The Feast of Trumpets and The Rapture: Connections and Assumptions

Each year, the end of summer means the Jewish High Holy Days are just around the corner. Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) are upon us. These Fall feasts are very meaningful to the Jewish people and have great significance, prophetically speaking. When we look at Leviticus 23, we can see all the feasts of the Lord given to the children of Israel in a particular order. All six feasts (or seven feasts, since some people separate Passover and Unleavened bread) are called yearly convocations and are divided into two distinct categories:

Spring Festivals
Pesach - Passover: Leviticus 23:4-8
First Fruits: Leviticus 23:9-14
Shavuot - Pentecost: Leviticus 23:15-21

Fall Feasts
Rosh Hashanah: Leviticus 23:23-25
Yom Kippur: Leviticus 23:26-32
Sukkot: Leviticus 23:33-44

We can also derive a prophetic significance from these festivals, as they pertain to the redemptive career of Yeshua the Messiah. This can be both a blessing AND a curse depending on how we establish the prophetic connection and how much we assume. The study of biblical prophecy can suffer from friends and foes, and yet, it is critical that as modern-day disciples of Yeshua, we study the prophetic words of the Bible. The connections exist, and they are strong.

The Spring Festivals have been fulfilled by the First Coming of Yeshua the Messiah:
• Passover: Leviticus 23:4-8 - Death of the Messiah (Isaiah 53:5-8; 1 corinthians 5:7-8)
• First Fruits: Leviticus 23:9-14 - Resurrection of the Messiah (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17, 20-24)
• Pentecost: Leviticus 23:15-21 - Birth of the Body of Messiah (Exodus 19:1, 3-8, Acts 2:1-4)
Prophetically speaking, these festivals are behind us, and there are three more to look forward to. They are known as the Fall Feasts and,

The Fall Feasts will be fulfilled at the Second Coming of Yeshua the Messiah:
• Rosh Hashanah: Leviticus 23:23-25 - The Regathering of the Saints (Isaiah 27:12-13 - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18;  1 Corinthians. 15:15-58)
• Yom Kippur: Leviticus 23:26-32 - The Great Tribulation (Ezekiel 36:24-25; Zechariah 13:8-9, 12:10, 2 Corinthians 5:10)
• Sukkot: Leviticus 23:33-44 - The Ingathering of the Messiah and the Believers (John 7:38-39, 8:12; Zechariah 14:16-19; Matthew 17:4)

Based on several biblical reasons–the Levitical Feasts of the Lord not being the least of them–I adhere to a pre-tribulational, pre-millennial view of the end times. In other words, Rosh Hashanah comes before Yom Kippur, which comes before Sukkot, so logically and biblically, we can look at the Regathering of the Believers, the Great Tribulation and the Millennial Kingdom in that order. These connections can be made on a biblical foundation, but how does that help us with the timing of the Rapture, or does it?

More books, articles and videos have been produced to prove that the Rapture will take place on Rosh Hashanah that I can count. There is no doubt that people are very interested in the Rapture, and they should, but can a date be set? The extent to which people go to calculate the date of the Rapture is mind-boggling. Let's try to connect some dots.

• Connection between Rosh Hashanah and the Rapture:
The Blowing of the Trumpet in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
 

Paul's Jewish audience couldn't have known about the trumpets of Revelation since the book had not been written when he addressed the Corinthians. They would know about the last trumpet of Rosh Hashanah, known as the "Tekiah Gedolah." When God brings an end to the Church age–which is the fulfillment of the interval of several months between Shavuot and Rosh Hashanah (Leviticus 23:22)–He will send Yeshua to gather the saints (dead and alive.) Shofars were used to call to battle, announce a new moon or call a gathering of people. So, there is a thematic connection between the Last Trump and the Rapture since it will be the time chosen by God to regather the Saints to Himself.

• Assumption between Rosh Hashanah and the Rapture:
Because of the Last Trumpet connection, many have come to place the Rapture on Rosh Hashanah, using other "proofs" from numerology, Talmudic writings and other sources. Could the Rapture happen on Rosh Hashanah? ABSOLUTELY! But, if it does, it will not be BECAUSE it is Rosh Hashanah, but because that will be the day God has picked in His infinite wisdom.

