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In  our present COVID-19 crisis, it is easy to forget certain key events.

Two of the most significant events in our Christian experience are Passover and Pentecost. God has spoken to us in many different ways. He gave the Tabernacle and its worship and seven festivals to the Jews that can be likened to types and shadows pointing the way to Jesus and the plan of salvation, but there is more.

Many of those types have been fulfilled, prophetically speaking. The Passover Lamb spoke of Jesus, the Lamb of God and every part of the Tabernacle spoke in one way or another about Him and Calvary and beyond.

After Passover, Israel entered into a new life, but had to learn what it meant to be free. We may indeed have been set free from sin, but also need to learn how to live in that freedom. They had The Law whilst we have the bible and the Holy Spirit—but the Law as such still exists. The difference is that Jesus fulfilled the requirements.

The Law we tend to avoid embraced the The Ten Commandments, but there were numerous other laws that were actually very practical. Isolating oneself when illnesses arrived and hygiene with which we are now very familiar were included in that Law, so it seems that God’s edicts were very practical for all of humanity and still valid for today. Washing of hands is still very practical, despite the way some religious teachers made a ceremony of it.

There are seven Jewish festivals or feasts outlined in the Bible. While they are mentioned throughout Scripture elsewhere, all seven are clearly laid out in Leviticus chapter 23. They are called “appointed times” and “holy convocations.” Again we see one of God’s principles—appointed times or moeds. God has set down specific times and seasons for everything. It started in creation when he created the sun, the moon and the stars. All living creatures have a gestation period. Plant life follows seasonal changes. We too are influenced by God’s seasons and it seems that we are in a transitional period at this present time in human history.

Perhaps we are on the brink of experiencing the climax of all seasons and I speak of course of Jesus’ promised return.

If we consider the Jewish feasts in such light, perhaps we can make some sense out of things. It seems that we are in one of those appointed times, somewhere perhaps between Passover and Pentecost, perhaps at the end of this festive season.
I say that carefully knowing that the Day of Pentecost did come, but perhaps we need to look at such things not as a set “date” but as a season. Many of those feasts took place for several days, leading to its climax on the last day, usually the seventh day.

In John 7:37-39 Jesus stood up and told everyone about the Holy Spirit on the 7th day. It was the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot.

These feats were God’s feasts. Man did not choose them. They were appointed and ordained by God to be kept to the honor of His name. The church is destined to bring honor to His name and there are some references likening us as the Bride of Christ, so it behooves us to look past the way we have been doing church and look at why we are really here and where we fit in.

The book of Leviticus contains God’s instructions to His chosen nation, Israel, on how they were to worship Him. It contains detailed instructions about the duties of the priests as well as instructions on observing and obeying God’s Law and the sacrificial system.

Israel was to celebrate those feasts each year and not deviate from them. Although sacrificial worship was often involved and Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice, certain principles of worship have not changed and I boldly state that because God does not change. There are numerous scriptural references that state that, so our own worship and service to the Lord must follow those principles.

Each one of these Jewish festivals is significant both in regards to the Lord’s provision for His people and in regards to the foreshadowing of the coming Messiah and His work in redeeming people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. While Christians are no longer under any obligation to observe any of the Old Testament feasts as seen in Colossians 2:16, we should understand their significance and importance nonetheless because they do indeed have meaning to us.

The feasts often began and ended with a “Sabbath rest.” There is a rest for God’s people and at the end of all this, we shall enter into it. We have tended to avoid “Sabbath’” thinking we are different, because we are Christians. We have not seen that this sabbath, as with all other feasts, is symbolic and we forget that there were often two Sabbaths—the normal weekly sabbath and special Sabbaths that were observed in conjunction with the Jewish feasts. You may not have thought of the events of Calvary in this light, but look at Luke’s record:

There was a man named Yosef, a member of the Sanhedrin. He was a good man, a tzaddik; and he had not been in agreement with either the Sanhedrin’s motivation or their action. He came from the town of Ramatayim, a town of the Judeans; and he looked forward to the Kingdom of God. This man approached Pilate and asked for Yeshua’s body. He took it down, wrapped it in a linen sheet, and placed it in a tomb cut into the rock, that had never been used. It was Preparation Day, and a Shabbat was about to begin. The women who had come with Yeshua from the Galil followed; they saw the tomb and how his body was placed in it. Then they went back home to prepare spices and ointments. On Shabbat the women rested, in obedience to the commandment; but the next day, while it was still very early, they took the spices they had prepared, went to the tomb, and found the stone rolled away from the tomb! Luke 22:50-23:2.

