Hi friends and study partners! On Sunday we began studying the timing of the King’s return. We know that spiritual Israel and natural Israel have two different finish lines. Spiritual Israel (which we defined earlier as believers in Jesus as Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile) look to the rapture, while natural Israel awaits the glorious appearing (following the tribulation, when Jesus actually steps foot on the earth to fulfill the Davidic Covenant).
Please note: the church is not the “new Israel,” and I am not suggesting that the covenant promises to Israel have been transferred to the church. That is the premise of Replacement Theology, and it is false teaching. Please study the previous lesson on natural/spiritual Israel to understand the context used here.
So, as we gather once again around the study table, let’s focus on the timing of the King’s return. Scripture gives us many clues regarding His return, but the seven Biblical Jewish feasts lay out God’s calendar and help us understand the timing of end time events.
Interestingly, there are no Jewish feasts to celebrate creation, Noah’s flood, or even the Abrahamic Covenant. While those are certainly important events, God’s calendar for the world was not revealed in any of those. The feasts point back to what Jews see as the most significant time in their history: the exodus from Egypt. (Leviticus 23 provides details of each feast.) Indeed, God revealed His calendar when He instituted the Jewish feasts.
However, regarding feasts, festivals, and Sabbaths, the apostle Paul had this to say:
These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
~Colossians 2:17 [Emphasis mine]
The Jewish feasts are a shadow of what is to come, while Christ is the fulfillment of every feast! In fulfilling the feasts, God provides a timeline. Here are the 7 major Biblical feasts of Israel:
- Feast of Passover
- Shadow: Jews view Passover as the celebration of freedom. While captive in Egypt, those who put blood on the doorpost were “passed over” by the angel of death. (Exodus 12:5-7)
- Substance: Jesus is our Passover Lamb! The apostle John declared, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (See John 1:29, 1 Corinthians 5:7b)
- Feast of Unleavened Bread
- Shadow: Jews were forced to flee Egypt quickly, leaving no time for yeast to rise. Thus, they ate unleavened bread. In Scripture, leaven is also symbolic of sin. Therefore, this feast is a time of spiritual cleansing for Jews.
- Substance: By the crucifixion of Jesus we are cleansed! According to Isaiah 53:5, Jesus was pierced for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and by His stripes we are healed. Incredibly, we see piercing, bruising and stripes pictured in matzo (unleavened bread). Jesus is the fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
- Feast of Firstfruits
- Shadow: For Jews, this feast represents the beginning of the harvest and an offering to the Lord of the firstfruits thereof.
- Substance: Jesus rose from the grave…the first fruit that opened the door for us! 1 Corinthians 15:20 confirms that Christ is risen from the dead and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep! Death will not defeat us!
- Feast of Pentecost
- Shadow: Jews celebrate the Feast of Pentecost as the giving of the law (Torah) to Moses on Mt Sinai.
- Substance: After Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, He promised us the Holy Spirit. Pentecost commemorates the giving of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church!
Do you see a timeline forming? Jesus became our Passover Lamb, He was crucified (becoming the fulfillment of Unleavened Bread), then His resurrection is symbolized in the Feast of First Fruits. Fifty days later, the Holy Spirit was given! God’s calendar is taking shape. But there are three more feasts:
- Feast of Trumpets
- Shadow: The Feast of Trumpets is Rosh HaShanah in Hebrew…the civil new year. It is a time of self examination…similar to our worldly tradition of setting new year’s resolutions. It is an annual new beginning for the Jewish people. In addition, Numbers 10:1-10 describes 2 silver trumpets associated with this feast that are used to assemble the people and direct the movement of the camp.
- Substance: 2 silver trumpets hold significant meaning. Why silver? Precious metal, though not perfect. Why two? Could it be that God intended two trumpets to call together the entire world? Could it be the two trumpets represent Israel and the church (precious, but not perfect)? Israel, first, because they are the vehicle of world redemption. They are calling us to assemble together (though, in general, they don’t recognize who we assemble around). Secondly, the church is called to “trumpet” the gospel…to spread the good news! 1 Corinthians 14:8 warns: …for if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? We must sound a clear, sure sound…the Gospel of Jesus! Otherwise, who will be prepared? But just as importantly, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 tells us that in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the LAST trumpet, we will all be changed. Friends, that is the rapture! It is next on the calendar! The feasts give us a chronology of end time events. Still, there are two more feasts to follow!
- Day of Atonement
- Shadow: The Day of Atonement is the most solemn, somber day on the Hebrew calendar. It is a setting aside of all profane works, and even today, Jews fast during the Day of Atonement.
- Substance: The Day of Atonement represents Israel’s national salvation…still to come! We know that as the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant and the launch of the Millennial Age. Zechariah 12:10 says: Then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son. This event is still ahead on God’s calendar.
- Feast of Tabernacles (Our study points to this!)
- Shadow: To commemorate the wilderness wandering, Jews celebrate Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) by building and living in small, temporary shelters. It is also a celebration of the harvest ingathering and giving of thanks.
- Substance: Zechariah 14:16-21 tells us that everyone from every nation who came up against Israel will go up to Jerusalem every year to worship the King! (He must return in order for that to happen!) This gathering will be the Feast of Tabernacles! Think of it: national Israel will finally be saved, and the “ingathering” of believers from around the world will take place at this great harvest of souls! This is the Millennial Kingdom…fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.
Friends, the King is coming and we have much for which to look forward! The feasts serve as a calendar of the end times. In the Passover, Jesus came to be the sacrificial lamb. Then He gave His life (fulfillment of Unleavened Bread), and rose again (fulfillment of Firstfruits). Pentecost came and He sent the Holy Spirit and birthed the church. The next calendar event is the Feast of Trumpets…the rapture. That will be followed by Israel’s national salvation (Day of Atonement) and finally the Millennial Kingdom (Feast of Tabernacles).
Are you ready for the King’s return? For believers in Jesus the Messiah, the rapture is our coronation day! Lord, come quickly!