the one biblical Feast day that churchianity has not been able to deny or ignore. There are at least two reasons for this: at the center of the Feast of Firstfruits or Pentecost is the Holy Spirit sent by Yahweh on this day to those desiring to follow the Truth. Yahweh’s Spirit is an essential aspect of a True Worshiper’s life and his or her salvation.
The other reason is that church-ianity teaches that it was on this Feast day when the “New Testament church” was born in Acts 2. In doing so they acknowledge this key Feast day.
Does Yahweh allow us to decide which Feast days we choose to keep and which to ignore? If we accept one, then scripturally we must accept them all. All of Yahweh’s Holy Days come as a package to be observed, with the admonition that these are the Feasts of Yahweh (not just Feasts of Jews), Leviticus 23:4.
To argue that these special days are “Mosaic Law” and therefore are abolished is to be ignorant of the many statements in Scripture telling us that these are Yahweh’s observances, not Moses’ observances. Each has aspects of salvation tied to them.
John wrote, “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the Word which you have heard from the beginning,” 1John 2:7.
The only Word they had at the time was the Old Testament. Verse 24 continues, “Let that therefore abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning. If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, you also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.”
Yahshua kept every one of the Feast days. He said He had kept all His Father’s commandments and we are to follow Him, John 15:10. He did so perfectly, without fail, 1Peter 2:21-22.
The command for the Feast of Weeks is found in Deuteronomy 16:9-11: “Seven weeks shall you number unto you: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as you begin to put the sickle to the corn. And you shall keep the feast of weeks unto Yahweh your Elohim with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give unto Yahweh your Elohim, according as Yahweh your Elohim has blessed you: And you shall rejoice before Yahweh your Elohim, you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levite that is within your gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which Yahweh your Elohim has chosen to place His name there.”
This Feast is marked by offerings and rejoicing. It was at the time of the Feast of Firstfruits that Israel received the law at Sinai, which can be determined by synchronizing the timing of their journey in the wilderness with the timing of the Feast.
The biblical Feasts are a type of the spiritual trek we make as we come out of the world and follow the ways of Yahweh. Seeking Truth is also a wilderness adventure at times as we travel a path not well-traveled by this world.
After the 120 received the power of the Spirit, they began to teach the truth boldly and powerfully. Peter gave such a stirring message that 3,000 people sought and received baptism into the Name of Yahshua.
In their ministries Peter and John spoke with uncommon power and boldness, Acts 4:13. Miracles began happening, and these apostles had powers they never had before in their various ministries.
The Feast of Firstfruits shows us that Yahweh’s laws exist beyond physical limitations. Now the spiritual intent of obedience is emphasized. The real purpose for obedience becomes clear and a righteous attitude is made manifest.
Hebrews 8:10 says that Yahweh’s laws would be put into our minds and written on our hearts. Some may claim that this means we obey only spiritually and don’t actually do anything, like observing the Sabbath or Feasts. However, in biblical terms writing something on a heart means to obey even more closely, as heartfelt.
Let’s read Ezekiel 11:19-20: “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their Elohim.” We “take to heart” Yahweh’s laws when those laws are in our hearts.
The Feast of Weeks was the kickstart for the intense spread of New Testament teachings and Truth around the world, beginning an evangelism that continues today.
Pentecost is a Greek term for the Feast of Weeks or Firstfruits. It means fiftieth. But fiftieth from what?
The starting point for counting to Pentecost comes within the Days of Unleavened Bread following the Passover. We begin with a key passage, Leviticus 23:11. “And he shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.” The context of this wave sheaf day is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, vv. 6-8.
Now notice a few verses later, 15-16: “And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall
ye number fifty days; and ye khall offer a new meat offering unto Yahweh.”
The count toward Pentecost is from the “morrow after the Sabbath” which falls within the days of Unleavened Bread, on the day of the wave sheaf offering. This count begins with what is called Sunday, the day after the weekly Saturday Sabbath.
The Hebrew for Sabbath here is Strong’s No. 7676, shabbath,
“intensive from shabath (7673); intermission, i.e. (spec.) the Sabbath.” Clearly we are talking about the weekly Sabbath, not a high day Sabbath.
Verses 15 and 16 mention the weekly Sabbath (No. 7676) three times. Thus, we can see that our count begins on the day after the Sabbath, which is the first day of the week, and we are to count until we reach 49 days. This is the weekly Sabbath when the week is out, and the next day is Sunday, the proper day for Pentecost.
In contrast, the “Sabbath” of verse 24 is shabbathown, a different word that refers to a high day, in this case it’s the Feast of Trumpets, not the weekly Sabbath. As we move to verse 39 we again find the Hebrew shabbathown, which refers to the High Sabbaths of the Feast of Tabemacles. According to Sfrong’s No. 7677, this means a “sabbatism or special holiday.”
Pentecost is observed on the morrow “after your weeks be out,” Numbers 28:26. The Feast of Weeks is counted “from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete: even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall you number fifty days,” Leviticus 23:15-16 (see also Deut. 16:9).
What all this means is that the morrow after the Sabbath cannot be the day after Abib 15, the first day of Unleavened Bread; it cannot be the 16th. The 15th is Strong’s No. 7677, which is shabbathown. Nor could it be the twenty-first day of Abib, which is also shabbathown, No. 7677.
The day to begin our count toward Pentecost has to be Sunday, the day after Saturday, the weekly Sabbath (No. 7676). This makes Sunday as day one with the count 50 days later ending on a Sunday, the proper day for Pentecost.
Had Yahweh wanted us to begin our count with Abib 16 He surely would have instructed that. Or He could have said to observe the Feast of Weeks on Sivan 6, the sixth day of the third month, as presently kept by the Jews. In that case no counting would even be needed. They allow it to float through the week instead of observing it “on the morrow after the Sabbath,” which is Sunday. It is also the time when “the weeks are out.”
Again, Leviticus 23:15 clearly says, “And you shall count from the morrow (Heb. mochorath, next day) after the Sabbath (No. 7676, weekly Sabbath) from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete.” Other translations read, “…seven weeks; they shall be complete.”
The Tanakh (Jewish Publication Society) reads “seven weeks: They must be complete: You must count until the day after the seventh week—fifty days.” If we begin the count with the weekly Sabbath, we will not have complete weeks and the morrow after the seventh Sabbath will be 51 days.
Another key point is that the day to begin the count must fall within the Feast because it is also the day the wave sheaf was presented to Yahweh, as we read in verse 15. Whether it was a sheaf at Unleavened Bread or two bread loaves at Pentecost, both were waved before Yahweh on their respective Feast, not before or afterward, Leviticus 23:20-21. The focus in verse 15 is on the day after the weekly Sabbath, and not the Sabbath. That day after (Sunday) must fall within the Feast.
It is imperative that we follow the Bible’s plain statements and not seek out writers and authorities who repeat the traditions and customs of those like the Pharisees. It is up to us to follow the Bible as closely as we can.
The word Feast in Hebrew is moed, meaning an appointed time or season. We’ll concentrate on the last three of the annually appointed Feasts because they make up the remaining Feasts of the seventh scriptural month.
Feast of Trumpets
The Feast of Trumpets, which comes first in the seventh month, is the only Feast that begins on a new moon. The Jews refer to it as Rosh Hashana, meaning first of the year. Actually, it marks their civil new year but not the new year of Scripture, which comes in the springtime (month of Abib, Ex. 12:2).
Another term they use for Trumpets is Yom ha-Din, meaning the Day of Judgment. This is more fitting, as it signifies what this day denotes.
The Feast of Trumpets is described as a special time of remembrance, a memorial: “Speak unto 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” (Lev. 23:24).
Prophecy tells us that Yahshua the Messiah will return “at the last trump,” 1Corinthians 15:52. The trumpet will sound and the dead will rise first, 1Thessalonians 4:16. This Feast, which was celebrated by the blowing of trumpets, links beautifully with the return of Yahshua. His potential arrival on the Feast of Trumpets harmonizes with the design of this important day.
