This begins rather strangely. This is because, in my book, "The Time Of Our Visitation", the following begins on page 50. However, I want you to be able to see how the feasts and the festivals may apply to the second coming of the Blessed Messiah. How these celebrations may actually give us signs and indications to His coming sometime in the future.
Keeping in mind this is the second half of a larger study, lets get started.
But, now, lets move on to the seven Jewish holidays and festivals I wish to discuss. And, to once again, show where the Jewish festivals and the Old Testament have a direct impact on the 21st century evangelical church.
The four Spring festivals are:
1. The Feast of Passover,
2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread,
3. The Feast of Firstfruits and
4. The Feast of Pentecost.
The three Fall festivals are:
1. The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah),
2. The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and
3. The Feast of Tabernacles.
There is another mentioned very briefly in the Bible. In fact, if you are not looking for it, you can easily miss it. It is Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights. It is also known as Chanukah. Chanukah is an ancient Hebrew word which means: Dedication.
In John 10:22, you will see where Jesus was in the temple during Hanukkah. It says; "At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem;..."
This passage speaks of Hanukkah. Hanukkah (or Chanukah) is a Hebrew word which means; Dedication. This festival occurs in the month December. There are two other festivals celebrated by Jesus recorded in the Bible. They are Tabernacles and Passover. Note that Jesus did not color Easter eggs and put up a Christmas tree.
There is another fascinating thing mentioned in John 10:23 about Jesus. It says; "...it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon."
You may ask; So what? The "portico" was the Holy of Holies within the Temple. Only the chief priests could go in there. It was blasphemy for anyone else to set foot within this holy place. Was Jesus allowed to be in the Holy of Holies? Well, we all believe the answer to that question is, absolutely yes. But, does the Bible support our opinion?
It says in Hebrews 7:14-17; "For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of Him, YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK."
In short; Yes! The Bible clearly says that Jesus was certainly allowed inside the Holy of Holies.
Compared to the other religious festivals on the Jewish calendar, Hanukkah is a relative new-comer as it was established in 165 BC. Hanukkah is a minor holiday, without a Sabbath. But, I still believe it will play a major role in the completion of Daniels 70th week of years.
The seven major festivals I will discuss were established by God prior to 1700 BC (the book of Exodus was written in approximately 1706 BC by Moses).
Hanukkah basically has two themes; The victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian, Antiochus Epiphanes in 166 BC, and the rededication of the Temple. Right now, none of this has any relevant bearing on this study. However, I will soon make a very interesting point using Hanukkah. So, please dont forget what I said here.
God also assigned specific dates for each of the festivals, and they are to be remembered on these dates each year throughout all generations. Keep in mind, this was not something which was requested by God. It was commanded by Him.
The Jewish calendar is really very simple. The Jewish calendar is based on the lunar cycle rather than a solar cycle, like the calendar we use today. The months alternate between having 30 days, and 29 days. It is alternated every other month, i.e.; the first month, Nissan has 30 days and the second month , Iyar has 29 days and so forth throughout the year. The day the moon is first visible after the new moon marks the first day of each month.
Every third year, a 13th month is added. This is the month of Ve-Adar (translated as; the second Adar). For lack of better terminology, I will call this a "leap-month". This acts in the same way as our "leap-year".
It is inserted 7 times every 19 years (every 3 years). It works out to give the Jewish calendar an average of 365 days per year for each 19 year cycle. Our Julian calendar give us an average of 365 days per year for each 4 year cycle.
The Jews have two calendars; a civil calendar and a religious calendar. In the Old Testament books of Exodus and Leviticus the religious calendar is used. I will also use the religious calendar.
The month of Nisan (sometimes call Aviv) is the ancient month of Abib. It is the first month of the year on the Jewish religious calendar. God changed it from Tishri to Nisan in Exodus 12:2.
In relationship to our Julian calendar, the month of Nisan starts in our late March or early April depending on the cycle of the moon. As you will soon see, this is why the evangelical church and the Catholics celebrate Easter in the Spring time.
Within each festival, there is much ceremony to be observed. Instructions for each festival can be found in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus. There is a great deal of information and insight to be learned from each of the festival ordinances. However, in order to keep this study brief, as well as informative, I will keep it to a minimum. I encourage you to study this for yourself.
Now that I have provided you with some foundational information, lets get started on how these ancient Jewish festivals apply to the 21st century Christian.
In Luke 19:41-44; Jesus was talking with His disciples on the Mount of Olives outside of Jerusalem. This passage speaks of the sorrow Jesus was experiencing because His people refused to believe the prophecies that foretold His coming, and what would befall the Jews and Jerusalem as a result.
The Bible says in Luke 19:41-44; "When He (Jesus) approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, If you (the Jews) had known in this day, even you (talking to the disciples who were with Jesus), the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation (the first coming of the Messiah)."
Jesus lamented over Jerusalem and all of Israel. Jesus knew what was to befall them for their disobedience. Yes, disobedience! Not ignorance! The Jews had nearly destroyed themselves by not studying the Word of God, not knowing the prophecies that clearly foretold the coming of the Messiah and thereby not knowing the time the Messiah would come to them ("...the time of your visitation."). For some of them, it was an intentional and deliberate rejection.
How could they have known that they were living in the time of the Messiah? It would have been unfair of God to punish His people if they did not know the time of His visitation. If He had failed to tell them when to expect it, or how they would know. I believe most people would agree with that. However, God is a just God, and He did not place His people in such a circumstance.
This is one point I wish to labor on throughout this study. Also, to stress that it is no different today. God told His people over 2600 years ago of the first coming of the Messiah. See Daniel chapter 9. And, the Bible clearly tells us today of the second coming of the Messiah with the same prophecies, and with very the words of Jesus, Himself. God can, and will hold us responsible because we were forewarned of these events many, many years ago. And, He tells us each and every time we pick up His Word.
