It has become known as the Jewish New Year, but that was not its original intent. In Leviticus, it is called the Feast of Trumpets: “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts’” (Lv 23:24). Some feel its purpose is unclear as little is specified in scripture. Yet seeing how it was implemented by the Israelites can help us better understand its purpose. There are three main scripture references which indicates it was always celebrated when Israel strayed and came back to God: when Solomon dedicated his temple (2Ch 5), when the second temple was dedicated (Er 3), and during the time of Ezra/Nehemiah (Ne 8). While all of these feasts were memorial in nature, this one seems to be a memorial feast to ask God to remember His covenant with Israel. It is also interesting to note that this is the only feast not stated to be a lasting ordinance. Both of these points become important in understanding the prophetic meaning behind this feast.
Rosh Hashanah is important in understanding our future. We need to answer a couple of questions. First, when in the future will God remember His covenant with Israel? Despite what some believe, Israel is not out of God’s future plans. The Apostle Paul stated so directly: “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in” (Ro 11:25). The second question is as follows: What will cause God’s focus to turn from the Church and back to Israel? Paul addresses this as well: “In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1Co 15:52). And, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1Th 4:16-17). This is what some have termed “the Rapture.” So, understanding this point about Rosh Hashanah helps us to see the importance for the Rapture and to understand the sequence of future events God has planned.
There are several controversial points that surround the fulfillment of this feast: Some believe the Rapture is its fulfillment. Others believe the Rapture cannot occur before the Tribulation Period. Many focus on the phrase ‘last trumpet’ as proof of this supposition. Let’s examine these points and see if we can make sense of them.
Paul has compared the Church as a bride: The Bride of Christ. If that is the case, let’s look at what a Jewish wedding entailed.
The first part of a Jewish wedding was the betrothal period. A marriage contract was signed by the parents of the bride and the bridegroom. The parents of the bridegroom, or the bridegroom himself, would pay a dowry to the bride or her parents. This first part of the marriage between Christ and the Church is completed when each believer places his or her faith in Christ as their Savior. The dowry (the blood of Christ) was paid by the bridegroom (Christ) to the bridegroom’s parent (God the Father) on behalf of the bride. As the Church is composed of individuals, the bride is still being formed as believers put their faith in their bridegroom. Yet, at some point in the future, the bride will be considered complete (Ro 11:25). The second part of the wedding will then commence.
The second part of a Jewish wedding was the receiving the bride. The groom went to get the bride after an undisclosed amount of time – usually occurring a year or so later. One reason for this was to be sure the bride was pure and a virgin. If the woman was not a virgin, it would become evident within the year. At some undisclosed time, the bridegroom, accompanied by his male friends, would go to the house of the bride (typically late at night) and take her and her bridesmaids to the bridegroom’s home via a parade through the city. This will be completed at the Rapture (a sudden catching up; 1Co 15:51-52; 1Th 4:13-18) when the bridegroom (Jesus Christ) returns for his bride (the Church).
The third part of a Jewish wedding was the wedding supper. A wedding supper was held, which could go on for days. This is fulfilled as described in Revelation (Rv 19:7-9), most likely in heaven after the Rapture and before Christ returns to earth.
Let’s also look at who attended the wedding feast. Not everyone was invited. There were three main groups: the bridegroom, the bride, and the attendants. So, from this analogy, who will those be? The Bridegroom is none other than Jesus Christ; the Bride is the Church (these will now have their glorified bodies); the attendants are the Old Testament saints (these will not yet have glorified bodies).
There is another point to look at concerning the Rapture, or the Receiving of the Bride, and that is the trumpet blast which occurs at this time. So, what is this “last trumpet”? Some believe this refers to the last trumpet in Revelation 11. Yet, that trumpet refers to Christ beginning his reign on the earth while this trumpet states that the righteous meet Christ in the air. Therefore, referring to two different events. The time of the Rapture is of an unknown time. If it was connected to this feast, then Christians could look every September for the possibility of the Lord’s return. The rapture cannot coincide with the Feast of Trumpets. Since Shavuot is connected to the beginning of the Church Age and a trumpet is blown for burnt offerings (first trumpet) and fellowship offerings (last trumpet), it likely represents the end of the Church Age.
If the Rapture, or the Receiving, is not the fulfillment of this feast, what is it? Sometime after the Rapture, Israel reawakens spiritually as a nation, a peace treaty is made with the rising figure that becomes the Antichrist (Da 9:27) – likely at the time of Rosh Hashanah. The Tribulation Period begins. Many calamities occur as we see in the book of Revelation. If it is about Israel, why are the calamities world-wide? Well, where are the Jews and Israelis today? They are spread throughout the entire world today.
God dealt with Israel leaving Egypt for their homeland the first time. Now he is dealing with Jews and Israelis coming back to their homeland. Similarities between Exodus and Revelation are not coincidental. The “plagues” in Revelation are worldwide in scope and more intense than those in Exodus: Water to blood (Ex 7) vs. Water, sea and rivers to blood (Rv 8, 11, 16); Pestilence (Ex 9) vs. Intense pestilence (Rv 6); Boils and sores (Ex 9) vs. Sores (Rv 16); Hail and fire (Ex 9) vs. hail and fire (Rv 8); Locusts (Ex 10) vs. Locusts killing like scorpions (Rv 9); Darkness that could be felt (Ex 10) vs. Darkness and pain (Rv 16); Death of firstborn (Ex 11) vs. two-thirds of the earth’s population dies while others die in battle against Christ (Rv). The similarity is striking, isn’t it?
How do we know this is about Israeli as well as Jew? “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness. ”So then, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land” (Jr 23:5-8).
There are likely many people today who do not know they are Israeli. This is because when the northern kingdom of Israel (composed of ten Israeli tribes) was captured by Assyria, they later became part of the Parthian Empire and later still, with its demise, fled across the Caucasus mountains into Europe. Many did not keep their genetic heritage, but intermarried with other nationalities. So, how can they be identified? Today, we have genetic testing to find out our ancestral heritage. This type of testing will likely increase in sensitivity over time. It could become mandatory for all citizens of earth. Many will likely be surprised that they are of Israeli descent. They will have to flee for their lives to the only save haven – Israel.
In summary, the main focus of the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah, is on Israel. Therefore, the Church must be out of the limelight. This supports the idea, and necessity of, the Rapture (the Receiving). In the future, this feast propels the beginning of the Tribulation Period. This occurs at some undesignated time after the Rapture.
Isn’t it marvelous how multi-dimensional God is? He meets people where they are, but then leads them on to a future that is unparalleled with what they could themselves conceive or desire. He wants so much more for us than we can even imagine. How great is our God!
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