Ten days later is the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur (day of covering) in Hebrew. The days coming between Trumpets and Atonement are a solemn time of self-examination when Yahweh’s people reflect on their past, personal mistakes and the hurt they may have inflicted on others.
Asking beforehand for Yahweh’s forgiveness – resolving to make amends for their backsliding and to improve their behavior – His people are now ready for the Day of Atonement.
This “day of covering” finds significance in the lid placed over the ark in the Tabernacle. The Hebrew is Yom Kippur, which is from the same root as the Hebrew word that gives us “mercy seat.”
Placed in the ark were the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod, and a gold pot that had contained manna. The lid or propitiatory “cover” on the ark is called the mercy seat or kapporeth in Hebrew. Yahweh dwelled there. Just as blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat (Lev. 16:14), Yahshua’s blood will cover the sin we commit against His laws — if we confess and repent.
Paul wrote of Yahshua, “Whom Yahweh has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of Elohim” (Rom. 3:25).
The mercy seat was of pure gold, not overlaid, because the work of propitiation (reconciliation) for our sins is done by Yahshua. It is pure and not mixed with human effort.
On the Day of Atonement Yahweh’s people fast for 24 hours, from sunset to sunset. During this time they worship together and study His Word. Yahweh’s instructions for this unique day are found in Leviticus 23:27: “Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh” (Lev. 23:27).
“Afflict your souls” means to humble ourselves through fasting (see Ps. 35:13; Ezra 8:21). We neither eat nor drink during this time (see Ex. 34:28; Esther 4:16; Acts 9:9).
On this tenth day of the seventh month we become reconciled to Yahweh. When we fast we draw close to Him and He turns His ear to us and purifies us from all our errors. Our High Priest Yahshua makes the atonement for us through His shed blood: “And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourns among you: For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before Yahweh” (Lev. 16:29-30).
His redemption is available, but we must first come to Him on His terms. We must be willing to humble ourselves through the fast.
So in the prophetic sequence, the trumpet sounds and Yahshua appears (Feast of Trumpets). We are changed from bodies corrupted by sin to new spirit beings through the work of Yahshua (Day of Atonement). The next prophetic phase is to enter the Millennial Kingdom, which is foreshadowed by the Feast of Tabernacles.
Feast of Tabernacles, Earthly Kingdom
Through a variety of means, one can show that our Savior was born in the fall of the year, with evidence pointing to the Feast of Tabernacles. What this means prophetically is that the King came to earth to teach of His future government to be established on earth.
That teaching is fulfilled by the Feast of Tabernacles observance — the symbolic Kingdom on earth.
The annual Feasts are keyed to harvest seasons. The Feast of Unleavened Bread brings the wave-sheaf as the “first of the firstfruits” of the barley harvest (signifying Yahshua). This is followed by Pentecost or Feast of Firstfruits, which commemorates the firstfruits of the wheat harvest portraying His Elect.
Distinguished from these two is the final Feast, Tabernacles, which is called the Feast of Ingathering. It signifies the general “gathering in” of the harvest of souls who will listen to and obey Yahweh during the Millennium. Those who never had an opportunity to learn the truth will ultimately be given that chance during the White Throne Judgment. Notice Yahweh’s instructions to Israel, which sum up what we have discovered, beginning with the Feast of Unleavened Bread: “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: And the feast of harvest [Pentecost], the firstfruits of your labours, which you have sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering [Tabernacles], which is in the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labors out of the field” (Ex. 23:15-16).
Is it any wonder that the Feasts, particularly Tabernacles, will still be kept in the Millennium? Because Tabernacles is a vision of the general
harvest, and because others will be given an opportunity in the Millennium to learn the truth so they, too, will be part of the great harvest of souls, and because “laboring” to reach and teach people continues through the Millennium, then Tabernacles,depicting a final harvesting of souls, fits in perfectly with this 1,000-year reign.
Significantly, the Feast of Taber-nacles with the Last Great Day, completes the Feast days marked with the same practice that characterized the first Feast. As Israel lived in succoth or booths — temporary dwellings as they left Egypt — we live in temporary dwellings at Tabernacles to show the momentary nature of the present world. Both the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Feast of Tabernacles are seven-day observances beginning and ending with a high day Sabbath.
Israel’s exodus during the Feast of Unleavened Bread meant a temporary home in the wilderness. We practice the same at Tabernacles, and will again witness this annual, fu-ture exodus in the coming Millennium as people worldwide leave their homes for a brief stay at the Great City of Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles.
The parallels go even deeper. In both Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles the obedient find redemption through worshiping Yahweh and by obeying the King, Yahshua the Messiah. Unleavened Bread is the beginning of the journey out of sin, portrayed by Egypt, while Tabernacles symbolizes our ultimate destination: the Millennial Kingdom.
Today is “law school” for the future judges of the Kingdom, who will see Deuteronomic law administered in the Millennium as well as in the final White Throne Judgment.
Last Great Day
Imagine a celebration in advance of a time when everyone will have their chance to become a citizen in the Kingdom of heaven. Where could one find a more joyful event to honor?
Many are already observing such a day. It comes at the end of the biblical calendar, and is known as the Last Great Day. It immediately follows the Feast of Tabernacles in the scriptural seventh month (autumn).
Man’s holidays all commemorate past events. But Yahweh’s appointed days (Heb. moedim) not only have historic focus, but also foreshadow the future salvation of the people of Yahweh. No empty, nominal celebration can even begin to compare with the significance of Yahweh’s days.
Return to the Country
To understand the Last Great Day is to understand Bible prophecy. All of Yahweh’s Feasts have a prophetic basis. That is one important characteristic that sets them far apart from the days the world observes. Man tries to give his own significance to the days he celebrates, while the Creator Yahweh Himself gives meaning to the appointed times He gives to His people.
The Feast of Tabernacles is a joyous, seven-day observance that pictures the millennial reign of Yahshua, who will govern with His saints on the earth (Rev. 5:10). Notice: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Yahshua, and for the word of Yahweh, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Messiah a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4).
The earth will return to an agrarian economy in a rural setting as people are scattered and cities are left desolate by the judgment of Yahshua, the returning King. The prophet speaks of this: “Behold, Yahweh makes the earth empty, and makes it waste, and turns it upside down, and scatters abroad the inhabitants thereof” (Isa. 24:1).
The cities and their dwellings will be uninhabitable: “The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in” (Isa. 24:10).
As Israel left the cities of Egypt, so will those remaining on earth in the Millennium leave the cities to dwell in the countryside, just as Yahweh’s faithful do at the Feast of Tabernacles. In fact, during the Millennium He says He will cause the people to dwell in tabernacles (ohalim, tents) “as in the days of the solemn feast,” Hosea 12:9.
In the Millennium they will come up to Jerusalem to learn Yahweh’s laws and way of true happiness.
“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of Yahweh shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, and to the house of the Elohim 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 Yahweh from Jerusalem. 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 pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of Yahweh of hosts hath spoken it.” (Micah 4:l-4).
At last the world will learn the ways of peace and security. The rat-race of today’s culture will be replaced by the serenity that comes with a return to the land as it was in Eden. Yahweh’s laws will be enforced worldwide, and wars will end.
After the Millennium, What Then?
But what happens when this thousand-year reign of Yahshua and His saints is completed? To understand, we must go to the final Feast, the Last Great Day.
In John 7:37-38, after observing the Feast of Tabernacles, Yahshua made this statement on the Last Great Day: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
This conclusive Last Great Day pictures the final judgment of man on earth, the Great White Throne judgment. It is the final opportunity for those who lived in ignorance of Yahweh’s Name, Sabbaths, Feasts, and laws during the preceding 6,000 years to accept the ways of Yahweh before He completely cleanses and renews this earth and establishes His throne at New Jerusalem.
