Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Is This the Only Day of Salvation?
YEHOVAH's Holy Days Reveal His Awesome Plan for His People Israel!
The time is coming when YEHOVAH God will have mercy upon Israel and reveal His purpose through a redeemed Israel. The Bible is about the re-gathering of Israel and about mercy to the whole House of Israel and to no other peoples. So what is the truth about salvation? Is YEHOVAH God attempting to save the whole world now or just Israel? Could millions of Israelites be doomed to hell, because they simply were born, lived and died, never having heard of the name of Yeshua the Messiah? Is YEHOVAH really "fair"? Just what is the "Plan" YEHOVAH God has in mind for His people Israel? And just what do the annual Holy Days of YEHOVAH God, given to Israel, have to do with YEHOVAH's Great Plan? Let's take a new look at this most important subject!
by HOIM Staff
Consider for a moment. The apostle Peter clearly said: "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
This means that salvation can only come through Yeshua the Messiah! He is the only Mediator between YEHOVAH God and men (I Timothy 2:5). No one else!
On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter exclaimed: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call" (Acts 2:38-39).
Salvation can only come through Yeshua the Messiah! But think for a moment. Millions of Israelites have lived and died, never having even heard of the name of Yeshua the Messiah! Are they forever lost -- doomed for all eternity?
If this life is the only opportunity for salvation for the children of Israel, then they must be lost forever! For salvation can only come through the name of Yeshua the Messiah! That's what the Bible says!
What about the millions of Israelites in the dispersion or Diaspora living in countries around the world who never even heard, much less understood, the message of salvation through Yeshua the Messiah? Are millions of them forever doomed? What about it? And what about the Israelites who died in bondage in ancient Egypt, and those living in Greece and ancient Persia, ages before Christian era? Are they, too, forever lost, because they never heard the "only name under heaven" given whereby men may be saved? Does that make any sense?
Is YEHOVAH God Fair?
The truth is YEHOVAH God is not calling every Israelite to salvation during this age! THIS IS NOT THE ONLY DAY OF SALVATION! The overwhelming, vast majority of the children of Israel will receive their opportunity for salvation at a later time! Does that surprise you?
Yeshua told his disciples: "No man can come to me, EXCEPT the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44). He added in verse 65: "Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father"!
Only those Israelites whom YEHOVAH God calls can truly understand His truth and His Plan, now! But the rest -- the vast majority -- are not yet called! This means that they will be given their chance for salvation later -- at another time! For those Israelites to whom YEHOVAH reveals His truth now, today IS the day of salvation (II Corinthians 6:2). But the vast majority are now blinded. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "But if it is hid to them that are lost (not lost forever, but in a present condition of being lost, not yet having been called): In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (II Corinthians 4:4).
The apostle Paul explains: "I say then, Hath God cast away his people [Israel]? GOD FORBID!' (Romans 11:1). Paul goes on: " God hath not cast away his people [Israel] which he foreknew." He wrote, "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace."
Paul continues, "What then? Israel hath not obtained that whicn he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, AND THE REST WERE BLINDED (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) UNTO THIS DAY" (Romans 11:2-8). How plain!
Why Yeshua Spoke in Parables
You have probably heard, and assumed, that Yeshua the Messiah spoke in parables to the multitudes of Israelites in Judea, in order to be more understandable. Most people think that the Messiah spoke in parables to make the meaning of his lessons and stories simple and easy to understand. But what if I were to tell you that such is not the case at all? What if I told you Yeshua spoke in parables to obfuscate and to HIDE the truth, so that the masses of Israelites would NOT understand him?
Believe it or not, that is precisely the reason Yeshua said he spoke in parables! Notice!
Yeshua' very own disciples asked him this very question. It seems they, too, were having a difficult time understanding him and making sense out of his parables. We read in Matthew's gospel: "And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
"He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto YOU to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but TO THEM [REST OF THE ISRAELITES] IT IS NOT GIVEN" (Matthew 13:10-11).
What? Read that again! Yeshua the Messiah said that to the majority of the Israelites, it was not given or offered for them to understand! In other words, he used parables to hide, to cloak, the meaning! Why did he do this? He goes on to explain: "For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more in abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." That is, they just don't get it! But why does Yeshua hide the real meaning of his parables from them? He continues:
"And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; LEST at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, AND SHOULD BE CONVERTED, and I should heal them" (Matthew 13:12-15).
Notice! Yeshua said he did not want the Israelites as a whole to understand, at that time, LEST they should be converted at that time, and should be spiritually HEALED! In other words, he was not at that time CALLING the vast majority of the Israelites to salvation! So he cloaked the meaning of his parables, so they would remain blinded to the truth. Why would he do this? As he said initially, those who are given understanding are HELD ACCOUNTABLE for it, and will be judged accordingly. Knowledge is a dangerous thing. Once we know the truth, we are responsible to OBEY it. If we don't, we heap condemnation upon our heads!
But why does YEHOVAH God want most people descended from Jacob (Israel) to remain blinded, at this time? Why isn't He calling all Israelites to salvation, at this time, or the entire world as the Protestant evangelists all proclaim?
Haven't you heard men like Billy Graham, for example, say that this is THE ONLY DAY OF SALVATION? Haven't you heard them preach hell-fire and brimstone sermons, saying that all who refused to "accept Jesus," were in danger of the torments of Hell fire?
Yet Yeshua said he plainly WITHHELD true understanding from the people of Israel, and deliberately spoke in parables and riddles to hide and to obscure the truth!
The plain truth is, my friends, that YEHOVAH God is working out a PURPOSE here below, and very few people really understand what it is! The so-called Christian evangelists haven't got a clue!
Let's understand this mystery!
Who Are the "Elect"?
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 who are true Israelite 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 the vast majority of the children of Israel YEHOVAH God has allowed 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 SINGLE ISRAELITE to be lost or to be doomed! Not at all! Predestination has to do with WHEN one is called, and WHEN an Israelite has YEHOVAH's truth revealed to him -- not whether he is going to be saved or lost!
Those 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 [Israelites] have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us 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 [Israelites] 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 [Israelites] should be to the praise of his glory, who FIRST TRUSTED IN CHRIST" (Ephesians 1:3-12).
Notice! We whom are Israelites are those who have "first trusted in Christ!" This means there are other Israelites who will be called later to trust in the Messiah! They are the VAST MAJORITY!
We, of the seed of Israel in YEHOVAH's 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 Israelites 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 we of Israel are called. A few are called now, and chosen to become "first-fruits" to YEHOVAH God and the Lamb. But the vast majority of Israel will be called later!
