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The Fall Feasts and the Messiah

Description

Fall Feasts represent events yet to be fulfilled and are directly connected to the Messiah's return and Israel’s promised national salvation.

Leviticus 23 reveals a yearly cycle of “appointed times” that God has ordained to meet in a special way with His people. Each of the Feasts teaches a different aspect of the nature of God and His plan for the world. Through these appointments or mo’adim we see prophetic glimpses of a later redemption that would come through the Messiah during His earthly ministry and upon His return.

These mo’adim are understood by some in the Jewish community as mikrah, which means “rehearsal” or “recital.” Paul tells us in Colossians 2:17 that all of these special days have been appointed by God to reveal the Messiah to the world as part of God’s great plan for His creation. “These [feast days] are a shadow of the things that were to come. The reality, however, is found in [Messiah].”

While the first three Feasts (the Spring Feasts), Passover, First Fruits, and Shavuot (Pentecost), are directly fulfilled with the first coming of Messiah, the Fall Feasts represent events yet to be fulfilled and are directly connected to His return and Israel’s promised national salvation. Let’s take a look at each of them:

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year” and is the Jewish New Year. The term Rosh Hashanah is not mentioned in the Scriptures, however. Originally known as Yom Teruah, or “Day of Teruah,” and also called The Feast of Trumpets, this holy day was instituted in Leviticus 23:24–25 and was to take place on the first day of the seventh month. The rabbis transformed it into its present status as the start of the New Year based on their belief that this was the exact day when God created the world. Along with Yom Kippur, they are, today, the most important days on the traditional Jewish calendar.

Most Jews don’t really understand why the Shofar (trumpet) is blown on this particular day, and the Torah is silent about it. But when we read the New Testament, we see clearly how this appointed day corresponds prophetically with Yeshua’s return to earth.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 we read about the great trumpet (Shofar) that will sound in heaven when the dead who are in Messiah will rise from their graves, and those who are still alive will go to meet Him in the air. This event precedes the return of the Messiah. The book of Revelation also talks about trumpets sounding in heaven as a series of judgments are poured out on the earth. All of this is to prepare the earth for the Messiah’s return. It is a warning—a wakeup to the earth and the inhabitants therein to get ready!

Rosh Hashanah is preceded by the month of Elul, which is observed by those in the Orthodox Jewish community as a time of repentance in preparation for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The word Elul is likely from the word “to search” in Aramaic and is a season to search one’s heart and draw closer to God. It is customary to blow the Shofar every morning (except on Shabbat) from Rosh Chodesh Elul (the first day of the month) until the day before Rosh Hashanah. This is done to awaken one’s spirit and prepare for the great Day of Judgment ahead.

I believe we are living in a time of Elul, and God is calling us to search our hearts, repent, and draw close to Him. The trumpet of judgment is drawing near, as is Yeshua’s soon return. Those who are living for Him long for this day and will see it as a wonderful time of joy and triumph. But those who do not repent and turn to God will experience terror and wrath. Now is our opportunity to prepare.

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish Year—a solemn time of acknowledging sins and seeking

God’s forgiveness and mercy. Translated into English as the “Day of Atonement,” Yom Kippur was the only time of year the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place of the Temple to atone for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the entire nation. This was done by sacrificing a bull and a goat and sprinkling the blood of these animals on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant.

Also on this day, two goats were brought before the High Priest. He would lay hands on them and symbolically transfer the sins of the people into them. The first one was the sacrifice—the one that provided atonement for the people’s sins. The second, however, was the scapegoat. This one was released into the wilderness to wander and eventually die, removing sin from the camp. The blood of the first goat brought forgiveness. The second brought sanctification.

I want to mention two important points here. First, sacrifices under the Mosaic covenant only covered sin, whereas the atonement of Yeshua removes sin. Second, substitutionary atonement was not provided for sins requiring the death penalty. Under the Law of Moses there was no atonement for intentional sins such as adultery or murder. In other words, they had to pay with their own lives.

I want to emphasize also that the shedding of blood has always been required for the forgiveness of sin, and it always will be. That is why the Messiah had to die and shed His blood for us. That is the good news. We have a Redeemer who exchanged His blood for ours. The debt we owe, for both intentional and unintentional sins, was paid by Yeshua through His death on the tree. All we have to do is accept His sacrifice on our behalf.

Yom Kippur looks forward to the day prophesied by Isaiah when “the Redeemer will come to Zion” (Isaiah 59:20) and by Jeremiah, who said, “They will all know me, from the least to the greatest” (Jeremiah 31:34), and by Zechariah when he said, “They will look upon the One they have pierced and mourn for Him as if mourning for a firstborn son” (Zechariah 12:10). Yom Kippur will reach its fulfillment when Yeshua is recognized as King of the Jews, King of Israel, King of kings, and Lord of lords. This will be the day when “all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26). I long for this day, as I know you do, and believe it is coming soon.

Sukkot

The third and final Feast that will see its fulfillment in Messiah’s return and the establishment of His kingdom here on earth is Sukkot, otherwise known as the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths. Sukkot, which begins five days after Yom Kippur, is a seven-day period during which the children of Israel are to remember their forty-year period of wandering in the wilderness.

Specifically, they are to recall how God supplied them with food, water, shelter, and guidance. During the week of Sukkot, Jewish families are to live in small, temporary dwellings made of branches. At night they are to look up at the stars and remember God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. This Feast also commemorates the last harvest of the year and looks forward to the day when the elect from all over the world will be gathered into the kingdom of God (see Matthew 24:31).

There are so many ways this festival points to Yeshua. I will touch on just two of them here. Just as God gave the Israelites manna to eat in the wilderness, Yeshua is spiritual bread for all who follow Him. In John 6:35, 48-51, He said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty . . . Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is My flesh, which I give for the life of the world.”

Furthermore, as His people wandered in the wilderness, God provided them with water from a rock (see Exodus 17:6). Paul says that the Israelites “drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was [Messiah]” (1 Corinthians 10:4). Every day during Sukkot a ceremony was carried out in the ancient Temple. The High Priest and Levites would pour out water and wine onto the altar as the people sang the words of Isaiah 12:3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” It is likely during this ceremony that Yeshua stood up and cried out in a loud voice, “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” (John 7:37-38).

For more on the Feasts and their prophetic significance, read Jonathan’s books, A Rabbi Looks at Jesus of Nazareth, and his soon-to-be-released rewrite of A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days, published by Chosen Books and available early 2013.

 

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