Having missed the first resurrection, the rest of the dead will come alive again for the Great White Throne judgment. If they are found guilty of unrepented sin and of having rejected the truth of their Savior, they will be destroyed in the lake of fire. If they never knew the truth, this is school time.
The prophet Isaiah tells us that those in the Millennium will be allowed a 100-year lifespan to learn of Yahweh and the laws He expects all to follow: “There shall be no more thence an in-fant of days, nor an old man that has not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed” (Isa. 65:20).
Conceivably, the same opportunity will be given to those in the second resurrection under the White Throne Judgment. We note in Revelation 20:13 that those in the second resurrection are judged “by their works.” They must be given time to prove themselves.
Hundreds of millions will be resurrected to learn Yahweh’s truth for the first time. True understanding was purposely withheld from them in this life (Matt. 13:11). Only a select few “firstfruits” have been allowed to understand Yahweh’s plan of salvation, and, if they accept Yahweh’s covenant terms and follow them now, will be in that preferred first resurrection to rulership.
Daniel explains more about this Great White Throne Judgment: “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened” (Dan. 7:9-10).
These “books” are mentioned in Revelation 20:12 as well, also speaking of this White Throne Judgment: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before Elohim; 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.”
These previously unsaved people who had never been given the opportunity to learn the true Good News and to keep the renewed Covenant originally made with Israel, will now have their chance. They will be taught and judged by Yahshua, helped by the saints who came up in the first resurrection.
But by what standard will their “works” be judged? It won’t be by pleasant feelings, by nice thoughts they had, or by an occasional kind deed. Both Daniel and Revelation say they will be judged out of what is written in the “books.” One of the books is identified as the Book of Life. The rest can be nothing other than the books of the Bible — and the books of the law therein (“books” is biblos in Greek, from which we get the word Bible, Strong’s No. 976).
This is the same standard of judgment by which Israel of old was judged. Notice that they are judged “according to their works” in conjunction with the standard of the law found in Yahweh’s Word: “For the word of Elohim is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
Saints Are Judged Even Now
The criteria are the same today. “That you might walk worthy of Yahweh unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of Yahweh” (Col. 1:10). Also, “For not the hearers of the law are just before Elohim, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Rom. 2:13).
John wrote, “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you have heard from the beginning” (1John 2:7).
The law of Scripture, especially the Book of Deuteronomy, was the constitution of the ancient Israelites. Notice: “And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, When all Israel is come to appear before Yahweh your Elohim in the place which he shall choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing” (Deut. 31:10-11).
The year of release and the Feast of Tabernacles picture the Kingdom coming to earth. All the earth will comply with Yahweh’s laws — or else! “And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shines in his strength” (Rev. 1:16).
“And many people shall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of Elohim 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 Yahweh from Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:3).
His laws will be the constitution in the coming Kingdom. How fantastic to know that we can learn about His laws and obey them right now, for salvation’s sake.
Refreshing autumn breezes bring cool, crisp days and the invigorating promise of another memorable Feast of Tabernacles.
Millions of families from around the world are packing belongings for an eight-day stay in the Golden City where Yahshua the Messiah now reigns.
Huge crowds are coursing along roadways, singing songs of praise while anticipating the coming days of joy! The atmosphere is much like euphoric Israel leaving Egypt to keep the Feast to Yahweh (Ex. 5:1).
The old days, with their obedient Feastgoers numbering only in the thousands, were nothing like this. Who keeping the Feasts back in 2022 could have comprehended this worldwide phenomenon? Virtually everyone across the planet is traveling to keep the Feasts at the same time!
A World in Compliance
The year is Millennium 0001, the first year of the new Kingdom come to earth. In this seventh month people from around the world are fulfilling what the prophets of old foretold.
The scene is the same everywhere – one dwelling after another is abandoned for eight days. Miraculously for the travelers, the usual problems and hindrances disappear as soon as they crop up. Unseen guides help them along to the Great City to worship the King, Yahweh of Hosts. These righteous rulers and aides are True Worshipers who were obedient to Yahweh in the days before Yahshua returned, and were taken up in the first resurrection when Yahshua came to earth.
Finally, after centuries of ignorance, stubborn resistance, worn-out excuses, foot-dragging, and indecision, obedient people everywhere are traveling to the place where Yahweh commands all to attend the great Feast of Tabernacles, Zechariah 14:16-19.
At long last, an entire world is blessed of Yahweh for complete sub-mission to His laws and commands. After millennia of human suffering and misery, universal joy and peace reign under the righteous law of the Creator of the universe.
If you think this is just a fantasy from the fertile imagination of some movie script writer, think again.What you have just read is as real as tomorrow – and nearly as close.
This is the Millennial Kingdom of Yahweh come to earth. Thousands of years of human misrule are over. Finally, the earth is being cleansed of the rebellion and sin that began in the Garden of Eden and continued through 6,000 years of misery and pain.
Enforced Utopia Coming
No longer will human governments be allowed to fail to bring peace. Man will have no more opportunity to ruin his life, the lives of others, and the world around him through defiance of His Creator and His Scriptures. Yahweh has at last taken full control, and everyone WILL obey Him!
Now in the thousand-year reign, those resurrected will assist Yahshua the Messiah in governing the nations of the earth. They teach the laws and statutes of Yahweh, just as they themselves learned to keep them back in 2022. This was foretold and promised by the Savior Yahshua in Revelation 2:26-27: “And he that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the ves-sels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.”
Feast Prophecies Fulfilled
This scene from the seventh month in Yahweh’s Millennial Kingdom is the dramatic fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy. Biblical laws, including the Feasts, will be enforced everywhere by the greatest Power in the universe – Yahweh Himself. Read what the prophet Zechariah foretold: “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, Yahweh of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zech. 14:16).
The prophet Isaiah makes it clear that immediately after the return of Yahshua, once He subdues the earth and establishes His Kingdom, that people will start keeping the Feasts at His Holy Mountain known as Jerusalem. Notice, it is right after Yahshua subdues mankind by the blade of His righteous sword: “For by fire and by his sword will Yahweh plead with all flesh: and the slain of Yahweh shall be many,” Isaiah 66:16. Further down in the passage we read, “For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory” (v. 18).
And where will they go? We continue:
“And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto Yahweh out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says Yahweh, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of Yahweh” (v. 20).
“And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, says Yahweh. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh” (Isa. 66:23-24).
Gainsayers in Future Shock
All the scoffers, including those who today strenuously resist the keeping of those “Jewish” Feasts, are going to be thunderstruck – and humbled – to find themselves preparing to go to Jerusalem to keep the Feasts in the Kingdom of Almighty Yahweh.
They will humbly admit that Yahweh’s people were right when they kept His appointed days back in 2022. Many will be ashamed of themselves for once ridiculing the ways of Yahweh. Many more will wish they had taken the teaching of the Feasts seriously in 2022, back when keeping the Feasts and other laws was a free choice that relatively few took to heart. Had they done so they would not be missing out on many blessings.
The prophet had warned, “Then shall you remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations” (Ezek. 36:31).
And what about those who stubbornly refuse to obey in this Millennial rule of Yahshua? The prophet Zechariah says: “And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, Yahweh of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain” (Zech. 14:17). Plague! One will either keep the Feasts of Leviticus 23 or will suffer the vengeance of Yahweh. Those who stubbornly resist will also feel the sting of the rod of iron administered by those who rule with Yahshua, as we have seen.
In keeping the Feasts, which revolve around the harvest seasons, one rejoices in the abundance of Yahweh’s blessings. Anyone refusing to do so in the Millennial reign will suffer just the opposite – starvation resulting from drought.
The complete planet will be in harmony with Yahweh once more. All of nature will return to its Edenic harmony and beauty, and all humanity will submit to their Creator, which hasn’t been seen since Adam and Eve before their rebellion. It will be His way or no way. No excuses. No questioning. No compromising. No promises of “some other time” or “maybe next year.”
