Pastor David B. Curtis

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The Feasts of the Lord - Part 3

Leviticus 23

08/24/2003

We are studying the "Feasts of the Lord" found in Leviticus 23. The study of the feasts is a study in typology. Typological hermeneutics involves explicating signs in the Old Testament as foreshadowing events and people in the New. These seven feasts represent and typify the sequence, timing, and significance of the major events of the Lord's redemptive history. They commence at Calvary, where Jesus voluntarily gave Himself for the sins of the world (Passover), and climax at the consummation of the Messianic Kingdom at the Lord's second coming (Tabernacles). These seven feasts depict the entire redemptive career of the Messiah.

We have studied the four spring feasts to this point - Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits and Pentecost. These four feasts were a prophetic foreshadowing of the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. They spoke of His death, burial, perfect sinless life, resurrection, and the advent of the New Covenant.

The remaining three feasts we will study will be the fall feasts, which were a prophetic foreshadowing of the second coming of Christ. The Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles started about 4 months after the end of the spring festivals. All three of these feasts took place in Tishri, or September. These three feasts speak of the resurrection, the consummation of redemption after the outpouring of God's wrath, and the New Heaven and Earth, which is typified by the Feast of Tabernacles.

To show you how important the whole concept of the feasts are, look at the words Jesus uses on his way to the cross. He is talking in language that sounds like agricultural Jewish language:

Luke 23:31 (NKJV) "For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?"

The dry tree is the very end of Old Covenant Israel. All the harvest is in, and the trees are dry; it is the end of the age.

Between Pentecost and Tabernacles there was an interval of time of about 4 months. These months in between were historically the driest months of the year for Israel. There were no holy convocations - when the nation gathered before the Lord and His sanctuary.

This gap can be seen as being as prophetic in a negative way, just as the rest of the feasts are positively prophetic. The newly redeemed nation of Israel experienced Passover through Pentecost - from leaving Egypt, their place of bondage, up to receiving the covenant from God at Sinai. However, through unbelief and stubbornness (except for Joshua and Caleb), they wandered in the wilderness for forty years, and it was a different generation that entered the Promised Land and celebrated Tabernacles. Thus this four month gap can be seen to be a reminder of this forty years.

Typology and Forty

Of all the types and shadows of the Old Testament, none is as pervasive, and therefore important, as the shadows revealed in the relationship between "forty" and the fulfillment of promises.

Throughout the Old Testament we find this usage of the number forty. Examples of this usage are the forty days and nights that God caused it to rain upon the face of the earth; also, in the length of the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon (Acts 13:21; 2 Sam. 5:4). Besides these, we see forty used as a temporal shadow in the duration of Jonah's preaching of judgment to the Ninevites (Jon. 3:4) and the number of days that the spies of Canaan searched out the land (Num. 13:25).

The New Testament underscores the importance of this typological number. Christ fasted for forty days and forty nights and continually preached that the generation then living would see the judgment of God. In fact, Christ preached the very same judgment upon the city that Jonah did.

We find the most significant type of all in the forty years of wilderness wandering leading up to the possession of the temporal land of promise. In fact, Paul himself wrote that the surrounding events of the wilderness wandering "were our examples" (I Cor. 10:6), and that "they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world (age) have come" (v.11).

One of the first lessons a student of types and shadows will learn is the lofty place given to the Exodus out of Egypt. It is this event which presents the clearest correspondences to the redemptive work of Christ and the time-frame of its fulfillment.

To be more specific, the exodus out of Egypt and into the promised land by the children of Israel under Moses is a direct shadow of the exodus of the New Testament generation from the cross to the entrance into the eternal land of rest.

Let's look at some comparisons between the two forty year exodus periods.

The first was preceded by physical slavery- the bondage of the Hebrews in Egypt. The second was preceded by spiritual slavery, man's bondage to sin and death. One introduced the first Passover with the blood of lambs. The other fulfilled the type with the sacrifice of the final Passover Lamb ( Jesus Christ):

1 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV) Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

One brought God's people physical deliverance by crossing through the Red Sea. The other brought God's people spiritual deliverance by the working of the cross of Christ.

The first established a temporary contract of God with the people He chose- the Old Covenant. The second established a permanent contract- the New Covenant.

