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God’s Holy Day Shadows, What Do They Represent?

 

The apostle Paul told us something very important about God’s Holy Days, something the Jews don’t fully understand, even though they keep and observe them.  But they observe them without this important understanding.  Let’s see what the apostle Paul had to say about them. It is in Colossians 2:16-17, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat [i.e. food, what you eat or don’t eat] or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath…which are a shadow of things to come…”  Paul was telling the Colossian church first of all, not to let those outside the church judge them over their dietary practices, following God’s food laws. Then he mentions new moons, that is, don’t let those outside the church judge you because you are observing God’s sacred calendar instead of the Roman one.  Paul next tells the Colossian church not to let those outside the church judge them because they’re keeping God’s Holy Days and Sabbath.  Then Paul tells them why, and this is important.  He tells them what God’s Sabbath and Holy Days represent, that they are “shadows of things to come.”  A shadow of something that hasn’t happened yet is a prophecy, or picture of a future event.  Paul is saying that the Holy Days are prophetic pictures or shadows of future events (some of which have already occurred, as well see).  The spring Holy Days are shadow-pictures of events that have already occurred, Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost.  The fall Holy Days are pictures of prophetic events which have not yet happened.  The Sabbath has its own unique shadow-picture of an event which has also already come.  For a good explanation on that subject, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Observe%20His%20Sabbath%20Day.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/hebrews/Hebrews4-1-16.htm. To see what the Holy Days listed in Leviticus 23 are shadow-pictures of, continue reading. 

  

The Passover

 

The Passover (read Exodus 12) was a shadow of Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb, who paid for the sins of the whole world, past, present and future.  He is the real Passover lamb of Atonement, reconciling man to God.  Jesus death and shed blood paid the penalty for the sins of the whole world.  Just as the ancient Israelites were protected from the death angel by covering their door-posts with the blood of their Passover lambs on that fateful night back in Egypt, so we who are in Christ are covered by Jesus Christ’s atoning blood, and in similar fashion we are protected from the second death.  For we have passed from death into life with Christ.  The early Christians observed this New Testament Passover service on the 14th Nisan as it was first kept by Jesus as described in Matthew 26:14-30; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:14-38; and John 13 through 18:1 (Evidence of this is recorded in the “Post & Antinicene Fathers”  which has the  preserved letters of Polycarp and Policrates, successors of the Apostle John in Asia Minor, one of them having actually been trained by John himself.)  This early Christian Passover was kept 24 hours before the Jews observed their Passover Sedar meal instituted by Moses on the evening of the 14th/15th Nisan and used the symbols of the broken bread and wine instead of the lamb, as many Christians do today in communion services.  Most Christian denominations now observe this as communion or the breaking of bread, observed either on a monthly or weekly basis, but it was not so in the early Church.  The Messianic Jewish believers generally observe the traditional Passover Seder meal the way their Jewish brethren do, but with the special understanding that Yeshua was the real Passover Lamb of God.  There has been no return as of yet to the early observance of the NT Quartodeciman Passover service with foot-washing, as the early Judeo-Christians practiced under John, Polycarp and Policrates, except within the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God.  The Bible doesn't prevent us from observing these glorious shadows, but we should understand that they have their ultimate fulfillment in us through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.  So if we are in Christ, our sins are covered by his blood and we are saved from eternal death, that is, the blood of our Passover Lamb, Yeshua, covers us when we accept him into our lives and become believers.  So,  through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit the Passover is lived in us 365 days of the year.  Let’s look at the next set of Holy Days, which came right on the heals of Passover.  (By the way, this New Testament Passover or the breaking of bread, along with the ordinance for Baptism are the only two rituals commanded by Jesus for new covenant Christians.)

To read about the historic Exodus from Egypt, log onto:  https://www.unityinchrist.com/The-Exodus-From-Egypt.html

to go to a copy of the Internet Churches of God Christian Passover: CLICK HERE

 

The Days of Unleavened Bread

 

