Feasts of Israel and the Menorah

The Menorah was a seven stem lampstand that was the represented light to a dark world and the seven stems portrayed the seven feasts of Israel. There were three feasts in the Spring: the Feast of Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread and Feast of First Fruits. Then there is a short delay of 50 days and you have the Feast of Pentecost. Then after another delay, about four months, there are three more Feasts, which include the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.

The feast of Passover involved 1) the killing of the lamb and 2) the Passover meal or seder. The lamb was set aside on the tenth of the month of Aviv (biblical) or Nisan (modern). It was tested for four days to make sure it was without spot and without blemish. On the fourteenth day the lamb was killed for the Passover meal. The next morning, another lamb was used as the Passover sacrifice. The Passover meal included three things: 1) the paschal lamb, the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs.

The time was during the month of Nisan. If one household was small, they would join with others, so one lamb might suffice for several different family groups and nothing of it remained until the morning. There are 15 parts of the meal. For example, there are three pieces of bread, which represent the Trinity. There are four cups of fermented red wine, each of which have meaning of blessing, plagues, redemption and praise.  The shankbone, the forearm of the lamb, represented the outstretched arm that God brought the Jews out of the land of Egypt (Deut 26:8). The salt water, in which several items are dipped represent the tears of the Jews serving in Egypt. There is much else to learn, but let’s apply this.

When Jesus road into Jerusalem on a donkey, many teach that it was the last offer of kingship to the Jews. It was really that Jesus set Himself aside as the Passover Lamb. It was on the tenth day of the month. For four days, Jesus was tested by the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Scribes and the Herodians. Jesus ate the Seder meal on the first night of the Passover, the same night that all Jewish people ate it, the 14th of Nisan. Jesus died on the first day of Passover, crucified at 9:00 am, the same as Passover lamb. Just as blood was sprinkled on doorposts, so Jesus shed His blood for the world. As the Jews purged their homes of leaven, the believer purges his life of leaven or sin, or the church of sin, which would be church discipline.

The second feast of Unleavened Bread occurred for eight days in conjunction with Passover. It lasted for seven days, in which the Jews could not eat leaven. Passover lasts eight days. Passover was observed in Egypt and the day after Passover, Israel began their journey out of Egypt. The New Testament application is from 1 Corinthians 5:6ff and the Messianic implication is explained in Hebrews 9:1-10:18. This passage explains the cleansing of the heavenly tabernacle, the removal of sins of the OT saints and the application of the blood to the New Testament saints.

The third feast of First Fruits began the counting of 50 days until the Feast of weeks or Pentecost. It was on the Sunday, first day of the week according to Lev 23:11, “the day after the Sabbath.” It was for one day and a sheaf of the first grain on the 16th day of Nisan. It was always on a Sunday, after the Sabbath after the Passover. This marked the two month spring harvest. In AD 30, the 15th of Nisan was from Thursday evening until Friday evening. 16th Nisan, Friday evening to Sat evening was 2nd day and Sat evening to Sunday evening was 3rd day. 

The fourth feast is the Feast of Weeks. It occurs seven weeks, plus one day after First fruits. It is the end of the Spring harvest. Acts 2:1-4 verify that this is the day the church began, as the Holy Spirit came to indwell every church age believer.

The fifth feast is the Feast of Trumpets. Rosh Hashanah is the most common name, “Head of the year”, but there are four others. It happens in the month of Tishrei. The shofar was blown and was curved, because it was a symbol of repentance in contrast to a straight horn, that is for Jews to return to Judaism and the covenant relationship with Yahweh.  It was a day of rest, blowing of the trumpet and many sacrifices. Shofar means “a horn for blowing” and the Hebrew word “truah” means “shout,” “a blast of war, alarm, joy.”

The sixth feast is the Day of Atonement. It was a day of affliction of the soul and day of individual and national atonement.  Several passages of OT taught seven truths. For example, 1) the approach to God was limited (Lev 16). 2) Atonement was by blood (Lev 17:11). 3) The mediator was the high priest. 4) The high priest had to offer a bull for himself first.  The second bull was for Israel. 5) The blood of the first goat made it possible for the second goat to take away the sins of Israel. 6) Atonement dealt with known and unknown sins. 7) Confession of sin always followed the shedding of blood.

The seventh feast, the Feast of Succoth or Tabernacles. Let’s note several things. 1) It was seven days long, 2) They built and lived in booths or branch tents, 3) They celebrated with citrus type fruit citron, the lulav, which is a branch of the palm tree, the hadas, which is a branch of the myrtle tree, and the anwah, which is a branch of the willow. 4) It follows the Day of Atonement and considered to be a time of rejoicing following the day of affliction. 5) It marked the first fruits of fall harvest. 6) An additional eighth day of solemn assembly followed the 7th day, but the Jews did not have to live in the booth.

