Monday, April 9, 2012

The Feast of Tabernacles

The Feast of Tabernacles, like the other six feasts, is found in the Book of Leviticus chapter 23. In verses 39-43 we are told that this Feast, also known as Sukkot--the plural form translated "tabernacles or booths"--was to be celebrated from the 15th day of Tishri(our September/October)to the 22nd day of Tishri. During these days the nation of Israel was to dwell in "booths" to remind them that God had brought them out of the land of Egypt. It was actually a week long celebration of their deliverance from slavery and bondage. This was to be a time of great joy! In Deuteronomy 16:16, the Word of God tells us that the men of Israel were to appear in the place that God would choose three times during the year. This would be 1.Passover/Unleavened (barley harvest) 2. Shavu'ot/Pentecost (wheat harvest) 3. Sukkot/Tabernacles(Fruit harvest--olives, pomegranates, and grapes). Exodus 23:16 says that the Feast of In gathering/Tabernacles was to be celebrated at the end of the year. The point is this: This seventh and final feast at the end of the year will be fulfilled at the end of the age with the gathering of the final harvest. I will say more about this a little later. For now, we need to set the context for the Feast of Tabernacles so that we might truly know what God has always been after--what has always been in His eternal heart!

John 1:1,14 is the revelation of God's Son becoming a man: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . .V.14 And the Word became flesh . . ." Then in Luke 2:22-24 we have Joseph and Mary bringing Yeshua/Jesus to the temple to be dedicated. "When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord as it is written in the law of the Lord, every first born male is to be consecrated to the Lord. V.24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: a pair of doves and two young pigeons." But when you look back to the Old Testament text found in Leviticus 12:6-8 we read, "When the days for her purification were over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting A YEAR OLD LAMB FOR A BURNT OFFERING, and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering. BUT IF SHE CANNOT AFFORD A LAMB, she is to bring two doves or young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and one for a sin offering. . ." That tells you that Joseph and Mary were not a wealthy family. But here is Mary with this awesome experience with the Holy Spirit and a powerful word from the angel Gabriel about her Son. Don't you just know that she wished that she could have offered a lamb to God on such a special occasion? Actually she did offer a lamb--THE LAMB OF GOD! And that is where I want to begin my message to you on the Feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles.

Back to John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and made His DWELLING among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. The Greek word for "dwelling" is "eskeenoosen," from the root word "skenoo" which means "to tent," or "to tabernacle." In Jesus, God was TABERNACLING AMONG US! The question is this: to what end? Why did God tabernacle among us in Jesus? Why did the Son of God become a man? I believe the answer to that question is found in the seven feasts of God. Although God revealed the seven feasts to the chosen nation of Israel to be rehearsed at set times each year, ONLY GOD HIMSELF COULD FULFILL THE FEASTS. That is why He "pitched His tent" among us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth!

First there was Passover. It was here that God laid the foundation through the blood of the Passover Lamb. On the 10th day of Nisan(our march/April) the Jews took a lamb into their homes to be inspected for four days to make sure it had no blemishes or imperfections. On the 14th day of Nisan, the Passover Lamb was to be killed and its blood applied with hyssop to the top and two sides of the doors to their homes. At midnight when the destroyer came into Egypt to kill the firstborn, the homes that had applied the lamb's blood were "passed over," delivered from God's judgment! It was in this way that God broke the power of Pharaoh and set His people free from slavery and bondage. For hundreds of years the Jews "rehearsed" this Passover celebration at a "set time" each spring in the month of Nisan. But then about 2,000 years ago, on Palm Sunday, THE 10TH DAY OF NISAN, Jesus rode into Jerusalem and the Jewish people CHOSE HIM as their Passover Lamb when they welcomed Him into the city waving palm branches and shouting Hallelujah. On the 14TH DAY OF NISAN, they killed THEIR LAMB when they turned Him over to Pilate and said, "crucify Him." He was crucified at 9AM on Nisan 14th, the same time the High Priest bound the Passover Lamb to the altar at the Temple, the same way it had been done for hundreds of years. Then at 3PM., after all the other passover lambs had been sacrificed for the Jewish pilgrims who were there for the Passover Celebration, the High Priest went to the last lamb to be sacrificed--the lamb that was bound to the altar--and said "it is finished," and then cut the lamb's throat. It was also at 3PM that Jesus said, "It is finished," and gave up His Spirit! Jesus, the last Lamb to be sacrificed, had once and for all taken upon Himself the sins of the world! To what end? To remove the obstacle that stood between a holy God and sinful man. But why? So that God could dwell or tabernacle among us--have a relationship with us! This was the foundational feast in God fulfilling His eternal plan of dwelling with His people. Let me ask you friend, are you trusting in Jesus' blood as the sole basis of your relationship with the Father? Have you chosen Jesus as your Passover Lamb?

