And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on Me, the one they have pierced, and mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a first born son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hidad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo (Zechariah 12:10-11).
There is a future day of Atonement for Israel. There are two chapters in Leviticus that teaches about this Holy day. Chapter 16 describes the ritual, which provides such abundant symbolic truth. However, it is in chapter 23 of Leviticus, which outlines Israel's sacred calendar, that we see the prophetic truth that there is to be a future day of Atonement for Israel.
The tenth day of the sevinth month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves (afflict your souls KJV), and present an offering made to the Lord by fire. (Leviticus 23:27) a comparison of the two chapters is helpful. In chapter 16, which typifies the work of the Lord, there is very little said about "denying oneself" or the "affliction of the soul" (KJV). This chapter deals primarily with the ritual, which has been prophetically fulfilled by our Lord. It is also significant that for almost 2000 years, it has been impossible for Israel to perform the ritual. In chapter 23 however, almost none of the rituals are mentioned but there is repeated emphasis on self-denial, or the affliction of the soul. Thus Israel's future day of Atonement will be a day of affliction of the soul.
It must be borne in mind that the biblical Day of Atonement was for the forgiveness of sins, especially for the nation as a whole rather than for an individual. As we will see, Israel's future day of Atonement will bring the nation of Israel as a whole to repentance and forgiveness of sins which hindered them from fellowship with Christ. Zechariah vividly pictures the great day. "I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city" (Zechariah 14:2)
Some think we are living now in the only time in history that this could occur in a brief amount of time. With the ever-increasing power and influence of the United Nations, which represents all the nations, it could come against Israel in the name of all the nations. It would not be the first time the United Nations has opposed Israel. Zechariah portrays this as being an armed conflict, in which the U.N. seems to be victorious. But why only half the city being carried into exile? Perhaps because the eastern half of Jerusalem is the Arab part and the western part is Israel.
"Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations", and He will be victorious. "On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem" (Zechariah 14:3-4) "on that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on Me, the one they have pierced, and mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great (Zechariah 12:9-11)
On the Day of Atonement we looked at last month, the High priest made the sacrifice and brought the blood into the holy of Holies. This Christ did at His assention into heaven. As the high priest came out of the holy of holies he change from the white linen garments of the servent offering the sacrifice and changes into the purple and gold garments with the gold bells signifying that he was successful in bringing about the Atonement. Christ will again return out from the real holy of Holies in heaven and return to the people in his radient garments to let them know the sacrifice was accepted and bring about Atronement. It will be at this time, when all eyes will see Him, that Israel will realize who they had pierced and it will grieve them bitterly. They will recognize their faults at killing their own son and repent. It is then and only then that the Day of Atonement will be fully seen for what it was meant to forshadow. In revalation's closing chapter it says that the Spirit says "come" and that the bride says, "come". This is a day that we should not only look forward to, but pray for it's speedy fulfillment.
The Feast of Tabernacles
The Lord said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites; 'On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord's feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present offerings made to the Lord by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to the Lord by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work' " (Leviticus 23:33-36)
The most joyful of israels festivals was the feast of Tabernacles. It came at the end of the harvest when the hearts of the people were naturally gladdened. The crops had been reaped. As they look around the fields they remember the six months before. At Passover time they had dedicated the entire harvest to the Lord by the offering of first fruits, and now not only were their barns full, their hearts were overflowing with joy and thanksgiving.
The feast of Tabernacles is two weeks after Rosh Hashanah. A pius Jew began his preparation for the festival as soon as the Day of Atonement was over. He had only five days to errect a sukkah, a booth in which he and his family would dwell during the feast. Historically, this looked back to the Exodus from Egypt and the wandering in the wilderness, when the Israelites lived in booths. "Live in booths for seven days; all native born Israelites are to live in booths so your decendants will know that I had the Israeites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God". (Leviticus 23:42-43)
Each family built a sukkah, which was a temporary outdoor structure. It had a twofold purpose; to remind the Jews of their Exodus and to indicate the transitoriness of human life. The roof was made so it lay on top of the walls and was easy to disassemble when they had to move on. The entire room, walls and ceiling were decorated with flowers and fruit. Every male who came to Jerusalem for the festival brought with him gifts for the Lord to the extent he had been blessed. "On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fonds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days". (Leviticus 23:40)
The feast of Tabernacles not only looked back in history, it also looked forward into the future when God's promise to Abraham will be fulfilled, when "all peoples of the earth will be blessed through you". (Genesis 12:3) Although this was accomplished at calvery and with the beginning of the church, where all peoples may be blessed by God through Christ. It looks also to a future time, when Christ will return for His people. A trumpet will sound and all eyes will see Him. The dead in Christ will rise first and we will all be caught up in the air to meet Him. The booths were a type of this earthly body. Temporary, for the journey here, but soon to be cast off for a more heavenly and perfect body.
