The three fall feasts are tied together in a forward-looking theme of prophetic events. They are the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). The first is Trumpets, which brings on a ten-day period of repentance and penitence. This period ends with the Day of Atonement, the day of obtaining forgiveness for wrongdoings. Five days after this, the Feast of Tabernacles begins, which is a celebration of redemption and deliverance. Sounds simple enough, right? For many, the face-value explanations of these feasts provide ample reason to observe and celebrate them. However, deeper exploration reveals many details that point toward the future and show that even as God planned and fulfilled the first feasts with meticulous intent through the First Advent of Christ, as examined earlier in this work, He intends to complete some similar and dynamic work through the prophetic events linked to the fall feasts as well. Let’s dig in…
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying,
In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.
Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. (Leviticus 23:23–25)
Observations and Prophetic Implications
On the first day of the seventh month each year, Israelites were instructed to watch the sky for the new moon, which would provide confirmation that the awaited new month was upon them. This particular day, called Rosh Hashanah, was the marker of day one in the Hebrew month Tishri, which falls in the September and October range of the today’s Gregorian calendar. When workers saw that the new moon had arrived, they were to blow trumpets to summon all workers to come in from the fields and enjoy a day of rest. These instruments were also known as shofars, made of the horn of a ram, in remembrance of the substitute ram that was sacrificed in Isaac’s place in Genesis 22.
Tishri was the first month on the Jewish calendar, so this is also the Jewish Civil New Year. As mentioned, this day is also known as Rosh Hashanah, which means “Head of the Year.”[i] The day called everyone to begin to prepare for the Day of Atonement, which commenced ten days afterward. This may have been the first month of the year, but it was the seventh and final month in the religious season, meaning that these Jews would soon make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, which would be the final trek to the Holy City required for that year. They wouldn’t return until Passover of the next year.
The Rosh Hashanah feast, as mentioned earlier, launched a ten-day preparation period for the Day of Atonement (more on this later). This time of getting ready was known as the “Awesome Days,” “Days of Awe,” “High Holy Days,” or the “Ten Days of Repentance.” Jewish tradition holds that the first day of this prep period,in the Jews would participate in the Tashlich,[ii] a cleansing of their sins by wading into a river or stream while saying the prayer of Micah in 7:18–20:
Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.
He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.
It was customary in that day for shofars to be blown on the first of the month, so that people would know the new moon—thus the new month—had arrived, but on the first of Tishri the instruments were sounded louder and longer than at any other time of the year..[iii] Then, the shofars would be left silent until the Day of Atonement. During the ten-day period, people would reflect on their deeds over the past year and attempt to right any wrongs they may have done, knowing that the day of judgment was upon them.[iv]
Trumpets, throughout Scripture, are used to signal victories for the Lord or His people. We see examples of this in Joshua 6, where the trumpet blasts called Jericho’s city walls to come tumbling down, giving the Israelites triumph, and in King David’s reference to God as his “horn of salvation,” indicating spiritual victory (Psalm 18:2). In prophetic events, the sound of the trump signals Jesus’ return in power and glory (Revelation 19). Since Jesus holds all the supremacy of God’s army and is the Lamb behind the redeeming power of the horn of salvation, we know that at His return, the trumpets will sound, proclaiming His complete authority rendering all power from on high.
Prophetically, we see that the shofar also initiates catastrophic events (Revelation 9). The Day of the Lord will be announced using a trumpet (Joel 2:1) and the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11 will call for worship of God for His triumph. This indicates that the shofar is often used to announce warfare, and each time it is used at God’s command, He and His people are victorious. The vision of Jesus’ return painted in Revelation 19 shows the King of Heaven leading His holy army and coming to make warfare against the evil of the ages.