Over 600 years before the birth of Jesus, the angel Gabriel gave to Daniel, the prophet specific information concerning the first and second coming of the Messiah. Gabriel supplied us with a precise timetable for this event. This is recorded in the 9th chapter of Daniel. Gabriel told Daniel there would be 70 weeks to finish the transgression, to make an end to sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Gabriel made it clear to Daniel that the first 69 weeks will commence with the going forth of the commandment to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem. These 69 weeks will end when the Messiah is "cut off" (crucified).
The actual length of time of the 70 weeks is determined from the Hebrew word "heptad" which means 7 years. Therefore, with the understanding that each week (heptad) actually represents a 7 year period rather than 7 days, the time in reality is 490 years.
The commandment to restore and rebuild the city of Jerusalem was given by King Artaxerxes of Persia as recorded in the book Nehemiah, chapter 2. The commandment restore Jerusalem was given in approximately 450 BC. This is believed for the following reasons;
1. In Daniel 9:26, the Most Holy God says; "Then after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off (crucified),...
2. 62 weeks is 434 years.
3. The restoration of Jerusalem took 49 years (7 weeks).
4. 62 weeks plus 7 weeks equals 69 weeks (483 years).
5. Jesus was born in the year 1 BC, and His earthly life was approximately 33 years.
6. Subtract 33 years from 483 years and you have 450 years.
7. This leaves us with the year 450 BC.
Remember, there is no "year zero" in the calendar. When Jesus was born, we went straight from the year 1 BC to the year 1 AD.
I will discuss the remaining 7 years (Daniels 70th week of years) of the 490 years later in this study, and how it pertains to the end times. For now, we only need to understand that all of Israel should have been fully aware of the time in which they were living, the time of their visitation. Because, it happened exactly as it was prophesied hundreds of years earlier. And, we should know the time we live in because, the Bible, with equal clarity, has told us of the time of our visitation. Now, lets look at the prophecies concerning the return of our Messiah.
But, once again, and for the record; The term "seven year tribulation" IS NOT found anywhere in the Bible. Therefore, with the exception to prove a point, the term "seven year tribulation" will not be used again in this study. Rather, the proper term, "Daniels 70th week of years" will be used instead.
Many scriptures foretold the first coming of the Messiah. By reading them, one could have, and should have recognized the coming of the Messiah. The practice of the annual festivals teach the message of the coming of the Messiah. This was, and is the chief purpose of the feasts (festivals). As a matter of fact, they really have no other purpose than to foretell the coming of the Messiah.
We will now look at the four Spring festivals, or feasts. Once again, they are Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits and Pentecost.
The Four Fall Festivals
The first festival I wish to discuss is the Feast of Passover. In the celebrating of this feasts one remembers the time in which Israel was held captive in Egypt by Pharaoh, when God said He would go out into the midst of Egypt and all of the firstborn in the land would die. See Exodus 11:4&5. However, the house of Israel was protected from this curse by lambs blood. The Lord promised to "pass over" their houses when He saw the blood. See Exodus 12:21-23.
Shortly after this event God declared the month of Nisan (Aviv) to be the first month of the year. See Exodus 12:2. God told Moses to instruct all Israel that on the 10th day of this month each family was to take a male lamb, without blemish and set it apart from the rest of the flock. They were to keep it until the 14th day of the same month. Then they were to kill it in the evening if the 14th. See Exodus 12:3-11. The Feast of Passover is therefore always observed on the 14th of Nisan, just as God commanded them. See Exodus 12:18 and Deuteronomy 16:1.
Please note that God did not move the dates around to accommodate a three day weekend and/or a white sale at the mall. These festivals are to take place on the same date each and every year without exception. This is what Father God has COMMANDED!
It must be understood, the Feast of Passover not only reflects back to the exodus of Israel from Egypt, but also towards the fulfillment of the coming of the Messiah, as do all the festivals. In other words, the Messiah will personify the ordinances of these festivals when He comes. Therefore, by practicing the ordinances of the festivals one should become familiar with their message and thereby recognize the Messiah when He manifests the message of the festivals within His life. And, the fulfillment of the first coming of Messiah was accomplished on the cross when He became the Passover Lamb.
The first coming of the Messiah brought Jesus to us as the Passover Lamb. We find confirmation of this in the words of John the Baptist, when he said in John 1:29; "The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"
Which fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy found in Isaiah 53:7; "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth."
On Passover, our Sacrificial Lamb, Jesus was hanging on the cross. He died at the 9th hour (approx. 3:00pm) the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan. See Luke 23:44-46.
Remarkably, as Jesus was being sealed into the tomb, Israels high priest (the same ones who had Jesus crucified) stood in the temple, cut the throat of the sacrificial lamb and laid it on the alter as per Gods instructions for the continuation of the Feast of the Passover. Thus, Jesus, through His sacrifice as the Lamb of God, fulfilled the scriptures and the Feast of the Passover with His lifes blood.
It must be noted that Passover IS NOT just a one day festival. Passover is actually an EIGHT DAY festival. Passover includes the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which I will discuss next. This should help to clear up any confusion on how Jesus could be crucified on Passover, yet the High Priest celebrated the Passover on the evening of the next day.
We must never, never forget the ancient Jews did not do things the way 21st century westerners do. We must always adapt to their thinking, customs and traditions when studying them.
"Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed."
I Corinthians 5:7
THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
The second feast is the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It begins at sundown (which begins the next day), the 15th of Nisan. This is a continuation of Passover. The Jewish day begins at sundown each evening (approximately 6:00pm), not at midnight as with our Julian calendar.
This feast is to continue for 7 days, from the 15th of Nisan through the 21st.
"Then on the fifteenth day of the same month (Nisan) there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread." Leviticus 23:6.
