2. Applying the Feasts
God finishes what He begins. To us who walk with God, no other event in the Old Testament is as important as what took place on October 15, 972 BC. On that day, God finished the work He had begun with Israel 490 years before.
2. Applying the Feasts
In this letter, I seek to give a broad overview of the Feasts of Israel, relating their origins in the journey of Israel to their fulfillment in the life of the church and in the experience of each individual believer. In later letters, I hope to look more closely at specific portions of this overall layout. (This letter is something I wrote nine years ago, before The Jesus Secret and before God revealed to me that I am entirely swallowed up in Christ. Thus its tone is slightly different, though I have adjusted the wording somewhat.)
In the year that God brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt, He gave them three great feasts to celebrate each year in memory of what He had done for them.
God gave Moses the first feast on the night of April 14, 1462 BC, the Feast of Passover. That very night, the angel of death swept through the Egyptian world system, killing the first-born in every house. But the Israelites had wiped the blood of a lamb above and on each side of the doors of their houses. When the angel of death saw the blood, he passed over that house. God told Moses to celebrate the Passover Feast from then on in memory of this deliverance.
The event the second feast, the Feast of Pentecost, celebrated happened fifty days later, on June 5, 1462 BC. On that day, the people of Israel had gathered together at the foot of Mt. Sinai. They had purified themselves for three days. They were under strict orders not to touch the mountain lest they die. While they were standing in fear and awe, God spoke to them the Ten Commandments out of the thick cloud, the commandments that He would write in stone. God also commanded them on that day to celebrate the three feasts every year, the second one to commemorate that very day when He spoke to them directly and gave them His law.
But then, even though the first feast and the second feast celebrated two clear and great events in the life of the people of Israel, both of which happened in 1462 BC, the third feast came without any event. On October 15, 1462 BC, nothing of significance happened. Yet, the Israelites were to celebrate that day as if something had happened.
Needless to say, Israel remembered to celebrate Passover through the years, now and then. They might even have remembered to celebrate Pentecost occasionally, though Old Testament history says little about it. But they quickly forgot all about the third feast, the Feast of Tabernacles, and after Moses and Joshua, it was not celebrated for hundreds of years.
Nothing happened on the fifteenth of October for centuries – nothing! The feast was there, written in the dusty books of the law, but no one really knew what it was about. Meanwhile, Israel traveled its long journey out of Egypt, through the wilderness, into the promised land. Hundreds of years passed battling their enemies in the land, often becoming subject to them, until God sent them a warrior king named David. David defeated the enemies of Israel and captured the city of Jerusalem, the place of God’s choosing. David wanted to build God a temple, but God said, “No, you are a man of blood. Your son, Solomon, will build Me a temple.” So David spent the rest of his life preparing for that temple.
When Solomon became king, he waited a few years until he was comfortable with his new role, and then he began to build the temple of God. It took him seven years to complete that temple and three more years to make all of the furnishings that would go into it. Solomon had every thing he needed to do the job from his father, David: the plans, the materials, and great quantities of gold, silver, and bronze.
Then, the temple was finally ready for use in the fall of 972 BC. It was exactly 490 years since the historical events remembered by Passover and Pentecost, and 450 years since Joshua had led the tribes of Israel into the promised land. It was the ninth year of Jubilee (9 x 50), the great year of celebration and release and freedom and the canceling of debts that never did happen quite the way it was supposed to.
And so, since it was October, the time of the feast of Tabernacles, Solomon planned to dedicate the temple. He gathered all Israel together. The priests carried the Ark of the Covenant up the hillside to the new temple. Other priests slaughtered thousands of sheep and cattle all the way up the hill. It was a bloody, smelly, gory day, but everyone celebrated the triumph of Israel and her God.
The priests carried the Ark all the way into the inner room of the temple, but when they came back out, they and all who were in the temple court fell to the ground. When they were able to look, they saw the Shekinah glory of God filling the temple they had just left.
It was October 15, the last day, the great day of the Feast. The event for which the people of Israel were supposed to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles had finally come. God filled His house. He was now living in the glory of His presence in the midst of His city and His people.
October 15, 972 is an extraordinary day.
The layout of the years of the history of man on this earth is not clearly known before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC, but a teacher of Bible history by the name of Edward Reese, has done as good a job as any in studying and laying out the chronology of the Bible. There is an entire Bible, called the Reese Chronological Bible, that organizes the chapters and verses of the Bible according to when they happened. I use Reese’s dates.
