Biblical holy days

Prophetic Days of Worship Part II

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh” (Lev. 23:24-25).

The Jews call this day by many names, including Zikhron Teru’ah (a memorial of blowing of trumpets), Yom Teru’ah (day of the awaking blast) and Rosh Hashanah (head of the year). While the first two names are rooted in Scripture, the third is not. Rabbinical teachings state that the Feast of Trumpets begins the civil year. Such a conclusion cannot be supported by Scripture. The Word speaks of one year and that is Abib (Deut. 16:1), which occurs in springtime and is determined by the early barley.

Unlike Rosh Hashanah, the first two names are biblically grounded and speak both to the meaning and fulfillment of this day. The first, Zikhron Teru’ah (as found in Lev. 23:24), refers to this day as a memorial of blowing trumpets. In ancient Israel the trumpet or shofar held special significance. It was used to gather the assembly for travel, war, and worship (Num. 10:1-10). In the context of this Feast, the trumpet was used for the calling together of worship.

In addition to the Old Testament meaning, this name also expresses the likely prophetic fulfillment of the Messiah’s Second Coming. At this time Scripture speaks of trumpets sounding. Paul in 1Thessalonians 4:15-18 provides a description of this momentous event:

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.”

Yahshua’s return will be announced with a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of Elohim. Such a declaration will not go unnoticed.  Once the trumpet sounds, Yahshua will descend from heaven and the saints will be resurrected to be “caught up” with Him in the air.

Many theologians claim that this passage refers to the rapture. As noted in the Restoration Study Bible, “This phrase is derived from the Greek harpazo and means, ‘to seize or catch away.’ It does not refer to a rapture, but to the Second Advent of Yahshua the Messiah (1Thess. 5:2)…The word ‘meet’ is apantesis and is used only three times in the NT (Matt. 25:1,6; Acts 28:15). It means ‘to join with and continue on to the destination,’ not reverse course and go back where one came from….”

The mention of the trumpet here and in other passages, e.g. 1Corinthians 15:51-21, offers strong evidence that Yahshua’s Second Advent will occur on the Feast of Trumpets. As described by the Hebrew Yom Teru’ah (day of the awaking blast), this day will offer a deafening wakeup call to mankind.

The Day of Covering

Next Feast is the Day of Atonement or as it is often called, Yom Kippur (day of covering). “And Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying, 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 ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before Yahweh your Elohim. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.  It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath” (Lev. 23:26-32).

On this day Israel was commanded to abstain from work and to afflict their souls. The word “afflict” is from the Hebrew ‘anah and means, “to browbeat or depress.” The Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon defines ‘anah: “to afflict, to oppress, to humble, to be afflicted, to be bowed down.”

From the many examples of Scripture, e.g. Psalm 35:13; Daniel 10:2-3; Jonah 3:5-7; Ezra 10:6; Luke 5:33; and Acts 9:9, we find that this word conveys fasting, i.e., complete abstaining from food and drink.

In addition to these prohibitions, this was a day of dealing with the people’s sins, as found in Leviticus 16. On Yom Kippur the high priest selected two goats, one for a sin offering and the other for a scapegoat (Heb. azazel). The sin offering was for atonement for sin.

While many biblical commentators apply the scapegoat to the Messiah, it is more likely that this goat symbolizes the father of lies. To understand this view, one must carefully consider the roles of the two goats and the parallels between the Azazel in Leviticus 16and Satan in Revelation 20.

Azazel Not Messiah

For starters, it was not the Azazel goat but the goat of the sin offering that atoned for Israel’s sins, a role that befits  the Messiah and no other. Another reason for this inference is found in the many parallels to these passages. Leviticus 16:21-22 provides the necessary building blocks for understanding:

“And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.”

Why does the high priest lay his hands on the other live goat and confess the sins of Israel again? As representative of our own High Priest, Yahshua, who took all our sins away by becoming sin for us (2Cor. 5:22) so the Israelite high priest took the collective sin and dispensed with it on the head of the Azazel.

Why didn’t the other goat of the sin offering obliterate the sin? Because Hebrews 10:8 says the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin, only cover it. It takes the blood of Yahshua to eliminate it. Yahshua, who does take away sin, will return it back on the head of father of lies and originator of sin.

After Aaron confessed and transmitted Israel’s sins to the live Azazel goat, that goat was not sacrificed but taken alone into the wilderness by a “fit man.” The word “wilderness” comes from the Hebrew midbar and refers to a pasture; by implication, a desert.

