Israel's Three Feasts
When God led Israel out of Egypt into the wilderness and into the Promised Land, He instituted various holidays, or “feast days” to commemorate important events. The three main feast days are Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Passover commemorates Israel’s departure from Egypt; Pentecost commemorates the day God descended upon Mt. Sinai to give Israel the Law; Tabernacles commemorates the time Israel was supposed to cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land.
It is very important that Christians study these feast days in detail, because they reveal the plan of God for the entire earth on a grand scale. They also reveal the plan of salvation on the individual level. The story written by Moses is not only history, but also is a great allegorical novel by which we can know the mind of God.
Passover: The Personal Application
On the personal level, the story of Israel in the wilderness givesus the three steps toward full salvation. Step one is revealed by the feast of Passover. When a man’s faith is placed in God through Christ, the “Lamb of God,” he is said to become a Christian. He is “justified” by faith in the blood of the Lamb (Christ). This is why Jesus had to die on the cross at the feast of Passover. He was the true Passover Lamb.
Most Christians are aware that there is more to the Christianlife than justification. Just as Israel had a long way to go before entering the Promised Land, so also the justified Christian has a long way to go before attaining to the full promise of God. And yet, the Christian life is too often explained purely as a New Testament teaching, without tying it to the foundation of the Old Testament which God carefully established in His dealings with Israel. For this reason, some teach that once they are justified by faith, there is very little more to do except to try to get others saved. This is comparable to an Israelite coming out of Egypt, and then remaining on the shores of the Red Sea trying to coax more people to come out of Egypt. While one should indeed witness to people, Christians must see that their justification does not mean that they are already in the Promised Land.
Pentecost: The Personal Application
One must go beyond Egypt and beyond the Red Sea (baptism) to Sinai, where Pentecost is experienced. This is the place of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. It is the place where we learn obedience and where the Law of God is written on our hearts. It is the place where we come to know God not only as Savior, but also as a King to be obeyed.
Unfortunately, many who claim a pentecostal experience seem to treat it purely as a New Testament phenomenon, not knowing that this feast has its roots in the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai. As a result, many who deem themselves pentecostal by experience think they have been given a license to be lawless and can violate any of the divine laws with immunity, so long as their lawlessness is done in “love.” They often taught that love somehow replaced the law of God, instead of seeing that love is defined by the law and is therein expressed.
Such are the ones Jesus addressed in Matt. 7:21-23,
21 Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? 23 And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness [Greek: anomia].
What good is one’s pentecostal experience if the Christian refuses to be led by the Spirit and learn obedience? What good is the pentecostal experience if the Christian refuses to have the law of God written on his heart? Jesus says that if the Christian remains lawless, He will tell them in the end, “Depart from Me.” There will probably be many surprised Christians in that day. This does not mean that those Christians will lose their salvation. But they will indeed lose the blessing of the first resurrection and will have to await the second at the Great White Throne. (See The Purpose of Resurrection or chapter 2 of The Laws of the Second Coming.)
Furthermore, many who have truly gone beyond the Red Sea and have experienced Pentecost are told that they have attained the “full gospel.” This view is comparable to Israel refusing to move away from Mt. Sinai to go to the Promised Land. There is really no “full gospel” until one goes beyond Pentecost and learns the principles of the feast of Tabernacles.
Tabernacles: The Personal Application
After giving the Law to Israel, God sent them to Kadesh-Barnea, where they sent twelve men to “spy out the land.” When they returned, the spies unanimously agreed that it was a good land to inherit. However, ten of them brought a message of fear, insisting that they would be unable to conquer the land. Caleb and Joshua, on the other hand, had faith that God would give them the land and urged the people to cross the Jordan as God had commanded. The people then wanted to stone them! Caleb and Joshua escaped being stoned only because the glory of God frightened the people.
That “decision day” was the 50th Jubilee from Adam. (See our book, Secrets of Time.) It should have been a day of rejoicing and gladness, a day of blowing the trumpet as the signal for every man to come into his inheritance (Lev. 25:13). Because they refused to enter the land, having no faith, this day came to be commemorated as the Day of Atonement, a day of mourning, fasting, and repentance.
If Israel had followed the recommendation of Caleb and Joshua, they would have actually entered Canaan five days later on the first day of Tabernacles. This festival was a seven-day period representing the time of the conquest of Canaan. (When Israel did finally cross the Jordan 38 years later, it took six years to subdue the Canaanites; in the seventh year the land was divided up among all the tribes and families of Israel. In other words, it was seven years from the Jordan Crossing to the Inheritance.)