The Days of Unleavened Bread (read Leviticus 23:4-8).  The early Christians lived the meaning of the Days of Unleavened Bread as well as observing them.  In the New Testament, most of the references to leaven show it as symbolizing sin.  I think there is only one reference to leaven mentioned in the New Testament which gives it a good connotation, in one of Jesus’ parables.  It’s an apt symbol for sin.  A little leaven leavens the whole lump as Paul said, referring to how one habitual sinner allowed to remain in the group would spread his sinning attitude to the whole group--just like a very small amount of leaven will spread throughout a whole batch of bread dough.  Satan is called the prince of the power of the air.  He broadcasts his sinful attitudes around the world, in much the same way we put radio signals through the air, virtually filling the atmosphere with them.  Leaven spores are to be found everywhere in the air around us.  If you leave bread dough out for a period of time in the open air, it will become leavened all on its own from the leaven spores in the air.  The Egyptians found this out and leavened their bread this way.  The Days of Unleavened Bread were days where the ancient Israelites were commanded to remove all leaven from their homes and not consume any leavened product for a seven day period coming right after Passover.  This was a shadow of how Jesus living in our lives through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (read all of John 14) continually puts sin out of our lives, convicting us of sin, revealing it, and helping us put it out.  Jesus is our Unleavened Bread of Life.   That is the other key symbol that is fulfilled by the indwelling of Jesus in us through the Holy Spirit and by the reading of the Word of God.  Read John 6 where he said, “I am the Bread of Life.  He who feeds on me will never die.”  Unleavened Bread symbolizes our Christian walk, where we are constantly putting the leaven of sin out of our lives through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and feeding on Jesus our unleavened Bread of Life.  How is Jesus our unleavened bread?  In John 6 Jesus says that he is the Bread of Life, and that we must all partake of him, eat his flesh.  If Jesus is the Bread of Life, it is unleavened bread, for leavened bread represents sin and our sinful life.  There was no sin in Jesus, so he must be the Unleavened Bread of Life we are supposed to eat and partake of.  What else is Jesus called in Scripture?  In John 1, Jesus is called the Word of God, or in the Greek, the Logos, which means the Word.  The Bible is the Word of God in print.  So when we study God’s Word we are also eating the Unleavened Bread of Life, Jesus in print, the Logos in print.  Our Bible studies can and should be a partaking of the Unleavened Bread of Life in print, the Word of God.  If you look carefully, these wonderful symbols fill the Bible.

As those know who have observed the Days of Unleavened Bread, all leaven is put out before the actual Days of Unleavened Bread are celebrated.  This is symbolic of how we, once baptized into the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (i.e. having his Passover sacrifice applied to our lives at baptism), we then must put the leaven out of our lives, that is, repent of our habitual sins, as we feed upon the Unleavened Bread of Life, who is Jesus Christ.  We past members of the Worldwide Church of God learned to put the leaven out before the Days of Unleavened Bread.  It all fits!   The Messianic Jews and the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God still observe these days with a  deep reverence for what they picture--how Jesus helps us put the sin, the leaven out of our lives, and how we partake of putting Jesus our Unleavened Bread of Life into us.  As far as putting the leaven out of our lives, the reality is lived in us by the indwelling Holy Spirit who performs the work of putting the sin out of our lives.  It may seem like work to us, but in reality we could never succeed in putting sin out to the degree that we do without God’s help through his Holy Spirit in us.  Neither could we put on Jesus on our own.  John 14 describes how Jesus dwells in us by the indwelling Holy Spirit he gives to us and places within us.  Our part is the constant daily study of God’s Word, eating, partaking of the Unleavened Bread of Life, the Logos, the Word of God in print.  Seven denotes completeness, and seven days of unleavened bread symbolize a Christian’s lifetime commitment to partaking of Christ both through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the serious daily study of the Word of God, which is Jesus in print.

 

The Day of Pentecost, Shevuot

 

The Day of Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot):  In ancient Israel, the Law of God was received by the Israelites on Mount Sinai on the day of Pentecost.  In the New Testament, the Church was born by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the 12 apostles and the 120 gathered together on this day.  Then it was poured out on 3,000 more that very same day (read Acts 2:1-47).  The Holy Spirit now enabled the Law of Christ to be written on their hearts and minds, enabling a more perfect spirit-led obedience.  Matthew 5:17-48 details what law is written on a Christians heart, which is now under the direct influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit, putting Jesus in us (cf. John 14).  So the Day of Pentecost is another shadow picturing the pouring out of Gods Holy Spirit which now dwells us and what the Spirit does in us.  It is also the birthday of the New Testament Christian Church, which was born on that fateful day in either 30AD or 31 AD.  The Apostle Paul talked quoted Jeremiah 31 when the Lord said he would make a new covenant between himself and the House of Israel and the House of Judah.  Paul in Hebrews 8 showed that the sign of this new covenant being active was the writing of God’s eternal law on the hearts and minds of his people.  Right now, Paul showed, those who show this sign of having the eternal law of God written on their hearts are already in this new covenant agreement with the Lord.  The way the law of God is written on the hearts and minds of God’s people is through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  On the Day of Pentecost, then, the new covenant became fully active in and applicable to Christians.  It won’t be for the House of Israel or the House of Judah until the Lord returns, as Jeremiah 31 indicates.

Pentecost was also the smaller of the two harvest feasts, which revolved around the two harvest seasons of Palestine.  The smaller winter wheat harvest was wrapped up just before the day of Pentecost.  The larger harvest feast was in the fall, right after the fall harvest.  God planned it this way for a reason.  He designed the harvest seasons in Palestine to have a deeper meaning.  The early Pentecost harvest symbolizes the harvest of souls in the Church Age, spanning from Pentecost 31 A.D. all the way to Jesus’ second coming.  The large fall harvest symbolizes the larger harvest of souls which will occur during the Millennial reign of Jesus and his kingdom on earth, which will start upon his return to earth.  When the knowledge of God’s expanding plan of salvation for mankind which he revealed in prophecy is taken into account, we see that the Pentecost harvest of souls is perhaps the smaller of the two. 