"They shall eat the flesh (of the lamb) that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs." Exodus 12:8.
Biblically, leaven (yeast) represents sin. Therefore, the eating of unleavened bread is representative of not only the freedom from the bondage of Egypt, but the freedom from the bondage of sin as well. To eat it with bitter herbs signifies the bitter price of sin. The price paid by our Lord, Jesus upon the cross for our redemption.
and the 21st
of Nisan are also Sabbath days unto the Lord. "On the first day
) you shall have a holy convocation
(a Sabbath); you shall not do any laborious work. But for seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD. On the seventh day
) is a holy convocation
(a Sabbath); you shall not do any laborious work." Leviticus 23:7&8.
There is a mistaken belief by many Christians that Saturday is the only Sabbath day. We must understand that Saturdays are not the only Sabbath days on the Jewish religious calendar. God proclaimed the 15th
and the 21st
of Nisan, as well as many other dates
on the Jewish religious calendar, to be a Sabbath day. And, this is regardless of what day of the week they may fall upon.
The Bible said in John 19:31; "Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away."
Most evangelical Christians know nothing about how Jews observe their calender. Yet, most of the "authoritative" writings in Christian book store were written by those "experts." You need to remember this.
The is ONLY ONE "high day" Sabbath on the Jewish calender. And, it IS NOT the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The 15th and 21st of Nisan are MINOR Sabbaths.
The "high day" spoken of in the Bible is the 7th day Sabbath. It is the Sabbath every obedient Jew observes every Friday evening with the lighting of the Sabbath Lights. THERE IS NO OTHER. Period.
I have always been told the Sabbath spoken of in John 19 preceded the weekly 7th day (Saturday) Sabbath. I was told it was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread...which, again, is a MINOR Sabbath. But, after more then three years of studying with Jews, I have learned this is absolutely not true.
THE FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS
The third Spring festival is the Feast of Firstfruits. It falls on the day following the weekly 7th day (Saturday) Sabbath, which requires it to be on the 1st day of the week (Sunday) following the 15th of Nisan. Again, this is regardless of what day of the week the 15th falls on.
"Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath (Sunday) the priest shall wave it."
"But on the first day of the week (the Sunday following the 15th of Nisan),..."
Luke 24:1. Messiah Jesus had already risen. He was being offered before God as our firstfruit as an acceptance for our sins. Yet another observance of the Torah in the New Testament by our Lord.
Please remember that Jesus is our Firstfruits. "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His (second) coming," I Cor 15: 20&23.
Therefore, as the priest waved the sheaf of firstfruits each year to make Israel acceptable unto God, so did the resurrection of our Messiah Jesus, a priest forever; became the firstfruits unto God once and for all time.
"...but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever (shall live forever), holds His priesthood permanently." Hebrews 7:24.
By the eternal grace of God, and through the selfless sacrifice of Messiah Jesus on the cross for the sins of man and His resurrection unto eternal life; we can now come boldly unto the throne of God and be acceptable to God through the saving grace of Messiah Jesus.
"Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16.
Amen, and forever Amen!!
The fourth festival is the Feast of Pentecost. "You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath (Sunday), from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath (Sunday); then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD." Leviticus 23:15-16.
In the early morning hours following the night God passed over the land of Egypt and all of the first born had died, the Israelites departed Goshen and made their way into the desert. Shortly thereafter, Pharaoh pursued them. The Israelites then found themselves trapped at the waters edge of the Red Sea. But, God delivered them from the Egyptians by parting the waters through Moses, giving the Israelis an escape route.
The date on which God delivered the Israelites through the waters, and across the dry bed of the Red Sea was by no coincidence on the Feast of Firstfruits. Fifty days later (on Pentecost), in the month of Sivan, at Mount Sinai, God descended upon the mountains as a flaming fire with lightening and thunder. It was here God delivered the Torah (the ten commandments - books of the Law) to Moses on Mount Sinai. See Exodus, chapters 19&20.
Likewise, fifty days from the Feast of Firstfruits, and of the resurrection of Jesus, is the day of the Feast of Pentecost. On this day, God sent forth His Holy Spirit, descending upon the disciples like tongues of fire.
"When the day of Pentecost had come (50 days later), they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance."
Let me say this very quickly and then I will move on. The gift of tongues is not some nonsensical gibberish that some call "praying in the spirit". This alleged "praying in the spirit", or "speaking in tongues", as some doctrines call it, is absolutely unbiblical.
What the Bible does say is; "And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?" Acts 2:6-8.
The gift of tongues is a known language. Other men heard the Apostles speak, and they understood what was being said. So, if anyone tells you otherwise, suggest to them that they read their Bible.
And, dont forget the passage where God requires an interpreter. "If ANYONE speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God."
I Cor 14:27&28.
Enough of that. Time to move on.
We can see that the point of the message to us found in observing the four Spring festivals were to announce the first coming of the Messiah. We also see that each prophetic message was specific, and each was accurately and completely fulfilled.
Moreover, it was Jesus who fulfilled them in every respect, declaring His credentials. Therefore, when Jesus returns at His second coming, there is more than mere speculation on the part of the believer that Jesus will fulfill the messages of the three Fall festivals with the same accuracy. Thereby bringing fulfillment of the prophecies.
James, the half brother of Jesus (same mother, but certainly different fathers) also ties the coming of Jesus together with the teachings of the seven major festivals with the example of the rain; the early and the late rain.
"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near." James 5:7&8.
I have read and have been taught by those who claim James 5:7&8 is referring only to the first coming of Jesus, and therefore, is speaking strictly of a past tense event. I would argue this and say; James is speaking of both a past event, AND a future event yet to be fulfilled.
Those two events are;
1. The first coming of the Messiah.
The early rain.
