The Feasts of the Lord


The Feasts Fulfilled

 

&

 

The Feasts not yet Fulfilled

 

By S D Noble


Preface

 

This impetus for this booklet was an enquiry from a fellow Christian regarding the correlation between the Lord’s death and the Passover. To this brother in Christ a measure of thanks is therefore due.

   As is typical with any Bible research, investigation of one avenue of enquiry opened others, and so what began as a desire to learn more about one feast has since widened to include all seven feasts of Jehovah. The writer has found this study spiritually profitable, and in offering his readers the results, he trusts they will be similarly blessed.

   J N Darby’s translation of the Bible (first edition, 1890) is used throughout—although it needs to be remembered that a translation is a human work and is therefore not without its imperfections. Robert Young’s literal translation (third edition, 1898) is also referred to, and the same caveats apply. God’s Word alone is perfect. Where appropriate, I have referred readers to the original Greek or Hebrew text. This is quite accessible these days—even to those with little or no ability in the ancient languages.

   Both Darby and Young give the names of the feasts in lower case, but this conflicts with what is now customary. For the sake of consistency, I have capitalised the names of the feasts throughout, including in the Scripture quotations.

   Little more needs to be said. As with anything that mere men may write concerning God’s book, both reader and writer need to be marked by the Berean spirit of “searching the scriptures if these things were so” (Acts 17: 11).

 

S D Noble

 

January 2021

 

The Feasts Fulfilled

 

Introduction

 

The fundamental basis of this study is the conviction that the seven feasts of Jehovah (see Lev. 23) are prophetic in character—that is, that the rituals (in the main) are successive pictures of real events that have occurred (or will occur) in the history of Israel as a nation in relation to their Messiah. This should be apparent even from the simple fact that the feasts are seven in number—seven being the number habitually used in Scripture to signify spiritual completeness.

   The number seven is also typically broken into four and three in the Bible—as in the seven parables of Matthew 13, and the seven assemblies (or churches) in Revelation.[1] Thus four of the seven feasts are in the past, having already received their historical fulfilment. What is astounding about the record of that fulfilment, however, is its precision. Hence where the Spirit of God specifies a day and a month, then that feast was fulfilled on that very same day and month. If this seems incredible to the reader then that is because he has forgotten that God wrote the Bible. The feasts of Jehovah are “set feasts” (Lev. 23: 4, my emphasis)—unalterable in their timing[2]—and, as the Lord Jesus Himself said, “all that is written concerning me in the law of Moses and prophets and psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24: 44, my emphasis). The exception to this precision is the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread which pictorially describes a moral response to God in the hearts of those who believe. A week (being seven days) is a complete period, and God’s Word therefore envisages the Feast of Unleavened Bread being in continuous fulfilment.

   Three feasts remain unfulfilled—of which one (the Feast of Tabernacles) is a week in length and, as with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, typifies a continuous period. In this case it refers to the “the coming age” (Mark 10: 30) or public reign of Christ on earth.[3] This leaves two feasts linked to a specific day in a specific month, and it is of interest to take account of what the Bible has to say with respect to their coming fulfilment. The writer has no doubt that God’s Word will not only be vindicated but glorified when prophecy is translated into history.

 

The Seven Feasts in Outline

 

There are actually eight feasts in Leviticus 23, but the Sabbath (see v3), was a weekly not an annual feast. It is therefore set apart from the other seven by being described before verse 4 where the writer states (speaking of the seven feasts which follow): “These are the set feasts of Jehovah, holy convocations,[4] which ye shall proclaim in their seasons”. What does the Sabbath typify? It is a picture of the Messianic Kingdom when God “will rest in his love” (Zeph. 3: 17), since “there remains then a sabbatism to the people of God” (Heb. 4: 9).[5] Of course the attentive reader will have noticed a link between the Sabbath and the Feast of Tabernacles in that both typify the reign of Christ over the earth. However, by itself, the Sabbath simply gives the end in view, while the first six annual feasts show how that end is to be reached,[6] and the seventh explains its celebratory character (as indicated by the abundance of sacrifices in Num. 29: 12–39). In that sense, the Sabbath gives us the divine objective, while the yearly feasts provide the programme by which this is to be achieved.

   Now the seven annual feasts are claimed by God as His own—not only by the expression “the set feasts of Jehovah” (see Lev. 23: 2, 4, 44), but also by the fact that He distinctly calls them “my set feasts” (v2, my emphasis). This stands in great contrast to the situation described in John’s Gospel where reference is made on three occasions to a “feast of the Jews” (John 5: 1; 6: 4; 7: 2). It is a poor thing to regard this latter term as merely as an explanatory reference by the writer. It is that, but the expression clearly also has a moral force: the feasts were being observed while the One to whom they belonged was unknown (despite His presence in their very midst).

 

   The seven feasts then are as follows:

 

  1. The Passover
  2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread
  3. The Feast of Sheaves (or Feast of First–fruits)
  4. The Feast of Pentecost (or Feast of Weeks)
  5. The Feast of Trumpets (or Feast of Shouting)
  6. The Day of Atonement
  7. The Feast of Tabernacles (or Feast of Booths)

 

   The seven feasts can be further divided into three:

 

  1. The Passover marked the beginning of the year (see Exod. 12: 2), and the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Sheaves also occurred in that first month. These three feasts therefore go together.[7]
  2. The Feast of Pentecost in the third month was fifty days after the Feast of Sheaves and there is thus a direct connection between the third and fourth feasts. Pentecost is also allied to the first three feasts in that, like them, it received its historical fulfilment long ago.
  3. The remaining three feasts were all in the seventh month. There is thus a considerable gap between the first four feasts and the last three. This gap is also reflected in the prophetic interpretation, because, as just noted, while the four initial feasts have already received their fulfilment in the past, the fulfilment of the final three feasts is still in the future.

 

   The position of the seven feasts in the Jewish calendar can be summarized as follows:

 

Month

Feast

First

The Passover

(the fourteenth day of the month)

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

(commencing the fifteenth day of the month)

The Feast of Sheaves

(the next day after Sabbath)

Second

 

Third

The Feast of Pentecost

(50 days after the Feast of Sheaves)

Fourth

 

Fifth

 

Sixth

 

Seventh

The Feast of Trumpets

(the first day of the month)

The Day of Atonement

(the tenth day of the month)

The Feast of Tabernacles

(commencing the fifteenth day of the month)

Eighth

 

Ninth

 

Tenth

 

Eleventh

 

Twelfth

 

 

The Passover

 

The Passover is such a well–known feast that its background and description (see Exod. 12: 1–51) needs no repetition here (indeed Leviticus 23 itself takes the same approach and provides scant detail—see v5).[8] The Passover is also a familiar picture of the death of Christ: “for also our Passover, Christ, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5: 7).[9]

   Now according to the Mosaic Law, the date on which the Passover was to be celebrated was the 14th day of the 1st month (see Lev. 23: 5). It is my contention then that the Lord Jesus Christ must therefore have died on the 14th of Nisan.[10] [11] That the date should be the 14th day is clearly of critical importance as those that missed the Passover in the first month through defilement were to celebrate it in the second month, but again on the 14th day (see Num. 9: 9–11; 2 Chron. 30: 2, 3, 15). The Hebrew for fourteen (arba asar) is literally four and ten, and the significance of fourteen may therefore be a combination of the significance of four and ten. Four brings in both the idea of universality in relation to the world and also division—as seen in the four streams that parted out of Eden (see Gen. 2: 10), the year being divided into four seasons (see Gen. 8: 22) and the four-fold division of the people of the world “according to their lands, every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations” (Gen. 10: 5). Ten is the number signifying man’s responsibility to come up to the perfection of divine order—as seen in the ten commandments (see Exod. 20: 2–17), the ten virgins (see Matt. 25: 1–13) and the ten lepers (see Luke 17: 11–19). Significantly, the Passover lamb itself was to be taken on the tenth day (see Exod. 12: 3) and those who ignored that responsibility on the first Passover night were destroyed. Put these thoughts together, and fourteen is perhaps suggestive of how the death of Christ is universal in its bearing, being available to all, but also divides between those who appropriate it for themselves, and those who do not.

   It is clear that the very first Passover meal was eaten at night (see Exod. 12: 8). Subsequently, Deut. 16: 6 places it at the end of daylight hours (that is, at sunset): “thou shalt sacrifice the Passover at even, at the going down of the sun,[12] at the time that thou camest forth out of Egypt”.[13] Now we must remember that all Jewish days began at sunset rather than midnight (as in western culture). However, it is not exactly clear whether Deut. 16: 6 refers to the sunset of the 13th/14th day or the sunset of the 14th/15th day. If the latter, then the actual passing over the land of Egypt by Jehovah in judgment occurred on the 15th day (see Exod. 12: 13), because this was not only after sunset, but at midnight (see v29). The very first usage of the Hebrew word gehrev, commonly translated at even or between the two evenings, is in Gen. 1: 5: “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day”. A similar expression occurs in relation to the next five days of creation, demonstrating that the divine pattern is for a new day to begin with the evening. Now if none of the Passover lamb was to “remain until the morning” (Exod. 12: 10), then for the children of Israel to celebrate the first Passover feast between two evenings is meaningless, and, in the context, at even[14] seems a much better rendering of gehrev[15]. That the Passover lamb was to be kept “until the fourteenth day”, (Exod. 12: 6, my emphasis) would suggest that it was slain at the start of the 14th day, at sunset. Thus when we read that “in the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s Passover” (Lev. 23: 5, AV, my emphasis) it means the start of the 14th day, not the end, and refers to the sunset of the 13th/14th day, not the sunset of the 14th/15th day.

   Those who say that the first Passover happened at the end of the 14th day, that is, on the second sunset and on the brink of the commencement of the 15th day, have difficulties in sustaining this view.[16] If the Passover memorial is to be celebrated at the sunset of the 14th/15th day, then it follows that the Lord could not have died on the 14th day and must, instead, have died on the 15th day (for He died mid–afternoon, at the ninth hour—see Matt. 27: 45–50). In my view it is inconceivable that the Lord died on the 15th day, so close to an exact fulfilment of the type (which would have been the 14th day). Of course it could be argued that that when the Lord celebrated His last Passover with His disciples, He did so early (that is, as the 13th passed into the 14th), thus allowing his death on the 14th, but this idea brings its own problems. Is it likely that the One “come under law” (Gal. 4: 4; see also Matt. 5: 17–20) would celebrate what was so clearly a type of Himself on any other time than that which was prescribed? (See Num. 9: 3: “ye shall hold it at its set time”). It is also highly improbable that the temple priests (who would officiate over the killing of the Passover lambs)[17] would allow anyone to hold the feast early, let alone One who already done much to antagonise the religious authorities (see Matt. 21: 12, 23, 46 etc.).

   That the Lord Himself partook of the Passover before His death is incontestable (see Mark 14: 16; Luke 22: 15). It is also undeniable that He was the fulfilment of the type (see 1 Cor. 5: 7). Of course the Lord eating the Passover and Him being put to death could not be exactly synonymous, but the Jewish method of reckoning days does allow for both to occur on the same day (though we, as Gentiles, see it as on successive days)[18]. Interestingly, the Jews accusing the Lord had had such a busy night that by “early morn” (John 18: 28) they had not yet had time to eat the Passover, running the risk that they might fail to hold it “at its set time; according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ordinances thereof” (Num. 9: 3), for none “of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst at even on the first day, be left over night until the morning” (Deut. 16: 4).[19] The Lord, by contrast, surely partook of His Passover meal at the prescribed time.[20] It would be irreverent to imagine otherwise.[21]

 

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

 

The Passover cannot be considered in isolation from the Feast of Unleavened Bread for the two go together, not only in terms of the calendar (see Ezek. 45: 21; Mark 14: 1, Acts 12: 3, 4) but also because of what they typify. Hence the Feast of Unleavened Bread speaks of the need for God’s people to be in moral accord with the mighty work that Christ has accomplished (see 1 Cor. 11: 28), and demands a response on their part. As the apostle says, “our Passover, Christ has been sacrificed; so that let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven,[22] nor with leaven of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5: 7, 8).[23] Christians are in the good of the Passover now; the Jews (as a nation) will be in the good of Jesus Christ as their Passover in a day to come (see Ezek. 45: 21–24).