972 BC, the year in which God filled His temple, is exactly 3000 years after Adam was created. 972 BC is exactly 1000 years to the year that Jesus died and rose again. It is right at the mid-point of the 6,000 years that God has allotted to human folly and to the unfolding of His purposes in His people.
Then we come to AD 29, the year of our Lord. AD 29, remember, is exactly 1000 years after 972 BC. 972 is the 9th year of Jubilee; AD 29 is the 29th year of Jubilee (if you count only from Joshua – the 80th if you count from the beginning).
On April 14th, AD 29, at the very same moment that the High Priest of Israel drew His knife across the throat of the Passover lamb in celebration of that evening long ago when God saw the blood and passed over His people, at the very moment that the Passover lamb died, Jesus died upon the cross, His blood pouring out onto the ground beneath.
Fifty days later, on June 5, AD 29, as the High Priest went out, early in the morning to gather the first handful of grain stalks from the new-growing fields, 120 people rose to pray in an upper room in the city of Jerusalem. The High Priest came to the field, plucked off a number of stalks of wheat, and raised them into the air before the Lord to mark the start of the Feast of Pentecost.
At that very same moment, the Holy Spirit fell upon those 120 waiting people. They were filled with the Holy Spirit, given new hearts, and upon those hearts God wrote the New Covenant by the Blood of Christ.
In the exact year, 1000 years after God filled the Temple of Solomon, on the exact days of the Old Testament events, 1490 years before, God performed the New Covenant events of Passover and Pentecost – the sacrifice of Jesus, and immersion into the Holy Spirit.
October 15, AD 29? Nothing!
And so the pattern remains the same. Hundreds of years have gone by since the fulfillment in the life of the church of those first two great prophetic feasts of Passover and Pentecost. Almost two thousand years, and Tabernacles has not yet happened!
God has made His pattern awesomely clear. It is 3000 years from Adam's rebellion to the infilling of Solomon’s Temple. Measure 3000 years from that event to – AD 2029. It is 1000 years from the infilling of Solomon’s Temple on the day of the Feast of Tabernacles to the resurrection of Jesus Christ in AD 29. Measure 2000 years (two days) from the resurrection of Jesus to – 2029. (Stay with me, I am not “setting a date.”)
The Old Testament pattern of Passover occurred on April 14th, and was celebrated as a feast from that day on. The New Testament fulfillment in the birthing of the Church happened on April 14th and is available to whosoever will from that day on. Any individual at any time can embrace the blood of Christ for himself, apply that blood to the doorposts of his or her heart and receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. Individual believers have celebrated the beginning of Passover in their lives in a steady stream from the first year of the Church until now.
The Old Testament pattern of Pentecost occurred on June 5, and was celebrated as a feast (occasionally) from that day on. The New Testament fulfillment in the birth of the Church happened on June 5 and is available to whosoever will from that day on. Any individual believer at any time can embrace the fullness of the Spirit of God for him or herself, surrender fully to the Holy Spirit and experience the Holy Spirit writing the truth of God on his or her heart. Individual believers have celebrated the beginning of Pentecost in their lives in an intermittent stream from the first year of the Church until now.
The Old Testament pattern of Tabernacles happened on October 15 – only it was hundreds of years after Passover and Pentecost, and it was celebrated at least twice more after that. (All of the feasts were celebrated regularly after the return from Babylon and the rise of the Pharisees, whose original purpose was to keep Israel true to Moses and the law of God in the midst of an idolatrous world.) And now, centuries after the New Testament Passover and Pentecost, Tabernacles has not yet happened. Neither can any believer at any time embrace and experience the fulfillment of the day of Tabernacles in his or her life, since it has not yet been released to the Church.
But, as we shall see, the promise of Tabernacles fills the New Testament; however, the Church, sadly, does not see it, does not look forward anymore to the event and has substituted something else in its place – “going to heaven when you die.”
God fully intends to fulfill Tabernacles in the life of the Church in the exact same way that He fulfilled Passover and Pentecost. Tabernacles will be fulfilled on the day of Tabernacles – October 15. The year?