Which was fulfilled with the birth, life, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus.
2. The second coming of the Messiah.
The late rain.
Will be fulfilled with the return of Jesus sometime in the future.
James is exhorting us to rest in the promises of God, and to be "patient" until we receive the full promise of the early and the late rain.
Thus far, we have only received a portion of the promise. That of the early rain. The remaining portion of the promise (the late rain) will be received when Jesus returns near the end of Daniels 70th week of years.
Also note the specific wording; "...for the coming of the Lord is near." This implies a future tense. James, the half-brother of Jesus knew that our Messiah had already come the first time. Therefore, James is telling us to be patient until He comes again.
James is telling the believer to be patient and to wait until we receive the full promise of God when Jesus returns and fulfills the prophecy of the late rain.
If this was referring strictly to a past tense event, it would be like telling someone to sit on the corner and wait for a bus which had already passed by.
No, this is not strictly a past tense event. It is referring to both. A past event AND a future event yet to be fulfilled at the second coming of Jesus.
Now, lets move on to the prophecies regarding the "late rain" and see if God tells us of our time of visitation just as He told the ancient Jews.
The three Fall festivals (the late rain) come in the seventh month of the month, Tishri. Tishri falls in conjunction with our September or October. Again, depending on the cycle of the moon.
The nature of the three Fall festivals quite deliberately reveals future events which are yet to be fulfilled. With one exception. And, that is in regards to the birth of Jesus, which I will discuss shortly.
Unlike the Spring festivals where we have the benefit if hindsight due to their fulfillment, the impact of the Fall festivals may slip by those who do not know the significance of Jewish law as it pertains to Christianity. This is why I not only say that Christianity could not exist without Judaism, but also, Christians can never fully understand the Bible without some knowledge of Judaism.
The festivals themselves do not foretell a specific year in which the Messiah will fulfill the message. However, each of the Fall festivals points to a specific event, occurring within a specific festival or feast, within the plan of God that will be fulfilled by Messiah Jesus when He returns.
It is therefore a logical deduction for us to conclude that God has appointed these Fall festivals to reveal His intent with the same deliberate resolve and with the same remarkable accuracy as was found in the fulfillment of each of the Spring festivals at their appointed times.
The Three Spring Festivals
THE FEASTS OF TRUMPETS
The first of the three Fall festivals is the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah). "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation (a Sabbath)." Leviticus 23:24.
Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the 1st of Tishri, which is the 7th month of the Jewish religious calendar. Here again we find the appointment of another Sabbath day. Furthermore, we find the inclusion of many themes taught in the celebration of this feast. However, for the purpose of this study, we will limit our attention to its main theme; the resurrection of the dead.
Judaism teaches that the resurrection of the dead will one day take place at the blowing of a Shofar (a trumpet made from the horn of a ram) during the festival of Rosh Hashanah (the Feast of the Trumpets). The Apostle Paul was very familiar with these customs.
Before meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul, a Jew was a Pharisee. He knew the law (the Torah) forwards and backwards. So, is it any coincidence that God would convert this murderer of Christians in the 1st century and have him teach us the ways of the Jews, and the Torah so we would understand the prophecies in the 21st century? I assure you, it is no coincidence. Paul knew the law, he knew the customs and he knew their significance to prophecy. This is why God chose to teach us these things through Paul. As an example, here are excerpts from just two of Pauls letters.
I Corinthians 15:51&52 says; "Behold, I tell you a mystery (something not previously known); we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."
I Thessalonians 4:16 says; "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first."
We Christians are familiar with the above Scriptures, and we understand them by use of the word Rapture, the gathering of the believers unto Messiah. Please note; the word Rapture does not appear in the Bible. The term Day of the Lord is used (II Thessalonians. 2:2), and this is understood to be what we call the rapture.
And, as Paul would not want you to be confused, nor would I. Please understand the term Day of the Lord also applies to the wrath of God. Refer back to page 22 of this study for an explanation.
However, the Jews understand this message by way of the teachings of the festival of the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), which conveys a very similar message. The Jew and the Christian therefore agree that God will gather His children unto Himself at the last trumpet, at the last day.
John 11:24 says; "Martha said to Him (Jesus), I know that he (Marthas brother, Lazarus) will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."
One very quick point involving Paul before moving on. This is directed to those who claim the New Testament was originally written in Greek. Please refer to three statements made by Paul in the books of Acts.
Acts 21:40; "When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he (Jesus) spoke to them in the HEBREW dialect, saying,.."
Acts 22:2; "And when they heard that he was addressing them in the HEBREW dialect,..."
Acts 26:14; "And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the HEBREW dialect,..."
Why would Jesus speak to Paul in Hebrew? Perhaps it was because Paul spoke Hebrew. And, if Paul spoke Hebrew, would it not be logical to assume he also wrote in Hebrew, and not in Greek?
Even Mary spoke to Jesus in Hebrew. Look at John 20:16; "Jesus said to her, Mary! She turned and said to Him in HEBREW, Rabboni! (which means, Teacher)."
Please let me comment on this last verse very briefly. Is states "Rabboni" means "Teacher." This is a wrong translation. This is the problem when people who know nothing about the Jews are charged with translating Hebrew scriptures.
The word "Rabbi" does mean "Teacher." Rabbi is the root word of Rabboni. However, it is obvious they are two different words. Therefore, it stands to reason they will have two different definitions.
The word "Rabboni" has multiple meanings. Its meaning is determined on how the word is used in the sentence. It can mean "Great Teacher", "Great One", "Great Prince" or "Great Presence."
It is a word used by Jews to show high respect. And, keep in mind, it is used only twice in the entire Bible. In Matthew 10:51 and again in John 20:16. And, only when speaking about our Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Even Dr. James Strong in The New Strongs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible disagrees with the English translation of Rabboni. According to Dr. Strong, Rabboni is, quote; "A Jewish tile of respect."
