Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
A New Understanding of SHEMINI ATZERET -- the "Eighth Day"
What is the real, true meaning of the one day festival that occurs at the close of the Feast of Tabernacles -- called Shemini Atzeret, or "the Eighth Day"? The awesome significance of this final festival day in YEHOVAH God's Plan for His people Israel has gone unnoticed, misinterpreted, and misunderstood by millions! It does not picture the "Great White Throne" judgment at the close of the Millennium, as thousands have assumed -- but something far greater than that! Here the truth is made plain!
by HOIM Staff
In the book of Leviticus we read a description of all the annual holy days of YEHOVAH God, beginning with Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the seven day Feast of Tabernacles or "Ingathering" of the harvest (Leviticus 23:1-36). Then, at the close of the Feast of Sukkoth or Tabernacles, in the fall, we read:
"...on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein" (Leviticus 23:36).
This one-day festival occurs right at the end of the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, which pictures the Millennial Reign of the Messiah and YEHOVAH God (Revelation 20:4; Isaiah 11). The last or seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the FINAL DAY OF HARVEST or INGATHERING -- that is, the final time of spiritual harvest which is pictured by the Great White Throne judgment, when all those Israelites who ever lived are resurrected and "judged" according to their works (Revelation 20:11-15). This "seventh day" of the Feast is also called "the great day of the feast" (John 7:37), and is the time when the tares are separated from the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). It pictures a truly "great day of salvation" when millions of Israelites will be saved, and will come to know YEHOVAH God!
Since the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles completes the "harvest festival" of the great fall harvest -- and therefore represents the FINAL DAY of "harvesting" and "ingathering" -- the COMPLETION of the salvation process, and YEHOVAH's Plan with His people Israel -- what is the meaning and purpose of the ONE-DAY festival that appears to be "tacked onto" the end of the Feast of Tabernacles?
What is the hidden, unrealized meaning of "Shemini Atzeret" -- or "the eighth day"?
A Separate Feast
Before seeing what the Scriptures tell us about this subject, let's review briefly the teachings and concepts which Rabbinical Judaism has put forth concerning this ancient festival. The Jews have been observing this day, along with all YEHOVAH's festivals, for the past 3,500 years, since the time of Moses. Therefore, their insights ought to be instructive and meaningful.
To understand the full meaning of this final holy day, it will help us to compare -- and to contrast -- it with the Festival that precedes it, the Feast of Tabernacles. As The Jewish Book of Why explains:
"Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah ["the rejoicing of the Law"] are holidays totally independent of the Sukkot holiday.
"In Israel, as dictated by the Bible, Sukkot is observed for seven days. The first day is a full holiday, on which one is to abstain from work. The next five days are Chol Hamoed, Intermediary Days, which are considered half-holidays. The seven and last day of Sukkot is Hoshana Rabba, also a half-holiday. The day after Hoshana Rabba is a separate holiday called Shemini Atzeret. Simchat Torah is not observed as a separate holiday. It is observed as part of Shemini Atzeret....
"The seventh and last day of Sukkot was endowed with special sanctity by the last of the Prophets: Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Coming at the beginning of the rainy season, it became known as a Day of Judgment for Rain. (A special service for rain became part of the Shemini Atzeret service held on the next day.)" (p. 254-255).
This Jewish authority goes on to explain further:
"Shemini Atzeret, the Eighth Day of Solemn Assembly, is often thought of as the eighth day of Sukkot. Actually, it is an INDEPENDENT HOLIDAY. The Rabbis refer to it as regel bifnay atzmo, a separate holiday, and required that the Shehecheyanu prayer be recited when the candles are lighted and when the Kiddush is recited. (This would not be required if Shemini Atzeret were not an independent holiday.)
"Shemini Atzeret is a ONE-DAY HOLIDAY marking the conclusion of the festivities and observances of Sukkot, and NONE OF THE SUKKOT CEREMONIALS APPLY TO IT" (p. 256).
According to six laws found in the Talmud, Shemini Atzeret is considered a festival unto itself -- unrelated to Succoth (Feast of Tabernacles). Notice:
"Sukkah 48a: It has been taught in agreement with R. Nahman, The Eighth Day is a SEPARATE FESTIVAL with regard to P'Z'R'K'SH'B' i.e., with regard to balloting it is a SEPARATE festival, with regard to the benediction of the season it is a SEPARATE festival, with regard to the nature of the festival it is a SEPARATE festival, with regard to its sacrifice it is a SEPARATE festival, with regard to its psalm it is a SEPARATE festival, and with regard to its benediction it is a SEPARATE festival."
As we can see, there are six halachic (interpretations of the laws of the Scriptures) ingredients that separate Shemini Atzeret from Succoth or Tabernacles. You cannot understand this holiday without first learning the six laws which come with the six-letter acronym P'Z'R'K'SH'B' --
(1) Payis -- Lottery. The priests in the Jerusalem Temple used to conduct a separate lottery for the services on Shemini Atzeret. It shows that Shemini Atzeret is indeed a SEPARATE DAY from Succoth or Tabernacles.
(2) Zman -- Shemini Atzeret deserves a Shecheyanu blessing (a common Jewish prayer said to celebrate special occasions) on its own indicating, once again, that it is a SEPARATE HOLIDAY from Succoth or Tabernacles.
(3) Regel -- A SEPARATE holiday. A mourner, for instance, counts Succoth or Tabernacles as seven days -- which are deducted from the thirty obligatory mourning days. The mourner also counts Shemini Atzeret as seven deductible days, since it is considered a holiday on its own.
Now we come to the last three laws characterizing Shemini Atzeret -- which call for our undivided attention. (KSHB -- also means, "listen to").
(4) Korban -- Sacrifice, meaning that Shemini Atzeret has its own sacrifice of ONE BULL. It signifies, according to the Midrash, that YEHOVAH God is intimately associated with Israel ONLY -- in contrast to Succoth (Tabernacles) where He considers, so to speak, all the SEVENTY BULLS representing the seventy nations of the world.
(5) Shir -- Song. It means that the song -- which the Levites sing on Shemini Atzeret -- is DIFFERENT from the ones they used to sing on Succoth.
(6) Bracha -- Blessing of the King. Also meaning specifying the name of the holiday in Mussaf (an additional service that is recited on the Sabbath) or the blessing over meals (Beit Yosef, the laws of Shemini Atzeret).
The main points to be deduced from the above are (1) the separateness of Shemini Atzeret -- it is a holiday that is completely separate from Succoth, (2) it is a day in which YEHOVAH God is intimately associated with Israel ONLY and, (3) it is, in some way, associated with kingship.
Further enlightenment concerning this holy day of YEHOVAH God is provided in the book The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays, by Rabbi Irving Greenberg. He relates:
"When the seven days of Sukkot end, the Bible decrees yet another holiday, the Eighth Day of Assembly. The Rabbis interpreted this as an encore. After the High Holy Days, after the intense seven days of Sukkot and pilgrimage, the Jewish people are about to leave, to scatter and return to their homes. God grows nostalgic, as it were, and pensive. The people of Israel will not come together again in such numbers until Passover six months hence. God will soon miss the sounds of music and pleasure and the unity of the people. The Torah decreed, therefore, an eighth day of assembly, a final feast/holy day. On this day Jews leave the sukkah to resume enjoying the comfort of solid, well built, well insulated homes. The lulav and etrog are put aside; this day, Shemini Atzeret, is a reprise of the celebration of Sukkot but without any of the rituals. The message is that all the rituals and symbolic language are important but ultimately they remain just symbols" (p. 115).