The Plan of YEHOVAH God Revealed -- Passover and Unleavened Bread
Few realize it, but the Plan of YEHOVAH God is revealed in the pattern of the Holy Days which YEHOVAH gave to His people Israel. The annual Holy Days began with the Passover and the days of Unleavened Bread, in the spring of the year (Leviticus 23:4-6). The Passover represented the sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah, YEHOVAH's paschal lamb, who gave his life for us (I Corinthians 5:7). The days of Unleavened Bread symbolize our putting leaven, that which causes bread to "puff up," a type of sin, out of our lives (see I Corinthians 5:8).
The Passover represents the beginning of the Plan of YEHOVAH God -- not its termination, or ending! The Plan of Salvation begins with the Passover, and Yeshua our Passover Lamb, who was slain for us on the tree -- a tree on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Temple in ancient Jerusalem. The Plan of YEHOVAH God begins with the "crucifixion" of the Messiah on the tree -- but it doesn't END there! There is much more to it than that! Merely "accepting Christ," as the Protestants teach, is not the truth of the gospel! "Accepting Christ" as Saviour is JUST THE BEGINNING!
What happens after we accept the Messiah, and his shed blood covers our sins? Even as the ancient Israelites slew their Passover lambs in Egypt, and dabbed the blood on their doorposts and lintels, so that they would be protected and spared when the "death angel" passed over that night, and slew the firstborn of all the Egyptians -- even so the "blood of Christ" causes YEHOVAH God to spare those of us of Israel, and put His canopy of protection over us. But that is only the beginning of YEHOVAH's Plan, and the beginning of His Holy Day season!
During the days of Unleavened Bread the people brought a sheaf of the firstfruits of the harvest to the priest, called an "omer." The priest then waved it before the LORD. This sheaf of firstfruits represents TRUE ISRAELITE CHRISTIANS -- the true "firstfruits of God" who will receive salvation and eternal life! Also, the Israelites came out of Egypt, which was a type of bondage to sin. They literally walked through the Red Sea, dry-shod, with the walls of water towering over them on their right and on their left.
On this awesome day, they LEFT EGYPT -- A TYPE OF SIN. They put sin completely out of their lives! YEHOVAH rescued them from the power of Egypt, even as He rescues we Israelites from the power of our own sinful human nature (Romans 6:6, 13, 8:1-2), and from the power of "sin and death" (Romans 8:2) by giving us His holy spirit (Acts 5:32, which enables us to CONQUER SIN and OVERCOME it (Galatians 2:20). Even as YEHOVAH God rescued Israel from the power of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, so He rescues we modern descendants of Israel from the power of Satan the devil, of whom Pharaoh was a "type"!
So the Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures out coming out of sin, turning to YEHOVAH God and obeying His commandments, statutes, judgments, and laws -- and leaving spiritual "Egypt" -- sin -- behind. It pictures the Christian life of overcoming, and enduring to the end.
But during this Feast, on the day after Passover, the "omer" was waved before the LORD, and was continued to be waved each morning as the Israelites counted seven Sabbaths and "fifty days" until the arrival of the NEXT Holy Day -- Pentecost! What does this period of seven Sabbaths and "fifty days" represent?
Passing through the "Red Sea," the apostle Paul tells us, was a type of "baptism," when we are buried with the Messiah in the water, and then come up out of the water "in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4). The seven Sabbaths and "50 days" from Passover to Pentecost, then, picture the Christian Israelite's life of OVERCOMING OBSTACLES, and enduring to the end, and building holy, righteous, godly character! The ancient Israelites had to journey through the desert, from the Red Sea to Mount Sinai, where they met with YEHOVAH God, and received the Ten Commandments, and became "married" to YEHOVAH in a marriage covenant (Jeremiah 3:14). This was an arduous journey, and tested their faith, and their obedience.
Even so, after we Israelites today are baptized, we enter into a life of struggle against sin, a life of overcoming spiritual obstacles, set backs, faith-building trials, and overcoming persecution -- until we finally reach "Mount Zion," and the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God! The seven Sabbaths and "50 days" from Passover to Pentecost picture the Christian Israelites' life of overcoming, until the return of the Messiah, when we will marry him as his bride! (Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 19:7-9).
Pentecost -- the Spiritual Harvest of the Church
Then comes the festival of Pentecost seven Sabbaths and fifty days later. It is significant that the New Testament Church of YEHOVAH God actually began on this Holy Day, when the holy spirit first descended on the men of Israel and imbued them with spiritual power (see Acts 2:1-4). In Old Testament times, on Pentecost Moses descended Mount Sinai to give the children of Israel the Ten Commandments -- the Law of YEHOVAH God on the tablets of stone. Isn't it interesting that a larger measure of the holy spirit was given on the very anniversary of the receiving of the Law? Why was this? The answer is, we need YEHOVAH's holy spirit in order to have the power and fortitude to OBEY YEHOVAH God's Law!
A large measure of the holy spirit is what was missing from the Old Covenant, so that the people of Israel continually went astray, back slid, and fell victim to the sins of idolatry, Sabbath breaking, and rebellion against the Laws of YEHOVAH God! But through the holy spirit, YEHOVAH is now writing His laws in our very hearts and minds (Hebrews 8:7-10).
Pentecost was the time of the actual summer wheat harvest, which began with the wave sheaf offering typifying the "firstfruits." The harvest of Pentecost symbolizes the actual spiritual harvest of the Church of YEHOVAH God, those Israelites called out of this world to be a kind of "firstfruits" to the Messiah! (Leviticus 23:15-22). It pictures the "bride of Christ" being harvested, to rule physical Israel with him at his coming!
After Pentecost, there are no more holy days, until the FALL holy day season. Then all the rest of YEHOVAH God's Holy Days fall within ONE MONTH -- the "seventh month" -- the month of Tishri! The Spring Holy Days being completed, picturing the harvest of the "first-fruits" of YEHOVAH God, now we come to the next installment of the Plan of YEHOVAH -- the Harvest of the rest of the children of Israel!
The Feast of Trumpets -- Return and Enthronement of the Messiah!
Beginning the seventh month, Tishri, which is also the FIRST MONTH of the civil calendar, is the Festival of Blowing of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24-25). Notice! This is the Feast of Trumpets -- PLURAL -- not the Feast of the Trumpet -- singular! What does this Feast Day represent in YEHOVAH's great Plan?
Notice! In the book of Joel, we read: "BLOW YE THE TRUMPET in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all of the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains" (Joel 2:1-2).
Here we see the REAL symbolism of trumpets! Trumpets are blown as an ALARM -- they signify a WARNING BLAST of impending danger, peril, calamity, destruction! They are a warning to GET READY -- GET PREPARED -- for the day of judgment is coming soon!
The Feast of Trumpets does not picture the day of "judgment." It pictures the blowing of trumpets, in ADVANCE of the day of judgment, and pictures YEHOVAH God's warning to repent of sins and to get ready to face the returning Messiah AND YEHOVAH God Himself, KING of kings and LORD of lords! Thus, as the Jews have understood from time immemorial, the Feast of Trumpets pictures YEHOVAH's WARNING TO REPENT -- they are YEHOVAH God's FINAL CALL TO REPENTANCE!