 To read a good article on Pentecost, log onto: https://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/Feast%20of%20Weeks.htm

 

The Feast of Trumpets

 

The Feast of Trumpets: In Leviticus 23:23-25 it says, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.  You shall do no customary work on it and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’”  If Pentecost is the earlier spring harvest and represents the harvest of souls up to Jesus Christ’s second coming, and as we’ll see the Feast of Tabernacles represents the fall harvest and the larger harvest of souls, the Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement must represent--prophetically speaking--two events that come just in front of this great fall harvest called the Feast of Tabernacles.  What two major events just precede this great fall harvest?  The answer is found in Revelation 11:15-18 and Revelation 19:11-21--the second coming of Jesus Christ, and Revelation 20:1-3--the putting away of Satan and his demon cohorts, and more importantly, the application of Jesus’ sacrifice on the whole surviving world.  The first event before the Feast of Tabernacles harvest season can begin--the Millennial rule of Jesus and the kingdom of God on earth--is the second coming of Jesus Christ.  The second event that is depicted right after the second coming in Revelation 19 is found in Revelation 20:1-3, the putting away of Satan and by inference (see Zechariah 12-13) all of the demons.  The Israelites were commanded to blow the rams’ horn at certain special times in the camp of Israel.  One type of trumpet blowing was to warn of impending attack and war.  The trumpet used was always the rams’ horn.  And this is the very trumpet specified to be blown during this Holy Day found in Leviticus 23.  How fitting that this feast represents the event of the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet in Revelation 11:15-18, and the resulting battle which comes on it’s heals in Revelation 19 which depicts the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ.  That’s the prophetic meaning of the Feast of Trumpets that the Messianic Jews understand, and some Jews understand, as well as some Christian groups.   The Calvary Chapels headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, along with the Messianic Jews and Sabbath-keeping churches of God are three of the major Christian revivals that firmly believe the Holy Days of Leviticus 23 have prophetic meaning or significance.

Spiritual meaning of Trumpets:  But is there a new covenant meaning to this Holy Day, a shadow of the good things that have been done in us by the Holy Spirit?  Yes there is.  Symbolically true Christians have already experienced the second coming of Jesus Christ in their lives!  How?  They have received Jesus into their lives.  For them and all true Christians, Jesus has already had his 2nd coming in their lives through the coming of the Holy Spirit into them.  This is a mystery that most of the world and even some Christians don’t fully understand.  John 14:15-18, 21,23 states, “If you love me, keep my commandments.  And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you...He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me.  And he who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him...Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”  The Feast of Trumpets is the Holy Day which symbolizes the coming of the Messiah to save the world from genocide and bring the Kingdom of God to physically and spiritually rule over the entire world in love (Zechariah 14:9).  Jesus Christ has done that in the lives of true Christians everywhere, and they now live under the government of that glorious kingdom and have actually crossed over into that Kingdom through the indwelling of the Spirit of God who rules in the minds of true Christians (whether they be members of one Christian fellowship or another).  The world will experience the joy of living under the government of God in the future after Jesus Christ's 2nd coming--we can now in type through the power of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in us, giving us peace from within.  Jesus Christ has taken over the rule of his true followers--Christians--and rules in their lives, thus he has had his second coming in their lives.  This is the symbolic meaning of the Feast of Trumpets for those of us living in this present dimension of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.  Again, the Feast of Trumpets is a shadow of what Jesus has done in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and also a prophetic shadow of how he will return to save mankind from himself and genocide during a massive world war the likes of which the world has never experienced, and no never will again.

For a very good Messianic resource on the Holy Days of the Bible, CLICK HERE.


 

The Day of Atonement

 