Water and the Spirit of YEHOVAH God
In the book Celebrate! The Complete Jewish Holidays Handbook, Lesli Koppelman Ross explains more about the "eighth day" or Shemini Atzeret. Not only is this feast distinctly different from Sukkot, but it includes a very special "Prayer for Rain." We read as follows:
"Just as Sukkot gives us a transitional period between the Days of Awe and our normal routines, the last day of the festival, Shemini Atzeret, or the Eighth Day of Solemn Assembly, the day we are held back to extend the party with God, eases us out of the transience of the sukkah.
"As a separate holiday in its own right, also referred to as Shemini Khag (festival) Ha'atzeret, the eighth day is honored with the lighting of candles and reciting the festival kiddush...
"The distinct feature of the day is recitation of the prayer for rain so that the earth will be able to produce in the coming year. It is not said earlier during Sukkot, which marks the beginning of the rainy season in Israel, because we do not want rain to prevent us from dwelling in the sukkah or to interfere with our enjoyment of doing so" (p. 229).
Rain, of course, is made up of water, descending from the skies. It is a type of the holy spirit of YEHOVAH God. Comparing YEHOVAH's spirit to rain, the prophet Joel writes, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit" (Joel 2:28-29).
Water is itself a symbol of life, and is the foundation of all carbon-based life forms on earth. We could not live without it. In fact, water forms about 80% of our physical human bodies!
Water and the prayer for rain is a vital ingredient in the celebration of Shemini Atzeret. It represents YEHOVAH's holy spirit in a very special way. David prayed, "As the hart panteth after the water brook, so panteth my heart after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalm 42:1-2).
Isaiah the prophet wrote, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money: come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Isaiah 55:1).
YEHOVAH God also compares His Word to the rain that waters the earth. In the same chapter, He tells us,
"For as the RAIN cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me VOID, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with JOY, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an EVERLASTING SIGN that shall not [ever] be cutoff" (Isaiah 55:10-13).
The Messiah, Yeshua Ha Moshiach offers each one of us "living water" (John 4:10) -- the water that leads to eternal life. He said to the Samaritan woman at the well at Sychar, in Samaria, "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14).
This is the very water that Isaiah the prophet foretold, when he declared,
"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD YEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with JOY shall ye draw WATER out of the wells of salvation. And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in ALL the earth. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the MIDST of thee" (Isaiah 12:2-6).
YEHOVAH also prophesied through Isaiah, His prophet: "For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour MY SPIRIT upon thy seed [children of Israel], and MY BLESSING upon thy offspring" (Isaiah 44:3).
Yeshua the Messiah put it this way: "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth in me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow RIVERS OF LIVING WATER' (but this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)" (John 7:37-38).
The theme of water is intimately tied up with the final holy day of the year, Shemini Atzeret. Clearly, it is a day of the pouring out of YEHOVAH's spirit upon those Israelites who will be judged worthy by YEHOVAH God at the White Throne judgment.
Spiritual Storage and Joy
In the book The Essence of the Holy Days: Insights from the Jewish Sages, Avraham Yaakov Finkel tells us more about Shemini Atzeret:
"The seven days of Sukkot which end with Hoshana Rabbah are followed by another holiday, Shemini Atzeret, the Eighth Day of Assembly...It is a festival in its own right, independent of Sukkot, and is observed one day in Eretz Yisrael... The fact that Shemini Atzeret is a separate Yom Tov is evident in the blessing of Shehecheyanu (Blessed are You, O LORD our God, King of the universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season), which is recited by women when lighting the candles and by men when reciting the Kiddush.
"None of the special mitzvot associated with Sukkot are observed on Shemini Atzeret, and thus there is no requirement to take the lulav and etrog....
"The word atzeret is derived from atzar, to collect, to store. The purpose of this festival is to recapitulate and to store in our memories everything we experienced and gained during the preceding Yamim Tovim [Good Days], so that we will carry out the resolutions we have made, will retain the spiritual elevation we have reached, and will not lose them in the everyday life to which we are about to return" (p. 95-96).
The rabbis recognized that this day, in itself, is a very special holy day. They saw that it is distinct from the Feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles. They understood that in a special sense, this day is connected to STORING UP and COLLECTING all the knowledge, spiritual food, and instruction that we have gained in the preceding holy days -- especially from Rosh Hashana (Feast of Trumpets) through the Feast of Tabernacles -- all the spiritual lessons of repentance, forgiveness, character development, obedience, faith, joy, love -- the lessons of complete spiritual maturity -- that we have learned during the High Holy Day season through the Feast of Tabernacles.
The rabbis also contemplated why on this day -- Shemini Atzeret -- there is no living inside the sukkah required, and no waving of the lulav -- two rituals which were prominent during the preceding seven-day festival of Tabernacles. Finkel goes on to explain:
"Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi said, Shemini Atzeret is a Yom Tov that is not identified with any specific symbol or mitzvah. It is not celebrated with either matzah, shofar, or lulav. The reason is that on Shemini Atzeret we reach a stage of TRUE AND PURE JOY, a state of happiness that requires no external symbolic stimuli. It is a joy that stems from the depth of man's inner self. Sadness and depression are the marks of a person who is distant from his inner core. A person who is himself and is in harmony with his inner core is filled with pure joy.
"This is what the sages meant when they postulated in the Talmud, 'Shemini Atzeret is a Yom Tov by itself,' it is a celebration and rejoicing of the essential inner self" (p. 96).
The Sacrifice of the Bulls
Seventy bullocks were sacrificed to YEHOVAH God during the Feast of Tabernacles, picturing the "seventy" nations of mankind having their sins atoned for, and becoming obedient to the truth of YEHOVAH God and the commandments of the LORD (Isaiah 2:1-4; Micah 4:1-4). But on Shemini Atzeret, only ONE BULL was offered. Why? Finkel explains:
"During the week of Sukkot, altogether seventy bulls were brought as Mussaf offerings on the altar in the Bet Hamikdash. However, on Shemini Atzeret, only one bull was sacrificed. Why? The seventy bulls represent the seventy nations of the world; the one bull of Shemini Atzeret represents the unique nation of Israel. You may compare it to a king who had held a festival for seven days and invited all of the country's inhabitants (the nations of the world) to the seven days of feasting. When the seven days of feasting were over, he said to his friend (Israel), 'Let us now have a small meal together, just you and I' (Bamidbar Rabbah 21, Sukkah 55b)" (p. 98).
We read about this in Numbers 29 where, during the Feast of Tabernacles, 70 bulls are offered up to YEHOVAH God -- starting off with 13 bulls on the first day of the Feast and diminishing to 7 on the last day -- one less on each day. And then, in verses 35-40, we read:
"On the eighth day [Shemini Atzeret] you shall hold a solemn gathering; you shall not work at your occupations. You shall present a burnt offering, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the LORD; ONE BULL, one ram, seven yearling lambs, without blemish; the meal offerings and libations for the bull, the ram, and the lambs, in the quantities prescribed; and one goat for a sin offering -- in addition to the regular burnt offering, its meal offering and libation. All these you shall offer to the LORD at the stated times, in addition to your votive and freewill offerings, be they burnt offerings, meal offerings, libations, or offerings of wellbeing. So Moses spoke to the Israelites just as the LORD had commanded Moses" (The Tanakh).