Consider the war hero who returns after a victorious battle: H comes through the city gate as instruments (often shofars) hail his arrival. The streets are lined with cheering onlookers who recognize their champion, and the captives of warfare are imprisoned or otherwise dealt with as part of the triumphant warrior’s victory. Then, the king, queen, or supreme governmental authority presents the hero with the key to the city or kingdom. This gesture denotes that the warrior now has a position of premium honor and authority; he can come and go as he pleases, and no areas within the kingdom are off-limits him. He is awarded ultimate dominion and power throughout the kingdom because he is the reason the victory has been won.[v]
Thus, Jesus’ return will carry all the splendor of a hero who returns triumphant from a victorious battle: trumpets will announce His arrival and the streets will be lined with excited onlookers who recognize their Champion’s homecoming as He stands in His Kingdom and finally receives the recognition He is due. Everyone will bow before Him and confess His majesty (Philippians 2:10–11). The spoils, or captive principalities and powers, will be justly dealt with once and for all (Colossians 2:14–15). He will be holding the keys to hell and death (Revelation 1:18), and will reign in ultimate authority at the right hand of God (1 Peter 3:22).
This is the parallel of the Feast of Trumpets. First, it reminds that we should live in preparation of the Day of Judgment. This observance will be partially fulfilled when Jesus comes as our Champion to take us to heaven, and will be even further achieved at His Second Coming: “Jewish tradition teaches that God blew one of the ram’s horns at Mount Sinai at Pentecost and will blow the other ram’s horn at the coming of Messiah.”[vi]
This has been foreshadowed in Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem during His time here on earth on Palm Sunday. The streets were filled with those who waved branches before Him and shouted, “Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9). However, the full time of prophecy had not yet been fulfilled, so He did not receive the full recognition he deserved. Through the subsequent battles He won through His crucifixion and Resurrection, Jesus obtained the victory and will one day make His triumphant return as the Champion.
In addition to the Feast of Trumpets pointing to Jesus’ return, we see a parallel regarding the laborers who watched for the new moon, then announced its appearance to the community via the shofar. These were folks who could very nearly predict the arrival of the new moon based on a lifetime of experience in watching the skies. Yet, they could only very closely calculate the arrival of the cosmic turn based on signs. As believers, we are in a similar position: We’re told to watch for the signs (Matthew 24:42), yet we’re also aware that we can’t know the exact day of His arrival (Mark 13:35). Thus, we are to be like those who awaited the arrival of the new moon. We can conclude that the time is nearing based on signs we see around us, but it’s not until we hear the sound of the trumpets that we’ll know our Savior has arrived. Upon, that sound, those whose sins are atoned will be called into a time of rest; but for those who are unprepared, the Day of Judgment will be impending.
The Day of Atonement
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement:
it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God.
For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.
Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath. (Leviticus 23:26–32)
Observations and Prophetic Implications
According to Leviticus 23:26–32, the tenth day of the seventh month, Tishri, was to be known as Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. (As stated, this is the closing of the Days of Awe.) This was also known as the Day of Judgment.[vii] On this day, men were to abstain from working, “afflict” their souls, and make offerings by fire to the Lord. This was a national day of cleansing and repentance from sin. “It was on this day that God judged the sins of the entire nation. In view of this, the Day of Atonement became known as the Day of Judgment.”[viii] You may think you know nothing of the Day of Atonement, but you’ve likely heard much about it, as you’ll recognize it as the day the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies after sprinkling the mercy seat with the blood from the atoning sacrifice. Because this sacrifice was presented by an individual whom the Lord deemed “fit/suitable” and because it was carried out on a divinely appointed day, the sins of the nation Israel during the past year were covered (in fact, the word “atone” means “to cover”). This was an annual custom, so remission of sin was put on hold throughout the year until the Day of Atonement arrived.
