Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed [united/combine] with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’" although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. Hebrews 4:1-3 (NKJV)
|Early rain||The long hot Summer||Late rain|
|Passover (14) |
Unleavened Bread (15-21)*
|Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) (6)*||Trumpets (Jewish New Year) (1) |
Day of Atonement (10)
|*All men had to attend in Jerusalem (Deut 16:16, Ex 23:14) |
† Some alternative names/spellings for the months of the Hebrew calendar
There is a promise that the writer to the Hebrews leaves with us; that there is a rest – God’s rest. This part of the blessing, of being with Him, where both his people, whom God saved and He are brought into heavenly communion, at perfect peace and with absolute contentment and happiness. Furthermore, God will be at perfect rest as well – in regard his love towards his own. The rest we wait for is that where there is complete unhindered revelation of God in our souls, unfettered by sin, and were the work of hope, faith, love and patience are over.
The first place we see rest is when God had completed his great work and he rested on the seventh day. However, after sin entered, we next see the word REST is in chapter 8 of Genesis. The world has become full of wickedness and God in His wisdom saves eight souls in order to pave a way for his love to be manifest. Noah has spent many months on the Ark and he released a dove, which can find no place to rest her feet, so had to return to the ark.
Our life here is somewhat like that, we can find no rest, and hence can only be in Christ Jesus for our wilderness walk here. Yet, we know there remains a rest for the people of God. The feasts evidence the rest, beginning with the Sabbath, followed by the holy convocations on which no servile work was to be performed. The Sabbath was the repeated feast, every seventh day, to show a type of rest from toil and labour, from a creation ravaged by the fall of Adam. We, however, are of a new creation; the old man being crucified and the new being heavenly creatures.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Romans 6:5,6 (NKJV).
The last three feasts are very Jewish in nature, but point to the time of rest. These are the feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles. In all, the character of the feasts are overwhelmingly the gathering of God’s people unto himself, hence the convocations, and in particular the three when all men had to appear before him (Deuteronomy 16:16 – Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks & Feast of Tabernacles). The overall type is that of rest. It is something all people look forward to. In the case of these three feasts a long hot summer has past. The grain has been harvested, the grapes crushed and the fruit picked.
Speaking of the summer which lies between Pentecost and the first of the feasts in the Autumn (4 months), there is some significance, and comparable to our day today. It began at Pentecost where the disciples went out to: Jerusalem , and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 18). This time or dispensation is clearly that of the Church, with its full mystery revealed (the mystery of Christ, … has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body (Eph 34-6)). The "long hot summer" speaks of the times of the Gentiles (Acts 15:14), the day of grace (Eph 2:8), the day of the Church. During the 4 month break between feasts the people would have been reaping their fields and gathering in their crops (sheaves). Like the farmers during this time of year the Lord is also reaping His crops, and gathering His grain (Matthew 9:37). Jesus was the corn of wheat that must first die (John 12:24) to bring forth much fruit. This has occurred, and now is the day of salvation. The interval corresponds to the gathering of those that have been redeemed from this world. (The church is composed of those called out, as the world "wax worse and worse" 2 Timothy 3:13). Pentecost is both Jewish and Gentile in nature: two loaves, leavened, but baked (i.e. the leaven is dealt with), compare with;
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 (KJV)
Then comes the early rain – the summer ends, the parched soil is replenished:
then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. Deuteronomy 11:14 (NKJV)
See also Joel 2:23.
Rain in scripture speaks of the working of the Holy Spirit. Elijah prevented rain by praying in the presence of the apostate King Ahab (James 5:17). After killing the prophets of Baal (belonging to Jezebel, Ahab’s wife), rain came. The adulteress and wicked people had the latter rains withheld at the time of Jeremiah who prophesied the fall of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 3:3). It sinful man that prevents the work of the Holy Spirit – the work of God cannot flow unless man repents (Jeremiah 5:24-25). The downfall of this nation probably began its rapid declension when scripture was withdrawn from classrooms in schools and the nation stopped acknowledging God.
Note that the latter (spring rain) has come and now Israel waits for the former or early rain (autumn) because she has rejected her Messiah (Joel 2:3), although in part, the Joel prophecy has been fulfilled in that we have the blessing of the Holy Spirit poured out.
Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NKJV)
The trumpet is first mentioned in Exodus where it was a sign to the people of God. In Revelation it is also essentially a sign to Israel, but also to the nations – seven disasters overcome the world each heralded by a trumpet – the last bringing in great signs from heaven. But for a Christian he doesn’t want hear either trumpet but rather, the shout of the archangel heralds the meeting of Christ in the cloud at the rapture. For the Christian the feast points to the mystery of the Church revealed and the fact that the substance of the hope for which we hope for is imminent – the rest of God.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 1 Thessalonians. 4:16 (NKJV)
What a day of joy and gladness will this be for the church?
Jesus parting words were: "Surely I come quickly". Christians – are waiting for a shout not a trumpet:
For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Hebrews. 10:37 (NKJV).
The blowing of the trumpets leads to the Day of Atonement.
Atonement began with the great public announcement in the form of the trumpets – now the time of rejoicing the end of the harvest is swapped for the solemness that the guilt of the conscience caused by sin. Note this is a Sabbath of solemn rest (v 32) – Numbers puts it as a solemn assembly (Numbers 29:21). I will not speak in depth on the Day of Atonement as one comes after me who will do so. I will however note its Jewishness, however, if you want to see the essence of the time read Isaiah 18:
3 All inhabitants of the world and dwellers on the earth:
When he lifts up a banner on the mountains, you see it;
And when he blows a trumpet, you hear it.
4 For so the Lord said to me,
"I will take My rest,
And I will look from My dwelling place
Like clear heat in sunshine,
Like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest." Isaiah 18:3,4 (NKJV)
However, for us Christ has accomplished all for us, as a high priest after the after the order of Melchizedek – something Aaron could not accomplish. The Church is heavenly, in that we are fellow citizens with those in heaven since the wall that separated us from God has be broken down (see Ephesians 2:14-20)
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, Ephesians 2:19 (NKJV)
Paul also points out in Philippians 3:15, our citizenship is heaven. This of great importance – not only does a Christian not want to make his or her rest here on earth – we just don’t belong as our "passport" is coded "heaven", hence we are pilgrims and strangers in a foreign land, and we long for our "own land" heaven. Are you longing for heaven?
The instructions are clear and sound – do no work, afflict the soul. Observe keenly the need to afflict the soul: three times in Leviticus 23 it is mentioned (27, 29 & 32). Verse 29 is the imperative, giving the reason and punishment for not doing so:
For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. Leviticus 23:29 (NKJV)
So what does this mean? Mere observation shows that holiness comes by affliction. It was the affliction of Christ the gives him the glory, and allows us to be in a place of holiness. J N Darby puts it:
It takes the character of self-judgment, and sorrow before God, and therefore, in that state, I have no fellowship with others; so I turn in the morning and go to my tent. You find bitter herbs as well in Exodus 12 ().
However, as a type, it does not deal with us and is still to happen. Revelation issues the orders for the affliction, and when Israel wakes, they will mourn him who the pieced.
Atonement means covering, and was the day the sins of the nation were covered, or atoned and essentially deals with uncleanness (Leviticus 16 verses 16, 19), and was a day of confession. It was (past tense, as Jesus Christ fulfils this feast) the means by which sin, especially sin of the conscious is dealt with. It portrays the futility of man and the perfection of Jesus who obtained eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12) and cleansed our conscience from dead works (Heb 9 14), having sprinkled blood (Hebrews12:24 etc) once for all.
Christ fully met the needs of atonement on the cross and in it we see the worthiness of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this we are assured that the guilt of sin is entirely dealt with by Christ.
It is the blood of Christ that ensures salvation of the Church. All rests on the blood He shed at the cross. It is the blood which speaks peace to our heart and to our conscience.
The Day of Atonement speaks of "rest" to Israel when they (eventually) mourn Him they pieced.
Tabernacles has a completely different flavour – all is said and done. The crop and vintage has been gathered, the sins of the people have been atoned, and now seven days of reflection can take place, resting in booths. This includes everyone - old, daughter, manservant, maidservant, stranger, fatherless, and widow – all shall rejoice. Again, as with all the feasts, its about what the Lord has done: "because Jehovah thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice".
