These three Hebraic feasts, festivals or holy days, which take place in the Fall of the year, represent events in the Second (latter) Coming of the Messiah:
Recall that “festival” or “feast,” in Hebrew, is hag or mo’ed, a “set time” or “appointed time.” An appointed festival or feast is a “holy convocation” or “sacred assembly,” meaning in Hebrew mikrah, a “rehearsal” or a “recital.” Therefore, for Jews and non-Jews alike, all of the festivals and feasts appointed by God as rehearsals are for the purpose of revealing the Messiah (Col. 2:16,17) and completing God’s overall Plan of the Ages.
In ancient Israel, a trumpet or shofar (ram’s horn) was blown for two major purposes. One purpose was to announce an important assembly of the people, such as a festival, so as to gather them together into the presence of the Lord (Lev. 23:24b,25; Num. 10:2,3,7,10; Psalm 81:3; Joel 2:15,16). Another purpose was to sound a fanfare or an alarm, so as to muster troops or gather people for war or for judgment (Num. 10:9; Josh. 6:5; Judg. 7:22a; 2 Chr. 13:14c,15a; Jer. 4:19e; Joel 2:1).
Rosh haShanah (literally, “Head of the Year”), also called the Feast of Trumpets, is the New Year (and first new moon) of the civil calendar and is the first of three festivals/holy days in the Fall (the previous four are in the Spring—seeC-4). God commanded that it be commemorated with trumpet blasts (using a shofar or ram’s horn) on the “first day of the seventh month” (Lev. 23:23-25; Num. 29:1-6), which is Tishri 1. The final trumpet blown on Rosh HaShanah, in Hebrew tradition, is considered to be the “Last Trumpet.” Yom Teruah means “Day of the Awakening Blast.” (Tishri or Ethanim, the seventh month of the religious calendar, is the first month of the civil calendar—see “civil and religious calendars”: C-4, P-I.) The New Year traditionally is celebrated on two days: Tishri 1 and 2.
Teshuvah, meaning “return” or “repentance,” is a forty-day season each year on the Hebrew calendar. It begins on Elul 1, thirty days before Rosh haShanah (Tishri 1), and ends on Yom Kippur (Tishri 10). During the month of Elul, one is to examine one’s life and to restore broken relationships with others and with God, knowing that the “Day of Judgment” (Rosh haShanah) is approaching. On each day of Elul, a shofar (horn or trumpet) is blown, reminding everyone to repent because Rosh haShanah is drawing near.
Psalm 27, and often Ezek. 33:1-7, are read. Psalm 27 states that the Lord is our “salvation” when our “enemies attack” us, “sheltering” us and keeping us “safe” in the “day of trouble” (Psalm 27:1,2,5). Ezek. 33:1-7 concerns the trumpet blowing to “warn the people” of the “...sword coming against the land...” (Ezek. 33:3). For whoever does not heed the warning and loses his life, “...his blood will be on his own head” (that is, it is his own fault) because “If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself” (33:4,5).
In the overall Plan of God, we now, figuratively speaking, are in the time of “Elul.” Now is the time for those who have ignored God or turned away from Him to turn toward Him. As Zephaniah forewarned,
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger (Zeph. 2:3).
Speaking to the generation of today, the prophet’s exhortation is to accept Jesus as the Messiah. Doing so is the only possible way to be part of the miraculous assembly (when the “Last Trumpet” is blown) and to escape the devastation, brought by God upon the earth, during a future interval of time (called the “Day of the Lord”—see “Day of the Lord”: C-12, P-IV, S-I), which will begin with a certain Rosh haShanah. (More importantly, of course, eternal judgment also is avoided—see C-14, P-I). This is the next “appointment” God has for the world which directly involves Jesus, who will be the Judge (John 5:22,27; Acts 17:31). As stated by Paul,
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ [Messiah], who has been appointed for you—even Jesus (Acts 3:19,20).
Remember that a trumpet or shofar blast was used by the Israelites to announce an important assembling of people and to gather them into the presence of the Lord, or it was used to sound an alarm to prepare people for war or judgment. On the future Rosh haShanah under consideration, Jesus Christ will be the central figure of both of these two occurrences. Moreover, Jesus’ statement, “No one knows about that day or hour...,” most likely is a direct reference to Rosh haShanah (see “dates of prophetic fulfillment”: C-12, P-VI).
Pertaining to this certain future Rosh haShanah (perhaps soon), Paul described an event involving all of those who “...believe that Jesus died and rose again...” (1 Ths. 4:14a):
For the Lord [Jesus] himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command [or shout], with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead [believers] in Christ will rise first. After that, we [believers] who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever (1 Ths. 4:16,17).
