I believe that the 7 Feasts of Leviticus 23 represent (at least) two prophetic patterns. The first is the traditional seven-fold pattern of prophetic fulfillment. And the second is a three-fold pattern based upon the 3 Pilgrimage Festivals (i.e. Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles).
How can I justify the separation of three feasts from the full complement of seven? I can because the Bible makes the very same separation.
God highlighted the 3 Pilgrimage Festivals by requiring Jewish males to go to Jerusalem to celebrate them. In addition to their mention in Leviticus 23, they are exclusively mentioned in Exodus 23:14-17 and in Exodus 34:18-24. This shows that God has no problem separating these three feasts from the larger group.
The Patterns Diverge
I believe that the seven-fold pattern highlights Israel’s journey of reconciliation to the Lord; and that the three-fold pattern highlights the Church’s journey. The two patterns diverge at the Feast of Pentecost – with regard to the Church and Israel. At that time, the Church accepted Christ as Savior and Israel did not.
Thus, the divergence is based upon belief or unbelief. Things would have gone much differently for the nation of Israel if it had accepted Christ at His first coming. We see this implied by the following verses concerning John the Baptist:
"For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come." Matthew 11:13-14.
"The disciples asked him, 'Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?' Jesus replied, 'To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.' Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist." Matthew 17:10-13.
Unbelief caused an interruption in the fulfillment of the seven-fold prophetic pattern. It will not resume until Israel calls upon the Lord in belief.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matthew 23:37-39.
The Church, on the other hand, accepted Christ at Pentecost – and continues to accept Him as new believers come to Him on a daily basis. In a sense, the day of Pentecost has not ended for the Church.
Pentecost is Today
The Church is currently in the process of obtaining a finite number of members. When it reaches that number, Israel again will become the center of attention. "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited. Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.'" Romans 11:25-27.
We are in a period of time commonly called the Church Age. Scripturally, it is called “Today.”
“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:12-13.
“Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” Hebrews 4:7-10.
If you look at chapters 3 and 4 of Hebrews in context, you will see that the next step for the people of God is a Sabbath-Rest. I believe that this will be fulfilled by the Feast of Tabernacles.
For the Church, Tabernacles is the next feast on the horizon.
The Pilgrimage Festivals are Illustrated in Jonah
We find confirmation of the Pilgrimage Festival Pattern in the book of Jonah. I must credit fellow Dove, Pastor Daniel Lizarraga for this wonderful insight. He shows that all three of the Pilgrimage Festivals are the Sign of Jonah that Jesus spoke about.
“A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.” Matthew 12:30-41.
There seems to be a correlation between these 3 festivals and the reluctant prophet. The book of Jonah highlights the mercy that God shows to a group of repentant Gentiles. Jonah was 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish. Likewise, Jesus was 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth – the fulfillment of Unleavened Bread. 120,000 Ninevites were saved. (See Jonah 4:11). 120 people initially received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost – which is a multiple of the number of saved Ninevites. (See Acts 1:15). Jonah built a tabernacle to watch the destruction of Nineveh – but the Ninevites were preserved from judgment. (See Jonah 4:5). Tabernacles are built in observance of the Feast of Tabernacles.
I do not think that it is a coincidence that the 3 feasts that make up the sign of Jonah are the same 3 feasts that make up the Pilgrimage Festivals. In the passage where Jesus points the Jews to sign of Jonah, he was making a specific point about Gentile believers coming to the faith. He also mentions the Queen of Sheba who came to the faith during the time of King Solomon. (See Matthew 12: 42.) Jesus was clearly showing the Jews that the conversion of Gentiles would be a sign to them and that the 3 Pilgrimage Festivals would be connected to this sign.
If the Rapture of the Church occurs on a Feast of Tabernacles, the Jews will see a correlation between the two events. They will see a predominantly Gentile body (who has accepted Christ the Unleavened Bread as her Savior) preserved from judgment on one of their own feast days. Ironically, the book of Jonah is the Haftarah reading for Yom Kippur. It will still be on their minds when the Feast of Tabernacles begins five days later.
The Ninevites were spared judgment while Jonah watched from a tabernacle. Will the Church also will be spared from the judgment of the Tribulation at the time the Jews are dwelling in tabernacles?
The name “Jonah” literally means “dove.” Isn’t it interesting that there is a book of the Bible entitled “Dove,” which was a form used by the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the early believers to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit – which we know happened on Pentecost. See Acts 1:4-8.
What about Rosh Hashanah and the Rapture?
A strong argument for placing the Rapture on the Feast of Trumpets is that the Feasts of Leviticus 23 should be fulfilled in sequential order. Consequently, Trumpets must be fulfilled before Tabernacles, because it is the next feast to be fulfilled.
I actually do believe that the Fall Feasts (i.e. Trumpets, Yom Kippur, and Tabernacles) will be fulfilled in order; but I do not believe that the Rapture is the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets.
Remember that the Spring Feasts were fulfilled in order and in the SAME calendar year. So, the Fall Feasts should also be fulfilled in the exact way. In fact, we can see this happening very easily:
(1) The Feast of Trumpets could be fulfilled by the gathering of the elect when Jesus returns to earth:
“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” Matthew 24:30-31.
“Then the Lord will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign Lord will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south, and the Lord Almighty will shield them …. The Lord their God will save them on that day as the flock of his people.” Zechariah 11:14-16.