The Day of Atonement:  True Christians have had, in part the Day of Atonement fulfilled in their lives also.  On the Day of Atonement in ancient Israel two very significant things happened to two goats.  In Leviticus 16 the ceremony is detailed for us.  The sins of all of Israel were paid for by the sacrifice of one goat, but the sins were actually placed on the head of the other goat.  Almost as if one goat paid the price for the sins, but the other goat had the responsibility for all the sins placed on his head.  And the interesting thing is that this second goat who had the sins of all Israel placed on his head did not die, but was banished into the wilderness.  We know that Jesus died to pay the high price for the sins of the whole world (John 3:16).  But who has been responsible for the sins of the world, ultimately?  Read Genesis 3 and Revelation 12:9.  Isn’t it Satan?  And we see that Satan is ultimately banished from our presence and the presence of the world (Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10).  Leviticus 16:1-34 details this ceremony that the High Priest performed once a year on the Day of Atonement.  Jesus was sacrificed to pay the penalty of the sins of the world.  Satan has yet to be put away and banished, but it will be done (Revelation 20:1-3; Zechariah 12-13).  But even now, for true Christians, Satan no longer has a claim on their lives.  For the world, this event will not occur until a little after the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ.  The actual event is depicted in Revelation 20:1-3, just after Revelation 19:11-21 depicts Jesus’ 2nd coming.   So in reality, a spiritual reality, if Jesus Christ has already had his 2nd coming for those who are baptized and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, Satan’s influence and hold over them is gone, he has been banished out of their lives.  Then spiritually, they are already in the Kingdom of God.  This may be a hard concept to grasp, but this is a spiritual reality nonetheless.  Again, the physical observance of the Day of Atonement is a beautiful shadow for one more thing Jesus has done and does inside us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.   Also the blood of the other goat, the one which was sacrificed by the High Priest, symbolized Jesus Christ’s atoning blood that covers all our sins, and the sins of the world.  The banished goat symbolizes Satan, who will be banished along with all his demon cohorts.  The sacrificial goat had his blood sprinkled on the altar, again symbolizing what Jesus did for us.  Read Leviticus 16:1-34 for yourself.  Let the symbolism sink in.  (Some say that this interpretation of the two goats can't be accurate because Satan is unholy, spiritually “unclean” and goats are ceremonially “clean” under the law of Moses.  But that doesn’t quite hold water, because if you look up Ezekiel 28:12-15 and Isaiah 14:12-17, especially in Ezekiel 28:15, God said of Lucifer was “You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.”  Lucifer started out “clean” in God’s eyes.  The two goats are a symbolic picture, where one turned evil and the other one represented Jesus Christ.  One was sacrificed and one was banished.)  Also in Joel 2:1-11 we see the 2nd coming of Yeshua portrayed, but in verses 12-17 the theme of the Day of Atonement is prophecied to occur.  Again in Zechariah 12 we see similar prophecies that show the coming of the Lord, and then the Jews “recognizing the one they pierced,” and a great mourning taking place, which amounts to the calling of all the remaining surviving Jews to salvation in the Lord (Zechariah 12:2-9, 10-14).

 

Note about the meaning of Trumpets:  Many Jews and Christians say there is no significant meaning attached to the Feast of Trumpets in Leviticus 23:23-25.  The Jews actually call the day Rosh Hashanah meaning first day, because they made this day the first day of their civil calendar, not knowing what other significance the day had.  But the actual meaning can be deduced by the meaning Scripture, both Old Testament and New, attaches to the Day of Atonement found in Leviticus 16 and the actual event of the banishing of the Azazel goat in Revelation 20:1-3.  The Day of Atonement, which by definition of Leviticus 16 symbolizes the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the banishing of Satan, the Azazel goat.  Revelation 20:1-3 shows the literal banishing or locking away of Satan, which symbolically occurred by this banishing of the Azazel goat on the Day of Atonement.   If the Revelation 20:1-3 banishing of Satan, the Azazel goat, is symbolized by the Day of Atonement, and the previous major prophetic event depicted in Revelation 19 is the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, and the Feast of Trumpets is the Holy Day just preceding the Day of Atonement, then the Feast of Trumpets can be deduced as representing the second coming of Jesus Christ.  The Jews, not accepting New Testament Scripture, understandably, can’t accept this explanation, Messianic Jewish believers clearly see this day as representing the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, by mere simple deductive logic--nothing hard about it.

 

The Feast of Tabernacles

 

The Feast of Tabernacles--the Great Fall Harvest Festival:  In Leviticus 23:34-44 the command is given for the observing of this great fall festival, taking place just after the fall harvest in Palestine.  Like I pointed out earlier, it pictures prophetically, the great harvest of souls that will take place during the Millennial rule of Jesus Christ and the saints during the Kingdom Age.  This takes place after Jesus has returned to earth and put down all opposition and put Satan away, locked up for 1,000 years.  Revelation 20:4-6, Isaiah 11:4-16; Isaiah 2:1-4; Ezekiel 34:11-31; 36:1-38; Jeremiah chapters 30-31 all picture this glorious kingdom age Jesus will usher in.  In the New Testament, Jesus said each of the twelve apostles would be a king over one of the tribes of Israel.  In the Old Testament prophecies, king David is promised to be the king over Israel, all 12 tribes (Ezekiel 34:22-23),  while we see Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords, King of the world (Zechariah 14:9).  (Some discount this saying the big harvest in Palestine is the spring harvest, but Israel is a land of fruit trees and her major staple in her historic times was fruit, grapes and olive oil--all grown from vines and trees.  Some like to tear the prophetic meaning of these days down for whatever reason they may have, maybe a motive of no longer wishing to observe them.  Calvary Chapel does not observe them, but recognizes their deep significance.  For true Christians, with Jesus now dwelling in their lives through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (John 14), and Satan no longer having a claim on their lives, they are now spiritually in this glorious kingdom in a symbolic sense.  So says Paul in Colossians 1:13-14.  “He has delivered us from the power of darkness [cf. Revelation 20:1-3] and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” [cf. Revelation 20:4,6.]

