Final Redemption – Lev 27

*warning: extremely long post*

In Leviticus 27, we find that God says anything vowed or pledged to the Lord is His, and in order to take it back, you must purchase it. Now, this is somewhat obvious in the context of how to interpret. When you give something to someone, it is no longer yours. It is theirs. When you give something to God, it is now God’s. In order to get it back, you must buy it from God. This has a couple implications. The first is the obvious one: don’t be a taker-backer. Don’t be that person that will always remember what it is that you’ve given to someone and hold it over their heads forever. You gave it away, so it is no longer yours. The second implication is in reference to this vowing unto the Lord. Ecclesiastes 5:4 says, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vows. It is better not to make a vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin.”

I’m sure we’ve all prayed those “if you will” prayers. “God, if you will get me out of this circumstance, then I promise that I will never (fill in the blank).” It would be better to not vow than to at that moment make a hasty vow only to not fulfill it. It reminds me of a joke that I heard about a wealthy Jewish man. He wasn’t observant, never really went to synagogue, didn’t perform the regular traditions. One day he is supposed to be at this important meeting. It’s the most important meeting of his career. This will either make him very wealthy or will sink his company. He does everything that he can to make sure that he will be at that meeting on time and prepared. The day comes, and the man’s alarm doesn’t go off. But, no big deal, he woke up early enough anyway. He just didn’t wake up as early as he had hoped. He gets out into traffic, and there is unexpected roadwork to prevent him from being on time. Frustrated, he eventually makes it through the roadwork and to his office. As he is circling the parking lot, he realizes that because he is later than usual, there are no spaces available. Panicked, the man prays, “HaShem, I know that I’m not a very good observant Jew. If you will come through for me this one time, I will…” At that very moment a car pulls out of their parking spot, and the man says, “Never mind!”

Honestly, it truly is better to keep our mouths shut, even when we’re repenting and saying we’ll never commit that sin again. It is better to be found in honesty before God than to speak sincere lies. You might be sincere and truly detest what you’ve done, but it is not good to confess and say you’ll never do this again only to recommit the same sin a few days or a week later. This is vowing to the Lord only to take it back.

At the end of the chapter, which is really what I want to focus on this time, is this mention that the firstborn is the Lord’s. Only if it is unclean may it be bought back. We looked at Exodus 4:22 multiple times in this series. Israel is God’s firstborn son. And, they are unclean. So, God has established an end time payment for His people. We read in the New Testament of how we have been bought by the blood of Jesus. There is still a future redemption to come, though. I want to lay out as concisely as I can some of these prophetic words.

When Jesus returns, he sets up shop in Jerusalem. It is from Zion that the law goes forth, and out of Jerusalem goes the word of the Lord. Israel is at that time finally knowing the Lord their God, and we will fulfill our purpose of being the priestly nation to the nations. More Scriptures than I can quote speak of the ingathering of Israel, and it is interesting that with many of these Scriptures comes a re-gathering as well. When they are “ingathered” to Christ, they will then also be gathered again from all nations unto which they have been sifted. This implies a final sifting, and that Israel’s current occupancy in the Land will not remain forever.

If the Jewish people dispersed even currently throughout the world, and to be sifted again through all nations, are to come back to Jerusalem, what are some of the terms of that gathering? I think of the Exodus where God told Israel that they will not flee. They will go out with joy like royalty (Exodus 3:21-22, 11:2-3). Isaiah 11:11 that says that God will gather His people a second time from “Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonian, from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah fro the four quarters of the earth”.

My mind flashes to that verse that is later in Isaiah where the prophet foretells of the nature of their coming. “See, I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will carry your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on your shoulders. Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground; they will lick the dust at your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who home in me will not be disappointed” (Isaiah 49:22-23). Just like in the Exodus, Israel does not return in gloom or despair. Contrary to that thought, it is written, “The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will be upon their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 35:10). God will do great things in their midst. They will see miracles before their eyes as they wander the wilderness of the nations. Isaiah 35 states earlier that “the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped” – obviously an undoing of Isaiah 6:9-10 – “Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”

Israel will survive their time of trouble because of the providence of God. Miracles will burst forth, both through the Church as well as in the literal wandering of the wilderness. The divine character being manifest to Israel is what God meant when saying: “I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:24-27)

Ezekiel saw the devastation of Israel. God speaks to Him about how He will strike their hearts with fear and terror. By the time they come to this point in the narrative, God has already been striking at that heart of stone. Here in Ezekiel 36 we have cogent and precise words. These are calculated. God gathers them from the nations – even upon the shoulders of kings and queens – and it is in this divine manifestation of love that Israel breaks down and weeps. At the coming of Christ, the people of Israel have already gone through torture. What is a judgment upon them is an act of mercy and love, for Jesus even told the Church in Laodicea, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.” When the power of that people is broken, as is mentioned in Leviticus 26:19, they have finally come to the place where they can see God and accept Him. It takes ruthless breaking upon them for it to come, but so it is with us all.

This is why Isaiah 14:1 starts with the words, “I will have compassion on Jacob.” Jeremiah 3:18 states that “in those days the house of Judah will join the house of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your forefathers as an inheritance.” That divided house that has been at enmity with one another since the time of Rehoboam will be joined once again. Christ will break down the wall of hostility between them. Yet, Isaiah 14:1 goes a step further in even adding the detail, “Aliens will join them and unite with the house of Jacob.” Not only will Israel and Judah be united, as Ezekiel 37:15-28 also suggests, but even the foreigners and Gentiles will be added to them. Guess who that is!

Zechariah 10:10 tells us that “there will not be room enough for them.” We find the same sentiment in Isaiah 49:20-21 when we read, “The children born during your bereavement will yet say in your hearing, ‘This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in.’ Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who bore me these? I was bereaved and barren; I was exiled and rejected. Who has brought these up? I was left all alone, but these – where have they come from?’”

Jeremiah tells us that among those who return will be “the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. They will come weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them besides streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son” (Jeremiah 30:8-9).

We see in Ezekiel 20:41: “I will accept you as a fragrant incense when I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered.” This, no doubt, comes from the pleasing aroma of God’s sacrifices in Leviticus, which Paul also states that we are the “fragrance of Christ.” We have been brought out of our own nations and unto Zion through Christ. The fragrance of Christ will in that day be at work in Israel, which will cause them to also have “singleness of heart and action” (Jeremiah 32:39). This also reminds me of something Paul said to the Corinthians, where he encouraged them to be one in spirit and heart. Do you see how the new covenant Scriptures affects the way that we live? And yet we also know there is a coming time where the new covenant shall be fulfilled to the uttermost.

The importance of recognizing the return from the nations is critical. We spoke briefly about how the return in 1948 could not be this final return. Do you see why? Though Israel returned with gladness and joy, Isaiah 51:11 tells us that “sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Sorrow and sighing has not fled away, and indeed Israel’s enemies are on every side. The Gentiles did not bring Israel back. Ezekiel 28:26 says that the Israelites will live safely and build houses and plant vineyards. The abundance of Scripture on this subject is simply embarrassing. The fact that we as the Church have pretty well not even recognized this tells us just how Scripturally nonliterate we are. We have every ability to read the Bible, but we don’t.

“So then, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land.” This passage from Jeremiah 23 shows us that this final sifting and deliverance will be greater than the very exodus itself!

Isaiah 31:5 has an interesting phrase. God says that He will come down upon Mount Zion to do battle, but it says that He will “pass over it and will rescue it.” This, of course, should have us immediately think of Exodus. The Lord came with the spirit of death, and those who had the blood upon their doorposts were “passed over”. What is the blood upon the doorposts? God says, “Like birds hovering overhead, the Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem; he will shield it and deliver it.” Think back to Isaiah 4:5. “Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy.”

The blood on the doorposts is the Lord Almighty. We know this to be Christ, our Passover Lamb. Yet, in Isaiah 4, we find some more interesting information here. Christ is the Passover Lamb, and His blood is sprinkled upon the doorposts of our lives. Yet, that same Lord Almighty that will be over Mount Zion as a shield to protect her in Isaiah 31 is described in Isaiah 4 as the cloud by day and fire by night. Above all of this glory is a canopy. What does that mean? This is no doubt a chuppa. Once again we see the redemption of Israel takes place at the marriage of the Lamb.

When Israel is regathered from the nations unto the Land, she is given the obligation to destroy all of her idols. By this time, since the coming of messiah has already taken place, Israel and all the Jewish people are believers. The idolatry in the heart has been eradicated. The outworking of that heart transplant is the destruction of the idols that fill Israel – whether graffiti, occult temples, whore houses, or the abomination of desolation. God gives the clear charge to destroy the idols. In Isaiah 27:9, we read about the altar stones being like chalk stones ground to pieces. No Asherah poles or incense altars will be left standing. The children of Israel will destroy all of her idols, and in that they find their full redemption.

Romans 11:26: “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The deliverer will come out of Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.’” Here we have a quotation from Psalm 14:7. However, this could also be a quotation from Isaiah. Isaiah 59:20 reads, “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins…” We discussed briefly the destruction of the idols. Isaiah 27:9 speaks of the destruction of the idols, but the first part of that verse reads, “By this, then, will Jacob’s guilt be atoned for, and this will be the full fruitage of the removal of his sin.” It is not simply that the idols need to be cleaned up because God wants to have the Land purged. The destruction of the idols signifies the full redemption of Israel. This gets back to Leviticus 27.

“Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.” (Deuteronomy 12:2-3) “When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 30:1-6)

We find that Isaiah prophesied about the time of their regathering, “The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever, the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks, till the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest.” (Isaiah 32:14-15) The Spirit is poured out from on high upon the whole house of Israel. As it is written, “The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them.” (Jeremiah 31:31) What does it mean that they will not break this New Covenant?

Paul answers that in Romans 7. They who are dead are no longer bound to the Law; therefore we who have died with Christ are no longer bound to the Law, but instead are bound to Christ. Israel, while they are currently bound to the law, and therefore bound to death and sin, will be released from their oppression to be made new in Christ. Jeremiah continues: “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” Compare this with Ezekiel 36: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart” – the same heart mentioned before by Jeremiah with the Law written upon it – “and put a new spirit within you” – the sealing of the Holy Spirit unto Christ – “I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

Isaiah 12:3 speaks of Israel drawing water from the wells of salvation with joy. We know that this water is the living water mentioned in John 7:37-38, of which we as believers of the New Covenant. This baptism of the Spirit for Israel takes place at the return unto a land filled with “vile images and detestable idols” which Israel will have to remove. Ezekiel 11 continues from that phrase to say, “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and given them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done.” (Ezekiel 11:18-21)

Zephaniah 3:11-13 adds, “On that day you will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from this city those who rejoice in their pride. Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill. But I will leave within you the meek and humble who trust in the name of the Lord. The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.” Israel shall at this time have a spirit of humility, which is the spirit of Christ. No longer will they be prideful or haughty, not because God will destroy all who have pride and haughtiness, but because God will pour out the Spirit of grace and supplication upon the remnant (Zechariah 12:10). All men are prideful and haughty, thus we cannot say it is somehow that these who survive are not.