The calls to repentance started back on the first day of Nisan. In the Bible YEHOVAH God gives us advance warnings about important events that will decide our destiny. Writes Samuele Bacchiocchi --
...in the Old Testament times the approach of final judgment was announced IN ADVANCE by the blowing of trumpets on the first day (new moon) of the first six months. The blowing of trumpets served to warn the people to prepare themselves for the FINAL judgment that would begin on the first day of the seventh month [Day or Feast of Trumpets]. The latter was known as the Feast of Trumpets, because on that day the SHOFAR was blown in a massive way throughout the land to announce to the people that the Day of Judgment had arrived and they should prepare themselves to stand trial...(God's Festivals in Scripture and History, Part 2, p. 81).
Explains Jon Paulien:
The Feast of Trumpets is closely associated in Jewish thought with the new-moon festivals that were celebrated at the beginning of each month. Since the months of the year in the Jewish calendar are numbered beginning with Nisan, there is a sense in which the Feast of Trumpets comes as the climax of a seven-month series of mini-Feasts of Trumpets...the seven trumpets of Revelation probably represent the ongoing sequence of seven months with the seventh trumpet representing the Feast of Trumpets itself (The Role of the Hebrew Cultus, Sanctuary, and the Temple in the Plot and Structure of the Book of Revelation. 1995, pp. 259-260).
Therefore, the blowing of trumpets at each of the New Moons -- starting at Nisan -- was understood as a day of judgment in miniature -- warning the people of Israel to prepare for the final judgment ushered in by the Feast of Trumpets. In other words, the blowing of the first six trumpets in Revelation warns the people of Israel to prepare for the final judgment inaugurated by the blowing of the seventh trumpet.
Notes Bacchiocchi --
The plagues unleashed by the blowing of the first six trumpets are judgments of grace designed to lead people to repentance. This is clearly stated in Revelation 9:20, 21 where twice we are told that people "did not repent," in spite of the judgments that accompanied the blowing of the first six trumpets. Gerhard Friedrich notes that the judgments of the six trumpets are "the final warnings of God, His summons to repentance" (God's Festivals in Scripture and History, Part 2, p. 103).
In Revelation 11:15 and 18 we read --
The seventh angel sounded his shofar, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
"The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our LORD and his Messiah, and he will rule forever and ever!"
"The Goyim [nations] raged. But now your rage has come, the time for the dead to be judged, the time for rewarding your servants the prophets and your holy people, those who stand in awe of your name, both small and great. It is also the time for destroying those who destroy the earth" (Jewish New Testament).
It should be noted that the seventh trumpet (shofar) is depicted quite differently from the preceding six. While the blowing of the first six trumpets unleash warning judgments on the earth, the blowing of the seventh trumpet announces the Messiah's return and enthronement and soon-coming judgment. "There were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our LORD and His Messiah, and He [YEHOVAH God] will rule forever and ever!" (Revelation 11:15, ibid.).
The last trump in the seven months' series was always sounded on the New Moon day of Tishri -- the Feast of Trumpets! Writes Ernest L. Martin, "In New Testament parlance this surely shows the time of the coronation of Jesus, and it happens at the seventh (or last) trump in the Book of Revelation -- the Day of Trumpets" (The Star that Astonished the World, p. 199).
"This was the exact day," continues Martin, "that many of the ancient kings and rulers of Judah reckoned as their inauguration day of rule. This procedure was followed consistently in the time of Solomon, Jeremiah, and Ezra. The Day of Trumpets was acknowledged as the time for counting the years of their kingly rule. Indeed it was customary that the final ceremony in the coronation of kings was the blowing of trumpets" (ibid., p. 198).
The Bible clearly shows that the blowing of trumpets was the SIGN that kings could then begin to rule -- see I Kings 1:34; II Kings 9:13 and II Kings 11:11. The Jewish religious authorities have long acknowledged this ROYAL IMPORT to the Day of Trumpets. Alfred Edersheim, in his work on the Temple, observes that
As of old the sound of the trumpet summoned the congregation before the LORD at the door of the Tabernacle, so "His elect" shall be summoned by the sound of the trumpet in the day of Christ's coming, and not only the living, but those also who had "slept" -- "the dead in Christ." Similarly, the heavenly hosts are marshalled to the war of successive judgments [starting on Nisan 1], till, as "the seventh angel sounded," Christ is proclaimed King Universal: "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our LORD, and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever" (The Temple, p. 291).
The central theme of the Feast of Trumpets is clearly that of the RETURN and enthronement of the Messiah.
According to Ernest Martin --
The early Jews also recognized that the Day of Trumpets was a memorial day for considering those who had died. It was not a simple type of "Memorial Day" that we moderns are accustomed to. Gaster said it was a symbolic time when "the dead return to rejoin their descendants at the beginning of the year." Such a day was a time when Israel would rally to the call of God for the INAUGURATION OF GOD'S KINGDOM ON EARTH. Gaster says this was the time (the Day of Trumpets) which became "a symbol of the Last Trump" (The Star that Astonished the World, p. 199).
The "Last Trump" of the early Judahites was when the dead of Israel were remembered; and the "Last Trump" of Paul the apostle was the time for the Messiah's return to this earth and the resurrection of the Israelite dead -- see I Corinthians 15:52 and I Thessalonians 4:16.
This feast day represents the day of TRUMPETS which pictures the last trumpet BLOWN in the book of Revelation (Revelation 8-7), the seventh trumpet-plague of the "Day of the Lord," the time when the Messiah returns and is enthroned in preparation for the Judgment Day. The "trumpets" are warning blasts, a call to repentance, and a warning of impending calamities. Each trumpet blast, starting on Nisan 1, will be accompanied by a divinely sent PLAGUE to convince mankind that YEHOVAH God means business! (see Revelation 8-9). They are a warning, sent by a loving God who doesn't desire to have to punish His people Israel, but who will not put up with sin and rebellion any longer. The "trumpets" -- plural -- lead up to the soon-coming JUDGMENT, which will occur when Yeshua the Messiah returns to earth to set up the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God in preparation for his Father's return (see Revelation 11:15-19).
Yom Kippur and the Day of Judgment
It is mentioned in the Talmud that on the day of the Feast of Trumpets three books were opened -- "that of life, for those [Israelites] whose works had been good; another of death, for those [Israelites] who had been thoroughly evil; and a third, intermediate, for those whose case was to be decided on the Day of Atonement (ten days after New Year), the delay being granted for repentance, or otherwise, after which their names would be finally entered, either in the book of life, or in that of death" (The Temple, p. 296).