   The Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the “fifteenth day of this month” (Lev. 23: 6)[24], and lasted seven days (see Exod. 13: 7), “until the one and twentieth day of the month in the evening[25] (Exod. 12: 18; see also Exod. 34: 18). As has been seen already, the Hebrew word for “in the evening” (gehrev) can be interpreted in different ways (either at even or between the evenings), and this affects how long we think the actual Passover week was (that is, the three initial feasts together). The maximum extent of the week was 8 full days,[26] but it may have been less. The Passover itself was on the 14th, while the final day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was on the 21st (see Exod. 12: 18).

   The first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread were holy convocations or special Sabbaths above and beyond the regular weekly Sabbath (see Lev. 23: 7, 8). This would make the 15th day a Sabbath but not the 16th (unless it happened to fall on the seventh day of the week). All seven days were to be accompanied by special offerings (see Num. 28: 16–25).[27]

   Now the dough that the children of Israel took with them out of Egypt was baked into unleavened cakes after the Passover had been sacrificed (see Exod. 12: 39)—but presumably, still on the same day (the 14th). Indeed, we know (see Exod. 12: 15) that when the flesh of the Passover was eaten, it was taken with “unleavened bread” (v8). Does this mean then, that the Passover was slaughtered right at the end of the 14th (before sunset), but eaten on the 15th—the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread? The reader will remember that a similar question arose when considering the Passover itself. As was noted then, at “early morn” (John 18: 28) the Jews accusing the Lord have not yet eaten their Passover.[28] Now if the law really did prescribe the Passover to be eaten on the 15th day, then it is clearly still the 15th at this point, and it follows that the Lord could not have died on the 14th as demanded by the Old Testament type. However, this supposed 15th day is also followed by a Sabbath (see John 19: 31). Crucially, this cannot be the holy convocation commencing the seven-day feast (for that is supposed to be on the 15th day itself) and yet it does not seem to be an ordinary weekly Sabbath either (“for the day of that Sabbath was a great [day]”—v31, my emphasis). The difficulty is removed if we suppose that the Lord died on the 14th day, for if that was Passover, then the next day is a holy convocation: “on the first day ye shall have a holy convocation” (Lev. 23: 7).[29]

   Bearing in mind the prophetic character of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, it also seems particularly fitting that it should begin on the “fifteenth day” (v6) seeing as the Lord was taken down from the cross and placed in the tomb on the threshold of that day. The Hebrew for fifteen is literally five and ten, and the significance of fifteen is possibly a combination of the significance of five and ten.[30] Five is the number of human weakness—as seen in the five stones that David took up out of the brook (see 1 Sam. 17: 40), the five husbands of the Samaritan woman (see John 4: 18) and the five porches of Bethesda in which “lay a multitude of sick, blind, lame, withered” (John 5: 2). As we have seen already, ten is the number signifying man’s responsibility to come up to the perfection of divine order—as seen in the ten commandments (see Exod. 20: 2–17), the ten virgins (see Matt. 25: 1–13) and the ten lepers (see Luke 17: 11–19). Put these thoughts of weakness and responsibility together, and we have a picture of how God’s people are to be in relation to the Passover—a picture set out in the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Hence “seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eateth what is leavened—that soul shall be cut off from the assembly of Israel, whether he be a sojourner, or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened: in all your dwellings shall ye eat unleavened bread” (Exod. 12: 19, 20). If leaven (typifying sin) is man’s weakness, then putting it away is his responsibility in the light of what God has done in Christ’s death.

 

The Feast of Sheaves

 

Paul also tells us that “Christ is raised from among [the] dead, first–fruits of those fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15: 20). The apostle’s allusion is clearly to the so–called ‘Feast of Sheaves’ (or ‘first–fruits’) at the beginning of harvest (see Lev. 23: 9–14; Num. 28: 26–31).[31] The Lord must therefore have been raised from the dead on the very day of the month that this feast was celebrated—as was the case with the Passover. It is utterly inconceivable that God could have allowed things any other way.

   The Feast of Sheaves was celebrated in the first month “on the next day after the Sabbath” (Lev. 23: 11). Now there are three credible options for which Sabbath is meant:

 

  • the holy convocation that commenced the Feast of Unleavened Bread
  • the holy convocation that ended the Feast of Unleavened Bread
  • the first ordinary weekly Sabbath after the Passover[32]

 

That the Feast of Sheaves commenced the day after the weekly Sabbath is clear from the introduction to the next feast, the Feast of Pentecost, where the children of Israel were to “count from the morning after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave–offering” (i.e. the Feast of Sheaves), “seven weeks; they shall be complete; even unto the morning after the seventh Sabbath shall ye count fifty days; and ye shall present a new oblation to Jehovah” (Lev. 23: 15, 16). Now the word weeks is literally Sabbaths, and the calculation would only work if the count commenced on a weekly Sabbath.[33] The children of Israel were literally counting Sabbaths. It can be concluded then that “the next day after the Sabbath” (v11) refers to the next day after the first weekly Sabbath after Passover, and, as a consequence, that is when the Feast of Sheaves was to be celebrated.  

   That the weekly Sabbath is the day intended is also born out by the problems associated with the other Sabbaths. If the holy convocation that commenced the Feast of Unleavened Bread was the date of the Feast of Sheaves, then it is inexplicable that a specific date is not given, for the first holy convocation being the 15th day (see Lev. 23: 6, 7), the day after that Sabbath would clearly then be the 16th day.[34] A similar argument could be made against the convocation that ended the Feast of Unleavened Bread. All this is confirmed by what transpired in the Gospel accounts. Taking it as a given fact that the Lord was raised from the dead on the exact same day that the Feast of Sheaves was celebrated that year, we can easily rule out the convocation that closed the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread. Why? Because the gap between the Passover and the resurrection would stretch well beyond the third day or three days and three nights as demanded by the Gospels (see Matt. 12: 40 etc.). If we take the Sabbath that began the Feast of Unleavened Bread, then there is not enough time to cover three days and three nights. Now it is indisputable that the Lord Jesus Christ was raised on the first day of the week (see Mark 16: 9), and it follows that this day must have been preceded by the ordinary weekly Sabbath. Assuming that the first day of the week also coincided exactly with the Feast of Sheaves that year, then the weekly Sabbath supplied the necessary Sabbath that Leviticus 23: 11 demanded. Of course this does not rule out the holy convocation of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the regular weekly Sabbath occurring coincidentally on the same date that year. However, Scripture itself disproves this idea (although it may not be immediately apparent to the English reader):

 

  • Matt. 28: 1: here the word is σαββατων (Sabbaths, genitive plural) and occurs twice. Young’s literal translation (YLT) gives: “And on the eve of the Sabbaths, at the dawn, toward the first of the Sabbaths, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre”.
  • Mark 16: 1 (YLT): “and the Sabbath having past, Mary the Magdalene, and Mary of James, and Salome, bought spices, that having come, they may anoint him”. Here the word is σαββατου (Sabbath, genitive singular).[35]
  • Luke 23: 54 (YLT): “and the day was a preparation, and Sabbath was approaching”. In this instance, the word is σαββατον (Sabbath, accusative singular).
  • Luke 23: 56 (YLT): “and having returned, they made ready spices and ointments, and on the Sabbath, indeed they rested, according to the command”. Here the word is σαββατον (Sabbath, accusative singular).
  • Luke 24: 1: On this occasion, the word is σαββατων (Sabbaths, genitive plural). YLT translates this as: “And on the first of the Sabbaths, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bearing the spices they made ready, and certain [others] with them”.[36]
  • John 19: 31 (YLT): “the Jews therefore, that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the Sabbath, since it was the preparation, (for that Sabbath-day was a great one,) asked of Pilate that their legs may be broken, and they taken away”. Here the word is σαββατω (Sabbath, dative singular).

 

Both Matt. 28: 1 and Luke 24: 1 therefore suggest that there was more than one Sabbath between the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection. The day after the Passover (the 15th day) was the holy convocation or special Sabbath that headed the Feast of Unleavened Bread, while the next day (the 16th day) was the ordinary weekly Sabbath that preceded the Lord’s resurrection and the first day of the week.

   To what then, does the preparation of Luke 23: 54 refer (“And it was preparation day, and [the] Sabbath twilight was coming on”)? Clearly, a Sabbath followed the day on which the Lord died and was buried, and this was the preparation[37] for it.[38] Again, “Now on the morrow, which is after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees came together to Pilate” (Matt. 27: 62) seeking to secure the tomb. This would seem to suggest that they came to Pilate on the morning of a Sabbath that followed the Passover. The phraseology of John 19: 14 appears somewhat confusing: “Now it was [the] preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour”. However, this is not the preparation for the Passover,[39] but the preparation that took place on the day of the Passover for the holy convocation that followed. Mark 15: 42 makes all clear: “And when it was already evening, since it was [the] preparation, that is, [the day] before a Sabbath”.

   Of course any attempt to demonstrate the correlation between the Feast of Sheaves and the Lord’s resurrection would be incomplete without consideration of the subject of the third day for there are many references in the NT that link 3 days to the time the Lord spent in the grave:[40]

 

  • “Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save thyself” (Matt. 27: 40).
  • “Sir, we have called to mind that that deceiver said when he was still alive, After three days I arise” (Matt. 27: 63).
  • We heard him saying, I will destroy this temple which is made with hands, and in the course of three days I will build another not made with hands” (Mark 14: 58).
  • “Aha, thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save thyself, and descend from the cross” (Mark 15: 29).
  • “But then. Besides all these things, it is now, to-day, the third day since these things took place” (Luke 24: 21).
  • “Thus it behoved the Christ to suffer, and to rise from among the dead the third day” (Luke 24: 46).
  • “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2: 19).
  • “This [man] God raised up the third day” (Acts 10: 40).
  • “Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he was raised the third day, according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15: 3).
  • See also Matt. 16: 21; 17: 23; 20: 19; 27: 64; Mark 8: 31; 9: 31; 10: 34; Luke 9: 22; 18: 33; 24: 7; 24: 46.

 

It is clear then that the Spirit of God regards the precise numbering of the days as very important.

   Now the Lord was crucified and buried on the 14th day, before sunset. He was raised out of the grave the “third day”. Clearly the “third day” must be identical to the first day of the week (see Mark 16: 9), but to what day of the month does it refer? We already have the day of the month for His death, and the day of the week for his resurrection. Mark 8: 31 tells us that the Son of man would “be killed, and after three days rise [again]”. The first day of the three days must therefore be either the day on which the Lord was put to death (the 14th), or the first day in which He was in the grave (the 15th), and so the third day must either be the 16th or 17th day of the month. There are no other options. That three days means three days is proved by the Lord’s word in Luke 13: 32, 33: “Behold, I cast out demons and accomplish cures to–day and to–morrow, and the third [day] I am perfected; but I must needs walk to-day and to-morrow and the [day] following, for it must not be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem”.