God’s patterns are amazingly exact. However, Jesus messed up God’s perfect pattern just so we would be unable to set a date (something we humans love to do.) Jesus said “Except those days be shortened, no flesh would be saved. But for the elect’s sake, those days shall be shortened.” Matthew 24. In other words whatever “date” God set, Jesus made sure we knew that it would happen sooner than that. If God, in the beginning, did set a specific time frame for human folly – 6,000 years, or 120 years of Jubilee (50 year periods) with the pattern of Tabernacles set exactly at the center, then it is clear that AD 2029, which is the 40th year of Jubilee since Jesus and the 120th since Adam, is the end of that allotted time.
We are also approaching the end of the second day (millennium) in the life of the church and the dawning of the third day. We are approaching the end of the sixth day of grievous labor in the folly of humanity and the dawning of the seventh day of rest.
Why am I bringing in a date? I have a purpose, and it is not to set a date for the fulfilment of Tabernacles. More than that, the fulfilment of Tabernacles and the “return” of Christ are not the same thing.
My purpose in naming 2029 is to show the exactness of God’s pattern in the fulfillment of the feasts of Israel.
It is certain that God will fulfill Tabernacles in the life of the Church, and it is also certain that He is doing it right now! We also know that whatever date God originally set in His timetables, according to Jesus, He has reduced the time, whatever that means. Enough of dates; it is not dates, but certainty that I want to establish in your hearts. Tabernacles has not yet been fulfilled in the life of the Church. Tabernacles will be fulfilled.
What does that mean for us?
We can be certain of Tabernacles by tracing the pattern of Passover and Pentecost through the fulfillment in the beginning of the Church and the writing of the New Testament into the individual life of every believer. The only difference we shall see with Tabernacles is that we must bring the pattern of Tabernacles in the Old Testament, through the writing of the New Testament to look forward with hope and preparation to the fulfillment of Tabernacles in the fullness of the Church and what that means for each individual believer.
We understand what the three feasts mean in our lives by looking at the historical event itself that each feast celebrated. The events and details of this history are important to God and to us. An accurate knowledge of God’s history with His people establishes us more firmly in faith in what God is doing through us today.
It is easy to see the connection between the events of the first Passover and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and then to go through the sacrifice of Jesus to the New Testament writing that affects our lives.
The Israelites were in bondage to the world system.
And you (He made alive,) who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world. . . Ephesians 2:1-2
The Israelites killed a lamb.
Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree. . . 1 Peter 2:24
I have been crucified with Christ. . . Galatians 2:20
They applied the blood of the lamb to the doorposts of their house.
(You were redeemed) with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1 Peter 1:19
The angel of death saw the blood and passed over that house.
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7
Then, we look at the events of the day of Pentecost in the Old Testament to more clearly understand what Pentecost and the Holy Spirit mean for us in the New Testament.
The Law that God spoke, He then wrote on stone.
Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of flesh, that is of the heart. 2 Corinthians 3:3
God for the first time in history spoke to His people; they heard His voice and lived.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27
The Law was given to Israel as a guide to understand how to walk with God.
However when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth. . . John 16:13
We could continue. God spent hundreds of years and put forth great effort to make for us the pattern of history so that we could better understand His provision for us through Christ. If it is that important for God, it must also be important for us.
To the unsaved, the most important event in God’s Old Testament patterns is Passover, the realization that there is a way of escape from death. To the new Christian, the most important event in the history of God’s dealings with Israel is Pentecost, and knowing firsthand that our Guide and Teacher in this new relationship with a God who seems “mighty and distant” is the person of the Holy Spirit and a constant and ongoing relationship with Him.
But both Passover and Pentecost are beginnings. Absolutely wonderful beginnings, most certainly, but no one begins anything just to begin it. No one puts trust in someone who simply goes around “beginning” things, but never finishes them. Block after block of house foundations, carefully crafted, yes, but long empty of actual houses would speak to everyone of devastating failure.
God finishes what He begins.
To us who walk with God, no other event in the Old Testament is as important as what took place on October 15, 972 BC. On that day, God finished the work He had begun with Israel 490 years before.
Many good Christians are very familiar with every verse in the New Testament that flows out of and describes the experience of Passover in their lives. And they know how they are experiencing those verses.
Many good Christians are very familiar with every verse in the New Testament that flows out of and describes the experience of Pentecost in their lives. And they know how they are experiencing those verses.
But what on earth do they do with the majority and the focus of the New Testament?
