In Scripture, the number 7 consistently has a symbolic meaning. Seven speaks of completion, finality. So it is no surprise that the Jewish holy days in the seventh month of the Biblical calendar, Tishrei (September) typify God’s complete and final work for His redeemed.
Spring and Summer of God
The picture of redemption begins to unfold in the spring, in the feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits (see Leviticus 23). The Jewish people continue to celebrate these feasts each year through tradition — while remaining unaware of the great truths these holy days point to Messiah has died for their sins, thereby making atonement, and was raised from the dead (1 Cor. 5:7; 15:20, 23).
The spring feasts are followed by Pentecost or Shavuot. To the Jewish people, this is an early harvest feast; for believers, it typifies the birth of the Church.
Following these holy days is the Lord’s long summer of service (in which the Gospel ministry is now going on). Although no one knows the day and hour when Messiah will come and end this time of service, we are taught to always be ready for God’s ingathering of His redeemed during the “seventh month.”
A Time of Completion
The seventh month is a “time of completion.” The final work of redemption is seen in the three final feasts from Leviticus 23, each of which occurs in the seventh month.
The Feast of Trumpets (Lev. 23:23-24) is commonly called Rosh HaShanah or the Jewish New Year. When the Jewish people came out of Babylonian captivity, they adopted the Babylonian civil New Year as their own. Biblically, the Feast of Trumpets looks to the sounding of the trump of God, which, prophetically speaking, is the time when the Church will be gathered with Messiah in the Rapture.
The next feast is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which traditionally is a time for Jewish people to get right with God. Biblically (Lev. 16; 23:26-32), it is a day for Israel to be restored to God as a nation. It also points to the time when Israel will be gathered to the Messiah.
Finally, comes the Feast of Sukkot or the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) (Lev. 23:33-43), which is also called the Feast of Ingathering (Ex. 23:16). Today it is celebrated as a final harvest festival, and it is accompanied with great joy in the provision of God for His people. It will one day, however, mark the final gathering together of all people before God and will be celebrated with the most joyous celebration of all time.
Let us look at each of these feasts in greater depth.
Rosh HaShanah, or the Feast of Trumpets. First is the Feast of Trumpets. Jewish tradition purports that the blowing of trumpets is a reminder of the shofars Joshua and the Israelites used at Jericho and of the ram that Abraham sacrificed in place of Isaac (the shofar is made from a ram’s horn).
Yet Scripture reveals much more about the prophetic meaning of the Feast of Trumpets. This feast points forward to a time when Israel is gathered back in the land (Is. 27:13). And even more clearly it points to the time when the Church will be gathered to her Lord in the Rapture (1 Cor. 15:51, 52; 1 Thess. 4:16-18).
Because none of us knows the exact time of this future “blowing of the trumpet,” the Feast of Trumpets should motivate us to service. Remembering our blessed hope (Tit. 2:13), we want people to believe now before the day of wrath appears (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9).
Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. The second Jewish feast that occurs in the seventh month is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Each year Jewish people celebrate the Day of Atonement as the holiest day of the year, reviewing their lives before God. Yet Biblically, it is a national day of restoration, signifying when Israel was to be restored to service in the Lord through Temple animal sacrifices. Today, because of national unbelief, Israel has been sidetracked in its service.
Yom Kippur, Rosh HaShanah, and Sukkot
But there will come a time when Israel will be gathered back to God as a nation. During the Tribulation, Israel will be brought back to the forefront of service with 144,000 Jewish evangelists (Rev. 7:3-9), whom I would like to call 144,000 “Jewish Billy Grahams.” These Jewish evangelists will go forth to share the message of Messiah to prepare for the return of the King and the establishment of His Kingdom.
At the end of that Tribulation period, the Jewish people will “look on me [Messiah], the one they have pierced, and mourn for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (Zech. 12:10). On that day, Israel will take advantage of the “cleansing from sin and impurity” (Zech. 13:1).
Thus Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, serves to remind us that this gathering of Israel is coming and to urge us to witness to Jewish people in hope and confidence that God is gathering Israel back to Himself. For who knows, we may even now be planting seeds in the hearts of those Jewish people who will be among the 144,000.
Sukkot, or the Feast of Booths. The third and last Jewish feast in the seventh month is Sukkot, the Feast of Booths. This feast typified the great provision of our Sovereign God and the final ingathering of the harvest. In Bible times 70 bulls were to be sacrificed (Num. 29:12-32). Early Jewish leaders saw these bulls as representing the nations of the world (Sukkah 55b).
Scripture assures us that these nations will one day acknowledge the One True God (Zech. 14:9). Interestingly, in the synagogue today during Sukkot, the lulav, a palm branch, along with other branches, is waved in four directions. This speaks of the hope that God is not the only sovereign over the world but will be acknowledged as such throughout the four corners of the earth.
This hope is promised to be fulfilled in Zechariah 14:9, “The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.”
All this being said, it, therefore, does not seem strange that not only will Israel come to faith at the end of the Tribulation (as seen in Yom Kippur), but following the Tribulation period (when Jerusalem is attacked [Zech. 14:2]), even the nations that make war on Israel will honor the King of kings, the Messiah of Israel, in Jerusalem. For we read in Zechariah 14:16-19,
Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.
And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them.
And if the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the Lord smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.
This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.
The very nations that attack Jerusalem will have to come there to worship. And the very people who, under the Beast, despised the Lord, will come to worship the Lord, the King of Israel.
Sukkot or the Feast of Booths speaks of the time when all nations will be gathered unto our God, acknowledging that He alone is sovereign and that in Him alone are protection and security. Just as Leviticus 23:42, 43 says that Israel would live in booths each year to remind us that in the wilderness, the Lord alone was their protection, so all the world will one day acknowledge that God is the provider, the protector, and the sovereign King.
We can now better understand what is written in revelation 7: Those “who have come out of the great tribulation” (7:14) will be waving “palm branches in their hands” (7:9) and will be covered by the Lord’s tent (tabernacle) (7:15). Every nation, tribe, people, and language will give honor and praise to the Lamb, the Lord of hosts.
A Plan of Redemption
To summarize, we see the seventh month as a time when God speaks of completing His plan of redemption: the gathering of the Church (Feast of Trumpets), the gathering of the nation Israel (Day of Atonement), and the gathering of the nations (Feast of Booths). Seeing His concern and plan, how should we respond? Wouldn’t the Lord have us go and share His Word with all who have ears to hear and certainly with “the Jew first?”
“For now is the day of salvation. Now is the appointed time” (2 Cor. 6:2).