   Into all this, we need to insert the more specific expression used in Matt. 12: 40: “For even as Jonas was in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights, thus shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights” (see Jonah 1: 17).[41] Now there is no requirement for these to be whole days or whole nights, but there must at least be parts of three separate days and parts of three separate nights.[42] I believe that the Lord was buried on the 14th, before sunset,[43] and therefore during the daytime. Counting the 14th as a day therefore, we have:

 

·        the day of the 14th (ending at sunset)

·        followed by the night of the 15th (beginning at sunset)

·        followed by the day of the 15th (ending at sunset)

·        followed by the night of the 16th (beginning at sunset)

·        followed by the day of the 16th (ending at sunset)

·        followed by the night of the 17th (beginning at sunset)

 

In total, this adds up to three days and three nights. Some other facts must be considered: the first day of the week was preceded by the ordinary weekly Sabbath. The Passover was followed by a holy convocation or special Sabbath. Now these two Sabbaths might conceivably occur on the same day,[44] or, bearing in mind the narrow timeframe allowable between the Passover and the first day of the week, consecutively. It is hardly likely that the women would come to look at the tomb (as recorded in Matt. 28: 1) between one Sabbath and another,[45] and we are driven to the conclusion that the Sabbath referred to preceded, not another Sabbath, but the first day of the week. This Scripture is worth quoting, as it fixes the resurrection to the 17th day: “Now late on Sabbath, as it was the dusk of the next day after Sabbath, came Mary of Magdala and the other Mary to look at the sepulchre”.[46] This is not early morning, but dusk (or sunset) as the Sabbath passed into the first day of the week. At some point after this (see v6) during the night, the Lord was raised from the dead, because when Mary Magdala came again to the tomb in early morning “it was still dark” (John 20: 1). This rules out the daytime of the 16th being an option for the resurrection and fixes it to the night–time early on the 17th.

 

Interim Summary

 

At this juncture it will be useful to set out in diagrammatic form what has been learned of the correlation between the first three feasts of Jehovah, and the Lord’s death and resurrection (my emphasis throughout):

 

  

The Feast of Pentecost

 

We must now consider the fourth of the feasts of Jehovah: the Feast of Pentecost. Interestingly, for many Christians, their concept of Pentecost is confined to the historical record of Acts 2. Now Acts 2 is a wonderful Scripture but we cannot properly understand the events of that momentous day if we ignore the teaching that lies behind it preserved elsewhere in Scripture—indeed, the very name Pentecost (or fiftieth day) reminds us that it is not a stand–alone feast but is founded on what has gone before.[47] Again, very few believers appear to ask why the Feast of Pentecost was fulfilled by the events of Acts 2. To accept the fact of this fulfilment is one thing, but to understand why is quite another. This indifference is baffling when you consider how much controversy there has been over the details of that great day (such as speaking in tongues). To confine study to a single chapter will never produce an accurate understanding of any subject (see 2 Tim. 1: 13; 2 Pet. 1: 20).

   Pentecost is the Greek term for the Hebrew Feast of Weeks, so–called because of its peculiar timing: “And ye shall count from the morning after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave–offering, seven weeks; they shall be complete; even unto the morning after the seventh Sabbath shall ye count fifty days” (Lev. 23: 15). Now “the morning after the Sabbath” referred to is the Feast of Sheaves (see v11), which is a picture of the resurrection of Christ: “but now Christ is raised from among [the] dead, first–fruits of those fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15: 20). The Lord was raised on the first day of the week (or the morning after the Sabbath—see Matt. 28: 1; Mark 16: 9; Luke 24: 1; John 20: 1). This means that the fiftieth day is the eighth return of the resurrection day (hence Whit Sunday, from huit, the French for eight). The number eight is significant, for in Scripture it signifies a new beginning. Thus, for example, circumcision was on the eighth day (see Gen. 17: 12), Noah stepped out onto a new earth as one of eight (see 1 Pet. 3: 20; 2 Pet. 2: 5), David, the new king, was the eighth son of Jesse (1 Sam. 17: 12, 14) and the cleansing of the leper was completed on the eighth day (Lev. 14: 10, 23). Pentecost is therefore a new beginning. That new beginning was offered by Peter to the Jews (see Acts 2: 38–40; 3: 19–21). Why? Because though they had crucified Christ, God had raised Him from the dead, and in grace he was providing them with an opportunity for repentance and redemption.

   Now although Pentecost is a new beginning that does not mean that everything was in place on day one (the popular term ‘the birthday of the Church’ tends to perpetuate this inaccurate idea). Certainly following the Holy Spirit falling upon the disciples (see Acts 2: 4; 11: 15) the Assembly (or Church) as a distinct body comes into view (see Acts 5: 11; 8: 1 etc.) but times of refreshing (see Acts 3: 19) were still being offered to the nation, and Peter is using “the keys” (not of the Assembly) but “of the kingdom of the heavens” (Matt. 16: 19). There is clearly a significant element of transition (and even hiatus) in the record of the book of Acts.[48] The concept of the Assembly was initially limited to the remnant in Israel, although Peter’s words (see Acts 2: 39) were wide enough in scope to allow the entrance of the Gentiles later. This is not to say that there is any thought of the mystery in the Feast of Pentecost. Gentiles being blessed in association with Jews was long foretold (see Is. 2: 2; Jer. 3: 17; Ezek. 38: 23; Zeph. 3: 9; Zech. 14: 16; Rom. 15: 9–12 etc.), but the idea of Jew and Gentile assimilated into one new man (see Eph. 2: 15) was “hidden throughout the ages” (Eph. 3: 9). Thus the gleaning of the harvest left “unto the poor and to the stranger” (see Lev. 23: 22) at Pentecost, while clearly setting forth Gentile blessing, has nothing directly to do with what was revealed to the apostle Paul (see Eph. 3: 3, 8, 9).

   Everything on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 proceeds from the fact of Christ’s resurrection. Leviticus 23 itself suggests this, in the way it connects the Feast of Pentecost with the preceding Feast of Sheaves. Firstly, the text flows unbroken from the Feast of Sheaves through to the feast of weeks without the usual introductory “Speak unto the children of Israel”. Secondly, it is impossible to count the days to Pentecost without having first begun at the Feast of Sheaves (see Num. 28: 26). The inevitable conclusion is that Pentecostal blessing is founded on Christ’s resurrection. All must be preceded by the waving of the sheaf of first–fruits before Jehovah “to be accepted for you” (Lev. 23: 11; my emphasis). Pentecost is therefore a new beginning founded on the resurrection of Christ. There is no new beginning without it—the Jews crucified Christ, but God raised Him from the dead (see Acts 2: 32, 36), hence Peter’s exhortation to “Repent, and be baptised, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for remission of sins, and ye will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2: 38, my emphasis).

   Now it is not difficult to see that the Feast of Sheaves is typical of life out of death—the grain has been sown into the ground, and the sheaf of the first–fruits is the evidence of the life that results (see Lev. 23: 10). The imagery of the sowing of seed with a view to life would have been well–known to the Jews: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, it abides alone; but if it die, it bears much fruit” (John 12: 24). Indeed, the imagery is perfect, for in germinating, the outer casing (or ‘body’) of the seed dies. The Feast of Sheaves is therefore a picture of Christ raised from the dead—the first–fruits (see 1 Cor. 15: 20, 23) of many more resurrections to come. But what is the Feast of Pentecost a picture of?

   There are several parallels between the Feast of Sheaves and the Feast of Pentecost, not least the fact that both consist primarily of wave– offerings before Jehovah. However, therein lies also the most obvious difference, for while in the earlier feast this wave–offering consisted of the first sheaf of the barley harvest, in the later feast it was made up of two loaves of wheaten bread. Now just as the sheaf was the key to understanding the Feast of Sheaves, so the loaves are critical to grasping the meaning of Pentecost.

   Many think that the two loaves (Lev. 23: 17) represent Jew and Gentile, but the OT idea of blessing for the nations involved subservience: “In those days shall ten men take hold, out of all languages of the nations, shall even take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard [that] God is with you” (Zech. 8: 23). There was no thought of equivalence as pictured in the two loaves. Furthermore, any supposed Gentile loaf could only be anticipative in character, for clearly no Gentiles were blessed in Acts 2. Certainly Paul laboured “that the offering up of the nations might be acceptable” (Rom. 15: 16), but this does not prove that the Gentiles were to be offered independently of the Jews. In any case, the whole idea that the two loaves in Lev. 23: 17 represent Jew and Gentile is conclusively dismissed by what is said in 1 Cor. 10: 17, namely that “we, [being] many, are one loaf, one body” (my emphasis; see also 1 Cor. 12: 13).

   Others advocate the idea that the two loaves refer to the house of Judah and the house of Israel, but this division came centuries later as a result of sin (see 1 Kings 11: 30–39), and it cannot be right that God would have such an event encapsulated in his feasts.[49] The fact is, those present on the day of Pentecost were described as “Jews, pious men” (Acts 2: 5), and Peter addresses some of them later as “Men of Judaea, and all ye inhabitants of Jerusalem” (v14)—that is, of the house of Judah, and not Israel. Even if there might have been a few individuals descended from the northern tribes among the Jews, those few crumbs would not, in any credible sense, make a loaf!

   In Scripture, two is the number of adequate witness (see Deut.19: 15; 2 Cor. 13: 1; Heb. 10: 28), and this is surely the real force of the twin loaves in Lev. 23. Pentecost is therefore fundamentally about witness (the idea of loaves rather than simply grains, may give the idea of unity of witness). This witness concerned the resurrection of Christ, for the evidence is overwhelming that the disciples were to be witnesses of that stupendous fact (see Acts 1: 8, 22; 2: 32: 3: 15; 4: 33; 5: 32; 13: 30, 31; 1 Cor. 15: 15 etc.). However, the witness was also accompanied by a stark notice of the peril of rejecting God’s offer of a new beginning, and this warning (as we shall see) was conveyed by the phenomenon of speaking in tongues. However, before we consider what was witnessed, let us consider the witnesses themselves. To do this, we must look at the use made of oil and leaven.

   Now the Feast of Sheaves (speaking of the resurrection of Christ) had an oblation or meat–offering associated with it of “two tenths of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering by fire to Jehovah for a sweet odour” (Lev. 23: 13). The fine flour speaks of the beautiful texture of the Lord’s life that was so pleasing to the Father. The oil, symbolic of the Holy Spirit, is seen here mingled with the flour, speaking of a life completely blended with the will of God. The divine answer to the ending of that life was the resurrection.

   The Feast of Pentecost was somewhat different, for the oblation there is the wave–offering itself. Lev. 23: 16, 17 tells us that “ye shall present a new oblation to Jehovah. Out of your dwellings shall ye bring two wave–loaves, of two tenths of fine flour; with leaven shall they be baken; [as] first–fruits to Jehovah”. The fact of it being a new oblation is emphasised, and also its origin as taken out of the dwellings of the children of Israel. So believers, not Christ, are now in view, and their character is as the “first–fruits to Jehovah” (v17)—not of the barley harvest, but of the later wheat harvest (see Exod. 9: 31, 32; Ruth 2: 23). Pentecost was literally the beginning of the wheat harvest (see Exod. 34: 22), and this feature of the feast is illustrated in Acts 2 when “there were added in that day about three thousand souls” (v41). In this evangelical context, the joyful language of Deut. 16: 11 (speaking about Pentecost) is fitting: “and thou shalt rejoice before Jehovah thy God”. However, the new oblation could not be offered alone, for the priest was to “present with the bread seven he–lambs without blemish, yearlings, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be a burnt–offering to Jehovah with their oblation, and their drink–offerings, an offering by fire of a sweet odour to Jehovah … And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the first–fruits as a wave–offering before Jehovah” (Lev. 23: 18, 20). Thus, if many believed in Acts 2, they could only be presented to God accompanied by what speaks of the death of Christ. This was a hard lesson for the Jew to learn.