Contrition, sadness, humility, confession of sins, and fasting were markers of the Day of Atonement. While many calendars refer to it as a “feast day,” alluding to the notion that plentiful food is offered/consumed, it is actually, for the Israelites, a bblically required day of fasting. Some within Jewish tradition believe it is on this day that the “final judgment and accounting of the soul would come.”[ix] Thus, some even believe that this holy day would provide the chronology for the Great White Throne Judgment: Each individual’s eternal destination would be “sealed, and the gates of heaven would be closed” on this day.[x] The Talmud teaches that on Rosh Hashanah, all people are sorted and listed by God, according to their deeds, in “one of three books. The righteous go into the Book of Life, the evil go into the Book of Death, and those in-between have judgment suspended until Yom Kippur.”[xi] This third category provides motivation for many to attempt to right wrongs during the Days of Awe, since most people, when viewing themselves with honesty, perceive themselves to fall somewhere between fully good or bad.[xii]
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As mentioned, Rosh Hashanah’s trumpet blast ushered in a period of repentance wherein the Israelites would focus on getting their affairs straight, doing good deeds, mending relationships, and spending much time in prayer to forgiveness for sins they had committed since the Yom Kippur of the previous year. It’s more than lip service when the Jews greet each other with the sincere phrase, “May your name be inscribed in the Book of Life.”[xiii] At the end of the Day of Atonement, the shofar is blown; this is the first time it’s heard since the evening of the announcement of trumpets.[xiv] On Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, it is believed that God will then pass judgment on each individual, and those whose names are found in the Book of Life will be saved until the following year’s Yom Kippur, when the process will be repeated.
Observation of this feast also included reading the book of Jonah. This narrative, for those who don’t believe that Jesus is the Redeeming Messiah, is the strongest and most distinct illustration of God’s all-inclusive mercy and grace. Thus, on the day that they seek forgiveness of their own wrongdoings, the words of the book of Job offer a reminder that the Lord is merciful and just toward all people.
Jesus partially fulfilled this feast during His life on earth, because once His own blood was shed, He tore the curtain restricting entry into the Holy of Holies, allowing all people, at all times, to enter the presence of God. Further, through Jesus, we receive something better than atonement, because to “atone” means “to cover.” But, the gift we receive is a blanket that hides our sin from God’s view with a blood offering. Our sins are washed away by the precious, redeeming blood of the Lamb of God, who was slain for our sins (John 1:29 and 36).
The term “scapegoat” is known by many to mean a general substitute that carries culpability for another’s wrongdoings, but few realize that its origins are found in the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 16 describes the process by which Israel’s sins were atoned. The high priest would present two goats to the Lord, and a lottery-style drawing was held to designate which of the animals would be offered to the Lord at the temple as a sacrifice for a sin offering. The other goat would be led into the wilderness to “be presented alive before the Lord” as a living sacrifice that would “make atonement with the Lord” (Leviticus 16:10). In other words, a man whom God found to be fit or suitable took this second goat to a cliff, where he led the animal off the edge to its death to atone for the sins of Israel. Tradition holds that a scarlet-colored wool cord was cut in half on this day; one part was tied to the temple door and the remaining part was wound upon the goat’s horns. When the goat plummeted over the bluff, it is said that the cord on the temple door turned white, pointing to Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 1:18: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” This color change indicated that God had received and approved of Israel’s sacrifice, allowing them atonement for another year.[xv]
God no longer requires a scapegoat to cover our sins. Jesus is the Ultimate Lamb who was slain to remove, not just cover, our sins (John 1:29). However, we are called, in turn, to be living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) who daily die to our own flesh (Romans 11; 1 Corinthians 15:31) and seek the things of heaven (Hebrews 12:14). The Feast of Trumpets is a call to repentance that reaches its apex on the Day of Atonement, but on the day that the last trumpet sounds, the fates of all people will be sealed. Thus, it is necessary to accept the gift of salvation now and live the life that God requires of us.
Saints in Revelation
In Revelation 6, we see martyred souls who await vengeance beneath the altar. It is poetic and beautiful that these believers are placed in this location. First of all, there is a correlation between this altar and the Day of Atonement, observed via the altar located in front of the Holy of Holies; which would bear a sacrifice both of blood and incense for the cleansing of sin. Yet, the heavenly throne room’s altar has much more precious blood upon it. John 1:29 shows us that Jesus is the Lamb; Hebrews 9:22 tells that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. It is true that Jesus is the Lamb who was slain for our sins so that we can obtain the ultimate atonement and redemption. Thus, this symbolism indicates that, upon the havenly altar, Jesus’ blood was offered in the spiritual realm for our sins before the throne of God. Now, as we view this heavenly altar, we see the saints beneath it. This means that they are covered by the blood of Jesus; He holds them in redemption beneath the provision of His sacrifice.[xvi] Thus, heaven commemorates the fulfillment of the ultimate Day of Atonement.
