Prophetic Markers Along the Narrow Road: Part 2 :: By Gene Lawley

It is remarkable how the seven feasts are laid out according to the annual calendar, and all of them not only follow their place in the seasons of the year, but their spiritual fulfillments follow that pattern over the expanse of centuries. Perhaps that is why so little attention seems to be given to what the feasts are telling us about the future. For instance, those first four feasts have been fulfilled in exact historical reality. Why, then, should we not expect the final three also to be done in the same way?

The ending of Part 1 was about Jesus redirecting the disciples toward that great harvest of the Great Commission. On any calendar the seasons of the year have a growing and harvesting season that is comparable to the “planting, growing and harvesting” season of the Church, the body of Christ—until God has completed the “taking out of the Gentiles a people for His name.”

Peter wrote of God’s plan for that harvest’s continual gathering for so many centuries, and still counting:

“…knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:3-4 and 8-9).

The truth presented here is that God’s long-suffering and patience has allowed multitudes to come to His salvation, a continual harvest like He spoke of in John 4:35, earlier in Part 1.

Then we come to the fall harvests, the end of the harvest season, and what feast is the one that is then fulfilled? The next one on the calendar, the Feast of Trumpets, Rosh Hashana as it is named. This feast depicts the return of Christ for His redeemed ones, the Rapture of the believers. It is obvious that this is the time of that event; there is no other event that this feast could fulfill. The integrity of each of the feasts remains true to its fulfilling purpose. That is, the features of the feast clearly reveal the features of the actual event.

A very interesting and telling factor in this feast is that it has no certain beginning date or hour of its activity. Remember that caution of Jesus, saying, “No one knows the day or hour of His coming” that leaves prophecy teachers concluding that his coming could be any day and hour. That issue is resolved, however, for at the time of Rosh Hashana, the first day of the Jewish civil New year, no one knows if the feast is to start at the usual sundown beginning of their day until two men actually view the new moon on the horizon and report it back to the religious leaders. If it is covered by clouds, the feast is delayed until the next day and a like test. So Jesus will come on the day and the hour, not some day and some hour.

As for the unknown starting hour, there are three trumpet sounds that mark the feast—a long “wakeup” blast, followed by a staccato blast sounding like the running of feet, then sometime later in the feast, a long, wailing blast that seemingly fades into the distance. This is “the last trumpet” mentioned in connection with this event. This is the picture of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, telling of the Rapture event:

“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. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

Ten days after the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast of Atonement is on the calendar. It is not clear that its fulfillment will occur that soon after the prior feast, but it will be during the first half of the seven-year “time of Jacob’s trouble,” as named in Jeremiah 30:7. This Feast of Atonement is on the calendar the tenth day after the Feast of Trumpets. In those ten days it will be likely that the Gog-Magog war from the north will occur, and all of those enemies of Israel will be eliminated by the miraculous hand of God; for Israel will be a defenseless entity after the Rapture occurs. Then perhaps Israel will understand that Jesus is their true atonement, all within those ten days. Remember, also, that the calling forth of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists will occur early in the seven years; and it is not said, but we must expect their message will be that of Christ’s payment for their sins. More on this in a moment. 

Its fulfillment is briefly described in Zechariah 12:10 as, “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.” It could come, in addition to those possibilities above, when the Antichrist stops their sacrifices and enters the temple to declare himself God and demand their worship, as told in Daniel 9:27.

Some additional considerations come into focus here, as to when Jesus is recognized in connection with this feast’s timing. When the 144,000 Jewish men are ordained to preach to the world, along with the two witnesses mentioned later, it is said they will be active in the first half of the seven years. Their choosing appears in chapter seven of Revelation. Again, will their message be the gospel of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection?

Jesus spoke of a time when the gospel of the kingdom of heaven would be preached during the end-time, in Matthew 24:14:

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

In Matthew’s writing, this verse is followed by the beginning of the tribulation period. Is this the gospel the Jewish evangelists will preach? Of course, Jesus could not have spoken of His death and resurrection, for that had not yet been accomplished. Then, the Jews are set to rebuild the temple, and will do so as soon as possible, no doubt, after the covenant frees them to do it. But it will happen, just as the feast is fulfilled and as Zechariah 12:10 predicts.

Finally, we come to the seventh feast called the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Tabernacles. This one depicts, particularly by its name, the arrival of Jesus the Christ to dwell among the people as Lord of Lords from the newly established throne of David in Jerusalem. It is that thousand-year reign of Christ known as the millennium and shows the world that a theocracy of righteousness is the only form of government that can work. Man has proven that his governing abilities, with the best that could be devised, was not sufficient for a fallen humanity.

It truly is a marvelous road on which God has traveled in this journey thus far. Two final chapters in the Book of Revelation deal with events in the eternal realm, starting with a new heaven and a new earth. But in this era of creation and redemption, we first are told God is spirit (John 4:24), and in Him we live and have our being (Acts 17:28). Then Jesus comes as a babe and enters the history of mankind: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

As God and man, He died on the cross to carry the sins of mankind to judgment, then rose again making that justice sure for fallen man who would believe Him. In this look ahead, we will “see Him as He is,” for He will be like us and we will be like Him, for all eternity (1 John 3:2-3).

Is this, then, the completion of man’s creation in His image?