Before the great festival of harvesting and thanksgiving could occur, Israel must, as a nation, be reconciled to YEHOVAH God, for only a people at peace with YEHOVAH might rejoice before Him during the Feast of Tabernacles. Therefore, the import of the Day of Atonement becomes only more striking when we realize that the feast of harvesting prefigured the final ingathering of all the people of Israel. In connection with this point it is well to remember that the Jubilee Year was always proclaimed on the Day of Atonement.
Observes Samuele Bacchiocchi --
The Day of Atonement represented for the Jews the climax of ten days of intense self-examination and repentance. They were known as "Days of Awe," or "Days of Repentance." It is noteworthy that unlike other Holy Days, the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement were not linked to remembrance of historical events. These Holy Days were strickly a time for people to make a thorough assessment of their lives. It was a time to verify if the sins which had been confessed and atoned for during the previous year also had been forsaken. If not, God provided a last opportunity to confess and forsake any lingering sin (God's Festivals in Scripture and History, Part 2, p. 139).
The Day of Atonement has tremendous implications not only for Israel in general, but also for YEHOVAH's obedient Israel people in particular.
"The observance of the day served to differentiate between the genuine believers and the false believers. The genuine believers were those Israelites who throughout the year repented of their sins, brought appropriate sin offerings to the sanctuary, and who on the Day of Atonement rested, fasted, prayed, repented, and humbled their hearts before God. At the completion of the purification rites for the sanctuary, these persons were pronounced 'clean before the LORD' (Lev. 16:30)" (ibid., p. 150).
"The false believers," adds Bacchiocchi, "were those Israelites who during the year did not repent, thus failing to bring atoning sacrifices at the sanctuary, and on the Day of Atonement they did not desist from their toil nor did they engage in fasting, prayer, and soul searching (cf. Num. 19:20) or who chose to sin defiantly against God (cf. Lev. 20:1-6). On the Day of Atonement these persons were 'cut off' from God's people."
This separation that occurred on the Day of Atonement typifies the separation that will occur when the Messiah returns and passes judgment on the Day of Atonement. Both groups of Israelites claimed to belong to the people of YEHOVAH God, but the rites of the Day of Atonement revealed who were genuine and who were false believers. In a similar fashion the Messiah taught -- through several of his parables -- that a radical separation will occur at his return. Notice, now, Matthew 25:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations [of Israel] will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And he will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right hand, "Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world"....Then he will also say to those on the left hand, "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (verses 31-34, 41).
The Messiah's parables and the ritual of the Day of Atonement teach the same paramount truth: False and genuine Christian Israelites will coexist together until his return on the Day of Trumpets. But at his return -- when judgment typified by the Day of Atonement takes place -- a permanent separation will occur -- and sin and sinners will be eradicated for ever and a new world order will be established. The rituals of the Day of Atonement will find their MAIN antitypical fulfillment in the executive judgments carried out by the Messiah at his return.
According to Samuele Bacchiocchi,
The Day of Atonement was the culmination of the judgment process in which God executed His judgment by giving life to those who had confessed their sins and availed themselves of the divine provision for their atonement. It was also a day of death for impenitent sinners who rejected God's provision for the cleansing of their sins.
The sacrificial rites of the Day of Atonement provided TOTAL cleansing from all the sins of God's people. The TOTALITY of the cleansing is emphasized several times in Leviticus 16 by the expression "all your sins" (Lev. 16:16, 30, 34) (God's Festivals in Scripture and History, Part 2, p. 152).
The dramatic spectacle of the Day of Atonement foreshadowed, in an incredible way, HOW the Messiah, at his coming, will save his people Israel and destroy sin and sinners in a permanent and radical way. Its promise of cleansing, reconciliation, and restoration to a NEW relationship with YEHOVAH God still meets a basic need of the Israelite heart.
"Rightly observed," concludes Rabbi S. Lehrman, "Yom Kippur can to this day be the regenerator of our lives, making us at one with our Creator and bringing us nearer to the ideal from which we have departed. Life demands continual effort and self-sacrifice, for these things ennoble and purify. It is an effort that the day exacts. Understood and observed in this spirit, it will help us to acquire 'a new heart and a new spirit,' helping us to ussher in the age when wickedness will be removed from the earth, like smoke before the gusts of health-giving winds" (The Jewish Festivals. London: 1956, pp. 198-199).
The Day of Atonement, therefore, holds the hope of regeneration and restoration for all of those of us descended from Israel who follow the Messiah and believe that he is the antitypical High Priest who "has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, but into heaven itself" to make expiation for our sins in the present and to save us when he returns on the Day of Trumpets -- see Hebrews 9:23-28.
The appearance of the High Priest out of the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem Temple at the end of the Day of Atonement revealed to the Israelites his verdict. Those who had repented of and confessed their sins -- offering the specified sacrifices -- saw their sins removed and figuratively placed on the Azazel goat (representing the Messiah) which was led away to perish in the wilderness. Those who had not repented of their transgressions and refused to humble themselves before YEHOVAH God were "cut off" from YEHOVAH's people and executed. So it will be when the Messiah returns on the Day of Trumpets and renders his judgment on the Day of Atonement.
Those Israelites "who are eagerly waiting for him" (Hebrews 9:28) will be saved, but those who "deliberately continue to sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth" (Hebrews 10:26) will experience a "raging fire that will consume the enemies" of YEHOVAH God (Hebrews 10:27).
In view of the prospect of judgment at the Messiah's return, the apostle Paul admonishes believing Israelites to hold "fast to the hope we acknowledge, without wavering...encouraging each other...all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:23, 25-26).
The Day of Atonement is a generator of great hope and confidence because it reassures us that the Messiah has opened for us a free and direct access to YEHOVAH God when he entered into the presence of YEHOVAH. In the Old Testament the High Priest had access to the presence of YEHOVAH God only once a year on the Day of Atonement when he entered the Holy of Holies. Now, all of YEHOVAH's Israel people have direct access to YEHOVAH God because of the Messiah's entry into YEHOVAH's presence.
"[The Book of] Hebrews assures Christians," notes Bacchiocchi, "that on the strength of two unchangeable things -- God's promise (Heb. 6:15) and His oath (Heb. 6:17) -- they are guaranteed free approach to God through Jesus Christ. He [Paul] calls this assurance 'a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul' (Heb. 6:19a). This anchor is 'a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek' (Heb. 6:19b-20)" (God's Festivals in Scripture and History, part 2, p. 198).
What all of this means to those of us Israelites who are "contending earnestly for the faith which once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3) is that the Day of Atonement embodies not only the hope of the future cleansing and restoration to be accomplished when the Messiah returns, but also the assurance of the present free access to YEHOVAH God because Yeshua the Messiah has gone into the very presence of YEHOVAH as our forerunner. "And consequently, he is totally able to deliver those who approach God through him; since he is alive forever and thus forever able to intercede on their behalf" (Hebrews 7:25, Jewish New Testament).