For the world, this event will not occur until a little after the 2nd coming of Jesus.  The true kingdom attitude will spread over the surviving world after Satan and his demons are locked away, no longer able to broadcast and influence mankind and society, and when Jesus and the saints start to call and evangelize all who remain alive at this time.  It is these who will repopulate the world, and a massive harvest of souls will take place throughout this 1000 year period of time.  We haven’t been told exactly how, but we do see that the Holy Spirit is promised to come upon surviving Israel in Ezekiel 36:25-26, as well as in Jeremiah 31:31-34.  Now Paul quoted Jeremiah 31:31-32 in Hebrews, showing that we Christians now live under this new covenant agreement with God.  The old is passed away for us.  But for Israel and Judah and the world that survive into the kingdom age, this covenant won’t apply to them until then.  The new covenant and it’s blessings do not apply to the unconverted, those who do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit.  They’re still under the old, with all it’s penalties and curses for disobedience.  And we see those curses being exacted in society all around us.  Read Leviticus 26 some time.  So we see the Feast of Tabernacles truly pictures this time of plenty and peace which will cover the entire world after Jesus returns.  The ancient Israelites were commanded to save a whole 10 percent of their incomes to bring to this fall harvest festival.  It was quite a feast, picturing this time of plenty that will come to pass after Jesus returns, restoring the Kingdom and government of God to the earth.  I have observed this Festival in the past, spending 10 percent of my income in those 8 days.  You truly feel like a king, and put on a few pounds as well.  It pictures the time when Jesus Christ the King and true Christians now made immortal and ruling as kings and priests, will lift the burdens of Satan’s corrupt and evil world from off the shoulders of mankind.  It will be a time of glorious abundance and joy.  The central highlight of that Kingdom on earth will be the mercy and love coming down from it to the subjects of that Kingdom.  Jesus Christ, was the Good Samaritan, and true Christians are a reflection of Jesus Christ, and must be good Samaritans also--thus reflecting the glorious light of the Kingdom of God onto those in this evil age and society of man which will pass away.

Zechariah 14:16-19 shows that this festival will become a commanded observance during the kingdom age.  By extension, then, all of Leviticus 23 will also be in force.   That is what Zechariah 14:16-19 indicates.  We’ll learn more about this after Jesus returns.  There are also Scriptures, prophecies, in the Old Testament showing the Levitical priesthood will be set up in the kingdom age, administering and serving around the temple.  Beyond that, we don’t know much, except we’ll be kings and priests in that temple, the headquarters of Jesus Christ, who will be King over the whole world (Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 5:9-10).

The actual Holy Days listed in Leviticus 23 are a shadow of good things to come, as well as the good things Jesus has done for us and currently does for us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  We live their meaning every day of our lives through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us if we are Christ’s.   So you see  the Holy Days and Sabbath day have been transformed inside of us by the Holy Spirit, not eliminated!  A literal interpretation of Matthew 5:17-19 indicates that all of the 10 Commandment Law of God--Sabbath day and Holy Days included--must be observed by Christians.  (Most Sabbath-keeping Christian churches and the Messianic Jews, are under this particular understanding.)  Proper understanding of what the Holy Spirit does within us, and what Paul said in Hebrews 4 about these days being shadows of the reality in us which is Christ, shows that we are already observing them, internally!  So understand, their rich meaning, the reality of Christ in us, is already being lived out in us by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.   The actual physical days themselves are just a shadow of what the Holy Spirit is doing within us, as Paul stated in Hebrews 4, and a shadow of prophetic events to come. [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/hebrews/Hebrews4-1-16.htm]

 

Wrapping It Into One Neat Package

 

So what is the real New Testament meaning that God is trying to convey to us through these Holy Day shadows?  Each and every one of them is like a particular facet or side of a precious diamond, and that diamond is Jesus Christ in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit--Jesus Christ covering our sins (Passover), Jesus Christ continually taking us out of sin (Days of Unleavened Bread), Jesus Christ writing the precious Law of God (read Matthew 5:17-48) in our hearts and minds (Pentecost), Jesus Christ having his second coming in us (Trumpets), Jesus Christ taking us out of Satan's influence and into his glorious influence (Atonement), and the effect of all of this takes us in advance, spiritually into his glorious Kingdom of Light, the Kingdom of God (the Feast of Tabernacles).  (Colossians 1:12-13)

 

Christian Retreats and Holy Days, What Can They Do For Us?

(A short paper on the effects of spiritual warfare--battle fatigue, and some good suggestions for countering it.)