... For God did not appoint us [believers] to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we [believers] are awake [alive] or asleep [dead], we may live together with him (1 Ths. 5:9,10).
Here is another description by Paul of this event, which occurs when the trumpet sounds on that most special Rosh haShanah of the future:
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We [who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ] will not all sleep [die], but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead [believers] will be raised imperishable, and we [believers] will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality (1 Cor. 15:51-53).
This “catching up” (or assembling) of believers commonly is referred to as the “Rapture” (seeC-12, P-V). Although this word is not listed in any Bible translation that I have ever seen, the concept is there. According to Marvin J. Rosenthal,
The word rapture...comes not from the Greek but from Latin. It is the translation of the word rapere, meaning rapid. It appears in the Latin translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:17. There rapere, or rapid, is used to translate the Greek expression caught up. The words raptured, snatched, or caught up have come to be used interchangeably. They are used to describe the initial phase of the second coming of Christ, who, by the word of His power, will snatch, catch up, or rapture His true church out of the gravitational pull of this planet to meet Him in the clouds and to remain forever with Him.
Now, as has been shown, a “trumpet” (or shofar) must sound before the dead are raised and before the Rapture takes place (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Ths. 4:16). Imagine—a trumpet blast loud enough to wake the dead! I suspect that the angel Gabriel may be the one to blow this trumpet, as he was the one to announce the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary (Luke 1:26-35).
At the trumpet sound, as has been depicted, all people dead or alive who have placed their faith and trust in the risen Jesus Christ and accepted Him as their Lord (Rom. 10:9,10, 14:9) will be “collected” and assembled before Him. It will be a time of overwhelming ecstasy and intense celebration because, in a moment of time, their perishable, corruptible bodies will be transformed to be like His glorious body (Phil. 3:20,21; 1 John 3:2b) on that joyful Rosh haShanah.
Upon Jesus’ bodily ascension into heaven, he was seated at the right hand of God the Father (Eph. 1:20; Heb. 1:3b). He still possesses a glorified, flesh and bones body with no blood—a body which His disciples, among many, saw with their own eyes after His resurrection (Luke 24:39). In Jesus, “...all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 2:9); Jesus truly was, and is, the manifestation of God in a physical body (see “the Word”: C-6, P-III).
I believe the reason why Jesus’ resurrected body contains no blood is that His blood was shed and permanently was given up (to redeem us) in the Most Holy Place in heaven (Heb. 9:12b,24). Moreover, the bodies of resurrected believers will not have blood. God said, “For the life of a creature is in the blood...” (Lev. 17:11a). Life, for those in resurrected, perfected bodies, will be provided through Jesus by the Holy Spirit (John 14:6a; Rom. 8:11); and blood no longer will be necessary to sustain life (see “Life”: C-6, P-IV).
Joshua, the leader after Moses, led the children of Israel across the Jordan River and into the land promised to their ancestors by God (Josh. 4:15-17). Soon thereafter, they came to the city of Jericho, which God helped them to enter victoriously (6:2-20). This event was a “mikrah” (rehearsal) for the Rapture. Zola Levitt describes it this way:
The triumph of mighty Joshua at Jericho is a type of the Rapture of the Church. There, the people shouted and blew on trumpets, and the walls fell down, and each man “ascended up” into the city. Beautiful Jericho, with its flower gardens and citrus fruits, is a gorgeous oasis in a very arid wilderness. It was the place where God chose to take His people into their Promised Land. It was their first sight of anything but hopeless desert for some forty years. Likewise, with the Christians, our glimpse of heaven at the Rapture will represent the end of a long journey for each of us through the wilderness. ... There is a very close comparison between the verses, Joshua 6:5 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17, as if God purposely indicated the correlation.
Joshua (in Hebrew, Y’hoshua) led the ancient children of Israel into their promised land, Israel; and Jesus (in Hebrew, Yeshua) will lead all believers into their Promised Land, heaven (seeC-14, P-II). Y’hoshua means “Jehovah [the Lord] is salvation,” and Yeshua means “Yahweh [God] saves” or, simply, “salvation.”
The Rapture trumpet will introduce a time of judgment, both for those believers whose bodies are changed and are caught up (raptured) to be with God and also for those who remain. Jesus “...is the one whom God [the Father] appointed as judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42b). Paul, speaking to those who knew (and who know) Jesus as Savior, stated,
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10).
Even King Solomon knew of this:
For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (Eccl. 12:14).