The question to ask now regarding Calvary is, “Were there 2 Sabbaths?”  I suggest that there were. One was the special sabbath associated with Passover itself and the other was the normal weekly sabbath. I say that simply because Jesus was the anti-type of the events seen in typology form. He, as Paul said, is our Passover.

The Jews were commanded to not do any customary work on those days. Both the normal weekly Sabbath and the special Sabbaths that were to be observed as part of the Jewish feasts point us to the ultimate Sabbath rest, which is found only in Jesus Christ.

It is a rest that Christians experience through faith in the finished work of Christ upon the cross and in His resurrection.

Beginning in the spring, the seven Jewish feasts are Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. The Jewish feasts are closely related to Israel’s spring and fall harvests and agricultural seasons, reminding them each year of God’s ongoing protection and provision. Because they played significant roles in Christ’s earthly ministry they also speak of His second coming after which He will “tabernacle” or dwell with His people forever. If we are somewhere between Passover and Pentecost, the next festival is on our doorstep.

We have had the Day of Pentecost as seen in Acts 1 and 2 in the sense that the Holy Spirit came, but we need to be mindful of a few pertinent pieces of information.

The Jewish calendar is lunar based, whereas the Gregorian calendar we use is based on the sun. The Jewish days in each month are different to ours. A Hebrew year can be 353, 354, 355, 383, 384, or 385 days long. The days alternate between 29 days and 30 days each month, with two of those months having either 29 or 30 days under certain conditions. When we try to line up Hebrew events with Christan mindsets and the Gregorian calendar, we can totally miss the point. According to the Jews, we are now in the 6th millennium and I add that we may be rapidly coming to its close. Sabbath thus takes on a much greater significance than “taking Sunday off”. If for example, you believe the creation account in Genesis, God created everything in 6 days and rested on the 7th. If the bible equates one day with one thousand years, we are in the 6th millennium. God is about to “rest”, so everything is going to change. Again there is that seasonal change and we cannot dismiss it. If there is this seasonal change, the church too must change and this is why many voices are being raised prophetically speaking to say that we cannot return to church as we once knew it.

Jubilee

There were 49 days in between the resurrection of Jesus and that wonderful first day of Pentecost on the 50th day. That’s jubilee.
Most of us may never experience a Jubilee Year, but I have and have entered into the next season (I was saved in September 1968).

According to Acts 1, He spent 40 days with the disciples that numbered a minimum of 120 people, including His mother, Mary. The account says that He proved Himself alive by infallible proofs (Acts 1:3). The church must follow His example. Everything He did had the Father’s approval.

Jesus of Nazareth was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and with great power. He did wonderful things for others and divinely healed all who were under the tyranny of the devil, for God had anointed him. We apostles were eyewitnesses to all the miracles that he performed throughout the land of Israel. Finally, in Jerusalem, he was crucified on a cross, but God raised him from the dead three days later, allowing him to be seen openly.
He didn’t appear to everyone, but he appeared to us, his chosen witnesses. He actually ate and drank with us after he rose from the dead! “Jesus ordered us to preach and warn the people that God had appointed him to be the judge of the living and the dead. And not only us, but all of the prophets agree in their writings that everyone who believes in him receives complete forgiveness of sins through the power of his name.” Acts 10:38-43

Our mandate is to do the same work He did. The Lord said as much in the Gospels. In that precious time with them, He spoke many things pertaining to the kingdom of God. We do not know exactly what He said. John affirmed this:

Jesus went on to do many more miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not even included in this book. But all that is recorded here is so that you will fully believe that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you will experience eternal life by the power of his name! John 20:30-31. See also john 21:25.

I will not be so foolish as to try to tell you what they were. If they were not written, they were not written, but we know enough from everything He did and said in the Gospels and in the feasts of the Lord, to illustrate His intention.

The Lord commanded them to continue in His work, but to wait for enduement from on high (Acts 1:4). After issuing this command, He returned to heaven and when they were standing there looking up, two angels asked them why they were doing so. They said that Jesus would return or come in like manner. He is returning!

Now, if we all believe and act on His commandment to “go ye”, why do we disregard His command to wait. His command in the same sentence was to wait until the Holy Spirit enables us? One commandment is as good as the other. We cannot try to do God’s work without the tools God gave us, but most of the church refuses to have anything to do with the Holy Spirit who provides those tools.