Yahweh will accept nothing short of complete obedience from everyone. One will either submit or suffer the wrath of the all-powerful Mighty One of the universe!
What would you do in that day? Resist…or humbly comply?
The important question is, what are you doing NOW, knowing that Yahweh’s Feasts will soon be required of everyone around the world and He demands that we keep them? Do you want to be in that Kingdom reign, or suffer from no rain as you are forced to learn Yahweh’s ways at that time?
‘But I’m Not Jewish’
Those who misconstrue the Bible’s clear command to keep the seven annual Feast days, as well as the weekly Sabbath, counter Yahweh’s mandate with the rationale, “I’m not a Jew. Those observances are for Jews.”
First, realize that the Feast days were given to Moses on Mount Sinai to pass on to Israel (see the Book of Leviticus, along with the last verse, which reveals that Moses was given all the law, not just the Ten Commandments). Israel was composed of 12 tribes, only one of which was Judah, known as the Jews. The 11 other tribes were not Jews, but Hebrews who were collectively known as Israel.
All 12 tribes stood at the base of Mt. Sinai. Yahweh’s laws, therefore, were given to more than the Jews. They applied to the entire nation called Israel.
Scripture makes it clear that we are to become spiritual Israelites. That means we do what Israel did and live by the same laws Israel did. Paul wrote, “Who are Israelites; to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of Yahweh, and the promises” (Rom. 9:4).
Why? Because the original covenant was made with Israel. Most fail to understand that Yahweh is still working with and through Israel. The covenant promises were not made for anyone else but Israel. Others have a part in the promises only by special adoption.
Yahshua’s disciples clearly under-stood this fact. Just before His ascension they approached Him and asked, “Master, will you at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)
They did not comprehend His time-table, but they did understand that He was working with those known as Israel. Others who want a part in the salvation promise must become spiritual Israelites (Rom. 9 and 11) and abide by the same covenant agreement Israel made with Yahweh. That agreement included obedience to all of Yahweh’s laws given at Sinai, including the Ten Commandments and Feast days. Yahshua never changed that fact when He came to earth. He simply opened the way for those outside of Israel to come into the promise by taking hold of the same covenant. Now it’s a renewed covenant commonly known as the “New Testament.”
His Feasts, Not Ours to Choose
Another reason that the argument, “They’re Jewish Feasts” falls flat is found in many passages, including Leviticus 23:2:
“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of Yahweh, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.” This verse in the law tells us exactly whose Feasts they really are: the Feasts of Almighty Yahweh!
Prior to listing each of the seven annual Appointments, Yahweh provides this important introduction, “These are the feasts of Yahweh, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons” (Lev. 23:4). Again, we see that they are “Yahweh’s” Feasts.
If these Feasts are just for Jews to keep, then in the Millennial Kingdom only Jews would be required to observe them. But we have seen that the whole world will be keeping them at their appointed times. Those who rebel at that time will suffer for their obstinacy, as we have also seen.
After Moses finished cataloging the Feasts in Leviticus 23, we find this: “And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of Yahweh” (v. 44).
Notice that Moses spoke to all of Israel, not just to the Jews, and he declared to them the “Feasts of Yahweh,” not the “Feasts of the Jews.”
Only later in the New Testament did they begin to be referred to as feasts of the Jews because the Jews were the one Israelite tribe still keeping them. The rest of the Israelites were negligent, being scattered through-out other nations, as we find in James 1:1; 1Peter 1:1, and John 7:35.
To keep the Feasts or not to keep them. That is the choice set before each of us now. Today it’s our call. In tomorrow’s Kingdom it will forever be Yahweh’s.
Christmas is not the only popular observance falling in December. The Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah, is an eight-day nationalistic observance of the Jews that begins on the 25th of Kislev (December). It celebrates the rededication of Solomon’s temple that had been desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria, in 165 BCE. Tradition says the observance was instituted by Judah Maccabee and his followers.
Hanukkah and its main features are found in the apocryphal books of first and second Maccabees. The eight days were celebrated with gladness like the Feast of Tabernacles. It is even referred to as Tabernacles (2Maccabees 1:9) or Tabernacles and Fire (1:18) (Encyclopaedia Judaica, Hanukkah. p. 1283).
The Judaica surmises that Tabernacles was not celebrated at the proper time because the Temple had not been cleansed, and therefore “a second Tabernacles (analogous to the Second Passover) was held.”
Unlike Yahweh’s appointed Feast days, Hanukkah with its Christmas-like customs was a work in progress. Its rites evolved over time. The 25th date corresponds to the third anniversary of the proclamation of the edict of Antiochus to offer idolatrous sacrifices on the Temple altar. The date and month trace to the ancient day of sun worship at the winter solstice, and to the related feasts of the Greek god Dionysius.
Historical sources differ in the details of Hanukkah. Various traditions (baraita) in the Jewish oral law, which were not incorporated in the Mishnah, provide differing legends. The most prominent tradition details the rededication of the Temple when a single cruse of oil, enough to light the Temple candelabrum for a day, miraculously provided light for eight days – thus making Hanukkah an eight-day celebration called “Lights.” The historian and priest Josephus, who made no mention of Hanukkah, paired the name Lights with the fire that descended from heaven to the altar not only in the time of Moses, Nehemiah, and Solomon’s Temple, but also in the days of Judah Maccabee (1:18-36: 2:8-12, 14) (Judaica, p. 1283).
As with most extrabiblical observances, the Talmudic tradition of Hanukkah comes with a checkered past. The Judaica notes, “Certain critics conjectured that the origin of Hanukkah was either a festival of the Hellenized Jews or even an idolatrous festival that had occurred on the 25th of Kislev. Antiochus had, therefore, chosen the day to commence the idolatrous worship in the Temple” (ibid).
The parallels with the Christmas celebration are obvious. The Hanukkah bush smacks of the Christmas tree, the greeting cards, gift exchanging, bulbs and lights strung at this time also are clearly a replication of Christmas customs.
Some contend that Yahshua was keeping Hanukkah in John 10:22. The passage says it was during the feast of the dedication when Yahshua is seen walking on Solomon’s porch at the Temple. It does not say He went into the Temple and was sitting in on a Hanukkah service. He typically went wherever crowds gathered. He discussed Scripture with some Jews there who then wanted to stone Him.
Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of a temple that no longer exists. Being that Hanukkah is a man-made tradition with problematic customs and no biblical affirmation, should we not instead focus energy on Feasts that are repeatedly commanded by Yahweh, kept by Yahshua and the apostles, and will be part of the constitutional law governing the Kingdom coming to earth? Man’s traditions don’t set the course for the True Worshiper. Yahweh’s commands do.
Yahweh’s seven annual Feasts are part of the covenant He makes with believers today. These are the observances that have biblical authority. The true worshiper must make them a part of his life now.
Sabbaticals and Jubilees Part 2
In order to have a proper understanding of a particular doctrine, it is many times necessary to look at most if not all of the Scriptures that apply to the subject. Yahweh’s Word does not contradict itself. Therefore, the answer to the question, “When does the Sabbatical begin and end?” should be clear to us if we allow the Scriptures to speak for themselves.
The story of Joseph in Egypt and his interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream in Genesis 41 alludes to the Sabbatical cycle of seven. However, the first mention of the Sabbatical commandment is found in Exodus 23:10. “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove” (All Scriptures are from the NKJV).
Regarding the observance of the Sabbatical cycle and specifically the Sabbatical year, verse 10 shows that the first commanded action to be taken is to sow the land. The second commanded action was to gather in the land’s produce. The only information we are given about the Sabbatical cycle is that it begins with sowing and ends with gathering in the produce.