   There are other notable differences between this new oblation and the oblation of the Feast of Sheaves. In the latter, we read of fine flour mingled with oil (see Lev. 23: 13), and seeing as the Holy Spirit is so prominent in Acts 2 we might expect to find the oil mentioned again in the new oblation. However, this is not the case. The fine flour is there, because it speaks of the moral features of Christ replicated in the believer, although now it is presented as loaves, baked with leaven. Leaven always typifies what is evil (see Matt. 16: 6; Mark 8: 15), and as Scripture tells us, “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Gal. 5: 9). There is therefore clearly something of a contrast intended between the leaven, picturing the sinful nature of man, contaminating his whole being, and the “flour mingled with oil” (Lev. 23: 13) that so typified Christ. Hence the only way that man can be presented to God as a wave–offering (even a believing man characterised in part by the features of the fine flour) is if the fine flour is baked into loaves. Why? Because the fire nullifies the action of the leaven. Now it is this presentation of the Spirit of God (rather than the oil) that we see on the day of Pentecost. Hence: “And there appeared to them parted tongues, as of fire, and it sat upon each one of them” (Acts 2: 3). Upon the Lord Jesus Himself, the Holy Spirit descended “as a dove” (Luke 3: 22) for that was man walking in perfection, but in relation to the Lord’s people, the Spirit came by fire in keeping with the baking of Leviticus 23: 17. Thus the witness of Pentecost was to be delivered by ordinary men of “like passions to us” (James 5: 17), but who were “filled with [the] Holy Spirit” (Acts 2: 4).

   This idea of a baked oblation is very interesting to consider in a modern context, and the supposed revival of ‘Pentecostal gifts’. A sober assessment is that much of what is claimed to be the Holy Spirit at work seems to bear more of the character of leaven rather than the fine flour, however exuberant and impressive the outward manifestation. Just as at Corinth, (significantly, an Assembly that came “short in no gift”—1 Cor. 1: 7) the cult of human personality rather than Christ is dominant, despite the apostle’s warning that those go down that path are “yet carnal” (1 Cor. 3: 3). Now to be carnal is to act in the power of the flesh, and in this context, it is quite remarkable how the disciples apparently waited seven weeks after the resurrection before they said anything about it to the world at large. On a purely human level it might be thought impossible to exercise restraint in the light of such a stunning display of the power of God—although the “fear of the Jews” (John 20: 19; see Mark 16: 8) was very real. The difference between the disciples’ demeanour before and after the events of Acts 2 is marked, and there is no doubt that the Feast of Pentecost typifies the reception of power from God to witness for Christ. As the Lord Himself told the disciples “and ye are witnesses of these things … but do ye remain in the city till ye be clothed with power from on high … ye will receive power, the Holy Spirit having come upon you, and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Luke 24: 48, 49; Acts 1: 7, 8, my emphasis). The thought behind Pentecost is therefore not so much a literal resurrection (as with Christ and the Feast of Sheaves), but believers in the practical gain of the “power of his resurrection” (Phil. 3: 10; my emphasis). This could not happen until the Holy Spirit had been received.

   Since Christ rose from the dead on the Feast of Sheaves, the counting of the seven weeks until Pentecost began from that same day, for the day of the resurrection was the “morrow of the Sabbath” (Luke 24: 1) matching “the morning after the Sabbath … that ye brought the sheaf of the wave–offering” (Lev. 23: 15).[50] It is on the very same “first [day] of the week” that the Lord breathed into his disciples saying “Receive [the] Holy Spirit” (John 20: 19, 22)—the first day of counting down to the Feast of Pentecost. The last day of counting was, of course, the day of Pentecost itself when the disciples “were all filled with [the] Holy Spirit” (Acts 2: 4). Thus, although the Lord sent the disciples in John 20: 21 (just as the Father had previously sent the Son) they did not attempt to answer to the command until they had received power.

   It of significance, therefore, that Pentecost was the only feast associated with a command to count the days until it took place (see Lev. 23: 15). The thought of anticipation was clearly a critical part of its character. That same anticipation we also see in relation to the disciples waiting for the Holy Spirit: “but do ye remain in the city till ye be clothed with power from on high … to await the promise of my Father” (Luke 24: 49; Acts 1: 4). The Lord had died on Passover, had risen from the dead on the Feast of Sheaves, and a further forty days had elapsed before He was taken up into heaven (see Acts 1: 3). In the interval between the Lord’s ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit the disciples thus “gave themselves all with one accord to continual prayer” (v14) in keeping with what had been recorded earlier in Luke 11: 13. As observant Jews, the disciples would have already been counting down the remaining ten days to the Feast of Pentecost (see Acts 1: 3), and this was now accompanied by a parallel expectancy relating to the promise of the Father.

   The mere anticipation of an event, however, does not, in itself, tell you anything about the event itself. It is the waving of the two baked loaves before Jehovah (see Lev. 23: 17, 18) that is fulfilled in Acts 2—the counting down is merely a confirmatory associated detail. What is presented in Acts 2 is things coming together at the very moment “the day of Pentecost was now accomplishing” (Acts 2: 1), namely the witnesses of the resurrection being empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak the great things of God (see Acts 2: 11). Chief among those great things was the resurrection of Christ, and yet the message was delivered in a most peculiar way. This brings us to the subject of speaking in tongues.

   Now there is no doubt that speaking in tongues was prominent on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2—hardly surprising when we are told elsewhere that the evidence for the gift of the Spirit being poured out was “they heard them speaking with tongues and magnifying God” (Acts 10: 46; see v45; 11: 15; 19: 6). Of the five signs spoken of by the Lord in resurrection in Mark 16: 17, 18, four had already been given to Israel in the synoptic Gospels (see Matt. 10: 1; Luke 10: 19 etc.). The phenomenon of speaking in tongues, however, was new and elicited a question in those Jews who witnessed it (“What would this mean?”—Acts 2: 12), and it is clear that significance was to be attached to the phenomenon. Peter answers the question by proclaiming “this is that which was spoken through the prophet Joel” (Acts 2: 16),[51] and quotes a passage which is a precursor to the coming Kingdom, and speaks of a delivered remnant of the nation who will then call upon Jehovah for salvation. He then goes on to preach, closing with the words “Be saved from this perverse generation” (v40). The meaning is evident: having crucified the Messiah, Israel was in peril, and the tongues were a sign of this—on each historical mention in the book of Acts, Jews are present. Every Jew would know that tongues were introduced to scatter mankind at Babel (see Gen. 11: 1–9), and those prepared to read a few lines further on in Joel would know that the prophet also foretold a Jewish scattering away from the land by a foreign power (see Joel 3: 2). As Paul says (quoting Is. 28: 11, 12; see Jer. 5: 15), “tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers” (1 Cor. 14: 22). Thus, the Lord Jesus had foretold that Jerusalem would be “encompassed with armies” (Luke 21: 20), and her people “led captive into all the nations” (v24). As Moses had prophesied centuries before, “Jehovah will bring a nation against thee from afar, from the end of the earth, like as the eagle flieth, a nation whose tongue thou understandest not” (Deut. 28: 49; my emphasis). All this was fulfilled in AD70, when the Romans under Titus sacked Jerusalem, and exiled the Jews throughout the world. Hence to hear foreign tongues spoken on the day of Pentecost was a forewarning of what might come—an army of foreigners sent in judgment upon the nation if it did not repent.

   Thus the emphasis of the message delivered by Peter in Acts 2 is not what God has done for the sinner, but the contrast between what God has done for Jesus and what the Jews did to Him. The Jews crucified Jesus, but God has raised Him from the dead, and re–stated His declaration that His Son is “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2: 36). In one sense, tongues were God’s last message to Israel before His judgment fell. Once it had fallen, tongues had no more purpose—the sign (see Mark 16: 17) was no longer required. In this respect it is of interest that the Feast of Pentecost was not seven days like that of the Feast of Unleavened Bread or the Feast of Tabernacles (see Lev. 23: 6–8; 33–36)—both speaking of complete periods—but one day. Pentecost is a very short and limited feast,[52] and this is in keeping with what Paul tells us, namely that “tongues, they shall cease” (1 Cor. 13: 8). Thus Pentecost is also a warning of coming judgment on Israel if they rejected the witness to Him God has made “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2: 36). Seeing as that judgment has now fallen, it is impossible (as some allege) to ‘get back to Pentecost’. God has now left off appealing to Israel, paving the way for what we have now, namely the introduction of the truth of the mystery of Jew and Gentile united and equal in the Assembly. The modern phenomenon of so–called tongue–speaking is to be rejected as bearing no relation whatsoever to what has been revealed in the Word.

   Little more needs to be said apart from to recap the main points:

 

  1. Pentecost was a new beginning offered to the Jews.
  2. That new beginning was founded on the resurrection of Christ.
  3. Pentecost was fundamentally about witness to the resurrection.
  4. The witness was to be delivered by ordinary men empowered by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  5. The witness was delivered by speaking in tongues, which was a warning of impending judgment on the nation if they rejected the message.

 

The Feasts not yet Fulfilled

 

We have covered the first four feasts, and how they have been fulfilled historically. We now need to cover the final three feasts:

 

  1. The Feast of Trumpets (or Shouting)
  2. The Day of Atonement
  3. The Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths)

 

The remaining three feasts are all in the seventh month and are thus closely connected. Furthermore, since the first four feasts are in the first and third months there is a considerable gap in time until the last three. This gap is also reflected in the prophetic interpretation, because while the four initial feasts have already received their fulfilment in the past, the fulfilment of the final three feasts is still in the future.

 

The Feast of Trumpets

 

The Feast of Trumpets (so–called) was to be celebrated “in the seventh month, on the first of the month” (Lev. 23: 24). The long interval between this feast and the last, and the fact that it was to be held on the first day of the month is indicative of a new beginning for Israel. Now at first glance this might seem to be a repetition of what was said in relation to the previous feast, for Pentecost certainly represented a new start for Israel. What is overlooked, however, is that the nation continued to reject Christ, and, even after He had ascended into heaven, “his citizens hated him, and sent an embassy after him, saying, We will not that this [man] should reign over us” (Luke 19: 14). This is what lies behind Paul’s declaration to the Jews in Acts 28: “Well spoke the Holy Ghost through Esaias the prophet to our fathers, saying, Go to this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear and not understand, and seeing ye shall see and not perceive. For the heart of this people has become fat, and they hear heavily with their ears, and they have closed their eyes; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known to you therefore, that this salvation of God has been sent to the nations; they also will hear [it]” (vs, 25–28; see also Acts 18: 6). Pentecost ought to have been the new beginning for Israel but as the apostle says elsewhere, “they have not all obeyed the glad tidings” (Rom. 10: 16).[53] Thus in the present period, “blindness in part is happened to Israel” (Rom. 11: 25), although it would be wrong to imagine that God has permanently cast away His people (see Is. 54: 7; Rom. 11: 1). The long gap between the Feast of Pentecost and the Feast of Trumpets represents the present interregnum, when Israel are regarded by God as Lo–ammi, “for ye are not my people, and I will not be for you” (Hos. 1: 9). The Feast of Trumpets represents the first suggestion of a new work among His beloved earthly people. That it (and the subsequent feasts) occur in the seventh month indicates that God is now completing His purposes with regard to Israel.[54]

   A great deal has been made by expositors of the expression “a memorial of blowing of Trumpets” (Lev. 23: 24), but the rather startling fact is that the word Trumpets[55] does not appear in the Hebrew original of either Leviticus 23: 24 or Numbers 29: 1. The Hebrew word lying behind “blowing of Trumpets” is teruah and literally means a loud noise (more particularly a shout)[56]. Robert Young therefore translates Lev. 23: 24 as “a memorial of shouting”. This shouting is connected with the word memorial, which in turn gives us the idea of revival. Israel will move forward because they have looked back—as already noted, it is a new start for the nation.

   What form will this revival take? Several things can be said:

 

  • Firstly, the feast clearly has a triumphant and exultant note that is strikingly in contrast to the sombre mood associated with the Day of Atonement to which it is the precursor. We shall suggest a reason for this exultation in a moment.
  • Secondly, like the other feasts, it is also a “holy convocation” (Num. 29: 1) or gathering together of God’s people. There is a strong implication then that the new start involves a regathering of a scattered nation (see Deut. 30: 1–14; Is. 11: 12; 27: 12, 13; 43: 1–7; Jer. 12: 15; 23: 3; Ezek. 20: 42; 28: 25, 26; 36: 20–24; Amos 9: 14, 15; Zech. 10: 6–12 etc.). However, the people are gathered in unbelief for their conversion follows upon their restoration to the land.[57] It must be so, because it is the Day of Atonement and not the Feast of Trumpets that speaks of Israel’s cleansing.
  • Thirdly, during an earlier and incomplete revival, the Feast of Trumpets was marked by the reading the law (see Neh. 8: 2, 3)[58]—not something enjoined in the original Mosaic instruction. It is possible therefore that a return to God’s Word will also mark Israel’s final revival.