Yom Kippur represents the day of actual JUDGMENT -- when the verdicts will be rendered! (Leviticus 23:26-32). The entire symbolism and ritual of this day portrays "judgment"! Notice how beautifully, accurately, and perfectly, YEHOVAH's Holy Days picture and set forth the true Plan of YEHOVAH God -- the Plan of Salvation!
Next on the Agenda -- the "Feast of Sukkot"
But what happens after the return of the Messiah to this earth? What comes next in YEHOVAH God's Plan?
As a part of the ceremonies held during the Feast of Tabernacles, four immense candelabrum -- each 75 feet high -- were set in the Temple courtyard. Each candelabra had four golden bowls, and was reached by four ladders. Each bowl was capable of holding many gallons of oil. Four youths of priestly descent each held a pitcher of oil, which they used to fill the bowls. Wicks were made from the old, cast-off priestly garments and rags from worn-out vestments. When the candelabrum were lit, they generated such intense and brilliant light, that not a courtyard in the whole city of Jerusalem failed to be illuminated by the blazing light. Notice Alfred Edersheim's description of it --
At the close of the first day of the feast the worshippers descended to the Court of the Women, where great preparations had been made. Four golden candelabras were there, each with four golden bowls, and against them rested four ladders; and four youths of priestly descent held, each a pitcher of oil, capable of holding one hundred and twenty log, from which they filled each bowl. The old, worn breeches and girdles of the priests served for wicks to these lamps. There was not a court in Jerusalem that was not lit up by the light of 'the house of water-pouring' (The Temple, p. 283).
What did these four immense candelabrum symbolize -- that lit up the whole city of Jerusalem? Edersheim explains:
It seems clear that this illumination of the Temple was regarded as forming part of, and having the same symbolic meaning as, 'the pouring out of water.' The light shining out of the Temple into the darkness around, and lighting up every court in Jerusalem, must have been intended as A SYMBOL...OF THE SHECKINAH [GLORY] which once filled the Temple (ibid, p. 285).
While Edersheim says that the Shekinah Glory "once filled the Temple," implying that it wasn't there during the Messiah's day, there is abundant evidence to show that YEHOVAH God's Shekinah Glory was indeed resident in the Second Temple during the time of the Messiah and up to just before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D.
When we gather all the available information together it is quite apparent that YEHOVAH's Shekinah Glory was in residence in the Holy of Holies during at least the lifetime of the Messiah and up to within a few years of the Temple's destruction in 70 A.D.
This being the case, the ceremony of lighting the candelabrum in the Court of the Women must POINT TO SOME FUTURE EVENT! What could this future event be? None other than the RETURN OF YEHOVAH GOD'S SHEKINAH GLORY TO JERUSALEM AND THE TEMPLE! Edersheim records that "according to Jewish tradition, the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night [the Shekinah Glory of YEHOVAH God] had first appeared to Israel on the 15th of Tishri, the first day of the feast....[and] we know that the dedication of Solomon's Temple and the DESCENT OF THE SHECHINAH took place at this feast" (The Temple, p. 286).
James D. Tabor writes that "the Hebrew Prophets constantly emphasize the dramatic, awesome, earth-shaking, personal return of YHVH Himself to this planet. They clearly intend to convey an actual, literal, historical event in the future, something that will be experienced by all the inhabitants of the earth" (Restoring Abrahamic Faith, pp. 70-71). We read of this in Zechariah 14:1-4, 5, 9, 16:
Behold, the day of YEHOVAH is coming, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in the midst of you. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women ravished; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then YEHOVAH will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day HIS FEET SHALL SHALL STAND ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES which lies before Jerusalem on the east....
"Thus YEHOVAH my God will come, and all the saints with You....And YEHOVAH will become King over all the earth; on that day YEHOVAH will be one and His Name one....Then every one that survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, YEHOVAH of Hosts, and to keep the feast of booths (RSV).
This prophecy contains a number of remarkable features that emphasize the fact that YEHOVAH God Himself will directly intervene and become King over the entire earth. Writes Tabor:
"The entire focus of the text is upon YHVH [YEHOVAH] God. I emphasize this point, not to deny or even downplay the role of [the] Messiah, but rather to stress that Zechariah is able to offer this rather detailed scenario of the "end of the age," and the arrival of the Kingdom of God without once mentioning the role of the Davidic King [Yeshua the Messiah]. Also, despite any use of symbolic or metaphorical language (i.e., His feet standing on the Mt. of Olives), the passage is full of historical and geographical details. The prophet obviously intends to describe an actual, literal, historical event in the future history of Israel and Jerusalem. The language itself resists allegorical interpretation (Restoring Abrahamic Faith, p. 71).
Throughout the Old Testament the Prophets constantly make the point that YEHOVAH God Himself (in the form of His Shekinah Glory) will come down from Heaven and intervene in the affairs of this world, acting personally and directly, to punish the wicked and RULE AS KING OVER ALL NATIONS. Many have assigned this role to the Messiah -- a huge mistake that the churches of this world continue to promulgate. Following are some of the many verses in the Old Testament that underscore the role of YEHOVAH God ON THIS EARTH in the very near future! Notice --
Come my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. For behold, YEHOVAH comes out of His place [Heaven] to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain (Isaiah 26:20-21).
Behold, YEHOVAH makes the earth empty and makes it waste, distorts its surface, and scatters abroad its inhabitants....They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing; for the majesty of YEHOVAH they shall cry aloud from the sea. Therefore glorify YEHOVAH in the dawning light, the name of YEHOVAH God of Israel in the coastlands of the sea....It shall come to pass on that day, that YEHOVAH will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth....Then the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed, For YEHOVAH of Hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before His elders gloriously (Isaiah 24:1, 14-15, 21-23).
A voice cries, "Prepare the way for YEHOVAH in the wilderness; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the [Shekinah] Glory of YEHOVAH will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of YEHOVAH has spoken" (Isaiah 40:3-5).
Then, in Isaiah 40:9-11:
O Zion, you who bring good tidings, get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, you who bring good tidings, lift up your voice with strength, lift up and be not afraid: Say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!" Behold Lord YEHOVAH shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him and His work before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together; for they shall see eye to eye when YEHOVAH brings back Zion...YEHOVAH has made bare His holy arm in the sight of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God (Isaiah 52:7-8, 10).
In an obvious fulfillment of the the Water-Drawing Ceremony that takes place on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the prophet Ezekiel makes the following comment --
For I will take you [Israelites] from among the nations, gather you out of all the countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will SPRINKLE CLEAN WATER ON YOU, and you shall be clean...I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you...(Ezekiel 36:25-26).
"And I will not hide my face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My spirit on the house of Israel" (Ezekiel 39:29).