We know that it is not because of their lack of pride that they are spared, but rather that God will “judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats.” (Ezekiel 34:17) For this reason we have a verse in Zechariah 9:11-12 about God freeing the prisoners from the waterless pit and restoring twice as much to them. It is “because of the blood of my covenant with you” that God redeems Israel. What exactly is that “blood of [His] covenant”? “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” The very wine that we drink, the bread we break, as ministers of the New Covenant is the symbol of Israel’s redemption. Not because of their humility, but rather because of Christ’s atonement will God restore them.

They will meet with God in the wilderness, where God has set a table for them, and that table is Christ. We break the bread and we give them the wine of the New Covenant. We display to Israel during her final calamity the reality of the New Heaven and New Earth at work within us – not because God has already established them, but because though we are in the world we are not of the world. While the earthly Jerusalem is currently the son of the slave woman, the heavenly Jerusalem is free (Galatians 4:24-26). We are not under the bondage of the earthly Jerusalem, but have been freed for freedom’s sake (Galatians 5:1) to drive the Jew to envy. By our mercy they shall obtain mercy (Romans 11:31). For this reason, we lay down our lives as living sacrifices. We are the offering. We are the bread broken for them. Our blood is the wine poured out, because Christ is in us, and we are His body. This isn’t to diminish the work of Christ, but all the more to exult it.

When Israel shall taste of that New Covenant wine for the first time after she has been restored, “a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more.” (Zechariah 13:1-2) What day is this? It is the day of the return of Christ. Up to this point, Israel has been fed with “the bread of affliction” (Deuteronomy 16:3, Isaiah 34:20), but now “your teachers will be hidden no more.” (Isaiah 34:20-21) Who are these teachers Isaiah is speaking of? They are the ministers of the New Covenant – the Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ Jesus our Lord. They are the wise mentioned in Daniel 11:33-35. “With your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ Then you will defile your idols overlaid in silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, ‘Away with you!’”.

It is for this reason, because their teachers are no longer hidden from their eyes, and because they drink deeply from the well of salvation the eternal Spirit, that Isaiah later says, “But Israel will be saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation; you will never be put to shame or disgraced, to ages everlasting.” (Isaiah 45:17) Obadiah 17 declares, “But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will by holy, and the house of Jacob will possess its inheritance.” Of this inheritance, Paul writes concerning the believers, “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Moses asks, “Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by miraculous signs and wonders, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?” (Deuteronomy 4:34) Zechariah 8:6 then continues this thought by comparing it to the end time exodus back to the Land: This is what the Lord Almighty says, “It may seem marvelous to the remnant of the people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?” This reminds me of a question that Jesus asked in Luke 18:8. “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

We saw in Isaiah 10:20-23 that there would come a time when Israel will no longer rely on him who strikes them down – the Antichrist – but now returns to the Lord. In the verses leading up to this statement, we find verse 17: “The Light of Israel will become a fire, their Holy One a flame; in a single day it will burn and consume his thorns and briers.” In a single day… There are few verses that speak of this, but many that speak of “the Day of the Lord.” Why the “Day” and not the “Days”? Some have speculated that the Day of the Lord is a period of time, and that the Hebrew word yom can have that loose translation. I’m not entirely convinced. There are some references to the Day of the Lord that seem to be outside of the return of Christ, this is true. However, the vast majority can all be found in a single day, or maybe to better word it, can be the result of a single day.

The return of Christ is the Day of the Lord. It is upon that one day that all of history pivots. The two advents of Christ are the two hinges that we understand the entirety of the Bible to swing upon. While we understand that there is more that happens before and after the return of Christ, it does seem as though the defeat of the Antichrist, the locking up of Satan in his prison, the redemption of Israel, and the banner set up for the nations to behold the glory of God are all accomplished in a single day. From that day, there are other things that might take longer, such as the rebuilding of the ruins, the bringing back of the Diaspora, the destruction of idols, etc. Yet, those things that might take longer than a day to accomplish in no way should be considered factors to speak against the notion of the Day of the Lord being a single day.

For example, we read in Ezekiel 36:33-36 that “on the day I cleanse you from all your sins,” God will resettle their towns, the ruins will be rebuilt, the desolate land will be cultivated, the cities will be fortified, and the land will be replanted. Do we conclude that because it says, “On the day” that all of these things take place in a single day? Of course not. Yet, we also do not consider that because these things take multiple days that God is intending that “on that day” would actually refer to a period of time. When it says in Zechariah 3:9, and is also repeated in 9:16, “I will remove the sin of this land in a single day,” we can be confident that the removal of sin is indeed accomplished in a single day.

One day, and the whole of the creation is restored back to its original intent in God. Isaiah 66:8 asks the question, “Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment?” Yet, no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. Does God bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery? There is a travail that takes place in the people of God. That travail is the impregnation and birthing of the nation of Israel. This delivery doesn’t take ages, but only moments. It is upon the return of Christ, of which we can hasten His return according to the apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:12). One thing is certain: we cannot hasten that day by “doing”. It is not about what we do, nor about attaining higher righteousness. Such mentality is still under the bondage of the law. Our hastening of Christ’s coming can only be done in our intercession on behalf of Israel.

To sum up, then, we see that the ultimate redemption of Israel comes about through their resurrection. The payment must be made for them to go from clean to unclean. God Himself made payment for them in His own blood, and just like we as believers have also had to go through death to taste resurrection, the whole nation of Israel will go through death to taste resurrection. This is the beauty and logic of God. We see the Scriptures attesting for us the immense prerogative of God. For God to redeem His firstborn, He must pay for them in His own blood, and then they must also pass from death to life. For, the wages of sin is death, and no one can be set free from those wages. We all taste death. We will either taste it in this life or in the next life, but we will all pay those wages. The difference between the two is that to taste of death in this life will result in the power of God unto resurrection, but in the next life there is no remedy.

This concludes our study of Leviticus. It begins with the means of salvation for the people of God, and it ends with their redemption. Everything in between is the answer to that perplexing question of how we go from the Garden to Zion. The question to ask at this point is: Have you come unto Zion? If not, what is retraining you? If so, is there anything that you now better understand that you need to begin to live out? Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, even though we know that this prayer cannot ultimately be fulfilled until the Lord plants Israel that final time. Until then, we wrestle not with flesh and blood…

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Punishment for Disobedience – Lev 26:14-46

Just like we saw with the rewards for obedience, the punishments for disobedience can also find their counterparts in later prophetic texts.

“You will plant in vain, because you enemies will eat it.” Isaiah 62:8 gives this implication by saying, “Never again will I give your grain as food for your enemies.” Jeremiah 5:17, “They will devour your harvests and food, devour your sons and daughters; they will devour your flocks and herds, devour your vines and fig trees.”

In reference to Leviticus 26:17, Jeremiah 19:7 reads, “I will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, at the hands of those who want to kill them…” Ezekiel 15:7 says, “I will set my face against them. Although they have come out of the fire, the fire will yet consume them. And when I set my face against them, you will know that I am the Lord.”

We read in verse 19, “I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. Your strength will be spent in vain, because you soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of the land yield their fruit.” We already discussed the second half of this, so let us turn our focus upon this “breaking down your stubborn pride”. In Daniel 12:7, we read, “When the power of the people has finally been broken, then all these things shall be completed.”

This idea of “multiplying afflictions seven times over” goes throughout the chapter. It makes me to think of the same concept being expressed throughout the book of Isaiah when he says, “Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.”

In verses 21 and 25, we find three judgments given: wild animals, the sword, and plague. We have places like Ezekiel 5:12, 17, and 14:21, Revelation 6:8, Jeremiah 15:3 and 32:24 that speak of these three judgments as well as famine (which comes in Leviticus 26:26). Ezekiel writes, “A third of your people will die of the plague or perish by famine inside you; a third will fall by the sword outside your walls; and a third I will scatter to the winds and pursue with drawn sword… I will send famine and wild beasts against you, and they will leave you childless. Plague and bloodshed will sweep through you, and I will bring the sword against you. I the Lord have spoken… For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: How much worse will it be when I send against Jerusalem my four dreadful judgments – sword and famine and wild beasts and plague – to kill its men and their animals?”

Notice that I cite Revelations 6:8 as a reference. John is indeed quoting these Old Testament passages. Because John is referencing these Old Testament passages, we cannot assume that they took place at the exile in Jeremiah’s time. There still lies a future calamity that Israel must endure, where all of these judgments will be poured out upon all who are unrighteous – whether Jew or Christian.

Jeremiah writes, “I will send four kinds of destroyers against them, declares the Lord, the sword to kill and the dogs to drag away and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy…

Probably the most horrifying of all of these judgments would be found in Leviticus 26:29, “You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters.” In 2 Kings 6:29, this actually happened. Yet, there are still prophetic words that go beyond that time in Jeremiah 19:9 and Ezekiel 5:10. Lamentations 4:10 speaks of the eating of children during the siege of Jeremiah’s day. From the context of Ezekiel 5, which seems to imply both an immediate as well as future fulfillment, I hesitate to wonder whether this might actually come to pass again in modern times…

Of course, we continue and find that God will eventually exile the children of Israel. We read this in verse 33, but 34 picks up this idea and adds the detail, “Then the land will enjoy its Sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies…” Is it possible that God knew that the Israelites would not obey Him and would not keep the Sabbath year? From 2 Chronicles 36:21, we know that the ancient Israelites did not keep this command. There are some who keep this in Israel today, but the truth is that the majority who keep it are wealthy professors and rabbis.

As we continue through Leviticus, it is difficult to read some of the words spoken against the people. God will utterly devastate His people, whether Jew or Christian, if they will continue to disobey Him and continue to scorn His commands. This is not something to take lightly. However, the chapter ends with hope. It ends with a people who will confess their sins and the sins of their forefathers. It is when their “uncircumcised hearts” (verse 41) will be humbled and they have paid for their sins that God will remember Jacob, and will remember the land. Once again, notice how it is Jacob and the land together.

This phrase “circumcised heart” appears in the words of Jeremiah. It is not a New Testament phenomenon, even though the New Testament also picks up on it as the original and ultimate intention of God. The prophet Ezekiel claims over and over again that the people will be punished in accordance to their sin. The point is pressed that God is just and will never hold them accountable beyond what they have committed. Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 are the sole influences of many of the prophets who prophecy judgment and calamity to come to Israel, and ultimately also prophesies of their redemption and restoration. This is the pattern set up even from Leviticus. It takes nothing short of the coming of Jesus, after the people have been sifted through extreme conditions in the nations during the time of Tribulation, for Israel to come to the end of themselves – for God to “break the power of their pride.”