 

What then is the reason for Israel’s exultation or shouting? In answer, note that Numbers 28 and 29 provide a detailed list of the various sacrifices associated with each of the feasts of Jehovah. Without these sacrifices, the feasts cannot properly be observed—and the sacrifices have to be offered in a specific place, namely “the place which Jehovah will choose to cause his name to dwell there” (Deut. 16: 2; see v16). That place is the temple in Jerusalem (see 2 Chron. 6: 1–11), destroyed by the Romans in AD70. Now the first four feasts of Jehovah were fulfilled when the Jewish sacrificial system was in operation, but since then the Jews have not been able to offer sacrifices for nearly two millennia. Hosea speaks of this when he says that “the children of Israel shall abide many days without king, and without prince, and without sacrifice (see Hos. 3: 4) and yet “afterwards shall the children of Israel return, and seek Jehovah their God … at the end of the days” (v5). It seems likely then that the fulfilment of the final three feasts will be associated with a reassembling of Israel to God’s appointed centre and a resumption of the temple worship. In this connection it interesting to consider that when the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity, it was “when the seventh month came” that they “built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer up burnt-offerings” (Ezra 3: 1, 2), and a little later, “all the people shouted (teruah) with a great shout to the praise of Jehovah, because the foundation of the house of Jehovah was laid” (v11, my emphasis). The holy convocation that marks the Feast of Trumpets may well then relate to the building of the new temple[59] in Jerusalem—most likely either at the laying of its foundation stone or at its dedication when complete (it is of interest in this connection that Solomon’s temple was dedicated “at the feast, that of the seventh month”— 2 Chron. 5: 3).  The “offering by fire” (Lev. 23: 25) associated with the Feast of Trumpets does at least require the presence of an altar. No doubt such an event will serve to bring most of the remaining Jews in the diaspora back to the land.

   Be all this as it may, there is no doubt that the Feast of Trumpets is only a beginning (it being the first in a series of three feasts), and we must not expect the end God has in view to be fully developed at this stage.[60] The feast is a “memorial” (Lev. 23: 24)—that is, a nation in some respects re–energised by past glory, but not a new nation in the way envisaged by Is. 66: 8; Ezek. 37: 1–14; Rom. 11: 26, 27 etc. It is, for example, abundantly clear that the Jews are not morally prepared for their Messiah and His Kingdom[61] until they have passed through the experience foretold in Zechariah 12: 10–14. This is typified by the Day of Atonement which took place on the tenth day (see Lev. 23: 27)—ten being the number of human responsibility (hence, for example, the Ten Commandments). Israel must settle the outstanding issue between themselves and God before they can properly be regarded as being restored as a nation. The Feast of Trumpets is thus only the beginning of His dealings with them.[62]

 

The Day of Atonement

 

Scripture devotes a whole chapter (Leviticus 16) to the Day of Atonement, and it is not the intent of the writer to go into those details to any great extent. This is not purely for reasons of brevity, but because Leviticus 16 differs in certain significant details from the shorter description of the feast in Leviticus 23: 26–32 which is particularly before us. Leviticus 23 says nothing about the work of the high priest in the sanctuary and passes over completely the ritual of the offered goat and the scapegoat—matters which chapter 16 addresses in minute detail. Rather the emphasis of the seven verses given over to this feast in chapter 23 is the affliction of soul of the people. This is mentioned only twice in the 34 verses of chapter 16 (see vs. 29, 31), but three times in the 7 relevant verses of chapter 23 (see vs. 27, 29, 32)—a portion of Scripture a fifth the size. This strongly suggests that the prophetic fulfilment of the feast refers in some significant way to that sorrow rather than the work of the high-priest as such (although the two matters are clearly interwoven). 

   As already noted, the Day of Atonement was on the tenth[63] day of the seventh month. In the calendar year it therefore followed on very closely from the Feast of Trumpets (although prophetically there is no necessity for them to be fulfilled in the same year). Indeed, there is clearly an intended contrast between the deep internal anguish of the second feast of the seventh month and the possibly superficial shouting of the first.[64] Interestingly, though it is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar (for it was “to make atonement for the children of Israel [to cleanse them] from all their sins once a year”—Lev. 16: 34),[65] the Day of Atonement is hardly mentioned in the Old Testament (Zech. 7: 5 is a probable allusion) and it is not referenced in any of the Gospel records.[66] It does, however, form the background to the teaching of the book of Hebrews, where the Lord Jesus is presented as “the new and living way” (Heb. 10: 20) of approach to God. The Hebrew converts had to “run with endurance” (Heb. 12: 1), holding to their professed repudiation of the judgment of their own nation by going forth to Him who “suffered without the gate” (Heb. 13: 12). As a nation, however, Israel has not addressed the offence of their sin in crucifying the Son of God, and it is this offensive nature of the sin that will form the backdrop to the fulfilment of the Day of Atonement in a coming day.[67]

   The last view that Israel, as a nation, had of the Lord Jesus was on the cross. In the type, this answers to the high priest going into the presence of God on the Day of Atonement. Israel have not yet seen Him come out (in resurrection, Christ only made Himself known to those who had believed). However, just as the high priest came out of the sanctuary having dealt with the question of sins for another year, so Christ “having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear to those that look for him the second time without sin for salvation” (Heb. 9: 28). This last Scripture, though often appropriated by Christians, really has in view the Jewish remnant who, during the reign of the Beast, will turn to God in repentance in significant numbers. The realisation that they have put to death their own Messiah will produce deep sorrow—and this sorrow will be greatly magnified when they actually “see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24: 30). It is then that “all the tribes of the land shall wail because of him” (Rev. 1: 7). Not every Jew will be looking for Him, however, for “in all the land, saith Jehovah, two parts therein shall be cut off [and] die” (Zech. 13: 8). These unbelieving Jews will be like the wilful individual in the type who is not afflicted in soul and is, as a result, “cut off from among his peoples” (Lev. 23: 29) and destroyed (see v30).

   It is important to see, however, that the priest coming out of the sanctuary is not the fulfilment of the Day of Atonement envisaged by Lev. 23: 26–32. If we did think that, we might imagine that the Lord will come again to deliver His earthly people on some future 10th day of the seventh month—the Day of Atonement in the Jewish calendar. This, however, would flatly contradict those Scriptures that tell us that the day and hour of His return is not known and cannot be predicted (see Mal. 3: 1; Matt. 24: 36, 50; 25: 13; Mark 13: 32, 35; Luke 12: 46; 21: 34; 1 Thess. 5: 2). However, it is also a mistake to think that the Jewish affliction of soul will not begin before Christ personally appears—and if it is before, then this allows for the Day of Atonement to be fulfilled on the tenth day of the seventh month. There is enough detail in the prophetic Scriptures for the Jewish remnant to be able to accurately predict the coming of Christ down to the year and even the month. They will be looking for Him (see Heb. 9: 28) because they know that His coming is imminent.[68] However, they will not know the exact day or hour. In this connection, it is worth noticing the progression in Matthew 24: “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the land lament, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24: 29, 30, my emphasis). The lamentation begins when the sign of the Son of man in heaven is seen, before His earthly people see their Messiah coming on the clouds of heaven. Nowhere does it say that all this takes place in one day. We are not told what the sign is,[69] but clearly it is distinct from the coming itself. Elsewhere we are told that the Beast and his armies gather together to make war against “him that sat upon the horse” (Rev. 19: 19) which implies that they are aware that the Lord is coming, and have time to prepare. Again, the two witnesses prophesy for the 1260 days of the last half week of Daniel, are then killed and then resurrected by God on day 1263 or 1264 (see Rev. 11: 2, 3, 7–11)—and though imminent (see v15), the Lord has still not, at this point, returned. All this gives ample room for some days to elapse between the sign of the Son of man and His coming itself—and, by extension, enable the mourning of the Jews to begin on the Day of Atonement, a sorrow of heart only exacerbated by the actual coming of the Lord a little later. Then the Jews will “look on me whom they pierced” (Zech. 12: 10) and “shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for an only [son], and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for [his] firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart” (vs. 10–12). God will answer this repentance by taking away and never remembering their sins any more (see Rom. 11: 27; Heb. 10: 17)—the wonderful filling out of Leviticus 16 in which the scapegoat, with the sins of Israel upon its head, was sent out into the wilderness. How fitting then is the place of the Day of Atonement in the seven feasts of Jehovah![70] Yes it is the death of Christ that is in view, but it is that death as bringing about the national repentance of His earthly people.[71]

 

Feast of Tabernacles

 

The final feast in the Jewish calendar was the Feast of Tabernacles, and this, in the purpose of God, flows out of what has transpired on the Day of Atonement in terms of the preparation of Jewish hearts. Indeed, in prophetic terms, the two feasts can hardly not be fulfilled in the same year.

   The Feast of Tabernacles took place “when thou hast gathered in [the produce] of thy floor and of thy winepress. And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy bondman, and thy handmaid, and the Levite, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are in thy gates. Seven days shalt thou hold a feast to Jehovah in the place which Jehovah will choose; for Jehovah thy God will bless thee in all thy produce, and in all the work of thy hands, and thou shalt be wholly joyful” (Deut. 16: 13–15). Again, “on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the produce of the land, ye shall celebrate the feast of Jehovah seven days … and ye shall rejoice before Jehovah your God seven days. And ye shall celebrate it as a feast to Jehovah seven days in the year” (Lev. 23: 39, 40–41). The predominant theme of the feast is therefore the joy[72] and celebration that marks the end of labour,[73] and the gathering in of God’s blessing. As a result the occasion is also marked by deep thankfulness to God who has provided all—a thought emphasised by the extraordinary number of sacrifices to be offered over the period of the feast (see Num. 29: 12–39). In Exodus 23, the feast is referred to as “the feast of in–gathering, at the end of the year, when thou gatherest in thy labours out of the field” (v16). Prophetically, it is not difficult to see that the Feast of Tabernacles refers to the Millennium or coming Kingdom of Christ, which will commence at the end of this present age. Its length is suggested by the seven days of the feast (see Lev. 23: 34) representing a complete period in spiritual terms. In Zech. 14: 16, 17 we read that “it shall come to pass, that all that are left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Jehovah of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso goeth not up of the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, Jehovah of hosts, upon them shall be no rain”.[74] There can be no entrance into millennial blessing without an acknowledgment of the God who has brought it all about! Hence in Ezekiel 45, the Feast of Tabernacles (along with the Passover) is to form part of the priest’s offering calendar (see v25)—and that for a thousand years until Christ gives up the Kingdom to His God and Father (see 1 Cor. 15: 24).