Christ our Passover became Christ the first fruits from the dead. At Pentecost, the first fruits of Israel's ripened harvest were presented to the Lord. The first sheaves were reaped from Israel. But Israel did not keep the harvest to herself. The gospel, which was to the Jew first, has been taken to the uttermost parts of the earth. It has been a long time since Pentecost, and we longingly listen for the sound of the trumpet, the return of our Lord. Then after that we look for Israels Day of Atonement and the nations of our Lord keeping the feast of Tabernacles. After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe and tongue, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice; "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb". (Revelation 7:9-10)
I believe God has a plan. He gave it to Israel as a calendar of events as types. Once we understand the calendar we can see more clearly Gods plan for mankind. This is not to say we can know it all, or that we should start setting dates. It is just reassuring that all Gods plans and promises do come to pass just as He said. All too many Christians ignor or avoid the Old Testament because they do not understand it. With a little prayer and perserverance though, you can reap a bounty of blessings and encouragements from God's word.
The lesser feasts of Israel
The first is the feast of Purim or lots. It is often called the feast of Esther. If you read the book of Esther you will see how an evil man who worked for the King wanted all the Jews in his and every region killed. Esther was able to turn the tables on this type of the devil and bring Israel her safety and deliverance. Read this book for a closer look and more blessings.
The last great feast of Israel is Hanukkah. The festival of lights. You will not see this feast recorded in the Old Testament. It is recorded only in uninspired books we call the Apocrypher. Most people when they read their bibles find there is a blank page between Malichi and Matthew. They turn this page and continue reading without a second thought. This page however represents 400 years, called the years of silence. Although there were no inspired writers or prophets for this time, I believe God is never quiet when it comes to His people.
The Jews were carried into exile in Babylon and stayed there until Darius the Persian allowed them to return to rebuild the temple. After the Persians, the world was ruled by a 20 year old Alenander the Great. He brought the Greek culture and religion to the entire known world. At his death at the age of 33 his kingdom was divided up into four parts by his generals. Although Alexander was dead his influence of Greek culture and religion was carried on by his generals. In the area of Israel a man named Antiochus was in charge. The city of Antioch carries his name. He was a great proponent of the Greek ways and forced it on every region he ruled. When Antiochus was crowned King, the High priest was Onias III, the leader of the Orthodox party in Judea. The head of the Hellenist (Greek) party was his brother Jason (He even took a Greek name). Jason convinced Antiochus that with him in power Hellenism would flourish in Israel. Antiochus believed Jason and along with a generous bribe installed him as high priest. Even with Jason's influence, it did not happen as fast as Antiachus would have liked.
Along with the promise of Hellenism and the bribe, Jason also promised to buile a gymnasium, which he did. Many of the Jews performed there and even the priests in the temple could be seen leaving their duties to go to the Gymnasium to perform. The young Jewish boys went so far as to even have themselves surgically uncircumcised so they could compete naked, as was the custom. Antiochus became so filled with himself he had his name changed to Antiochus Epiphanes. Epiphanes means the visable god, and he proclaimed that he and Jupiter were to be considered identical. Worse still, he acted as though that was really the case, with the result that the people began to call him "Epimanes" (the madman).
As I said before, things were not moving as fast as Antiochus would have liked. He had statues made of Jupiter with the head baring a striking resembelence to himself. He forced the Jews to sacrifice and pray to it. When they tried to get an old priest named Mattithias in the town of Modin in Syria to do so, the priest refused. A renegade stepped forward from the crowd to sacrifice and Mattithias struck him dead with the sword along with the Syrian officer. He and his family fled to the hills for safety. They engaged in a revolution of sorts with others who had joined them. It was not until the Abomination of Desolation; fortold by Daniel was committed by Antiochus that things really heated up.
Antiochus placed one of the statues of Jupiter with his face in the Holy of Holies and sacrificed pigs to it. This was all any self respecting Jew could handle. A major rebellion broke out and after some long months of feirce battle the Jews had won. The temple was sadly defiled and contaminated as never before. The cerimony of purification had to be performed, only there was only enough oil for the lamps to burn for one day. Miraculously the oil lasted the full week so the cerimony could be accomplished and the temple was cleansed. Although God did not mention this feast in the Old Testament or in His calendar, Daniel did speak of the Abomination that makes Desolate and the man of sin by whom it would come. Jesus even celebrated Hanukkah. John 10:22-23 talks of the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem and Jesus was in the temple for the feast and walking in Solomon's Colonade. God of a future Hanukkah in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8, when He talks about the man of lawlessness and the future Abomination of Desolation to come.
I believe that the feast's of Purim and Hanukkah are still to be fulfilled. Gods people will, like in the time of Esther be in danger from a man of lawlessness and that he will try to set up the Abomination of Desolations, by claiming to be God on earth. He will suceed in leading some astray, but will kill far more in his deadly quest. Only by the second coming of Christ will the elect escape.