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FESTIVALS IN SCRIPTURE AND HISTORY VOLUME II: THE FALL FESTIVALS
Even a casual reading of the Bible reveals that God has communicated His saving knowledge not only through abstract reasoning, but also through symbolic representations. The reason is that the human mind grasps symbolic representations more readily than it does abstract reasoning. A picture is worth a thousand words. Thus, it is not surprising that God used object lessons to help His people conceptualize and experience spiritual realities.
A significant kind of symbolic representation which is pervasive in Scripture is known as "types," and the study of types is called "typology." A type is an Old Testament institution, event, ceremony, object, or person that God specifically designed to serve as predictive prefiguration (types) of His saving grace and power yet to be revealed.
In several instances, the New Testament explicitly identifies as "type" (tupos) an Old Testament person, event, or ceremony. For example, the experiences of Israel in the wilderness are types (typoi) of the experience of Christians in this world (1 Cor 10:6). Adam is a type (typos) of Christ, the second Adam "who was to come" (Rom 5:14). The salvation of Noah and his family through the Flood corresponds to its antitype (antitypon), the Christian baptism (1 Pet 3:21). The priesthood and sacrifices of the sanctuary are a "shadow" (skia) and "type" (tupon) of Christís sacrifice and heavenly ministry (Heb 8:5).
The annual feasts of ancient Israel are not designated explicitly as "types" in the New Testament, but their typological function is clearly shown by the use of their themes to depict the unfolding of salvation history. For example, the sacrifice of the Passover lamb is seen in the New Testament as a type of the sacrifice of Christ, our Paschal Lamb (1 Cor 5:7). The offering of the Firstfruits on the day after the eating of Passover (Nisan 16) is seen as a type of Christ who was raised from the dead at that very time, as "the first fruits of those who are asleep" (1 Cor 15:20). The Feast of Pentecost celebrated fifty days after Passover as the grain harvest ingathering is seen as a type of the ingathering of Godís people, consisting not only of Jews but of "all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him" (Acts 2:39).
Our study of the Spring and Fall Festivals of ancient Israel has shown that these feasts were more than mere ceremonies designed to meet the immediate religious needs of the people. They were divinely designed prefigurations (types) of the unfolding of the plan of salvation. We have found that the Spring Feasts of Passover, Firstfruits, Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost typify the inauguration of Christís redemptive ministry and the Fall Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles represent the consummation of His redemptive ministry. An understanding of the typological meaning of the annual Feasts can help us appreciate more fully the unfolding of Christís redemptive ministry from its inauguration to its final consummation.
Objectives of the Chapter. This introductory chapter is divided into two parts according to its two objectives. The first part considers the nature and importance of Biblical typology in general. An attempt is made to identify some of the essential characteristics of Biblical typology in general and to relate them to Festival typology in particular.
The second part examines the typical nature of the annual feasts and offers an overview of their typological meaning and function. The overview of the Spring and Fall Festivals is, in essence, a brief summary of the study conducted in the two volumes of Godís Festivals in Scripture and History. This summary is provided out of consideration for those readers who appreciate an overview of the basic content and structure of the two volumes.
PART I: BIBLICAL TYPOLOGY
The Importance of Typology. Bible students who accept the Bible as divinely inspired, traditionally have recognized that the typology of the Old Testament provides the key to interpret much of the message of the New Testament. In recent times, even prominent liberal scholars have emphasized the importance of typology for understanding the message of the Bible. For example, respected New Testament scholar Leonard Goppelt, who produced the first comprehensive study of the New Testament typology from a modern historical perspective,1 stresses that typology "is the central and distinctive New Testament way of understanding Scripture."2
In a similar vein, Old Testament scholar G. Ernest Wright affirms that "the one word which perhaps better than any other describes the early churchís method of interpreting the Old Testament is Ďtypology.í"3 The same view is expressed by New Testament scholar E. Earle Ellis, who says: "Typological interpretation expresses most clearly the basic attitude of primitive Christianity toward the Old Testament."4
Ada Habershon illustrates the importance of typology in understanding the Bible by means of a fitting analogy. She writes: "The Bible may be compared to those beautifully illustrated volumes so often published with a number of engravings of choice pictures at the beginning, followed by chapters of letterpress describing them, giving their history, or telling something of the life of the artist. We can scarcely conceive of anyone trying to understand such descriptions without referring to the pictures themselves; yet this is how the Bible is often treated."5
These recent affirmations of the importance and centrality of typology for the understanding of the message of the Bible, are remarkable in view of the previous negative assessment of typology among critical scholars. Owing to the triumph of higher criticism, the interest in the study of Biblical typology largely disappeared in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Liberal theologians came to view typology as merely "an historical curiosity, of little importance or significance to the modern reader."6 However, after World War II, liberal scholars who had largely rejected the value of typology have exuberantly embraced and defended a new, liberal view of typology.
Liberal Versus Traditional Typology. There are some basic differences between the traditional and liberal understanding of Biblical typology. The traditional view of typology (which forms the basis for our interpretation of the annual feasts) is rooted in Old Testament historical realities which are seen as divinely designed prefigurations pointing forward in specific details to their fulfillment in the redemptive accomplishments of Christís first and second Advents.
By contrast, liberal scholars view typology merely as a form of analogical thinking, which in the Bible involves a retrospective recognition of correspondence between similar modes of divine activity. In other words, for liberal scholars, typology involves only some general parallel situations. For them, Old Testament types are not divinely designed and have little or no predictive function. They only find some analogical correspondence to Godís activities in the New Testament. Thus, for liberal scholars no consistent principles of interpretation can be developed from the study of Biblical typology, because there is no system or order in the use of types.
These two views of typology raise the question: What is the Biblical view of typology? Are the Biblical types divinely designed prefigurations or merely analogical correspondences of divine activities perceived by Bible writers? Is Biblical typology predictive or retrospective? Does it deal with specific details or only with general parallel situations?
The answer to these questions is not difficult to find because the New Testament writers themselves provide clues in those passages which establish a clear correspondence between the Old Testament types and the New Testament antitypes. Six verses in the New Testament are identified as typological because they explicitly employ the word type (typos) or antitype (antitypon) to describe the New Testamentís interpretation of the Old Testament types. These verses are Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11; 1 Peter 3:21; Hebrews 8:5; and 9:24. A detailed exegesis of these passages has been done by Richard Davidson in his doctoral dissertation Typology in Scripture.8
Davidsonís dissertation clearly shows that "the structures of Biblical typology, as they emerge from representative scriptural passages, harmonize fully with the traditional view of typology."9 His detailed exegesis of the above-mentioned passages indicates that, contrary to the liberal view of typology, New Testament typology is "rooted in the historical reality of the Old Testament types; the correspondence consists of divinely designed prefigurations; it is basically prospective/predictive, and not simply retrospective; and it involves a correspondence of details as well as of general Ďsimilar situations.í"10
Davidsonís analysis of the six representative New Testament passages which use the terms "type" (tupos) and "antitype" (antitupos) to interpret the Old Testament prefigurations, suggests that Biblical typology has historical, eschatological, prophetic, Christological, and ecclesiological elements. We briefly look at these elements of Biblical typology, since they apply also to our study of the typology of the feasts.
Historical Element. Biblical typology is rooted in history. Both the type and the antitype are historical realities whose historicity is assumed by the Biblical writers. In this respect, a type differs from an allegory, for the latter is a fictitious narrative that does not depend upon historical realities. In the early church, the allegorical method of interpretation blurred the true meaning of the Old Testament to such an extent that it was impossible to develop a legitimate typology. The allegorical method completely ignored the literal and historical sense of Scripture, making every word or event mean something totally foreign to its original setting.
By contrast, the typological method of interpretation depends upon the historical reality of the Old Testament types. The question of their historicity is so crucial that the typological correspondence between Christ and Adam in Romans 5:12-21, the Exodus events and the Christian experience in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, and the Flood and Christian baptism in 1 Peter 3:18-22, "would collapse if the historical reality of Adam, the Exodus, or the Flood was not accepted."11
Another characteristic of the historical element is that there is an escalation or intensification from the Old Testament type to the New Testament antitype. "For instance, Israelís food and drink in the wilderness are intensified to become the Christian Lordís Supper of the antitype (1 Corinthians 10). In Hebrews, the inadequate, temporary Old Testament sacrifices and ceremonies are escalated into the once-for-all efficacious sacrifice and superior, permanent priesthood of Christ."12
The same principle of escalation applies to the typology of the feasts. For example, the Feast of Trumpets which served to call the Jews to stand trial before the heavenly court, escalates in the New Testament into angels blowing trumpets and crying in the midst of heaven to announce to mankind the beginning of the time of judgment (Rev 11:18; 14:7). The annual cleansing of sin on the Day of Atonement escalates in the New Testament into the final and permanent removal of sin at Christís coming (Heb 9:23-28). The temporary booths built during the Feast of Tabernacles to commemorate Godís protection during sojourning in the wilderness, escalates in the New Testament into the permanent sheltering of the redeemed by the booth of Godís glorious presence (Rev 7:15; 21:3).