First of all let’s realize that according to the Bible, we are all in a dangerous spiritual warfare that can tax our abilities more than we realize.  Paul states in Ephesians 6:10-13, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”  Many times we can draw very accurate pictures of spiritual warfare by looking at its physical counterpart, especially in the psychological areas of warfare, what it does to our psyche and ability to fight.  All through these verses (through verse 19), Paul shows us the weapons of our warfare come from putting on Christ through prayer and Bible study.  But constant spiritual or physical warfare without sufficient re-supply, rest and recuperation has a powerful negative effect on the soldier, be he in an army of this world or a Christian soldier of Jesus Christ.  I came across a very good description of what effect continued warfare has on the average soldier in the U.S. Army fighting its way up Italy during World War II.  I found this description in the late Ernie Pyle’s BRAVE MEN, written and published in 1944 (just before his untimely death by a Japanese sniper on Okinawa).  I will quote from pages 84-86.  If you see yourself in this description, you are in serious need of spiritual R & R.  Oftentimes (during World War II) an army would go as long as 28 days in continuous battle on the front lines, without rest for its soldiers.  Ernie describes the psychological result of this continuous warfare on the mind of the average soldier.  I’ll let Ernie tell it from here.  “Outside of the occasional peaks of bitter fighting and heavy casualties that highlight military operations, I believe the outstanding trait in any campaign is the terrible weariness that gradually comes over everybody.  Soldiers become exhausted in mind and in soul as well as physically.  They acquire a weariness that is mixed up with boredom and lack of all gaiety.  To sum it all up: A man just gets damned sick of it all.  The infantry reaches a stage of exhaustion that is incomprehensible to folks back home.  The men in the First Division, for instance, were in the lines twenty-eight days--walking and fighting all that time, day and night.  After a few days of such activity, soldiers pass the point of known human weariness.  From then on they go into a sort of second-wind daze.  They keep going largely because the other fellow does and because they can’t really do anything else.  Have you ever in your life worked so hard and so long that you didn’t remember how many days it was since you ate last or didn’t recognize your friends when you saw them?  I never have either, but in the First Division, during that long, hard fight around Troina, a company runner one day came slogging up to a certain captain and said excitedly, “I’ve got to find Captain Blank right away.  Important message.”  The captain said, “But I am Captain Blank.  Don’t you recognize me?”  And the runner said, “I've got to find Captain Blank right away.”  And he went dashing off.  They had to run to catch him.  Men in battle reach that stage and still go on and on.  As for the rest of the Army--supply troops, truck drivers, hospital men, engineers--they too become exhausted, but not so inhumanly.  With them and with us correspondents it’s the ceaselessness, the endlessness of everything that finally worms its way through us and gradually starts to devour us.  It’s the perpetual, choking dust, the muscle-racking hard ground, the snatched food sitting ill on the stomach, the heat and the flies and the dirty feet and the constant roar of engines and the perpetual moving and the never settling down and the go, go, go, go, night and day, and on through the night again.  Eventually it all works into an emotional tapestry of one dull, dead pattern--yesterday is tomorrow and Troina is Randazzo and when will we ever stop and, God, I'm so tired.   I noticed this feeling had begun to overtake the war correspondents themselves.  It is true we didn’t fight on and on like the infantry, that we were usually under fire only briefly and that, indeed, we lived better than the average soldier [except for Ernie, who kept up with the front lines, almost as a matter of pride.  Only one who had been through this himself could so accurately describe this psychological effect on the soldiers].  Yet our lives were strangely consuming in that we did live primitively and at the same time had to delve into ourselves and do creative writing.  That statement may lay me open to wisecracks, but however it may seem to you, writing is an exhausting and tearing thing.  Most of the correspondents actually worked like slaves.  Especially was this true of the press-association men.  A great part of the time they went from dawn till midnight or 2 A.M.  I'm sure they turned in as much toil in a week as any newspaperman at home in two weeks.  We traveled continuously, moved camp every few days, ate out, slept out, wrote whatever we could and just never caught up on sleep, rest, cleanliness, or anything else normal.”

“The result was that all of us who had been with the thing for more than a year finally grew befogged.  We were grimy, mentally as well as physically.  We’d drained our emotions until they cringed from being called out from hiding.  We looked at bravery and death and battlefield waste and new countries almost as blind men, seeing only faintly and not really wanting to see at all.  Suddenly the old-timers among the correspondents began talking for the first time about wanting to go home for a while.  They wanted a change, something to freshen their outlook.  They felt they had lost their perspective by being too close for too long.  I am not writing this to make heroes of the correspondents, because only a few look upon themselves in any dramatic light whatever.  I am writing it merely to let you know that correspondents, too, can get sick of war--and deadly tired.”  [What Ernie Pyle has described here in 1943 in Italy is clearly known now as battle fatigue, a very real psychological malady.  Ernie Pyle transferred over to the Pacific theatre to continue his coverage of the war, this time against Japan.  He was killed in action by a sniper on the island of Okinawa.  He died a soldier's death, amongst the ones he loved so much, and lived with and wrote about for so long.]