   The details of the Feast of Tabernacles are given in Lev. 23: 33–36; 39–43. There we learn that on the first day of the feast, the children of Israel were to take “the fruit of beautiful trees, palm branches and the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook” (v40).[75] All this is suggestive of earthly productivity, but they were to use the branches “to make booths” (Neh. 8: 15)—or Tabernacles—in which they were to dwell “seven days … that your generations may know that I caused the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am Jehovah your God” (Lev. 23: 42, 43).[76] Thus though celebratory in character, the feast also acted as a memorial to remind the children of Israel of the faithfulness of God in bringing to fulfilment that which He had promised. In the wilderness they had been wholly dependent on God for everything—and in the feast they put themselves back into that dependence in a pictorial way by dwelling in booths.[77] In the fulfilment of the type, however, that dependence will be no longer pictorial but real, for Israel will again be in right relationship with God. In terms of the history of Israel on this earth, the Feast of Tabernacles is therefore very fittingly placed at the end of the feasts of Jehovah, as the seventh and final feast. It is the culmination of God’s dealings with His earthly people.[78]

   However, although the children of Israel were told that “in booths shall ye dwell seven days” (Lev. 23: 42), it is also important to note that the feasting did not end when they returned to their houses. There was also an eighth day: “on the eighth day shall be a holy convocation unto you; and ye shall present an offering by fire to Jehovah: it is a solemn Assembly; no manner of servile work shall ye do” (Lev. 23: 36; see also Num. 29: 35–38). As has been seen earlier, eight is the number of a new beginning (for example, circumcision was to be performed on the eighth day, and the eighth day is the first day of a new week—see Gen. 17: 12; John 20: 1). There is therefore, something about the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles that is carried over and beyond it into a new era, and this is seen in that the Millennium is superseded by the new heavens and the new earth  (see Is. 65: 17; 66: 22; 2 Pet. 3: 13; Rev. 21: 1). That eighth day has no end, for it is the eternal state in which “night shall not be any more” (Rev. 22: 5).[79]

   There is also a NT connection to the Feast of Tabernacles that should not be overlooked: “on the morrow a great crowd who came to the feast, having heard that Jesus is coming into Jerusalem, took branches of palms and went out to meet him, and cried, Hosanna, blessed [is] he that comes in the name of [the] Lord, the King of Israel” (John 12: 12, 13). This crowd were acting as if it were the Feast of Tabernacles, when in fact it was the Passover. There was a lack of discernment regarding their condition before God. Only when the Jews have passed in spirit through the Day of Atonement will they be fitted to enjoy the Feast of Tabernacles. The Lord was not deceived—He knew He was not accepted by Israel—and thus earlier in His ministry when the Jews were actually celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles He declared “Ye, go ye up to this feast, I go not up to this feast, for my time is not yet fulfilled” (John 7: 8). When His brethren had gone up to Jerusalem, He went up as in secret (see v10), the complete opposite of the public display of glory that the feast typified. In keeping with this, in “the last, the great day of the feast” (v37)—the eighth day—the Lord appealed to individual Jews to come to Him (national repentance not being anticipated at this juncture) but with the sad result was “every one went to his home” (v53)—the feast was over, and yet Christ was not on the throne.[80]

 

Conclusions

 

It only remains to say that the writer has clearly only skimmed the surface of the subject and much more remains for others to discover if they have the inclination. Scripture is an exhaustless mine, and will always reward the genuine seeker. Enough, however, has been presented to demonstrate the following:

 

  • The Passover was fulfilled to absolute precision when Christ died on the fourteenth day of the first month.
  • The Feast of Sheaves was fulfilled to absolute precision when Christ rose from the dead, three days and three nights later, the day after the first weekly Sabbath following Passover.
  • The Feast of Pentecost was fulfilled to absolute precision when the Holy Spirit came exactly fifty days after the resurrection of Christ.

 

Seeing that this fulfilment took place on the very day of the very month that was prescribed by the Mosaic Law it is surely a reasonable inference that the same will be true of the two remaining 24 hour feasts that still lie in the future: the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. In connection with these two later feasts it has not been possible to provide anything conclusive, although it is hoped that what has been brought forward is at least suggestive to the spiritual mind. It may well be that clarity and certainty will only be brought to light in the very days to which the feasts typically refer.  We can be sure of one thing, however: that God will be glorified through the fulfilment of His own Word.

   Finally, it was also noted that the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles, being of seven days each, both refer to extended periods of time in the spiritual calendar. Both also began on the fifteenth day—a fact which should always remind us that there is a connection between our response to Christ’s death and resurrection now and our real attitude to His coming glorious reign. May we therefore be found as those who have both “kept the faith” and who “love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4: 8)!

Previous

 

End Notes

[1] Four of the parables were spoken to the crowd (see Matt. 13: 1–34), three to the disciples in the house (see Matt. 13: 36–52). In the first three assemblies, the word to the overcomer comes after the expression “he that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies” (see Rev. 2: 7 etc.), in the last four it comes before.

[2] Special dispensation was available to those who were unclean to celebrate the Passover in the second month rather than the first (see Num. 9: 9–11), but it still had to be the fourteenth day.

[3] As is well–known, the Jews only recognised two ages: this present age, and the age to come or messianic Kingdom (see Matt. 12: 32; Mark 10: 30 etc.). In one sense, the Feast of Unleavened Bread answers to the former, while the Millennium is typified by the Feast of Tabernacles. The Jew rarely thought beyond the kingdom into the eternal state, and there are few plausible references to the latter in the Old Testament (see Is. 65: 17; 66: 22).

[4] A convocation is a formal assembly for a specific purpose.

[5] Such rest will not be completely perfect (see Rev. 20: 7–10 etc.), and the millennial Kingdom is therefore to be subsumed (see 1 Cor. 15: 24) into the perfection of the eternal day when righteousness will not only reign but dwell (see 2 Pet. 3: 13).

[6] The character of the present moment is set out in John 5: 17 “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work”. There is no rest.

[7] The children of Israel were to appear three times before Jehovah in Jerusalem (see Deut. 16: 16; 2 Chron. 8: 13)—at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Pentecost, and at the Feast of Tabernacles. In practice this would probably mean that they would attend all seven feasts, the Passover, and the Feast of Sheaves occurring within the period of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, while the last three feasts all occurred in the first three weeks of the seventh month. After the dispersion of Israel among the nations (see Deut. 4: 7; Jas. 1: 1 etc.), a pilgrimage to Jerusalem might have been an annual, or even a once in a lifetime experience.

[8] The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are not introduced in Leviticus 23 with the words ‘speak unto the children of Israel’ as they have already been described before. The same principle applies to the Day of Atonement since this has been dealt with in detail in chapter 16. Although not described before, the Feast of Pentecost also lacks the introductory notice, but it is, in typical teaching, the witness of what is set out in the preceding Feast of Sheaves. The two go together.

[9] See also Matt. 26: 2: “After two days the Passover takes place, and the Son of man is delivered up to be crucified”—implying that the Passover and the delivering up are synonymous. See also Mark 14: 1.

[10] The name of the month having been apparently changed from Abib to Nisan after the Babylonian captivity (compare Deut. 16: 1 and Esth. 3: 7).

[11] What Church or secular authorities have to say about the timing of the Lord’s death is really of no relevance or interest. The same applies to Jewish authorities on the timing of the various Jewish feasts. We must be governed by the testimony of Scripture alone. Admittedly, the English word Easter occurs in the AV of Acts 12: 4, but the Greek word so translated is pasca, and in every other NT reference in the AV is translated Passover. Furthermore, pasca in Acts 12: 4 clearly refers to the Passover feast as a whole, encompassing the Passover itself, the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Sheaves, rather than just the initial feast (compare Luke 2: 41–43, where the Lord’s parents went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, and returned having “completed the days”). See also Deut. 16: 16, where every male was to travel to Jerusalem three times a year for the feasts of Unleavened Bread, of Pentecost and of Tabernacles. It would be impossible to observe the Passover without observing the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so clearly the latter covers the former as well. Sometimes Scripture refers to a feast in broad terms, sometimes in highly specified terms. See also Luke 22 where we read “Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which [is] called the Passover, drew nigh … And the day of unleavened bread came, in which the Passover was to be killed … The teacher says to thee, Where is the guest chamber where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? … And he said to them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (vs. 1, 7, 11, 15; see also Mark 14: 12, 16 and Matt. 26: 17). Again, “But they said, Not in the feast” (Matt. 26: 5; see Mark 14: 2)—which quite probably refers to all three feasts of the first month put together. See also Ezek. 45: 21: “In the first [month], on the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days: unleavened bread shall be eaten”. Failure to see the variation in terminology lies at the heart of the erroneous idea that Acts 12: 1–5 somehow teaches that when Peter was in prison the Passover was over, and that Easter had not yet come (i.e. that they were separated by a significant period of time). The passage in the AV reads “Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the Church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the Days of Unleavened Bread). And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him." (AV, my emphasis and capitalisation). Now since (according to Ex. 12: 18) the “days of unleavened bread” follow after the Passover, and Herod “took” Peter during the “Days of Unleavened Bread” (following Passover), it is deduced that the Passover was over when Peter was arrested. Attention is then drawn to Herod’s plan to release Peter “after Easter” thus apparently proving that Passover and Easter were quite separate. However, the whole argument falls apart when it is realised that the term Passover can refer both to the initial feast or the whole week (for example, in Deut. 16: 2 Moses instructs Israel to “sacrifice the Passover to Jehovah thy God, of the flock and of the herd, in the place which Jehovah will choose to cause his name to dwell there” (my emphasis). “Of the herd” clearly refer to the sacrifices of the Feast of Unleavened Bread as described in Num. 28: 17–25).  It is also scarcely credible that erroneous teaching regarding the timing of Easter could have crept in this early in the Assembly’s history when there would be hundreds of persons who knew otherwise (and Peter, clearly still prominent at the time, would have surely corrected the error). The fact is, translating pasca as Easter in Acts 12 is highly misleading. There is no good reason why Herod should bother to honour Easter when he was persecuting the very people who valued Easter. By contrast, there was every reason to keep Peter in the prison until the Passover was over, in order to “bring him out to the” (Jewish) “people” (Acts 12: 4) and so curry favour with them. Easter finished on a Sunday; Passover in its fullest extent finished several days thereafter.

[12] The Passover being sacrificed at the “going down of the sun” (Deut. 16: 6) is thought by some to be suggestive of the three hours of darkness at Calvary (see Luke 23: 44) although the Lord’s death followed the three hours of darkness.

[13] Here the eating of the Passover and the going out of Egypt are said to occur at the same “time”. See also Exod. 12: 51 where the departure and the Passover are “on that same day”.

[14] J N Darby in his translation is inconsistent. He generally favours “between the two evenings” (e.g. Exod. 12: 6; Lev. 23: 5), but in Josh. 5: 10 he gives “even”:  “And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and held the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month, at even, in the plains of Jericho” (my emphasis). Certainly there is often considerable latitude in the meaning of Hebrew words (unlike in Greek) but the context in each of these passages is similar. To be fair to Darby, he had not completed his English Old Testament translation at the time of his death (for more information see Noble, S D. 2016. The Darby Bible—its various editions compared).  It seems that the text of the Pentateuch and the book of Joshua had been finalised, but the fact remains that he died before publication. We cannot be certain that further changes might not have been made.

[15] Leviticus 23: 32 illustrates the latitude of meaning inherent in the expression: “A Sabbath of rest shall it be unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls. On the ninth of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath”? The Sabbath thus began at even, but also continued between the two evenings.

[16] If the Passover was held on the evening of the 14th/15th day, then the 15th is the first day of unleavened bread, and is a holy convocation (see Exod. 12: 16). Now it may be that in fleeing Egypt, the children of Israel did not at first observe the ritual of the feasts to the letter, but it is incontestable that if they observed the Passover on the evening of the 14th/15th day, then they fled Egypt in seeming conflict with Deut. 16: 6, 7: “thou shalt sacrifice the Passover at even … and in the morning shalt thou turn and go unto thy tents”. There is less of a problem with the instruction in Exod. 16: 29 regarding the weekly Sabbath (“abide every man in his place: let no man go from his place on the seventh day”) for strictly speaking the 15th day was not the weekly Sabbath (unless it happened to fall on a Saturday).

[17] It is probable that most Jews from distant parts would purchase their Passover lambs on arriving in Jerusalem, rather than bringing them with them (see Deut. 14: 24–26).