Writes James Tabor --
Too often Christians allow themselves to hastily run through such texts, all the while assuming that when the Prophets speak of YHVH [YEHOVAH] Himself acting in such decisive ways they actually refer to His Messiah. How often I have heard preachers say "When Jesus returns, his feet will stand on the Mt. of Olives." This is unfortunate and CARELESS EXEGESIS. As one can plainly see, through a careful reading of all these texts, the Prophets always maintain a clear distinction between [the] dramatic appearance of the LORD God (YHVH) and [the] Davidic rule of the Messiah (Restoring Abrahamic Faith, p. 74).
To understand this teaching of Scripture one has to make a distinction between the general presence of God, which is always with His creation, and this very specific, literal, awesome, visible, manifestation of the Divine Glory. In that sense God DEPARTED from this planet [just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.], and in that sense the Prophets all tell of HIS RETURN. In other words, the Prophets predict a visible, awesome, literal, manifestation of the [Shekinah] Glory of YHVH [YEHOVAH] once again (ibid., p. 75).
This is what the lighting of the four immense candelabrum on the first Holy Day of the Feast of Tabernacles points to! The fact that the Shekinah Glory of YEHOVAH God descended and filled Solomon's Temple at it's dedication on this day; and the fact that the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night first appeared to the Israelites under Moses on the 15th of Tishri -- clearly point to the return of YEHOVAH's Shekinah Glory on this SAME DAY in the near future!! This is why the candelabrum were lit at this time during the Water-Drawing Ceremony. When the Shekinah Glory returns there will be a future outpouring of the holy spirit as predicted by this very rite.
As the four mighty candelabrum blazed in the night, we read:
"A Levite orchestra of flutes, trumpets, harps, and cymbals accompanied torchlight processions, and men who had earned the capacity for real spiritual joy through their purity, character and scholarship danced ecstatically to the hand-clapping, foot-stomping, and hymn-singing crowds.
"We do not imagine our distinguished sages as acrobats and tumblers, but they were often agile physically as well as mentally. Rabbi Simon ben Gamaliel juggled eight lighted torches and raised himself into a handstand on two fingers, a gymnastic feat no one else could master. Others juggled eight knives, eight glasses of wine, or eight eggs before leaders and dignitaries" (p. 214).
The celebration of the Water-drawing was a highlight of the Feast. It was a happy, even ecstatic occasion, with a torchlight parade, including musicians, jugglers, and dancers, marching to the Temple, at night, as the whole city of Jerusalem was lit up by giant torches and the light of giant menorahs. As the lyres, drums, cymbals, trumpets, drums and horns played, the Rabbis entertained and clowned, adding to the joy. Not one day of Sukkot passed without joyous festivities that celebrated the happiness of the harvest, and the joy of community.
As the dawn of each day approached, the priests descended the steps to the Women's Court, with trumpets blaring, and marched in procession to the Eastern Gate of the Temple. and then turned their faces toward the Temple, to the west, and proclaimed, "Our fathers who were in this place stood with their backs to the Temple and their faces eastward and worshipped the sun. but our eyes are unto the LORD" (based on Ezekiel 8:16).
Following the return of Yeshua the Messiah and YEHOVAH God to this earth, the entire world will eventually be reconciled to YEHOVAH God. Over a period of time, all nations will be re-educated, and will LEARN the truth of YEHOVAH God, and will begin to OBEY His commandments (Isaiah 2:1-4; Micah 4:1-4). Eventually, the re-education and retraining process will be completed, and "the earth shall be FULL of the KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9).
The whole world will then be made "at one" with Him. With Satan banished, the whole world will soon break forth with singing and rejoicing and all mankind will accept the truth of YEHOVAH God! This will also be the time of the great fall Harvest of the rest of Israel, pictured by the FEAST OF TABERNACLES -- called the "Feast of Ingathering," or the "Feast of Harvest"!
The great fall Harvest, when millions of Israelites will have the blinders stripped from their eyes, and will see and understand YEHOVAH's truth for the first time, is symbolized by the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-37). This feast depicts the celebration of the ingathering of all the seed of Israel into YEHOVAH's Kingdom -- that is, Israel as a whole. At this time, Israel will be the chief among the nations, and the laws of the LORD will flow forth from Jerusalem to the whole world. The Messiah will sit upon the Throne of David, in Jerusalem (Luke 1:32) alongside his Father YEHOVAH God who will reside in the Temple, and rule the world. This will indeed be a great time of tremendous rejoicing, happiness, and celebration!
At this present time, blindness covers the descendants of Israel, but at that time YEHOVAH God will remove the scales from peoples' eyes. The apostle Paul put it plainly. He said: "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles [Israelites of the northern 10 tribes] be come in. And so ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel]" (Romans 11:25-26).
Whereas now YEHOVAH God is calling only a few descendants of Israel to be in His Church, and to receive salvation, at that time ALL OF ISRAEL will be saved! As Isaiah the prophet wrote: "And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the VAIL that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the LORD God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people [Israel] shall He take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it" (Isaiah 25:5-6).
At that time, Isaiah says, the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid, and the calf and young lion shall curl up peaceably together, and the lion will eat straw like the oxen. "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be FULL of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:6-9). During that wonderful utopian time the nations will learn war no more (Isaiah 2:2-4).
This is the GOOD NEWS that Yeshua the Messiah brought! This is the good news of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God!
Hoshana Rabbah -- the "Great Day of the Feast"
On the last, or final day, of the Feast of Tabernacles, called "the great day of the feast," or "Hoshana Rabbah," a very special ceremony takes place. This is the "water-pouring ceremony." It is mentioned in John's gospel, chapter seven. Notice! "In the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on 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..." (John 7:27-29).
Many have confused this day with the "eighth day" -- or the following festival, often referred to as "The Last Great Day." However, this water pouring ceremony did not occur on the "eighth day" -- it occurred on the SEVENTH day, that is, the final day of the Feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles!
Hoshana Rabba, then, the final day of the Feast of Ingathering, or Harvest, depicts the FINAL DAY OF JUDGMENT -- THE LAST GREAT DAY OF HARVEST!
What great event does this picture? What is the "last day of harvest" -- that is, the LAST OPPORTUNITY FOR SALVATION?
To understand this fully, let's back track, now, and pick up some of the loose pieces, and answer some of the unanswered questions, and see what the Word of YEHOVAH God has to say about this "Last Great Day of Harvest" -- this FINAL opportunity for salvation. Notice how it fits in perfectly and dove-tails with YEHOVAH's Plan, His mercy, and provides a wonderful way of salvation for the millions of Israelites who have lived and died, never having understood YEHOVAH's Plan, and never having even heard the name of Yeshua the Messiah!
Nineveh, Tyre and Sodom
Yeshua alluded to the many wicked of past ages, who died in their wickedness, when he said to his disciples: "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south [queen of Sheba during Solomon's day] shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here" (Matthew 12:41-42).