Dr. Strong goes on to say this in his New Strongs Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament with their Renderings in the King James Version.
In Strongs number 4461, in the Greek, it says, quote; "my master" and "an official title of honor." But, not "teacher."
The month that precedes Tishri is the month of Elul, and lasts for 29 days. Each day of Elul, the trumpet (Shofar) is blown to warn the people that Rosh Hashanah is approaching. Rosh Hashanah is also called the Day of Judgement.
The call of this trumpet is a call to repentance before the last trumpet is blown on the 1st of Tishri, which is the day of the Feast of Trumpets. Therefore, the trumpet is actually blown for 30 days. This little bit of information will be important later. So, please keep it in mind.
Therefore, in keeping with what we have understood to be the pattern of God concerning the festivals, and what the Scriptures have said to us, it may be reasonable to expect the gathering of Gods people to be at the last trumpet sounding at a future Rosh Hashanah celebration.
Keeping in mind however, we do not have the benefit of hindsight to guide us to such clear understanding as with the four Spring festivals. Yet, I believe there is sufficient Biblical evidence where this cannot simply be written off by the reader as mere speculation on the part of the writer.
We must realize; God, Himself established the feasts, and He commanded they be observed throughout all generations,...a law forever. Their messages should have been clear in the minds of His people.
Throughout the Old Testament, God said He would come to us. And He did. He came to us as the man Jesus, fulfilling a portion of His promise as the suffering Messiah, of which the four Spring festivals foretold. Although I approach my conclusions with great caution, I look to God to deal similarly with the three Fall festivals.
Before moving on, let me address the concerns of those who may say; This is not possible. Jesus said that He came to fulfill the law, and did so through His birth, life, crucifixion, death and resurrection. The law does not apply to the New Testament church."
In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said; "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I DID NOT come to abolish but to fulfill."
Using this verse, can you show me where Jesus threw out Torah? I personally do not think you can. Because, He didnt.
Jesus came the first time to fulfill the laws and the prophecies regarding His first coming. But, Jesus did not fulfill ALL of the laws and the prophecies. There are still some that exist that pertain to His second coming.
This has nothing to do with your salvation. That part of the law was completely fulfilled on the cross. But, the laws and the prophecies regarding the second coming are yet to be fulfill, but shall be when Jesus returns. In short, Jesus did fulfill certain laws and prophecies when He came the first time, but not all of the them. The remaining ones will be fulfilled at His return.
THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
The second festival is the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). "On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you (a Sabbath), and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD. You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the LORD your God." Leviticus 23:27.
To the Jew, this day marks the most holy day of the year. It is the day in which Israel mourns her sin. Yom Kippur is the only festival day in which fasting and prayer is commanded, for the repentance of sin. Hence; "...humble your souls..."
It is also the only day of the year in which the priest could enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple, where Gods glory could be seen upon the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant.
The first ten days of the month of Tishri (from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur) are called High Holy Days, or The Days of Awe. This is the most sacred time of the Jewish year. During this time, it is taught that each person becomes accountable to God for his sins. It is also believed that the time from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur bear significance to Daniels 70th week of years ("...great tribulation...", Matt, 24:21).
In the observance of Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement), also known as Yom haPeduth (The Day of Redemption) we find two themes taught: atonement and redemption.
With the coming of Yom Kippur comes the atonement of sin (The Day of the Lord-meaning: Gods wrath). But, more importantly, for those in Messiah, it teaches the coming of Gods redemption (The Day of the Lord - meaning: the rapture).
Jewish teachings associates this feast with the coming of the Messiah as it is taught in the 14th chapter of Zechariah.
In Zechariah 14:4&5, the Most Holy God said; "In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones (the dead in Messiah) with Him (rapture - See I Thessalonians 4:16)!"
As Christians, we can agree with the Jew that this indeed speaks of the coming of the Messiah. However, we agree with one major exception. The Orthodox Jew is still waiting for the first coming of the Messiah,...whomever he may. Because, the Orthodox Jew does not believe Yeshua haMacshiach hu Adonai (Jesus the Messiah is Lord).
For the Christian AND the Messianic Jew, we are waiting for the return of the Messiah Jesus. May He come soon!
It is at this time Gods people will have been thrust into "...great tribulation..." (the latter half of Daniels 70th week of years as foretold in the 9th chapter of Daniel). Many will fall under the sword of the anti-Christ and will suffer greatly for their witness of Messiah Jesus. See Revelation 13:7-10.
Therefore, this day will be the Day of Atonement for the enemies of the Lord; and the Day of Redemption for Gods chosen ones. See Revelation 19:11-21.
Please note, the key word in the next question is; "IF".
If Messiahs return is on the Day of Atonement, and with it comes the end of Daniels 70th week of years, does it not stand to reason that the confirmation of the 7 year covenant between the anti-Christ and the nation of Israel must also be on a Yom Kippur celebration 7 years prior?
It is, after all, the entering into this covenant that officially begins Daniels 70th week of years. See Daniel 9:27. After all, Daniels 70th week of years is the last 7 years of recorded history before Messiahs return.
And, when shall this be? I have absolutely no idea.
But, the Bible says in Daniel 12:11&12; "From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up (Daniel 9:27), there will be 1,290 days. How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days!"
What in the world does that mean!? I asked that very same question of God for a long time. In an effort to answer that question, lets look at what God said in Daniel 9:27.
"And he (the anti-Christ) will make a firm covenant with the many (the Israelis) for one week (7 years - Daniels 70th week of years), but in the middle of the week he (the anti-Christ) will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate." See Matthew 24:15 and II Thessalonians 2:2.
Still confused? Thats OK. I was too for the first couple of years I was researching this subject. Rather than go into a lot of detail that doesnt matter right now, I will stick with my point.