[18] See note 28

[19] The Jews succeeded in having the Lord crucified at the third hour of the day, Roman (or, possibly, Asiatic) time (see Mark 15: 25)—9AM by our reckoning. We also know that the chief priests were present at the cross for they mocked Him there (see Matt. 27: 41). This allows little leeway for them to eat the Passover early on the 15th, and it seems that they must have left the crucifixion scene somewhere during the day to celebrate the feast. In John 19: 31 they are back before Pilate demanding that the bodies might be removed from the cross before the Sabbath (which commenced at 6PM), but by this time the Lord had already died—for He expired about the 9th hour Jewish time (i.e. 3PM; see Matt. 27: 45–50; Mark 15: 33–37; Luke 23: 44–46). It may also be that by John 18: 28 they had already sacrificed the Passover lamb in fulfilment of Deut 16: 4, 6 but not yet eaten. The fact that it was now “early morn” would make this eating a pressing matter. Had their meal been due at the end of the 14th day, then their scruples would have been needless as they had only to wash and wait until sunset to be free from defilement. Another possible (although unlikely) explanation is that John 18: 28 refers to the wider feast, and the chief priests and Pharisees had already eaten the Passover itself. Others believe that two different methods of reckoning the Passover were in operation (see Rosen, C&M. 2006. Christ in the Passover Moody publishers p156), an earlier observance (as held by the Lord), and another one, twenty four hours later, but it hardly seems likely that the temple priests would accommodate such variation. Others say that the priests had eaten the Passover but not the sacrifices described in Num. 28: 16–25 associated with it. This might be true (see Lev. 16: 26; Deut. 18: 1 etc.), but at least with respect to the burnt offering element of the ritual, the priest “shall burn all” (Lev. 1: 9).

[20] See, for example, Matt. 26: 20 (referring back to v19 and the Passover): “And when the evening was come he lay down at table with the twelve” (my emphasis; see also Mark 14: 17).

[21] Compare Num. 9: 10-11 where the only exceptions permitted for non-observance at the prescribed time were uncleanness by reason of a dead body, or being on a journey afar off from Jerusalem.

[22] “Old leaven” speaks of the sinful nature which so marked the life of the unbeliever in his unconverted days. Literally, it would refer to the lump of fermented dough that a baker would use to introduce yeast into a new batch of loaves.

[23] Leaven is a well–known symbol of evil, particularly in its ability to spread insidiously—see Matt. 16: 6, 11, 12; Mark 8: 15; Luke 12: 1; 1 Cor. 5: 6–9; Gal. 5: 9.

[24] Exodus 12: 18 tells us that “In the first [month], on the fourteenth day of the month, in the evening, ye shall eat unleavened bread …”. However, there is no real discrepancy between this passage and the formalised law of Lev. 23: 6 where the fifteenth day is specified (see also Josh. 5: 11). Clearly, the Feast of Unleavened Bread was to begin as one day passed into another—the second evening (or sunset) of the 14th was the break of the 15th (see also the rest of Exod. 12: 18: “until the one and twentieth day of the month in the evening”—which similarly implies the end of the day). Another possible solution to all this is that during the Passover (on the 14th) only unleavened bread was to be eaten, and unleavened bread was also only to be eaten in the seven-day feast that followed (15th to 21st). This would also explain Mark 14: 12 which seems to imply that the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was on the fourteenth day: “And the first day of unleavened bread, when they slew the Passover” (see also Luke 22: 7). It may be that while the actual Feast of Unleavened Bread began the day after the Passover, the terminology of “unleavened bread” was used to include both Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread proper. Again, see Exod. 13: 3: “remember this day, in which ye came out of Egypt … and nothing leavened shall be eaten”. This seems to refer to a time when the Passover has just taken place but the fact that instruction is then given again regarding the Feast of Unleavened Bread (see vs. 5–7), would suggest that that feast had not yet commenced.

[25] Darby is inconsistent here, giving “in the evening” for days 14 and 21 in Exod. 12: 18, but “between the two evenings” for day 14 in Exod. 12: 6.

[26] There are some Scriptures that appear to suggest only seven days: “In the first [month], on the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days: unleavened bread shall be eaten” (Ezek. 45: 21). Again, “Keep the month of Abib, and celebrate the Passover to Jehovah thy God … Thou shalt eat no unleavened bread along with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread with it, bread of affliction … And there shall be no leaven seen with thee in all thy borders seven days … Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day is a solemn assembly to Jehovah thy God; thou shalt do no work (Deut. 16: 1, 3, 4, 8).

[27] This strengthens the argument that all three feasts in the first month were loosely regarded as ‘the feast’.

[28] See also the discussion in endnote 19.

[29] There is sufficient latitude in the expression “between the two evenings” (Exod. 12: 6) for the Lord to celebrate the Passover himself (see Mark 14: 12, 16; Luke 22: 15) early on the 14th, and be put to death as the Passover on the afternoon of the 14th that followed (by normal calendar reckoning, this would be the next day, but in Jewish terms, the same day).

[30] Alternatively, a case could be made for 3 x 5, where the number three brings in the idea of what is complete or entire in relation to God. Thus sanctification is applied to the man as a tripartite being: “Now the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly: and your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5: 23).

[31] It is not certain that Deut. 26: 1–11 refers to the Feast of Sheaves per se.

[32] It could (arguably) be the first Sabbath after the first appearance of the shoots of the crop have appeared. However, this could mean multiple dates for the Feast of Sheaves (and also the subsequent Feast of Pentecost) for it would be unlikely for germination to occur at the same time for every farmer! Some connection to the Passover therefore seems essential in order to give more stability to the date. The Pharisees believed that the Sabbath mentioned in Lev. 23: 15, 16 referred to the holy convocation that began Passover week, while the Sadducees held that it was the first weekly Sabbath after Passover (see Brickner, D; Robinson, R. 2008. Christ in the Feast of Pentecost, Moody Publishers, pp 58-59). The solution is found in establishing what actually happened when the OT types were fulfilled in Christ.

[33] If the Israelites counted from either the convocation that began the Feast of Unleavened Bread or the convocation that ended it, the number of days to the first weekly Sabbath would not be seven, and the final calculation of fifty days would be impossible. Only in a year when the convocation coincided with the weekly Sabbath would the calculation work.

[34] Scripture also supplies indirect evidence against the Feast of Sheaves being the day after the Sabbath that commenced the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The children of Israel crossed the Jordan on the tenth of the first month (Josh. 4: 19), celebrated the first Passover in the land on the fourteenth day of the same month (Josh. 5: 10), and “ate of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the Passover, unleavened loaves, and roasted [corn] on that same day” (Josh. 5: 11). This “old corn” was the leftovers from the harvest of the previous year, and is the antithesis of what is set out in the Feast of Sheaves or First-fruits (my emphasis). Scripture is exact in what it presents!

[35] There appears to be a conflict between the purchasing of spices after the Sabbath in Mark 16: 1 (“the Sabbath [now] past”), while Luke 23: 56, seems to suggest that the spices were prepared before the Sabbath: “And having returned they prepared aromatic spices and ointments, and remained quiet on the Sabbath, according to the commandment”. Spices may of course have been purchased both before and after (they could have had spices ready and thus prepared what they had, but then realised they had not enough and went out to buy more. Thus it is possible for both statements to be true).

[36] To understand how the Greek is rendered in English, it is important to see that the Greek word sabbaton, can be rendered either Sabbath (when it is singular) or week (when it is plural), for weeks were counted by counting the Sabbaths. Similarly the Greek word mia means first, and can either be translated very literally, or, interpreted according to the context. Thus in Luke 24: 1, Darby gives an alternative reading of “on the first [day] of the week” (my emphasis), but has as his preferred reading “on the morrow of” (i.e. one day after, or the first day after) “the Sabbath” (my emphasis). These look very different in English, but the Greek words behind them are the same!

[37] This refers to the completion of activities beforehand to avoid working on the day.

[38] See John 19: 31: “The Jews therefore, that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the Sabbath, for it was [the] preparation, (for the day of that Sabbath was a great [day],) demanded of Pilate that their legs might be broken and they taken away”. See also v42.

[39] John 13: 1 does not say that the events of chapter 13 occurred before the Passover. That is to read into the verse what is not there.

[40] The third day is also connected prophetically in the OT with resurrection)—see, for example, Gen. 1: 9–13; Hos. 6: 2 etc.

[41] I am not convinced that “three days and three nights” (Matt. 12: 40) necessarily refers to whole days and whole nights. A king of Israel, for instance, might be said to have reigned for say two years, when in fact it transpires this is not two full years but reigning in two calendar years (e.g. if he reigned four months in one year and eight months in the next, then he is said to have reigned two years, even though, in terms of months, it was actually only one year). The royal chronology won’t work otherwise (for further information see Panin, I. (2014 edition; originally published 1923). Bible Chronology New England Bible Sales p 58, 59, 120). Again, Matthew 24: 22: “and if those days had not been cut short”, referring to the Great Tribulation. We know from other Scriptures (see Dan. 7: 25; 12: 7; Rev. 11: 2; 12: 14; 13: 5) the length of that period from elsewhere in both months and years, and they are not diminished, but the days are. How so? Because a month is counted, even if it not complete. It is also important to bear in mind that the ending of the Great Tribulation and the Lord’s coming are not necessarily exactly synonymous (note carefully the wording of Matt. 24: 29, 30). Furthermore, the references to 1260 days in Rev. 11: 3 and Rev. 12: 6, and also 1290 days and 1335 days in Dan. 12: 11 should be read in context for it is possible that apparently identical periods of time may have different end points. Fundamentally, while the Jews will be able to calculate certain things from, for example, the date of the rapture, or the setting up of the abomination of desolation, they will not know for definite the day of the Lord’s return (see Mark 13: 32, “of that day or of that hour no one knows, neither the angels who are in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father”).

[42] See 1 Sam. 30: 12, 13 where “three days and three nights” appears to be equated with “three days ago”.

[43] The Lord was buried in something of a hurry. He gave up His spirit at about mid–afternoon, and the Sabbath began at 6PM. There was therefore, no more than three hours to remove His body from the cross, prepare it and bury it before the Sabbath prevented all such activity. John 19: 42 specifically tells us that at least part of the reason that Joseph’s tomb was selected was because it “was near”.

[44] As already seen, the use of the plural Sabbaths in both Matt. 28: 1 and Luke 24: 1 would seem to suggest two consecutive Sabbaths.

[45] Compare Luke 23: 56: “And having returned they prepared aromatic spices and ointments, and remained quiet on the Sabbath, according to the commandment” (my emphasis).

[46] Resurrection could have already taken place but seems unlikely as the angels were not there.

[47] It is to be noted that both the Feast of Sheaves and the Feast of Pentecost are not on stand-alone dates. The date of the Feast of Sheaves refers back to the Passover, and the date of the Feast of Pentecost refers back to the Feast of Sheaves. The death and resurrection of Christ, and the coming of the Holy Spirit are thus inter-linked, with the Lord’s death being the foundation.

[48] Two somewhat obscure references to Pentecost should be considered. These are the only references to Pentecost after Acts 2, and both occur relatively early in the ministry of the apostle Paul (see Acts 20: 16; 1 Cor. 16: 8). The first reference relates his decision to sail by Ephesus in order to be at Jerusalem for the feast. The second reference relates his wish to remain at Ephesus until Pentecost. Some have argued that in Acts 20: 16 he was motivated by the evangelical opportunities presented by being in Jerusalem when so many of the Jewish dispersion would also be in the city, but this runs contrary to his delaying in Ephesus in 1 Cor. 16 (see v8) where “a great door is opened to me and an effectual [one], and [the] adversaries many” (v9). It seems much more reasonable to suppose that in Acts 20: 16 he was simply behaving as an observant Jew (see Acts 18: 21). Chronologically, 1 Cor. 16: 8 precedes Acts 20: 16, and having missed one opportunity to celebrate Pentecost (it could not properly be celebrated away from Jerusalem) he was clearly determined not to miss another. Both these examples serve to illustrate the fact that the break between Judaism and Christianity was not in Acts 2 (despite it being a new beginning) but somewhat later, after the nation had not only rejected Christ, but also “sent an embassy after him, saying, We will not that this [man] should reign over us” (Luke 19: 14).

[49] Indeed, it is the purpose of God for Israel and Judah to be re–united—see Ezek. 37: 15–28; Hos. 1: 11).