If we seek passages about Yeshua's return to get us, we cannot find a specific date, so the Rapture is signless. Nothing needs to happen before the Rapture takes place...NOTHING! We know that Yeshua is preparing a home for us and that He will return to get us all as we read in  Yet, the Bible doesn't tell us when by date, but it tells us that it will be before Yom Kippur since Rosh Hashanah always comes ten days before the Day of Atonement.

Rabbis teach that the fate of all Jews is decided on Yom T’ruah (The Day of Trumpets), but it isn’t sealed until Yom Kippur. This is a time of introspection and repentance when Jewish people go out of their way to seek forgiveness from anyone they might have hurt throughout the year. The sabbath that falls within these ten days is known as Shabbat Shuvah (the Sabbath of repentance.)

An event in Yeshua's redemptive ministry doesn't have to happen on the exact day of a feast to fulfill that feast, but the event's meaning and symbolism suffice to fulfill one of the Levitical feasts. That will be true for the Rapture, the Tribulation and the Millennial Kingdom. If Rosh Hashanah, the Great Tribulation and the Millennial Kingdom are the fulfillment of the last three Fall feasts, while they do not require to happen on the exact day of each feast–but they could–they still will occur in the immutable order of the feasts found in Leviticus 23: Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot...That we know!

So, the real question is not "When will the Rapture take place?" but, "When the Rapture takes place, am I going to be taken up or left behind?"

If you have placed your trust in the death and resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah for your sins, you have eternal life in God's presence and YOU WILL BE RAPTURED. Don't speculate on dates that cannot be calculated, but invest your time in boldly sharing our hope in Yeshua with the lost. You never know... The Rapture could happen before, during, or after Rosh Hashanah, but after it happens, our influence on those who don't know Yeshua will be gone. Let's use the time we have left wisely.

Are Sukkot, The Millennial Kingdom and Ezekiel's Temple Connected?

We can learn a lot about God's character, His promises, His relationship with Israel and with us by studying the Levitical Feasts of the Lord as they are listed, organized and described in Leviticus 23. They are divided into two groups, the Spring Festivals (Passover, First Fruits and Shavuot) and the Fall Feasts (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot). They respectively connect to the first and second coming of Yeshua the Messiah. The Spring festivals were fulfilled by His death, resurrection and birth of the Body of Messiah, while the Fall Feasts take us to a future time of fulfillment with the Rapture (thematically, not by exact date), the Great Tribulation and our ingathering and dwelling with Messiah in the Millennial Kingdom.

Based on several biblical reasons–the Levitical Feasts of the Lord not being the least of them–I adhere to a pre-tribulational, pre-millennial view of the end times. In other words, Rosh Hashanah comes before Yom Kippur which comes before Sukkot, so logically and biblically, we can look at the Rapture, the Great Tribulation and the Millennial Kingdom in that order.

After the Rapture, the world will go through a tremendous time of hardship and the death of billions who were left behind after rejecting Yeshua. That time is known as the Great Tribulation or the Time of Jacob's Trouble when God focuses on the chastisement of Israel and brings all surviving Jews at the end of the Tribulation to cry out "Baruch Haba Bashem Adonai" (Zechariah 12:10; Romans 11:26; Matthew 23:37-39). Let's not overlook the biblical fact that Yeshua's Second Coming at the end of the Great Tribulation is triggered by a corporate Jewish acceptance of His messiahship. This is hugely important, especially in light of the fact that Satan's career of lies and deceit will then come to an end and He will be relegated to an eternity of suffering away from God and without relief. If the Jewish people were not to call upon Yeshua, Satan's position as the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:1-2) would be secure. That is why Satan has been so busy going after the Jews through creative antisemitism for millennia. As we return with Messiah to inaugurate His messianic kingdom, we will join those who have survived the Tribulation and participate in the 1,000-year reign of Messiah on earth from the throne of King David in Jerusalem. How does that connect to Sukkot and Ezekiel's Temple?

Let's start with the Feast of Sukkot or Feast of Booths (Sukkot is the plural of the Hebrew word sukkah, which means "temporary dwelling or tent.") It is also known as the Feasts of Tabernacles. The reference is found in Leviticus 23:33-44. Additionally, it is detailed in two other passages of Scripture, Nehemiah 8:13-18 (re-established after the Babylonian captivity) and Zechariah 14:16-19 (celebrated in the millennial kingdom). Sukkot follows Yom Kippur and is a time of great rejoicing after the solemn time of affliction of the body and the soul. It also marked the time of the first fruits of the fall harvest. The feast lasts for seven days and revolves around building temporary booths to eat in, live in and sleep in, reminding the Jewish people of the wilderness wanderings and of God's provision and protection. At the time of sukkot in  biblical days, two important ceremonies took place.

