I previously wrote about how the holy days are actually cyclical, building upon each other. Today, I would like to take it one step further. I believe, and this is not necessarily orthodox Church of God doctrine, that even when the New Jerusalem comes down to earth, the holy days will somehow in someway have meaning.
I freely admit that I’m not sure what time means to a spirit being. However, consider that Satan is a spirit being, but I see no evidence that he can move through time. I believe we will inherit powers way beyond that, but that we will be restricted as to their use. It is because of those great powers as members of God’s family that we must be willing to obey and prove that we are before being given such powers.
Having said that, we often speak of ruling this or that planet or this or that system somewhere, but I submit that even that might fall short of the ultimate destiny. Some scientists have pondered why we only have four dimensions. According to some cosmologists, we should have at least 20.
If you follow what I mean, God is infinite, and therefore His children will be also. What defines and yet restricts infinity? Time. Still, time itself is infinite. At the same time it is, at least for us, confined. Yet, if we were to have open to us other dimensions, that limitation might not really mean that much, if you can wrap your mind around it.
We as a species really have a tendency to think in only one dimension. Time is one of those things that reinforces that idea. We can plan ahead, or we can remember back. Two dimensions. You can flip the calendar forward or backward, but it doesn’t make much sense to try to move it upwards or downwards, does it? No, that makes no sense at all, at least to me, because it doesn’t, for me, have two or three dimensions.
A chessboard is two dimensional. A piece can move forwards or backwards, left or right, or a combination of these. However, the original Star Trek series sometimes showed Spock and Capt Kirk playing three dimensional chess. As I recall, it had three different levels to it, so a piece could also move up or down in addition to the other dimensions. I even once read the rules of the game, but that was a long time ago, and I don’t even recall them any longer.
I would say that God is playing three dimensional chess all the while we are playing in two dimensions, but I’m afraid that would be giving us too much credit. At best, we might be the new player who moves one piece at a time until it gets captured, only to repeat the same mistake over and over again. At worst, we are playing an entirely different game, and one that doesn’t require a lot of thought at that.
When Abraham met Melchizedek, there was something interesting about the encounter. Abraham just went to war to gain back Lot, who was taken captive along with all of Sodom. Abraham met Melchizedek, and the first written account of the tithe is given. However, that is not the only detail in the story.
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
~ Ge 14:18
I don’t know about you, but “bread and wine” sounds an awful lot like what we do today for Passover. When you consider that the Exodus had not yet occurred, this may have well been the ceremony, similar to our own. So, when the Children of Israel were told to keep the Passover to commemorate the Exodus, that would not have been the same meaning for Abraham.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, the word for “bread” in that verse is lechem, Strong’s H3899, and it is the general term for bread, both leavened and unleavened. The insistence, however, of some that it can only mean leavened bread is utterly false, as the definition of the word includes not only bread but also grain and figuratively food in general (as in breaking bread).
Later, in Genesis 18 and 19, we see both words for bread on two succeeding occasions. Abraham fixes “bread” for the three men who visit him, whereas Lot fixes “unleavened bread” for the two men that visit him. Was this around the time of the Days of Unleavened Bread? Why did Lot fix unleavened bread?
God established the stars, sun and moon to track time and “seasons”, the same word as for “feast days” or “festivals”, depending upon your translation. Abraham kept not just God’s laws but His “statutes” (Ge 26:5), which indicates he knew about the holy days as well.
Abraham might not have understood everything there is to know about them, but he did know about what it meant to sacrifice his own son, or at least coming very close to it. Every Christian scholar I know of realizes this was symbolic of God’s sacrifice of His Son. So, Abraham was well aware of the meaning of the Passover, even if he did not tie them together!
Did Abraham keep Pentecost? We have no way of knowing exactly how he would have kept it, but since the holy days, like the Sabbath, were established during Creation, it seems a fair assumption that he kept it in much the same manner we do, albeit with animal sacrifices. According to the Book of Jubilees, an apocryphal book, Pentecost is tied to God making covenants. Jewish tradition is that God gave the Ten Commandments on Pentecost, but Jubilees takes if further and claims that Noah offered his post-Flood sacrifice on Pentecost/Feast of Weeks, and that was when God set the rainbow in the cloud and proclaimed the Noahide Covenant. Jubliees also claims that “Abraham alone kept” Pentecost. Supposedly, then, the Sinai Covenant was actually a renewal of the Noahide Covenant.
Tabernacles might have been interesting in Abraham’s day, as his entire lifestyle was a nomadic one.
Of course, the Children of Israel were given rather concrete meanings for Passover the subsequent Days of Unleavened Bread. If the Ten Commandments were given on Pentecost, then that would have had a concrete meaning as well.
Jewish tradition also reminds us that Moses was given a second set of tablets, however. According to the Midrash, it would have taken an additional 40 days for Israel to have been cleansed from their guilt over the golden calf, which would have ended in atonement for their sins. In fact, this is apparently where “Day of Atonement” comes from, at least according to the Midrash.