[50] The Feast of Pentecost fell on the first day of the week: “even unto the morning after the seventh Sabbath shall ye count fifty days” (Lev. 23: 16). If it is argued that “Sabbath” here does not mean a literal Saturday but only a counting period of seven days, then counting from the day of the Lord’s resurrection (day 1) on the first day of the week, still makes the day of Pentecost (day 50) in Acts 2 also the first day of the week.

[51] There are also a number of OT Scriptures in which the Spirit of God is presented as poured out like water on the ground and bringing about a harvest (see  Is. 32: 15; 44: 3) and the same thought lies behind the Scripture that Peter quotes from Joel 2: 28, 29. The grain harvest was not the complete harvest (that was later in the year at the Feast of Tabernacles when the tree fruits were collected), but it was a foretaste of that which is to come. In a similar way, what happened at Pentecost is a foretaste of what will take place in the Kingdom.

[52] Perhaps further emphasised by its relative isolation in the calendar.

[53] The position of the Jews in unbelief is given in 2 Cor. 3: 14: “But their thoughts have been darkened, for unto this day the same veil remains in reading the old covenant, unremoved, which in Christ is annulled”.

[54] As already indicated, the number seven invariably refers in Scripture to what is spiritually complete.

[55] Some of my readers may prefer the word to be translated as Trumpets rather than Shouting (and we cannot be dogmatic about the translation). If that view is taken, then it is not difficult to see that trumpets speak of divine communications (see Num. 10: 1–10). Furthermore, like the currency of ancient times (see Gen. 23: 16; 1 Pet. 1: 18), the trumpets were made of silver (see Num. 10: 1)—silver being the currency of redemption (see 1 Pet. 1: 18 etc.). Thus God’s communications to Israel are connected with redemption. How could He forget forever the people that He has redeemed: “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee” (Is. 54: 7; see Is. 44: 21, 22)? After the Assembly has been removed from this scene, God will begin to awaken and gather his long–scattered earthly people (see Jer. 23: 3; Ezek. 11: 17; Zech. 10: 6). Thus “ye shall be gathered one by one, [ye] children of Israel … the great trumpet shall be blown; and they shall come” (Is. 27: 12, 13). What “a day of blowing the trumpets shall it be” (Num. 29: 1) for Israel!

   Be all this as it may, it is important to note that the OT has more than one Hebrew word for trumpet, and this distinction is not always noted in English translations. Furthermore, seeing as these Hebrew words are not particularly related, there may be a grouping of Scriptures in this interpretation which is actually unwarranted!

[56] The word occurs in the following Scriptures: Lev. 23: 24; 25: 9; Num. 10: 5, 6; 23: 21; 29: 1; 31: 6; Josh. 6: 5; 6: 20; 1 Sam. 4: 5, 6; 2 Sam. 6: 15; 1 Chron. 15: 28; 2 Chron. 13: 12; 15: 14; Ezra 3: 11, 12, 13; Job 8: 21; 33: 26; 39: 25; Ps. 27: 6; 33: 3; 47: 5; 89: 15; 150: 5; Jer. 4: 19; 20: 16; 49: 2; Ezek. 21: 22; Amos 1: 14; 2: 2; Zeph. 1: 16. Perhaps the most famous example is when the people shouted with a great shout during the siege of Jericho.

[57] Whether this gathering in unbelief is actually foretold in Scripture is a matter of dispute. Note the order of Ezek. 36. First “And I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land” (v24). Then, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean … and I will give you a new heart … and I will put my Spirit within you” (vs. 25–27). The same order is seen in Jer. 32: 37–39 and Ezek. 11: 17–20. See also Ezek. 22: 17–22 where Israel are gathered into the midst of Jerusalem for purging from sin. The fact of Israel making an alliance with the Beast to initiate the temple worship (see Dan. 9: 27) also suggests a gathering in unbelief. However in Ezek. 37: 12-14, Israel’s revival precedes God placing them in their own land. Of course, as regards simple facts, at least some of the Jews have been back in some of their land since 1948, and this is clearly in unbelief. How this relates to prophecy is more difficult to establish. It is a pure assumption that the return to the land will be a single event, and it is quite possible that many Jews will be forced out of the land during the tribulation period, only to return later. Some even appear not to return to the land until after the Lord comes (see Is. 60: 9 etc.).

[58] The Feast of Trumpets is not mentioned directly in the passage, but “the first day of the seventh month” (Neh. 8: 2) is clearly an allusion to it

[59] That there will be a new Jewish temple before the Lord returns is implied by Dan. 9: 27; 11: 31; 12: 11; Matt. 24: 15; Mark 13: 14; 2 Thess. 2: 4, and Rev. 11: 1, 2.

[60] Although the three final feasts will be surely be fulfilled on the actual days of the month prescribed by God in Leviticus 23, there is no requirement for them to be fulfilled in the same month of the same year. Indeed, some time must elapse in order for the Abomination of Desolation to be set up (see Matt. 24: 15).

[61] Pious Jews may well have returned to the God of their fathers, and to the Law of Moses with increasing vigour, but they will not yet have realised their mistake in crucifying their Messiah. The Feast of Trumpets cannot therefore stand alone, but is part of a set of three that are commonly grouped together or referred to as ‘the feast’.

[62] A trumpet was also blown on the Day of Atonement in the year of jubilee after seven Sabbaths of years (see Lev. 25: 8, 9) but this is unconnected to the Feast of Trumpets.

[63] The connection between the number ten and man’s responsibility has already been noted in earlier comments. The character of the Day of Atonement in relation to the tenth day is thus very appropriate.  Lev. 23: 32 (“on the ninth of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath”) does not contradict v27 “the tenth day” since the Jewish day began in the evening. The phraseology of the passage perhaps serves to emphasise that the whole day was to be devoted to affliction of soul, both literally and prophetically.

[64] There is something of a parallel in the way Israel shouted at the fall of Jericho (see Joshua 6: 20) and the rending of their clothes at the defeat by Ai (see Josh. 7: 6).

[65] It is a solemn fact that since the destruction of the temple in AD70 the Jews have been unable to comply with the divine instruction regarding the Day of Atonement. Certainly the day is still widely observed but the fact remains that the Jews now have no provision for the atonement of their sins. Having rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, it seems singularly appropriate that God should remove from them the type of that supreme sacrifice.

[66] The Day of Atonement being only days apart from the Feast of Tabernacles means that the reference in John 7: 2 to “the tabernacles, the feast of the Jews, was near” has a similar application to the earlier feast.

[67] The reconciliation of Joseph and his brethren (see Gen. 45: 1–15) has features that are typical of Israel’s reconciliation with her Messiah.

[68] In the same way, godly Jews were waiting “for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2: 38) at the time Christ was born. This was no empty hope but a hope with substance behind it—they had calculated that the coming of the Messiah was imminent from Daniel’s prophecy of seventy weeks (see Dan. 9: 24, 25). There is thus a parallel between the first and second coming of Christ, as in both cases there is a remnant awaiting God’s salvation (see Luke 2: 30: “mine eyes have seen thy salvation”). When Simeon received the promise from God that “he should not see death before he should see [the] Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2: 26), he already knew that he was living in the very generation when Messiah was to be born (for more information see Anderson, Sir R. 1894. The Coming Prince). This did not reduce the value of the promise for it was an assurance that, though an old man, he would not miss out on what God was bringing to pass.

[69] There may well be a parallel with the star of Matt. 2: 2. We are told that the coming of Christ will be brilliant in its brightness (see Matt. 24: 27), but also that it is preceded at first by darkness (see v29), after which the sign of the Son of man will appear in the sky (see v30). This suggests that the darkness is broken by the appearance of a light which acts as a precursor of the brilliance to come—that is, the actual coming itself.

[70] The type is not exactly for Christians. As Christians, we are not waiting outside the tabernacle for the high priest to come out and send our sins away. Unlike Israel, we can go in: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness for entering into the [holy of] holies by the blood of Jesus, the new and living way which he has dedicated for us through the veil” (Heb. 10: 19, 20). Thus what is set forth in the goat sent away into the wilderness is primarily for Israel. At the present moment, God has given Israel a “spirit of slumber” (Rom. 11: 8) and they are shut up in unbelief. Days are coming, however, when the dry bones of the nation will be made alive (see Ezek. 37: 1–14) and “They shall call on my name, and I will answer them: I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, Jehovah is my God” (Zech. 13: 9). Then, Matthew 24 tells us, “shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the land lament, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (v30). This, in type, is the high priest coming out of the sanctuary. Hebrews 9: 28 will then apply: “thus the Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear to those that look for him the second time without sin for salvation” (Heb. 9: 28; compare also Luke 21: 28: “lift up your heads, because your redemption draws nigh”.) Christ has already been once offered for sin, but not until He comes again will the nation come into the gain of His sacrifice for them (see John 11: 51). God will then make a new covenant with them, a “covenant from me to them, when I shall have taken away their sins” (Rom. 11: 27, my emphasis). Only when Israel has looked “on me whom they pierced” (Zech. 12: 10) will the type of the goat sent away be fulfilled, and Hebrews 10: 17 receive its proper application: “and their sins and their lawlessnesses I will never remember any more”. The old covenant centred on sacrifices that “can never take away sins” (v11). As Christians, we know now what Israel will know in the future, namely the truth of what God says about Himself: “I, I [am] He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and I will not remember thy sins” (Is. 43: 25, my emphasis).

[71] This will be a national repentance and salvation, for “all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11: 26), although in terms of actual numbers, it will amount to only a third, the rest being destroyed (see Zech. 13: 8, 9). Some object to the very idea of a mass conversion of the Jews, but Scripture teaches it (see Ezek. 37), and if God in His sovereignty chooses to convert many or few, or even all, who are we to find fault? Thus, “As he says also in Hosea, I will call not–my–people My people; and the–not–beloved Beloved” (Rom. 9: 25).

[72] See also Neh. 8: 17 on the occasion of the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles: “and there was very great gladness”. Again, Zech. 8: 19: “Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: The fast of the fourth [month] and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful gatherings”.

[73] Zeph. 3: 17 is proof that the Kingdom will be a season of rest. In this connection, it is of interest that the Feast of Tabernacles is explicitly said to have begun and ended with rest: “on the first day there shall be rest, and on the eighth day shall there be rest” (Lev. 23: 39).

[74] This again brings out the significance of the fifteenth day that was noted under the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In the earlier feast, Christ is before the soul as One who has been into death, whereas in the final feast, he is to be before the soul as the One on the throne. Both feasts demand a moral accord in the heart.

[75] See also Rev. 7: 9–17, where we have a redeemed company coming out of the great tribulation with palm branches in their hands.

[76] Peter’s action on the Mount of Transfiguration is not wholly out of keeping with the particulars of the feast: he saw the King in His glory, and so expressed a desire to “let us make here three tabernacles” (Matt. 17: 4).

[77] Hos. 12: 9 speaks of God humbling Israel in judgment by forcing them back into tents by their houses being destroyed, and by their being led into captivity: “But I [that am] Jehovah thy God from the land of Egypt will again make thee to dwell in tents, as in the days of the solemn feast”. Israel provoked God “to anger most bitterly” and thus He recompensed them “his reproach” (see v14).

[78] This is perhaps suggested as well by the fact that “the set time of the year of release” (after seven years) was “at the Feast of Tabernacles” (Deut. 31: 10).

[79] Interestingly, the thought of joy (which so characterises the feast proper) is not present on the eighth day. Instead, it is a “solemn assembly” (Lev. 23: 36; Num. 29: 35, my emphasis).

[80] Here the “last, the great day of the feast” (John 7: 37) is, as we have already seen, the eighth day and signifies a new beginning. In essence this is the message of John’s Gospel—that is there can be no coming to Christ on the old ground of natural or national ties (see John 1: 12, 13; 3: 7; 8: 39, 41; 20: 17 etc.).

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