In contrast to the Feast of Tabernacles -- where 70 bulls were offered -- we see, on Shemini Atzeret, only ONE bull being offered -- why is this? We find the answer in the Midrash (interpretetion of Biblical texts) where the rabbis explain:
"ON THE EIGHTH DAY ye shall have a solemn assembly (XXIX, 35). This bears on what Scripture says: In return for my love they are my adversaries; but I am all prayer (Ps. CIX, 4). You find that on the Tabernacles Festival Israel offer to Him [YEHOVAH God] seventy bullocks AS AN ATONEMENT FOR THE SEVENTY NATIONS. Israel says: 'Sovereign of the worlds [YEHOVAH God]! Behold, we offer for them [the 70 nations] seventy bullocks and they ought to love us, yet they hate us.' As it says, 'In return for my love they are my adversaries.' The Holy One, blessed be He, in consequence, said to them [Israel]: 'Now, therefore, offer a sacrifice ON YOUR OWN BEHALF; on the EIGHTH DAY ye shall have a solemn assembly.' Ye shall present a burnt-offering, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the LORD: ONE BULLOCK, one ram (XXIX, 36).
"This may be compared to the case of a king who made a banquet for seven days and invited all the people in the province during the seven days of the feast. When the seven days of the feast [of Tabernacles] were over he said to his friend: 'We have already done our duty to all the people of the province, let us now make shift, you and I, with whatever you can find -- a pound of meat, or of fish, or vegetables.' In like manner the Holy One, blessed be He, said TO ISRAEL: 'On the EIGHTH DAY ye shall have a solemn assembly; make shift with whatever you can find; with ONE BULLOCK, one ram!'" (Midrash Rabbah -- Bamidbar (Numbers) XXI:24).
We find an echo of this in Matthew 22 where the king prepares a wedding feast for his son and invites guests who refuse to show up for the wedding:
"The Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son, but when he sent his slaves to summon the INVITED GUESTS to the wedding, THEY REFUSED TO COME. So he sent some more slaves, instructing them to tell the guests, 'Look, I've prepared my banquet, I've slaughtered my [seventy] bulls and my fattened cattle, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding!' But they weren't interested and went off, one to his farm, another to his business; and the rest grabbed his slaves, mistreated them and killed them. The king was furious and sent his soldiers, who killed those murderers and burned down their city" (verses 2-7, Jewish New Testament).
These invited guests who turned down the king's invitation are evidently those of the seventy non-Israelite nations of the world -- represented by the 70 BULLS sacrificed during the Feast of Tabernacles. Since they turned down the king's invitation he now turns to the PEOPLE OF ISRAEL:
"Then he said to his slaves, 'Well, the wedding feast is ready; but the ones who were invited [of the 70 nations] didn't deserve it. So go out to the street-corners [of Israel] and invite to the banquet as many as you find.' The slaves went out into the streets [of Israel], gathered all the people [of Israel] they could find, the bad along with the good; and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
"Now when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who wasn't dressed for a wedding; so he asked him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him outside in the dark!' In that place people will wail and grind their teeth, FOR MANY [ISRAELITES] ARE INVITED, BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN" (ibid., verses 8-14).
Even amongst the Israelites who are raised up at the end of the Millennium and enter the White Thrown judgment, only a small number will be accepted by YEHOVAH God and get to partake in the festivities of the Last Great Day and receive the outpouring of YEHOVAH's spirit as symbolized by this day. The sages of Judaism say that Shemini Atzeret is the day for the final sealing of Divine judgment that occurs on the seventh day of Tabernacles.
The Bride and Groom
In Egypt, after the death of Joseph, the children of Israel became slaves to the Egyptians. The new pharaoh forced them into hard bondage in order to keep them in submission to him. They were oppressed and were filled with sorrow and pain, so they cried out to YEHOVAH God to deliver them from their captivity. YEHOVAH heard their cries and felt compassion for them. That is when YEHOVAH God called Moses to lead them out of Egypt and into the wilderness where YEHOVAH God would redeem them and take them as His own people -- notice!
"And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows" (Exodus 3:7, KJV).
"Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt" (Exodus 3:10, ibid.).
"Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians" (Exodus 6:6-7, KJV).
"And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness" (Exodus 5:1, ibid.).
"God sent ten plagues on Egypt before Pharaoh finally let them go. Moses lead the children of Israel out of Egypt by the presence of God in a cloud, and into the wilderness by God's Power through the parting of the Red Sea. GOD went ahead of them in a Pillar of Cloud during the day to guide them on the way, and at night in a Pillar of Fire to give them light; thus they could travel both day and night. The Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night never left the people" (Exodus 13:21-22, The Message).
“Hold your staff high and stretch your hand out over the sea: Split the sea! The Israelites will walk through the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14:16, ibid.).
“And because He loved your fathers, and chose their seed after them, and brought you out with His presence, with His great power, out of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 4:37, Green's Literal Translation).
“For I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the fact that all of our ancestors [the Israelites] were under the cloud, and they all went through the sea” (1Corinthians 10:1, International Standard Version).
"In the third month of the going out of the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt, on this day [Sivan 15] they came to the wilderness of Sinai. And they pulled up stakes from Rephidim and came to the wilderness of Sinai. And they camped in the wilderness. And Israel camped there before the mountain" (Exodus 19:1-2, Green's Literal Translation).
At the mountain in the wilderness, YEHOVAH God made a union by covenant between Himself and the children of Israel. Exodus chapters 19 and 24 explain how Moses recited to the children of Israel the words that YEHOVAH God had given to him, which he had written in the Book of the Covenant (Ten Commandments and the Law). Then, the children of Israel agreed to accept YEHOVAH's Covenant. YEHOVAH God had vowed to love, treasure, protect, heal, and provide for them (Groom says "I do" -- see Exodus 19:5-6, Deuteronomy 7:6-24). United together, the children of Israel vowed to love, honor, and obey YEHOVAH God and His Word (bride says "I do" -- see Exodus 24:3, Exodus 19:7). So, here is the “bride” vowing to love, honor, and obey, and here is the “Groom” vowing to cherish, protect, and provide for His bride, giving her His name and all that He has.
Notice that the children of Israel are always referred to in the FEMININE sense -- never masculine! No same-sex marriage here!
Then the covenant was sealed with a sacrifice of blood at the mountain of YEHOVAH God (see Exodus 24:8). The children of Israel became a “wife” and YEHOVAH God Himself became their “Husband”. It was a formal and legally binding commitment, just like a legal marriage. YEHOVAH God did this in order to preserve a people (the Israelites) for Himself in this sinful world and to highlight the correct form of marriage.
"For your Maker is your husband; Jehovah of Hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He [YEHOVAH God] is called the God of all the earth" (Isaiah 54:5, Green's Literal Translation).
So Israel started out as YEHOVAH's VIRGIN BRIDE; but it was not long -- in fact only a few days -- before they were unfaithful! The first commandment of the Decalogue establishes YEHOVAH's primacy: "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt...Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:1-3). But even before Moses had come down the mountain with the tablets of stone, the people had made -- and were worshipping -- a golden calf. This was to continue to be the pattern throughout the long, troubled history of Israel.
Finally YEHOVAH's patience ran out and reluctantly He gave them a BILL OF DIVORCEMENT, declaring: "And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also" (Jeremiah 3:8).
What this divorce meant was that Israel was NO LONGER UNDER YEHOVAH's PROTECTION and so it was soon conquered by Assyrian and Babylonian armies and most of the people carried away captive into exile, from which the majority never returned. They became known as "the lost sheep of the House of Israel."