When such words are said, don’t think for a minute that it is only for this “stiff-necked” people. This is a harsh rebuke to all of us. How many of you are without sin? Did you know you will be held accountable for that sin one way or another? Somehow it will be judged. It will either be judged in the man Christ Jesus, who bore our sin and became curse upon the tree, or you will be chastised until you have finally paid for your sin and it gets taken out of your hands. How long will you waiver between two opinions? How long will you clutch your idolatry before the Lord shall come like a hammer to break into pieces everything that you hold dear? What will it take for you to finally let it go and be free? How far will the Lord have to take you? It is for this reason that I don’t think there will be a pre-tribulation rapture. The condition of the Church says that they need to be sifted just as much as Israel needs to be sifted. The time is coming when the Church will undergo just as harsh judgment as the Jewish people, and there will be no rest for you until Christ Jesus shall come. Maybe at that time you will finally have given up your vanity and pride, and by that time you will have finally believed that with God all things are possible, and you truly can be sinless.

Reward For Obedience – Lev 26:1-13

In the rewards for obedience, we find that many (but not all) can be paralleled with messianic prophecies. The prophets saw a time when the messiah would come, and during that age, the messiah would bring a time where these blessings would abound.

“If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.”

Compare this with Ezekiel 36:30, Joel 2:19-26, and Amos 9:11-15:

“I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine.” “The Lord will reply to them: ‘I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations. I will drive the northern army far from you, pushing it into a parched and barren land, with its front columns going into the eastern sea and those in the rear into the western sea. And its stench will go p; its smell will rise.’ Surely he has done great things. Be not afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things. Be not afraid, O wild animals, for the open pastures are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches. Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten – the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm – my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.”

“In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name, declares the Lord, who will do all these things. The days are coming, declares the Lord, when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills. I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them, says the Lord your God.”

Notice that all three of these passages cannot be debated as to when this will take place for Israel. None of the prophets spoke that this sort of manifestation should take place before the coming of the messiah and the destruction of the “northern army” (the Antichrist).

Continuing in Leviticus, “I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove savage beasts from the land, and sword will not pass through your country.”

See Hosea 2:18-20 and Ezekiel 34:25:

“In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety. I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” “I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of wild beasts so that they may live in safety.”

Once again, notice the context of both of these passages. The one in Hosea speaks of the marriage of the Lamb, while the one in Ezekiel speaks of the judgment of the wicked shepherds and establishing of David (the messiah Jesus) as their shepherd over them.

In Leviticus 26:7-8, we read, “You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.” Notice the sole messianic prophecy that speaks regarding this, which has the context of Jesus’ return, “On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them.”

Verses 9-10 read, “I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase you numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new.” Once again, we saw in passages like Amos 9:11-15 and Joel 2:19-27 that this will indeed take place when Jesus returns at the end of the age. God kept his promise while David ruled as well. It is not that Israel’s history is utterly bankrupt of these promises, but that the vast majority of the Old Testament does indeed seem to speak otherwise.

“I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.”

We know that God chose Jerusalem for His dwelling place, but when have we seen that God would “walk among” the Israelites? This is an allusion back to the verse in Genesis 3, where God walks in the Garden “in the cool of the day” (verse 8). There is only one time in history that we can say this has happened, and only one time in the future that we can say that this will take place forever. Isaiah 9:6-7 reads, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness.”

Notice in the text of Isaiah that the prophet declares, “to us a child is born.” This implies a human child, by the way. Yet, of this child, we read that one of the things he shall be called is “Mighty God.” How can a mere man be called “Mighty God”? There is only one way: incarnation. For the Jews that say, “God is not a man”, they have a lot of explaining to do. Here we find that this messianic figure is supposed to be human, a man-child, and yet is also supposed to be divine, “Mighty God.” They are both in the same figure: the one who is to reign on David’s throne. Who is this “man”?

The only way in which God can walk among the Israelites (as spoken in Leviticus 26:12) is that He becomes man and dwells among them. This actually happened in history, and the man was named Yeshuah – Jesus in English. There awaits a specific time – an appointed time – when this man will return to earth to dwell with His Bride, and to set up His Kingdom over all the earth, and to rule from Jerusalem. While the rewards for obedience in Leviticus 26 were not prophetic words, but promises, we do find the prophets seeing in these words prophetic significance. Every prophecy of the later prophets stems out from the Torah somehow. Most of the time it comes from Leviticus and Deuteronomy – the book of Revelations not being excluded. When we look at the punishment for disobedience, we will find the same to be true regarding these judgments.

Jubilee – Lev 25:8-55

Jubilee should get us excited. When we read that God has commanded freedom for the oppressed and enslaved, what else could we desire? The only reason that this might cause our hearts to wallow in sadness would be that we are the people getting rich off of enslaving others. For someone who is making their profit off of the enslavement and oppression of their fellow humanity, this kind of law will be quite a bit uncomfortable. Who doesn’t want to be set free? Could you imagine the loss that the credit card companies would have? Could you imagine how much the banks would lose if they had to cancel debts (or loans) on all of the houses they’ve sold? How much college debt have you racked up that might finally go away?

The year of Jubilee was a time of incredible celebration. It stems back to the idea that when in Egypt, you were enslaved. Remember the joy that you had when you were enslaved in Egypt and the Lord brought you out. Remember how God caused for your heart to skip. Don’t forget how you went out in such splendor that even some of the Egyptians joined you. Even pagans could not deny the favor and power of your God upon you. Remember how you were lead like a bride through the wilderness. Teach your children and your children’s children all of these things, and write it on your doorposts so that you also won’t forget. These things are awesome, and continue to be marveled at throughout all generations.

Lets face it, though. The year of Jubilee is not for you. It isn’t for me. How long is fifty years? Will I live long enough to find freedom from the slavery that I cause for myself? If my house loan isn’t paid off, and I pass away, who is going to pay for it? What if in my lifetime the economy goes south, and I end up losing my family farm? What if things just don’t go well, and because of circumstances I end up having to enslave myself to someone in order to have something to eat and feed my family? Will I truly have the opportunity of saying, “Well, in fifty years I won’t have to deal with this anymore”?

Jubilee was marked off by the Sabbath years, and not by when you go into debt. This is true. However, fifty years is a long time for a human being. Most likely, it won’t be me that finds this freedom. It will be my children. If something happens where I can’t pay the bills, and therefore I have to either go into debt, enslave myself to someone, or flat out lose my inherited land, that is going to last even unto the time of my children. How difficult would it be to make the decision to become a slave, if you know that your children will never taste freedom?

Because of the mistakes that I’ve made, my kids will suffer. They will have the vexation of not inheriting the family land. My debt will cause their torment. It will be my fault that they can’t make it in life, because I have set them up for failure – destined them to the grave. This is why God commands every fiftieth year that debts be canceled. It is not so that I don’t have to deal with consequences. It is so that my children don’t have to deal with my consequences. If my children make mistakes of their own, then they will deal with their own consequences. But, for them to deal with the bad decisions that I have made is unfair. God says in another place that He will not hold the child accountable for their father’s sin, nor the father accountable for the child’s sin.

What if…

What if God wanted to practice the Jubilee today? What would that look like? What would that mean for we who are Christians to practice the year of Jubilee?

We discussed in Leviticus 20 what it might mean to “follow in the sins of the forefathers” today. What if God would honor this generation by not holding them accountable? What if the slate were wiped clean, and we had the opportunity to make it right? What would you do? Would you take that opportunity?

If you go back fifty years, it puts you in the midst of the Jesus Movement in the 70’s. But this is Jubilee. We don’t go back to the way it was fifty years ago. We get our inherited land back. We get to go all the way back to the way it was at the first. Our inheritance stems from Acts, which actually stems from Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The book of Acts is like a massive Jubilee, where God has restored the ancient roots of the faith unto His people. He has taken us back to what it means to be His sons and daughters (see Luke 3:38 where Adam is called ‘the son of God’ and Exodus 4:22 where Israel it called ‘God’s firstborn son’).

This is why adoption language is so prevalent in the New Testament. We have been given our inheritance back. We are no longer in exile. Exile is not what happens when you disobey God. Exile is the result of walking away from God. We find the pattern in Scripture. First, Israel is under bondage in Egypt. Second, Israel is delivered from Egypt. Third, Israel forsakes the Lord her God, and begins to become Egypt (the nation of oppression). Fourth, Israel becomes oppressed or exiled. This is the pattern.

We find this to be true in our own time. Look through the annuls of church history. All the way up to now, we have seen that this is the pattern, and we’re coming up to the place of exile. What happened at the book of Acts to break the cycle was that they had a Jubilee, a time when they got back to the ancient roots, the first intention of God. The people began to see God’s original plan, both from the Garden and from the birthing of the nation of Israel out of Egypt. This resulted in the people living out the commands given at the first, exactly as they were intended to be lived out.

Somehow, we read of Paul saying to us that we are no longer under law, but under grace. And yet, at least twice we read of Paul taking a Nazarite vow. We find Paul going to the Temple to sacrifice, which wouldn’t have been the first time that he did this (this was the second time that he took the Nazarite vow, and he would have had to sacrifice in order to finish the vow the first time). We read of him telling the Corinthians that he was going to go to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. Peter had a vision of a napkin with clean and unclean animals upon it, and God tells him to rise, kill, and eat. Peter’s response is that he has kept kosher, and it would appear that even after this vision Peter continues to keep kosher (see Galatians 2:11-14 for example).

It would appear that the first disciples had talmudim – disciples. But, they didn’t have “disciples” like we think of disciples. Disciples in the Hebraic mind entails that you take these people in, you let them eat with you, you let them sleep in the same home (or room) as you. You live every moment of you life with these disciples. You pay for everything, and they live off of you. They are following you everywhere you go, because the whole point of being a disciple is to examine your life to understand what it means to be a rabbi, or to be a child of God, or to be a Christ follower (however you want to phrase that). In Acts 19, when riot breaks out in Ephesus, we read of these “traveling companions” of Paul from Macedonia. They aren’t merely “traveling companions”. These are Paul’s disciples, his talmudim.

The origination of the “church” in Acts 2, which really isn’t the origination (ecclesia simply means “assembly” and translates the Hebrew word “kahal” – see Acts 6:38 for a reference to the “church” at Mount Sinai with Moses), tapped back into the ancient roots of the faith. This is what I believe we’re being called to in this generation. Sadly, the enemy tries to pervert this, and so we find false movements. Things like the Hebrew Roots movement has broken forth, and from this deception comes the idea that we’re just not supposed to go toward that direction at all. But this is a mistake. Just because someone misuses or abuses God’s original intention does not mean that it isn’t God’s intention. We are still called back to the book of Leviticus. We’re still beckoned to go back to those ancient roots and figure out what it means to be children of God.

Isaiah 37:31 speaks about roots that go downward so that fruit might bear upward. Those roots have to go down deep if the fruit is to bear upward. We might be able to bear fruit by simply reading the New Testament, but that will be a tremendous stumbling block to us. The richness of the Old Testament is the very root and sap from which we draw. To neglect it is to neglect the roots themselves. So, you tell me: Are you following Christ because you want to make it to heaven, or are you following Christ because you are a lover of God?