Unleavened Bread began after sunset on Nisan 15. That would be Thursday night following the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb at 3PM. The Israelites were to eat unleavened bread as a reminder of their deliverance from Egypt. They left in such haste that the bread did not have time to rise. It was actually baked without leaven--leaven being a type of sin. More importantly this unleavened bread pointed to the "bread that came down from heaven." He, Jesus, was without leaven, without sin--pure and spotless. Consequently death could not corrupt or decay His body as David prophesied in Psalm 16:9-10 and as Peter preached in Acts 2:22-27. Why? because this was all part of God's plan to tabernacle among us BEYOND THIS LIFE. And that leads to the next feast.

On the 17th day of Nisan, sometime before sunrise on Sunday morning, Jesus arose from the dead on the very day of the Feast of Firstfruits!(Firtfruits in the Old Testament was the celebration of the barley harvest. An unleavened loaf of bread made from barley was waved before God with the expectation that the rest of the harvest would also come in). Jesus was the firstfruits to rise from the dead with a new and resurrected body as Paul makes clear in I Corinthians 15:20-23. But why? The only way that God could tabernacle among us beyond this life was for Him to come and defeat death by dying and then rising from the dead! As the firstfruits of those who die, we have the guarantee that the "rest of the harvest--believers in Jesus--" will also rise from the dead with new and resurrected bodies just like His glorious body. But more about that later.

Fifty days from the Feast of Firtfruits was the Feast of Shavu'ot or Pentecost. This feast was a celebration of the giving of the law to Moses at Mt. Sinai and also a celebration of the wheat harvest where the priest waved two loaves of LEAVENED BREAD before the Lord as a thank offering for the rest of the harvest that would come in. On this day, the risen and exalted Son of God, poured out the Holy Spirit on 120 believers in the city of Jerusalem. Whereas God wrote the Torah on two stone tablets in the Old Testament, Jesus wrote the Torah on the hearts of believers in the New Testament. The Spirit was poured out first on the Jews and then later on the Gentiles. Both were sinful or leavened, but both were cleansed by the blood of the Passover Lamb! And it was through this indwelling of the Spirit that God began to "tabernacle" with His people in a more intimate way! I ask you friend, have you been filled with the Holy Spirit? God longs to dwell in you!

With the fulfillment of the Feast of Shavu'ot/Pentecost, all of the spring feasts were fulfilled. That means that there are three feasts yet to be fulfilled: Yom Teruah/Trumpets, Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement, and Sukkot,the Feast of Tabernacles. It is to these feasts that we now turn our attention. Important to know is that the rebirth of Israel in 1948 and the retaking of Jerusalem in 1967 are both significant prophetic signs that let us know that we are close to the fulfillment of the Fall Feasts!

On the Feast of Trumpets Jesus will rapture the church and return to the earth. This will occur in the month of Tishri(our September/October). In I Thessalonians 4:16-19, the Word of God tells us the Lord will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ will rise first and we which are alive and remain will be caught up together with them to MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR; SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD! Notice that we are going TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR AND BE WITH HIM FOREVER! God will be a step closer to His heart's desire: to tabernacle with us in an even greater way through the rapture and His second return to the earth. In I Corinthians 15:51-52 we read, "Listen, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable and we will all be changed." Changed? why? We will have new bodies so that we can live with God forever as part of His New Creation in Christ! One more text before we leave this feast. In Revelation 11:15,19 the Word of God reveals the following truth: V.15 "The seventh angel sounded his trumpet. . ." Please keep in mind that the number seven is the number of completeness. Therefore, the seventh trumpet is the same as "the trump of God" in I Thessalonians 4 and the "last trump" I Corinthians 15. This is the rapture and the second return happening at the same time! V.19 says "Then God's temple in heaven was opened. . ." At the time of the end, God will merge the natural and spiritual together ( See Ephesians 1:9). This again is another step in God's ultimate plan of tabernacling among His people.

Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement will follow the Feast of Trumpets. It will be during this time that Jesus will pour out the seven bowls of wrath on His way to Jerusalem. After He has raptured His Bride and circled the globe where "every eye will see Him," He will then make His ascent from Bozrah (modern day Jordan) killing Israel's enemies as He makes His way to the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem (Please see Isaiah 63:1-3;Revelation 16:1). He will then kill the Antichrist and False Prophet as well as the rest of the armies of the Islamic beast kingdom (Revelation 19:11-21). It is at this point, on Yom kippur, that the "veil" covering Israel's eyes is removed and she will receive Jesus as her Messiah!(The whole nation of Isarel will be saved in one day--on the Day of Atonement). God will have actually used the Antichrist's attempt to annihilate Israel(Revelation 12) to break their stubbornness and cause them to humble their hearts in preparation to receive Jesus as their Messiah. On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement Zechariah 12:10 will become a reality for the Jewish nation. That text says, "And I(God) 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." In a word, Israel's willingness to repent and fulfill Matthew 23:39 will literally open the door for the Feast of Tabernacles to begin! That verse says, "For I(Jesus) tell you(Israel), you will not see me again UNTIL you say, Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord." When Israel repents, Jesus will make Himself known to them even as Joseph--a type of Christ--revealed Himself to his brothers when Judah repented(Genesis 44-45). This will be a great and glorious day!

Zechariah 14:16 says, "Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty and celebrate THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES." On the Day of Atonement Israel will be saved and the nations will be judged. And then the 1,000 year reign of Jesus will begin which will be Feast of Tabernacles! Think of it friend: God will literally tabernacle among us for 1,000 years in the person of His Son! These will be golden days on the earth(Please read Isaiah 2:2-4). Then after the 1,000 years are ended, we will enter into the transcendent life of God Himself. This will be the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles--the day of new beginnings! Eight is the number of new beginnings. What is the transcendent life of God? I don't know, but I do like its description found in Revelation 21:1-5, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no more sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Look! God's DWELLING PLACE IS NOW AMONG PEOPLE, AND HE WILL DWELL WITH THEM. They will be His people and God himself will be WITH THEM AND BE THEIR GOD. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the older order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, I am making everything new. . ." Hence, in these words we see God's ultimate plan fulfilled: Fully tabernacling with His people forever!

I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)

The Day of Atonement is found in Leviticus 23:26-32 and also in Leviticus 16. After the High Priest had made atonement for himself and his family, he would then take two goats and presnet them before the Lord. Lots were then cast for the two goats. The goat whose lot fell to the Lord was sacrificed as a sin offering. The other goat was known as the scapegoat from the Hebrew word "azazal." "Az," means "goat," and "azal" means "to go away." Both hands were laid on the azazal, Israel's sins were confessed, and the goat was led away into the wilderness. Hence the term "scapegoat." The purpose of this sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, known in the Hebrew as "Yom Kippur," had to do with the importance of the shedding of blood to take away the sins of Israel. To what end? that Israel's sins would be atoned for so that they might have the favor of God upon them! Yom Kippur occured on the 10th day of Tishri--the seventh Hebrew month(our late Septemeber or early October). It was the most solemn day in all of Israel and was the one day that Israel was "to afflict their souls" through fasting from the evening of Tishri 9th to sundown on Tishri 10th(24 hours).

The first Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement occured when Moses went back up on Sinai a second time for another 40 days. When he went up on Mt. Sinai the first time to receive the 10 Commandments, the nation of Israel sinned a great sin against God by making the golden calf! The result was that God was very angry. So Moses went up on the Mount again. This time he went up for the purpose of making "atonement" for the nation because of the sin of making the golden calf. According to rabbinc tradition, Moses went up on the first of Elul(our September 1). When he came down it was Tishri 10--40 days later--(our October 10th). So Moses actually came down on the Day of Atonement letting all of Israel know that atonemnet been achieved for them. That is why that the 40 days between Elul 1 and Tishri 10 are known as the 40 days of repentance or the season of Teshuvah. The point is this: the Day of Atonement is God's forgivness for the nation of Israel. Also it should be known that when Moses came down the mountain from his meeting with God, his face was radiant(Exodus 34:29-33). That is why that the expression "face to face" is an idiom for the Day of Atonement. I will say more about this a little later. One further point here. When Moses had made atonement for Israel--their sins as a nation being forgiven--he then began collecting the materials for the construction of the Tabernacle. God was essentially saying, now that atonement has been made for you, I want to come down and tabernacle among you! This is when the Tabernacle was built!