"The House of Israel," writes Howard B. Rand, "was sent away into Assyrian captivity and about 130 years later Judah was carried away to Babylon. Because Israel had been given a bill of divorcement, and Judah had not, Israel was UNABLE TO RETURN to Palestine, while a remnant of the House of Judah did return after the Divinely-set term of the Babylonian captivity had expired" (Study in Hosea, p. 21).
So according to the law, when YEHOVAH God gave the House of Israel a bill of divorcement, He expelled them from the "promised land." So long as that bill of divorcement was in force, HE COULD NOT TAKE HER BACK into His house (into His land) to dwell again.
But the story does not end in tragedy as YEHOVAH God is long-suffering and ever faithful, and He had not given up on Israel. Instead, in spite of their great sins, He made them a promise of great hope. As Jeremiah records it:
"Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a NEW COVENANT with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers...which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days [i.e. in the future], saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
This is WHY Yeshua the Messiah died on the tree! His death REDEEMED Israel, the wife of YEHOVAH, from her defiled (sinful) and divorced state. When the Messiah died on the tree after taking Israel sin's upon himself, YEHOVAH God was then free to REMARRY the now redeemed and cleansed Israel -- to become once again Husband to His beloved Bride. Thus, the New (Marriage) Covenant between YEHOVAH God and physical Israel was made possible by the death, and sealed by the precious blood, of Yeshua the Messiah.
The picture of Shemini Atzeret is of a very intimate union and fellowship, which follows after the broad-based and universal Feast of Tabernacles. It is a close family union, with much deeper and more pure insights and depth of meaning and spirituality. Finkel goes on:
"Rabbi Noach of Lechowitz expounded, The theme of Shemini Atzeret may be better understood if we think of it in terms of a BRIDE AND GROOM. During the wedding, they are both decked out in a wardrobe of exquisite, elegant clothes and jewelry. However, when they come together in their private chamber, they remove their garments and jewelry.
"It is the same with Shemini Atzeret. During the seven days of Sukkot, the Jewish people offered a profusion of seventy bulls, but on Shemini Atzeret -- the moment they achieve COMPLETE UNIFICATION WITH GOD -- they brought only one bull (Num. 29:36)" (The Essence of the Holy Days, p. 98-99).
The fact that there are no outward rituals or symbols connected with Shemini Atzeret, unlike Passover, Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, Atonement, and Sukkot, speaks of the unique spiritual quality of this final Festival of YEHOVAH God. It is as if we have transcended from the physical to the purely spiritual -- from the concrete and palpable to the sublime and untouchable -- from that which can be seen to that which cannot be seen. As the apostle Paul wrote, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal [temporary, transient, evanescent]: but the things which are not seen are ETERNAL" (II Corinthians 1:18).
We move from the threshold of the visible to the invisible -- from those things which can be shaken to the unshakable. As Paul also wrote, "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things that cannot be shaken may REMAIN. Wherefore we [Israelites] receiving a kingdom which CANNOT BE MOVED, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:25-29).
Comparing the symbolism of this Holy Day with the imagery of a Bride and Bridegroom (remember, YEHOVAH God re-marries physical Israel), and their intimate togetherness, by themselves, after all the guests and partygoers depart, gives us a special insight into the real spiritual implications of Shemini Atzeret. The picture reveals that after the Millennial "Feast" of Tabernacles is finished, and the great "Fall Harvest" has been gathered in, the Bride, composed of physical Israelites (Galatians 6:16) -- and the Groom, YEHOVAH God -- will have a special "day" or time to themselves, in an even deeper expression of intimate love, sensitivity, and pure joy through the pouring out of YEHOVAH's spirit.
The Kingship of Israel
In Genesis 49:9-10 we read the following:
"Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people" (NKJV).
The Monarchy and the Throne of Great Britain are part of a divinely ordained royal succession that is descended from the scepter-holding line of Judah, and the royal throne of David. The evidence for this can be traced as far back as Abraham.
At the coronation of Edgar in 973, and at each coronation since, the scepter -- the sign of kingly power, promised never to depart from the line of Judah -- has been a part of the regalia bestowed upon the monarch at his or her enthronement. The anointing of the monarch's head with holy chrism, a fragrant mixture of olive oil and balsam, accompanied by prayers calling upon the holy spirit to descend and sanctify the monarch, recalls the Kings of the Old Testament who were similarly anointed.
There is, too, a solemn moment in the Coronation Service which inextricably joins the British monarch to King David's son, Solomon, the first after David to sit on the throne which YEHOVAH God promised would never become empty: it is the ritual of anointing in the Coronation Service when the anthem, "Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, anointed Solomon king," is sung, together with the acclamation, "God save the King, long live the King, may the King live for ever."
These rituals connected with the kingly line -- which was both promised and begun in the Old Testament -- have been a part of the English coronation service going back at least to the time of King Edgar, to the present Coronation ceremony as it was last enacted in 1953 for the present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
At the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, an anthem was sung just prior to the enthronement: "Be strong and of good courage." In the Old Testament, Moses is credited with speaking these exact words to the people of Israel as they are about to cross the River Jordan and enter the land that was promised to their forefathers. The analogy between the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the imminence of Israel about to cross a threshold (the Jordan) into a new and promised era is worth considering.
The remarkable genealogy of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, reveals that the monarch seated on the throne of Britain fulfils the promises that YEHOVAH God made to Judah of an everlasting scepter, and to King David that he would never lack a person to sit on his throne. When the Messiah returns, according to Scripture he will be given the throne of David -- which presently is the throne of Britain. From this throne the Messiah will rule over a reunited Israel!
So, where does Shemini Atzeret fit into all this?
There are a number of other things that the Jews commemorate Shemini Atzeret for, kingship being one of them. We find that the readings on Shemini Atzeret in the Torah and the Haftarah are connected to the inauguration of the Jerusalem Temple, to the blessing the people of Israel gave to Solomon, and the blessing he gave the people -- and to the ESTABLISHMENT OF THE KINGSHIP OF DAVID. The events surrounding the Blessing of the King were so important that the Jews repeat them no less than three times -- once during the Feast of Tabernacles and twice on Shemini Atzeret!
Rashi (Medieval French rabbi, 1040-1105), in his commentary on the Talmud, explains the connection between the kingship of Israel and Shemini Atzeret:
"From the Tosefta we may derive that they [the Israelites] blessed the King (of Israel), as it is said: 'Shimini Atzeret has a blessing of its own -- since it is written (on King Solomon) -- On the EIGHTH DAY he [Solomon] sent them home and they [the Israelites] blessed the King (of Israel)' (Kings 1:8)."
Abudarham (a leading rabbi who flourished in Seville, Spain around 1340) agrees with this --
"And he reads the Maftir [haftarah portion of the prophetic books] from Kings: 'When King Solomon finished (building the holy Temple) etc.'. And the reason for the reading from this particular Haftarah is because it is said in it 'And on the EIGHTH DAY he [Solomon] sent them [the people of Israel] away and they blessed the king'."
Abudarham then adds:
"And the reason for reading the Haftarah is because King Solomon blessed them [the people of Israel] ON THE EIGHTH DAY of the holiday (Shemini Atzeret) as it is said 'And he blessed the entire congregation of Israel' (Kings 1:8-14). So from here we derive that the blessing which separates Shimini Atzeret from Succoth is indeed 'The Blessing of the King of Israel'."
We read about this event in I Kings 8 -- notice!
