Fall Feasts will be Fullfilled
My thoughts on the Presently Unfulfilled Prophesies of the Jewish Messiah
by Brian Forbes (c) 2016
I just finished a complete read through the Bible. This time I did the Douay-Rheims Bible, including the Apocrypha. The take away lesson from this read through was to do with the nature of the Jewish Messiah. I could focus, as many New Testament authors do, on the aspects that Jesus fulfilled in his coming, but that is done well in Hebrews, the Gospels, and the dialogue between Justin Martyr and Trypho the Jew. My focus, instead, was on the things He didn't yet accomplish.
The feasts of YHWH are clumped together into two sets. They are listed in Lev. 23. There are spring feasts and fall feasts. Without getting too detailed here, as others have done this better than I could, Jesus fulfilled the spring feasts at his first coming. His death was on Passover, and He told his disciples that He wouldn't take communion (Passover wine) again until He comes into his Kingdom. (Luke 22:18) Pentecost is a word to Christians that means the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, not anything to do with the harvest in the minds of most Christians, but they forget that there was a holiday before there was a fulfillment of the holiday.
But that leaves three more feasts, the fall feasts, that Jesus did not fulfill. Many Jews will take the position that Jesus didn't fulfill any of the feast prophesies, so he couldn't be the one. On the surface, that argument makes sense... until, like I just did with my last read through the Bible, you take a look at what the nature of those prophesies are.
It's a year long study or more, depending on how invested you are in it. So my recommendation is that you read the OT and NT with us at Daily Dive: Scripture and Discussion. This isn't a small investment. It's a big investment. Count the cost. (Luke 14:25-34)
Years ago, I asked God to show me himself, that I wanted to know him more. I had been looking into church history, Eusebius, Irenaeus, etc., in order to know Him better. In my searching out of lost gospels and early church epistles, God convicted me to read the OT (Genesis to Malachi). God is not a man that he will change. So I began to read the OT as if it actually mattered. I gathered tons of questions, and the folks with theology degrees made Swiss cheese of the scriptures. So I kept looking until I found a speculation that made some sense. I have since read through the Bible many times and have yet to find a verse that contradicts it. In addition, reading through as many times as I have has answered many of the age-old questions about grace vs. works, chosen vs. choosing, and whether or not God loves everyone unconditionally now and for all time. It has been an amazing journey. One that makes my head hurt sometimes. One that makes me somewhat of an outcast among my Christian brothers and sisters.
A lot of what
Christians do today is not kosher. Jesus would love them and bless
them for their loyalty, but He would certainly correct them in their
error. I welcome the correction of my Lord. I don't want to do things
the wrong way. I'm not sure he would require two kitchens or all the
other laws they have piled on, but I'm pretty sure he'd have some
issues with some to many of the rituals of the church. So Jesus would
grow up both the Jews and the church, making them pure under a
unified head. At what point does God's command become required? Do we
let people love their neighbor or not as they prefer? Do we draw the
line at idolatry? Working on the Sabbath? Tzitzit? What about Lev.
19:17b? God is surely the judge, but God is surely instruction too.
Where do we stop confronting and start permitting. Would Jesus care
about Christmas trees and Santa? Ro. 14:4 “Who are you to
judge someone else's servant? To their own master, servants stand or
fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.”
This is the way I see it. You can get closer to God or further away.
It's in the layout of the temple. You can get closer, and as you do,
you need to purify yourself more and more. Or you can stay at the
outer court... or worse, outside Jerusalem, or Israel... or worse,
out in the world. So as you get closer, you purify yourself. You
don't start out in homosexuality and murder. You have to work your
way to that level. Likewise, you can't just walk into the Jewish
court, or the priestly court, etc. You have to be purified, chosen,
and walk in with reverent fear. When it comes to seemingly
conflicting scriptures, you can bend the one, bend the other, or try
to understand what it's actually saying. I believe if you take the
last course, you will be able to reconcile them. This is what I have
attempted, and I believe I have found success.
So read this with prayer and humility. If you follow all of my advice, you may be wrong on many points. Let the Spirit of God lead you into all truth. (John 16:13) Let my mistakes be mine, and you make your own mistakes.