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Prophetic Markers Along the Narrow Road: Part 1 :: By Gene Lawley

Like historical markers along the Interstate Highway System in America, prophetic markers were set in place when God gave Moses the laws of Leviticus centuries ago, even before they were to appear. They are found in Leviticus 23, seven of them; and they begin, strangely enough, when Christ was crucified. That was centuries after God directed Moses to put them on their calendar for recognition and celebration every year. They begin with the death of Christ and end with the coming of His living presence on earth as King of Kings, ruling from the throne of David in Jerusalem. Notice, if you will, that none of them are celebrations of Jewish events. That is why I call them “markers along the narrow road” in contrast to that “broad road of destruction on which many are traveling” and not that of the gospel of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

Usually a festival day or a day of memorial is named after an event happens, that is, in man’s calendar. Days like Memorial Day, Independence Day, or Labor Day in a secular calendar. Even religious days are there—Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Resurrection Day, although the latter is called Easter in secular calendars. The Jewish people also have national holidays to celebrate past victories over their enemies, such as the Feast of Purim and the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah).

However, it was different when God directed Moses to record seven festivals or feast days as recorded in Leviticus 23. In the Jewish tradition, festivals are known as “Divine Appointments,” and their celebrations are defined as “convocations,” or “rehearsals.” Think about that as you think about the fact that God listed those days in His Word as directives for Jewish observance every year thereafter. The conclusion, then, is that the Jews were to “rehearse” a like event in its fulfillment in some future year.

Lest the reader think I have meant the full scale of the future, those seven feasts tell us the high points of God’s plan for salvation and restoration of the Jewish people and the redemption of Gentiles according to His desire to “save out of the Gentiles a people for His name.”

Those seven festivals or feasts that were placed on the Jewish calendar every year were the feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Weeks, Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. Those are their short names, and of course, they have their Jewish names.

The first four are in the spring months from mid-March to early June, in our secular calendar, but according to the phases of the moon on the Jewish calendar. The final three feasts are scheduled in early fall to mid-fall, usually early September to mid-October. A Jewish calendar will show those respective months by name.

How are these, then, a telling of the future, and what part of the future is being told today?

The meaning of them being called “convocations” which are “rehearsed” gives us a clue. They are future events for which God had made an Appointed Time, and has met it for those already fulfilled in the first century, the first four. The Passover was fulfilled when Jesus was crucified and His blood was shed for the sins of all mankind, a gift ready to be accepted by those who want salvation. The pardon is there, but it is not effective unless a person chooses to accept that provision in their behalf (see Romans 5:18 and its related context).

A remembrance of their escape from the bondage of Egypt has been given the name “Passover” to that event. God directed that the blood of a lamb be spread over the door posts of their houses so the Death Angel would “pass over” that home and any of the first-born would be saved. It gives meaning to that first feast’s name. However, this feast is depicting a future even when Jesus Christ, the Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) would shed His blood so that believers would be saved, that is, “passed over” when judgment day comes.

Jesus died, as the Passover Lamb, and for three days and three nights He was in death, as Unleavened Bread, and the third day He was resurrected, the third feast day on the calendar.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread portrays the death of the Son of Man, as unleavened bread has no “life” or fluff, as we like bread to be. Then, the third feast, the Feast of First Fruits, recognizes the resurrection of Christ as the first fruit of the resurrection. Recall the account in Matthew’s record of His resurrection, telling that after His resurrection, some believers who had died were seen walking around in Jerusalem. (It was not until Jesus had been resurrected, as the first fruit of the resurrection, that others demonstrated the power of His resurrection (see Romans 9:11).

Then, fifty days later, the fourth feast, Pentecost, recognized the first harvest, the early harvest of barley. It was fulfilled when the first harvest of redemption happened when the Holy Spirit came upon that little band of believers praying and waiting in that Upper Room. Acts 2 tells of it in dramatic detail, when Peter preached a powerful sermon that showed none of his past uncertainty, and three thousand or more people received Christ’s offer of redemption and were also filled with the Holy Spirit. That transformation, spoken of by the prophet Joel, is since then and now the mark of distinction for believers in Christ over any other offer of the way to heaven, as many false teachers are proclaiming.

As far as those feasts not yet happening in fulfillment are concerned, there has been a long time of waiting for God’s “Appointed Time” for them. It is an honest question to be asking, and God answers it in 2 Peter 3 when scoffers in the last days question, “Where is the promise of His coming?” In the verses following that abrasive question, God explains that He has been patient and long-suffering for the reason that He “does not desire that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Sometimes I have wondered, also, why some people who deny God with a great deal of vengeance yet live long lives. It seems that God has their final answer in His control, and it is His mercy for them to have a long life on this side of the veil, because that is all they will ever have.

Then follows an undetermined period of time for a long harvest-time season spoken of by Jesus in John 4:35. “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months until the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! and then comes the harvest?’”

His audience was concerned with the harvest of agriculture products, but Jesus directed them to the harvest of unsaved people who were to hear the gospel over these centuries since He uttered those words.

Just as Jesus was ready for His ascension into heaven after those forty days with those few believers, they asked Him, “Lord will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” His answer was, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

In other words, “Let the harvest begin and continue until I come.”

(Part 2 will continue with an analysis of those three final feasts.)

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