"All the men of Israel gathered before King Solomon at the Feast [of Booths -- Tabernacles], in the month of Ethanim -- that is, the seventh month. When all the elders of Israel had come, the priests lifted the Ark and carried up the Ark of the LORD...Meanwhile, King Solomon and the whole community of Israel, who were assembled with him before the Ark, were sacrificing sheep and oxen in such abundance that they could not be numbered or counted. The priests brought the Ark of the LORD's Covenant to its place underneath the wings of the cherubim, in the Shrine of the House [Temple], in the Holy of Holies...When the priests came out of the sanctuary -- for the cloud had filled the House [Temple] of the LORD and the priests were not able to remain and perform the service because of the cloud, for the Presence [Shekinah Glory] of the LORD filled the House of the LORD...
"Then, with the whole congregation of Israel standing, the king faced about and blessed the whole congregation of Israel...Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of the whole community of Israel; he spread the palms of his hands toward heaven and said, 'O LORD God of Israel, in the heavens above and on the earth below there is no god like You, who keep Your gracious covenant with Your servants when they walk before You in wholehearted devotion; You who have kept the promises You made to Your servant, my father David, fulfilling with deeds the promise You made -- as is now the case. And now, O LORD God of Israel, keep the further promise that You made to Your servant, my father David: 'YOUR LINE [DESCENDANTS] ON THE THRONE OF ISRAEL SHALL NEVER END, if only your [David's] descendants will look to their way and walk before Me as you have walked before Me.' Now, therefore, O God of Israel, let the promise that You made to Your servant my father David be fulfilled...
"Thus the king and all the Israelites dedicated the House of the LORD...So Solomon and all Israel with him -- a great assemblage, [coming] from Lebo-hamath to the Wadi of Egypt -- observed the Feast at that time before the LORD our God, seven days and again seven days, fourteen days in all. ON THE EIGHTH DAY [Shemini Atzeret] he let the people go. They bade the king good-bye and went to their homes, joyful and glad of heart over all the goodness that the LORD had shown to His servant David and His people Israel" (The Tanakh, verses 2-4, 5-6, 10-11, 14, 22-26, 63 and 65-66).
So, according to the books of Kings and Chronicles, Solomon gathered the entire nation of Israel to Jerusalem for a prolonged celebration to commemorate the completion of the Temple. The celebration lasted 14 days -- seven days for the dedication of the altar and seven days for the Feast of Tabernacles. And when the celebrations and the happiness came to a climax, and the entire people of Israel had eaten an abundance of peace offerings, the Ark of the Covenant -- with the two tablets of stone within -- was brought into the new Temple, and all the priests and Levites surrounded it with great honor. Then, according to the Midrash, an unexpected problem arose: Legend states that the gates of the Temple shut themselves off and would not allow Solomon to enter with the Ark! One can imagine the horror Solomon must have felt as he stood there before the Temple gates. Was YEHOVAH God rejecting his young kingship -- in front of the eyes of all Israel? Was the House of David rejected forever because David had shed so much blood during his life -- even though he was defending Israel? These must have been some of the thoughts running through the minds of all the people assembled there next to him. Then according to the Midrash, the Levites started singing praises on Solomon's behalf.
The Levites tried hard to influence the gates to open; after all, surely Solomon should not be punished for the sins of his father. But the gates were stubborn; they refused to open and let Solomon and the Ark enter. The Levites continued singing, yet the gates remained closed. And all the time the people were watching attentively. Will the new king be able to open the gates? Will YEHOVAH God accept him? So Solomon finally spoke up: "So therefore, arise O LORD God, to Your resting place, You and the Ark of Your strength. Let Your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and let your saints rejoice in goodness. O LORD God, do not turn away the face of Your anointed." Yet this plea was ineffectual and the gates remained closed.
However, states the Midrash, king Solomon did not give up -- he continued: "Remember the mercies of Your servant David." As soon as he mentioned his father David, the gates opened and allowed him to enter with the Ark into the hall. At that very moment, according to the legend, THE KINGSHIP OF DAVID AND HIS HOUSE WAS ESTABLISHED FOREVER. If this legend is based on fact -- and the rabbis believe that it is -- then is there any other more appropriate day to celebrate the Kingship of David (a kingship that has flourished down to our day in the form of the British monarchy) than Shemini Atzeret? Is there any wonder that the people of Israel went to Solomon's palace to bless and greet him, and to be blessed by him -- year after year? Indeed, it was on Shemini Atzeret when they went to his home. As we read in the Haftarah for the day -- "And it happened on the EIGHTH DAY that he [Solomon] sent them away, and they blessed the king, and they went back each to his tent happy and content for the goodness that the LORD God has done to His slave David and to His people Israel."
So Shemini Atzeret is the "birthday" of:
(1) The Jerusalem Temple.
(2) The Fire from heaven on the altar of the new Temple, which burned -- without interruption -- for four hundred years.
(3) The Kingship of the House of David.
(4) The love of YEHOVAH God for His people Israel as one nation united in Jerusalem, and prophesied to be united again in Jerusalem after the return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah.
The Nourishment from Heaven
But there is even more to this momentous day.
Joel Ziff, in Mirrors in Time: A Psycho-Spiritual Journey through the Jewish Year, gives us even greater insight and understanding into the deep spiritual meaning of Shemini Atzeret. He informs us:
"...Sukkot is associated with the earth. There are two qualities of earth -- one implying humility and the other expansiveness. We pray for humility with the words, 'May I be like the dust of the earth before all of creation'... Paradoxically, the image of earth is also used to suggest expansiveness when God promises Abraham and Sara their progeny will be like the 'dust of the earth.' In this same manner, developing a sense of humility and an acceptance and appreciation of our vulnerability, we also connect to the source of our power and hope.
"On the eighth day, we collect the water we have accessed. It becomes a WELL from which we can nourish ourselves as we resume ordinary life. The connection of the well to Shemini Atzeret can be translated as assembly or collection. On this day, we assemble within ourselves the STOREHOUSE OF ENERGY which will fuel our efforts through the remainder of the year, as we bring light into the darkness. Just as we can store water in a cistern, JOY energizes our continued efforts through the year.
"We have been able to experience ourselves in a new way while under the protection of the sukkah. On the eighth day, we set aside the external supports which have helped us to respond in a new way. We no longer use the lulav and etrog. We return to our homes and say farewell to the sukkah. In some respects, the props are no longer necessary -- just as a plant which has grown from a seedling no longer needs special protection from the elements. We are now more able to support ourselves.
"However, we are not completely self-sufficient. The Israelites were more able to sustain themselves when they reached the land of Israel. They worked hard to plant and harvest crops rather than rely on the manna for food. However, they still required help from God in the form of RAIN. On Shemini Atzeret, the beginning of the planting season, a special prayer for rain is added to the daily service. In this same spirit, we are able to work hard to nurture our NEW BEGINNING, but we still need nourishment to flow down to us from the heavens to HELP US GROW AND DEVELOP" (p. 241-242).
Shemini Atzeret, then, represents the completion of one cycle, and the beginning of another NEW cycle, according to YEHOVAH's Plan. It represents a NEW BEGINNING. This "new beginning" requires "rain" -- a type of the Spirit of YEHOVAH God poured out in order to produce a new crop and a new harvest! Shemini Atzeret represents the beginning of a new RAINY SEASON, during which the earth is nourished by rain from the heavens. Spiritually, then, it represents the pouring out anew of YEHOVAH's holy spirit and the continuation and expectation of a NEW HARVEST for the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God!