(2) Yom Kippur could be fulfilled when the Jews come together as a nation and acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Messiah:
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” Zechariah 12:10.
(3) The Feast of Tabernacles could be fulfilled by Jesus coming back to dwell or tabernacle with mankind during His Kingdom.
In John 7:37, and on the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus said the following:
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
In Zechariah 14:8-9, after the feet of Jesus touch the Mount of Olives, we find the following:
“On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.”
So, scripturally, ALL of the Fall Feasts can be fulfilled at the end of the Tribulation.
So, what about the Last Trump?
There is an interesting verse in the Bible which links the Feast of Trumpets to the Feast of Tabernacles.
“Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our Feast, this is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.” Psalm 81:3-4 (NIV).
(*Note: The KJV reads differently for Psalm 81:3. “Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.” But if you look at the Hebrew, which you can check for yourselves at www.blueletterbible.org, the word for “in the time appointed” (i.e. “kece”) means “full moon.” And the Hebrew word for “on our solemn feast”(i.e. “chag”) also refers to the Feast of Tabernacles in the Talmud, 2 Chronicles 5:3 and 1 Kings 8:2.)
The Feast of Trumpets falls on Tishri 1 at the time of the new moon; while the Feast of Tabernacles is a weeklong festival which begins on Tishri 15 – at the time of the full moon. Tabernacles is commonly referred to as the Feast through the Old Testament.
Please note that God requires that a trumpet be sounded on both of these festivals: first on Trumpets and then on Tabernacles. Therefore, according to scripture, the blowing of trumpets at the beginning of the month will not be complete until sometime in the middle of the month.
Since the Feast of Tabernacles is the final feast in the cycle of the 7 Feasts of Leviticus, perhaps the Last Trump is simply a trumpet that is sounded during the final feast of the religious year. In fact, when Solomon dedicated the Temple on the Feast of Tabernacles (2 Chronicles 5:3), 120 priests sounded trumpets. See 2 Chronicles 5:12.
Unlike Israel, the Church has been given only two ordinances to observe – communion and baptism. Significantly, both are connected to a Pilgrimage Festival.
Communion, which was instituted at a Passover Seder, concerns the death of Christ – and specifically His Body.
"For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread looks forward to the sacrifice of the sinless body of Christ – the Bread of Life. Communion looks back at it.
Concerning Baptism, Christ commanded:
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20.
It should be noted that the first Pentecost of the early Church was characterized by Baptism – of the Holy Spirit and of Water. 3000 people were baptized that day. See Acts 2:40-41. And Peter gave the following directive:
"Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.'" Acts 2:38-39.
Baptism symbolizes what has taken place in the life of a believer, and it also connects us to the burial of the Unleavened Bread:
"We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection." Romans 6:2-5.
It is no coincidence that the two ordinances of the Church point to the two fulfilled Pilgrimage Festivals of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost. They are the feasts that directly apply to the Church – with Tabernacles remaining to be fulfilled.
New Bodies at Tabernacles
The Rapture is a resurrection event – when our mortal bodies will be transformed into immortal bodies.
There is a possible pattern that shows that this resurrection event may occur on the Feast of Tabernacles. It can be found in 2 Chronicles 5, where King Solomon dedicates the new Temple on the Feast of Tabernacles. Prior to that time, the Tabernacle of Moses was still being used. (See 2 Chronicles 5:4-5.) So the smaller and mobile Tabernacle was replaced by a more impressive and permanent structure on Tabernacles.
It is interesting to note that animal skins were used as covers for the Tabernacle. Likewise, our bodies of flesh are also called tabernacles.
"Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me." 2 Peter 1:13-14 (KJV).
As the Tabernacle was exchanged for the Temple, our earthly tabernacle will be exchanged for a heavenly dwelling.
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 (KJV).
There also seems to be a connection between the Church and the Temple found in 2 Chronicles 5. If you look at the passage, you will see a wonderful microcosm of the 3 Pilgrimage Festivals. The sacrifice of Christ the Unleavened Bread is seen in the sacrificing of “so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.” 2 Chronicles 5:6. The sacrifice of Christ, however, was once for all.
“And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:10.
Pentecost is seen in the coming of the Holy Spirit filling the Temple with a cloud.
“Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.” 2 Chronicles 5:13-14.
(And note that the number of priests sounding trumpets in 2 Chronicles 5:12 was 120 – the same multiple of individuals in the upper room at Pentecost and of the number of saved Ninevites.)
Finally, we have the replacement of the Tabernacle by the Temple on the Feast of Tabernacles.
We are called the Temple of God. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16.
And each of us constitutes the stones that make up that Temple. “As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4-5.
Once all of the living stones necessary for the Temple are accumulated, the Temple will be complete. Perhaps it will then be dedicated on another Feast of Tabernacles – but in Heaven.
Hidden in tabernacles
I will let the following verses speak for themselves:
“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” Psalm 27:5.
“In my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:2-3.
“But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.” Isaiah 26:19-20.
“And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.” Revelation 7:14-15.
There is a wonderful spiritual economy in the fact that scripture can have more than one application. God has gone out of His way to highlight the three Pilgrimage Festivals. So, it should not surprise us if they represent an additional pattern of their own. It is also fitting that the Church, which was a mystery of God's grace to the Gentiles (see Ephesians 3:2-6 and Colossians 1:26-27), be given a festival pattern that is "hidden" in plain sight.
– Lisa Taylor