The Nature of
During the time of David the gentile believers were saved how? Ro. 2 tells us that if they did what the law required, they would be justified by it, even if they had never heard it. But only the Jews were required to keep all the commandments. The temple was dedicated (2 Chron. 6:32-33) with the foreigner in mind. Israel was set up as a light to the gentiles. (Isa. 42:6, 49:6) There was a court of the gentiles. In other words, you could be a Jew or a Gentile, and both could be justified before God. It was always by grace (nobody is good enough) through faith (which counts as righteousness) into Jesus. Abraham was justified by faith (Ro. 4:2, Gal. 3:6) and by works (Gen. 26:5). They worked in tandem, because one without the other is like a Screen Door on a Submarine. Death comes through sin (Ro. 5:12), salvation is through Jesus (Acts 4:12) by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9) as demonstrated by works (Mt. 19:16-19, James 2:14-26) of righteousness (1 John 3:4-6, Luke 6:46, Mt. 5-7, Lev. 19). God alone is our judge. (Ro. 14:4) Not me. (Mt. 7:1-3) Not you. (Pr. 21:2) We are not saved by what we do (or has been done to us—i.e. infant baptism), but by grace through faith.
The Nature of the Law
God doesn't change. (Num. 23:19, Malachi 3:6, Heb. 13:8, God don't never change!) God didn't set up the law of Moses to be mean, to show us that we can't keep his perfect standard, etc. (Deut. 30:11), but as a blessing to his people (Deut. 11:26, Lev. 26, Mt. 5:17-19, Mt. 23:1-2). Ro. 3:31 “Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” Ro. 7:12 “So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” The definition of sin in the NT is defined by God's law (Ro. 7:7, 1 John 3:4), and anyone who keeps the smallest command will be call great in the kingdom (Mt. 5:17-19) Do you know what anomian means in the Greek? (Mt. 7:23)
There were rumors flying around that claimed that Paul taught Jews to ignore the law. Peter said that he was misunderstood and his words were being twisted (2 Peter 3:16). James told Paul to prove that this charge wasn't true by actually participating in a vow, which includes animal sacrifices after Jesus was resurrected. Acts 21:23-24 “Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law.” (Numbers 6:14 ...and he shall bring his gift to the Lord, one male lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering…) You may also recall that Paul told the crowd after his arrest that he had done nothing to offend the Jews. (Acts 25:8)
Here is the key that unlocks the writings of Paul. He isn't saying that we should neglect the Law; God's law is good (see above). He's speaking more to the motivation. We don't keep God's law as slaves fearing punishment, but as sons who love their father. (Gal. 4:7, Ro. 7:6, etc.) We don't keep it to be saved, but because we're grateful for His grace. Paul was trying to prove that we need faith, not to prove that we don't need works.
The Nature of the Church
It's a different covenant. (Jeremiah 4:4, Isaiah 52:1) "For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either." (Ro. 11:21) That's not to say that all are priests, Levites, or in line for a chunk of Israel's land. It applies as it always would have. There is no need for a gentile to be circumcised, because, as Acts 15 says, they only needed to abide by 4 more things. That's not to say that God won't judge them for more, but to say that it's a good start for good standing in the church. Circumcision was tied to a promise to Abraham—that one of those circumcised after him would rule the world. It was also a statement that those who were circumcised after him could inherit a little plot of land between all three continents, between the three sons of Noah. The circumcision means little else. And as the Epistle of Barnabas (Barnabas 9:5) points out, there are many nations around the world that engaged in the practice of circumcision. And as the prophets said in many places, it's the attitude of devotion that matters far more than a missing foreskin. In Judaism, a gentile has a different standard than modern Jews today. Paul had Timothy circumcised because he was half Jew.
Think about it. If it didn't appear to conflict, there wouldn't have been any church splits ever. But I believe God leaves some things obscure so that we can have the joy of discovery. If you've never discovered a deep truth about God or the nature of existence, I encourage you to go out and find it. It's quite wonderful. And there are many to find. The nature of faith and works was discussed above. The Calvinism debate about whether God chooses us or we choose God and who does the work, is another example. In these cases and many like it, the answer is simple. They are all victim to the either/or fallacy. It's not an either/or; it's a both/and. The same is true of whether Jesus' blood was once for all, or if there will be a commemoration (like Communion) in the future kingdom. Ceremonies as prophesy are great. Having them for remembrance is also quite nice.