Yeshua went even further. He told his disciples that if a city rejected their message, "Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city" (Matthew 10: 15). Notice also Matthew, chapter 11. We read:
"Then began he [Yeshua] to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you.
"And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee" (Matthew 11:20-24).
While the above is hypothetical, since the Ninevites relapsed and again took up their wicked ways (Zephaniah 2:13-15), the time is coming when all Israelites will be judged -- some more severely than others. When will this happen?
The Valley of Dry Bones
Ezekiel gives us a strong clue as to the answer. Speaking of a future time, he says:
"The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and lo, they were very dry" (Ezekiel 37:1-2).
These dry bones symbolize the millions of Israelites who lived and died long, long ago -- perhaps thousands of years ago in many cases. That is why they were "very dry.
What happens to these bones?
"And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O LORD God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O Ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live, and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, AND YE SHALL LIVE: and ye shall know that I am the LORD" (verses 3-6).
Here a great resurrection to physical, mortal life is described! These Israelites will be raised to physical life once again. They will be breathing creatures. They will have sinews, flesh, skin -- they will be physical human beings once again!
Ezekiel says: "So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above; but there was no breath in them.
"Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the LORD God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
"So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, AN EXCEEDING GREAT ARMY" (Ezekiel 37:7-10). Who are these people?
"Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are THE WHOLE HOUSE OF ISRAEL: behold, they say, Our bones are died, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the LORD God; Behold, O my people, I WILL OPEN YOUR GRAVES, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD" (verses 11-14).
When will this great resurrection to physical life occur? It will be at the end of the Millennium at the time known as the great White Throne judgment!
The time frame of this marvelous prophesy is given in the book of Revelation!
The Great White Throne Judgment
John writes: "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great [who are these?], stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works" (Revelation 20:11-12)
Here is another time of judgment! This same time of resurrection is described in Ezekiel 37, the "dry bones" chapter. These vast teeming millions of Israeites -- millions of people -- will be resurrected, for a time of "trial" and testing. They will be flesh and blood -- not immortal. These people will be the millions of Israelites who were never called by YEHOVAH God during this life; those millions of Israelites who never understood the Plan of YEHOVAH God, who never heard of Yeshua the Messiah, the only name under heaven whereby men may be saved (Acts 4:12).
Among them will be all the Israelite babies who died, and the Israelite children who died in their youth, never having had a chance for salvation. Those who were blinded to YEHOVAH's truth in this life will at that time be resurrected to mortal life, and given their first and only real opportunity for salvation (see Matthew 12:41-42).
Notice that the "book of life" will be opened. And that they will be judged according to their "works" (Revelation 20:12). These Israelites will apparently live for one hundred years (Isaiah 65:20). They will build houses, and plant vineyards, and live a natural, normal life for one hundred years, during which time they will receive their opportunity for salvation. They will be taught -- for the first time in their existence -- the truth of YEHOVAH God. They will be able to compare their previous life, under Satan's way, with life and blessings under YEHOVAH's way, in the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. And the vast majority will repent of their sins, accept the Messiah as Saviour, and be saved. As Paul wrote: "And so all Israel shall be saved" (Romans 11:26). YEHOVAH God is longsuffering and patient, not willing that any Israelite should die or perish (11 Peter 3:9). Every Israelite who ever lived will have a complete and unhindered chance to learn YEHOVAH's ways, and to be saved.
But what about those Israelites who are the incorrigibly wicked? What about those Israelites who refuse to repent, and to obey YEHOVAH God, and who continue on in sin no matter what YEHOVAH says, and no matter how patiently He holds out His hand offering them forgiveness? What about those Israelites who REJECT the laws of YEHOVAH God and give themselves over to sin and wickedness?
The Awesome Fate of the Wicked -- Total Destruction
"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:13-15).
Here all the incorrigible wicked Israelites will perish forever. Those who refuse to repent of their sins and blasphemies, who turn aside from YEHOVAH's way and trample on the shed blood of the Messiah, treating it as a little thing, those who reject and refuse YEHOVAH's way, will suffer the final judgment -- they will burn up in the lake of fire. And they will never live again. Their life will be extinguished, with finality. They will be put out of their misery. That is how YEHOVAH God will banish all sin and punish the sinners of Israel who refuse to repent.
At that time, Peter says, "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" (II Peter 3:10). At that time "sinners [shall] be consumed out of the earth" and "the wicked [shall] be no more" (Psalm 104:35). At that time YEHOVAH God will "renew the face of the earth" (Psalm 104:30).
The prophet Malachi describes the scene this way: "For, behold, the day cometh, saith the LORD, that shall BURN as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch...And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts" (Malachi 4:1-3).
Hoshana Rabbah is the last, final day of judgment -- the final opportunity for all Israelites to be "saved," and to enter into the eternal Kingdom of YEHOVAH God as His sons. Those who reject YEHOVAH's mercy and plan, those who fail to make the grade, those who turn away from YEHOVAH and rebell as Satan the devil did, will suffer the same fate as the devil. They will be destroyed -- forever!
Notice! This Great White Throne Judgment -- pictured by Hoshana Rabbah -- is also pictured by Yeshua the Messiah in a marvelous prophecy he gave. Notice his exact words:
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory [throughout the millennial reign, with the saints ruling with him]: And before him shall be gathered ALL nations [of Israel -- including the ones who lived long ago, as they are resurrected to mortal life]: and [in the Great White Throne Judgment, lasting perhaps 100 years] he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
"Then shall the King say unto them on the right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting [i.e., age-lasting] fire, prepared for the DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
"Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
"Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it NOT to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And THESE shall go away into everlasting punishment [that is, eternal death!]: but the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew 25:31-46).
Yes, YEHOVAH God IS supremely FAIR! He is perfectly just, righteous, and absolutely perfect in judgment! All Israel will have a chance -- an opportunity -- for salvation. What they do with that opportunity, however, is up to them.
Isn't that wonderful? Isn't YEHOVAH God wonderful? Isn't the Plan of YEHOVAH God marvelous, surpassing human wisdom and understanding?
Paul wrote: "For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all [of Israel]. 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 counsellor? 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 11:30-36).
This day, Hoshana Rabbah, pictures the LAST GREAT DAY of harvest -- the final great time or dispensation of SALVATION! After it, there is no more harvest -- the harvest is finished -- over.
The last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, then, represents the Great White Throne judgment, the time when the millions of Israelites who have lived and died, never understanding YEHOVAH's Plan of Salvation, will be resurrected to mortal life, and will be given their first and only chance for salvation, as they, too, will be re-educated and taught the truths of YEHOVAH God! It also pictures the awesome time of final judgment -- and the final judgment of YEHOVAH God upon the wicked, the proud, and the ungodly, who refuse YEHOVAH's Laws and His way.