Prophetic Element. Biblical typology has also a prophetic element inasmuch as the Old Testament types are predictive foreshadowing or advance-presentations of the corresponding New Testament antitypes. For example, Adam is seen as a "type of the one who was to come" (Rom 5:14). The wilderness experience of Israel is seen as a prefiguration of the Christian church (1 Cor 10: 6, 11). The earthly sanctuary and its services are "a shadow of the good things to come" (Heb 10:1). These Old Testament types presuppose a purpose in history and an organic relationship between the Old and New Testaments.
Typology differs from prophecy in the means of prediction. Prophecy predicts mainly by means of the word, while typology predicts by means of institution, event, ceremony, or person. The prophetic element of Biblical typology is evident especially in the typology of the annual feasts which serve as prefiguration of the redemptive accomplishments of Christís first and second Advents. Our study of the feasts has shown that each of them was divinely designed to prefigure a major event in the unfolding of the plan of salvation.
Eschatological Element. The prophetic element of Biblical typology is further clarified by the eschatological fulfillment of Old Testament types in the New Testament antitypes. For example, the experiences of Israel in the wilderness are types (typoi) of those "upon whom the end of the ages has come" (1 Cor 10:11). Adam is a type (typos) of the second Adam "who was to come" (Rom 5:14) to inaugurate the eschatological new age.
Davidson notes that Biblical typology may have three possible kinds of eschatological fulfillments: "(1) inaugurated, connected with the first advent of Christ; (2) appropriated, focused on the church as she lives in tension between the Ďalreadyí and the Ďnot yetí; and (3) consummated, linked to the apocalyptic second coming of Christ."13
These three possible kinds of eschatological fulfillments of Biblical typology, in general, apply to a large extent to Festival typology, in particular. For example, we found that the Christian Passover has an inaugurated eschatological fulfillment, since it looks back to what has already happened. It is a proclamation of the death of Jesus (1 Cor 11:26). It also has an appropriated eschatological fulfillment, since it enables believers in the present to enter into fellowship with the exalted Lord at the Lordís Table. Paul calls this fellowship as "a participation in the blood . . . [and] body of Christ" (1 Cor 10:16). Finally, the Christian Passover will have a consummated fulfillment at the future Messianic banquet. Christ alluded to the consummated fulfillment of Passover when He said: "I shall not drink of it again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God" (Mark 14:25; cf. Matt 26:29; Luke 22:16, 18).
Christological Element. Biblical typology is above all Christological, that is, Christ-centered, and soteriological, that is, salvation-centered. Davidson explains that "The Old Testament types are not merely Ďbareí realities, but salvation realities. They find their fulfillment in the person and work of Christ and/or in the gospel realities brought about by Christ. Christ is thus the ultimate orientation point of Old Testament types and their New Testament fulfillments."14
The Christological element of Biblical typology is especially evident in the typology of the annual feasts. We have found that the major events of Christís first Advent are seen in the New Testament as the fulfillment of the Spring Feasts of Israel and the redemptive accomplishments of the second Advent are associated with the Fall Feasts. This is why a study of the typology of the Feasts can help us appreciate the inauguration, appropriation, and consummation of Christís redemption.
Ecclesiological Element. Biblical typology has also an ecclesiological element, seeing that it relates to the appropriation of the work of Christ by the individual believer and by the church at large, especially through the sacred ordinances. "In 1 Corinthians 10 all of these aspects come to the fore. The experience of ancient Israel in the wilderness happened typologically (typikos) as types (typoi) of eschatological Israel, the Christian church (verses 6, 11), and involved the sacraments [sacred ordinances] (verses 2-4) and a personal decision whether to be faithful or disobedient (verses 5-10)."15
The ecclesiological element, that is, the personal and corporate appropriation of the work of Christ, is especially present in the typology of the annual feasts. Our study has shown that each of the feasts, not only foreshadows the redemptive work of Christ, but also invites the believer to appropriate His provision of salvation. For example, the Feast of Unleavened Bread invites the individual believer and the church at large which celebrates the redemption accomplished by Christ, the Paschal Lamb, to clean out the old leaven of sin from their lives just as the Jews removed the old leaven from their homes before Passover. Paul exclaims: "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Cor 5:6-8).
Summing up, we may define Biblical typology as a study of the way the New Testament interprets the Old Testament types (persons, institutions, events, ceremonies) which were designed by God to prefigure predictively the antitypical fulfillment of significant aspects of the plan of salvation The major characteristics of Biblical typology we have just considered will help us to clarify and appreciate the typical nature of the annual feasts.
PART II: FESTIVAL TYPOLOGY
In the preceding discussion of Biblical typology, we referred to the typical nature and predictive function of the annual feasts without attempting to prove that they constitute real types designed by God to foreshadow the unfolding of redemptive history. At this juncture, we wish to examine some of the indications of the typical character of the feasts before summarizing their antitypical fulfillments that we have examined in the two volumes of Godís Festivals in Scripture and History.
Importance of the Typical Nature of the Feasts. The determination of the typical nature of the annual feasts of Israel is most important for establishing their continuity or discontinuity in the New Testament. If the annual feasts were connected exclusively to the agricultural life and the ceremonial system of the Jews, then it is evident that their function terminated at the Cross. But, if the feasts foreshadow also the unfolding of salvation history, then their function continues in the Christian church, though with new meaning and relevance. This means that it is of fundamental importance to establish the typical and prefigurative nature of the feasts, before examining their antitypical fulfillments in the New Testament.
The determination of the typical nature of the annual feasts is of crucial importance for Seventh-day Adventist eschatology. The Adventist doctrines of the heavenly ministry of Jesus, the pre-Advent judgment, the close of probation, and the millennial binding of Satan, all derive largely from an understanding of the antitypical fulfillment of events associated with the Day of Atonement. The founders of the Adventist Church understood that the Spring Festivals were types (Passover, Wave Sheaf, and Pentecost) which were fulfilled in connection with the first coming of Christ. By analogy, they concluded that the Fall Festivals are also types that find their fulfillment in the events related to the Second Advent. "In like manner," writes Ellen G. White, "the types which relate to the second advent must be fulfilled at the time pointed out in the symbolic service."16
The founders of Adventism, however, focused primarily on the typology of the Day of Atonement, largely ignoring the contribution of the Feasts of Trumpets and Tabernacles to the understanding of the consummation of the redemption. Their concern was to understand the antitypical fulfillment of the cleansing of the sanctuary as predicted in Daniel 8:14. Thus, they studied with great diligence the ritual of the Day of Atonement in order to establish its antitypical fulfillment.
The purpose of this study is not to expose the theological deficiencies of the Adventist pioneers, but rather to build upon the foundation of their work by expanding our understanding of how the typology of the Fall Feasts reveals the unfolding of events leading to the consummation of redemption. It would be unreasonable to expect the founders of Adventism to have fully grasped Biblical typology, in general and Festival typology, in particular, when only in recent times these areas have become the subject of scholarly inquiry.
The Prevailing View. The prevailing view among Christians today is that the annual feasts were strictly socio-ceremonial institutions given to Israel. Their function terminated at the Cross with all the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. I must admit that I subscribed to this view until I became involved in this research. It came as a surprise to me to discover that the feasts were designed by God, not only to meet the socio-religious needs of the Jews, but also to foreshadow the unfolding of salvation history until its consummation. This suggests that while the sacrificial, ceremonial aspects of the feasts terminated at the Cross, their typological function continues in the Christian church, though with a new meaning and relevance.
Some writers rule out the possibility that the annual feasts have relevance for Christians today, because they were so closely related to the history and agricultural life of ancient Israel.17 To support this view, they argue that there are no indications that the Israelites themselves attached some deeper predictive significance to the feasts. This argument is patently weak for two reasons: first, because the Israelites did attach prophetic significance to the feasts. We have found that the Feasts of Passover and Tabernacles, for example, were seen by the Jews not only as commemorative of their past deliverance and protection, but also as typical of future Messianic redemption and restoration.
Second, the typical nature of the feasts does not depend upon finding some indications to that effect at the time they were established. Rather it depends upon whether or not they were designed by God to fulfill a predictive function. The Passover lamb was typical of the crucifixion of the Lamb of God, not because this typical function was clearly stated to the Israelites or understood by them, but because God designed that the sacrifice of the Passover lamb was to prefigure Christís sacrifice on the Cross.