Another thing we should not forget is that the Children of Israel eventually entered the Promised Land, circumcised the men and kept the Passover, performed the wave sheaf offering and Days of Unleavened Bread (Jos 5:10-11). According to tradition, the seven Days of Unleavened Bread were the same seven days they marched around Jericho, defeating it on the last day.
This second generation, then, would have a slightly different take on the Days of Unleavened Bread, don’t you think?
I find it interesting that they didn’t enter on the Feast of Trumpets. Instead, the Children of Israel arrived just days before Passover (as it takes at least three days to recover from circumcision, S. Ge 34:25) and engage their enemy in battle during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Yet, the first thing after circumcision that God tells Israel is that “This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you” (Jos 5:9). My first thought is that it sounds like atonement, but considering it happened just prior to Passover, “Egypt”, “reproach” and forgiveness all make sense in light of the Passover meal.
What we end up with is that Abraham would have understood Passover through the pseudo-sacrifice of his son, Isaac, but Israel would have understood Passover through the Exodus. Furthermore, an added dimension would have been taken on by entering the Promised Land and the removal of the reproach of Egypt from Israel.
Likewise, Abraham’s understanding of Pentecost would probaby have been in relation to God’s covenant with him, but Israel would have had a separate covenant with God at Mt Sinai, presumably also on Pentecost. Again, the same theme, but a different dimension.
Abraham would have understood the meaning of booths, for that was his existence. Israel wandered for 40 years in booths, so God told them to keep the Feast of Tabernacles to remember this fact. We see that the generations following the settling of Canaan would have a different perspective on this festival than the first and second generations to come out of Egypt.
Same days, same themes but different details.
A lot of what they went through actually looked forward, but they likely didn’t know that at the time. They thought they were looking back on something. However, their understanding of the fall holy days surely could not have been complete, so this should have urged them to look forward nonetheless.
Jesus Gives Another Dimension
It should be obvious that Jesus was the Passover Lamb. That was what it really was all about. Perhaps no one since Abraham really understood it, though, as Abraham was the only one required to give up his son of promise. I say “perhaps” because we cannot know whether or not all of the prophets’ writings were passed down to us, just as we know that one or two (if not more) of Paul’s epistles never made it into the canon.
Not only that, but expansion upon the theme of unleavened bread showed it is symbolic of the putting away of sin out of our lives. Eating unleavened bread is voluntarily partaking in the nature of Christ.
Pentecost is thought of as the day the Holy Spirit was given, but it should be kept in mind that it was the fulfillment of Christ’s covenant with the Church.
33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
~ Ac 2:33
Passover still has a sacrifice theme, Days of Unleavened Bread still have a theme of freedom, and Pentecost still has a theme of covenant. However, there is a pattern of making the meanings deeper, more spiritual, longer lasting and more revealing of the plan of God throughout.
In fact, on Pentecost, the disciples all still acted and believed that Christ would return at any moment. Paul’s writings are the first clue that we get that the picture became more and more clear over time. In fact, isn’t that what we are really discussing here?
In Abraham’s day, God set down some general themes. For Israel, He gave some very practical, hands-on experiences that divulged just a little bit more. Over time, the prophets would add a piece here or a piece there, but there really wasn’t that much to tie it all together until Jesus came onto the scene. Even after His death, however, the disciples still had a lot to learn. One of those lessons was that they would not live to see Christ’s return.
Yet, the Apostles had a clearer idea of the future than ancient Israel, and probably even what Moses had. Still, even John seemed confused by the visions he saw in the last prophetic book of the Bible. Our understanding is a little clearer because we have hindsight and can actually see all of the objects he saw and understand their function and origin.
What we must be careful of is assuming we ourselves know all there is to know and that there is nothing yet to become clear to us. I continually read things, even from sources I respect, that make me shake my head in how boldly someone can proclaim what the Bible only hints at.
The Progression and the Gaps
In fact, that is what inspired this article and one I want to do as a follow-up. It is not without a reason that I believe the things I do, after all, and I try to leave emotonalism and bias for this or that interpreter aside. The real guide must be the Bible! The Church serves a function, and some organizations serve that purpose better than others, but none of them are infallible.
Ever notice how Passover and Trumpets have similar themes? Ever notice how Days of Unleavened Bread and Atonement have similar themes? Ever notice that both Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles are the end fulfillment of very specific promises? Ever notice how all of these themes are wrapped up into a gift with a bow ribbon for the Last Great Day/Eighth Day?
Yet, there is something odd about their arrangement, isn’t there? There is no gap between Passover and DUB. There is a noticeable gap between Trumpets and Atonement. There is a pretty wide gap from DUB to Pentecost but a much shorter one from Atonement to the FOT.
One cause is just exactly the progressive nature of revelation I’ve been referring to. Passover and DUB had an immediate application to ancient Israel coming out of Egypt. They had an immediate meaning when they marched around Jericho.