Notice that, in both cases, it is not people who are judged here but their deeds. These people, whose good and bad works during their lives are judged on that future Rosh haShanah, are those who have feared God and kept his commandments (Eccl. 12:13b) and who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior (Phil. 3:20).
For someone whose foundation Rock is Jesus, his/her deeds (works) in life may be as “gold, silver, [or] costly stones,” or else “wood, hay or straw”; and all works will be tested on that “Day” with “fire” (1 Cor. 3:13). If whatever deeds that person has “built” survive the fire (that is, were done with non-selfish motives and/or with the intent of glorifying God), rewards later will be given accordingly (3:14). Works performed due to selfish motives, or without considering God’s glorification, will be “burned up,” although the person himself/herself will be saved from the “flames” (3:15). The glorious eternal rewards for those who will have done things for God because they loved Him are far beyond anything we have ever seen, heard about, or conceived in our minds (2:9).
Besides the deeds and works of those who have known Jesus as Lord and Savior being judged, there is another judgment which will take place beginning on that unique Rosh haShanah yet to come: that of the world of people left behind, after the Rapture of believers, during the final days of this age. That particular Rosh haShanah is the first day of a dreadful period of time commonly referred to in the Bible as the “Day of the Lord” (see “Day of the Lord”: C-12, P-IV, S-1). The Old Testament prophet Obadiah indicated that this period in our future will be a time of judgment upon the nations of the earth:
The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head (Obad. 15).
(In the short book of Obadiah, the prophet’s reference to judgment concerns how the nations of the world treat Israel. God will do to them whatever they have done to Israel.)
The prophet Joel wrote,
What a dreadful day! For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like a destruction from the Almighty (Joel 1:15). ...
Blow the trumpet [of Rosh haShanah] in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand... (Joel 2:1).
The New Testament apostle Peter wrote,
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief [for unbelievers]. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives... (2 Pet. 3:10,11).
During this fearful period in the future, the wrath of the Almighty God finally will fall upon a corrupt, unrepentant world of people who have, by and large, rebelled against Him (Isa. 24:1-13,17-20, 34:1-3; Micah 5:10-15; Zeph. 1:2,3,14-18, 3:8). The Old Testament is replete with accounts of Israel’s being blessed when its people acknowledged and submitted to God (Deut. 11:13-15) and being reproved and punished when they rebelled and turned away (Judg. 2:10-15) from Him. The unchanging truth that a nation receives God’s blessings when it obeys and a curse or judgment when it disobeys applied not only to ancient Israel (Deut. 11:26-28), but it applies to all nations of the earth today—including the great and mighty nation of the USA.
During the Day of the Lord judgment, Jerusalem and Israel (or Judah) also will be devastated as never before (Isa. 27:7-11; Zeph. 1:4-13), but for the last time ever. Then, the remnant of Israel, unanimously, will accept Jesus as their Messiah and Lord (Isa. 59:20; Ezek. 39:7,22,28,29; Rom. 11:26) and will be restored, rewarded, and esteemed above all nations (Isa. 60:1-22, 61:1-11, 62:1-12; Jer. 33:6-9).
The season of Teshuvah, as previously explained, is a season of forty days beginning with Elul 1 (thirty days before Rosh haShanah) and ending with Yom Kippur (nine days after Rosh haShanah). Each year, the last ten days of Teshuvah, from Rosh haShanah to Yom Kippur, inclusively, are known as the “High Holy Days,” the most sacred time of the Hebrew year. This ten-day period also is known as Yamim Nora’im, or the “Days of Awe,” because during this time each person becomes accountable to God for his sins.
Figuratively, as described, we now are in the time of “Elul,” a time to examine one’s life and to restore broken relationships with others and with God, knowing that the “Day of Judgment” (Rosh haShanah) is approaching. It is a time to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, so as to be able to take part in the “catching up” event on that future Rosh haShanah and to be sheltered from the terrible days following. For those alive who do not experience the future Rapture episode, they will enter the Day of the Lord (or Yamim Nora’im or Awesome Days) period, extending from the day of the Rapture (on Rosh haShanah) to a Yom Kippur at least one year later. They will have a relatively short amount of time (I believe, most likely, a year) to turn to God and to accept the Messiah, or else to be separated forever from God’s Love.
Unfortunately, people alive during this time will be less likely to turn toward God and the truth than they would have before the Rapture. This is because there will be many (satanic) counterfeit signs and wonders occurring in the world around them, distracting them from the truth; and most people will be sent a powerful delusion to believe Satan’s lies instead of God’s truth, the latter which they will prefer not to heed (2 Ths. 2:9-12).
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Copyright © 1998– by Ted M. Montgomery, O.D. Most rights reserved.