There is a contrast here – at Pentecost, the remembrance is being a bondman in Egypt (Deuteronomy 16:12) – a slave to sin. But at Tabernacles, the remembrance is not of being a slave in Egypt, but that fact I need to rejoice (Deuteronomy 16:14). Further, there is no "bread of affliction" here, which is mentioned three times in Scripture. In Deuteronomy 16:3 the bread of affliction is in regards the feast of Unleavened Bread, but at Tabernacles the feast has no bitter herbs, found at Passover, nor any bread of affliction. The picture here is a redeemed person, both holy and true. NOTE WELL however one cannot get here without Passover – blood from the Passover lamb, which is Christ, must be accepted; nor can you get here without Pentecost – without the Holy Spirit, one has no ability to approach God. Notwithstanding, this feast is Jewish – the church does not enter into it at all. It is a time when God will say "Thou art my people"; and they shall say, "Thou art my God" – this has yet to occur.
After the long journey in the wilderness, where each pain and pang of hunger was dealt with by the gracious Jehovah, and they now rejoice in Canaan.
Grace and mercy has flowed from our heavenly Father. He desires our presence and communion with him. We look forward to a rest with him. This means our mindset needs to looking FORWARD to that rest. Too many, in the western world at least, including our churches are making their rest here. We are at ease: our world has become a playground, when in fact it is a battle ground. Satan holds every inch of it, and we should be clothed and armed for battle. We use to sing Baring Gould's "Onward Christian Soldiers" or
Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armour on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies through His eternal Son:
Strong in the Lord of Hosts, and in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts, is more than conqueror.
Of this A.W. Tozer writes:
The Christian soldier thought of home and rest and reunion, and his voice grew plaintive as he sang of battle ended and victory won. But whether he was charging into enemy guns or dreaming of war's end and the Father's welcome home, he never forgot what kind of world he lived in – it was a battleground, and many were wounded and slain.
To look forward to a rest, you need to have a need for a rest. Do you have a need for a rest, a longing for a rest? Tozer writes:
Men think of the world not as a battleground, but as a playground. We are not here to fight; we are here to frolic. We are not in a foreign land; we are at home. We are not getting ready to live, but we are already living, and the best we can do is rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations and live this life to the full, his, we believe, is a fair summary of the religious philosophy of modern man, openly professed by millions and tacitly held by many more millions who live out that philosophy without having given it verbal expression.
The feasts reminded Israel of the right view of the world. We as Christians need to be reminded of the right view of the world. It begins with trust in God, with true faith and not just faith in faith. We must wrestle in prayer – not in ignorance and superstition but in the truth of the Spirit. And speaking of the Spirit every Christian must be spiritual – how many times have we heard this – Tozer again:
Spiritual people are indifferent to their feelings--they live by faith in God with little care about their own emotions. They think God's thoughts and see things as God sees them. They rejoice in Christ and have no confidence in themselves. They are more concerned with obedience than with happiness. This is less romantic, perhaps, but it will stand the test of fire.
As a soldier of Christ we attack. It’s not our place to defend – in deed we have not right to defend – a defender defends his territory – ours is heaven which is in very good hands. Our attack is needed for those lost souls. The fear of legalism, especially in this church and other like it has paralysed it.
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:8 (NKJV)
We have the power to fight the enemy: and we must fight.
And lastly – as the Feast of Pentecost attests:
The Spirit is sent to be our Friend, to guide us over the long way home. He is Christ's own Self come to live with us, allowing Him to fulfill His word, "Surely I am with you always," even while He sits at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens.
It will be a new day for us when we put away false notions and foolish fears and allow the Holy Spirit to fellowship with us as intimately as He wants to do, to talk to us as Christ talked to His disciples by the Sea of Galilee. After that there can be no more loneliness, only the glory of the never-failing Presence .
 In the actually sermon I said the first mention of the word "rest" was in Genesis 8 when in fact it was Genesis 2 – thanks to the lady who reminded me of this. To be exact in Genesis 2 the word is past tense - 'rested". I was glad someone was listening!
 Early or former rain – autumn rain; heavy rain – winter rain; latter rain – spring rain.
 JN Darby (1800-1882) Hints on the Feasts of Jehovah. Also at <http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/darby/EXPOSIT/19018_22E.html> accessed 19 July 2009
 Elvey, G.J. (1816-1893)SOLDIERS of Christ, arise, and put your armour on by
 Tozer, A.W. (1989) This World: Playground or Battleground? WingSpread Publishers, USA pg 2. also at < http://www.neve-family.com/books/tozer/world/01.html> accessed 19 July 2009.
 ibid., p 3.
 ibid., pg 19.
[8} ibid,. pg 87.