Further, we see in Revelation 14:2–3 that saints in heaven sing a new song—one that no one else can sing. This song is said by some scholars to parallel those from Exodus 15:1 and Deuteronomy 31–32; because they boast of God’s deliverance of the righteous and judgment of the wicked. The melody that described in Revelation 14 is sung by those “redeemed from the earth.” The tune will be a prophetic fulfillment, because it will celebrate the permanent liberation from sin and evil. Just as the Israelites were able to sing that the “horse and rider had been thrown into the sea,” these will sing that God has triumphed over malevolence and that His end-time victory draws nigh.[xvii]
The Great White Throne Judgment
The final, prophetic fulfillment of this feast will take place at the Great White Throne Judgment: the final Great Day of Atonement. Revelation 20:11–12 tells us that all of “the dead, small and great…[will stand] before God…And the dead…[will be] judged according to their works, by the things which…[are] written in the books.” This is the moment when the eternal destination of every individual will be forever established. This court session will likewise settle final judgment upon Satan, the Beast, and the False Prophet (Revelation 20:10).
But the righteous have nothing to fear on this day, because of Jesus’ provision for removal, not just coverage, of their sins. This was foreshadowed in Leviticus 25:1–4 and 8–10, which explain that on the fiftieth year, beginning on the Day of Atonement, the Lord ordered a Year of Jubilee to be consecrated. This year “was a year full of releasing people from their debts, releasing all slaves, and returning property to who owned it.… This year was also dedicated to rest.”[xviii] Thus, on this Great and Final Day of Atonement, the Final, Forever Year of Jubilee will begin! Once and for all, the captive will be set free; property (our souls, along with undisputed recognition of majesty and praise) will be returned to the rightful owner (God). And, we will be brought into the Ultimate Season of Rest.
Just as the Feast of Trumpets culminates into the Day of Atonement, events surrounding the Rapture and the coming of our Lord will pave the way for the Great White Throne Judgment and the Ultimate Year of Jubilee.
Then, we will all join in the final celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles.
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[i] Booker, Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts, 115.
[ii] Fairchild, Mary. “Why Is Rosh Hashanah Called the Feast of Trumpets in the Bible?” Learn Religions. July 8, 2020. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://www.learnreligions.com/feast-of-trumpets-700184.
[iii] “Feast of Trumpets: The Beginning of the Civil New Year,” Feast & Holidays of the Bible (Carson, CA: Rose, 2004).
[iv] Fairchild, “Why Is Rosh Hashanah…?”. https://www.learnreligions.com/feast-of-trumpets-700184.
[v] Booker, Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts, 116.
[vi] Booker, Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts, 115.
[vii] “Feast of Trumpets: The Beginning of the Civil New Year/Yeshua: Jesus.” Feast & Holidays of the Bible. (Carson, CA: Rose, 2004).
[viii] Booker, Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts, 126.
[x] Ibid., 126–127.
[xi] “Book of Life,” Ask the Rabbi:Aish Online. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://www.aish.com/atr/Book_of_Life.html.
[xiii] Cohen, Peter. “Messianic Good News: Boldly Proclaiming that Jesus is the Messiah.” Messianic Good News Online. October 4, 2012. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://www.messianicgoodnews.org/may-your-name-be-inscribed-in-the-book-of-life/.
[xiv] “Day of Atonement: The Day the High Priest Makes Atonement for Sin.” Feast & Holidays of the Bible (Carson, CA: Rose, 2004).
[xv] Booker, Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts, 128.
[xvi] Beale, G. K. & Campbell, David. Revelation: A Shorter Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 2015) 133.
[xviii] Bolinger, Hope. “What Was the Year of Jubilee?” Christianity Online, 2020. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/what-was-the-year-of-jubilee.html.