Those people waited. As I grow older physically and in the Lord, I am becoming more aware that we as finite beings, have absolutely no idea of eternity. It is in our hearts, but we think in natural terms and do not want to wait.

Waiting separated the real from the pretender; the ones who would obey the command and those who would not; those who were sincere and wanting to do what He did and those who were as I often say, “religious”.

Have we been in such a waiting mode again? If God speaks in types and shadows and does not change, then I think that we have and if so, we are on the cusp of entering into a new and possibly the final festival season—the transition from the 6th day to the 7th day.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that more than 500 brethren—followers of Jesus—fellow disciples saw Him after His resurrection. There were not 12.
The Lord had another 70 also as seen in Luke 10, so there were definitely more than 12. What happened to them all?

Most of them did not last the distance and many of them had preached the Gospel, seen the miracles and done what He had told them to do, including Judas! Again I ask, What happened to them all?

There were only 120 people present when the Holy Spirit fell. If that is a type or a shadow of what was to come, what therefore will be its fulfillment? The bible speaks of a great falling away, so what is that about? Perhaps we are now being sifted and separated, or being pruned.

Jesus spoke of the vine and the husbandman who is the Father in John 15. Here He shared how the Father prunes the vines with the aim of producing the best fruit. It is quality God wants, not necessarily quantity. We know that He does not want one single soul to be lost, but He also does not want thorns, or tares amongst the wheat that speaks of the harvest. Because the Jewish festivals were agriculturally oriented, perhaps we need to look on this pruning as if it is happening to us right now as God is starting to cut away the dead wood, prune the vines and train the new shoots to grow properly so that the best fruit springs forth.

What I am trying to do is to get you thinking. Perhaps now that we have been in self isolation; that we have not been able to have public assembly; that we have not been able to have “church meetings” we have had the opportunity to look at our own hearts and determine where we truly stand. This whole thing, like the feasts of Israel, is seasonal and we cannot have Passover when we should be celebrating Pentecost. Nor can we keep having Pentecost when it is time for another feast, say, the Feast of Trumpets.

This is why I believe we are in a seasonal change. We’ve had our Passover. We had our day of Pentecost, but that single day was but the beginning of something new. It wasn’t the end, but a new start so we may be somewhere between the two and ready to emerge into a new season. I cannot emphasize that enough. God keeps reminding us! It is almost as if He has hit a reset button and many other people around the world are hearing this same message.

Shavuot

Se let’s keep looking at the feasts, or in particular at Shavuot. This is the second of the three major festivals that have historical and agricultural significance and commemorates the time when the first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple, and is known as Hag ha-Bikkurim (the Festival of the First Fruits). It also celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and is also known as Hag Matan Torateinu (the Festival of the Giving of the Torah). The period from Passover to Shavuot is a time of great anticipation in which Jews count each of the days from the second day of Passover to the day before Shavuot, 49 days or 7 full weeks. This is why it is called the Festival of weeks. This is precisely what happened to the 120 in Acts 1 and 2.

This period is the The Counting of the Omer, first seen in Exodus 16:12-28 after God provided manna and commanded the people to collect as much as each person needed—no more and no less. If someone gathered more than was necessary and kept the manna that God had provided—it went rotten and got eaten by worms. There is a powerful message here, that simply put means that the things that God once did or used and has moved on are not to be held as tightly onto as we do.

A biblical illustration is seen in Numbers 21:9 when, as Israel was in the wilderness and suddenly came across deadly snakes that killed them, God commanded Moses to make a brass serpent, place it up on a pole and tell those who were bitten to run to it, stand beneath it and gaze upon it. If they did, they were preserved. This is a type of course of Jesus on the cross. The point I want to make is that when the cloud moved on, the people moved on and left the snakes behind. They no longer needed the tool that God used for a specific purpose, but kept holding on to it and 400 years later it had become an idol! The prophet came and ground the thing up, smashed it and called it a Nehushtan. See 2 Kings 18:4. The thing that God once used, but was no longer using had become a false god! We must ask the obvious question now , “Have we created our own Nehusthtan’s in the church?” I believe we have.

In our present day, when in the middle of radical change and uncertainty, God is moving once more! This is a principle I see in the bible. Whilst God never changes, He Is (not was) and is constantly in motion, just as the seasons He created are constantly in motion.

Israel appointed watchmen whose roles was to watch that cloud and when it started to move, they had to blow the shofar and tell the people it was time to move with it. God still has watchmen whose function is to tell His people that there is a change in season.

