I am not sure that the Rapture must occur on a Feast of Trumpets, or any other feast day for that matter, but (in case it does) do not stop watching for it until the completion of the festival cycle.
I know that most feast watchers look to the Feast of Trumpets/ Rosh Hashanah as the next feast on God’s calendar – and thus as the likely candidate for the Rapture. But I believe that Israel and the Church diverge with regard to the application of the remaining feasts. Since the spring feasts were fulfilled in one calendar year, the fall feasts should be fulfilled in the same way. And one can see how this can be accomplished with regard to Israel: At the end of the age, the elect will be gathered together at the sound of a trumpet (Matthew 24:30-31); Israel will acknowledge Jesus Christ as her Messiah and find atonement as a nation (Zechariah 12:10); and Jesus will tabernacle or dwell with the elect during the Millennium (Revelation 20:5-6).
Unlike Israel, however, the Church did not reject Christ, the fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for the forgiveness of sins. At Pentecost, the first of its members accepted Christ’s sacrifice and became filled by the Holy Spirit. And, in a spiritual sense, it is still Pentecost since new members of the Church continue to accept Jesus Christ. In fact, we are currently in a period of time called “Today.” According to Hebrews 3:7-15: “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” But when the number of the Church is complete, Today will end, and the Church will move forward to its next feast – the Feast of Tabernacles.
You see, the three Pilgrimage Festivals of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Tabernacles apply to the Church in a pattern separate from the Seven Feasts of Leviticus 23. Since the Church showed obedience when it accepted the sacrifice of Christ through faith, it can go directly to eternal rest with God. Unlike Israel, who rejected Jesus, there is no need for the Church to go through the Tribulation to get to Trumpets, Atonement and finally Tabernacles. Please see my old post concerning the Pilgrimage Festival Pattern for greater detail: http://www.fivedoves.com/letters/sep2013/lisat911.htm
If you look at the entire passage in Hebrews 3, you will see that it centers upon the period of time in which the Israelites were tested for 40 years in the wilderness. This is the very period that is commemorated by the Feast of Tabernacles. The writer makes a comparison between the Israelites who were barred from entering the Promised Land of Canaan because of their unbelief and those of us (up to the present time) who hear the calling of the Holy Spirit to believe in Jesus Christ. We are encouraged not to harden our hearts like that previous generation. If we believe, we will enter a rest superior to the one that Joshua led the Israelites into. Our Joshua or Yeshua who will lead us into a Sabbath-rest with God.
So if we accept Christ (i.e. the Feast of Unleavened Bread) while it is Today (i.e. the Feast of Pentecost) we will enter a Sabbath-rest (i.e. the Feast of Tabernacles) with God. The three Pilgrimage Festivals are the most direct route to God and it is the route taken by the Church. Although it has been “Today” for a while, it will come to an end – just like it did for the Israelites of the past. Therefore, salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is a decision you should make right now. None of us has the promise of tomorrow. So if you haven’t done so already, please make your decision while it is still Today: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God 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.” Romans 10:9-10.
Now for some pure speculation: This year’s Feast of Tabernacles may be a particularly good candidate for the Rapture, IF, as some have surmised, we have just entered a Year of Jubilee. That would make last year a sabbatical year. And according to Deuteronomy 31:10-13, everyone (not just Jewish males) are supposed to assemble for a public reading of the law on the Feast of Tabernacles that falls after a sabbatical year: “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 the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.” [Emphasis added.] It may be significant that the Feast of Tabernacles is the only feast that requires a full assembly. Since the Rapture will comprise of a full assembly of men, women and children, could this be a clue as to its timing?
I have compiled a few possible Feast of Tabernacles’ Rapture clues from Bible passages which include similar full assemblies. Once again, please remember that this is only speculation.
1. Deuteronomy 31: Moses is aged 120 years when he tells the people that he will not be able to lead them into the promised land – Joshua will instead. The people are then told to read the law at the end of every sabbatical year. This mandate is made just prior to entering their permanent home in Canaan/Israel.
Therefore, it is possible that the number 120 will be significant with regard to the Rapture. And that the mandate for a full assembly at the Feast of Tabernacles at the end of a sabbatical year may be a clue to its season. Furthermore, Joshua, who’s name can be rendered “Yeshua” or “Jesus,” has been viewed to be a type of Jesus Christ. So, in a larger sense, this passage shows that only grace (through Jesus Christ) can lead us to that rest with God – not the law (through Moses). Perhaps our Yeshua will lead us to our permanent home during this season.
2. Nehemiah 8: This is a passage where the people assemble for a reading of the law that actually starts on Rosh Hashanah and continues through to the end of the Feast of Tabernacles. Once the people understand how the Feast of Tabernacles is to be observed, they acquire various tree branches and build temporary shelters to live in. The assembly consists of the Jewish exiles who returned to Israel to live there permanently.
This passage may show that we will go to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in the New Jerusalem and to live there permanently.
