To understand the picture that represents God’s overall design as revealed to us through the symbolism of the seven appointed Jewish feasts, we must first gain an understanding of the Jewish calendar. There are major differences in the Gregorian calendar we use in America versus the Jewish calendar. One of those differences is that the months of the Jewish calendar correspond in an over-lapping fashion to the Gregorian calendar months we use in America. Meaning, the Jewish month begins a few days into the Gregorian month and doesn’t end until a few days into the following month.
Another major difference is that the Jewish calendar has two “New Years”. One is the Biblical new year and the other is the civil new year. The Biblical New Year begins when God told Moses, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.” (Exodus 12:2). Thus, the first month of the Jewish calendar is the month of Nisan, which falls on the March/April months of the Gregorian calendar. However, the number of the year itself (i.e.: we are in the Gregorian year number 2016 or the Jewish year number 5776) is reckoned according to the civil new year, which is the 1st day of the 7th month of the Jewish calendar, and that month is called Tishri, which falls on the September/October months of the Gregorian calendar. The first day of Tishri is called Rosh Hashanah, which means “head of the year”. This day also falls on one of the seven feasts appointed by God, called the Feast of Trumpets or “Yom Teruah”, which means “day of shouting/blasting”. We’ll talk more about this day further on.
It is commonly understood that the Seven Feasts appointed unto Moses by God symbolized His plan for salvation through Jesus Christ and His millennial reign on earth as King of Kings. The Apostle Paul tells us that they were “a shadow of the things to come,” (Col 2:17), meaning that the feasts were symbolic and pointed to the literal fulfillment of something greater– Jesus Christ. The first four feasts are celebrated at the beginning of the Jewish Biblical year, which corresponds to spring. The last three feasts are celebrated at the beginning of the Jewish civil year, which corresponds to fall.
The first four feasts of spring were literally fulfilled at the first coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus was crucified on Passover, buried during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, raised on the Feast of First Fruits and sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Therefore, it is generally understood that at His second coming, He will literally fulfill the last three feasts during the fall. The gap of time in-between the spring and fall feasts is generally understood to represent the large gap of time (church age/age of grace/time of the Gentiles) that would transpire between Christ’s first and second coming.
The last three feasts to be literally fulfilled at Christ’s second coming are:
1. Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah)
2. Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
3. Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot or Feast of Booths)
After a long summer of harvest (symbolic of the church age), the first fall festival is the Feast of Trumpets. The symbolism of this appointed Feast is the rapture of the Bride of Christ and the declaration of God’s judgment upon a fallen world. This time of judgment is also known as the Great Tribulation, which is symbolized by the “Ten Days of Awe” that take place between the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). We’ll discuss this symbolism in further detail in my next post.