The Israelites had a limited understanding of the deeper meaning of many things God commanded them to do. The deeper meaning of the annual feasts was veiled, since they had significance and use for the time then present, apart from their prefiguration of Godís future redemptive plan. A type always involves Godís design, but does not necessarily include making known immediately its predictive purpose. Thus, the identification of the annual feasts as types does not depend on finding internal indicators to that effect at the time they were appointed. It is an unacceptable method of Biblical interpretation to make the knowledge which the ancient Israelites possessed regarding the prospective import of particular types, the measure by which we establish their meaning for us today.
The feasts could serve as annual celebration in Israel and as types foreshadowing the future unfolding of the plan of salvation, though the latter was dimly understood by the participants. Joseph Seiss remarks that "There are three general aspects in which these remarkable festivals may be considered. They had important relations to the peace and prosperity of the Jews as a nation; they embodied a great religious idea; and they presented chronological prefiguration of the great facts of our redemption."18 The latter is understood especially through the witness of the New Testament.
The Typical View of the Feasts in the New Testament. The typical nature and meaning of the feasts or of any other Old Testament institution is ultimately determined by their antitypical fulfillment in the New Testament. It is the witness of the New Testament that sheds light on the typological meaning of the Flood, the Exodus, Moses, the sacrificial system, the Sabbath, and the annual feasts. Without the interpretation given them by the New Testament it would be nearly impossible for us to realize, for example, that the Flood was a prefiguration of the Christian baptism (1 Pet 3:31), or that the Passover lamb was a type of Christís sacrifice (1 Cor 5:7).
The typical nature of the annual feasts is attested in the New Testament explicitly and implicitly. We have found that the typical significance of the first four feasts of Passover, First Fruits (Wave Barley Sheaf), Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost, is explicitly recognized in the New Testament by those references which explain their antitypical fulfillment. The typical significance of the last three feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles, is implicitly acknowledged by the use of the themes of these feasts to depict events leading to the consummation of redemption. We shortly shall mention both the explicit references and implicit New Testament allusions to the feasts in our summary of their typological meaning.
The Sabbath and the Feasts. The typical nature of the annual feasts is also indicated by their parallel with the Sabbath in Leviticus 23. The chapter begins by introducing the "appointed feasts" (moĎed) to be observed. These consisted of the weekly Sabbath and the annual feasts, both of which are ordained as moĎed, "appointed feasts." The term moĎed stresses the time set for the Sabbath and the feasts and is thus translated as "appointed feasts," "set times," or "set feasts."
In his doctoral dissertation Terry Hulbert notes that "The occurrence of the weekly Sabbath and [annual] feasts together in Leviticus 23 was not accidental. The common term moĎed used to designate them was likewise not accidental. What it implied for one, it implied for the other, and this implication is very important."19 The implication in Hubertís view is that both the weekly Sabbath and the annual feasts had a commemorative and typical function.
In Old Testament times, the weekly Sabbath rest served, on the one hand, to commemorate Godís creation (Ex 20:11) and the deliverance from Egyptian bondage (Deut 5:15), and on the other hand, to typify the future Messianic redemption and restoration. In Divine Rest for Human Restlessness, I have examined at considerable length the Sabbatical typologies of Messianic redemption that are present in numerous texts of the Old Testament and of Jewish literature.20 We find the same typical meaning in Hebrews 3 and 4 where the Sabbath typifies both the rest of the land of Canaan, which the Israelites never experienced because of unbelief, and the rest of salvation into which believers are entering today.
What is true for the Sabbath is also true for the annual feasts. The weekly Sabbath and the annual feasts are grouped together in Leviticus 23 presumably because they both were moadim, that is, divinely "appointed times" with a prophetic significance. Terry Hulbert emphasizes this point, saying, "The reason for the introduction of the Sabbath [in Leviticus 23] was that both the feasts and the Sabbath were moadim. Both were appointed times. The feasts had been discussed elsewhere (e. g. Exodus 12 and Leviticus 16) and the Sabbath often had been mentioned before. But in Leviticus 23, they are specially and specifically treated as moadim. This phenomemon can only be explained as revealing a special characteristic common to both feasts and Sabbath. This characteristic is that, although each had real historical import for Israel, they also had real prophetic significance."21
Just as the Sabbath served to remind Israel, not only of the past divine creation, but also of the future Messianic redemption and restoration, so the annual feasts served to remind Israel, not only of the past exodus, wilderness protection, the need for cleansing, etc., but also of the future Messianic redemption and restoration. We would conclude then that the weekly Sabbath and the annual feasts are presented together in Leviticus 23 as moedim, because both of them are divinely designed types which prefigure the unfolding of important events of the plan of salvation.
The Unity of the Festal Cycle. Another indication of the typical nature of the annual feasts is the fact that they form a unified cycle with a beginning, progression, and completion. They move from the Feast of Passover, the celebration of Exodus deliverance, to the Feast of Tabernacles, the rejoicing for the safe arrival to the Promised Land. By reenacting the journey of Israel from the bondage of Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land, the feasts could serve to foreshadow fittingly also the spiritual pilgrimage of Godís people from the bondage of sin to the freedom and rejoicing of the new earth.
Though the feasts differed in the time, place, and circumstances of their origin, they were all brought them together by God in Leviticus 23, who ordained their proper sequence and times of their celebration. This was done obviously for a reason. Joseph Seiss rightly suggests that the reason the annual feasts were brought together under one view in Leviticus 23, is Ďthat their relations to each other, and their general significance, might be the more clearly perceived." 22
When we look at the sequential order of the feasts, we note an internal symmetry, interdependence, and progression. The symmetry can be seen, for example, in the cycle which begins with three feasts (Passover, Wave Barley Sheaf and Unleavened Bread), and closes with three feasts (Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles). The cycle opens with an eight-day celebration of Passover followed by the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread and closes with an eight-day celebration of the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles which is followed by an eighth day, known as Atzeret (Lev 23:39). The middle feast, Pentecost, serves as a divider between the first three and the last three.
The interdependence among the feasts is evident in the fact that the purpose and meaning of each feast depends upon the preceding one and, consequently, upon all the others. Terry Hulbert remarks that "If each feast stood alone in its significance, and involved no prerequisites, as for example the cleansing of the Day of Atonement before the joy of the Feast of Tabernacles, it might be argued that they did not form an organic whole, but were isolated rituals. But such is not the case, as proven in Chapter II. The purpose and meaning of each feast rest upon the one preceding it and, in effect, upon all of the others."23
Interdependence implies progression, for as each feast builds upon the preceding one, it contributes to unfold the theme of Godís redemptive activity. Progression presupposes a planned sequence. The historic events commemorated by the feasts would be completely confused if they occurred in any other order. The Feast of Tabernacles which commemorates the divine sheltering of the Israelites during their journeying from Egypt to the Promised Land, could not have been observed before Passover, which commemorates the deliverance from Egypt.
The order of the feasts is significant not only in terms of their linkage to the past historical events, but also in terms of their prefiguration of the future unfolding of Godís redemptive acts. David Baron notes that not only the feasts were full of meaning, "but the very order in which they stand in the sacred calendar, is, I believe, significant as setting forth the order of sequence in which the various stages of Godís great redemption scheme were to unfold themselves in the course of the ages."24 Later in this chapter, I summarize the interdependence and progression that is evident in the antitypical fulfillment of the feasts in the New Testament.
The fact that all three Fall Feasts fell in the seventh month, may well reflect the importance that Scripture attaches to the septenary cycle as the symbol of the perfection and completion of Godís creative and redemptive accomplishments. The number seven also is woven into the Biblical calendar. The Sabbath is observed every seventh day, the sabbatical year every seven years, the jubilee year every seven weeks of years. Passover opens the religious calendar with a seven-day observance of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. Seven weeks after Passover comes the celebration of the Feast of Pentecost. The seventh month, Tishri, contains the most holy days of the Hebrew calendar, with the feasts of Trumpet, Atonement, and Tabernacles. The religious calendar closes with the Feast of Tabernacle which lasts for seven days. It appears that just as the seventh day marks the completion and culmination of creation, so the three Fall Feasts of the seventh month point to the consummation and culmination of redemption
.Feasts and Seasons. The typical nature of the feasts is also suggested by their relation to the Spring and Fall harvests. The religious calendar of ancient Israel was divided into two cycles of feasts which coincided respectively with the Spring grain harvest and the Fall fruit harvest. The Spring Feasts celebrated how God brought Israel into existence as a nation by liberating the people from physical oppression. The Fall Feasts challenged the people to reach to God for moral and spiritual freedom in order to experience the ultimate blessedness.
For Israel, the religious year began on Nisan with the celebration of Passover on the 14th day of that month (Ex 12:1), and closed seven months later on Tishri with the observance of the Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles, all of which fell on the seventh month. Within the compass of these seven months, the entire harvest that sustained life was gathered in and all the annual feasts were celebrated. The feasts were not scattered over the whole twelve months, but only over the first seven months. Their occurrence within these seven months paralleled the Spring harvest of the grain (barley and wheat) and the Fall harvest of the fruits. Thus, the unity of the cycle of the feasts is reflected by the unity of the harvest season in Palestine.