A detailed study of the feasts leading up to the feast of Tabernacles can be found in our longer book, The Laws of the Second Coming. Studying these things shows that there is more to salvation than just the spring feasts of Passover and Pentecost. The fall feasts deal with the final perfection of man. It is meant to portray man’s true inheritance in the land.
The Promised Land
The Promised Land is NOT in heaven, but on earth. Canaan was a land filled with “giants” and “enemies” of God who had to be conquered and destroyed. It is common knowledge in many circles that these “giants” represent the carnal tendencies of our own flesh, which we are called to subdue and conquer. This is absolutely correct, but the obvious lesson is often missed. Our bodies are our inheritance.
Like Canaan, our bodies are presently inhabited with lawless and ungodly desires that rule us. This has been the case ever since Adam, whose sin sold us all into bondage. God had formed Adam from the dust of the ground. His flesh was made of earth (Heb. adama), and hence he was named after the ground from which he came. This glorified flesh was his inheritance. But through sin, Adam incurred a “debt” that he could not pay. So he was sold into bondage to the earth (Gen. 3:17-23) until such time as a near Kinsman would come to redeem him. Adam lost the wonderful, glorified body which had been clothed in the light of God. After his sin, he was naked and ashamed, and God clothed them with coats of skins (Gen. 3:21).
The whole idea behind God’s plan of salvation is to reverse the effects of Adam’s sin upon creation. The law and the prophets from Genesis to Revelation show us how man is redeemed and how he regains the glorified, immortal body that is his lost inheritance. The feast days inform us of the three steps toward receiving this full inheritance: justification, sanctification, and glorification. We are justified in our spirit, sanctified in our soul, and glorified in our body.
The first major pattern of this process of full salvation is found in Israel’s wilderness journey under Moses. At Passover, Israel became “the church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38), for they were justified by faith. At Pentecost, Israel was given the Holy Spirit. However, they refused to hear His voice, so they were led, not by the internal witness of the Holy Spirit, but by an external pillar of cloud and fire. Even so, they had opportunity to learn obedience.
Then if Israel had gone into the Promised Land on the 50th Jubilee, as Caleb and Joshua had recommended, they would have regained the inheritance that had been lost in Adam. That is, they would have been fully glorified, fully changed into His glory as they passed by the ark. They would have exchanged their coats of skins for the “house which is from heaven” (2 Cor. 5:2), as Paul put it. They would have been released at that Jubilee from the house of bondage, and every one of them would have returned to his inheritance. They would have inherited far more than a mere piece of real estate in Canaan. But this was not to be, for this was only a pattern. It was not possible for them to inherit the glorified body that side of the cross. Ultimately, they had to settle for a parcel of ground, rather than true and ultimate inheritance.
Israel’s story tells us that our inheritance is not to be received in heaven as a spirit, but on earth in a glorified body. Our hope, the “Promised Land,” is not to forsake the earth and go to heaven, but is “the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23). It is to receive the type of body that Jesus had after His resurrection. It is a body that is immortal and glorified. It is a body that has authority in both heaven and in earth, because it has the genes from both realms, even as Jesus Himself did.
Ezekiel 44 speaks of this in terms of “the sons of Zadok” having the right to minister to God in the Sanctuary, but also having the right to minister to the people in the outer court. While it is couched in Old Testament terminology, the prophets make it clear that we now have a New Jerusalem, and our bodies are the true temples of God (1 Cor. 3:16). A change has also been made in the priesthood (Heb. 7:11, 12). The sons of Zadok represent the Melchizedek Order—the new priesthood under Jesus Christ, the High Priest of this Order (Heb. 7:21).
And so Ezekiel 44 speaks of these “sons of Zadok” changing their garments when they go from ministering to God in the Sanctuary to ministering to the people in the outer court. Ez. 44:17, 19 says,
17 And it shall be that when they enter at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and wool shall not be on them while they are ministering in the gates of the inner court and in the house. . . 19 And when they go out into the outer court, into the outer court of the people, they shall put off their garments in which they have been ministering and lay them in the holy chambers; then they shall put on other garments that they may not transmit holiness to the people with their garments.