The climate of the Holy Land is such that there are only two seasons, wet and dry. The wet season begins in the Fall and ends in the Spring. The dry season begins in the Spring and lasts until the Fall. The expression “former and latter rains” refers to the first rain in the Fall which must take place before the barley, wheat and other crops could be planted, and the latter rain refers to the last rain in the Spring.
“Be glad then, you children of Zion, And rejoice in Yahweh your Elohim; For He has given you the former rain faithfully,
And He will cause the rain to come down for you – the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month” (Joel 2:23).
Because there are only two seasons, the Holy Land’s agricultural seasons are different from what we are used to in the U.S. For instance, in the Spring following the wheat harvest there are no crops planted. This is because it is the dry season; there is not enough moisture to sustain any kind of crop. For the most part, the only things that are grown are garden vegetables and herbs. These are watered by hand.
During the dry season a farmer would spend most of his time with his flocks and herds and harvesting any early fruit crops. He would patiently wait until the Fall of the year for the major harvesting of the olives and grapes. That process would begin after Feast of Tabernacles and would last until sometime before the rainy season began. The grapes were either dried to preserve them or they were sent to the winepress and turned into grape juice and wine. The olives were either preserved in salt water or they were sent to the olive press and turned into olive oil.
Prophetically speaking, the gathering of the clusters of grapes (i.e. people at the end of the age) and then casting them into the great winepress of the wrath of Yahweh, takes place at the end of the age of man after the seventh angel sounds his trumpet.
Figuratively, the following passages show that the Sabbatical ends in the Fall, and that that is the time when Yahshua returns and the time when Yahweh’s final judgment takes place. “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Sovereign and His Messiah and He shall reign forever and ever!’” (Revelation 11:15)
“Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’ So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of Yahweh. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.” (Revelation 14:14-20)
These events will not take place in the Spring, but rather in the Fall. Therefore, the cycles of seven and the Sabbatical year would begin and end in the Fall and not the Spring.
This is contrary to the Sacred year, which begins in the spring. “Now Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, ‘This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 12:1-2).
If the Sabbatical year coincided with the Sacred year, the Israelites would not have sown seed in the Fall. Why would they sow seed that would bring forth crops that could not be harvested? By beginning the Sabbatical in Abib you would have to add the six months prior because you could not sow crops. There would be no point in sowing in the Fall, and then because the crops in the fields were obviously not volunteer (that which grows up of itself) you could not harvest any of the crops.
There would be no point in sowing in the Fall if you begin the Sabbatical in the Spring. Beginning the Sabbatical with Abib would add six months extra to the Sabbatical year. The Sabbatical must begin with not sowing and then not gathering produce (crops planted). The only way that this is possible is if the Sabbatical begins in the Fall and not the Spring.
The aspect of first sowing and then gathering is the basis for the Sabbatical cycles. This is clearly seen in Leviticus 25:2-5. “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to Yahweh. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to Yahweh. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land.’”
The Sabbatical year, like the weekly Sabbath, is the culmination of cycles of seven. In the case of the weekly Sabbath, we are dealing with days that begin at sundown. Preparations to keep the Sabbath begin on Sunday and end on Friday. Preparations to keep the Sabbatical begin the first year of the cycle, and end in the sixth year. That cycle begins with sowing, and ends with gathering or reaping the harvest.
The Second Coming of Yahshua.
One of the most important reasons for beginning the Sabbatical in the Fall and not in the Spring is because the Sabbatical years (and Jubilee years) foreshadow Yahshua’s Second Coming. Each of Yahweh’s Feast days has special prophetic significance, and the Feast of Trumpets is no exception; in fact it is the next feast day to have its prophetic fulfillment. Consider Colossians 2:16-17. “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Messiah.”
Yahshua applied the fulfillment of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years to Himself as the one who will proclaim a release for the captive, liberty to the oppressed and to proclaim the acceptable year of Yahweh.
“So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of Yahweh is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of Yahweh.’ Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’” (Luke 4:16-21).
We know that Yahweh’s Holy Days individually represent fulfillment of important aspects of the plan of salvation.
For instance, Passover depicts deliverance from sin and a blood covering from the Lamb of Yahweh, Yahshua the Messiah. The Feast of Weeks represents the Matan Torah and the gift of the Holy Spirit along with obedience to Yahweh’s Covenant.
Yom Teruah represents the sounding of the last trumpet and the second coming of our Savior. The Day of Atonement points toward the Marriage Supper of the Lamb described in Revelation 19. Feast of Tabernacles is a type of Yahweh’s Kingdom on this earth. And the Last Great Day points toward the time when Yahweh’s throne is established on the earth.
To say that the Sabbatical year begins in the Spring (Abib) does not support the teaching of Yahshua’s second coming. The scriptures are very clear on the fact that Yahshua has fulfilled the first half of a Sabbatical cycle. And it is shown that He was cut off in the middle of that cycle of seven.
“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week. He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate” (Dan. 9:26-27).
The events depicted here will take place near the end of the final Sabbatical and Jubilee cycles, at the close of the age. Yahshua will not return in the middle of a Sabbatical because He has already completed half of a Sabbatical cycle. Instead, He will return at the end when the Last Trumpet sounds. That being said, the Sabbatical cycle must begin in the fall and not in the Spring.
Consider the following passages which relate to the return of Yahshua.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:29-31).
“Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of Yahweh and of His Messiah and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15).
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of Yahweh. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty Yahweh. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND RULER OF RULERS” (Revelation 19:11-16).
Sabbatical Year and Gezer Calendar
One of the oldest known Hebrew documents is the Gezer Calendar (see image below). It was written in the time of David or Solomon (1,000 BCE), some 400 years before the Jews were taken into Babylonian captivity (586 BCE). This ancient document describes the agricultural year for the land of Israel, and it begins that annual cycle in the Fall and not the Spring.
Leviticus 25 explains that the Sabbatical year begins by NOT sowing your field or pruning your vineyard. Consider Leviticus 25:3-12,
“Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to Yahweh. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land. And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land — all its produce shall be for food. ‘And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years. Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family. That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine. For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field.’”
How could the Israelites have been influenced by the Babylonian calendar, as some claim, when that calendar didn’t even exist when this document was in use?
The Gezer Calendar proves that the Sabbatical begins in the Fall.
Leviticus 25 makes it very clear that the Sabbatical follows the seven year cycle which begins and ends in the Fall of each year. It always mentions sowing your field first and then pruning your vineyard. Sowing in the Land of Israel always takes place in the Fall after the Feast of Tabernacles. The pruning of the vineyard takes place at the end of the Sabbatical just prior to the sowing of grain in the Fall.
On the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles the priests would bring up to the temple a golden container of water from the pool of Siloam in a great ceremonial procession. This water will last all seven days of the Feast. On the seventh day this water libation ceremony reached its apex. Temple priests circled the altar seven times and poured out the water on the altar. For seven days the people would cry out for redemption and salvation while shaking palm branches.
This day is traditionally called Hoshana Rabba. According to the Mishnah (Sukkah 4:5), they would gather willow branches and encircle the altar once a day and stand the branches upright at the sides of the altar, sounding the shofar and reciting: “Hoshiah na! Save us, please!”
Rabba in biblical Hebrew means “master” or “great” and hoshana has the meaning of rescue, save, deliver, or savior. The title Rabbi comes from this term רַב Rab. Yahshua prohibits calling a man Rabbi because only Yahshua Messiah is our “master.” “But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Messiah.” Matthew 23:8. Interesting note: the Assyrians (who spoke Aramaic) called their chief military leader the רַבְשָׁקֵה Rab-shaqeh. The title “rab” is well attested in Aramaic, which Yahshua spoke.