Joel Ziff goes on, describing how this day integrates with the High Holy Day season, the Days of Awe, and the Feast of Sukkot. He writes:
"Shneur Zalman also describes the process at this time of year with the image of a PLANTING A SEED in the earth. The planting of the seed in the earth is a symbol of humility; when we plant a seed, we cover it with earth. We are like that seed in our process of self-evaluation during the Days of Awe...Eventually the seed sprouts and emerges into the light of day from inside the earth. Empowered by the work of self-reflection, the actions take place with a positive feeling. After doing the work of self-reflection on Yom Kippur, we are able to respond wholeheartedly on Sukkot. As we dig into the earth, we find a spring, a well of water that flows up to us from the depths. On Shemini Atzeret, we ACCESS THE 'LIVING WATERS' OF SALVATION which flow the quality of God's loving kindness, Chesed" (p. 242).
Thus the Festivals of YEHOVAH God are intimately bound up with the cycles of the earth -- the seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter. They are connected closely and in depth to the AGRICULTURAL HARVESTS of the year -- spring, summer and fall. But there is a mighty, profound, rich spiritual lesson in all this. What is this lesson? What do the annual cycles of planting and harvest have to do with YEHOVAH's spiritual Plan?
Let's understand this!
The Meaning of the Number "Eight"
The very name of this festival, "Shemini Atzeret," literally means "The Eighth Assembly." It is the final holy day of YEHOVAH's Holy Day Plan. However, there is great significance in the number "eight" itself!
E. W. Bullinger, in his book Number in Scripture, explains about the meaning and symbolism of numbers, including the number "eight." He declares:
"In Hebrew the number eight is Sh'moneh, from the root Shah'meyn, 'to make fat,' 'cover with fat,' 'to super-abound.' As a participle it means 'one who abounds in strength,' etc. As a noun it is 'superabundant fertility,' 'oil,' etc. So that as a numeral it is the superabundant number. As seven was so called because the seventh day was the day of completion and rest, so eight, as the eighth day, was over and above this perfect completion, and was indeed the FIRST of a new series, as well as being the eighth. Thus it already represents two numbers in one, the first and eighth" (p. 196).
Even as "seven" is YEHOVAH's number of perfection, or completion (as the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, which completes and perfects the week), so "eight" is the same as the first day of the NEXT week, but counting from the days of the previous week. Thus it represents clearly "A NEW BEGINNING."
An example of "eight" used in this connection in the Scriptures is the fact that as Peter tells us, there were EIGHT souls in the Ark of Noah, who helped begin the NEW WORLD after the Flood! We read of the time when "the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water" (I Peter 3:20).
Interestingly, in the Temple that might have been (that YEHOVAH God described in Ezekiel), we find that there were seven steps that led into the outer court (Ezekiel 40:22, 26); however, there were eight steps that led from the outer court to the inner court (Ezekiel 40:31, 34, 37). The first seven led from labor to rest, but the eight led from rest to intimate fellowship with YEHOVAH God and pure worship! (For more information about this Temple, send for or download Ezekiel's Temple and Sacrifices: Will Temple Sacrifices Resume in the Millennium?).
The consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests of YEHOVAH God required seven days of being set apart (Leviticus 8:35), but it was on the "eighth day" that they were anointed as "priests," thus beginning a "new" ministry and office before YEHOVAH God and the people.
David was the "eighth" son of Jesse, thus also beginning a "new dynasty" in Israel when he became king (I Samuel 16:10-11; II Samuel 17:12).
Bullinger adds concerning the significance of this number "8":
"It is 7 plus 1. Hence it is the number specially associated with Resurrection and Regeneration [the Messiah was resurrected on the "eighth" day, or the first day of the week], and the BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA OR ORDER.
"When the whole earth was covered with a flood, it was Noah 'the eighth person' (II Peter 2:5) who stepped out on to a new earth to commence a new order of things. 'Eight souls' (I Pet. 3:20) passed through it with him to the new or regenerated world.
"Hence, too, circumcision was to be performed on the EIGHTH DAY (Genesis 17:12)....The first-born was to be given to Jehovah on the eighth day (Exodus 22:29-30).
The Holy City, New Jerusalem
Eight is the first "cubic" number -- it is 2 x 2 x 2 = 8. Whereas "3" is the symbol of the first plane figure (a triangle with 3 sides), and "4" is the first square, so here in the first "cube" figure we see something of transcendent perfection, something in which length, breadth, and height are all equal! But what does this fact have to do with Shemini Atzeret, the "eighth" day?
E. W. Bullinger points out this salient fact:
This significance of the cube is seen in the fact that the 'Holy of Holies,' both in the Tabernacle and in the Temple, were cubes. In the Tabernacle it was a cube of ten cubits. In the Temple it was a cube of twenty cubits. IN REVELATION 20, THE NEW JERUSALEM IS TO BE A CUBE OF 144,000 FURLONGS. Dr. Milo Mahan is inclined to believe that the Ark of Noah, too, had a kind of sacred Shechinah in 'the window finished in a cubit above' -- a cube of one. If so, we have the series of cubes:
1 = The Ark
10 to the third = 1,000, The Tabernacle
203 to the third = 8,000, The Temple
12,000 to the third = 1,728,000,000,000, The New Jerusalem" (Number in Scripture, Bullinger, p. 201-212).
Bullinger points out that the number 1,728 (see above) is also a very unusual number. It is the product of 8 squared (Shemini -- "a new beginning" squared), times 3 to the third (the number of Decision, Finality, Judgment, cubed).
But what does all this have to do with the "Eighth Day of Assembly"?
The Plan of YEHOVAH God Unveiled!
YEHOVAH God has revealed His truth only to "the election." Who are they? They are the "elect of God" (see I Peter 1:2, Colossians 3:12, Titus 1:1, I Peter 2:6) -- that is, true Israelite Christians! I must use the word "true," here, because the vast majority of professing "Christians" are themselves IGNORANT of YEHOVAH's true plan of salvation, and are no more converted than a jack-rabbit or an African chimpanzee! Those of Israel who are true Christians, however, are being given their chance for salvation today, at this time -- "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God" (I Peter 4:17).
Those Israelites being called out of this world now, to understand and obey YEHOVAH's truth, are being judged now; but YEHOVAH God has allowed the vast majority of the Israelite people to be blinded, and are disobedient, "whereunto also they were appointed" (I Peter 2:8). What will happen to them?
They are not lost forever. YEHOVAH Himself will open their eyes, and show them His truth, at a later time, as we shall see.
Let's understand. YEHOVAH has predestined NO ONE to be lost or to be doomed! Not at all! Predestination has to do with WHEN one is called, and WHEN a person has YEHOVAH's truth revealed to him -- not whether he is going to be saved or lost!
Those Israelites called to understand YEHOVAH's truth now have a special blessing. As Paul wrote:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us [Israelites] in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having PREDESTINATED US unto the adoption [or, sonship, in the Greek] of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will...in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us [Israelites] in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of time he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being PREDESTINATED according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of his glory, who FIRST TRUSTED IN CHRIST" (Ephesians 1:3-12).
Notice! We of the sons of Jacob are those who have "first trusted in Christ!" This means there are others who will be called later to trust in the Messiah! They are the VAST MAJORITY!
We in YEHOVAH's true Church today are compared to "firstfruits" of the spiritual harvest! We are compared to the early "spring" harvest -- but the great "fall harvest" will occur later! We are those who have the "firstfruits of the Spirit" (Romans 8:23). As the apostle James wrote: "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that WE should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures" (James 1:18).