Tabernacles did not happen in October of AD 29.
Tabernacles did not happen in AD 70, even though much of what Jesus warned about happened in the destruction of Jerusalem and the slaughter of Israel.
Paul died, and Tabernacles had not happened. John died, and Tabernacles had not happened. All the Christians who had seen the original disciples or who had known those who once knew the original disciples in their youth died, and Tabernacles had not happened.
The tables of history turned, and the church now dominated the affairs of the world. It was not only popular to be Christian, but politically necessary, and Tabernacles had not happened.
God sent great reform, and the reformers lived and died, and those who knew them died, but Tabernacles had not happened. God sent great revivals, and the revivalists lived and died, and those who knew them died, and Tabernacles had not happened.
The Old Testament feast of Tabernacles had not been rooted in any historical event, so what was the point? Passover and deliverance from Egypt? — A big deal and easy to remember and celebrate. But what was the point of Tabernacles? It was forgotten for centuries.
Salvation and forgiveness of sins by the blood of Jesus? That is a big deal and easy for each one of us to remember and celebrate. But Tabernacles? It still has not happened.
And so, bit by bit, century by century, Christianity has closed itself to Tabernacles and replaced it with something entirely different. And today, Tabernacles is forgotten.
The majority of the New Testament is focused on the fulfilment of Tabernacles. The heart and purpose of the apostles as they wrote their epistles to the churches was directed towards the fulfilment of Tabernacles. Far more New Testament verses and passages deal with the fulfilment of Tabernacles than what speak of Passover or Pentecost. But when most Christians look at those verses, they do not know what they mean and simply equate those verses and the glory they speak to us about with Christianity’s long-embraced replacement for Tabernacles – “going to heaven when you die.”
The goal of Christianity is NOT to “go to” heaven when you die.
But it is not my purpose here to berate or be critical or to spend time on what is not. I want to talk about October 15, 972 BC, and what that incredible event means to you and me.
Because, although we have forgotten Tabernacles, God has not!
God is preparing, right now, right here on this earth, in the lives of whosoever will —His elect, God is preparing for the mightiest experience in the entire history of all that is created.
And He will do it on a single day.
But! (I cannot express how important this “but” is.) The earth-shattering event that took place on October 15, 972 BC did not happen in a vacuum. For 46 years, or even for 90 years, from when David was called forth by Samuel as a man after God's own heart, or you might say, for 490 years, step by step, piece by piece, every item, every circumstance, every structure necessary for October 15, 972 was put into place by God.
What is the essence of Tabernacles in the New Testament?
That you might be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:19
The most important truth about October 15, 972 BC for us, right now, is not the day itself, (though we ground our faith in the soon-coming experience that day points to) but rather the 90 years of preparation by God through man for that day. In a later letter, I will talk about those 90 years and what they mean to us.
God will fulfill Tabernacles on the day He has set. Nothing we do will hasten or postpone that date.
But God has given us the incredible opportunity to participate in His preparation for the greatest day in all the universe – Tabernacles. God is building His temple, the place He will live in forever, and He desires with all intensity of heart that you and I be part of that temple and that Day.
The Day of Tabernacles: October 15, 972 BC. What happened on that day? What does it have to do with us?
On October 15, 972 BC, God filled Solomon’s temple with His presence. That event was a promise, a foreshadowing, a revealing of the real event for which He has been preparing from the beginning.
Understand that God’s filling of the temple of Solomon was not an eternal event; it was a temporal event. It was not the real thing; it only pointed to the real thing.
God filled Solomon’s temple with His presence on October 15, 972 BC. He removed His presence from that same temple in 592 BC, six years before the total destruction of the temple in 586 BC. God’s presence filled Solomon’s temple only for 380 years. During that period of time, the prophet Isaiah made it clear that God does not dwell in a temple made of stone. The book of Hebrews also teaches that the man-made structures of the Old Testament were just temporal copies of God's eternal dwelling place.
God’s presence in Solomon’s temple had two purposes. One was to provide the culmination of His work with the people of Israel. The other was to give us who live at this time an ability to understand the great and incredible event that is soon to happen to us.
God has no interest in restoring Solomon’s temple or in filling again a house made of stone. Many Christians have adopted the belief that God’s dealings through Christ with the Church are just a parenthesis, an aside, and that when Christ comes again, He will revert back to the structure of the Old Covenant in His relationship with the Jewish people, including making a big deal out of a stone house over in the Middle East. The Gospel sweeps aside this dangerous belief in a heartbeat. (Dangerous because this belief will cause some Christians to call something in our world today “God” that is definitely not God.)