Regarding Hoshanna Rabba The Jewish Virtual Library notes: “In Second Temple times this was a source of controversy between the Boethusians and the Pharisees who gave the ceremony biblical authority even though it is nowhere mentioned in the Bible. They considered it to be halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai, i.e., as having been instructed verbally to Moses during his stay on Sinai.” See reference
Although not mentioned by name, this event seems to correlate with the prophetic Messianic Psalm 118:22-26: “I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; Yahweh has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Yahweh has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Yahweh, save us Yahweh. (הוֹשִׁ֘יעָ֥ה נָּ֑א Hoshia na – save now) grant us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahweh. (Prophetic reference to the Messiah who came in Yahweh’s name and is Salvation Yah-shua.) From the house of Yahweh we bless you. Yahweh is our Elohim, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.”
When we analyze the biblical Hebrew an interesting correlation appears. The word “save” in this verse is from the Hebrew root word יָשַׁע yasha, “to deliver,” the same word origin in the name contraction of Joshua or Yahshua (3091), from YHWH and Yasha (See Yasha Strong’s 3091, Biblehub).
So Yahshua is standing at the Temple on the seventh day of Sukkot as the people cry out for salvation for the coming Messiah to deliver them, as they have traditionally done for hundreds of years. In a prophetic and emotional display, with the crowd waving palm branches, the priests circle the altar seven times, and pour out the water on the altar. And then Yahshua cries back in a loud voice so all the crowd could hear Him: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink,” John 7:37.
Continuing in verse 40, “When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” Others said, “He is the Messiah.”
Jews believe this day is also a day of judgment similar to Yom Kippur. An interesting note from the Jewish Virtual Library gives this insight: “The celebration of Hoshana Rabba acquired considerable solemnity and religious-mystic significance. In Jerusalem a large gathering took place on the Mount of Olives which was circled seven times … The piyyut (poem) of Hoshana Rabba which opens with the words, ‘the power [or, the truth] of Thy salvation cometh,’ which deals with the splitting open of The Mount of Olives (Zech.14:4) and the resurrection of the dead, probably has its origin in this ceremony.” See reference
Zechariah prophesies: “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…” “The voice of the herald brings good tidings and proclaims: Your mighty salvation comes! My Beloved is coming! — the voice heralds. He comes with myriads of regiments of angels to stand on the Mount of Olives! — the voice heralds. He approaches to sound the Shofar, beneath Him the mountain shall split, — the voice heralds,” Chabad.org
Could it be that Tabernacles, as a harvest festival, also signifies the general harvest of the Firstfruits spoken of in Revelation and the return of the Messiah? Yahshua was born during Sukkot, he answers the call of salvation during Sukkot, and His people are gathered from the world at this time. “Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder.”
The Talmud mentions that during Hoshana Rabba, poems are recited calling upon Yahweh to not only rescue and redeem but also to send seasonal rains.
Water is an important element during Hoshana Rabba. Zechariah 14:17 warns of no rain for those who will not keep this festival after the return of the Messiah: “If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. Yahweh will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.”
The importance of keeping Sukkot cannot be overstated. It is a pilgrimage festival which means you are not to stay home to keep this Feast but travel where Yahweh places His name. These Messianic prophecies culminate in a general Harvest of Firstfruit believers gathered as a wave sheaf that Yahshua will offer to Yahweh at His return as our High Priest. Just another important reason to keep the Feast!
The Mysterious and Intriguing Sabbaticals and Jubilees, Land Rest and Personal Freedom Part 1
One teaching of the Scriptures has been ignored and neglected today more than any other. Can you guess what it is? You’re probably thinking: It’s Yahweh’s Feast days. It’s the seventh-day Sabbath. It’s got to be the sacred Name.
Believe it or not, there is still a biblical truth that is more overlooked than those. The biblical teaching that has been more abandoned by churchianity than all of these is the sabbaticals. The Sabbatical and Jubilee years are the most disregarded of all Yahweh’s special, appointed times even by Sabbath keepers.
And yet, both biblical history and prophecy hang profoundly on these principal times that Yahweh gave us.
The law of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years is one of the more mysterious and intriguing in Scripture. It is like discovering a key that opens up a door to an exciting treasure room.
Most who observe the Bible’s weekly Sabbath are aware that Yahweh gave His Sabbath observances as a special sign to His people. Annual Sabbaths and extra-annual Sabbaths are very important to our Heavenly Father. Key events occurred at those times as well, likely even the coming return of Yahshua.
The Hebrew root for Sabbath (shabath)—Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance No. 7673—means “cessation” or rest. Yahweh’s Sabbaths are a periodic rest, which allow us to draw closer to Him, Ezekiel 20:12. “Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am Yahweh that sanctify them.”
Sabbaths Are the Sign
Observing His Sabbaths is the obligation of the True Worshiper, a commitment shared with other observers who are sealed in His sacred Name Yahweh by the Holy Spirit. Each weekly Sabbath reminds us that Yahweh set aside the seventh day that we might recall His great creative power as well as the redemption we have through His Son Yahshua.
Fifty-two times a year we take a day away from our weekly activities to join the Body of Messiah to revive and strengthen our faith. It is also when we grow the most spiritually as we commune with Yahweh.
Not only is the seventh day of the week holy and special to our Heavenly Father, but He also gave special Sabbaths every seven years, Leviticus 23. Important events of history and prophecy are tied up in these specially sanctioned years. Yet, the Israelites abandoned the keeping of the sabbatical years and in the process missed out on critical aspects of Yahweh’s prophetic plan.
Deuteronomy 5:15 is the restating of the Fourth Commandment and it gives us additional insights into the broader concept of “Sabbath.” “And you shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and Yahweh your Elohim brought you out thence by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm: therefore Yahweh your Elohim commanded you to keep the sabbath day.”
Why does He bring in the issue of slavery in conjunction with the Sabbath? Because there is a connection to another Sabbath, the 50th year Jubilee, a year of release of slavery and servitude.
Captivity for Disobedience
After wandering in the wilderness 40 years, Israel finally crossed over the Jordan and somewhat conquered the land Yahweh had promised. They had not been thorough in driving out the enemy, however, leaving pockets of heathen culture that proved to be Israel’s downfall when Yahweh allowed them to be conquered by foreign powers, Deuteronomy 7.
The northern ten tribes, often referred to as Ephraim because they were the dominant tribe, were taken captive to the area of present-day northern Iraq by the Assyrians and subsequently moved north and west over the Caucasus Mountains (hence the name “Caucasian”). This occurred in the seventh century BCE.
The southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin were allowed to remain in the land and had the advantage of seeing from a distance the wrath of Yahweh on their 10-tribed Ephraim brethren who were taken captive. Judah was also guilty of ignoring Yahweh’s laws despite the warnings of Elohim’s messengers:
“And Yahweh Elohim of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of Elohim, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of Yahweh arose against his people, till there was no remedy” (2Chron. 36:15-16).
Shrugging off the plight of the northern ten tribes, Judah and Benjamin behaved even worse, according to Jeremiah 3:8. About a hundred years later the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin, along with many of the priests, were taken captive to Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. Only a few farmers and poor folk were left in the land of Israel. This was all because of their refusal to obey Yahweh by rejecting His laws, particularly the land Sabbaths.
“And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: To fulfil the word of Yahweh by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years” (2Chron. 36:20-21).
‘Holy Land’ Takes a Rest
So long as Israel was captive in Babylon, the Promised Land lay idle and desolate to fulfill the neglected 70 Sabbatical cycles, accumulating 490 years. Yahweh’s laws demanded that the land lie idle for a year every seven years. “For thus says Yahweh, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place” (Jer. 29:10).
In addition, every seventh Sabbatical year was followed by the Jubilee year. The word “Jubilee” is derived in the Bible from the Hebrew yob-ale, which means “ram, ram’s horn; jubilee year.” The ram’s horn announced the beginning of the Jubilee year. Whenever a trumpet was used to signal an event, in this case the shofar trumpet, it announced something very significant was about to happen.
Yahshua said He will return with the great sound of a trumpet, Matthew 24:31. Is the trumpet sound announcing the Sabbatical-Jubilee and the return of Yahshua just coincidence?