Sometime in the future, at the very beginning of Daniels 70th week of years, the anti-Christ will broker an agreement between Israel and her enemies. The signing of this agreement (covenant) will start the final 7 years of history, Daniels 70th week of years.
However, in the midst of the 7 year period, something will cause the anti-Christ to desecrate the Holy of Holies of the new Temple yet to be built in Jerusalem. Remember, this is a future event.
Daniel 12:11&12 clearly mentions two specific numbers of days, 1290 days and 1335 days. Daniel 12:11 clearly states that from the abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:27), to a point in the future, there will pass 1335 days.
Then something will happen. How do I know this?
Because verse 12 says; "How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days!"
The Bible clearly says; "How blessed is he,..."
Does that sound like Gods wrath? Not to me, it doesnt. To me it sounds like something good is about to happen. But what?
For the next few of paragraphs, please permit me to speculate.
First of all, there is a 45 day difference between 1290 and 1335 days (1335 - 1290 = 45). From the abomination of desolation to this future time is 1290 days. This leaves 45 days to be reckoned with.
Now, please consider the Festivals of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Tabernacles. I will discuss the Festivals of Tabernacles at length shortly. But, for the moment, this is all you will need to know.
1. From the 1st day of Elul to the 1st day of Tishri, the Shofar is blown to announce the coming of Rosh Hashanah.
This lasts for 30 days.
2. Rosh Hashanah on the 1st of Tishri to Yom Kippur on the 10th.
This is 10 days.
3. Yom Kippur on the 10th of Tishri to Tabernacles on the 15th.
This is another 5 days.
Add them all together. 30 days + 10 days + 5 days = 45 days. 1290 days + 45 days = 1335 days. Coincidence? Perhaps. But, I dont think so. I believe there is too much biblical evidence for this to be arbitrarily written off as mere speculation on the part of the writer.
Do you remember that I mentioned Hanukkah earlier in the book? Remember that Hanukkah has two themes. Once again, they are the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian, Antiochus Epiphanes in 166 BC, and the rededication of Solomons Temple. This rededication was necessary because Epiphanes had desecrated the Temple,...much like the anti-Christ will.
Now for the "interesting point" I promised. Start with the 15th of Tishri (the beginning of the Festival of Tabernacles), and count backwards 1335 days. In doing so, this will take you back approximately 3 ½ years. It will also bring you back to the approximate time of Hanukkah.
Please remember that it is difficult to get precise with any timetable when you are trying to convert the Julian calendar to a Jewish calendar, or visa versa. So, the times will be approximate, but still quite applicable to what I am trying say here.
Remember what God said in Daniel 9:27; "...but in the middle of the week..." Sometime near the middle of Daniels 70th week of years, the anti-Christ will desecrate the new Temple in Jerusalem, just as Antiochus Epiphanes did in 166 BC.
Remember, Epiphanes was not the anti-Christ. And, the Temple spoken of in Daniel 9 and Matthew 24 has not yet been built,...but it will be.
Imagine this if you will. The anti-Christ brokers a peace accord between Israel and her enemies at a future Yom Kippur. This peace accord (covenant) will bring approximately 3 ½ years of peace. Not only to Israel, but to the world itself. This is one of the things that will make the anti-Christ so revered by so many. This peace accord also makes it possible for Israel to rebuild Solomons Temple in Jerusalem.
Then comes Hanukkah, and the Jews wish to rededicate the new Temple. But, do they dedicate this new Temple to the man who helped make it possible? No! They dedicated it to the Living God. The anti-Christ is furious.
He will feel the Jews had no right to do this. He believes he should be the one to whom the temple should be dedicated...not God Therefore, he enters the Holy of Holies, desecrates the Temple and declares himself to be God, demanding all fall down and worship him.
1290 days later is Rosh Hashanah, and 45 days later (a total of 1335 days) is the Festival of Tabernacles.
Remember what God said in Daniel 12:11&12; "From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days!"
Still think it is a coincidence? As for myself, I dont think so. Personally, I think it is God showing His awesome sovereignty over prophetical events.
For the record; I have absolutely no evidence to support what I just said. However, I must also say this is more than speculation and conjecture on the part of the writer.
Reason being, there is too much biblical evidence for this to be simply written off as mere speculation on the part of the reader, or that of the writer.
However, as always, we approach such speculation with great caution to avoid blasphemy.
I am not speaking for God, nor do I pretend to do so. Such would be blasphemy and a sin. The point I am trying make is; There is much information in the Bible to show the believer the season of the return of Jesus. Just as there was much information given to the ancient Jews that announced first coming of the Messiah (...the time of your visitation. Luke 19:44).
But, how does the Feast of Tabernacles fit into what I just discussed? I will quickly finish up with the Feast of Yom Kippur, and I will answer that very question.
The anti-Christ is a counterfeit messiah, not just merely against Messiah. We must expect him to attempt to convince people that he is "the Messiah" in every way he can. He will deceive many by working wondrous signs and miracles. See Matthew 24:4, II Thessalonians 2:9 and Revelation 13:13.
It is logical, therefore, that he will make every effort to fulfill the prophecies of the true Messiah, which may also include the prophecies foretold within each of the 7 festivals of the Messiah. In an effort to be as convincing as possible, the anti-Christ may attempt to pass himself off as the true Messiah by establishing a peace agreement with Israel during a future Yom Kippur celebration, which would be a good time to do so. Especially since Israel is standing on the brink of war with the Arabs as I write.
Never the less, because the Bible clearly states that the anti-Christ ("...the man of lawlessness,...") will not be revealed until the abomination of desolation (II Thessalonians 2:3&4). Any attempt to identify him before that time will be a complete waste of time. Consequently, until the abomination of desolation, the identity of the anti-Christ is left entirely to speculation. Which is, all too often, unreliable.