If it is the latter, then you must consider the ancient roots from which we came. Yes, it is difficult. Yes, many times there are these genealogies and laws that don’t seem to make any sense to how they have anything to do with our lives. Yes, it takes a lot of digging and studying before we can truly come to the knowledge of the significance of the Old Testament. Yes, it often monotonous and tiring. Yes, it is something that will make you stand out like a sore thumb among your peers. Yes, people will tell you that you don’t have to be dedicated to that “law stuff”, and they will make fun of you for it – possibly even calling you a heretic or false teacher. Yes, we are under the new covenant and not under the old covenant, and so the rules and regulations that we read need to be interpreted from the new covenant perspective (a task that takes tremendous effort in understanding both the old and the new before we can even begin to do so). So, yes, in all ways it seems like this is just a bad idea.

However, it is worth it. The eternal radiance of glory emanates from every syllable of the Old Testament. I often find myself skipping books of the Old Testament when I come to them and it isn’t shining through. Often, I find myself in 1 Chronicles and before long I’m putting down Chronicles to take up Ezra (because that comes next in the Bible). Often I get to Job and I get about half way through before I start debating whether I truly want to read this whole thing or not. Often I find myself in Exodus 25-40, and it is just painful to try to read and comprehend. When these moments come, I simply skip it. I’ll come back to it later.

What is more important is that you are immersed in both the Old and the New. The book of Numbers is extremely difficult for me to get into. I don’t enjoy it much. Yet, just like Leviticus, when I begin to see the beauty being shed in these books, I begin to desire to read them more. When I begin to see the allusions, quotes, or connections that the New Testament authors make to some of these books, and I begin to understand more of what they’re saying (and not just what they’re quoting), I begin to desire to saturate in these Old Testament books. Something changes within me.

At the first, we read these books of the Bible and hate them. I know. Most people don’t actually like to read the book of Leviticus or Deuteronomy or Numbers or the last part of Exodus (etcetera). It takes a lot of time and attention to the details before it begins to come together, but when it begins to come together, suddenly our lives are changed. Suddenly the way that we live is less “Christian” and more “Hebrew”. Suddenly we are no longer talking to the other believers in the same manner. Suddenly we’re interacting with people on a much deeper level. Suddenly our worship and adoration of God is intensified. You just look back one day, and you notice how much you’ve grown and changed from studying this stuff.

I believe that God desires to restore the ancient roots to us if we’re willing to listen to His voice. Yet, do learn wisdom. Learn from those who have heard the voice and then taken up the task in their own strength and power. The people who desire to get back to the Hebrew roots, and so they begin to eat kosher, they begin to wear yarmulkes, and they begin to wear their prayer shawls, they aren’t actually getting back to the Hebrew roots. For example (to give one of many), the yarmulke wasn’t even around during the time of the New Testament. Modern Judaism invented it, but we think that it goes back to what Paul said about head coverings (1 Corinthians 11). Paul was talking about the prayer shawl being put over your head while praying or prophesying, not the yarmulke.

Our task is enormous. There are a few who have taken up this task and restored much, but it needs to go further. I would recommend finding books or audio of David Baron, Adolf Safir, Arthur Katz, or even one of my new favorites (and very dear friend) Lars Widerburg. I know that there are more resources, but even the Messianic Judaism movement (which was probably born out of Jews for Jesus) falls extremely short. It isn’t about Judaism; it is about adoption unto the ancient heritage. To a certain extent, I could care less about the modern Jewish practices. To another extent, much of the modern Jewish practices are a later tradition of an early interpretation. Some of what the rabbis teach will truly get you back to the ancient roots, while other things will infect you with humanism if you aren’t guarded. My personal favorite rabbi would be Mordechai Kraft.

As a people, we are called in this generation to restore the ancient boundaries, and to have respect for those ancient boundaries. The altar has been torn down, because we’ve desired our Gentile practices and mindsets over God’s heart and opinion. Once again, if I can be of any service to helping you restore these ancient roots, please get a hold of every means that you can to be in contact with me. Read my blogs, listen to my podcasts, find me on Facebook and ask me questions, email me, convince me to start shooting youtube videos (I probably won’t because of my current living circumstances), and whatever else you need to do in order to be edified. Sermon Index has hundreds of sermons by Art Katz, and I recommend them all. Lars Widerburg has two Facebook groups where you can download his books for free (Apostolicity and One Final Sifting). Adolf Safir and David Baron are old enough that many of their writings are free online – open to public domain. If you find other sources, please share them.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Sabbath Year – Lev 25:1-7, 18-22

We discussed the Sabbath a little bit in Leviticus 23, and there we talked about the Sabbath is about living from eternity – out of the rest of God. So, when we come to Leviticus 25, and we read about the Sabbath year and the year of Jubilee, it is not difficult to see how this could easily correlate with heaven in some way. After chapter 25, Leviticus begins to sum up, and thus we’ll find blessings and curses for obedience or disobedience and redeeming what is the Lord’s.

To focus specifically upon the Sabbath year and not go too far off of what this immediately speaks to, just think about what this implies: no work for a full year. In the ancient Hebrew culture, they didn’t have people living in the city, studying in Yeshiva, or working as a professor. The ancient Israelites didn’t have any kind of income or paycheck system. Everyone was essentially a homesteader. You had a certain plot of land that you lived off of, and you planted your garden, you took care of your livestock, and when you needed something that you didn’t have (whether in food or in skill), you went to a fellow Israelite and traded. If you needed metal working, and you didn’t have the skill for blacksmithing, you would trade some food (or your skill) in order to get some metalworking done.

Of course, this isn’t 100% correct, seeing as they did have gold, silver, and other precious metals and stones. So, there was at least a source of currency. And, there was at least commerce. They weren’t so “primitive” as to not have any kind of money at all. Yet, the point still remains. Even with their gold and silver, people would tend their own property in order to sustain their family. If they struggle, they would go to a fellow Israelite asking for help. That was the way that ancient life was in Israel.

This is extremely difficult to imagine. What are you supposed to do all day? You’re not farming, you’re not gardening, you could tend to the animals, but even in that it doesn’t take all day. If you’re not planting and harvesting, how are you supposed to feed your family? If you aren’t working (taking a Sabbath year), how are you supposed to make a living? How is anyone supposed to eat for that year while no one plants?

Obedience to this kind of a command takes all of our focus off of what we can do to cultivate and make it, and puts it directly upon God. There is no other hope. No one could survive a full year without planting a crop. Could you imagine if a nation were to try this today? Their economy would collapse simply from buying food from their neighbors. Yet, somehow, I assume this is the intent. Israel will need to put her faith in God in order to not be bankrupt. God will allow for the food to grow, and for enough of it to grow to feed everyone.

This command implies that there is something more important to life than yielding food and working. Then, if that weren’t already countercultural enough, it claims that whatever the land produces is free for anyone to eat (even the animals have access to it). Could you imagine the responses that you might get if you told people that work isn’t everything? Could you imagine how you might be treated if every seventh year you were to quit your job and take a year sabbatical? What would be the response if every seven years you made the claim with your life – for an entire year – that a man shall not live on bread alone? What would that mean and look like for you to do that?

The Hebrew word that is used here is ‘shmitah’. My wife and I have not worked for 20 months now. We’ve left our fast-food jobs, have minimal income, and have spent the last 20 months praying and wondering how we’re supposed to pay the rent bill and car insurance. It has been quite the struggle, and at the same time quite fulfilling. We’ve watched as God would send person after person into our lives to help us. The whole time, I am entirely kicking against the goads. Not only is there the constant question of, “What are we supposed to be doing,” but there is also the difficulty that I don’t want to be a burden to others.

For 20 months my wife and I have questioned ourselves and questioned what God is doing, and for 20 months God has continued to provide. Yet, you might ask, “Why 20 months? Isn’t the Sabbath year only for a year?” Aha! That’s what you think. When you plant a field, and then you harvest it, how long does it take to grow? If you don’t plant anything, not in the spring, not in the fall, how long will it be before whatever you plant next year comes up? You could plant something that doesn’t take long to grow, but truly that won’t feed your family. The Israelites would have to plant crops that take a long time, because if they don’t, they won’t have those things at all.

There will be 12 months that the Israelites won’t plant anything, and in the case of fruit trees and other things already planted, they won’t prune or harvest. Then, when next year comes, it is already after the harvest. Rosh Hoshanna (the Feast of Trumpets) is sometime in the September/October region of the year. By that time, you’re either going to be preparing to wait out the winter, or you should have already been working on your fields to be able to plant for winter. Even if you rushed everything and got something in the ground, it would still be spring before it came up and you could harvest it. We’re looking at an easy 16 months of no harvest.

What do you do? You are at complete exposure to God. He is your only hope. If God is not God, then we perish. If there is no God, and we’re making all of this up in our heads, we die. And not only “we” meaning my family, but the entire nation will collapse and the entirety of the Israeli people will be wiped off of the face of the earth. Does this seem like a severe command from the Lord to you? Are you starting to see why the Israelites did not take this year long Sabbath (Leviticus 26:34, 2 Chronicles 36:21)?

Notice verse 4. The Sabbath is intended for the land. This isn’t merely a sabbatical for the Hebrew children to sit back and do nothing for a year. The Land itself needs to rest. Maybe this is like when God tells the man not to sleep with a woman on her period, because she just needs some time for her body to rest and grieve the loss of life. Is it possible the land itself has to recuperate? I’m not sure if it needs to “mourn the loss of life”, but certainly I can see the land having need to rest. It makes sense that the land itself would need a time where it isn’t being forced to produce, and that it can just do what it has to do.

The implications that the land needs rest only goes to show again that we as humans are from the ground, and that our first task given to us was to tend the garden (take care of the ground). Just like the land can be exhausted, and it needs the seventh year to regain its stature, so too does man need a day of rest in the week. These are all based around cycles of seven. There are six days on, then the seventh day we rest. There are six years on, and in the seventh year we rest. There are seven feasts of the year. It all cycles in sevens.

Ultimately, when overwork leads to exhaustion, for both the crop and the person, we often take fake “vitality” through chemicals and not true renewal. When our bodies are starving, we then start popping vitamin pills to compensate. Doesn’t it make more sense to just eat the vitamins from food? What if the food isn’t producing enough vitamins? There could be a couple reasons for that. It might be that we have so manufactured the crop that it no longer is able to bear what it originally bore. It is possible that through chemicals, hormones, pesticides, etc that we are diminishing the nutritional value of the crops and animals. It also happens that when we don’t take care of the food, and we just stuff the animals into a small space, or we feed them from “feed” (it isn’t even called “food”), or we grow all of our food inside, or we do any of these means to keep up production, and to produce quickly at that, that the food loses its nutrition.

The plants don’t take in so many nutrients from the soil when the ground itself has been sucked dry. Without nutrients from the soil, how can we expect the plants to then contain high nutritional value? And, if these low standard plants are then fed to the animals, you can’t expect that the animals are going to have the best immune system, the highest quality of meat, or a good source of vitamins and minerals. The way that we treat the land will filter to the food we eat in some manner. There is tremendous importance to allowing the ground to rest, and therefore to allow the crops to be healthy, which in turn makes the animals more healthy, which in turn makes all of our food healthier.