Have you ever participated in a Yom Kippur service? It's a powerful event! And if Jesus, our high priest, is the one going in to pray for us, the forgiveness is not only powerful, it's overwhelming!! I actually feel forgiven after Yom Kippur. I look forward to it every year, because, try as I might, I'm not perfect. It feels good to feel reconciled. I am a firm believer in the once for all aspect of Jesus' blood. (Heb. 10) I seriously don't believe there's a conflict here. In the same way that God chooses us and we choose God—it's a both and, in the way we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, that faith demonstrated by works—a both and, and a pastor is made pastoral both by calling and by ordination—both and, Yom Kippur is a daily, perpetual thing now and evermore. We are forgiven once for all and we get atonement through the religious ceremony done in the temple after Jesus sets up his Kingdom. There is no conflict here. Jesus did the final work, and the future temple ceremony is a reminder of it. (See below.) And if there is a conflict, doesn't that make Jeremiah, Zechariah, and Isaiah, all of whom were cited by Jesus in word and deed, doesn't that make Jesus a false prophet as well? He lent his credibility to false prophets, so what does that make him? I have no conflict to resolve here, because it works in tandem.
The Second Coming of Christ
The gentiles were different than the Jews in many ways. But in some ways they were expected to be the same.
Isaiah 56:6-7 And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations."
Ex. 20:10 the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.
1 Kings 8:41-43 “Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name's sake (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.
Deut. 14:21 Do not
eat anything you find already dead. You may give it to the foreigner
residing in any of your towns, and they may eat it, or you may sell
it to any other foreigner. But you are a people holy to the LORD your
So there is a distinction between the two. That doesn't mean that God won't choose some from the gentile nations to be ministers. (Isa. 66:18-21)
Clearly there are prophesies that Jesus did not fulfill. Isaiah 60 "You will also suck the milk of nations and suck the breast of kings; then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." Also read these entire chapters: Zech. 14, Isa. 66, Zeph. 3.
Isaiah 66:17 "'Those
who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens,
following one who is among those who eat the flesh of pigs, rats and
other unclean things—they will meet their end together with the
one they follow,' declares the LORD.”
In Ezekiel, after telling them to come back to the Lord, he ends the section like this (Ez. 39): “'They will forget their disgrace and all their treachery which they perpetrated against Me, when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid. When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,' declares the Lord God.” Then chapters 40-48 are all about the coming temple. The priests, the courts, the rituals, and yes, even the sacrifices. To say that God left some of the prophesies unfulfilled is a big problem. So this is all future tense.
Some will object that this is all metaphorical. If you can read the detail of the division of the land, the garments that the priests will be wearing, etc., and still come away thinking that this is a parallel to a Christian believer's life, I ask why it is never taught from the pulpit. I don't know what the metaphor means. Jeremiah 31 has a promise to not let Israel be destroyed... as the sun and the moon, so Israel will be. (verses 35-36) Is that a metaphor? Israel is still around. Was he really talking about the land and the city (v. 17, 38) or the people, who has the "law" written on their hearts (v. 33)? Some will say that they can't accept that it's literal because there are animal sacrifices. Zech. 14 says that anyone from the nations that doesn't go up to celebrate the feast of booths will have a rain curse on them. Numbers 29 tells us what kind of offering we are to bring at that festival. Hint: it isn't a grain offering. To me, reading it plainly (as opposed to literally) is the only way to read it. God is really coming back to really split a mountain, to really draw his people back to the land (which really happened in modern history), to really set up a law that resides in their hearts... a law... a LAW! God is going to put rules and regulations inside of them so that they keep God's law... literally... or plainly is a better word. It would be easy to toss any scripture away with a people who don't take the scriptures at face value.
If it's a metaphorical temple, Ez. 43 makes little sense. “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever. The people of Israel will never again defile my holy name [...] and I will live among them forever. [...] make known to them the design of the temple—its arrangement, its exits and entrances—its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations.” 44-45 doesn't make sense either in that view. How do you divide the land among the 12 tribes metaphorically? Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 have the same prophesy. They cannot be reconciled with the figurative interpretation of Ezekiel's temple. "In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.' The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever."
The way I see it, from Ezekiel, as well as the "all generations, forever" (Ex. 12:42, Lev. 3:17, 23:21, Num. 35:29, Ps. 45:17, 89:4, Joel 3:20, etc.), we have a time with Israel as the light, a time where the gentiles trample Jerusalem as grafted branches (Luke 21:24), and then a time of coming peace where both are unified under a physically, real reigning Yeshua (Rev. 20:1-7). This is just the beginning; it's all coming to an end. Be ready for the reinstitution of the sacrificial system. God's word will not fail. Amen.