Predestination, then, has to do with the TIME when YEHOVAH's Israelite people are called. A few are called now, and chosen to become "first-fruits" to YEHOVAH God and the Lamb. But the vast majority will be called later! Shemini Atzeret symbolizes the pouring out of YEHOVAH"s spirit on this later harvest.
As we have already seen, in discussions of the previous holy days of YEHOVAH God, the Fall Festivals picture the whole Plan of YEHOVAH. The Feast of Rosh Hoshana pictures the call to Repentance (the blowing of trumpets of warning) and the return of the Messiah, followed by the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, which pictures the Judgment Day when the Messiah judges Israel. This holy day is followed by the seven day Feast of Sukkot, or "Ingathering," which pictures the Millennial Reign of YEHOVAH God and the Messiah, for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:10-4). The last day of this feast, the seventh or final day, called Hoshanna Rabbah (The Great Hoshannas), pictures the final day of salvation or harvest -- the Great White Throne judgment, which occurs at the close of the Millennium (Revelation 20:5-14).
But what happens AFTER this final period of JUDGMENT of the multiple millions of Israelites on the earth, including all who never understood YEHOVAH's truth, the vast numbers of Israelites who were not called to be part of the "firstfruits" from the dead? What happens after they have been "harvested" and "in-gathered" into the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God?
"New Heavens and a New Earth"
The apostle John records: "And I saw a NEW HEAVEN and a NEW EARTH: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away: and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, NEW JERUSALEM, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and he their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW" (Revelation 21:1-5).
John then describes this magnificent "holy city," the New Jerusalem,
"descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal: and had a great wall and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel...And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof'. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs [that is, approximately 1,500 miles to a side]. The length and the breadth. and the height of it are EQUAL" (Revelation 21:10-16).
Could this magnificent city be in the shape of the Holy of Holies of YEHOVAH's Temple -- a huge magnificent CUBE`? It will represent the "Holy of Holies" in the earth, which will be the very Throne of YEHOVAH God. Those who will be the "Bride" of the Messiah -- those Israelites who are in the first resurrection -- will dwell with YEHOVAH God and the Messiah in this magnificent "Holy of Holies"!
But notice further. Outside this city, in the magnificent New Earth, will dwell ALL THE NATIONS OF MANKIND that will serve YEHOVAH God and His saints.
John continues his description:
"The NATIONS will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. Its the gates will never close, they will stay open all day because night will not exist there, and the honor and splendor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure may enter it, nor anyone who does shameful things or lies; the only ones who may enter are those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life [the Israelite saints]" (Revelation 21:24-27, Jewish New Testament).
Here, residing in the New Jerusalem, the rest of "saved" Israel is described -- those Israelites who will enter the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, during the Millennial reign of YEHOVAH God and the Messiah, and, those Israelites who are resurrected to mortal life to be given their chance for salvation after the Millennium, during the "Great White Throne" judgment period -- the "Great Day of Salvation" represented by Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh and final day of the Feast of Tabernacles.
However, the term "saved" also has a "present" connotation to it -- that is, the Greek word "saved" also means "those who are in a saved condition," or "those who are in the process of being saved" (see I Corinthians 1:18, 15:2, II Corinthians 2:15, II Timothy 1:9). Therefore, this verse also has another incredible meaning and fantastic implication. Let's notice!
The Prophecy of Isaiah
Isaiah the prophet also describes this incredible scene of the new heavens and the new earth. He prophesied, in chapter 65, of YEHOVAH God creating the new heavens and earth, as something to be rejoiced in FOREVER -- that is, for all eternity! But notice what else he says about this stupendous, fantastic time. Isaiah quotes YEHOVAH as saying:
"For, behold, I create NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye GLAD and REJOICE FOREVER [Hebrew, olam, meaning forever, eternity, literally, "to the vanishing point" or "time out of sight"] in that which I CREATE: for, behold, I create JERUSALEM A REJOICING, and her people a joy.
"And I will rejoice in Jerusalem [YEHOVAH God Himself will rejoice!!!], and joy in My people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying .
"There shall he no more thence an INFANT OF DAYS, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed [judged and condemned to the lake of fire].
"And they shall build houses and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them...for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; FOR THEY ARE THE SEED [OFFSPRING, CHILDREN] OF THE BLESSED OF THE LORD, and their offspring with them ....The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in ALL MY HOLY MOUNTAIN, saith the LORD" (Isaiah 65:17-25).
Notice! This passage is clearly dual in application. It describes the Messianic Kingdom of Yeshua the Messiah, who is coming soon to establish the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God on earth, as the fulfillment of hundreds of Messianic prophecies, and also the return of YEHOVAH God Himself to rule with the Messiah! But it also describes in a vivid and clear sense the "new heavens and new earth" (Isaiah 65:17). It clearly states that in that New Heavens and New Earth, there will be CHILDREN BORN -- that YEHOVAH's plan of procreation and multiplication of potential members of the Divine Family through human beings, will continue, throughout the ages, and perhaps even "beyond time"!
Is such a thing possible?
Is "Shemini Atzeret" in reality the "staging ground," THE THRESHOLD, the NEW BEGINNING of the NEXT PHASE of YEHOVAH's Plan? Its very name identifies it as a "new beginning." YEHOVAH God will create a "new beginning" when He creates new heavens and a new earth. Yeshua the Messiah plainly told John, "I make ALL THINGS NEW" (Revelation 21:5).
The apostle Peter writes of that coming awesome time: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless, we according to his promise, look for NEW HEAVENS and a NEW EARTH, WHEREIN DWELLETH RIGHTEOUSNESS" (II Peter 3:10-13).
YEHOVAH God's Incredible Plan
In the book of Genesis, God said, at the original creation of mankind:
"And God said, 'Let us make HUMANKIND in our image, after OUR LIKENESS: And let THEM [humankind] have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over ALL the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.'
"And God CREATED HUMANKIND in His own image, in the image of God CREATED He THEM [humankind]; male and female He CREATED THEM.
"And God blessed THEM; and God said to THEM, 'BE FRUITFUL, AND MULTIPLY, AND REPLENISH [Hebrew, FILL UP] THE EARTH, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth" (Genesis 1:26-28, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible).
Here we see God creating mankind (humankind) on the sixth day of Creation. Then, after God's day of rest (the seventh day) we find a SPECIAL creation -- that of Adam and Eve -- notice!
"And the LORD God FORMED MAN of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and MAN became a living being....And the LORD God took THE MAN [Adam] and put him [not them] into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded THE MAN [Adam], saying..." (ibid., translated by Abegg, Flint and Ulrich. HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. 1999).
The word "formed" is used (molded as clay) to describe the making of Adam. When man was formed he became a living creature. In the Hebrew it is "'eth-ha-'adham" -- which refers to the particular person "Adam" -- NOT a generic form for man as found in Genesis 1.
From the weight of all the evidence it seems that Adam was the first SPIRITUAL man -- but NOT the first biological man. In other words, YEHOVAH God took one man from Genesis One and breathed into him the breath of life. "And man BECAME a living soul" (Genesis 2:7). The word "became" is consistently used in a manner showing that the subject became something that it had not been before. This indicates that there were those with the spirit and those "having NOT the spirit" (Jude 19). The latter is the "natural man" who "CANNOT receive the things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:14).