Notice Leviticus 25:9, “Then shall you cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall you make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.”
Keeping the Sabbatical years of land rest bestowed the designation “Holy Land” to Judea. Israel learned that the Sabbatical-Jubilee was holy both to the land and to Yahweh.
The question for us is, does Yahweh still expect His laws, statutes, and judgments to be observed in our day and age? Does He change His expectations according to the culture or the age, or does the Bible say that He is Yahweh who changes not? Malachi 3:6 confirms that we worship a changeless Mighty One. Obedience has not been reduced, let alone abandoned.
Sabbaticals Are Part of the Covenant
The earliest Bible reference concerning the Sabbatical-Jubilee cycle is found in Exodus 21:2-6, dealing with the release of the slave. Exodus 23:10-12 relates to the land’s rest. Thus, the Sabbatical-Jubilee was part of the Covenant established with Moses in Exodus 24:1-8.
Following the seventh Sabbatical year (or every 49 years) the sounding of the trumpet on the Day of Atonement of the fiftieth year heralded the beginning of the Jubilee.
Atonement itself falls on the tenth day of the month and is a very solemn time, the holiest day of the year. The harvest is in, and early rains soften the earth to allow plowing and seeding for the next crop. But in the Sabbatical year the land is at rest. Both the 49th and 50th years were times of rest for the land.
Most every Israelite would observe at least one Jubilee year in a normal lifespan of 70 years. If a person observed his first Jubilee in his teen years, then he might enjoy another before his normal lifespan ended. It was a special occasion anticipated by the entire, rejoicing nation.
As we will see, the Jubilee has prophetic implications in Yahweh’s dealings with mankind. We are given insight into the grand finale of Yahweh’s redemption of the earth as He establishes the Kingdom under the Messiah.
The Link to Yahshua’s Return
The Sabbatical cycle in certain instances influenced Israel’s daily living. The right of an heiress to marry was restricted so that the law of the Jubilee could be preserved, Numbers 36:4-7. Naboth refused to sell his vineyard so that it would remain an inheritance for his family, 1Kings 21:14.
The Jubilee will be kept in the Millennium as shown by Ezekiel 46:17, where the king is reminded that any property given to a servant reverts to the original owner (the king) at the time of the Jubilee.
Yahshua as our King will take control once again of this earth as its original owner. Yahshua’s return on a Jubilee would be consistent with the purposes of the Jubilee and Millennium.
Other references to the Jubilee are found in Nehemiah 5:1-19; Isaiah 5:7-10; 37:30, and 61:1-2.
The Sabbatical year, we learn from Leviticus 25:4, occurs every seventh year— a Sabbath of rest both of the land and to Yahweh. The fields are not to be sown nor the vines pruned. No crops are to be planted; the vineyards must not be harvested. The produce of the land and vineyard could be eaten, but not stored or preserved. All debts among Israelites were canceled.
After seven of these Sabbatical years (or 49 years), the next year, the fiftieth, is the Jubilee. The following points differentiate the Sabbath year from the Jubilee, which occur back-to-back every 49 and 50 years. The Jubilee year is an intensification of the Sabbatical year.
• Land and vineyards rest, no planting or harvesting
• All voluntary foods can be eaten, but not stored
• Servants receive freedom and debts are canceled
• Land and vineyards rest
• Land reverts to the original owner (as in Yahshua’s return to reclaim earth)
• All Israelite slaves freed. Debts forgiven
The fiftieth year is eagerly anticipated as a time of joy and merriment. Landowners had to give up the lands they had once cultivated, which reverted to the original owner(s). This kept the lands under original ownership.
Idyllic simplicity returned to soften the distinction of rank.
Debts were forgiven, and those having lost their property through accident or poor management were rejuvenated as opportunities brought by the restoration awaited them.
Slaves were redeemed and freed. The Sabbatical-Jubilee years might be called the great “leveler” of Israelite society. Through them everyone was equal before Yahweh as neither the rich nor the poor cultivated his field.
But What About Today?
Living under industrialization and a far more complicated financial system, the laws of Yahweh became lightly esteemed by modern society. Today’s fiscal demands of industry, manufacturing, commerce, and banking are not appeased by fallowed farmland.
Canceling of a borrower’s debts is unheard of. How can the entrepreneur grow and expand if he is required to return legally purchased property every fiftieth year?
These are but a few questions asked today. The farmer has more freedom to apply Yahweh’s laws to his life than most who work for a regular wage. However, the increasingly heavy burdens laid upon him by lenders, plus the pressures inherent in today’s economies, challenge the farmer’s very survival and are detrimental to his obedience to the laws of Yahweh.
The Jubilee is known as the year of liberty. Leviticus 25:12 explains that it is a holy year to Israel. It was because of the Jubilees that the Promised Land came to be known as the Holy Land. However, there is some question whether Israel faithfully kept both the Sabbatical and Jubilee years.
Atonement and the Sabbatical
On the tenth day of the seventh month Israel celebrated the Day of Atonement. The Jubilee was a year-long sabbatical that came after 49 years. The Jubilee began on the Day of Atonement, Leviticus 25:9-10. The count toward the next sabbatical also begins on the Jubilee. Just as the weekly seventh day ends at sunset and the first day begins immediately that same sunset, the first Sabbatical ends when the Jubilee’s fiftieth year starts on Atonement, in the seventh month, Deuteronomy 31:10.
The very land was holy to Yahweh and was referred to as the Holy Land. During that year the Book of Deuteronomy was read to the people. The Sabbatical year marked the canceling of all indebtedness. This emphasized the righteousness that was required by Yahweh. On this day the sins of the nation were confessed, which is the first requisite to establish righteousness.
Confession is an opening of the heart, which leads to forgiveness and restoration to Yahweh. Through fasting and keeping the Day of Atonement, Yahweh’s people are reminded of His righteousness and His forgiveness as they accept His grand plan for the forgiveness of sin.
Israel’s sins were brought before them every time they gave a sin offering. But the Day of Atonement was a special day that impressed upon the mind and heart of every Israelite that this day was devoted to a deep introspection of his life.
The Day of Atonement was the only day of the year when the High Priest was permitted to enter the Tabernacle’s Holy of Holies, which was the nearest approach to Yahweh possible through the blood offering. The Day of Atonement pictured the forgiveness of Israel’s sins and the nation’s getting right with Yahweh. Known as Yom Kippur, it was the “day of covering” of their sins, pointing to the true Lamb of Yahweh’s coming to take away the sins of the world, and not just cover them.
Slaves and Land Released
Following the seventh Sabbatical year came the year of the Jubilee, which occurred every fiftieth year (or after the succession of seven Sabbatical years). It has been called the outer circle of the great Sabbatical system, which comprises the Sabbatical year, the Sabbatical month and the Sabbath day.
Just as in the Sabbatical year, the Jubilee also was a time of keeping the land uncultivated. The distinctive mark of the Jubilee year was the liberation of all slaves of Hebrew blood. The blowing of the trumpet on the Day of Atonement also released every bondman.
The Jubilee year was different from the Sabbatical in that the land was restored to the original owners. All land that had been assigned to a family was again returned to that family. This required that the tribal and family registers be carefully kept so that the rights of the people should be protected. It is partly from such records that we know that Yahshua descended from the tribe of Judah.
Jewish writers contend that the Jubilee was observed up to the time of the fall of Judah in the year 586 BCE. References are found in Isaiah 5:7-10; 61:1-2; Ezekiel 7:12-13 and 46:16-18.
Yahshua and Year of Our Release
A number of Bible scholars point out that Israel was delivered from both the Babylonian and Egyptian captivity at the time of the Jubilee. The pattern for us as believers in the Messiah is that He is the one who sets us free.