When we’re eating truly healthy food, we need less of it. Our bodies become satisfied with smaller portions, because it has the nutrients it needs. Suddenly we don’t need to eat massive portions for each meal. We can eat only a six-ounce steak instead of ten. One potato is enough instead of mashing up two. This, of course, relates directly into spirituality. Think of it this way: “Therefore rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Why would Peter (1 Peter 2:1-3) tell us to crave pure spiritual milk? Isn’t any milk good enough? Obviously, it is not good enough. What happens when you feed a baby unsatisfying milk? Somehow, somewhere down the line, that will come back to haunt you. In spiritual terms, it could stunt growth. It could cause for wrong attitudes or mindsets. It could cause for a wrong perception of who God is. It could cause for difficulty in relating to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Somewhere down the road, that impure spiritual milk will manifest in some manner.

At the end of Hebrews 5, and the beginning of Hebrews 6, we read, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Look at what he then calls milk: “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.”

Looking at some of those things, I’m not sure that there are many congregations that even discuss that! If these things are milk, then what in the world are we discussing in our congregations? To a certain extent, we do hear messages about repentance from acts that lead to death (but even these teachings are becoming less common), and we do hear about having faith in God. Yet, when was the last time you heard someone get up and truly explain baptisms? And notice the “s” at the end of that. When was the last time that you heard someone teach about the laying on of hands, where it comes from in the Old Testament, why they did it in the New Testament, what it signifies, and why is it important? When was the last time that the issue of the resurrection from the dead was taught, other than to glibly talk about our “glorified body” and how we’ll enjoy finally having a good singing voice in heaven one day?

If these things are milk, and we aren’t even scratching the surface on these issues, then what exactly are we pumping down our throats each week? Is it possible that we’re feeding “formula” – a milk substitute, which isn’t even nutritious?

To get back to the book of Leviticus, the Sabbath year reveals to us God’s intention. We’re supposed to have the best quality of food, both physically and spiritually, and that high quality is born out of rest. Specifically, it is born out of “Sabbath”. We read of the creation itself being in a much better condition at the return of Jesus than what we currently see. I would recommend looking up passages like Amos 9:13-15, Ezekiel 28:25-26, Isaiah 11:6-9, Joel 2:24, 3:18, Leviticus 26:10, Ezekiel 36:33-38, Jeremiah 31:10-14, Romans 8:22, and Isaiah 51:3 (among several others, if not many others). God is planning on restoring the earth back to its original intention, when the Lord comes and all of creation finally is brought into eternal rest.

An Eye for An Eye – Lev 24:10-23

The passage begins with a blasphemer being stoned to death, and then God laying out some of the guidelines in regard to damage done either to someone’s property, or to someone’s being. It all hinges upon the famous verse, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” We’ll get to the point later, lets first dive into this issue of blaspheme.

The son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father gets into a fight with an Israelite, and the son of the Israelite blasphemes God’s Name. Notice the care to not call this individual an Israelite. For, if he was an Israelite, he would have acted like one (a paraphrase of Jesus words in John 8:39). We find in Exodus 12:38 that there were some Egyptians who had cleaved unto Israel when they left. So, the point is not to make the distinction of half-breed from full-breed, but the distinction of where the man’s heart was. We can take this into our own lives, at least those of us who are Gentiles, when we entered the faith. We came unto the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is the duty of Japheth and Ham, whichever you might be from, to enter the tent of Shem, and not for Shem to change his nature to become more like Japheth or Ham.

This is the pattern set up in the Scripture. We are grafted into something already in existence, and if we desire to continue in the ways of our ancestors, then we will have no part in the Kingdom of God. To be grafted in requires that be completely cut off from our heritage to suck the juices of a different root. While we’re still Gentiles, and the fruit we bear is not the same as the natural branches, the roots are the same, our nourishment is the same, and we are now a part of Israel instead of Germany, America, Australia, Ethiopia, or whatever people we were formerly associated with. By grafting in different kinds of branches, we can get a completely different fruit. This is true in the natural as well as the spiritual. God has grafted us in, because He desires that we would bear the fruit of the Kingdom of God. Yet, diversity does not mean “bad”.

There is a prophecy in Genesis 48:19 concerning Ephraim. It is said by Jacob that Ephraim will be a melo goyim – a fullness of Gentiles. Most English translations would translate that as “multitude of nations”. Paul directly quotes it, though, in Romans 11:25. This is the only place in the whole Hebrew Bible where the phrase “melo goyim” appears. So, for Paul to be quoting it, and saying that whatever is happening in Ephraim (him being filled with Gentiles), it is directly linked to the redemption of Israel. What exactly it means that Ephraim shall be a fullness of Gentiles, I don’t know. I also don’t understand how the direct result of this would be the redemption of Israel. Yet, what Paul is explaining when he quotes this is the grafting in of Gentiles to Israel’s roots.

Paul warns us that we should not become conceited, because if God did not spare the natural branches, He won’t spare you. So we see this in Leviticus 24. The man who has been grafted in, who would have been a part of Israel had he not continued in the ways of Egypt, is stoned for blaspheming. The man is taken outside of the camp to be stoned, which is fitting because his heart was not at disposition to be one with the camp anyway. This not only fits the blasphemer, but also Israel, who are the dwelling place of God. You don’t keep within God’s dwelling a blasphemer. That is oxymoronic. Thus, he was thrust out of society as a sign that he has no part with Israel at all.

The people who heard him laid their hands upon his head, just like you would lay your hands upon the head of the goat or bull when you offered a burnt offering. This both forms a public testimony against him, and also puts whatever filth might have come upon others for hearing his words upon him. The Israelites were not held responsible for this man’s sin, but he was held responsible for all that he had committed – even that which took place in someone else’s mind as a result of him. This would be what happens to any Israelite or alien living among them. To blaspheme God meant separation and death. You no longer have inheritance or rights, because you willingly took the Lord’s name in vain.

Let us consider this in relation to us today. It isn’t simply that we claim that the man or woman who would blaspheme are to be stoned. Rather, we have a much more severe punishment. We banish them from our midst as a sign of the eternal judgment they shall receive. They have no part with us, any of us, and thus are cast into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The Gentiles who come into this inheritance with an attitude of elitism ought to take heed lest they fall. The only reason you or I are in this is because God has willingly postponed the marriage of Himself unto His people until they would recognize who they are. Until the Jewish people realize that they are not to be God’s people without Gentiles, and until the Gentiles realize that they are not God’s people without Israel, God has willingly allowed division in His Body. He has been broken for us, not just in His physical body on the cross, but even spiritually between Israel and the Church.

God awaits a moment in time when the fullness of Gentiles shall display to Israel her destiny and inheritance. It is in that same time, when the fullness of Gentiles has given Israel mercy because they have obtained mercy, that Jesus shall return at the end of the age to marry the two and they will both be His Bride together. I would even suggest that the Church is not separate from Israel even now. We aren’t something altogether different and other than Israel, but instead the selfsame remnant that has always existed in Israel. Just like there has always been the remnant that God dwells within, so too there is a remnant now. That remnant is not just Jewish, or Israelite, people, but also the Gentiles.

For someone to then curse the very sap that they are drinking from only goes to show that they aren’t truly drinking from it at all. If you or I, as Gentiles, decide to cast off the Israel of God as outside of the promises, and they have to come unto us in order to be saved, then we do the same thing that this half Egyptian man did. We curse the very foundation from which we come, namely the God who became a Jewish rabbi in the land of Israel to be the Messiah of Israel. He is our chief cornerstone, and even the twelve apostles were all Jewish (meaning from the southern country of Judah, and not necessarily the tribe). How can we boast against our roots? Do you not know that the root holds you up, and that you aren’t holding up the roots?

Therefore, God goes into this discussion with Israel about what to do when someone will take human life, or the life of an animal, or an animal takes the life of a man, or the life of another animal. When you or something that you have charge over will harm another human being or something they possess, you are held responsible. How does this tie into the previous discussion? Don’t forget how this even took place. A fight broke out in the camp, and the result was this man blaspheming.

God now gives guidelines. Instead of blaspheming or fighting or doing something stupid, here is what you are to do. Notice the point is not to say that you have a right to take from them, but is instead to show that you don’t take revenge. The focus is not upon the person who was harmed, but upon the one who did the harming. If you harm someone, or damage their stuff, then you need to take responsibility for it and replace it. At the same time, if you have been harmed, or your stuff has been damaged, you are allowed to go to the elders of the city and tell them. Then, the man who is responsible will be held accountable.

When God says, “fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth,” God is setting a standard. What happens when someone breaks something that is yours? You feel that anger rise up, and you want to then break something of theirs. Only, you don’t just break something of the same value. If they damage your shovel, you use the broken shovel to damage their car. When they see you’ve fought back by damaging their car, they then set fire to your lawn. Then, you retaliate by setting fire to their home. (I’m being ridiculous on purpose here.)

We understand this, don’t we? If someone damages something that is mine – we’ll use the example of injuring my dog – I’m not going to allow them to get away with this. Revenge is in order. But, revenge is never just getting even. Getting even would require that they pay for whatever damage they’ve caused. We don’t want to get even. We want to utterly destroy them. So, they hurt my dog, and I’ll kill theirs. What happens when they see your reaction of taking it even further? Well, they want to ‘get even’. Once again, their thoughts don’t simply leave it at “even”, but go so far as to retaliate in even more extreme manner.

When God says, “an eye for an eye,” He is stopping the madness. Yes, the person is to be held responsible. Yes, there should be justice. Yet, God reminds us that justice requires that the man who injured be injured only to the same degree that he injured, and not more. That is justice. When I hear claims of people who have been injured by a cup of coffee at McDonalds, and so they sue and get millions of dollars compensation, I can’t help but shake my head and be staggered. When a couple who is homosexual ask for a cake to be baked for their wedding, and a company kindly refuses, I am utterly appalled when that lesbian couple then says that they suffered over 70 different diagnosed cases of trauma, and they demand over 130,000 dollars in compensation. Not only has the business already been shut down and the family paying dearly through court costs, paying for part of the wedding, and other means. Now, they also have to pay $130,000 and compensate the couple for their psychiatric trauma.

God simply says, “an eye for an eye.” These kinds of ludicrous court cases only display the very reason why God would establish this regulation. Ultimately, it is better for someone to fess up and deal with the consequences than to allow the issue to fester until it leads to death. If we’re unwilling to do that, then we only show how wicked we truly are. We claim to want justice, but then our idea of justice is entirely unjust. We don’t want justice; we want revenge. We want to know that the other person will suffer more than I will. In this, we show both that we are unloving, and we show that we are liars. God’s requirements are the exact prescription to both reveal to us our own wicked heart, and to stop the injustice and madness.

Then, we have people who will read this and mock because it says to stone a blasphemer. It entirely misses the point of the passage, and focuses upon a detail that really is minor in the overall scheme of Scripture. It is after this passage that we come to the laws regarding the Sabbath year and the Year of Jubilee. Both of these are exciting, and both of them are extremely difficult to communicate. Just like there is needed delicacy of expounding the feast days and their significance, so too do we need to venture into Leviticus 25 carefully.