What’s the application? Passover was fulfilled by the death of the Messiah. The Unleavened Bread was fulfilled by the sinlessness of His blood offering. The feast of First fruits was fulfilled by the Resurrection of Jesus. The feast of weeks was fulfilled by the birthday of the Church. The Feast of Trumpets will be fulfilled by the next great event of the church – the Rapture of the Church. The Feast of Trumpets is declared by the sound of a Trumpet and a shout, which is true of the Rapture (1 Thes 4:13-18). The Day of Atonement will be fulfilled by the Great Tribulation, which is the affliction of Israel to turn back to their Messiah. And the Feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled by the Messianic Kingdom, or what we also call the Millennium.

No one knows the day or the hour (Matt 24:36),
but let’s have some fun and look at several passages.

What time is it?  Matt 24:32-36 describes the events that will happen at the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. In that context, it says that the generation will not pass away until that event comes.

What is a generation? Ps 90:1-10 describes that while God is from eternity to eternity, a generation is 70 years and if by strength, 80 years. So IF we begin the clock again on May 14, 1948, when Israel was again recognized as a nation, then 80 years from that date is May 14, 2028. (Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 24:32-36) Subtract 7 years and you have May 14, 2021, or the beginning of Daniel’s 70the week.  The Feast of Trumpets occurs before that and it can be a minute before or even a few years before and that would be the Feast of Trumpets 2020, or September 19, 2020. Ha! Maybe today!

Why is it important to understand human history from God’s perspective?

When were there sacrifices? Until the cross and in the Millennium

Who was responsible for disseminating God’s Word? We all are!  The question is, are you motivated to share your faith about Jesus Christ? Are you motivated to disciple people to Him, so they will reach more? We don’t discuss these things for our own interests, but for the sake of reaching others!  May the Lord bless you as you reach out to lead others to Christ.

This website has a good diagram that relates the feasts to the End Times:
http://www.ltradio.org/charts/

Insights: Israel Deleted!

The publishing giant, HarperCollins, has just produced an atlas. It says the atlas was “developed specifically for schools in the Middle East.”1 Its goals include helping kids understand the “relationship between the social and physical environment, the region’s challenges [and] its socio-economic development.” Those are reasonable goals, but the country of Israel is missing. All the other Middle East countries are there. Continue reading

Geo-Political Earthquakes

The turmoil in the Mideast is reaching a pressure level that is surely going to cause a shift in the earth’s crust. With 100,000 dead in Syria and one million children and adults living in make-shift refugee camps along the Syrian – Turkey, Jordanian, Iraqi and Lebanon borders, something may give and create a geo-political earthquake. Continue reading

Book Review: The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn

Book Review: The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn

“The Harbinger” by Jonathan Cahn is a fascinating narrative regarding current events connected to a prophecy given to Israel through the prophet Isaiah.  Cahn insightfully draws parallels from the prophecy of God against Israel and relates that to current day United States of America.  The parallels are intriguing, the dialogue is adventurous and the ramifications are significant.  The challenge is, “Can such parallels be made?”

What is a harbinger?  A dictionary definition would define it as “a person who heralds another” or “something that foreshadows a future event” as in a sign.  “The Harbinger” is written to foreshadow an apocalyptic event in the future of the United States of America.

The story line is built around Nouriel who is drawn into a relationship with the prophet related to the events of and following 9/11.  Cahn delineates nine harbingers as signs of warning to Israel, who disregarded them to her own demise, of which also parallel to events in the United States. Significant events, down to the “exact days” describe how a potential judgment is coming upon America. Included in the analyses are quotations proclaimed by the US Senate leadership and the President himself related to the defiance of Israel against God’s wrarning.  Just as Israel defied God’s warning and was destroyed, so also the US is defying God’s warning and may face coming judgment.  Each of the nine seals, or harbingers, unveils a premise that if the US does not return to the Lord, it will face certain judgment. The narrative is put together like a Hollywood thriller movie exploiting the details of contemporary history.

Is it possible that Cahn could be right?  The coming judgment of the US seems to be certain based on the rejection of American people toward the Lord and the downward spiral of morality.  Much of the story line documentation supports the premise that America will fall to a second rate country in the near future, but I would be very cautious using a prophecy given to the nation Israel. Yet, there are several reasons why the parallels should not be made.

First, Isaiah prophesied to Israel, not America.  The many specifics that Cahn sites are fascinating and should cause students of Scripture to continue research into Cahn’s primary sources and to be open to continued parallels. However, you can’t take a prophecy given to Israel and directly apply it to another nation.  Could God do that?  Yes.  In the same way, Matthew quoted from Hosea 11:1 a prophecy that God would call Israel out of Egypt and Matthew uses that in Matthew 2:15 as an interpretation applied to Jesus “called out of Egypt.” I’m very comfortable for Matthew to do that under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, however hermeneutics (laws of interpretation) don’t allow me or anyone else to take prophecies given to Israel and directly apply them to another country.  Principles in application can be applied, but caution should be exercised. 