Jesus gives us the prime example of how this works. After His resurrection, when He met with the disciples, He was able to appear in their midst even when the doors were shut and locked (John 20:19). While He was in the Sanctuary in heaven, He was figuratively dressed in linen garments. But when He ministered to the disciples in the outer court (those dwelling in fleshly bodies not yet glorified), He changed into other garments (wool), so that He might appear like them as one of the sheep. When He did so, He clothed Himself in flesh and bone and was able to eat earthly food with the disciples (Luke 24:37-43). As long as He ministered in the outer court, He was clothed in wool and was NOT a spirit, as He Himself proved. He was only a spirit when He disappeared, for then He changed His garments in order to minister in the Sanctuary.
This is what all the “sons of Zadok” can expect when they recover the inheritance lost in Adam. They will no longer be bound by the normal limitations of the flesh. When the appointed time arrives when they will be given their inheritance, they will have a thousand years to minister to those yet remaining in their “outer court.” They will teach these people to know God. Then will be fulfilled the prophecies about all nations walking in the light of God and rejoicing before Him. God will use this new priesthood to cause the Stone Kingdom to grow until it fills the whole earth (Dan. 2:35).
The Earnest and the Fullness
In this process of the redemption of our body, we have been given the earnest, downpayment, or pledge of the Spirit (Eph. 1:14). God’s glory, His Spirit, is now residing in us, but it is veiled by this flesh until the time of the full redemption (i.e., the feast of Tabernacles). Paul speaks of this quite clearly in Eph. 1:13, 14,
13 . . . in Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Paul says that the Ephesian believers knew God as Savior (Passover). But after believing in Him, they also came to experience God as King (Pentecost) and there received the earnest of the Spirit, even as Israel did at Mt. Sinai. The earnest of the Spirit is implanted within our bodies, because this is the beginning of the full inheritance, when our bodies shall be fully “changed” (1 Cor. 15:51). God has promised to change our bodies into spiritual flesh of the same kind Jesus had in His resurrection. Our hope is to be “in the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom. 6:5).
The purpose of creation is to manifest the spiritual in the earth, in the realm of matter, in order that matter (particularly man’s body) may glorify God on earth as it is in heaven. In the plan of God, the move of the Spirit is from heaven to earth, not from earth to heaven. This is made plain by God’s coming to earth at Mt. Sinai and by God’s second coming to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ. It is seen also on the day of Pentecost, when He began to pour His Spirit into earthly, fleshly bodies.
The Appointed Time
When Israel refused to enter Canaan at their first opportunity, God judged them by refusing to allow that generation to inherit the promise. They had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years until all that generation had died.
When the people heard God’s judgment, they “mourned greatly” (Num. 14:39). Many rose up the next morning and tried to inherit the land without awaiting the appointed time. They were smitten before their enemies (Num. 14:45).
Few people really understand the concept of appointed times. They think that if they just repent of NOT entering the Kingdom, that this gives them a license to inherit immediately. It does not work that way. Once the judgment of God has been set, it cannot be altered, and we must submit to the judgment of God, even as Caleb and Joshua had to wait.
Some understand that we Christians ought to cross over into the full inheritance. However, these often do not comprehend the appointed times, and this has caused problems. Some beat their fellow Christians for not being perfect yet. Many in the early Church tried very hard to attain perfection by living as hermits and monks in the deserts of Syria and Egypt, contemplating God and “buffeting the flesh” until it was near dead. They did not understand that once the Kingdom was rejected, the penalty was that “the Church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38) would have to remain in the wilderness for 40 Jubilees until the fullness of time had come. This was the judgment of God for Israel, and it is the same for us.
We should, of course, learn the path of obedience and seek perfection. But we must do so with a basic comprehension of the appointed times, lest we be overcome with guilt and grief for not overcoming the “giants” of our Canaans yet. It was by faith that Caleb and Joshua urged Israel to inherit the land; it was also by faith that Caleb and Joshua did NOT cross Jordan the next day, after God had decreed against it.
Caleb and Joshua are the “overcomers” of the Old Testament. They had the attitude that we must emulate. Part of that overcoming attitude means we must know the appointed times, so that we jump when he says to jump; and stay when He says to stay. It is not enough to enter the land; one must do it at the appointed time. It is not enough to do good; one must do it in the manner God prescribes. A man is “not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (2 Tim. 2:5).
This is the hour for the overcomers to come to the forefront and show their faith, even as Caleb and Joshua. With this appointed times in mind, we will now discuss the revelation of the overcomers, depicted in Scripture as barley.