Our previous two studies in Deuteronomy 16 reviewed five of the seven annual holidays which God instructed the Jews to observe. Each of these looked back historically to remember something that the Lord had done, but also looked forward to a day when the Lord Jesus Christ would do something even greater.
The Feast of Passover looked ahead to the crucifixion of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread saw the sinless body of Jesus lying dead in the tomb.
The Feast of Firstfruits foretold of His resurrection from the dead.
The Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, was a rehearsal of the day when Jesus would do a new thing, giving birth to His church.
The Feast of Trumpets spoke of the rapture of His church.
Tonight, we will review the final two holidays: the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. We will also see why attendance at three of the feasts were mandatory for all Jewish males.
As with the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement is not in the short list of five here in Deuteronomy 16, so we'll jump into our study of it without reading any of the verses just yet. Instead, let's turn to Leviticus 23.
In Leviticus 23, the Lord gave instructions to Moses for the Day of Atonement:
Lev. 23:27-32 "On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD. You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the LORD your God. If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath."
The Day of Atonement is today called by its Hebrew name, "Yome Kip-POOR." This was not a celebratory feast, but a solemn fast. A day to humble themselves. The word "humble" is the Hebrew word "aw-NAW," which means "to become low, depressed, downcast, weak, and afflicted."
In Leviticus 16, the Lord said that when they did this,
Lev. 16:30 ...atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD.
Atonement is the covering over of sin ("kaw-FAR"). Those who did not humble and afflict themselves would be cut off, destroyed.
Now, not only did the people need to have atonement made for them, but also the temple and everything in it. Leviticus 16 tells us that this was the duty of the High Priest.
Lev. 16:32-33 "So the priest who is anointed and ordained to serve as priest in his father's place shall make atonement: he shall thus put on the linen garments, the holy garments, and make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar. He shall also make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly."
And so this is what we learn from these verses:
- The Day of Atonement took place nine days after the Feast of Trumpets.
- It was a day when the Jews could not work.
- They were to humble - or afflict - their souls, confessing their sins against God.
- Anyone who would not humble themselves would be cut off, destroyed.
- Their offering to the Lord would be by fire.
- The holy place, the tent, the altar, in the tabernacle (and later the temple) had to have atonement made for it (Lev. 16:16-18).
- The high priest was the one who did this while wearing his special garments (Lev. 16:32-33).
It is quite unfortunate that today the Jews have lost sight of the true meaning of this holiday. Today, most Jews view Yom Kippur as a time to make sure that the year's good deeds outweigh their bad ones. They will not, however, always view it this way. You see, prophetically, the day of Atonement points to a day yet future.
Sometime after the rapture of the church, the seven-year period known as the Tribulation will begin. A world leader we call antichrist will arise to power. After 3 1/2 years, he will enter into the rebuilt temple and proclaim himself to be God, demanding to be worshipped. Because the Jews will refuse to worship him, they will be horribly persecuted - nearly to the point of genocide. At the end of those seven years, when Jerusalem is surrounded, being attacked by all the nations of the world, Jesus Christ will return to earth, defeating the antichrist and the nations, and establishing His thousand-year reign as king on earth.
I believe that the day Jesus returns will be Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Why? Because of every detail we have been given about this day. You see, the Jews will be undergoing terrible distress - a trial by fire. Jesus said it would be...
Mark 13:19 "...a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will."
And although God will be judging all those who reject Him, He has specifically said that this time period is for the Jews and Jerusalem (Dan. 9:24), it is their distress. Jeremiah wrote,
Jer. 30:7 "Alas! for that day is great, there is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob's distress, but he will be saved from it."
During this time of oppression, the Jews will not be able to work. Their lives will be afflicted, and God will desire them to afflict and humble their own souls. Anyone who does not will be cut off and destroyed.
At Jesus' first coming, He said,
Matt. 23:37-39 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'"
Jesus will not return until the Jews humble themselves before God and acknowledge that Jesus, whom they rejected, was truly God's Messiah. As the nations invade Jerusalem, and people are dying horribly, they will cry out to Him.
And when He returns,
Zech. 12:8-10 "...the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the LORD before them. And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn."
Zech. 13:6 "And one will say to him, What are these wounds between your arms?' Then he will say, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.'"
In that day, Israel will have their real Day of Atonement. This is what Paul was talking about when he wrote in Romans 11...
Rom. 11:25-27 ...a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB. THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS."
Even the small details will be fulfilled. You see, also on that day when Jesus the Great High Priest returns, He will be wearing a special garment:
Rev. 19:13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood...
And when He arrives, atonement will be made for the temple, for it will have been defiled by the antichrists' abomination of desolation (2Th. 2:4). A new temple will have to be built (Zech. 6:12-15).
Lastly (and this is pure speculation on my part), because I believe that there is great significance to every detail given in the Scriptures, the fact that the Day of Atonement takes place nine days after the Feast of Trumpets leads me to think that there will be a two-year gap between the rapture of the church and the beginning of the Tribualation, which will last seven years.
And now we come to the seventh and final holiday, the Feast of Booths.
In the Scripture, the Feast of Booths is also called "the Feast of Tabernacles" and "the Feast of the Ingathering." It is an eight-day-long feast which begins four days after the Day of Atonement.
This seventh and last feast was historically a celebration of the time that the Jews dwelt in booths, or tents, in the wilderness with the Lord. After the fall harvest, and after they had threshed the wheat and crushed the grapes, they were to rejoice.
Lev. 23:40 "Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days."
Lev. 23:42-43 "You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God."
Because of these dwelling places which they built and in which they lived for a week, the Feast of Booths is also called "the Feast of Tabernacles," or "Succoth" (Sook-KOHTH), the Hebrew word for "booths."
The prophetic picture of this feast points forward to the millennial reign of Jesus Christ on earth. At the end of the Great Tribulation, He will reign on earth for a thousand years (Rev. 20).
Again, notice the details fulfilled...
The Feast of Booths happened immediately after the harvest had been processed at the threshing floor and wine vat. In other words, the wheat chaff had been burned up and the grapes had been crushed. Revelation 14 tells us that this will happen just before Jesus begins to reign on earth:
Rev. 14:15-20 And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe." Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe." So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses' bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.
This harvest of threshing and crushing will happen beginning when Jesus returns on the Day of Atonement. Only after this harvest will He establish His reign and tabernacle among us on earth.
Notice that in verse 15, we're told that this feast will be celebrated in a certain place:
Deut. 16:15 "Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful."
Once again, we see that term which Moses used to describe the city of Jerusalem. This is the very city from which the Bible says Jesus will rule and reign, while His people tabernacle around Him.
There are many more details which the Bible gives about the Feast of Tabernacles, many of which we've covered in previous studies. But there is one more thing I'd like to cover before we finish this subject and pick up our pace in Deuteronomy again.
Why were there three feasts which were necessary for the Jews to attend? Because God wanted to make sure that the Jews were all there for the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, and for the birth of the church on the day of Pentecost. One day, He will also make sure that...
Rom. 11:26 ...all Israel will be saved...
And when all Israel will be saved, they will be there for Tabernacles as well, as God makes His house with us on earth.