Why did God place the celebration of the annual Feasts in conjunction with the Spring and Fall harvests? Presumably because these seasons provided the ideal setting to help the people appreciate the great spiritual truths typified by the feasts. In his commentary on The Book of Leviticus, S. H. Kellog notes that it was most fitting that the celebration of the annual Holy Days "should be so arranged and timed, in all its parts, as that in each returning sacred season, visible nature should present itself to Israel as a manifest parable and eloquent suggestion of those spiritual verities."25
Physical experiences are used by God to help us conceptualize and internalize spiritual realities. The reviving of the earth at springtime provides the ideal setting to celebrate Passover, which commemorates the Springtime of Israelís history, when God delivered the people from Egyptian oppression, and the Springtime of grace, when Christ was sacrificed to deliver us from the bondage of sin. Similarly, the completion of the harvest season in the Fall provides a fitting occasion to celebrate the Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles, all of which point to the future spiritual harvest of the redeemed that Christ will gather in their harvest home. We can say that the Spring and Fall harvests provide an ideal setting to celebrate the inauguration and completion of Christís redemptive ministry.
Today, most people no longer live in an agrarian society like that of the ancient Israelites, yet all are still responsive to seasonal changes. Spring is still the time of new beginnings which can remind us through Passover and Pentecost of the new life that has come to us through the redemptive accomplishments of Christís first Advent. Similarly, the Fall is still the completion of the harvest season which can remind us through the Fall Feasts of the consummation of redemption to be accomplished by Christís second Advent. In His wisdom, God has keyed the unfolding of the plan of salvation to the Spring and Fall harvest seasons for pedagogical purposes. The beginning of the harvest in the Spring and the completion of the harvest in the Fall can serve as constant reminders of the inauguration of redemption at the first Advent and the consummation of redemption at the second Advent.
The foregoing considerations indicate that the annual feasts were both commemorative and typical. On the one hand, they served to commemorate important events in the past history of Israel, while on the other hand, they typified important future redemptive acts of God. In the two volumes of Godís Festivals in Scripture and History, I have examined first the history and meaning of each of the annual feasts in the Old Testament and then their antitypical fulfillment in the New Testament.
At this juncture, I attempt to briefly summarize the highlights of the two volumes by succinctly stating first the meaning of each feast in the Old Testament and then its corresponding antitypical meaning and fulfillment in the New Testament. This summary is designed to offer to the reader an overview of the structure, content, and conclusions of the whole study.
Passover in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, Passover evolved from a private family sacrifice of the paschal lamb to an elaborate and solemn sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem. In spite of its evolution, the underlying theme of Passover remained the same: the commemoration of the supernatural deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage which brought freedom and new life to the people.
Passover marks the inauguration of Israelís salvation history: "This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you" (Ex 12:2). The Feast of Tabernacles, the last festival of the sacred calendar, points to the consummation of Israelís salvation history when all the inhabitants of the earth will come year after year "to keep the feast of booths" (Zech 14:16). The salvation history of Israel is a type of the New Testament salvation history of mankind.
Being a memorial of the past deliverance from Egyptian bondage, Passover fittingly could serve to typify the future Messianic deliverance and restoration of Israel. During times of foreign oppression, hope ran high at Passover that soon the Messiah would come to liberate His people, even as the Lord had delivered His people from the Egyptian bondage in days of old. Thus, in Old Testament times, Passover was both commemorative of the past Egyptian deliverance and prefigurative of the future Messianic deliverance.
Passover in the New Testament. The Messianic hope of future deliverance nourished by the Passover celebration helps us to appreciate the antitypical fulfillment of the feast in the New Testament. There Christ is presented as our "Paschal Lamb" (1 Cor 5:7) sacrificed at the Passover season to deliver Jews and Gentiles alike from the bondage of sin. Jesus identified Himself with Passover by eating the Paschal meal the night before the official Passover, because He knew that He would suffer death as the true Paschal Lamb at the time of the slaying of the paschal lamb.
The Passover meal Jesus ate with the disciples was without the paschal lamb because the Savior wanted to institute a new Passover meal commemorative of His redemption from sin through bread and wine, the new symbols of His own body and blood soon to be offered "for the forgiveness of sins" (Matt 26:28).
The meaning of the Christian Passover is both commemorative and prefigurative, just like the Old Testament Passover. On the one hand, it commemorates the past deliverance from the bondage of sin through Christís suffering and death. On the other hand, it prefigures the future celebration of the marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9) at the establishment of Godís Kingdom. Christ Himself alluded to the eschatological fulfillment of Passover when He said to His disciples that He would not eat Passover again "until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God" (Luke 22:16).
The benefits of Christís atoning death are mediated to believers in the present when they partake of the emblems of His blood and body. At the Lordís Table, believers enter into fellowship with the exalted Lord. Paul describes this fellowship as "a participation in the blood . . . [and] body of Christ" (1 Cor 10:16).
The earliest Passover documents clearly show that early Christians observed Passover as a night vigil, beginning at sundown on Nisan 14 and continuing until the next morning. They celebrated Passover as their annual commemoration of the suffering and death of Christ. They engaged in prayer, singing, reading of Scripture, and exhortations until dawn, when they broke their fast by partaking of the Lordís Supper and an agape meal.
As Gentile Christians gained control of the church, they adopted and promoted Easter-Sunday instead of the traditional Passover date. The change was influenced by the repressive policies adopted by Roman emperors against the Jewish people and religion, as well as by the defamatory campaign waged by Jews against Christians. As a result, the Biblical Passover themes were gradually replaced by pagan symbols and myths, which became part of the Easter celebration. In time, Easter became associated with numerous pagan practices and superstitions which are foreign to the redemptive meaning and experience of the Biblical Passover.
In conclusion, Passover is a typical institution which served in the Old Testament to commemorate the inauguration of Israelís salvation history and to nourish the hope of the future Messianic deliverance and restoration of Israel. The antitypical fulfillment of Passover is manifested in the New Testament in three significant ways. Christologically, that is, in relation to Christ, Passover was fulfilled at the Cross when Christ was sacrificed as our "Paschal Lamb" (1 Cor 5:7) at the Passover season to deliver us from the bondage of sin. Ecclesiologically, that is, in relation to the church, Passover is fullfilled in the church as believers through the emblems of Christís body appropriate the reality of salvation accomplished at the Cross and yet to be consummated in Godís Kingdom. Eschatologically, that is, in relation to the End, Passover will be fulfilled at the Second Advent when the redeemed will celebrate the Paschal Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9). The three aspects of the Passoverís fulfillments may be termed, respectively, as the inauguration, appropriation, and consummation of redemption.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread in the Old Testament. The seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread is connected to Passover, since its observance began the day after Passover, Nisan 15th. During the seven days of the feast only unleavened bread could be eaten. While Passover commemorated the night of the deliverance from Egypt, the Feast of Unleavened Bread served to remind devout Jews of the circumstances of the Exodus and symbolized for them Godís call to holy living (Ex 12:39; Deut 16:3; Lev 23:6-8).
The Unleavened Bread was known as "the bread of affliction" (Deut 16:3) because of the haste and anguish of spirit with which they left Egypt. But there is no doubt that it also pointed to the religious and moral purity which was to be the abiding character of the ransomed people of the Lord. This is suggested by the fact that leaven was absolutely prohibited in connection with any sacrifices to the Lord (Ex 23:18; 34:25) and in meal offerings (Lev 2:11; 6:17). While the offerings to the Deity were unleavened, those eaten by the priests or others such as the peace offering (Lev 7:13) and the offering of the wave loaves (Lev 23:17) were leavened. This could be reflective of the difference between Godís sinless nature and the human sinful nature.
Leaven became emblematic of moral corruption, presumably because a small piece of fermented dough is capable of corrupting the mass of the dough. This view prevailed also in the pagan world. The Greek moralist Plutarch (about A. D. 46-120) explains that the pagan priests were not allowed to touch leaven because "it comes out of corruption, and corrupts that with which it is mingled."26 The New Testament leaves us in no doubt that leaven was commonly understood as symbolizing malice, hypocrisy, and wickedness (Mark 8:14-15; 6:14-18; Matt 16:5-12).
By partaking of unleavened bread for seven days, the Israelites were reminded that God had delivered them from the Egyptian bondage so that they might live free from physical and spiritual bondage. They were to be consecrated and separated to do the work of God who had called them to a life of holiness. It is noteworthy that unleavened bread was used in the consecration of the priests to their ministry (Lev 8:2, 26; Ex 29:2. 23) and in conjunction with the vows of separation of the Nazarite (Num 8:1-12). Thus, by eating unleavened bread during the feast, the Israelites were constantly reminded of their consecration to God and separation from all things that are sinful (leavened).