Fifty days after the first Passover in Egypt, the Law was given to the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai, written upon tables of stone. Fifty days after the final Passover was sacrificed, the Law was given to the "Israel of God", written upon their hearts by the Spirit of God (2 Cor. 3:3; Heb. 8:10).

Very few would disagree that the above points are fulfillments of the shadows given at the time of the Exodus. But the correlation doesn't stop with the initial workings of the exodus, but continues with the entrance into the land of temporal rest, forty years later. Just as the children of faith were allowed to enter into the temporal land of rest the first time, the children of faith in the generation directly following the cross of Christ were given entrance into the eternal land of rest. With each covenant, a 40 year transition period followed the initial act of deliverance unto the entrance into the land of promise.

The city Abraham was looking for was the heavenly Jerusalem. The writer relates:

Hebrews 12:22-23 (NKJV) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,

From these verses we can see the different description of the same entity; the city, the kingdom, the heavenly Jerusalem, the church, and Mount Zion. These all have their fulfillment in the New Covenant as established in the first century. This was in contrast to the old, physical, earthly city of Jerusalem.

The believers among the people of Israel did not receive the promises of the Promised land when they entered into Palestine (Heb 4:6-9). This promise was in regards to the fulfillment of redemption and eternal life in the kingdom of God, which entrance was corporately given to all believers at the end of the 40 years from the cross to the coming of Christ.

During both periods, the people saw God's works forty years (Heb 3:9; Acts 2:17-21). God manifested Himself to His people by signs and wonders; in the desert under Moses' leadership, daily manna, miraculous supplies of water or meat, and the appearance of the cloud and the fiery pillar revealed God's presence. In the transition period to the New Covenant, the apostles had special gifts of healing, prophecy, and tongues-speaking, and testified to the coming of the kingdom of God and the destruction of the wicked (I Cor 14:22).

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NKJV) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

If the church is not matured, then these gifts should still be operating. Are they? No! Then the church reached maturity in A.D. 70 when all the gifts ceased.

During both periods, the wicked were severed from among the just and not allowed to enter into the land of promise (Heb 3:11,17; Matt. 12:30, 13:49).

Beginning with the fulfillment of Passover in the death of Christ, calamity would fall upon fleshly Israel as a result. The death of Christ contained a blessing of salvation for spiritual Israel, but for fleshly national Israel it would bring calamity. This is evident from Matthew 21:33-41 in which the parable of the husbandmen teaches that the fulfillment of Passover, being the killing of the Son, would not bring a postponement of kingdom promises, as the dispensationalist argues, but utter destruction upon fleshly Israel. In verses 42 - 44, it is stated that at this point the kingdom would be given to those other than national Israel, it would go to a fruitful spiritual nation of God's; the church.

At the end of the first 40 year period, the Israelites of faith entered the temporal land of promise in which God enabled them to defeat their physical foes. At the end of the second 40 year period, salvation was complete, and God's people entered their eternal Promised Land in which God enabled them to defeat their spiritual enemies (I Cor. 15:26,54-57).

If Christ has not come yet today, then all believers are still waiting for the inheritance of redemption. But we believe that He has returned, and has fulfilled all aspects of the "exodus shadow," using the very same chronology in the first century, as He did in the initial shadow.

The physical illustrations in the Old Covenant are fulfilled in each case by the spiritual realities of the New. The second is an eternal covenant, with victory over spiritual slavery and spiritual death, bringing eternal deliverance through a spiritual Passover resulting in our new eternal life and eternal salvation. Christ has allowed His people entrance into the Holiest of all through His very presence (parousia)!

All of these types and shadows, displayed in the Exodus, found their fulfillment in the exodus of God's people from the bondage of sin to the eternal rest in Christ. Any expectation of another coming, or future fulfillment of these promises of rest, reflects a lack of appreciation for what we now have in Christ - eternal life in His kingdom.

These feasts, as we have taught, are both literal feasts celebrated in Israel every year and TYPES of God's prophetic calendar of events for the Church. At the end of the dry season came the fall feasts.

The first of the fall feasts is the Feast of Trumpets:

Leviticus 23:23-25 (NKJV) Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 24 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25 'You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.'"
Numbers 29:1 (KJV) And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you.