So, how much authority did YEHOVAH God really intend to give Adam's descendants? David tells us in the Psalms, "What is man [Adam], that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands: thou hast put ALL THINGS [that is, ALL THE UNIVERSE!!!] under his feet..." (Psalm 8:4-6).
The apostle Paul referred to this Scripture, when he wrote, "Thou hast put all things under his feet. For in that he put ALL in subjection under him [children of Israel], HE LEFT NOTHING THAT IS NOT PUT UNDER HIM. But now we see NOT YET all things put under him" (Hebrews 2:8).
YEHOVAH God intends for all the children of Israel, after they repent of their sins and learn their lessons, and learn to obey YEHOVAH God, and develops righteous, holy, godly character, to become GLORIFIED AS HIS OWN CHILDREN -- HIS DIVINE SONS -- whom He will give AUTHORITY to rule the entire Cosmos -- the UNIVERSE -- all the galaxies and star systems of space!
As Paul wrote to the Church in Rome, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we [Israelites] ARE the children of God. And if children, then HEIRS: heirs of GOD, and JOINT-HEIRS with CHRIST: if so be that we suffer with him, that we [Israelites] may be also GLORIFIED TOGETHER" (Romans 8:16-17). Paul was so overwhelmed by the thought of our destiny, that he exclaimed, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the GLORY that shall be revealed in us [Israelites]" (Romans 8:18).
How awesome is the Plan of YEHOVAH God!
Will YEHOVAH's Plan of reproducing Himself, expanding His divine Family, through Israelites made with "the breath of life", continue throughout eternity? There are many indications in the Scriptures that it is so. Consider!
Onward and Forward Forever!
Isaiah the prophet wrote, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulders. And his name shall be called the Wonder of the Counselor, the judge of the Mighty Everlasting Father -- the Prince of Peace. Of the INCREASE of his government shall be NO END, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth EVEN FOREVER. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this" (Isa. 9:6-7).
The word "increase" in this passage is the Hebrew word marbyth and literally means "multitude, offspring, greatness, increase." The word for "end" is the Hebrew word quetz and means "extremity, utmost, border, finite."
In other words, YEHOVAH God is telling us here that the growing and multiplying and INCREASING of the SIZE AND SCOPE AND NUMBERS in YEHOVAH's Kingdom will have NO "limitation" or "border" or be in any sense "finite" or "limited." The increase will grow and continue like "compound interest," FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER -- throughout the future ages and aeons of time and space!
There is further evidence of this stupendous fact! In the book of Genesis, we read that after the Flood, when YEHOVAH began a "new world" order under Noah and his descendants:
"And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I will make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, FOR PERPETUAL GENERATIONS: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh: and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud, and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth" (Gen. 9:12-16).
In verse 12, here, the word for "generations" refers to human generations. The word for "perpetual" is the Hebrew word olam which literally means "forever, eternity, the vanishing point." The expression "PERPETUAL GENERATIONS" therefore implies that human reproduction will go on FOREVER -- IT IS THE PLAN OF YEHOVAH GOD TO CONTINUE REPRODUCING BEINGS IN HIS VERY LIKENESS AND IMAGE -- HIS OWN SONS AND DAUGHTERS -- FOREVER!!!
But for a final proof from Scripture, notice YEHOVAH's words in Deuteronomy 7. YEHOVAH tells His people Israel that He has chosen them as His special people, not because of their own greatness, or goodness (Deuteronomy 7:7-8), but He chose them because He loved them, and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, their ancestors, to whom He had made wonderful promises, which He intends to keep.
YEHOVAH God then said to Israel, "Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments TO A THOUSAND GENERATIONS" (Deuteronomy 7:9). The Hebrew word for "generations" here is dor and literally means "ages," "generations," "revolutions."
In the Bible, one of the key definitions of a "generation" is found in Numbers 14. The generation of Israelites that came out of Egypt were faithless and disobedient, and feared to go into the Promised Land and fight the Canaanites (Numbers 13:21-33). They rebelled against Moses and against YEHOVAH God (Numbers 14:1-10). YEHOVAH therefore decided to punish them, and cause that generation to wander in the wilderness, and die there, for a period of 40 years (Numbers 14:34).
If we use the number "40" as the length of a Biblical "generation," then YEHOVAH's statement in Deuteronomy 7:9 that He would bless the righteous "to a thousand generations" would compute to a time period of 40 years times 1,000 generations. In other words, 40 x 1,000 = 40,000 years!!!
Since the time of Adam and Eve, the line of Adam has been on this planet for only about 6,000 years. The Millennial Sabbath day, which is 1,000 years (Revelation 20:4), will be the "final day" of YEHOVAH's "week" of seven days, picturing the 7,000 year plan of YEHOVAH God, which encompasses the time from Adam and Eve till the end of the Millennium.
But what comes after that?
Clearly, when we put all these Scriptures together, there will be human beings born in the new heavens and new earth! They also will be given an opportunity -- without any Devil or Satan or his demonic hordes to tempt or seduce them -- to qualify for salvation and eternal life!
They will live in a wonderful Garden of Eden-like world, like Adam and Eve, only this time there won't be a Devil or his demons to deflect, sidetrack, deceive, or seduce them! But they will have billions of "sons of God," already in YEHOVAH's Kingdom, ready to help, instruct, guide and teach them, at a moment's notice! And when they have qualified, they, too, will become spirit beings -- literal "sons of God" in the ever-expanding KINGDOM OF YEHOVAH GOD!
YEHOVAH God's Great Plan will continue onward and forward -- for ALL ETERNITY, "to the vanishing point, " that, is, throughout "all ages "!
Truly, there is far more meaning and significance to "The Eighth Day" -- Shemini Atzeret -- than mankind has even begun to imagine or entertain in his mind!
As the apostle Paul wrote, "As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (I Corinthians 2:9).
Think of it! We Israelites -- who are called now -- have the opportunity to get in on the "ground floor," so to speak, of YEHOVAH's Kingdom -- to be a part of the BRIDE of the Messiah, to be the born again "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16). The rest of the Israelites residing in the nations of mankind, who are not called now, in this age, will become members of YEHOVAH's Kingdom at a later time, when their "calling" comes to fruition.
This great and awesome plan will stagger their imaginations, when they first learn about it. and see it being implemented in us!
The Conclusion of the Matter
This day called Shemini Atzeret -- the Last Great Day -- which has gone unnoticed, misinterpreted and misunderstood by millions, turns out to be probably the most important of all of YEHOVAH's holy days! On this day the Jews, for thousands of years, have prayed for rain; stored up knowledge, spiritual food and instruction collected during the preceding Feast of Tabernacles; understood the significance of the sacrifice of a single bull; acknowledged the bride and groom relationship pictured in this day; and blessed the kingship of David.
All of this points to the ONLY conclusion we can come to: This day was set aside by YEHOVAH God for His people Israel ONLY! It represents the time following the Millennium and the great White Throne judgment when all those Israelites who are judged worthy by YEHOVAH God will receive the outpouring of His spirit and resume an intimate spiritual bride-and-groom relationship with their adoptive Father -- all the while under the kingship of Yeshua the Messiah of the line of David! Then, on top of all that, this day -- being the eighth day -- represents a new beginning when YEHOVAH God starts expanding His divine Family for all eternity!
And, as the prophet declared, "And so ALL ISRAEL will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins....For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have MERCY ON ALL [Israelites]" (Romans 11:26-32).
Thinking on these marvelous things, Paul exclaimed, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again`? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (Romans 11:33-36). Absolutely, Amen!
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
Hope of Israel Ministries
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