The Lights and Bread of Heaven – Lev 24:1-9

In Leviticus 24:1-9, we have repeated commands from Exodus. First, regarding the menorah and oil for it, we find these commands in Exodus 27:20-21, and the showbread in Exodus 25:30. It does cause one to question, why is this mentioned here?

First, lets try to understand what these things are even about. The menorah was formed from one piece of gold, and weighed nearly 100 pounds. It had seven branches (modern day menorahs have nine), was decorated with nine flower blooms, eleven fruits, and twenty-two cups. The Talmud says that it was 18 tefachim tall (which comes out to about 5 feet 3 inches, or 1.6 meters). In 1 Samuel 3:3, it is called the “lamp of God”.

Exodus 25:36 tells us that it was hammered out of a single piece of gold. There were seven “lamps”, which were specifically the piece at the top that held the fire. Then, there were seven “branches”, which were the stems that went back to the middle. The branches, unlike in modern depictions, were most likely straight, like the branches of a tree, just like the Torah was referred to as a tree of life.

When the oil was replaced, and the wicks trimmed, it was found that the westernmost lamp was still burning (miraculously, because it was the first to be lit, but the last to burn out). Each morning it was found with flame, though the others had already burned out. In the Talmud (Yoma 39a), it is declared that about forty years before the destruction of the second temple, this flame no longer burned in the mornings. Remember from the Day of Atonement that the tradition goes (from this same passage in the Talmud, actually) that the crimson thread no longer turned white after about 30 A.D. What happened around 30 A.D? Was this not the death and resurrection of Jesus?

The menorah was decorated with seven lamps and branches, eleven fruits, nine flower blooms, and twenty-two cups. Why these numbers? The menorah is the light of the Torah. There are seven words in the first verse of Genesis, eleven words in the first verse of Exodus, nine words in the first verse of Leviticus, and twenty-two words in the first verse of Deuteronomy. You might ask, “Where is Numbers?” The menorah stood 18 tefachim high, the lamps on top being 1 handbreadth. So, because the lamps have already been counted, we see the seventeen words in Numbers 1:1 are represented by the remaining seventeen handbreadths in height.

The menorah was not seen from the outside of the Tabernacle. It was inside, within the holy chamber, where sunlight could not enter. The menorah was the light to the Holy Place, the Most Holy Place being pitch dark because of the thick curtain to even block the light of the menorah.

Turn to Revelation 1. We find before the “one like a son of man” are seven golden lamp stands (verse 12). We see in verse 20 an interpretation of the “stars” and “lamp stands”. The stars are the seven angels of the seven churches. The lamp stands are the seven churches. What is John seeing? He is seeing the heavenly menorah. The lamps on top are stars, and the branches are these lamp stands. Look at Revelation 3:1, “These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.” Here we see the seven spirits being paralleled with the seven stars. Almost all commentators recognize the seven spirits (sometimes wrongly translated as sevenfold spirit) as the Holy Spirit. So, whoever these “angels” of the churches are, they are somehow coupled with the Holy Spirit Himself.

Turn to Revelation 4. Here we see the heavenly Tabernacle. God sits upon the throne, and before the throne, in verse 5, are these seven lamps that are blazing. This is the menorah. Then, we read, “These are the seven spirits of God”. Somehow, the seven lamps, which are the seven churches, are the seven spirits. Turn to Revelation 5. We find in verse 6 that the Lamb (Jesus) has “seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” Now, horns in the prophetic text always represent some sort of leadership or kingdom. These seven horns are the seven angels – the leaders of the seven churches – while the seven eyes are the churches themselves.

So, what was at one time used only to light the inward sanctuary is now sent out through the earth as the “eyes of the Lord”. Notice the tie that this has with Zechariah 3:9 and 4:10. In Zechariah 3, God shows the prophet Joshua the high priest being given clean robes and promotion in the Kingdom of God. You come to verse 8, and the words read that Joshua and his associates are “men symbolic of things to come.” See verse 9: “See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it, says the Lord Almighty, and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.” In the next chapter, we read about these two olive branches (symbolic of the two witnesses in Revelation 11), and they stand before the golden lamp stand! When we read the description of the lamp stand, we realize that this is the menorah. There are seven channels, being the branches, and seven lights, being the lamps. In verse 10, we read, “These seven are the eyes of the Lord, which range throughout the earth.”

This is important, because you can’t read Zechariah 3-4 without reading Zechariah 2 first. In Zechariah 2, the words are, “whoever touches you (Jerusalem) touches the apple of my eye.” That Hebrew word there literally means pupil of my eye. Jerusalem is the pupil of God’s eye… Then, when we get to 3:9, we read of this white stone (Jesus) that has seven eyes upon it. Then, the same seven eyes are mentioned in 4:10 in regard to the seven branches and lights of the menorah. The three are inseparable.

What about the showbread? What is the significance of it? Notice that just as the menorah had seven branches, the showbread before the Lord is supposed to be twelve loaves. Seven churches, twelve tribes of Israel. The showbread was placed on the north side of the Temple, opposite the menorah, in front of the Holy of Holies. The Hebrew for the showbread is lechem hapanim, or “bread of the face”. It would be metaphorically, “bread of the presence (of God)”. It is also called “the continual bread” (Numbers 4:7) and “bread of the row” (1 Chronicles 9:32).

What significance does this bread have? It is interesting that there really is so little written about it. For example, while we have much that we can tie the menorah to (as seen above), we don’t have any significant imagery of the showbread. At best we can somehow tie these loaves to the ‘twelves’ in Revelation 21. There are the twelve gates of the Holy City, each one with a name of a tribe of Israel, and the twelve foundations of the gates, each one with the name of an apostle. But this doesn’t really give a direct link, and it doesn’t actually satisfy me.

So, what it seems like we need to examine is what the Tabernacle itself is. We see in Exodus 19-24 that God comes down upon Sinai in amazing and awesome manifestation. We see fire, we see lightning, we see smoke, there is thunder and horns blowing, there is earth shaking, and all of this is representing literal things in heaven. When we then look at the Tabernacle, it seems to be a traveling Sinai. For example, the altar at the base of the mountain is now moved to just outside of the Tabernacle. The rock from which the water came is found represented in the washing basin. The smoke and fire is found represented in the altar of incense. The menorah represents the lightning that was flashing. Thus, the showbread must represent the manna.

In regard to the manna, this was the “bread of heaven”. We eat the bread of heaven in order to commune with God (see John 6 for reference). Jesus called Himself the “bread of life” which came down from heaven. If you partake in eating of this bread, then you shall have life in you. The manna is more than just a strange substance that caused the Israelites to ask, “What is it?” It is a sign of the provision of God, but also of His fellowship with His people. Now, the fact that there are twelve loaves of showbread is obvious. This represents the twelve tribes of Israel. However, the question is asked, “Why would God have the showbread represent Israel and manna at the same time?”

Once again, think about who Israel is. The people are the dwelling place of God. It is through Israel that all the nations would come unto God (see Exodus 19:6, Deuteronomy 4:6, Isaiah 2:3, 14:1, 66:18-21, Ezekiel 5:5, 37:26-28, and Zechariah 8:13 for starters). So, the showbread represents the manna, the fact that there are twelve should hint to us that Israel is like this showbread. Israel is the manna to the Gentiles. Israel is the bread of heaven that imparts life unto the nations. Of course, we see the fulfillment directly in Christ Jesus, the representative of Israel, but we also see time and time again that God desires to perform that same calling through Israel.

Just like the menorah is found as symbolically Jesus, but we see the extension out to the Church, here we see the showbread representing Jesus, but extending out to also representing Israel’s calling and purpose to the nations. Let us get back to that original question, “Why is this mentioned here?” Why in Leviticus 24 do we have a break to give us information already recorded in Exodus? We just finished up wit the seven feasts of the Lord in Leviticus 23. We saw how the six annual feasts represent the two comings of Christ, an eschatological paradigm. The Feast of Tabernacles pretty well represents the new Heaven and New Earth, when God shall “tabernacle” will all creation. After the feasts, we read of these two symbols that are supposed to be in the presence of the Lord forever.

It is almost as if God is given a look into the heavenly Tabernacle, because He wants to show the seven churches (menorah) and the twelve tribes of Israel (showbread) are dwelling in His presence forever. All of history has ended, and we are now in the next age, and yet both Israel and the Church remain before God. Their eternal destiny to be His people will remain forever. You cannot ever remove one of the lamp stands, nor any one loaf, from its place.

Feast of Tabernacles – Lev 23:33-44

We’ve seen that these seven feasts describe an end-time plan of God for humanity. Christ is our Passover Lamb, and the Bread of Truth without leaven. He is our First Fruit from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:22-23). On the day of Pentecost (Hebrew is Shavuot – the Feast of Weeks), the Holy Spirit came. The last three feasts remain: Trumpets, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Tabernacles. We read in 1 Corinthians 15:52 that Christ will return at the last trump. This is the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets. Ten days later is the Day of Atonement – the judgment of the nations. From there, we celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, which is celebrating that in the wilderness God tabernacled among men. In the fulfillment, it will be celebration that God has come to tabernacle among men and set up His Kingdom upon the earth (see Revelation 20:4).

In Leviticus 23:33-43, we find God’s commands concerning Sukkot. Sukkot is the Feast of Tabernacles. “The Lord said to Moses, Say to the Israelites: On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

So, you have this eight-day festival. The first and the eighth day are days of rest. The other days are times to party. You bring your first fruit offerings, that which you’ve pledged, and the normal Sabbath offerings. We are just going to have a big party; it will be loud, and it will be long. And here is the key: we will live in tents. It’s like a big campout.

Lets consider the traditional way that this festival is kept among the Jewish people. On the first night, a Sabbath night, the four species of vegetation that are mentioned in Leviticus are arranged in what is called a lulav (named from the palm branch). The four species are the lulav, hadas, aravah, and etrog. The lulav is a plant that grows fruit, but has no smell, and is symbolic of those who have the knowledge of the Bible, but don’t follow its commands. The hadas is a plant that has a pleasant smell, but bears no fruit. It is a symbol of the people who perform good works, but do not possess the knowledge of the Bible. The aravah has neither fruit nor a good smell. It is a symbol of the wicked who do no good, nor know the Torah. The etrog bears fruit and also has a pleasant fragrance. It is the symbol of a truly righteous man. So, when we read Jesus’ parable of a man who sowed seed, and there are four different possibilities for that seed, we are reading of a reiteration of the same symbolism given at Tabernacles. We can call it, “the parable of the lulav”.

The first night of the feast, there is a “guest” who leads the feast. This mysterious guest is a symbol. The four species, the mystical “guest,” the sukkah (tent), and the recital of the certain prayers and psalms are the process for this first night. Every night has a special guest. One the first night, it is father Abraham. He is a symbol of loving-kindness. The second guest (for day two) is Isaac. He is a symbol of power. Jacob on the third day is symbolic of splendor. Moses on the fourth day is symbolic of eternality. Aaron on the fifth day is symbolic of glory. Joseph on the sixth day is symbolic of a good (sure/strong) foundation. King David on the seventh day is the symbol of kingship.

