Coming in His Kingdom
Arlen L. Chitwood
The Seven Jewish Festivals
The seven festivals in Leviticus chapter twenty-three constitute what could be called, “The Prophetic Calendar of Israel.” These seven festivals are Jewish, not Christian. They were given to Israel through Moses, and have to do with the Jewish people alone. And they foreshadow that which will occur in the camp of Israel at the time of Christ’s return.
A secondary application of that which is seen in these festivals — that which is foreshadowed by the events, along with the sequence in which these events occurred — can be seen in the history of the Church, but that is neither here nor there. These festivals are Jewish, they have to do first and foremost with the Jewish people, and this must be recognized.
These seven festivals outline in chronological order a sequence of events about to transpire in the camp of Israel, and are all unfulfilled insofar as Israel is concerned. The fulfillment of Israel’s national Passover (the first of the seven festivals) in the antitype of Exodus chapter twelve is yet future, as are events in the other six festivals. Events surrounding the Passover must occur first, and this feast of the Lord will not be fulfilled until the end of the Tribulation.
The progression of events in these seven festivals reveal a progression of events that will occur in the camp of Israel when Christ returns as the great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek to deliver His covenant people:
a) Passover: This festival has to do with the national conversion of Israel, when the nation looks upon the Pierced One. The Lamb has already died, the blood has been shed (Exodus 12:6), but Israel has yet to apply the blood (Exodus 12:7).
In this respect, the festival was partially fulfilled almost 2,000 years ago, but the complete fulfillment awaits a future date. Israel today dwells between the statement ending Exodus 12:6 and the statement beginning Exodus 12:7, and this festival can be fulfilled only when the nation acts in accordance with that which is stated in verse seven:
Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it [the paschal lamb, foreshadowing the Paschal Lamb which Israel slew 1,500 years later] at twilight [lit., ‘between the evenings,’ which is part way between noon and 6 PM].
And they shall take some of the blood [that which Israel has yet to do] . . . .
(Exodus 12:6b, 7a)
Note in the type that the Passover occurred while Israel was still in Egypt. In the antitype Israel will have her national Passover while the nation is still scattered throughout the Gentile world (“Egypt” is always a type of the world in Scripture). This is the time when “they [the Jewish people] will look upon” their Messiah, and a nation will be “born at once” (Zechariah 12:10; Isaiah 66:8).
b) Unleavened Bread: This festival has to do with the removal of sin from the house (house of Israel) after the Passover. Of what sin (or sins) is Israel guilty? Israel is guilty of unbelief, resulting in disobedience over centuries of time, with an apex of this disobedience seen in Israel’s harlotry out among the nations. Then the Jewish people climaxed their unbelief, disobedience, by crucifying their Messiah when He appeared to the nation.
And, because of this climactic act, Israel is presently unclean by and through contact with the dead body of the nation’s Messiah, and will remain unclean for two days (2,000 years). After two days, on the third day (on the third 1,000-year period [after the Tribulation, which will end the two days]), Israel is going to acknowledge her sin in the presence of the very One whom she crucified (cf. Genesis 44:16). Israel will then put sin out of the house (out of the house of Israel).
c) First Fruits: This festival has to do with resurrection. Christ was raised from the dead on this day, and Old Testament saints will be raised from the dead at this time, fulfilling this festival. The first fruits of the resurrection of Old Testament saints occurred after Christ was raised (Matthew 27:52, 53). The main harvest will follow.
d) Pentecost: Note what began to occur on the day of Pentecost, 33 A.D. (Acts 2:1ff). Joel’s prophecy began to be fulfilled, and this prophecy would have been completely fulfilled had Israel done what Peter told the Jews to do in Acts 2:38 — national repentance, followed by national baptism.
However, Israel did not repent, the nation was subsequently set aside for a dispensation, and any fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy has also been set aside with Israel for a dispensation. Joel’s prophecy cannot be fulfilled today, even in part. But it will be fulfilled immediately after the resurrection of Old Testament saints (Joel 2:27-32).
e) Trumpets: This festival has to do with the re-gathering of Israel. Christians are waiting for a trumpet, calling them into the heavens before the Tribulation; Israel is waiting for a trumpet, calling the nation back into the land after the Tribulation, following Christ’s return (Matthew 24:29-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
f) Atonement: This festival has to do with a cleansing from sin for a people who will have already availed themselves of the blood of the Passover Lamb. Activities on this day have to do with blood on the mercy seat and cleansing from sin (sins previously acknowledged and put out of the house [the house of Israel], fulfilling the festival of unleavened bread.
Atonement is to be provided for Israel’s sin of crucifying her Messiah (the same blood shed at Calvary, now on the mercy seat). Note the order in Ezekiel 36:24, 25 — a re-gathering before cleansing from sin.
g) Tabernacles: This is the last of the festivals and it has to do with offerings made to the Lord and a time of rest at the conclusion of the preceding feasts of the Lord. This festival points forward to the millennial offerings (Ezekiel 45:15ff; 46:2ff) and a time of rest in the coming age after the conclusion of events surrounding the first six feasts of the Lord.
This festival lasted for seven days — a complete period of time — pointing forward to the complete duration of the Millennium.
Following the return of Christ at the end of the Tribulation, as seen in Chapter 4 of this book, there will be a seventy-five-day period between the end of the last seven years of Daniel’s prophecy and the beginning of the Millennium (Daniel 12:11-13). It appears evident that the events set forth in the first six feasts of the Lord, as they lead up to events in the terminal festival, the feast of Tabernacles, will transpire during this time.
Then the feast of Tabernacles itself will be fulfilled during the ensuing millennial reign.