The primitive root of midbar is dabar, which means, “to arrange; but used figuratively (of words), to speak; rarely (in a destructive sense) to subdue” (Strong’s Concordance). By placing debar into the proper context we learn that the fit man subdues the live goat by taking it into the wilderness or desolate place.

This last point again makes it unlikely that the live goat or the Azazel symbolizes the Messiah. Yahshua offered atonement only through the shedding of His blood, not through His removal to a forgotten place. It is much more plausible that this goat refers to Satan the devil.

In Revelation 20:1-3, John of Patmos provides an ominous description of Satan’s defeat: “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.”

Now we can compare the similarities between Leviticus 16 and Revelation 20. Both passages depict a being that is taken by a “fit” being; in the case of the Azazel, it was a fit man, while in the case of Satan, it will be a powerful angel. Also, as the live goat was taken without harm, Satan will likewise. Lastly, as the Azazel was taken to a desolate place, Satan will suffer a similar fate.

It is for these reasons that the scapegoat probably depicts the defeat of Satan and the transference of the world’s sins back to their originator — haSatan. In addition, it should also be noted that Messiah’s death and atonement is symbolized in the Passover; removing the need for a second fulfillment through the Day of Atonement.

Also, if the Feast of Trumpets symbolizes the return of Yahshua, then the fulfillment of this day must occur after this event. In the instance of Satan’s defeat, this immediately follows the Messiah’s Second Coming.

The Coming Kingdom

The next Feast on the biblical calendar is Tabernacles: “And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field” (Ex. 16:23).

As the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Feast of Weeks marked the two grain harvests, the Feast of Ingathering or Feast of Tabernacles marked the end of the agriculture cycle by the gathering in of the fall crops. It is imperative to recognize the agricultural significance. Not only does this impact our basic understanding of Old Testament worship, but also the theme and culture that continued into the New.

Many of Yahshua’s parables were agriculturally based, including those pertaining to the resurrection of the saints. For example, inMatthew 13:24-30 Yahshua provides the parable of the wheat and tares: “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”

In verses 36 to 43 Yahshua explains the meaning of this parable. The one who sows the good seed represents the Messiah; the one who sows the tares represents Satan the devil; the reapers represent the angels of heaven; the wheat represents the resurrected saints; and the tares represent the sons of the Evil One. Yahshua again illustrates the first resurrection through agriculture.

It is important to note that while Tabernacles does not specifically symbolize the resurrection, it is through the resurrection that Yahshua will establish the Millennial Kingdom.

“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of Elohim and of Messiah, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).

The Bible speaks of two resurrections. We find the first mentioned here. Scripture promises that those who are found worthy of the first resurrection will rule with the Messiah for a thousand years.  This time is called the Millennium (from the Latin mille, thousand, and annus, year) and is the fulfillment of the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles.

The last annual Feast is the Last Great Day. Ironically, many believers gloss over or combine this with the Feast of Tabernacles. It is a separate Feast in its own right. In the law this single day marked the end of Yahweh’s annual Sabbaths: “…on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein” (Lev. 23:36).

As this marked the end of Yahweh’s sacred season, it is likely that this time prophetically symbolizes the end of an era through the Great White Throne Judgment.  This prophetic event is the final judgment for mankind.

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before 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. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and the grave delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

At the end of the Millennium all of mankind will be judged based on their works. The word “works” is from the Greek ergon, referring to the actions and deeds of man. Those who lived a life of virtue will have an opportunity for everlasting life. Howbeit, those who purposely defied Yahweh will face judgment and eternal destruction (which is different from eternal torment).

It is for this reason that the Last Great Day symbolizes the end of one era and the beginning of another. Immediately following the Great White Throne Judgment, there will be a new heaven and a new earth with the coming of New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:1-2).

Yahweh’s Plan Revealed

From the death of the Messiah through the completion of an era, Yahweh’s annual Sabbaths clearly reveal His plan of salvation for mankind. It is not enough to simply understand this truth. To recognize the fullness and receive the blessings of these days, one must embrace and observe them as we find in the Old and New Testaments.

Yahshua the Messiah kept the Feasts while He walked this earth. He is our example. So did His apostles, including the Apostle Paul. These days commanded Israel of old continue to be in effect today and will be observed on into the coming Kingdom.

We welcome you to join Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry in honoring our Heavenly Father through obedience to His appointed days of worship! No other annual days are commanded in the Scriptures for His people.

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Posted in Biblical Feast Days, End-time Prophecy.

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