Secondly, Cahn uses 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a solution for US defiance toward God. “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  This a great verse, but if America does repent, the verse cannot be used for an automatic response from God.  God doesn’t promise that America will be restored to world greatness, even if the American people do repent.  Second Chronicles was written regarding Isreal and is there for our learning that we might have hope in God (Rom. 15:4).  If the people do repent, God in His gracious sovereignty can choose to bless the United States.  God is not under obligation to remove any pending divine discipline.

Furthermore, does the Isaiah prophecy apply to other countries that have existed since the time of Jesus?  Maybe Cahan would say, they did not have the foundation based on biblical truth as the United States did.  That may be true, but the direct comparison of the US to Israel seems stretched.

Thirdly, too many cults have proclaimed doom (Millerites 1844; Harold Camping 1994; Pentecostal William Branham 1977; Edgar Whisenant 1988; David Koresh 1993; Jehovah Witness 1914) and applied prophecy inappropriately.  A Christian today does not have authority to make predictions for a specific country, when the prophecy was given to a different country.  That violates principles of a literal historico-grammatical approach to interpretation. I in no way want to imply Cahn is a cult leader or not a Christian.  I am not able to find a statement of faith regarding his beliefs in Jesus Christ. He seems sincere in website information.

I would also be concerned that Cahn may hold to Replacement Theology, although he never makes an issue of that in the book.  Replacement Theology says that the church replaced Israel as the people of God and Israel is no longer a factor in contemporary history.  On the contrary, Israel continues to be a factor and the unconditional covenants that God made with Abraham, David and Israel in the New Covenant will be fulfilled at the Second Advent. 

On the other hand, I would not blow off what Cahn is saying.  The unusually specific quotations parallel to what happened with Israel are most interesting.  This is a well-written, captivating and inspiring dialogue.  Each chapter is filled with dialogue that reveals attention to detail and exqauisite dialogue. 

Explaining Divine History – Part 3

            I used to consider history dull and boring.  When I grew up, I realized how fascinating it is.  I also learned that the more I learn from history, I just MIGHT not repeat it.  How do you look at history?

            This short series, called “Explaining Divine History,” is seeking to establish fundamental truths in order to understand Divine History.  Part one stated that Salvation was, is and will always be the same.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).  For those who lived prior to Jesus Christ, it was the same, although they did not have the same revelation as we have in the completed canon of Scripture, so they trusted God in His revealed provision for redemption. 

Part two briefly described the biblical method of interpretation.  If you follow a “Literal Historico-grammatical” approach to biblical interpretation, you’ll establish one correct interpretation in the context of the entire Bible to harmonize all of Scripture.

      Part three isolates God’s promises to Israel.  In brief, we need to understand, “God’s promises to Israel were not merely nice words to make His people feel special, but unconditional, eternal and literal promises to the nation of Israel that have yet to be fulfilled.”  These promises were 1) unconditional covenants that depend on the integrity of God, not the fickleness of people.  What God said, He meant and He will ensure the covenants are fulfilled.  They are 2) eternal in that they are not subject to “the Old Testament period,” but now do not apply.  And they are 3) literal in that they will be literally fulfilled and we don’t need to spiritualize them to satisfy some narrow theological perspective.

When God promised Abraham a land, a seed and a blessing in Genesis 12:1-3, He wasn’t joking.  That Covenant called the Abrahamic Covenant was amplified in the Palestinian Covenant (Deut. 30:1-10) for the land, the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:12-16) for the seed and the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) for the blessing.  If Israel is now scattered and God has formed a new spiritual species in the church (2 Cor. 5:17), then how do we know covenant fulfillment must still take place?  Ezekiel explains this.

Ezekiel explains what has happened to Israel and what God will do for Israel.  This should not be symbolically interpreted.  A good student should ask, “What is the natural interpretation of the Scripture?”  Ezekiel 36:17-19 explains that God “scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the countries.”  That didn’t happen when the Northern Kingdom was taken captive in B.C. 722 (2 Kings 17:23) or when the Southern Kingdom was taken into exile in B.C. 586 (2 Kings 25).  Israel was scattered among the nations after 70 A.D. when the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.  The Jews continue to be scattered among the nations to this day.