During the festival, there are passages of Scripture quoted and taught. The first two days are days of teaching upon salvation. There is a prayer that is recited called the hoshanah. They pray things like, “Please save for your sake, our God; for your sake, our creator; for your sake, our redeemer, for the sake of your truth; for the sake of your covenant; for the sake of your mandate; for the sake of your goodness…” Passages like Deuteronomy 33:1-26 (Moses blessing the tribes) are read. Numbers 29:17-25 is read on the third day. Numbers 29:28 is read on the fourth day, Numbers 29:23-31 is read on the fifth day, and Numbers 29:26-34 is read on the sixth day. It is said that the sixth day is the last possible day to get your name written in the book of life. During this day, there was a healing service held that lasted through the night, and the entire book of Deuteronomy was read. Others read all the Psalms instead of Deuteronomy (in honor of David being the “guest”).

And on the eighth day…

The eighth day was the climactic ending. It revolved around two pitchers: one of wine, and the other of water (much like blood and water came out of Jesus’ side). This great celebration is about the harvest. God has provided, just like He provided for our forefathers who dwelt in tents. Now we celebrate this, and then there is the winter. After the winter is spring, where we will have another feast dedicated to praying that God would provide the rain for the crop. If the fain comes, the grapes grow, and the harvest is brought in, and then wine is produced.

Water became symbolic of God providing for your needs. The rabbis would teach from passages like Jeremiah 17:13, “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.” Water was symbolic of provision, but it was also symbolic of a deeper spiritual truth. We are dust. Without the water, we are only dust. God takes away from us His presence, and we are nothing. Isaiah 12:2-3 reads, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

These are some of the teachings that are given during the feast. The water is a symbol of God’s life in us. The wine is a symbol of the evidence of God’s presence in us. Once again, it goes back to the lulav. If we have God’s life, and do not bear fruit, then what good is the life of God? If we have fruit, but we don’t have life, what good is the fruit? But if we have both, then the evidence is both the water of the Spirit as well as the anointing of His presence. It is from here that we can open up our New Testaments to understand how the pieces come together.

In John chapter 7, we see an incident in the life of Jesus that makes absolutely no sense. If you’re like me, you’ve read this and heard this a hundred times, but it just seems like this strange sort of incident. “After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, ‘You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.’ For even his own brothers did not believe in him. Therefore Jesus told them, ‘The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.’ Having said this, he stayed in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.”

What is Jesus saying? It is the same thing that He is saying to Mary, His mother, at the wedding in John 2. “Woman, my time has not yet come.” The only time that Jesus ever seems to be speaking about “His time’ is when He is referring to His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. His time is not yet come. The time is not now for the Son of Man to be glorified. Does this make a little more sense? Why isn’t He going to the feast? He isn’t going, because He knows the feast is a symbol describing Him, and it is not time for His glory to be manifested. He knows that the feast is all about the Messiah, and the water and the wine are speaking of a future time when God will dwell among us. He won’t just live in the Temple or the Tabernacle, but will live hand in hand with His people He will be the living water for them, and He will be their wine. He will reside here among us.

Jesus says, “My time is not yet come.” Then, as soon as His brothers live, He goes. As soon as they’re gone, He secretly goes. Notice verse 37: “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice…” Remember what happens on the last day. Remember that there is the wine, and the water, and the prayers, and the teachings from Isaiah and Jeremiah and Numbers and Deuteronomy that all look forward to some event where the Messiah comes and lives among them. Now, during the time of Jesus, there was an extra bit that would be performed on the last day. While all the people are gathered together at the Temple, the high priest would take an empty pitcher, walk down the isle and out of the Temple, down to the pool of Salom, which is a fresh water spring, fill the pitcher with water, carry the pitcher back up to the Temple, slowly walk up the steps, carry the pitcher up the isle, and stop at the Holy of Holies. While this is taking place, the crowd is chanting “hoshanah.”

As the high priest walks out of the Temple, the chant is quiet. As the high priest dips the pitcher into the pool, the chanting grows louder. The crowd gets louder and louder as the high priest approaches the Temple. Hoshana means “God, save us.” While the high priest would be walking up those steps and moving toward the Holy of Holies, the crowd would be chanting at the top of their lungs. When the priest comes to the Holy of Holies, he then takes the pitcher of wine and the pitcher of water, and he begins to pour them out. The liquid runs down the steps and out of the Temple – a red river flowing from the Throne of God. When they pierced Jesus’ side, what flowed? Blood and water…

While that river is flowing, the people are now screaming, “HOSHANAH! HOSHANAH! HOSHANAH HOSHANAH! HOSHANAH!” As this scene is taking place, the people are shouting at the tops of their lungs, the red river flows, and Jesus stands up and speaks… with a loud voice. You don’t say… He speaks with a loud voice, so as to be heard, “If anyone is thirsty! Let him come unto me and drink! Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him!”

Jesus waits until the last day of the feast, when everyone is on their feet and crying, “God save us!” to come out and speak with a loud voice, “That water is not the real water! Come to me if you want the Living Water. You just heard Isaiah 12 and Jeremiah 17. Come to me all who are truly thirsty.” The real water, the true reality, is not something physical. It is not something that you claim. It is no the food on the table or the water in your glass, or the clothes on your back. It isn’t the house that you live in. It isn’t your tent being nice and fancy like tradition says it should be. The real water is this: the Spirit. And this Spirit flows like a river of living water from without you. Now, it is interesting to note that living water is the same term as “flowing” water.

Notice the next chapter. In John 8, we have Jesus being tested by the Pharisees. They bring a woman who was just caught in adultery to Him. First off, where is the guy? It takes two to tango. Secondly, how did they know it was adultery? Do they know the husband? Thirdly, how did they know this was going on? Was she committing adultery in the broad daylight? The whole thing seems mighty fishy. Yet, when they ask Jesus what they should do, Jesus doesn’t respond. What does He do? He starts writing in the dust

Remember Jeremiah 17:13, that when the Messiah comes, He shall write the names of the disobedient in the sand. They just read these passages. They just taught that God would write their names in the dust if they were found without this living water… And they bring this woman in an unjust fashion, and they present her to Jesus, and they are full of pomp and arrogance. They are trying to disprove what just happened the night before, and now Jesus is doing what? I have heard time after time that we can’t tell what Jesus was writing in the sand. Of course we can. They just read this passage yesterday. He is writing the names of those who persecute this woman. It all makes sense when we see the Old and New Testaments together.

There is sand on the ground of the universe, and Jesus has been, and still is, writing upon it. It is called the Lamb’s book of Life. Most of us are familiar with the term from Revelation 20. It isn’t hard to know who is in it and who isn’t. Jesus said that we would know them by their fruits. He even was bold enough to mention that grapes don’t have thorns, and figs don’t grow with thistle. Do you get it? Grapes and thorns; figs and thistle… One is a fruit; the other isn’t even the same kind of vegetation. They are completely different. Do you see His point? They have nothing to do with one another, and that is the point exactly. It should be that obvious who really serves God and who doesn’t.

So why, then, do we have so many people who follow the Lord, and no way to distinguish them? Why does it seem like all of the “ways” are by being around them for five or more years before you can even tell if there really is fruit in their lives? Does it really take five years to tell a fig from an octopus? It is obvious. Have you ever been around someone, and even if they aren’t perfect, there is just something about them that seems to bring forth life and joy? Have you ever met someone that you go to counsel and be by their side, and when you leave, you feel better about yourself because of how they’ve counseled you? This is the fruit. It is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If these things are lacking, then most likely the person is a thorn or thistle.

Sukkot is about celebrating the God who would dwell in a Tabernacle with His people. It is about praising God for the fact that He doesn’t leave us. The way that John starts his Gospel is by claiming, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” That Greek phrase can also be translated “pitched his tent…” The word, which is God, pitched his tent among us. It isn’t about Christ’s death upon the cross, but about God dwelling with us. That is the first advent – the breaking in of the Kingdom of God upon this world.

It goes back to Exodus 40, just like all the feasts have gone back to Exodus, where God has the Israelites build a Tabernacle for God to dwell in while they all dwell in their own “tabernacles”. Sukkot is celebrating the God who dwells in our midst.

But there is a future coming of Christ that we look forward to. You see, we find that Christ is our Passover Lamb. We find that the Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot) is fulfilled in Acts 2. But when we read Revelations, we find it ending with God making His dwelling with men. The Feast of Tabernacles is the last feast of the year, and it is also the last one to be fulfilled prophetically speaking. Everything said up to this point is really progressing forward to the event that will one day come. We all sense it and desire it. We long for it. We know that when we shall see God that we shall be made like him (1 John 3:2). Paul even uses the phraseology of tents in 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 when speaking about the resurrection. The paradox of the faith is that the feasts are all fulfilled, but yet they have a future implication. We can see the fulfillment in the crucifixion of Jesus that because of His death, burial, and resurrection we have the water and the wine – the Spirit and the blood – poured out upon us. But that isn’t the end of the story. There is still a future gathering together, when even the heathen nations will celebrate Sukkot.

In Zechariah 14:16, we read of this very thing. In verse 17, God says that if any nation does not come up to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot, they will not have any rain. Egypt is specifically named. There are implications in this. Somehow there are heathen nations in the Millennial Kingdom, but they are no longer “heathen”, otherwise they would have been destroyed with the Antichrist. In this, Christ sets up a throne in Jerusalem along with other “thrones” upon which the priests of God sit (Revelation 20:4-6). This is called the first resurrection. It is only for those found worthy of ruling and reigning with Christ for those 1000 years. Beyond this, we find after the judgment, that those who are a part of the Holy City – the Bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem – they will reign with Christ forever and ever (Revelation 22:5).

The issue of ruling is simple. It is given to two people: those beheaded by the beast, and the priests. This is all summed up in what has been written here. Those who live from Eden, who see that through Christ we have victory over sin and death, will be a part of that Kingdom. Anyone that lays down their own life, and takes up their cross, and lives as a sacrifice unto God, constantly in communion with Him before the throne, will find a place at that throne when it comes down out of Heaven. These are the requirements of servanthood, but ultimately they are the high calling in Christ Jesus. To they who take seriously the words given by God, which are freedom, and they who because of the word of God take up their own cross, they shall here the words, “It is finished!”

No more do we struggle and strive in vain. No more do we weep and anguish without being comforted. No more do we suffer constant reproach without tasting glory. No more do we feel abandoned and left out without feeling accepted in the beloved. No longer are we contained in our mortal bodies. No longer does the snare of death hold us. Finally we are free. Finally we have attained unto life everlasting. Finally we have entered that rest. Finally we have come unto Zion. Finally we have entered into the Holy of Holies. Finally we eat of that table, which is Christ’s body and His blood; Christ in us – the hope of glory. And that finally is today.