The bondage of Israel was cruel, enforced servitude. Yahshua frees us from the bondage and shackles of sin. “If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, you shall be free indeed,” John 8:36. This key purpose of the Sabbaticals and Jubilees dovetails with Yahshua’s purpose of coming to earth, even up to the timing of His return.
How ancient Israel must have thrilled to the sound of the trumpet on the Day of Atonement announcing their actual release from slavery. Of how much greater joy will it be when the trumpet announces Yahshua’s return to this earth. All tears will be dried, and the brokenhearted comforted. The meek and the poor in spirit will be exalted and the thirsty and hungry filled.
The first trumpet is blown on the first day of the seventh month, which is the new moon day. Then follows the blowing of the second trumpet on the Day of Atonement, heralding Yahweh’s release, redemption, and deliverance.
Hebrews 4:1-11 summarizes the Sabbaths Yahweh has given us to remember His great plan of redemption of mankind. We are told that there remains a Sabbath of rest for the people of Yahweh (Heb. 4:9 — “rest” is the Greek sabbatismos, meaning a Sabbath keeping).
There is the weekly Sabbath which is set aside for the people of Yahweh. Also there is the Sabbatical rest for the land around Jerusalem. Finally, the rest and redemption for the elect people of Yahweh who will reign with Yahshua when He returns to set up the Messianic Kingdom:
“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 Elohim and of Messiah, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).
But not all will attain that rest because of unfaithfulness. The faithful will have rest from their enemies, no drought, sickness, sin or hindrances to happiness.
Counting the Jubilee
A long-standing debate is how to compute the Jubilee year — in segments of 49 or 50 years. The Jubilee year is the year following the seventh Sabbatical year. It is the 50th year, but not the year coming after 50 years. It is the year following 49 years.
From the beginning of one Jubilee year to the beginning of the next Jubilee is 49 years. The 7 times 7 years of Sabbatical cycles may not be broken any more than can the 7 times 7 weeks in computing Pentecost. Furthermore, the 50th year is also year one in the count toward the next Sabbatical year 7 years later.
To prove that the Jubilee immediately follows the Sabbatical year, note the prophecy of Isaiah:
“And this shall be a sign unto you, you shall eat this year such as grows of itself: and the second year that which springs of the same; and in the third year sow, reap, and plant vineyards and eat the fruit thereof” (Isa. 37:30).
“This year” refers to the Sabbatical year. The “second year” refers to the Jubilee year, and the “third year” one can sow grain and reap and plant vineyards. The day after Atonement, which ends the Sabbatical-Jubilee year, farmers can again plow the ground for planting wheat and barley that fall.
Our Savior’s Return
If the Sabbatical-Jubilee cycle was important to Israel, then it is all the more important to us looking for the return of the Messiah. A central key is in Yahshua’s quoting of Isaiah 61:1-2:
“The Spirit of Yahweh Elohim is upon me; because Yahweh has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of Yahweh” (Luke 4:18).
Yahshua stopped in the middle of verse 2, where Bible scholars contend He was now calling people out of the world to become His followers. The “acceptable year” is understood to refer to the beginning of the Sabbatical year. He came to preach the Good News to the meek and humble, those whose hearts were open and teachable.
With those of kindred mind He would build His Assembly. He would now choose those who would become the nucleus of His body of believers, the “ekklesia,” the assembly. He told Peter this group of “called-out ones,” would never die out, but would always exist on this earth, Matthew 16:18.
Just as the Savior was cut off in the middle of the week and died on a Wednesday, so He left unsaid the rest of Isaiah 61:2 which tells of the vengeance yet to come. Note the latter part of this verse: “And the day of vengeance of our Elohim; to comfort all that mourn.”
He comes with anger and vengeance for the wicked, but comfort and help to those who revere Yahweh’s Name and are submissive to Him. This ties in with Revelation’s prophecy:
“And 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 unto 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” (Rev. 11:18). See also Luke 20:16; 2Thes. 1:8; 2:8; Heb. 10:27.
The Sabbatical-Jubilee cycle pictures the grand finale of the believer’s earthly sojourn. It represents the fulfillment of the promise made to the redeemed which will be done when He returns in the day of vengeance.
Although we are not sure exactly when His return will be, it will likely be on a Feast day within a Sabbatical or Jubilee year. That is the most appropriate time, the appointed time. Daniel 11 says the end shall be at the appointed time, that is, a moed or Feast. None of the Feasts of the seventh scriptural month have been fulfilled as far as we know.
Can We Pinpoint the Jubilees?
Studies to determine the secular dates of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years rest heavily on the Savior’s beginning ministry, which appears to be 27-28 CE.
The Jews were so determined to keep all of Yahweh’s law after their return from the Babylonian captivity that allegedly they believed that there was no reason to keep the Jubilee years, as they would not have reason to sell themselves into slavery or be redeemed. Therefore, records of these years are sparse.
An interesting discovery is that the Gregorian calendar years on which the Sabbatical cycle falls are evenly divisible by 7. The year 2023 is evenly divisible by seven, meaning that this fall begins the Sabbatical which runs through 2023 of next year.
What About This Year?
No planting or harvesting of crops is to be done after Atonement, 2022, until the fall Atonement of 2023.
Certainly a study of this neglected cycle will bring many obscure Bible truths to our attention and make the Bible become clearer as we draw nearer to our Heavenly Father and His beloved Son who make it all possible.
Key to Puzzling Passages
The Sabbatical years solve a puzzling statement Yahshua made in John 4. While traveling with His disciples to Galilee, He struck up a conversation with a Samaritan woman. He said in v. 35: “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest. Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”
Clearly this was a Sabbatical year when Yahshua began His ministry, 28 CE. It was also in May-June when grain harvests occur. But the Sabbatical didn’t end for four more months when harvesting could begin again.
This explains the four additional months of waiting for the harvest that Yahshua talked about.
Proof of Sabbaticals
Ben Zion Wacholder of Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, a scholar on the Sabbaticals, wrote several books on the subject of the Sabbaticals and Jubilees: The Calendar of Sabbatical Cycles During the Second Temple and the Early Rabbinic Period (1973), The Timing of Messianic Movements and the Calendar of Sabbatical Cycles (1975), and The Calendar of Sabbath Years during the Second Temple Era: A Response (1983).
Wacholder’s proposed set of Sabbatical years are offset by one year later than Benedict Zuckerman’s set of years, which is the other popular timing. Wacholder had access to legal documents from the time of the Bar Kokhba revolt that were not available to Zuckermann.
Only within the last 50 years has it become possible through archaeological discoveries, etc., to determine with an almost certainly what the exact Sabbatical years’ sequence was and is.
Two brilliant historical studies by Prof. Wacholder have solved the riddle of when the Sabbatical years occurred in ancient times, and when they are observed today.
The following historical events reveal the Sabbatical year sequence, with the year 2022-2023 being one of them:
• The recital of Deuteronomy 7:15 by Agrippa I in a post-Sabbatical year, making the Sabbatical year 41/42.
• A note of indebtedness from Wadi Murabba’at in 2nd year of Nero, 55/56 CE, indicating 55/56 as a Sabbatical year.
• Rental contracts of Simon bar Kosiba indicating 132/133 as a Sabbatical year.
• Three fourth- and fifth-century tombstones near Sodom indicating 433/434 and 440/441 CE were Sabbatical years.
(When farmers are keeping Sabbaticals by letting their fields rest, they are free to do building projects. And so…)
• CE 41–CE 42: King Agrippa I started building the expansive third wall around the northern parts of Jerusalem.
• CE 62–CE 63: Agrippa II started to rebuild Caesarea Philippi.
And then there are key historical events that hinge on Sabbath years:
• CE 69–CE 70: Destruction of Jerusalem in the latter part (motsae, “going-out”) of the Sabbatical year 69/70.
• CE 132–CE 133: Bar Kokhba revolt of the Jews against the Romans.
In part 2 we will further show the proper timing of the Sabbaticals both anciently and today.