The Jewish Feasts – God’s prophetic calendar, Part 2

In Part 1 we covered the Spring feasts and their beautiful, chronological fulfilment in Yeshua Jesus’s first coming; now we look forward to the Autumn feasts, and at their prophetic significance for the end times, which we have been living through for the last century or so, culminating in these next seven years.

The Autumn Feasts

After Shavuot/Pentecost, there is a long gap before the next festivals, in the autumn. This gap is not dependent on a specific number of days after wherever Shavuot ended up, but rather, because the New Year starts on the first day of seventh month, the gap between them varies and is of uncertain length, year on year. This testifies of our experience of waiting, living in expectation of the trumpet call which announced the return of King Jesus to rapture His bride the church of believers. Now that this has happened, things may well have a more easily and clearly predictable timing.

The Feast of Trumpets is called Yom Teruah in Hebrew, which means a loud noise, or blast of the horn, rather than trumpet specifically. The feast is about the coming of the King and the gathering of the people to Him after a month-long preparation of sounding the shofar, prayer, teshuvah (repentance) and seeking after Him. It was a holy gathering of the people, a rest day, and they were to offer burnt sacrifices, all ultimately in preparation for the Day of Atonement. We learn in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 that there will be a great trumpet sound to usher in the return of the Messiah for His bride. Although Jesus opened the door of redemption 2,000 years ago, God has yet to ultimately redeem all things to Himself as He promised He would do in the age to come, the Millennial Kingdom, but this Day was a huge step on the way to that. The covenant of love between Messiah and His bride is being spiritually consummated now; those who had put their faith in Him during their earthly lives are now perfected, no longer living in bodies ruled by decay and sin and death, and we are rejoicing in the very presence of our Lord in resurrection bodies like His. The Apostle John put it like this in expectation of that Day:

‘Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.’

1 John 3:2-3, emphasis mine

Ten days later, on the tenth day of the seventh month, we have Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. The number ten signifies God’s claim for perfect obedience (think of the 10 commandments). In this special day of national repentance and sacrifice, the claims of God are met and the conscience of the people is cleared. It’s a time of affliction and humbling, repentance and cleansing. In ancient Israel, the high priest entered the Holiest Place, alone, with the blood of a lamb once a year on Yom Kippur, to atone for his own sin and the sin of the people. But Jesus, the last true high priest, has offered up His own blood, and entered God’s presence to make a way for us to be together with Him in the Holy of Holies. However, those who reject the sacrifice and forgiveness of Jesus will have to stand before the judgement seat with no cover of atonement; prayer, good deeds, and the blood of animals is not enough. Yom Kippur points towards the Day of Judgement, the great and terrible day of the Lord. I personally believe that Yom Kippur is the day when Jesus will return in power and glory at the end of the tribulation, seven years from now, when all Israel will finally recognise Him as the Messiah:

“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”

Zechariah 12:10

Just as we knew that 2021 would be the year of the Rapture to literally fulfil the Feast of Trumpets, I think that Yom Kippur 2028 is a pretty good guide for the timing of Jesus’ final return to this earth to put this world right. You need to be right with Him before that happens, or before you face your own personal Day of Atonement after death; whichever comes first. Don’t delay – accept Messiah’s sacrifice on your behalf and be made right with the Judge of all the earth, who will always do what is right and just (Genesis 18:25).

Last of all we have the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot in Hebrew. This is the most joyful and exuberant of all the feasts in Leviticus. After hearing Ezra the priest read the instructions about how to celebrate Sukkot once the exiled Israelites had returned from Babylon, the people joyfully went to fulfil the command to go and build booths! God instructed His people to build booths/shelters, or sukkot as they’re called in Hebrew, to remind us of the forty years of journeying through the desert. A week spent in a flimsy shelters reminds us of the temporary nature of this life, and points to our eternal home in the world to come. We eat and celebrate and even sleep in the sukkot (weather-permitting!), and recount God’s faithfulness to one another with joy.

The wheat harvest and the grape harvest are both gathered before Sukkot. Israel as a nation is called God’s vine in many Old Testament prophetic books, and God is likened to the vine-tender. Jesus speaks of good crops of wheat being like fruitful believers, and also likened believers to the branches of Himself, the Vine. However, the Bible also warns us of grapes trodden down in God’s wrath, symbolic of the nations under judgement for evil. The agricultural harvesting and the sorting all happen before Sukkot, which is like a big harvest festival. Unlike the Feast of Unleavened Bread which is seven days long (seven being the number of perfection), this holiday lasts for eight days, which symbolises going beyond completion into eternity, resurrection and a new beginning. There are seven days of the feast, with an eighth day (known as sh’mini atzeret) of joyful rest at the end!

“So on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruits of the land, you are to keep the Feast of Adonai [the Lord] for seven days. The first day is to be a Shabbat rest, and the eighth day will also be a Shabbat rest.”

Leviticus 23:39

In Zechariah 2:10, God promises His people that He’s going to come and tabernacle with us, which finds its ultimate, physical, literal fulfilment in the Millennial reign of our King Messiah on the earth from Jerusalem, spoken of throughout the Old and New Testaments. This will happen in seven years time when He returns, but only those who love and trust Him may enter that Kingdom. Jesus makes it clear to us that He wants to live with us, and we with Him (John 14:23). In Jewish thought, a sukkah is also reminiscent of a chuppa, a wedding canopy of joy and holiness. This is another shelter that points to the ultimate wedding of the Bride and the Lamb; the ultimate rest. And after that 1,000 reign on earth, we enter Eternity, the Eighth Day, the state beyond the completion of all this world was meant to be, in the New Heavens and the New Earth described in Revelation 21:

‘Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” ‘

Revelation 21:1-4

This is how the calendar ends for all believers; joyful union with God. I pray with all my heart that all you who read this will give your lives to Messiah and become part of His Bride so that you, too, may have a part in this glorious future, together with me and many others over the millennia who have loved our wonderful God and entered His rest.


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