The first one was known as “the outpouring of the water” when the priests marched down from the Temple to the bottom of the City of David at the pool of Siloam to fill water jugs and go back up through the “Water Gate.” Most of Psalms 120-134 were recited (The Psalms of Ascent.) As they arrived at the Temple, they poured out water at the base of the altar. This symbolized the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Israel in the last days.

The second ceremony was known as “the kindling of the lampstands” when the priests descended to the court of the women where four very tall lampstands were lit. This symbolized the Shekinah glory of God, and rabbis associated this ceremony with the Messiah, probably because of Zechariah 14:16-21.) Rabbis also applied Daniel 2:22 to the Messiah “The light dwells with Him.”

An eighth day was added by the rabbis to Sukkot, known as Simchat Torah or “Rejoicing over the Torah”. This is the time of the year when Jewish people finish reading the last weekly portion of the Torah known as a weekly Parasha, and start the cycle again. (Deuteronomy 33:27- 34:12 is read as well as Genesis 1:1-2:3.)

In the New Testament, it is mentioned in a long passage in John 7:1-10:21 when Messiah Yeshua observed the Feast and made some very profound statements. John 7:37-39 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Yeshua stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified.
This was Yeshua’s response to “the outpouring of the water” ceremony. He was looking at the leaders and basically saying: “if you are looking for the Spirit of God, look no further, I am here!”

Then, in John 8:12 Yeshua again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
Again, this is Yeshua’s response to the second ceremony known as “the kindling of the lampstands” when He is basically saying: “You are waiting for “The light that dwells with Him”, the Messiah… I am here!”

Yeshua was ready to tabernacle with His people at His First Coming, but He also knew that to validate His office of Messiah, He would have to be rejected by the majority of His people. Even though He knew that His death was part of the divine decree, He still brought up His messiahship to His own people.

What is really exciting though, is the fact that according to Zechariah 14:16-19, we will celebrate the Feast of Sukkot in the 1,000 messianic kingdom of Yeshua on earth.

Zechariah 14:16-19 Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. 17 And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them. 18 If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the Lord smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.

Zechariah makes it clear that Sukkot will be fulfilled by the messianic kingdom which will be a time of rejoicing after the terrible afflictions of the Great Tribulation (Yom Kippur). In the Millennium, the Feast will be obligatory for all people, Jews AND Gentiles alike. All gentiles who survived the Tribulation (the sheep Gentiles of Matthew 25:31-46) will send a delegation to Jerusalem each year to celebrate Sukkot, to worship King Messiah and celebrate the Feast. This is also a time when Messiah will “tabernacle” on earth with His subjects.

In Matthew 17:1-4, Peter who knew from Zechariah 14 that the kingdom of Messiah would be fulfilled by Sukkot, immediately asked the transfigured Yeshua if they should build three tabernacles or sukkahs. Peter was convinced that Yeshua was about to inaugurate the messianic or millennial Kingdom at that time. He understood the fulfillment, but his timing was off, and he was jumping the gun as Sukkot was the last of the Levitical feasts. Yeshua would have to die, rise again, start the Church, rapture the Church and allow for the affliction of Israel before returning and establishing His kingdom so that Sukkot could be fulfilled.
Sukkot will be fulfilled by the Messianic or Millennial Kingdom on earth. The Feast of Tabernacle will be fulfilled when all saints tabernacle with the living Word on earth.

During the millennial reign of Yeshua from Jerusalem, the fourth Temple will stand in Jerusalem. The third Temple or Tribulation Temple–never condoned by God–would have been destroyed and the fourth Temple also known as the Ezekiel Temple (Ezekiel 40-48) will come down from heaven. All believers who would have been raptured will return with Yeshua at the Second Coming at the end of the Great Tribulation to join those who would have survived the Tribulation and to enter into the Millennial Kingdom in all its beauty, including the breathtaking final Temple and fellowship with Yeshua Himself.
There has never been a more important and exciting time to know Yeshua personally. The Spring festivals were fulfilled literally and so will the Fall ones be. By trusting Yeshua today we secure our place in the Rapture (if He doesn't call us home personally before), we avoid the tragic seven-year Tribulation and we return just in time to celebrate Sukkot for 1,000 years before we enter the eternal order in God's presence.