So what is this incredible event that is about to come upon us who are focusing our travail on the fulfilment of all of our Father's desire? Let’s pull in some New Testament verses to paint the picture.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18
You, also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22
If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. John 14:23
. . . that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:19.
God begins with the finished product; He starts with the final purpose. Everything He does or allows to happen must be within the framework of bringing the culmination of everything, an end which He fully possesses in Himself right now, into visibility in space and time and in heaven and earth.
What is God’s purpose?
He that has seen Me has seen the Father. – We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.
God wants to be seen and known and handled. This is His intent; this is the revelation of Himself by which He plans to culminate this present age. God is invisible; He will be visible.
But an invisible God cannot be seen apart from a body. God cannot be known apart from His temple. God created man with the intent of shaping man into His dwelling place, the ones through whom all of creation will forever see and know God.
There are three great patterns in God and in His creation that give us three different views (multi-faceted) of the intent and purpose of God. These three great patterns correspond to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The first pattern, corresponding to the Father, is the pattern of a dwelling place. This dwelling place can be viewed either as a body or as a temple. They both teach the same thing. I live in a body. You cannot know me apart from my body. Yet, though we know we will continue even after our bodies are torn from us, we do not now consider ourselves separate from our body. If you want to know me, you must relate to me through my body. I am available to you only through my body, and from nowhere else.
Jesus said, “He that has seen Me has seen the Father.” Jesus is our model of what God intends for us. We are God’s temple, His dwelling place, the body to which all must come to know God as He really is.
The second pattern, corresponding to the Son, is the pattern of story. All story great or small is about a hero. In every story, the hero fights a great enemy, accomplishes a great task, and restores to his people that which was coveted by the enemy. In the journey of Israel, the life of David is the great story calling forth Christ.
Jesus is the champion of God. And so are we.
To him who overcomes, I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, (just exactly) as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. Revelation 3:21
And they overcame him (the accuser) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Revelation 12:11
He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. Revelation 21:7.
In this pattern, we are God’s son, the ones who lay down our lives for His enemies, triumphing over all who oppose Him. This pattern of story is the heart of what God is doing with us.
The third pattern, corresponding to the Holy Spirit, is the pattern of the reproduction of life. The Holy Spirit contains the feminine aspects of God. All that God created when He formed woman, came out of His own nature. This pattern includes the intimacy of romance, the planting of seed, the bringing forth of life.
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit. John 7:38-39
In this pattern, we are God’s bride, the one who walks with Him in intimate communion, who receives His seed and brings forth His life.
So we have the three great New Testament verses of Tabernacles:
That you might be filled with all the fullness of God. – And they overcame Him by the blood of the Lamb. – Out of your heart will flow rivers of living water.
And these three capstone verses correspond to these three patterns of God’s purpose for our lives: Temple, Son, and Bride.
The entire New Testament is built around these three verses and around these three key elements of the fulfilment of Tabernacles. Salvation (Passover) gets us in the door, the infilling of the Spirit (Pentecost) gets us into the race, but Tabernacles is where we are going.
We were created to be the eternal dwelling place of Almighty God. Everything that is happening in our lives is happening for the purpose of preparing us for the moment when God fills His finished house.
The day in which God will fill His completed house is the Day of Tabernacles, a day that is pressing ever closer upon us.
And that brings us to the entire focus of the Christian life:
And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:3
And they overcame him (the accuser) by the blood of the Lamb . . .” Revelation 12:11
On October 15, 972 BC, God filled Solomon’s temple with His presence. That event was a promise, a foreshadowing, a revealing of the real experience for which He has been preparing from the beginning.
But God did not build the temple on the day in which He filled it. For 46 years, for 90 years, preceding that great event, the event that points us to the most important day of our lives, the Day of Tabernacles, God, through His servants David and Solomon, purchased the site, gathered the materials, shaped the stones, raised the building, crafted and installed all the furnishings of that building, and then, with rivers of blood flowing down the hillside from the slaughter of thousands of animals, God filled His finished house.
God is finishing His house and preparing it for the Day in which He fills it in all outward manifest experience.
The Father is coming Home!