The theme of Pentecost is covenant. God fulfills His covenants, each and every one, but He does it in His time.
There also is the aspect of fulfillment, and in particular of physical vs spiritual.
Pentecost is not something that comes to you immediately. You msut seek it out. Israel had to go into the wilderness to Mt Sinai. They had to draw close to God. We cannot just lie around waiting for God’s Holy Spirit. We must actively seek God out.
Pentecost is like the fulcrum. Everything rests upon the covenant, the Law and the Holy Spirit. Everything else is in relation to it because it is God’s Law, covenant and Holy Spirit. Even Passover is because we broke the Law, and putting sin out of our lives completely is impossible without either the Law (for then sin has no definition) or the Holy Spirit (for then we’d have no power over it).
Pentecost is in the middle, just as Jesus’ sacrifice was in the middle of the week, both spiritually and prophetically. Let me repeat that Pentecost is the middle holy day, even as Jesus died literally in the middle of the week and in the middle of the 70th week that Daniel prophesied. There will be more about that in a later post.
Christ said He would return for the elect’s sake (or, more precisely return earlier for our sake). He will return to seek out those who keep His Law and have His Spirit. He Himself is composed of that Spirit! He will bring atonement by putting the author of sin away, that old law breaker of old that entices men and women to sin. He will pour out His Spirit on humanity during His reign.
Yes, people in the Millennium will have access to God’s Law and Spirit and, therefore, His covenant.
We can find bits and pieces of one holy day in others, but I really believe that Pentecost is the lynch pin. Every one of the holy days addresses the need for God’s atoning Spirit and the need for His Covenant to write His Law upon the minds and hearts of all humans.
Of course, if Pentecost is the what, then Christ is the Who. He is the main actor, and we must not forget that. It is His will to carry out the Father’s plan that requires everything Pentecost stands for.
This is why some work so hard to obscure what Pentecost stands for! Without Pentecost, the rest becomes gibberish quite quickly!
Another Practical Reason
Another thing came to mind, though, as to why there is a gap in the fall holy days as they are. This is just one of the things that proves those who say Pentecost pictures Christ’s return wrong. The main one, of course, is that Paul wrote that Christ will return and raise the saints at the “last trump” (1Co 15:52). While trumpets were used for various holy days, only one is it significant enough to actually have the name.
However, we know that just because Christ defeats the armies gathered together, that does not mean all mankind will instantly be at peace. No, Ezekiel 38 – 39 tell us otherwise. Notice how verse 25 tells us that the remnants of Jacob will not return to the land until after that battle!
Now, again, there is a symmetry in the holy days. There are other prophetic symmetries as well. There are types and there are antitypes. Sometimes they are dual in nature, and sometimes multiple times, such as the Abomination of Desolation has already happened twice yet will occur again in the end time.
That is why saying thus and such was “already fulfilled” is not always a safe bet, BTW. As they say, history repeats itself.
At the end of the Millennium, Gog and Magog go against Jerusalem, but they are destroyed by fire out of the sky. Well, isn’t that is what is going on in Ezekiel 38 – 39? Satan stirs up the nations after the Millennium when he is let loose just long enough to cause mayhem, so symmetrically speaking it makes sense that Ezekiel 38 – 39 takes place before his imprisonment!
That is why there is a short gap between Trumpets and Atonement. It takes time.
There is a short gap between Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. It takes time for Israel to be regathered so that it can really begin officially.
There is no gap between the Feast of Tabernacles and the Eighth day, or is there? That’s open to interpretation, I guess. True, the feast is seven days, but the holy day is at the beginning. In any event, what it tells me that is that Satan quickly deceives the nations. It sort of makes you wonder how long it took him to deceive Eve; it must not have been very long either. However, the destruction of the nations and the end of his plans are forever put to a very fast end.
How could he so quickly deceive everyone? Well, he was gone for a thousand years, so people won’t be used to his influence any longer. He also has an additional ploy. “Look,” he could say, “even God Himself could not keep me locked up. See how powerful I am?”
Hopefully, you are wondering why I am bringing this up. Well, what should the response be? It should be the same response we give to any false teacher or prophet! Satan was not let loose by his own power, but he was set free, for the Bible says so!
4 But he answered and said, It is written…
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again…
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written…
How much do we truly absorb and practice this daily? It is vital to our existence!
Am I Wrong?
So, am I right? Could I be wrong? Sure, of course. This was definitely not dictated to me by an angel. However, I do know that the puzzle pieces were only designed to fit a certain way, and I hope that at least one section is a little more complete now. Like you, I will spend the rest of my life either putting them together or watching them unfold.
We keep saying that the holy days are an outline of God’s plan, but it really seems to me that far too many have forgotten that an outline intentionally leaves out a whole lot of detail.
What is important is to believe what we read, apply what we know and be humble enough to admit that none of us knows it all. And, if we do know something, it is best to not go around beating others over the head with it, for that is what false prophets and false teachers specialize in.
After all, we could be so right about something that our attitude makes it all wrong.