Of the seven feasts, all are described in some detail, with the exception of the Feast of Trumpets. The Biblical record for the Feast of Trumpets observance is neither lengthy nor complicated. Israel was simply commanded to memorialize the day by blowing trumpets and to keep the day as a Sabbath day of rest

This feast is known in Judaism as Rosh Hashanah, but it is never known by that name in Scripture. In the Bible, it is referred to as Zikhron Teruah, or the Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets (Lev. 23:24), and Yom Teruah, the Day of Blowing Of Trumpets (Num. 29:1). The "Feast of Trumpets" is a day of sounding trumpets in the Temple and throughout the land of Israel.

Rosh Hashanah literally means: "Head of the Year." However, this designation was not applied to this feast until at least the second century A.D., more than 1,500 years after the institution of the holiday. Following the A.D. 70 destruction of the Temple, its observance was radically altered. Continued observance of the Feast of Trumpets was threatened due to the absence of the Temple and its sacrificial system. As a result, synagogue liturgy was enlarged, new traditions were suggested, and emphases were shifted in an attempt to preserve and adapt the observance of this holiday for the people scattered outside their homeland and stripped of their Temple. The timing of the ancient feast coincided with the beginning of Israel's civil New Year. After the A.D. 70 destruction of the Temple, the two observances became connected.

The actual observance of the Feast of Trumpets is recorded only once in Scripture. Ezra, the scribe, related that it was during the Feast of Trumpets that the Temple altar was rebuilt, and sacrifices were reinstituted by those who returned from Babylonian exile (Ezra 3:1-6). Nehemiah recorded that sweeping revival also took place in Israel that same day as Ezra rehearsed God's law in the ears of the people (Neh. 7:73-8:13).

There are several things about this feast which should pique our interest. First, this feast was to be celebrated on the first day of the month. Second, this feast was to be celebrated on the first day of the seventh month. Third, the feast was marked by a blowing of trumpets. The Hebrew word here is teruw`ah, [ter-oo-aw'} which means: "an alarm, a signal, a sound of tempest, a shout, a shout or blast of war or alarm or joy." Why is this significant that this feast was on the first day of the month? The Feast of Trumpets is the only one of the seven feasts which began on the first day of the month.

The Hebrew months each began on the new moon. The other feasts occurred toward the middle of the respective months, when the moon as at, or near, full. The nights would be filled with moonlight. At the New Moon, the moon is DARK and only a thin crescent.

The beginning of each month was originally dependent upon the sighting of the New Moon when the moon was but a crescent; the nights would be dark, with little moonlight. The precise timing of the New Moon was not always easily determined due to weather conditions and a lack of witnesses.

Two concurring witnesses sighting the first sliver of the new moon determined each new month. The two witnesses see the new moon and attest to it before the Sanhedrin in the Temple. This could happen during either of two days, depending on when the witnesses come. Since no one knew when the witnesses would come, no one knew when the Feast of Trumpets would start. After the appearance of the new moon was confirmed, then the Feast of Trumpets could begin, and the rest of the fall feasts could be accurately calculated from that date. The Feast of Trumpets is also considered a High Sabbath, and no work is to be done. Therefore, all preparations for the Feast of Trumpets had to be made in advance. Since no one knew the exact hour of the new moon's appearance, it kept people in a continual state of alertness.

They knew approximately when the new moon would reveal itself, but they did not know the exact hour of its appearance. I know a lunar calendar seems quite foreign to us living in the west, but we have to understand that the ancients kept track of time in this manner for thousands of years. Before we can attempt to understand God's prophetic time line, we must first understand how God reckons time.

Watchfulness was a critical ingredient of this feast. The rabbis later added a second day to this feast to make sure they didn't miss it. This need for watchfulness and preparedness in connection with the Feast of Trumpets is echoed and reechoed throughout the New Testament in connection with the Lord's coming:

Matthew 24:42 (NKJV) "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.

The Seventh Month - we should see immediately the significance of the seventh month. As the seventh month, this month was set aside as a Sabbath month.

God had ordained the seventh day as the Sabbath day, the day of rest (Exodus 20:8-11). The Sabbath day was to be a day of rest and remembrance of what God had done. Not only was there to be a Sabbath day, but also a Sabbath year (Lev 25:1-7), and a year of Jubilee (Lev 25:8-17), the year following seven sevens of years.

The Sabbath year and the year of Jubilee were times of rest, redemption, and freedom. During both times, everyone rested. During the sixth year, God promised a triple portion, enough to carry the people over for the seventh and eighth years.