Shemini Atzeret -- the "Eighth Day"
The Plan of YEHOVAH God is complete -- except for one final thing. And that final thing is pictured by the LAST of YEHOVAH's annual holy days! Notice!
Right after the Feast of Tabernacles comes the final "feast" of the LORD -- the last "holy day" of the religious year. This is "Shemini Atzaret," that is, "the Eighth Day." What does it represent?
While the Bible does not spell out the rationale for observing an additional day following the Feast of Tabernacles, the rabbis came up with an explanation to account for it. After the intense seven-day celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, as the people are about to leave 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 unity of the people. The Torah [Law of Moses] decreed, therefore, an eighth day of assembly, a final feast/holy day. On this day Jews leave the sukkah [booths, tabernacles] to resume enjoying the comfort of solid, well-built, well-insulated homes. The lulav and etrog are put aside; this day Shemini Atzeret ["Eighth Day of Assembly"] 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 ultimarely they remain just symbols (The Jewish Way: Living the Holy Days, by Irving Greenberg. New York, 1988, p. 115).
While this is an interesting explanation, the true meaning and import of Shemini Atzeret is far more inspiring and awesome.
The "eighth day" itself is a special Holy Day and the concluding Feast of the LORD. During the feast of Tabernacles, or Feast of Sukkot in the Hebrew, the children of Israel dwelt in flimsy, quickly constructed booths, with thinly thatched roofs which were open to the sky, so the people could see the stars. This observance connected them with the "booths" which the harvesters used to dwell in, out in the fields, during the fall harvest. The "booths" also depicted the temporary shelters the children of Israel lived in as they journeyed through the desert, after leaving Egypt, before they settled in the Promised Land.
But on the final holy day of Shemini Atzeret, the people no longer dwelt in the booths depicting the harvest. On this day, they once again lived in their homes. What does it represent, then, in the overall Plan of YEHOVAH God?
The key to understanding is in the name of the day -- the "eighth day." The number "8" has awesome significance in Scripture! There were "8" people in the Ark of Noah, when his family was saved, to begin a NEW WORLD AGE. There are seven days in the week, and the Sabbath Day depicts the Millennial reign of the Messiah and YEHOVAH God and the Feast of Tabernacles. The day after the Sabbath is the "eighth day" -- and begins another week, another round of "time keeping" -- a NEW WEEK. Since the "week" depicts YEHOVAH's Plan, the beginning of a NEW week depicts the beginning of a NEW PHASE in the Plan of YEHOVAH God -- it represents A NEW BEGINNING!
For more information on this awesome day, download or write for our article, A New Understanding of SHEMINI ATZERET -- the "Eighth Day".
The NEW Heavens and NEW Earth
There will be a new heavens, and a new earth! YEHOVAH God says, "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind" (Isaiah 65:17). John describes it:
"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 [Israelites] shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be 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" (Revelation 21:1-4).
Did you get it? In that new heaven and earth, there will be NO MORE DEATH! All the saved Israelites will live forever!
"And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write. for these words are true and faithful.
"And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son" (vs. 5-7).
The New Jerusalem will sparkle like a diadem upon the earth (Revelation 21:9-21). It is the bride of the Messiah. That means, those Israelites now called and chosen, those who make up the members of the Church of YEHOVAH God, who will marry the Messiah at his return -- they will dwell in the New Jerusalem, with the Messiah and YEHOVAH God, and reign with him on his throne, over the entire Universe, forever and ever!
Jerusalem will be the headquarters for the Throne of YEHOVAH God; from it YEHOVAH's rule will extend throughout all the galaxies of space, to the uttermost bounds of the Universe, to the farthest reaches of all Creation itself! On the other hand, those Israelites who are saved during the Millennial reign of the Messiah and YEHOVAH God, and those millions who are saved during the Great White Throne Judgment, and who are given immortality, they will occupy the land of Israel. They will be the "children" of the Lamb and his Bride.
John declared, "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
"And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it -- and the kings of earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it" (Revelation 21:23-26).
Only those who are "written in the Lamb's book of life" will be there (v. 27).
What a society that will be! What a glorious Kingdom! Can you imagine? There will be millions of sons of YEHOVAH God, each of them glorified, given immortality, eternal life, each of them perfect in character, with tremendous power and authority, their faces shining as the sun in its strength!
The earth will be the headquarters of the entire Universe! It will no longer be a second rate planet in a third rate solar system!
The saints are not going to "heaven," but heaven is coming to earth!
Outline of the Holy Days
Boiling down all the fascinating information we have just covered brings us to a simple outline of YEHOVAH's Holy Day Plan for all of His people Israel, starting in the Spring:
1) NISAN 1 -- first trumpet -- warning to repent and prepare for the judgment day
2) PASSOVER and UNLEAVENED BREAD -- sacrifice of the Messiah -- putting sin out of our lives
3) IYYAR 1 -- second trumpet -- warning to repent and prepare for the judgment day
4) SIVAN 1 -- third trumpet -- warning to repent and prepare for the judgment day
5) TAMMUZ 1 -- fourth trumpet -- warning to repent and prepare for the judgment day
6) SHAVUOT or PENTECOST -- giving of holy spirit -- "firstfruits" to the Messiah
7) AB 1 -- fifth trumpet -- warning to repent and prepare for the judgment day
8) ELUL 1 -- sixth trumpet -- warning to repent and prepare for the judgment day -- 30 days to examine ourselves and come to deeper repentance
9) FEAST OF TRUMPETS (Rosh Hashanah) -- Day of Blowing -- pictures FINAL WARNING of YEHOVAH God symbolized by the seventh trumpet of Revelation -- call to repentance -- RETURN OF THE MESSIAH
10) DAYS OF AWE or REPENTANCE -- final warnings to prepare for the day of judgment
11) YOM KIPPUR (DAY OF ATONEMENT) -- the Messiah judges Israel and marries his bride, the Church -- YEHOVAH's Israelite people totally cleansed
12) FEAST OF TABERNACLES or SUKKOT -- YEHOVAH GOD'S SHEKINAH GLORY RETURNS TO JERUSALEM TEMPLE on the first day of the Feast (Tishri 15) -- seven days of joyous exuberance and feasting -- symbolizes the Millennial Kingdom of YEHOVAH God and the Messiah and "wedding feast" of the Lamb
13) HOSHANA RABBAH -- last great day of the Feast of Tabernacles -- symbolizes the "Great White Throne Judgment" when all Israelites who ever lived receive an opportunity for salvation
14) SHEMINI ATZERET (the "Eighth Day") -- A NEW BEGINNING -- New Heaven and New Earth -- NO MORE DEATH -- KINGDOM OF YEHOVAH GOD EXPANDS THROUGHOUT THE UNIVERSE
Hope of Israel Ministries
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