God continues to demonstrate great concern for His people.  Jewish nonbelievers are greatly blessed, except when they come under persecution (Ezek 36:20-21).  Israel is not preserved as a nation or race because of how great she is, but for His name’s sake (Ezek 36:22-23).  God promises to take the Jews out of the countries (Ezek 36:24).  He declares He will cleanse them from their sin (of rebellion, independence and indifference) (Ezek 36:25).  He will regenerate them and put His Spirit in them to walk in His ways (Ezek. 36:26-27).  That has not been done yet in Israel’s history.  Furthermore, they will dwell in the land that God gave their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ezek 36:28).  That is the fulfillment of the Palestinian Covenant. 

God didn’t record these verses to be symbolically interpreted.  God didn’t promise this to Israel to give them some warm fluffy promise that wouldn’t happen.  God wrote these words for a purpose and it explains divine history.  God is not done with the nation of Israel.

The next installment will deal with the beginning and organization of the church.

Book Review: Has the Church Replaced Israel?

Has the Church Replaced Israel? By Michael J. Vlach

The relationship between Israel and the Church has been a controversial subject all through Church History, the Church Age.  Some will say that Israel was absorbed into the Church.  They will say there is only one united people of God in history. This is often called Replacement Theology or “supersessionism.”  Some will say, no, there is the Church begun on the Day of Pentecost and while everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ today is part of the Church, the Bride of Christ, including Jews, that Israel is still a people that God will use to fulfill His kingdom purposes by the fulfillment of the Covenants at the Second Advent.
Michael Vlach demonstrates an astute theological understanding and explanation by showing that those who believe the Church replaced Israel have a weak and inadequate case.  He adroitly addresses the Bible, theology and history to reveal supersessionism, Replacement Theology, does not reflect biblical truth.  Some, who believe the Church replaced Israel, also believe that there will be a national restoration of Israel, but only as a nation and without a distinct purpose God has called Israel to fulfill.
Supersessionism is dangerous theology, because it questions the character of God.  If God made an unconditional covenant with Israel that one day they would return to the land, have a Son of David rule on a throne in Israel and bless the world around them, but didn’t really mean that it would happen, then it brings into question the integrity of God. This false interpretation can only result because of symbolic form of interpretation and imposition of typology on the whole of the Old Testament that requires the New Testament for explanation.  In other words, the Old Testament cannot stand on its own for promises made to Israel.
One of the arguments that the Church replaced Israel is called “Punitive Supersessionism,” which states basically the Church replaced Israel because God was punishing Israel (Vlach also addresses economic and structural supersessionism adeptly).  God certainly removed Israel from His blessing for a time, but the Covenants God made with Israel were unconditional and will be literally fulfilled at the Second Advent.
His discussion on the hermeneutics of supersessionism is thorough and objective. Many have argued that Dispensationalists are not really literalists in interpretation, but arguments are usually pointing at literal interpretation of poetry and eschatological passages that use symbols and have been explained in other parts of Scripture.  Replacement Theology does not use a consistent literal hermeneutic, because it foists a system on Scripture rather than letting Scripture speak for itself.  This book is a must read to properly grasp the big picture of understanding the Church does not replace Israel in God’s decree.

Book Review: When the Cross Became a Sword by Merrill Bolender

God chose Abraham to be the first Jew and from him Israel was formed because of God’s covenant with him called the Abrahamic Covenant.  That Covenant will be fulfilled at the Second Advent of Jesus Christ prior to the Millennium and therefore the Jewish people will always exist in spite of Satan’s efforts to destroy the Jew.  Satan tried throughout history from Abraham down to the cross to destroy the line to Christ.  In spite of the stains of sin in the Messianic line, Jesus Christ was born the Messiah and completed His First Advent mission of going to the cross.  Prior to the Second Advent, Satan has tried on several occasions to destroy the Jews.  Why?  Satan has tried to destroy the Jews, because if there are no Jews, then the Abrahamic Covenant could not be fulfilled and God would be proved a liar.  The holocaust is just one example of Satan’s wicked ploys against the Jews.  Merrill Bolender records how the Church has crept over to Replacement Theology and developed an anti-Jewish bias, including the Crusades and the indifference toward Israel by the Church today.  Many of the early church fathers wrote with an anti-Jewish bias.  Today in the 21st Century, the church seems to be moving toward Replacement Theology – The Jews were set aside and no longer have a plan in God’s administration of history, while the church has “replaced” Israel and the only focus of God’s history until the final Great White Throne judgment.  Scripture does not teach this.  You have to spiritualize the Scriptures, changing the hermeneutics from a Literal Historico-grammtical method of interpretation to a litero-spiritual approach, in which Scripture fits a particular theology.  Bolender rightly argues the dangers of such an approach.  He, nor  I, would ever take a position of  “Israel, right or wrong, Israel” approach, but Israel does have and will maintain an important role in God’s divine history.  This is a short easy read, but important to understand regarding the consequences of Replacement Theology.