The seventh month was special in the same way. During the seventh month, the very special fall feasts occurred: the Feasts of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Nearly the entire month was set aside for these three feasts.

What is special about the blowing of trumpets? There are basically two kinds of trumpets in Israel: Trumpets made of ram's horns, or the Shofar, and silver trumpets.

The shofar was a curved trumpet fashioned from a ram's horn. In the Hebrew language, the shofar (ram's horn trumpet) was clearly distinguished from a keren, the "horn of an animal," when not used as a musical instrument. The ram's horn came from some type of sacrifice from the bullock or the ram. The ram's horns were especially used to blast out the note of shouting at the fall of the walls of Jericho. It was the trumpet of Jubliee. Trumpets constructed from cows' horns were rejected due to the reminder of Israel's idolatrous worship of the golden calf in the wilderness. The ram's horn was seen as a much more pleasant reminder of God's deliverance of Isaac through the ram caught by its horns in the thicket.

When the Lord designated Tishri 1 as a "day of blowing" and a "memorial of blowing," the type of trumpet for the Feast of Trumpets was not specifically identified. Almost without exception, historical observance and rabbinic tradition specified the shofar (ram's horn), not the silver trumpets of the priests, as the primary instrument intended by scripture.

Perhaps the original reason for specifying the ram's horn is to be found in the announcement of the Jubilee Year. Scripture designated the shofar (ram's horn), not the trumpet fashioned from precious metal, as the trumpet to be blown on Yom Kippur.

Every 50th year, this shofar announced the arrival of the Jubilee Year in which the slaves were freed and the fields were given rest from the farming cycle.

Apart from the sacrificial ceremony, the trumpet had several uses for the nation of Israel. The two main uses were to gather an assembly before the Lord, and it sounded an alarm to warn the people of that which was coming (Numbers 10:2-4,9). The feast of Trumpets is Israel's dark day. It occurred at the New Moon when the primary night light of the heavens is darkened. Israel's prophets repeatedly warned of a coming day of judgment for the nation. It was called "the day of the Lord." It was to occur at the end of the Jewish age. The day of the Lord was a time when the Lord poured out His wrath upon Israel.

The prophet Amos spoke of this dark day of judgment:

Amos 5:18-20 (NKJV) Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! For what good is the day of the LORD to you? It will be darkness, and not light. 19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion, And a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, Leaned his hand on the wall, And a serpent bit him! 20 Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?

The Trumpet was used to usher in the Day of the Lord:

Joel 2:1 (NKJV) Blow the trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; For the day of the LORD is coming, For it is at hand:
Zephaniah 1:14-16 (NKJV) The great day of the LORD is near; It is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out. 15 That day is a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, 16 A day of trumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against the high towers.

We mentioned earlier that the Feast of Trumpets is the only feast day to begin when the moon is dark. This passage from Zephaniah is only one of many which speaks of the Day of the Lord as a day of darkness, and a day when the shofar sounds.

As the darkening of the moon in the night heavens announced the Feast of Trumpets, so too, the heavens were divinely darkened in as the Day of the Lord commenced:

Joel 2:31 (NKJV) The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.

In the New Testament, the trumpet was to be blown at the resurrection:

Matthew 24:31 (NKJV) "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
1 Corinthians 15:52 (NKJV) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 (NKJV) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

Paul equates the resurrection with the sound of God's shofar. What are the similarities between the resurrection and the Feast of Trumpets? First, they both were to occur on an unknown and undetermined day and hour. Second, they both were be announced by the sounding of the shofar.

If we put all of these together, can we begin to see the significance of the shofaron this very special feast day? We know that the spring feasts were fulfilled with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, fulfilled the Passover when He was offered as a sacrifice for our sins on the Passover. He fulfilled the Feast of Unleavened Bread when in the grave. He fulfilled Firstfruits when He was resurrected. We know that the Feast of Weeks was fulfilled with the beginning of the New Covenant, fifty days later.

The four spring feasts were fulfilled in Jesus' first coming, the three fall feasts were fulfilled at His second coming in A.D. 70.

The blast of the shofar is a type of that blast which called the faithful home to be with the Lord, but it is also a type of the shofar that was blasted to call judgment on the nation Israel who refused to come to Christ.