 

When I was a member of the Worldwide Church of God, we would observe what is called in Leviticus 23 and Zechariah 14:16-19, The Feast of Tabernacles.  We would save what amounted to a (second) tithe of our earnings and go to a nice resort area where the church was meeting for the Feast, and then we’d spend it during those eight days.  We lived liked kings, ate like them too.  We heard eight days worth of spiritually nourishing sermons.  The Feast was a spiritual high point, a time of spiritual and physical refreshing.  For Messianic Jewish Christians these days can provide the same kind of spiritual refreshing as observing the other Holy Days can to a lesser degree.  For Gentile Christians, Christian retreats can also fill this huge spiritual need we all have for spiritual R & R.  It was learned from such observations of Ernie Pyle and those like him, that soldiers needed to be rotated from the front lines on a regular basis, where they could rest and recuperate from the grind of continuous battle.  This kept them and the army they fought with fresh and on their toes.  The Sabbath for Messianic Jewish Christians, or Sabbatarian Christians, and Sunday for Gentile Christians is an important spiritual recuperation day, or else it should be.  Christians should plan on going on Christian retreats on a regular basis, at least once or twice a year, bare minimum.  For those who do still keep the Feast of Tabernacles, this time can also be used as a spiritual time of refreshing, before going back into spiritual battle again.  If you see yourself in Ernie Pyle’s description, you need to do something about it, and fast.  You can’t go on like that.  You’ll crack, or become some sort of spiritual zombie, living in that condition Ernie called second-wind daze.  If you’re doing a work for the Lord, day in, day out, without letup, and are sort of out there on your own (many of us Christian web-publishers are in this boat [or spiritual bomber-aircraft]), you are very prone to this type of burn-out.  Pastors and ministers are also very prone to this type of burn-out.  It is very real, and comes with the territory, of being in constant spiritual warfare.  I clearly saw my own emotions mirrored in Ernie Pyle’s description here.  It’s real.  You can’t ignore the symptoms, they won’t go away.  Others will see them in you before you do.  But Ernie describes the identifying feelings pretty well, so you can readily recognize them in yourself if they’re there.  Most churches have planned retreats.  If you feel this way, sign up for the next scheduled retreat and take the time to refresh yourself in the Lord before you go back into battle.  If you are a pastor, deacon, Christian web designer, writer, or serve others in the body of Christ in any way, others depend on you.  It’s hard to be an effective tool in the hands of the Lord to help others, if you suffer from spiritual battle fatigue. 

 

The Beauty of the Feast of Tabernacles

 

Near the beginning I mentioned the Feast of Tabernacles that the Worldwide Church of God kept, and the various Sabbath-keeping Church of God denominations still keep.  I would like to discuss that a little more, since it proved to be such a powerful time of refreshing for those of us who observed it.    The beauty of the Feast of Tabernacles wasn’t to be found in the legalistic keeping of it, nor with any of the other Holy Days we observed--sundown to sundown [i.e. no work, manual labor, sundown to sundown as spelled out in Old Testament law].  The beauty of observing the Feast of Tabernacles for us was in the Holy Spirit who flared up in born-again believers fellowshipping, working, playing, feasting together at restaurants--that was the beauty that came out of the Worldwide Church of God’s Feast of Tabernacles and Holy Day observances.

When burning coals are placed together they multiply heat, fire and energy beyond the sum total of their individual contribution.  The inverse of that is when you take a coal away from other coals, it dies down almost immediately.  When Holy Spirit led and filled individuals congregate and fellowship, not just in their local church services on a Sunday or Saturday, but at day-long observances of a Holy Day, meals included--spiritual coals of fire share and multiply spiritual heat and energy.  I found this especially true, having to get to a rented hall, or sometimes a restaurant with a function room we’d rent, to help the sound crew I worked with to set up for services.  Solomon said in Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”  When we had these days, using them in such a way--we came out of the world and its influence for a time of tremendous spiritual refreshing and strengthening.  Follow with me for awhile.  I’m trying to get to the heart of something important here--and it isn’t about the legalistic observing of Old Testament Holy days.  It goes much deeper.  The hidden contribution of following the literal application of the biblical “sundown to sundown” requirement of the old covenant Law was that it merely gave us “lively coals of fire” more time to remain together to get refreshed.  While some fell into some sort of legalistic trap, in my personal opinion the Worldwide Church of God had at least 45 to 50 percent having the Holy Spirit indwelling in them--a probable average of Holy Spirit filled people in any spiritually alive and active Christian church.  For those Christian groups that observe the Old Testament Holy Days--Messianic Jewish Christians and the Sabbatarian Christian groups alike--these observations I’m making here should be heeded so that a huge spiritual resource and opportunity for spiritual refreshment is not lost through lack of understanding and proper application of these spiritual principles.  Again, to the Christian churches and denominations that observe traditional orthodox days--you will have to supplement for not having as many days to refresh spiritually [understand something about Christmas and Easter, these two days have become highly secularized and commercialized, and are merely single days, not usually spent in church with believers]--you have to plan to have many periods of time called “Christian retreats” to achieve this same level of spiritual refreshment and rejuvenation outside of the world’s evil influence. 