It is finished…

Day of Atonement – Lev 23:26-32

After the Feast of Trumpets, there are the ten days of awe, and on the tenth day, Yom Kippur. The Feast of Trumpets signifies the return of Christ and the marriage of the Lamb. The Day of Atonement signifies the judgment of the Lamb. When we go back to Exodus, we find that there are parallels to all of these feasts in the narrative. With the Day of Atonement, we are left going to Exodus 32. Moses has been up on the mount for forty days. What was at first his disappearing for a few hours turned into overnight, which then turned into a few days. By the time a week had passed, I’m sure that many of the Israelites began to get worried. One week turned into two. Two weeks turned into three. Three weeks turned into five. We’re almost at six weeks that Moses has not come down from the mountain. He doesn’t have food, and he doesn’t have water. There is fire burning on the top of the mountain, and maybe that fire has just burned him with the mountain. Maybe our God is a consuming fire, and Moses was consumed too literally.

So, the people go to Aaron the priest asking him to make them an image of cast gold. They seek for an idol at the base of the mountain. Is this not bizarre? They can look up on the mountain and see that God is still more than a mere idol, and yet they ask Aaron to cast for them an image. Aaron does so. He makes a golden calf, and then he tells the Israelites, “Here are thy gods!” Moses comes back down the mountain, and Joshua is standing at the foot waiting for him. Now, if Moses has been gone for forty days, and Joshua has been standing there waiting, how long has Joshua gone without food and water? Is it possible that not only Moses is fasting, but that even Joshua is fasting? They hear the sound of singing. When they come around the corner, Israel is partying before a golden calf – some of them even dancing naked.

What do you think that Moses is feeling? What kind of anger do you think burns within him at this moment? After Israel has just vowed to the Lord as His bride, she is now dancing around a golden calf naked…

Moses commands that the calf be ground to powder, and he forces the Israelites to drink their sin (Exodus 32:20). In verse 26, Moses calls out, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” The Levites rally to him. Then, he says to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.” The Levites did it. And it was after they had killed 3000 people that the word comes, “This day you have been consecrated unto the Lord.” God blessed them on that day.

There is consecration here. We’ve already examined the Day of Atonement and what it is all about. Instead of repeating the same information, I want to turn and show how this day shall be fulfilled in the future. Just like in Exodus 32 we saw both condemnation and consecration, the Jewish people look at the Day of Atonement as the day that they stand before the judgment of God. He is looking at your past year and deciding whether to bless you or curse in this coming year. In one sense, it doesn’t go beyond the blessing or curse for the year. In another sense, the question is whether your name will be found in the book of Life or if it will be blotted out.

In Hebrews 9:24-28, we find a past, present, and future tense of Jesus’ work in atonement. In verse 24, we read that Messiah “appears in the presence of God on our behalf” (now). Verse 26 tells us that Jesus “appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (past). In the future, Christ “will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” We find the judgment of Christ when He returns, for Matthew 25 speaks of a separating the sheep from the goats. We also see that the ‘tares’ will be thrown “into the furnace of fire,” and the “righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:38, 42-43).

Yet, we also find another way of viewing this. Just like the Israelites had committed sin right in the presence of God, we find in Revelation 20 that there will be an innumerable number that will come against the Holy City to wage war against God and His people. What compulsion hexes them to do such a thing? We find the one to lead the charge is Satan himself. And, the punishment is that fire comes down out of heaven upon the armies. “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” It is the very next scene that displays the Great White Throne.

This is the eschatological Day of Atonement. We find great comfort in Christ being our sacrificial lamb, and our scapegoat, but just like the Jewish people spend ten days in soul searching before they come before the Lord to be judged, so too do we find that the whole of the world is given every opportunity to come unto Christ. Somehow there are people who are in the world while Jesus is ruling as King, and they will have the gumption to actually attack the place of His dwelling. What can be left but judgment?

The Day of Atonement is about atonement, but it is also about sealing. It is about sealing the fate of every person. We are promised in places like Ephesians 1:13 that we have received the seal of the Holy Spirit. In Revelations, there are two seals. One is the seal of God upon the 144,000, and the other is called “the mark of the beast”. They contrast one another, because you will either be given over entirely to wickedness or entirely to righteousness. For they who are married to the Lamb, they will inherit righteousness forever. For the others, those nations that are not cast into the fire at Jesus coming (see Daniel 7:12, Isaiah 66:18, etc), they now stand before the Great White Throne awaiting their fate. Shall the men and women who were not found worthy of ruling with Christ (Revelations 20:5-6) make it into the New Heaven and New Earth? Will the nations who have not come to battle against the Lord at the end find their inheritance in the next age (see Revelations 21:24 where it speaks of nations and kings still existing after the Judgment Seat)?

Yom Kippur is about judgment. It is about the Lord judging between man and man, nation and nation, and all who are not written in the Lamb’s book of life shall be cast forever into the lake of fire. This is difficult to explain, namely because it seems like it is by grace and grace alone that we are saved. Who would argue against that? And yet, how would people not know whether they will enter into eternal righteousness or not? Why does it say both that the dead are judged based upon their works (20:12), and also upon grace (20:15)? Doesn’t it make sense that it would be one or the other? Yet, even James expresses this paradox: “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by actions, is dead… You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.”

So, our timeline of how these feasts play out in history shows us that the Passover was Christ’s crucifixion, the First Fruits his resurrection, Shavuot being Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets being Christ’s return, and the Day of Atonement being Jesus’ judgment. All that is left is the New Heaven and New Earth, which we will discuss next time with the Feast of Tabernacles – Sukkot.

Feast of Trumpets – Lev 23:23-25

The Feast of Trumpets is the Jewish New Year. We left off in Exodus 19. The Israelites had just come unto the Desert of Sinai, and now they stand before the Mount of God. God says to Moses, in verse 10-11, to tell the people to consecrate themselves today and tomorrow, and on the third day God will appear to them. Now, this is interesting, because when we read verse 13, we read, “Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain.” Then, from verses 16-19, we read, “On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.”

Now, it was at this time that God gave Israel the Ten Commandments. For Israel, the giving of the Ten Commandments was truly the marriage between they and God. In Exodus 6:7, God is giving His promise to Israel that He will “take” them as His people, and He will be their God. This language of “taking” is used elsewhere as language of taking a bride (such as Isaac “taking” Rebekah). When you reach the prophets, this is even more pronounced. Jeremiah 2:2 says, “Remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me…”

In a Jewish wedding, you need a chuppa. A chuppa is usually built by four poles holding up the prayer shawl above the groom and bride. When we look at Exodus 19, we find that God comes down upon Sinai with a “cloud” of smoke. This cloud would be the covering, the chuppa. The bride would need to take a mikveh. A mikveh was when the woman would consecrate herself by bathing in the water of cleansing. This would explain why God says, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day” (verse 10). We see the language of consecration and washing to signify the mikveh. There would be a marriage contract, called a ketubah. And, we find the ketubah in Exodus 24: the Ten Commandments written upon stone tablets. Lastly, there needs to be a sign. We use rings today, but in Exodus 31:13 we read, “You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come…”

We find here the Ten Commandments being more than just a list of do’s and don’ts. This is a wedding. God marries Israel at Mount Sinai, and that is what the Feast of Trumpets is about. This is the Jewish New Year, because it is a new life with our Husband, the Lord our God.

In regards to the New Testament, the Feast of Trumpets signifies the return of Jesus. For example, we read in Matthew 24:29-31, “Immediately after the distress of those days, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

1 Corinthians 15:52 claims that the resurrection from the dead will take place “at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” It is significant to note that this cannot happen, according to 1 Corinthians 15:23-28, until Christ comes and puts “everything” under His feet – the last of His enemies to be put under His feet being death itself. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 reads, “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

With this last quote, it is important to note that both in English and in Greek the wording is almost exactly the same as Matthew – unmistakably so. It is impossible to give credence to the claim that says Paul is speaking of the rapture, but Jesus is speaking of the Second Coming. The two statements here are one and the same, Paul quoting the words of Jesus, which we find even more evidence of in 1 Thessalonians 5. The trumpet sounds, and the dead rise, and Jesus returns, and it is all the exact same event.

Finally, we find in Revelation 11:15-19 the sounding of the seventh trumpet. When the seventh trumpet sounds, the words are said, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” Notice the claim. How can this be anything but the end of the age? Then, if that weren’t enough to convince us that this is the return of Jesus, we read in verse 18, “The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great – and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” This happens when Jesus returns, as shown in Matthew 25:31-46 (see context from Matthew 24). Also, link this later with Revelations 22:12 where Jesus says that He is coming with His rewards, and thus implies that we don’t get rewarded before His coming.

So, we see that the Feast of Trumpets revolves around the Second Advent. What else happens at the Second Advent? In Revelation 19:6, we begin to read, “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb as come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God’.” Then, just passing over verse 10 go get to verse 11, we read, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.”

This is the second coming of Jesus.

When is the marriage of the Lamb? The marriage of the Lamb takes place just prior to the coming of Jesus. I would actually contend that it is when He appears in the sky. My personal opinion is that at the coming of Jesus, when we shall see Him we shall be made like Him (1 John 3:2), and the resurrection of the saints (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) is the marriage of the Lamb. Yet, with this we have a few things happening, and there is more to the story than we initially think.

We see in Revelations 1:7, “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the people of the earth will mourn because of him.” Here John is quoting Matthew 24, but he inserts Zechariah 12:10 to show us that when Jesus returns, Israel shall be saved (Romans 11:25). So, we see from this and from other places that Christ’s second coming is the redemption of Israel, which is the marriage of Israel unto her Husband (the LORD). For more evidence of this, see the language of the “new exodus” in passages such as Isaiah 4, Jeremiah 16:4-5, Ezekiel 36:24-28, and Jeremiah 31:31-37 (just to mention a bare minimum few). Jesus’ coming is the redemption of Israel, which is the marriage of Israel unto her God forever.

Yet, there is another aspect unto this. Isaiah 62 contains an interesting verse, which needs to be read in the context of Isaiah 40-65 as a whole. Verses 4-5 say, “The Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a maiden, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” Apparently, Israel will be married unto God, the Church will be married unto God, and even the Land of Israel itself will be married unto God. Why do all four get married? This is no longer “the two shall be one”, but instead, “The four shall be one.”

Look at Revelation 21:2-3 and 9-14. To just pick a few statements from this, we read, “I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be His people, and He will be their God…’ It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel… The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

Here we see Israel and the Church married – become one – as they truly are. We also see this City is called “New Jerusalem”, which is called in Hebrews 12:24, “Zion.” Zion is a name of the City of God, but at the same time, often is also considered to be the whole of Judah. It signifies both the heavenly dwelling of God as well as the earthly Promised Land. Jerusalem has been selected as the place of God’s dwelling, but here we see the marriage of the Land with God, the Church, and Israel, in such a way that you cannot distinguish any of them from the others.

You see, the Feast of Trumpets is about more than just the return of Jesus. It is about the restoration of all things. It is about the marriage of His people unto Him – all of His people. It is about the marriage of heaven and earth. It is about the wedding of God that has been in the heart of God since the foundations of the world. This is the fulfillment of the eschaton. After this, all that remains is the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles, which are also eschatological in nature.