3. Revelation 4: In this passage, immediately after the events of the opening of the Sixth Seal in Revelation 3:12-17, we see a great multitude in white robes holding palm branches. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9-10. They are identified as follows: “… These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Revelation 7:14-17. [Emphasis added.] The Greek word used for “dwell” in verse 15 is “skenoo,” which also means “to tabernacle.” So, although the passage does not state that it is Feast of Tabernacles, the mixed assembly holding palm branches sure looks like participants at a full assembly of the feast. Since the group comes out of the tribulation, they could also be the raptured Church.
4. Jonah: While the Book of Jonah does not mention any specific feast days, we know that Christ’s fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is prefigured in it. “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 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. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” Matthew 12:38-41. Since one of the Pilgrimage Festivals is hidden in the book, it should not surprise us if Pentecost and Tabernacles are hidden in it, too.
After God convinces Jonah (the hard way) to preach a gospel of repentance to the Gentile City of Nineveh, he goes and does so. And an amazing thing happens: “And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” Jonah 3:4-10. [Emphasis added.] Jonah, ironically, is angry at God’s penchant to be merciful. “And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.” Jonah 4:2. However, he still goes to a place to wait and see if the city is going to be judged. There, he builds a shelter or tabernacle and watches from there. A vine quickly grows over the shelter and gives him shade. However, the next day, a worm chews the vine and kills it. “And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live. And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” Jonah 4:8-11.
The Feast of Pentecost can be seen in the 120,000 (i.e. sixscore thousand) Ninevites who repented. They are a type of the Gentile Church. We can draw this connection to the Church, and to Pentecost, because the number of Ninevites is a multiple of the 120 believers in the Upper Room at the time of Pentecost. (See Acts 1:15). Also, the fact that the animals were clothed in sackcloth, and that God specifically referenced them, is significant. This is because groups of animals can represent the Church. For example, in Acts 10, Peter is given a vision about a large sheet containing all kinds of clean and unclean animals. Three times God commands him to kill and eat, but Peter refuses because of the unclean animals. God responds by stating that nothing that He has made clean should be called impure. The point of the vision was to show Peter that God was willing to accept both Jews and Gentiles into His Church. So, the Bible clearly makes an analogy between large groups of animals and the Church.
Finally, we see Jonah building a temporary structure (or tabernacle) and living in it – something that is done during the Feast of Tabernacles. It is at that time that Jonah realizes that God is not going to judge the Ninevites. Significantly, not only are the Ninevites ( and their animals) not judged, but they are absent from the remainder of the text. In effect, they have vanished and are safe from judgment. Although there is a lot of talk about the sign of Jonah, I think that the Church and all three Pilgrimage Festivals are that sign. Someday, when Jews are sitting in tabernacles like Jonah, will they see God extending mercy to a predominantly Gentile Church? Will the Rapture be that sign of mercy?
5. Genesis 3: Jesus compared the end times to the days of Noah. “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:37. So, in the light of this study, please note that men, women and clean/unclean animals entered the temporary, wooden shelter of the Ark. They lived in it for seven days before the rains began. “And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood. Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah. And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.” Genesis 7:6-10. Similarly, according to Leviticus 23:39-43, people are supposed to live in wooden tabernacles for seven days. Furthermore, like the sheet in Peter’s vision, Noah’s ark carried clean and unclean animals in it. So the animals can also prefigure the Church, which will be protected from a flood of judgment. Perhaps the seven days that Noah and his company lived in the temporary shelter of the Ark, represents the seven days of living in the temporary shelter of the tabernacle. If so, we have a possible pattern of the Church being protected from judgment, at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.
6. John 7 and 8: The actions and statements made by Jesus when He attended the Feast of Tabernacles may suggest the future Rapture. At the time of the feast, His brothers mocked him for not being more public with his ministry and for staying home. He responded: “Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee. But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he?” John 7:8-11.
When Jesus gets there, He makes the following statements:
“Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come. Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles? What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?” John 7:33-36.
“Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. John 8:21-24.
“And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” John 8: 50-51.
I am probably reading too much into this, but people will also look for us after the Rapture. And some of us will never see death. Will Jesus come to another Feast of Tabernacles secretly, while people are still looking for Him, and take us where no one can find us?
7. Hebrews 4: According to Hebrews 4:9: “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” The word for “rest” is “sabbatismos.” It means “a keeping sabbath” or “sabbath rest.” Since a sabbatical year is essentially a Sabbath-rest year, this may indicate the timing of our departure at a Feast of Tabernacles at the end of a sabbatical year. (The same argument can also be made for the Feast of Tabernacles at the end of a Jubilee Year since it is essentially a sabbatical year.)
In closing, this is not the time to get discouraged. We are so very close to being gathered up to be with our Lord. We should not begrudge the time He takes to extend His mercy while it is still Today.
“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.” Psalm 27:5.
– Lisa Taylor