Let’s look closer at the Worldwide Church of God’s Feast of Tabernacles observance and what made it possible for these Christians to achieve this rejuvenation.  It takes money to go someplace for eight days.  To observe the Feast of Tabernacles the way we did in the old Worldwide Church of God, we saved a biblical 2nd tithe of our incomes, spelled out in Deuteronomy 14:22-26, which states, “Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.  And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always.  And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the Lord shall choose to set his name there [for us, the Feast site locations, for the Jews when this was written, Jerusalem], when the Lord thy God hath blessed thee, then thou shalt turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose: and thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth [desires] after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink [the Bible teaches extreme moderation in alcohol consumption, not total abstinence.  Some denominations teach total abstinence which is fine, as long as they don’t try to say that that is what the Bible teaches], or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thy household, and the Levite that is within thy gates...”  This, Bible scholars know, is a second tithe, a Feast tithe, that Israelites were supposed to save so they would have the funds to travel to Jerusalem and live for the eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles, as well as the other Holy Days when they traveled to Jerusalem.  [To better understand the old covenant tithe system, log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/gifts4.htm.]  In reality 7.5 percent of a Christian's net income should suffice to provide for this wonderful spiritual opportunity of rejuvenation and strengthening.  I don’t want to go back into literal observances again, but I do think we ought to try to recapture the spiritual essence of why it was good, for our continued spiritual benefit. 

So to the Messianic believers I say this, you have a tremendous resource here in the traditional Holy Days you still observe.  But understand, in not being Jewish, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong did not follow the "traditional" way of allowing a Jewish family to fulfill the Feast of Tabernacles requirements by building a Sukkot tent in their backyard--which ignored the greater old covenant command to save a 2nd tithe and take it to the place the Lord had set his name upon and observe the Feast of Tabernacles for eight days.’  The “Sukkot tent” custom sort of circumvented the old covenant command to save a second tithe and take it and go to the Feast of Tabernacles for eight days.  In circumventing a tithe law--which had fallen into disuse after the destruction of the temple and subsequent wholesale slaughter and scattering of the Levitical priesthood in 70AD and 135AD--a custom arose which prevented the Feast of Tabernacles from being observed to the fulness of it’s original intent.  Then from 1934 to 1986 Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong applied Torah law to a Christian church.  This enabled that church to practice and taste the fruits of the proper observance of the biblical Feast of Tabernacles.  The spiritual fruits of this were stunning.  As explained just previously, the spiritual fruits of observing the Feast of Tabernacles in its original prescribed manner were that many “lively coals of spiritual fire” came together for tremendous spiritual refreshing and rejuvenation.

Many members of the Worldwide Church of God, not being wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, never had sufficient funds to have a regular family vacation apart from the Feast of Tabernacles, so the Feast of Tabernacles became their family vacation, and the church attending the Feast of Tabernacles became their extended family.  Christian singles, often not in great number back home in their local congregations, met other Christian singles in far greater number.  Relationships often started, and subsequent marriages took place--all because one man applied Torah law to a Christian church [i.e the full two tithe system set of laws and Holy Day observance (read Leviticus 23, whole chapter)].  The spiritual benefits were huge.  Sadly, the casting off of these days, I believe, help contribute to the decreased spiritual vitality within the Worldwide Church of God, just before its full demise (see https://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wwcofgod.html).  The principle I’ve been discussing is found in Hebrews 10:25, “By observing one another, let us arouse ourselves to rival one another’s love and good deeds.  Let us not neglect meeting together as some do, but let us encourage one another, all the more as you can see the great Day is coming nearer.” (Goodspeed translation)


The photo below is an old scanned postcard of the Worldwide Church of God Feast of Tabernacles Feast site located in Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania (property now sold).  You can see for yourself how large the site was.  It held up to 4,000 people in the main building.  Two very large parking lots are visible, and another large one was below the bottom of the photo at the end of the entrance road leading up to the administration building.  We had two services on the two Holy Days of the Feast, and one a day on ordinary Feast days.  The Feast lasted eight days, as called for in Leviticus 23.

The Feast took tremendous planning on the part of all the ministry and HQ church of the Worldwide Church of God, as well as the combined faithful saving of funds by everyone who attended.  Often times, vacation time was used to be able to attend.  Parents and children alike had hassles with school departments for taking kids out of school for about 10 days in the fall.  The cost of observing this feast was huge, in many ways, but the spiritual dividends were huge as well.  As this world grows colder and colder spiritually, as Matthew 24:11-13 says it will, Christian Retreats, church services, mid-week Bible studies and prayer meetings are crucial periods of time for recuperation and strengthening the parts of the body of Christ we are a part of.  Time is a gift of God.  Use it wisely.  Redeem it, as the times grow more evil.

An aerial view of a Feast of Tabernacles gathering site

 

To see an example of Sabbath-keeping Church of God denomination keeping the 8-day Feast of Tabernacles, log onto the United Church of God’s Festival brochure and information site, available at these links:
http://www.ucg.org/commentary/harvestfestival.htm and the other link is: http://www.ucg.org/feast/ click on it and scroll down to “Feast Sites” for the current year we’re in, and click on the hypertext link just below which says “Festival Planning Brochure.”  It’s a pdf document so you may need Acrobat Reader 5.0. The Feast of Tabernacles is being observed by these Sabbatarian Churches of God much in the same manner as it will be in the Millennial Kingdom of God, as Jesus prophecied it would be in Zechariah 14:16-19, by all nations.  These people give a peak into how it will be possible for all nations to observe it, and just what goes on at a Feast of Tabernacles observance.

 


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