The Feast of Unleavened Bread in the New Testament. In the New Testament, the antitypical fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened is related to that of Passover as cause and effect. While Passover celebrates the deliverance from the bondage of sin offered to us through the sacrifice of Christ, our Paschal Lamb, the Feast of Unleavened Bread typifies Christís provision for the removal of sin in our lives. As believers, we accept the salvation offered to us by Christ, our Passover, by living new lives of purity and sincerity as typified by the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The ethical implications of the Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread are expressed by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians where he challenges the members to proper Christian behavior by appealing to these feasts as a model for what Christians should be. "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Cor 5:6-8).
This passage suggests that the Feast of Unleavened Bread has profound ethical implications for the Christianís life-style. Celebrating Passover, the feast of our redemption from sin, demands a new way of life typified by the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The old and sinful ways must be cleansed out of our lives the way the old leaven is removed from Jewish homes before Passover begins. The new period initiated by Passover demands that we live a new life characterized by the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread serves as a model for the Christian life-style because it reminds believers that Christ was sacrificed as the spotless Paschal Lamb, not only to pay for the penalty of our past sins, but also to empower us to live upright and holy lives. In a sense, this Festival points to the heavenly ministry of Jesus who is actively working in our behalf to cleanse us from the presence and power of sin (Heb 7:25). The Feast of Unleavened Bread assures us that God is still setting His people free from the bondage of sin, just as He freed the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.
The Offering of First-Fruits in the Old Testament. On the day after Passover the first barley sheaf (known as omer) was waved by the priest before the Lord (Lev 23:11). The ceremony marked the countdown of the fifty days to Pentecost. The purpose of the wave-sheaf offering was to consecrate and inaugurate the Spring grain harvest which lasted about seven weeks until Pentecost (Lev 23:9-14). The first sheaf of the barley harvest was waved before the Lord as a pledge of the full harvest that was to follow. Before the wave-sheaf offering, no reaping of the harvest for personal use could be done (Lev 23:14). A portion of the wave-sheaf was placed on the altar and the rest was eaten by the priest. A male lamb was sacrificed as a burnt offering (Lev 23:12).
The offering of the first fruits represented a human expression of thanksgiving to divine generosity. This meaning is clear in Deuteronomy 26:10 where the Israelites are instructed to bring some of the first fruits of the harvest to the priest and publicly to confess: "Behold, now I bring the first of the fruits of the ground, which thou, O Lord, has given me." The gift from God calls for a gift from His people.
The Bible attaches special significance to the offering of the first fruits or firstborn. Everything on the earth, including man and beast, was to be presented before the Lord as first fruits to Him (Ex 13:2; 22:29). The consecration of the first fruits sanctifies the whole harvest, since the part stands for the whole. As Paul puts it, "If the dough offered as first fruits is holy, so is the whole lump" (Rom 11:16). By the symbolic gesture of consecrating the first fruits, the whole of the harvest was consecrated to God. The same principle applies to the consecration of the Sabbath time, which represents the consecration of our total life to Him.
The First-Fruits in the New Testament. In the New Testament, the typology of the wave-sheaf offering has a Christological, ecclesiological, and eschatological fulfillment. Or, we might say that the wave-sheaf offering is related to Christ, the church, and the End.
Christologically, Christís resurrection is seen as the antitypical fulfillment of the wave-sheaf offering because He rose as the first fruits of redeemed humanity on the very day when the first sheaf of barley was presented at the Temple. Paul alludes to the connection between the two events when he writes: "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ" (1 Cor 15:20-23).27 In this passage, Paul speaks of Christ twice as "the first fruits," not only to indicate that He was the first to rise bodily from the grave, but also that by so doing He fulfilled the offering of the first fruits.
Eschatologically, that is, in relation to the End, the New Testament sees the ultimate fulfillment of the first fruits typology in the resurrection of the redeemed at Christís Return. As the first sheaf of the barley harvest was waved before the Lord by the priest as a pledge of the full harvest to follow, so Christís resurrection is the Ďfirst fruits,í or pledge, of the great harvest that will follow when all the righteous dead are raised at the second coming of Jesus (see 1 Cor 15:23; 1 Thess 4:14-16). "Each in his own order," (1 Cor 15:23), explains Paul. First, there is the fulfillment of the first fruits of Christís resurrection and then of all the believers.
It is noteworthy that the priest did not present before the Lord just one head of grain, but a whole sheaf of barley. Similarly, Christ did not come forth from the grave alone, for "many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised" (Matt 27:52). Paul tells us that when Christ "ascended on high he led a host of captives" (Eph 4:8). Those who were raised at Christís death (Matt 27:53) ascended with Christ to heaven as trophies of His power to resurrect all who sleep in the grave. As the offering of the first sheaf of barley was a pledge of the coming harvest, so the saints that Christ raised at the time of His death are a pledge of the countless multitude that Christ will awaken from the dust of the earth at His Second Advent. The 144,000 saints who follow the Lamb are "the first fruits for God and the Lamb" (Rev 14:4) because they represent the glorious destiny that awaits the redeemed of all ages.
Ecclesiologically, that is, in relation to the church, the first fruits typify our present privilege to receive the first fruits of the Spirit while we await the resurrection harvest. "We ourselves," Paul says, "who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies" (Rom 8:23). This typological meaning of the offering of the first fruits can be lived out every day in our life as our inward being is renewed daily by Godís Spirit (2 Cor 4:16). As we receive the fruits of the Spirit, we bring forth the fruits of the Spirit in our life, namely, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal 5:22). These, in turn, enable us to become the first fruits of God. When we respond to the Gospelís invitation, we become Godís first fruits. James brings out this truth, saying: " Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures" (Ja 1:18).
The various applications of the first fruits typology to Christís resurrection, the reception of the Holy Spirit, the fruits of the Spirit in the life of the believer, the Christian calling to be Godís first fruits in this world, and the redeemed as the first fruits of mankind show the importance of this Old Testament type in Christian thought and practice.
The Feast of Pentecost in the Old Testament. The term "Pentecost" is not found in the Old Testament. The feast was variously called the "Feast of Weeks" (Ex 34:22; Deut 16:9-10), because it was celebrated seven weeks after the offering of the barley sheaf; the "Feast of the Harvest" (Ex 23:16), because it came at the end of the wheat harvest; and the "Feast of the First Fruits" (Ex 34:22; Num 28:26), because it marked the beginning of the time the first fruits of the wheat harvest were offered at the Temple.
The Feast was a joyous celebration of the Spring harvest. By offering the first fruits of the harvest, the Israelites expressed their thanksgiving to God for His bountiful provisions. In time, Pentecost was transformed into a feast commemorating the giving of the law at Sinai which, according to Jewish tradition supported by the Biblical data, occurred fifty days after the Exodus from Egypt. The few ceremonies associated with the Feast of Weeks were designed to express gratitude for the material blessings of the harvest and for the spiritual blessings of the Law, which provides principles of life and happiness for Godís people.
The Feast of Pentecost in the New Testament. The antitypical fulfillment of Pentecost is of fundamental importance to the origin and mission of the Christian church. The first Christian Pentecost is linked to the Old Testament feast chronologically and typologically, because it occurred on the very day of the Jewish feast ("when the day of Pentecost was fully come" Acts 2:1, KJV) as the spiritual harvest of the first fruits of Christís redemption.
Like the preceding feasts, Pentecost is fulfilled in Christ, the church, and at the End-time. Or we might say that Pentecost has a Christological, ecclesiological, and eschatological fulfillments. Chrystologically, Pentecost celebrates the crowning of Christís Paschal sacrifice in heaven, which was manifested on earth with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:32-33)óthe first-fruit of the spiritual harvest (Rom 8:23; James 1:18) procured by Christís redemptive mission. As in the original Pentecost at Sinai, so in the Christian Pentecost there was fire, earthquake, and a blast of wind (Acts 2:1-3). As God gave His Ten Commandments at Sinai to Israel, so now He gives the enabling power of His Spirit to the New Israel. As Israel became Godís covenant people at Sinai, so the church now becomes Christís new covenant people.
Ecclesiologically, that is, in relation to the church, Pentecost marks the founding of the Christian church and mission. It represents the initial fulfillment of the prophetic vision of the ingathering of Godís people from all the nations to the uplifted temple in Zion and the going forth of the Law to teach all the nations (Is 2:2-3; Mic 4:1-2; cf. John 2:19; 12:32). A new people of God (the Church) was formed on the day of Pentecost, consisting not only of Jews but of "all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him" (Acts 2:39). The speaking in tongues at Pentecost for a moment set off in bold relief Godís redemptive purpose for the whole world. The missionary outreach of the Church which unites people of different languages and cultures as one body in Christ, represents the reversal of the scattering and hostility of the nations that followed Godís judgment at Babel (Gen 11:1-9).