In short, we see the Feast of Trumpets fulfilled at the resurrection of the dead, which immediately precedes the Day of the Lord. Both are heralded by the blast of the shofar.

The Bible often speaks of men and angels blowing trumpets, yet only twice is it recorded that GOD blows a trumpet. In both instances it is the shofar. The first occasion was at Mt. Sinai when the Lord revealed Himself from Heaven and prepared to bring the nation under the Old Covenant. The Shekinah glory of the Lord descended with a fiery tempest and with the sound of the shofar (Exodus 19:18-20).

The second occasion on which the Lord blew the SHOFAR (Ram's horn) was at the Messiah's return. The Lord descended from Heaven with the whirlwind, the clouds of His glory, fire, and the SOUND OF THE TRUMPET. The prophet Zechariah declares:

Zechariah 9:14 (NKJV) Then the LORD will be seen over them, And His arrow will go forth like lightning. The Lord GOD will blow the trumpet, And go with whirlwinds from the south.

The ancient rabbis repeatedly quoted this verse in connection with the coming of the Messiah:

"And it is the ram's horn that the Holy One, blessed be he, is destined to blow when the son of David, our righteous one, will reveal himself, as it is said: 'And the Lord our God will blow the horn.'" (Tanna debe Eliyahu Zutta XXII)

Here is an interesting side note: ancient Jewish tradition held that the resurrection of the dead would occur on Rosh Hashanah. Reflecting this tradition, Jewish gravestones were often engraved with a SHOFAR. God's last trump and the resurrection of the righteous are intricately connected in the New Testament:

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (NKJV) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Most of us recognize this event as the resurrection, but few of us identify it with the Feast of Trumpets. Paul was a highly educated man of God's Torah and understood the Messianic fulfillment's of the Feasts of the Lord. Paul understood how Messiah was a fulfillment of Passover and Firstfruits, and Paul also recognized Messiah's future fulfillments of the fall Feasts.

I think that it is also interesting that, according to Jewish tradition, the gates of Heaven are opened on Rosh HaShanah so the righteous nation may enter. Because the gates of Heaven are understood to be open on Rosh HaShanah, this is further evidence that the resurrection of the believers in Christ took place on Rosh HaShanah.

These last three feasts are a little harder to nail down as to their anti-type, because they have no Scriptural reference as to their fulfillment. The Bible is silent about their New Covenant fulfillment, because no books of the Bible were written after A.D. 70. But we know that the pattern set by the spring Feasts is continued in the fall Feasts.

We see the type of this feast, in Joshua chapter 6, with the destruction of Jericho at the end of the forty year exodus. SEVEN priests, with the Ark of God in the midst, marched with seven trumpets around the wall of Jericho for 6 days. ON the SEVENTH DAY they marched around SEVEN TIMES. At the close of the march, the trumpets were blown, the people shouted, and God caused the walls of Jericho to collapse. The victory was COMPLETE.

The events of Jericho offered a graphic image and actual prophecy of events at the close of the Jewish age, forty years after Pentecost, when there were seven angels with seven trumpets of doom and judgement:

Revelation 8:2 (NKJV) And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.

At that time the great and powerful city of Babylon (Jerusalem) suddenly fell:

Revelation 18:10 (NKJV) "standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.'

Accompanied by a great shouting in heaven:

Revelation 18:20 (NKJV) "Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!"

The name "Joshua" is the Hebrew equivalent of Jesus. As in Joshua the destruction of the city came at the sound of the trumpets, so at the end of the Jewish age the destruction of Jerusalem came as Jesus sounded the trumpet.

Another name for Rosh HaShanah is 'Yom HaDin', the Day of Judgment. The righteous are separated and will be with God. This is known to Bible believers as the resurrection. The wicked unbelieving Jews faced the wrath of God in Israel's fall, during the tribulation period.

We see the spiritual anti-type of the Feasts of Trumpets in the fall of Jerusalem and the return of Christ in A.D. 70. Thus at the blowing of the trumpet, in Matthew 24, the scene was set, and Christ fulfilled the feast. Guess what month it was when Jerusalem fell? "The city was taken on September 8, A.D. 70, after the last siege had lasted about five months" (Josephus, vol. 1, p. 467).

The Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles take place in the SEVENTH month. Number seven is the number of perfection and fullness. In these feasts, the believer is brought to the fullness of the Godhead.

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