At any rate, as mentioned previously; we must be careful with our, or any speculation. We must never allow speculation and/or conjecture to take precedence over the written Word of the Living God.
THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES
The third and final Fall festival is the Feast of Tabernacles. Leviticus 23:34 says; "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth of this seventh month (Tishri) is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the LORD."
The Feast of Tabernacles is also called the Festival of Sukkot. This feast is celebrated for 7 days, from the 15th of Tishri through the 21st. The word Sukkot is derived from the word Sukkah, which means a covered pavilion or booth.
God said in Leviticus 23:41-44; "You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.' So Moses declared to the sons of Israel the appointed times of the LORD."
Very quickly, I want you to notice something. In verse 41, God once again says; "a perpetual statute throughout your generations;..." "Perpetual" means "forever." Do you think He still means "forever?" I think He does. But, again, I will leave that for you to pray about.
There are 3 prophetic themes taught in the celebration of the Festival of Tabernacles.
1. The birth of the Messiah.
Fulfilled with the virgin birth of Jesus.
2. The dedication of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.
This will be a future Temple which has not yet been built.
3. The coming Kingdom of the Messiah, which Christians understand to be the millennial reign of Messiah Jesus on earth
To be fulfilled with the 2nd coming of Messiah at the end of Daniels 70th week of years.
Concerning the birth of Messiah, there is evidence to show that Jesus was born during the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). Specifically on the on the 15th of Tishri, 1 BC.
The calendar which we use today was established by a 6th century monk named Dionysis Exiguus. He made the distinction between BC (before Christ) and AD (anno Domini - In the year of our Lord) based upon the writings of Saint Luke, Eusebius and the Roman historical records that were available at that time.
He determined the birth of Messiah to be in the Roman year 74, and he later declared this to be the year 1 BC. The following year is acknowledged to be the year 1 AD. Though some feel the birth of Messiah was earlier (around 4 BC), recent discoveries show the calculations of Dionysis to be accurate.
Contrary to what many of us were taught in Sunday School, the fact that Mary and Joseph could not find room in the Inn was more likely because of all the people gathered near Jerusalem to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Tabernacles rather than for the reason of Caesar Augustus census. Caesar probably took advantage of these festivals to take his census since everyone was going to be at grandmas house for the holidays anyway.
Furthermore, it is very unlikely that Jesus was born in a stable. Evangelical Christianity "assumes" because Mary laid Him in a manger, He was born in a stable. And, that is not correct. Because, if all of the inns in town were full of travelers, the stables were full of their animals. Many scholars believe Jesus was born in the Sukkot the inn keeper had prepared for himself. Or, perhaps Jesus was born in the Sukkot Joseph built for their celebration.
The 2nd and 3rd theme of the Festival of Tabernacles are; The dedication of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, and the millennial reign of the Messiah.
The dedication of the Temple of Solomon was, no doubt, during the feast of Tabernacles. God said in I Kings 8:1&2; "Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers' households of the sons of Israel, to King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the city of David, which is Zion. All the men of Israel assembled themselves to King Solomon at the feast (of Tabernacles), in the month Ethanim (which is the ancient month of Tishri), which is the seventh month."
The existence of a temple in Jerusalem is absolutely necessary for the prophecies to be fulfilled. And, it will also be necessary for a return to animal sacrifice near the time of the return of our Lord, Jesus.
The Bible clearly says the anti-Christ will defile the temple and end the sacrificing in the middle of Daniels 70th week. Therefore; no temple, no sacrificing, no fulfillment of prophecy. The temple must be rebuilt.
God tells Daniel in Daniel 9:27; "...he (the anti-Christ) will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering;..."
God continues in II Thessalonians 2:4; "...who opposes and exalts himself (the anti-Christ) above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God (in the Holy of Holies within the Temple), displaying himself as being God."
This event, known as the abomination of desolation, signals the beginning of the latter half (the last 42 months) of Daniels 70th week of years and the beginning of "...great tribulation..." See Matthew 24:15&21.
Again, please remember, the term; "7 year tribulation" is not Biblical. You will not find this term, nor any reference to it in the Bible. Therefore, let us stick with the proper terminology which is found in the Holy Scriptures.
Following this "...great tribulation..." (Matthew 24:21) will come the outpouring of Gods wrath upon the wicked of the earth.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:29; "But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken."
When Jesus returns, we are told that He will enter the Temple grounds through the eastern gate, which still stands today. Even though it is kept closed by the hand of God (it is currently bricked up), it will be miraculously opened in time for Jesus return.
See what God said in Ezekiel 44:2; "The LORD said to me, This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the LORD God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut."
Messiahs entry will cleanse the Temple of the anti-Christs desecration. And, once again the glory of the Lord will fill the Temple.
God went on to say in Ezekiel 43:4&5; "And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the east. And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house."
Scripture also reveals the presence of a temple during the 1000 year millennial reign. God says in Zechariah 14:16; "Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths."
The scripture is a prophetic timetable in which the Lord, Jesus is crowned King ("...and to anoint the most holy place"; Daniel 9:24). He will rule all the earth from Jerusalem, and people from every nation of the earth will worship Him and keep His feasts "in their seasons."
Those who fail to come to worship will reap punishment from God. Moreover, sacrifices of some sort will also be observed during the Millennium.
In Zechariah 14:17-21, the Lord, God says; "And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth DOES NOT go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt DOES NOT go up or enter (the new temple), then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who DO NOT go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles). In that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, HOLY TO THE LORD. And the cooking pots in the LORD'S house will be like the bowls before the altar. Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the LORD of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts in that day."
Even though there is so much more we can learn through a more in-depth study of the Festivals of the Messiah, what we have learned so far is still very interesting. And, to learn how God has designed them to foretell the coming of our Messiah Jesus.