Pentecost marks the beginning of the bestowal of spiritual gifts on all the redeemed so that each may participate in the life and mission of the Church. All Christians can receive the spiritual gifts that "equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ" (Eph 4:12).
Eschatologically, that is, in relation to the End-time, Pentecost typifies the continuation of the mission of the Holy Spirit until the completion of the Gospel proclamation (Matt 24:14). The End-time outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is known as the "latter rain" because it is likened to the "former rain" that ripened the Spring harvest that was gathered in at the beginning of Christianity. "But near the close of earthís harvest, a special bestowal of spiritual grace is promised to prepare the church for the coming of the Son of man. This outpouring of the Spirit is likened to the falling of the latter rain; and it is for this added power that Christians are to send their petitions to the Lord of the harvest Ďin the time of the latter rain.í In response, Ďthe Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain.í ĎHe will cause to come down . . . the rain, the former rain, and the latter rainí (Zech 10:1; Joel 2:23)."28
Pentecost, like Passover, is a remarkable typological feast which began in the Old Testament as the celebration of the blessings of the Spring harvest and continues in the New Testament as a celebration of the spiritual harvest of souls reaped by Christís redemptive ministry. The feast affords us an opportunity to be thankful for material and spiritual blessings. We can be thankful that Christ arose as the first fruits of redeemed humanity (1 Cor 15:20). His resurrection is the guarantee of our resurrection. We can be thankful Christ ascended to heaven to begin a special intercessory ministry on our behalf. We can be thankful for the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are made available to us through the ministry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary.
In summing up the typology of the Spring Feasts, we can say that they reveal both a theological and an existential progression. Theologically, we can characterize Passover as redemption, Unleavened Bread as regeneration, and Pentecost as empowering. Existentially, Passover invites us to accept the fogiveness provided us by Christ, our Paschal Lamb (1 Cor 5:7); the Feast of Unleavened Bread summons us to experience the cleansing from sin resulting from Christís forgiveness; Pentecost calls us to become receptive to the infilling, and enabling of the Holy Spirit. The progression is evident. The forgiveness typified by Passover makes it possible for us to experience the cleansing represented by the Feast of Unleavened Bread. These in turn enable us to become receptive and responsive to the infilling of the Holy Spirit, typified by Pentecost.
The Feast of Trumpets in the Old Testament. The three Fall Feasts of ancient Israel coincided with the end of the harvest season and were ushered in by the Feast of the Trumpet which fell on the first day of the seventh month. After the return from the Babylonian exile, the name Rosh Hashanah, which means "New Year" (literally, "head of the year"), was attached to the feast. Within the same seventh month, the last two important feasts were observed, namely, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) on the tenth day and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) from the fifteenth to the twenty first day.
The Feast of Trumpets reflects Godís desire to summon His people to repentance so that He can vindicate them on the day of His judgment. The name of the feast is derived from the blowing of the trumpets (shofar) which was its distinguishing characteristic. The massive blowing of the shofar on the first day of the seventh month was understood by the Jews as the beginning of their trial before the heavenly court where books would be opened and the destiny of each individual would be decided. The trial lasted ten days until the Day of Atonement (Yom kippur) when God would dispose of their sins in a permanent way.
The blowing of the shofar during the Ten Days of Penitence served not only to call upon the Jews to repent but also to reassure them that God would remember and vindicate them on the day of judgment. The ten days preceding the Day of Atonement were not an abstract theological truth, but an existential reality lived out with real trumpet-calls to repentance, trusting in Godís mercy to vindicate them. The Jews developed some interesting customs and ceremonies to help them live out their belief that God would judge them with mercy during the ten days preceding the Day of Atonement.
Summing up, the Feast of Trumpets in Old Testament times was understood and experienced as the inauguration of a judgment process that culminated on the Day of Atonement with the final disposition of all the sins committed during the previous year. This understanding and experience of the Feast of Trumpets helps us appreciate the antitypical fulfillment of the feast in the New Testament.
The Feast of Trumpets in the New Testament. In the New Testament, the Feast of Trumpets is not explicitly mentioned. The themes of the feast, however, are frequently found in the book of Revelation. The same holds true for the Fall Feasts of Atonement and Tabernacles, both of which are clearly alluded to in Revelation. The reason the imagery of the Fall Feasts is present especially in Revelation is to be found in the fact that these feasts typify the consummation of redemption which is the focus of the book. Furthermore, since the entire book of Revelation has a comprehensive sanctuary setting with a rich sanctuary festival typology, one would expect to find in it more allusions to the feasts than in other books of the New Testament.
The themes of the Feast of Trumpets are evident in the seven trumpets of Revelation which serve to announce Godís final judgment like the blowing of the shofar during the feast in Old Testament times. Our study suggests that the blowing of the seven trumpets in Revelation corresponds to the blowing of trumpets at the seven New Moon festivals in the Old Testament. Each new moon trumpet blowing was understood as a day of judgment in miniature, which warned people to prepare for the final judgment ushered in by the Feast of Trumpets. Correspondingly, the blowing of the first six trumpets in Revelation warns people to prepare for the final judgment inaugurated by the blowing of the seventh trumpet.
Support for this interpretation is provided by the warning function of the first six trumpets (Rev 9:20-21) and by the explicit announcement of the final judgment at the blowing of the seventh trumpet (Rev 11:18). The seventh trumpet is unique because it announces the judgment that transpires in heaven: "The nations raged, but thy wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, for rewarding thy servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear thy name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth" (Rev 11:15, 18).
It is noteworthy that the announcement of the judgment is followed by the opening of the most Holy Place of the heavenly temple where the ark of the covenant is seen (Rev 11:19). This is a clear allusion to the Day of Atonement which finds its antitypical fulfillment in the coming of Christ as indicated by the manifestation of the cosmic signs of the End. "There were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail" (Rev 11:19; cf. Rev 16:18; 6:12-14). The association of the cosmic signs of the End with the ritual of the Day of Atonement, suggests that Christís coming represents the antitypical fulfillment of the disposition of sin typified by the Day of Atonement.
The thematic development of the seven trumpets reveals a movement from the warning judgment messages on this earth in conjunction with the blowing of the first six trumpets, to the announcement of Godís enthronement and the inauguration of His heavenly judgment at the blowing of the seventh trumpet. The same movement can be seen in the blowing of the trumpets during the seven new moons of the Hebrew religious calendar. During the new moons of the first six months, the trumpets were blown to warn the people about the forthcoming judgment, but on the new moon of the seventh month the trumpets were blown to announce the inauguration of the heavenly judgment. These thematic similarities suggest that the seven trumpets represent the antitypical fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets.
The Feast of Trumpets in the Old and New Testaments reveals that God is not in the business to punish but to save. He uses attention-catching methods to warn and lead His people to repentance before executing His judgments. In the Old Testament, God summoned His people by means of the annual trumpets blasting to repent and amend their lives in view of the judgment going on in heaven. In the New Testament, God sounds the same clarion call to mankind by the flying angel of Revelation who proclaims with a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come" (Rev 14:7).
Christians today, like Godís people in ancient times, need to hear the annual trumpet-call of the Feast of Trumpets to stand trial before God and seek for His cleansing grace. After all, Christians, too, need to be reminded periodically that "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body" (2 Cor 5:10). The Feast of Trumpets provides a much needed annual wake up call to prepare oneself to stand before Godís judgment by repenting and forsaking sinful ways.
The Day of Atonement in the Old Testament. The Day of Atonement was the grand climax of the religious year in ancient Israel. The rites performed on that day concluded the atoning process of the sins of the Israelites by removing them permanently from the sanctuary. The record of forgiven sins was kept in the sanctuary until the Day of Atonement because such sins were to be reviewed by the heavenly court during the final judgment typified by the Feast of Trumpets. The Day of Atonement was the culmination of the judgment process in which God executed His judgment by giving life to those who had confessed their sins and availed themselves of the divine provision for their atonement. It was also a day of death for impenitent sinners who rejected Godís provision for the cleansing of their sins.
The sacrificial rites of the Day of Atonement provided total cleansing from all the sins of Godís people. The totality of the cleansing is emphasized several times in Leviticus 16 by the expression "all your sins" (Lev 16:16, 30, 34). In contrast to the sacrificial rites of the bull and Lordís goat, the rite of the scapegoat was non-sacrificial. Its function was to dispose of the sins of Godís people in a desert region where there is no life.
The emphasis of the Day of Atonement on judgment and cleansing, sin and atonement, fasting and prayer was designed to drive home important lessons to the Israelites. It showed them the seriousness of sin and the divine provision for its eradication through confession, sacrifice, recording, judgment, and final disposition. It taught the Israelites that before their sins could be cleansed and permanently eliminated on the Day of Atonement, they had to be repented of, forsaken, and judged by the heavenly court.