I'm going to get a little ahead of myself here, but please understand that all of this prophetically points to the Day of Atonement in the Tribulation period--when all Israel will repent and be saved. This will result in Yeshua the Messiah living and TABERNACLING among them in the Millennial Reign! Yeshua will return on the Feast of Trumpets(Yom Teru'ah--rapture and second return); He saves Israel on the Day of Atonement from the Antichrist and the Islamic Beast Kingdom by pouring out the seven last bowls of God's judgement(Revelation 16; 19:11-21); and He begins His Millennial Reign on the Feast of Tabernacles! Back now to a little more context for the Day of Atonement.

Some may be asking this question: what is the difference between Passover and the Day of Atonement? Passover speaks of individual redemption whereas the Day of Atonement speaks of the national redemption of Israel. In individual redemption we make the choice to personaly "apply the blood to our lives by faith" and so be saved. But when we get to the ultimate fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, God says "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Yeshua/Jesus is Lord." All governments, whether they like or not, are going to bow to God on that day! So all of the Fall Feasts, beginning with the Feast of Trumpets, speaks of national redemption and restoration of all the nations back to God and His Son(Revelation 11:15-19); the Feast of Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement in particular speaks of the nation of Israel and her redemption and restoration back to God. The Feast of Tabernacles marks the 1000 year reign of this redemption and restoration.

In an attempt to shorten this article somewhat, I am going to make a statement and then give you the scriptures to validify what I am going to tell you. You will have to look up the scriptures and do the comparisons. It is impossible to understand the Book of the Revelation without understanding Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement! Said another way, there is a Yom Kippur service in the Book of the Revelation. Leviticus 16:12-15 which is describing the Day of Atonement is found in the language and imagery of Revelation 8:3-7: the number 7, incense, and the golden altar. Also, Revelation 11:15-19 is replete with Day of Atonement language: the nations angry, God's temple and the Ark of the Covenant. Keep in mind that once a year the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies where God's Presence dwelt over the Ark of the Covenant! Also, when the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies he was wearing a white linen robe. When he offered the sacrifice on the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant, his white robes would be stained with blood! Please take a moment and read Isaiah 63:1-4 and Revelation 19:13. All of this in the Book of Revelation is to let us know that this is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement! Time will not allow me to develope this fully, but Yom Kippur happened at the end of the year in Israel--the final harvest. And what did they harvest in the fall of the year? Fruit, but particularly grapes from which wine was made. Revelation 14:18-20(please read) is language about the final harvest on the earth and it is full of the Day of Atonement imagery. God is telling us that Yom Kippur will happen at the end of the age when Yeshua returns to rapture the church, redeem Israel, and judge the nations that fought against Israel!

I will try and bring this to a close by hopefully making a modern application to the times in which we are living. Please take a moment and read Ezekiel 20:34-35. This speaks of what God will do with Israel in the last days. Especially notice the term "face to face," another term for Day of Atonement. During the last three and one half years of the Tribulation period, God is going to take Israel into the "wilderness," and there He will break their stubborn pride and remove the veil that has blinded their eyes to the truth. Revelation 12:6 says "The woman(Israel) fled into the WILDERNESS, to a place prepared for her by God, where she will be taken care of for 1,260 days(the last three and one half years of the tribulation period)." The whole nation of Israel, that has survived Antichrist's attempt to annihilate them, will at this time on Yom Kippur realize that Yeshua/Jesus is their Messiah! Zechariah 12:10 describes this incredible moment on that day: "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 or an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn Son." This will fulfill the prophecy of Yeshua in Matthew 23:39, " You(Israel) will not see me again until you say,'blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.'" Romans 11:25-27 says " I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited:Israel has experienced a hardening in part UNTIL the full number of the Gentils has come in (been saved) , and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: The deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob(Israel). And this is my covenant with them WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS." "When I take away their sins," is Yom Kippur! On the Day of Atonement Yeshua will remove their veil and they will recognize Him as their "atoning sacrifice."

In Acts 3:17-21, the Word of God makes it clear that Messiah will not come or return until Israel is ready to receive Him as a nation. This means that the Feast of Trumpets(the rapture of the church and second return of Yeshua); Yom Kippur--the Day of Atonement--the national salvation of Israel; and the Feast of Tabernacles--the millennial reign of Yeshua--are all tied to Israel! This is God's heart and God's plan. If we are wise, we will make God's heart and plan our top priority. By so doing, we will be positioning ourselves for the blessing of God in these last days. Genesis 12:3 was true yesterday, it is true today, and it will true in the days ahead. "I will bless those who bless you(Israel), and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.