Israel had specially chosen men who looked at the seasonal changes, especially the phases of the moon and when they saw the change, told the nation it was happening. Their agriculture, like ours, depends on the seasons. We cannot expect to pick a nice ripe juicy cherry from an apple tree in the middle of winter. It just does not happen like that, but this hopefully illustrates that we must move with Him, or be left behind and worse yet, create idols. We must leave the things that God once used behind or risk making them objects of worship. The church is at a crossroads. We must look beyond what has been happening, trying to ascertain the cause of the coronavirus, who did it, what it is or why. We should instead look at what can happen next.

Israel could no longer go back. Once the Red Sea closed behind them, God had made it perfectly clear that He had severed them forever from the past.

We cannot live in the past. If we try to do that, we will never see our future and I see a wonderful future for The Church. Note my capitalization.

I hear too many reports of people wanting to reopen their churches and go back to “business as usual” but as I said, we cannot go back there, because it is now in the past. I shall not discuss this in depth now but share in the presentation I called “I was a church junkie”.

I am registered with the government as a not for profit charitable institution and the relevant authority has just released a program supposedly designed to help us. Their last communication with me was:

What will the “New World” look like?

 As we slowly emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, nobody quite knows what the “new world” has in store for the NFP sector. However, what we do know is that if your organisation is to thrive, the following focus areas would be a great place to start:

  • A clearly defined strategic plan
  • Adoption of digital tools and technology
  • Diversification of income streams and revenue sources - financial sustainability
  • Innovation of fundraising, marketing and service delivery
  • Collaboration within and without the sector
  • Impact measurement

I have to ask if they know something we don’t? They apparently realize that things will not return to normal and it amazes me how so many church leaders do not want to accept this, almost like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand and ignoring such facts. Agreed, the government department is just that—and operates under the world system, but we cannot ignore what is happening around us right now. My presentation titled “What is the mark of the beast” will cover more on this aspect.

What we must realize is that there was much going on in the spirit realm in the period between Passover and Pentecost or a series of interwoven events that took place that have great significance to the church that emerged after Pentecost.

If indeed there is a change in seasons, we must progress beyond Pentecost to the new feast season.

We have the opportunity to come out the other side of these events into something completely different.

It is a principle that God has used often and keeps using.

Shavuot is known as Pentecost, because it falls on the 50th day. Passover for Jews freed them bondage. Christians remember Easter for similar reasons. For both Jews and Christians alike, it is the start of a new life, or the beginning of a journey and we are still on that journey. It has been methodically planned with meticulous precision. The Passover lamb had to be selected from the flock, without blemish, in the prime of its life on the 10th day of the month and be kept for 4 days.

It was then slaughtered and became our Passover. See Exodus 12:1-14 and 1 Corinthians 5:7.

If you study it out carefully, you will find that everything seen in these Festivals, including the way Passover happened, was completed by or fulfilled by Jesus. For example, in Luke 22, we see that the day of Unleavened Bread had arrived, when the Passover had to be killed, Jesus sent Peter and John ahead to prepare the Last Supper. They found the place where He said everything would be ready and prepared the Passover.

What we forget is that this lamb had been chosen 4 days ahead. He was following the pattern! Jesus came 4,000 years after Adam.
They didn’t go to a supermarket and buy a ready prepared lamb roast. The owner of that house had already selected it, inspected it and put it aside for 4 days! It was not a mere Jewish religious tradition, but an enactment of a carefully planned ahead of time.

There was a period of time between Passover and Pentecost. I reinforce my statement that there are definite times and seasons in God, so if Pentecost has been fulfilled, the next season has to come. Allow me to sum up starting with this scripture.

These are the set times of the LORD, the sacred occasions, which you shall celebrate each at its appointed time. - Leviticus 23:4

We have had our Shabbat or Sabbath day but there is a sabbath day coming into which we are to enter.

We have had Passover (Pesach). We have had Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamotzi).

We have had First Fruits (Yom habikkurim)

We have had Pentecost (Shavu’ ot) and are still in it, ready to move into.

We have not yet had Trumpets (Yom Teru’ah), Atonement (Yom Kippur) and Tabernacles (Sukkot).

They’re next and are on our doorstep.

Those last three are it! There are no others.

Each of those Jewish Festivals have been set by God, not by man. Each of them are what we are all looking for.

We are saved. We are being saved and we shall be saved. It is all progressive and leads up to the climax of all climatic events that I suppose you have already assumed correctly, is the return of our Lord when He comes to take us and tabernacle with us.

Are you ready?

I hope this has been of assistance.

Robert


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