The Day of Atonement in the New Testament. In the New Testament, the Day of Atonement is alluded to several times, especially in the books of Hebrews and Revelation. Its antitypical fulfillment is associated especially with the cleansing and removal of sin by Christ at His Second Coming. Hebrews recognizes that the work of cleansing and removing sins typified by the cleansing of the sanctuary on the Day of Atonement has a past, a present, and a future aspect. In the past, Christ "has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (9:26). In the present ("now"), Christ "appears in the presence of God on our behalf" (9:24). In the future, Christ "will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him" (9:28). The last of these is accomplished by Christ at His Second Advent when He will appear, like the High Priest at the close of the Day of Atonement, not to atone for sins but to save the believers and punish the unbelievers.
The past, the present, and the future ministries of Christ are in Hebrews ideologically connected because they are all dependent upon the same "once for all" sacrifice on the Cross. It is the same atoning sacrifice that enables Christ to fulfill the two phases of His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary: intercession and judgment.
In Revelation, the vision of the Day of Atonement (Rev 11:19) occurs immediately after the announcement of the judgment (Rev 11:18), with the opening of the most Holy Place of the heavenly temple where the ark of the covenant is seen . "Then Godís temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of the covenant was seen within the temple" (Rev 11:19). This is the first and clearest allusion to the Day of Atonement because only on that day the door to the Most Holy Place was open and the High Priest could see "the ark of the covenant" while he officiated in front of it.
The opening of the Most Holy Place of the heavenly temple on the Day of Atonement is accompanied by the manifestation of the cosmic signs of the Second Advent. "There were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail" (Rev 11:19; cf. Rev 16:18; 6:12-14). The association of the cosmic signs of the Second Advent with the ritual of the Day of Atonement suggests that Christís coming is seen as the antitypical fulfillment of the disposition of sin typified by the Day of Atonement. The sequential order in Revelation, namely, announcement of the judgment, opening of the Most Holy Place, and the Second Advent, corresponds to the progression from the typology of the Feast of Trumpets to that of the Day of Atonement
The vision of the Day of Atonement in Revelation 11:19 plays a pivotal role in the structure of Revelation. It functions as a dividing point between the first half of Revelation which reflects more the daily liturgy of the temple and the second half of the book which mirrors more the annual ritual of the Day of Atonement. The visions of the second half of Revelation focus inside the Temple where the central activities of the Day of Atonement took place (Rev 14:15, 17; 15:5, 6, 8; 16:1, 17). These visions portray humanity in two groups: those who worship the true Trinity (introduced in Rev 1:4-5) and those who worship the counterfeit trinity (the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet (Rev 16:13). Such a division along spiritual lines reflect the divisions that took place on the Day of Atonement. " On that day," writes Jon Paulien, "individuals chose between two types of atonement, the one offered by the service and the one represented by their own ultimate death. In the Apocalypse the entire world is represented as facing such a life-and-death decision (cf. Lev 23:29, 30)."29
The last and climactic judgment visions of Revelation 19 and 20 reflect in a unique way the typology of the Day of Atonement. Just as the High Priest wore a special white linen robe on the Day of Atonement, so Christ wears a special robe at His coming. "He is clad in a robe dipped in blood" (Rev 19:13), a reminder of the blood used by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement to cleanse the sanctuary. Christ does not carry blood like the High Priest but wears a robe dipped in blood because it is His own blood that cleanses the sins of His people. The latter is indicated by the fact that those who accompany Christ are "arrayed in fine linen, white and pure" (Rev 19:14).
The outcome of the coming of Christ is also similar to that of the Day of Atonement. Christ destroys the wicked by His "sword" (Rev 19:21), a reminder of the impenitent who were "cut off" on the Day of Atonement (Lev 23:29). Satan is bound and thrown into "the pit" (Rev 20:3), a reminder of the sending of Azazel into the desert (Lev 16:21). The righteous are resurrected and reign with Christ, a reminder of the cleansing of Godís people on the Day of Atonement which resulted in the jubilee celebration of new beginnings (Lev 25:9). This amazing correspondence between the typology of the Day of Atonement and its antitypical fulfillment at Christís Return, shows how important is the Day of Atonement in the New Testament for understanding the events associated with the coming of Christ.
The Day of Atonement in the Old and New Testaments embodies the Good News of Godís provision for the cleansing of sins and restoration to fellowship with Him through Christís atoning sacrifice. At a time when many are experiencing the crushing isolation of sin, the Day of Atonement has a message of hope. It reassures Christians that Christ will soon appear the second time, like the High Priest on the Day of Atonement, to punish unbelievers, to bind Satan, to cleanse believers and restore them to an harmonious relationship with Him. Such a hope gives us reasons to encourage "one another, and all the more as . . . [we] see the Day drawing near" (Heb 10:25).
The Feast of Tabernacles in the Old Testament. The Feast of Tabernacles was the most joyous festival celebration in Old Testament times. It was commonly known as "the Feast of Ingatheringóasif" (Ex 23:16; 34:22) and "the Feast of Boothsósukkot" (Deut 16:13, 16; Lev 23:34). The Hebrew sukkot, which literally means "booths" or "huts," is rendered in the Latin Vulgate as tabernacula, from which we derive the English designation of the feast as "Tabernacles."
The two names of the feast reflect its dual meanings and functions. With reference to the harvest, it is called "the Feast of Ingathering" (Ex 23:16; 34:22) because it is a thanksgiving celebration for the blessings harvest. With reference to the history of Israel, it is called "the Feast of Booths" (Lev 23:34, 43; Deut 16:13, 16; 31:10; Ezra 3:4) because it commemorated Godís protection of the people as they dwelt in booths during their sojourn in the wilderness. Both of these features are preserved in the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles.
The observance of the Feast of Booths at the close of the Fall harvest made it possible for the Israelites to have a double thanksgiving celebration: thanksgiving for the blessing of the harvest and for Godís protection through the sojourning in the wilderness. These dual themes of past and present divine protection and blessings, served to nourish the hope for a future Messianic restoration.
During the seven-day duration of the feast, a considerable number of sacrifices were offered in addition to the regular offerings (Lev 23:36; Num 29:12-39). On no other occasion were so many sacrifices required of Israel to be offered on a single day. Presumably, the vast number of sacrifices were to reflect Israelís depth of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest.
The distinguishing characteristics of the feast was the dwelling in booths for the duration of the feast (Lev 23:40, 42-43). Various branches of leafy trees were used to build booths that would house the people for the duration of the feast. Living in booths served as a reminder of Godís protection during the forty years of wandering in the desert. (Lev 23:42). The temporary booths symbolized the human need to depend upon God for His provision of food, water, and shelter. This applies to our spiritual life as well, for without the life-giving provisions of divine grace, our spiritual life would be a scorching desert.
Another major ritual of the Feast of Booths was the waving of a bundle of willow, myrtle, and palm branches, which were tied together and waved in rejoicing during the feast. This waving served to express joy, thanksgiving, and praise to God for the material blessings of the harvest and the spiritual blessing of His past and present protection.
Praying for rain was an important part of the ritual of the Feast of Booths. Palestine is not rich in water resources. Its fertility largely depends on the amount of rainfall it receives from year to year and not on a river like the Nile which is the major source of irrigation for Egypt. Since the rainy season starts in Palestine at about the time of the Feast of Booths, it was the appropriate time to pray for rain.
Prayers for rain were offered in conjunction with the popular water-drawing ceremony, which was rich in symbolism and high drama. The water was drawn at the pool of Siloam in a golden pitcher by a priest who carried it to the Temple accompanied by a procession of faithful worshippers. The water was poured over the altar while the people chanted to the accompaniment of flutes the Ďgreat Hallelí consisting of Psalms 113 to 118. It was at the conclusion of this suggestive ceremony that Christ offered His living water (John 7:37).
Another significant ceremony was the nightly illumination of the Templeís Court of Women with gigantic candelabra which provided light for the nightly festivities. This provided an ideal setting for Christ to reveal Himself as the Light of the world (John 8:12).
The Feast of Booths fulfilled a vital role in the religious experience of Godís people in Old Testament times. It summoned them annually to rejoice for a whole week over the material blessings of a bountiful harvest and over the spiritual blessings of the protection God had granted them in their past history. The celebration of the material blessings of the harvest and of the spiritual blessings of the divine sheltering during the Exodus experience, served to foreshadow the blessings of the Messianic age when "there shall be neither cold nor frost . . . continuous day . . . living water, and . . . security (Zech 14:6, 7, 11). A highlight of the Messianic age would be the annual gathering of all the surviving nations "to keep the feast of booths" (Zech 14:16) in order to celebrate the establishment of Godís universal Kingdom.
The Feast of Tabernacles in the New Testament. The rich Old Testament typology of the Feast of Tabernacles finds in the New Testament both a Christological and an eschatological fulfillment. The themes of the Feast of Tabernacles are used in the Gospels to reveal the nature and mission of Christ and in the book of Revelation to represent Godís protection of His people through the trials and tribulation of this present life until they reach the heavenly Promised Land. There God will shelter the redeemed with the booth of His protective presence (Rev 7:15) and dwell with them for all eternity (Rev 21:3).