For most Christians, this study is something new. Perhaps even a bit strange. Gentile believers can easily overlook these things. Especially when these things are not taught in most evangelical churches. Yet, the information has always been before us in Gods Word.
Could it be that we were not meant to understand their meaning until now? God said in Daniel 12:9; "He said, Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time."
It excites me to think about how close we may be to the conclusion of history as we know it. How close we may be seeing all Bible prophecies fulfilled. How close we may be to watching Messiah Jesus return in the clouds.
But, it is also a bit frightening to think about what lays ahead for the believer during Daniels 70th week of years. It is no small thing when we consider what it may be like living under the Nazi-type of rule the anti-Christ will impose on Gods people.
That is exactly why, I believe we should know the truth of what the Bible teaches, and prepare ourselves for whatever may come. And, if not for us, then we must teach the truth for the future generation that will see these things come to pass. We owe that to them, and to God.
With the passing of the new millennium, there was much excitement. Many people thought Messiah would come at the stroke of midnight on the year 2000. He did not. Many people thought all of our computer systems would crash and we would enter into the so-called seven year tribulation period. This did not happen, either.
This is exactly why we must be ever so careful when speculating on Bible prophecy. We must teach facts, and not what we would like to see happen. And, if we are speculating, say so in the narrative of your work, as I have tried to do.
As was shown, God promised Daniel there would be 490 years to bring about the end and to anoint the Most Holy. See Daniel 9:24. And, there still remains the last 7 years (Daniels 70th week of years) of the 490 years yet to be fulfilled.
For when Israel failed to anoint Jesus as their King and their Messiah, God reached out to the Gentiles, putting on hold the completion of the 70 week prophecy. Since that time, we have been waiting on the Divine plan of God, waiting for Him to start the final seven years of recorded history,...Daniels 70th week of years and the appearance of the anti-Christ.
And, when will this be? Again, I have no idea when this will occur. However, the Bible clearly says; Daniels 70th week of years will commence with the anti-Christ confirming the seven year covenant with Israel. See Daniel 9:27.
From that time there will be exactly seven years before the Lord returns. But, before His return, the earth will witness horrible things from the "...great tribulation..." of Gods people at the hand of the anti-Christ, as well as the coming wrath of God upon the wicked.
Many Christians disagree with the idea that the believers in Jesus will go through Daniels 70th week of years, or what is commonly (and erroneously) called the seven year tribulation period. They are convinced that God will not allow such a thing to happen to His children since God said in I Thessalonians 5:9; "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,..."
However, this "...great tribulation..." is the persecution of the believers in Jesus. Though I believe we will escape Gods wrath in the rapture, there is no evidence in Scripture to support the idea that Gods people will escape persecution from evil men, especially the anti-Christ. Once again, please read what Messiah told us in Matthew 24.
Jesus clearly teaches that persecution will come upon those who choose to follow Him. Jesus said in John 15:20; "Remember the word that I said to you, A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, THEY WILL ALSO PERSECUTE YOU; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also."
We are told to expect persecution. Preaching to the contrary is calling Jesus a liar and blasphemy.
Clearly, the Bible not only declares the presents of believers during this time of tribulation, but also reveals their suffering and dying under great persecution from "the beast".
God said in the Revelation 13:7; "It was also given to him
(the anti-Christ) to make war with the saints
(believers) and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him."
They who do not worship the beast and take his mark are they whose names are written in the Lambs Book of Life. They are the persecuted. God goes on to say in Revelation 13:8; "All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain."
Moreover, this persecution is the precise reason that the Bible calls for patience and faith on the part of the believers. Once again, in Revelation 13:10, God said; "If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints."
As students of Gods Word, we must recognize, realize and understand the facts. Therefore, I say again: The Bible undoubtedly speaks of this time of tribulation as a time of extreme peril for Gods people, and not for the ungodly. It is the anti-Christ and his followers who enact torture and death in great abundance upon those believers who hold to the witness of Jesus.
This is supported with the words of God in Revelation 20:4; "Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years."
And, dont be surprised when those who will persecute you will claim to be Christians. Look at the words of Jesus in John 16:2; "They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God."
Still dont believe me? Read the story of Paul before his conversion in Acts chapters 7,8&9.
As students of the Word, we must also understand that Gods wrath is reserved for the wicked of this world. God does not bring His wrath upon His own children. For those who are in Messiah are saved from the wrath of God. In Romans 5:9, God said; "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him."
Therefore, just as Noah escaped the flood, Lot escaped the destruction and the children of Israel escaped Pharaoh in Egypt, so once more shall the believers in Messiah Jesus escape Gods wrath.
Once again, see Gods words in II Peter 2:9; "...THEN the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,..."
We must not confuse the tribulation on Gods people by the anti-Christ with the wrath of God upon the wicked. These are two very distinct events, even though they may occur very closely together in time.
And, be sure to keep in mind: each have their own purpose, each comes from a different source and the recipients of each are distinctively different. The following chart will illustrate what I mean.
1.) The persecution of the church (tribulation of Gods people).
Is inflicted upon Gods people, Jew & Gentile
Will be suffered at the hand of the anti-Christ
2.) Final judgement upon the wicked (the wrath of God).
Is inflicted upon those who reject Messiah Jesus
Will be suffered at the hand of God
I pray that you will not dismiss this study without serious prayer and study of your own. Go into Gods Holy Word, and allow the Spirit to lead you. Gods Word can, and does stand on its own if you do not read into it. Just take Gods Word for what it says. If you do, you will be more prepared to meet the trials and tribulations that will face Gods people in the future.
May Adonai richly bless you all, and
may Master Yeshua come soon!
Copyright © 2004
Steven W. Chumbley
All Rights Reserved