Rosh Hashanah 5778: Apples, Honey and Uncertainty!

On the eve of September 20th, 2017 ( 29 of Elul) Jewish people around the world will gather in synagogues and community centers to celebrate the New Year. Rosh Hashanah (literally "Head of the Year") is a special time of rejoicing and looking forward, for Jewish people around the world. We celebrate by blowing the shofar and eating special foods such as round challahs (bread loaves,)  apples, and honey for a sweet year. Jewish people will go around wishing one another L' Shanah Tovah Tiketevu meaning "May your name be inscribed for a good year!" This day marks the beginning of a series of Jewish Holy Days including Yom Kippur and Sukkot. But for the Jewish people worldwide, beyond the tangible AND symbolic sweetness of this season's foods, there is quite a bit of uncertainty about the past, the present, and the future.

Jewish history is one of the longest uninterrupted narrative in the history of mankind–about 3800 years since the birth of Abraham, even though the Jewish calendar starts with Adam and eve 5778 years ago. Jewish history is both rich with a diverse heritage and heavy with acts of anti-Semitism that punctuated its long stream. The uncertainty about the past comes in a few different ways, but they all lead to a possible eradication of Jewish presence in mankind's history.

With the exponential decline of the last few thousand survivors from the death camps, Holocaust memory is at risk. First account stories will soon be impossible to collect. This fact of time, coupled with a strong desire by many to re-write Holocaust history and revise it, put the greatest Jewish catastrophe at risk of becoming obsolete in postmodern minds. Additionally, various organizations such as the United Nations, UNESCO, and others, are trying to disconnect Israel from any Jewish roots. We saw it recently with the ludicrous, yet very bold attempt at making the Temple Mount area a Muslim site with no Jewish connection. The past should always be something to learn from and build upon, but Jewish people around the world feel uneasy as they see their past history at risk.

The present situation also offers many challenges for our global Jewish community. Modern anti-Semitism has replaced the once believed defunct historical anti-Semitism of yesterday. The hydra of Lerna of classic anti-Semitism saw its head being cut off after World War Two, only to grow two more within two decades after that. There is no safe place in the world for Jewish people except maybe for the one place that most of the world wants to eradicate, that is Israel. A Jew in Iceland, South  Africa or Australia is in danger today–as if by proxy–simply for something that takes place in Israel. In some big metropolis like London or Paris, it isn't safe to be outside wearing a yarmulke or a Star of David. Jews around the world have to watch their back just about anywhere they go. With BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) pushing a pro-Palestinian agenda, even those who wish to support Israel are at risk now. Killing Jews is even back on the agenda in France as we can see from the recent events involving the mostly unreported death of Sarah Halimi.  The present is something that many Jewish people want to live for but uncertainty is real,  as danger looms around the corner every single day.

So with a past and a present as described, what is left to look forward to? Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech at the 72nd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on September, 19th, 2017. He started by painting the picture of a world, embracing Israel more than ever before. But he quickly turned our attention to the danger of Syria, Iran, and global anti-Semitism. Yet much of the future of the world in the fields of technology, agriculture, innovation, and security, takes place today in Israel; at the hands of a myriad of entrepreneurs. Where would these people be today if G-d had allowed for the Holocaust to continue for a bit longer? Yet, G-d isn't bound by time. He is the G-d of the past, present, and future, and He never changes (Numbers 23:19.)

There is indeed a future for Israel and for the Jewish people. It is clearly delineated in the Tanach and the B'rit Hadashah. Israel will never cease to exist and the Jewish people will NEVER be completely decimated (Jeremiah 31:35-27.) As we enter 5778, I want to believe more than ever that my Jewish people will look forward to their glorious future, when Mashiach will rule on the throne of King David in Yerushalaim. Only the Messiah can bring real peace into the world. I am convinced that He came in the past (Isaiah 52:13-53:12.) to sustain us through the present as He promised us a bright future. There is no uncertainty in my heart and mind for my destiny is secure in Messiah. I look forward to a sweet 5778 as I wish you all the same. May YOUR NAME be inscribed in the Lamb's Book of Life forever!

L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu B'shem Yeshua Mashienu!