In his Gospel, John introduces the nature and mission of Christ by employing the metaphor of the "booth" of the Feast of Tabernacles. He explains that Christ, the Word, who was with God in the beginning (John 1:1), manifested Himself in this world in a most tangible way, by pitching His tent in our midst: "And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, as of the only Son from the Father" ( John 1:14). The Greek verb skenoo used by John means "to pitch tent, encamp, tabernacle, dwell in a tent." The allusion is clearly to the Feast of Tabernacles when the people dwelt in temporary booths.
John chose the imagery of the Feast of Booths to describe the Messiahís first coming to His people, since the feast celebrates the dwelling of God among His people. Being the feast of thanksgiving for Godís willingness to protect His people with the tabernacle of His presence during the wilderness sojourning, it could serve fittingly to portray Christís willingness to become a human being and pitch His tent among us in order to become our Savior.
The connection between Christís birth and the Feast of Tabernacles has been recognized not only by modern authors but also by early Christian writers who associate the Feast of the Nativity with the true Feast of Tabernacles. Several significant indications presented in our study suggest that the Feast of Tabernacles in September/October provides Christians today with a much more accurate Biblical timing and typology for celebrating Christís birth than the pagan dating of December 25th. The latter date is not only removed from the actual time of Christís birth, but also is derived from the pagan celebration of the return of the sun after the winter solstice.
The two suggestive ceremonies of the water libation and night illumination of Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles provide the setting for Christís revelation of His nature and mission. He is the living water (John 7:37-38) typified by the water ceremony of the Feast of Tabernacles. He is also the Light of the World (John 8:12) typified by the night illumination of the Temple during the feast. Indeed, through Christ the blessing typified by the Feast of Tabernacles have become a reality for every believer.
The themes of the Feast of Tabernacles serve not only to reveal the nature and mission of Christ, but also to depict the glorious destiny of Godís people. In Revelation 7:9-17 and 21:1 to 22:5, the major themes of the Feast of Tabernacles are effectively used to portray the final ingathering of Godís people in their harvest home. The redeemed are described as bearing palm branches which is a feature of Tabernacles (Rev 7:9). Their song "Salvation belongs to our God" (Rev 7:10)," recalls the cry of hosanna of Psalm 118:25 which was used at the feast. The reference to God erecting a booth over His people with His presence (Rev 7:15), is a clear allusion to Godís protection over Israel in the wilderness. The promise of "springs of living water" (Rev 7:17; 22:1) and of the continuous light of Godís glory (Rev 21:23), are allusions to the two central ceremonies of the feast, water pouring and the night illumination, both of which from the time of Zechariah had assumed a Messianic significance. The ultimate fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles is in the new earth when the saints are gathered in their harvest home and God will shelter them with the "booth" of His presence for all eternity (Rev 21:3).
All these references to the Feast of Tabernacles in Revelation presuppose more than an antiquarian interest on the part of John. Since the Temple of Jerusalem no longer stood at the time of Johnís writings, the meaning of the feast must have been kept alive by its observance in the synagogues and Christian churches. John hardly could have used so effectively the themes of the Feast of Tabernacles to portray the consummation of redemption, if the feast was unknown in the Christian churches of Asia Minor.
In summing up, we can say that the Feast of Tabernacles commemorates the redemption already accomplished through Christís first Advent and typifies the final restoration that will be realized at the second Advent. The feast, then, unites the past redemption to the future restoration. It affords the opportunity to celebrate in the present the salvation and protection Christ has already provided us, while we look forward to the future consummation of our redemption that awaits us in Godís eternal Kingdom.
The Significance of the Fall Feasts for Today. The preceding typological survey of the Fall Feasts offers the basis for a few final reflections on their relevance for today. The three feasts of the seven month reveal a progression in the eschatological unfolding of redemptive history. The Feast of Trumpets announces the beginning of the judgment in heaven which calls people on earth to repent. The Day of Atonement points to the final disposition of sins that Christ will accomplish at His Second Coming. The Feast of Tabernacles typifies the joyful celebration for the providential way the Lord has led His people to the Promised Land, the new earth.
In a sense, the three Fall Feasts typify also the three steps leading to the consummation of Christís redemptive ministry: repentance, cleansing, and rejoicing for the final restoration. The Feast of Trumpets represents Godís last call to repentance while the destiny of Godís people is being reviewed by the heavenly court during the antitypical ten days preceding the Day of Atonement. We refer to this period as the "Pre-Advent Judgment." The Day of Atonement typifies Christís final act of cleansing that will be accomplished at His coming when He will cleanse His people of their sins and will place all accountability on Satan (Azazel). The cleansing accomplished by Christ at His Return makes it possible to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles which foreshadows the rejoicing at the inauguration of a new life in a new world.
On a more practical plane, the Fall Feasts can give substance to our faith by reminding us that our relationship to God is based, not only on the profession, but also on the practice of our faith. At the final judgment, Christ will invite into His kingdom "not every one who says to me ĎLord, Lord . . . but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt 7:21).
By summoning us to prepare for the final judgment, the Fall Feasts can give seriousness to our living. They remind us that our thoughts, words, deeds, and attitudes count for eternity. They teach us that the final judgment will reveal whether we have lived self-centered lives, ignoring Godís moral principles, or God-centered lives, reflecting His moral values. As Christians today, we need to be reminded of the message of the final judgment, and the Fall Feasts of Trumpets and Atonement can effectively meet this need.
The Fall Feasts teach us that we need to go through repentance, judgment, and Christís final cleansing before we can celebrate the new beginnings of the world to come. By reminding us of the consummation of redemption, the Fall Feasts can help us experience in the present a joyous anticipation of the future.
NOTES ON CHAPTER I
1. Leonard Goppelt, Typos: The Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament in the New (Grand Rapids, MI, 1982).
2. Leonard Goppelt, "Typos, antitypos, typikos, hypotyposis," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. G. Friedrich (Grand Rapids, MI, 1972), vol. 8, pp. 255-256.
3. George E. Wright, A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible (New York, 1963), p. 61.
4. E. Earle Ellis, Prophecy and Hermeneutics in Early Christianity (Tübingen, Germany, 1978), p. 165.
5. Ada R. Habershon, The Study of the Types (New York, 1952), p. 9.
6. Geoffrey W. H. Lampe, "The Reasonableness of Typology," in Geoffrey W. H. Lampe and Kenneth J. Woollcombe, Essays on Typology (Naperville, IL, 1957), p. 16.
8. Richard M. Davidson, Typology in Scripture. A Study of Hermeneutical Tupos Structure, Andrews University Seminary Doctoral Dissertation Series (Berrien Springs, MI, 1981).
9. Richard M. Davidson, "Typology and the Levitical System," Ministry (February 1984), p. 19.
11. Ibid., p. 18.
13. Richard M. Davidson, "Sanctuary Typology," in Symposium on Revelation. Introductory and Exegetical Studies, ed. Frank B. Holbrook (Silver Spring, MD, 1992), p. 101.
14. Ibid., pp. 101-102.
15. Richard M. Davidson (note 9), p. 19.
16. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, CA, 1960), pp. 399-400.
17. See, for example, George W. Macrae, "The Meaning and Evolution of the Feast of Tabernacles," The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 22 (1960), p. 251. Macrae maintains that the three pilgrimage festivals "commemorated successively the first fruits of the barley crop, the end of the wheat harvest, and the ingathering of the harvest of grapes and olives" (p. 251).
18. Joseph A. Seiss, The Gospel in Leviticus (Grand Rapids, MI, n. d.), p. 344.
19. Terry C. Hulbert, "The Eschatological Significance of Israelís Annual Feasts," Doctoral dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas 1965), p. 89.
20. The Sabbatical typologies of Messianic redemption are discussed at great length in chapter 5 of my book Divine Rest for Human Restlessness (Rome 1980), entitled, "The Sabbath, Good News of Redemption."
21. Terry C. Hulbert (note 19), p. 79.
22. Joseph A. Seiss (note 18), p. 355.
23. Terry C. Hulbert (note 19), p. 89.
24. David Baron, Types, Psalms, and Prophecies (Minneapolis, 1981, reprint of 1907 edition), p. 5.
25. S. H. Kellog, The Book of Leviticus, The Expositorís Bible (New York, 1891), pp. 452-453.
26. Plutarch, Questionis Nom. 2, 289.
27. Emphasis supplied.
28. Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles (Mountain View, CA, 1960), p. 55.
29. Jon Paulien, "The Role of the Hebrew Cultus, Sanctuary, and Temple in the Plot and Structure of the Book of Revelation," Andrews University Seminary Studies 33 (1995), p. 257.