God's Holy Days
Did you know that God has Holy Days that reveal His plan of Salvation?
Man has substituted his holidays, Christmas, Easter, New Year's Day, and many more for God's Holy Days. Because of this, man has lost sight of God's wonderful plan of Salvation and man's true destiny! Read this booklet and check it out in your Bible . . .You may be surprised. Remember what the wise writer of Proverbs said, "He that answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame unto him," Proverbs 18:13.
Introduction: In 1957, after learning about God's Sabbath, I read a lengthy booklet called, "Pagan Holidays or God's Holydays." After reading it, I was convinced that God's Holy Days were to be kept as well as the weekly Sabbath. For the first time in my life I realized God had a real purpose for all of mankind . . . I am reproducing a portion of this booklet along with some of my own comments. I hope you will take time to study this article and check it in your Bible. My prayer is that it will give you a better understanding of the destiny that God has for us.
Tom Justus, Minister
Church of God, Sabbath Day
In the 12th chapter of Exodus, while the Children of Israel were still in Egypt – LONG BEFORE ANY OF THE LAWS MOSES HAD BEEN GIVEN – prior to the time when God revealed to Moses and the Israelites that He would make the Old Covenant with them – we find God's annual Holy Days being observed.
And in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus, we find a summary of these annual Holy Days or set feasts. The reason for calling them Holy Days is because as each day is given, it states that this day is a "Holy Convocation," Holy assembly.
Now when God made the Sabbath for MAN, He gave man a rest-day carrying great significance and purpose. To His CHURCH in the wilderness, God said that the Sabbath was a covenant SIGN between Him and His people, Exodus 31:13. A sign is a supernatural proof of identity. It is the sign by which WE KNOW that He is God. How does it prove that to us? "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the SEVENTH DAY He rested" Exodus 20:11. It is a memorial of CREATION.
And creation is the proof of the existence of God. Creation identifies God. The Sabbath is a weekly memorial of creation. A weekly reminder of God's power to create. Therefore it identifies God to us. It keeps us in the true memory and true worship of the true God. No other day but the SEVENTH DAY OF THE WEEK could have that great significance and MEANING. It was designed to keep us in the true worship of God.
The Purpose of the Holy Days
Now, in like manner, when God gave His Church seven ANNUAL Sabbaths, God, in His wisdom, had a great purpose. These days, too, were given to keep God's children in the true memory and worship of God, by keeping us constantly in the understanding of God's great plan of redemption. For these annual days picture the different epochs in the Plan of spiritual creation, and mark the dispensations, and picture their meaning.
The whole story of spiritual regeneration was, in these feast days, to be reenacted year after year continually. They have vitally important symbolism and meaning. These feasts, or Holy Days, or Sabbaths, were commanded to be kept YEAR AFTER YEAR, and FOREVER! We ask the reader to retain an OPEN MIND.
Thus God purposed to impress the truths these "high" Sabbaths picture upon all the minds of His children through ALL time, keeping His Church in the true understanding of HIS PLAN!
This is the beginning of God's plan for mankind. Starting in Exodus 12 and skimming through verses one through fourteen: (1) "And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, (2) This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. (3) Speak you unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb. (5) Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. (6) You shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. (7) And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the side posts and on the upper doorpost of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. (12) For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first born in the land of Egypt, both men and beasts; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am the Lord. (13) And the blood for you will be a token upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. (14) And this day shall be unto you a MEMORIAL; and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; you shall keep it a feast by an ORDINANCE FOREVER."
The slain lamb, without blemish, represented Jesus Christ. As the children of Israel had to come under the blood of this slain lamb, we, too, have to come under the blood of Jesus Christ for salvation. Many places in the Bible mention Christ as a lamb. When John saw Jesus approaching him he said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" John 1:29. Also Peter says in I Peter 1:18, 19, "You were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot."
The night before He was crucified, while eating the Passover Lamb, Christ made a great change in this ceremony. Knowing that He was going to fulfill the real meaning of the Passover, "He took bread and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave it unto them saying, This is My body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of Me. Likewise also the cup after super saying, This cup is the New Testament in My blood, which is shed for you" Luke 22:19, 20. In John 13:4, 5 he writes, "He [Christ] riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded" John 13:13, 14. He continues, "You call Me Master and Lord; and you say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet."
We no longer slay a lamb at this time of the year, but take bread and wine as a memorial to Christ's death. Dear friends, do you see the wonderful meaning? Do you grasp the true significance of it all? Do you see God's purpose? The Passover pictures the DEATH OF CHRIST for the remission of sins that are past. Now let us consider the second part of God's plan for the redemption of mankind.
The Days of Unleavened Bread
Exodus 12:15, 16, "Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread; even the first day you shall put away leaven out of your houses; for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day there shall be an Holy Convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an Holy Convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done by you."
Let us learn the full significance of this. Why did God ordain these Feasts days? What was His great purpose? Turn now to Exodus 13 verse 3, "Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and the seventh day shall be a Feast unto the Eternal. . . This is done because of that which the Eternal did [a memorial] – and it shall be for a SIGN [a miraculous PROOF of identity] unto thee upon thy hand, and for a MEMORIAL between thine eyes" – WHY? – "that the LORD'S LAW MAY BE IN THY MOUTH". . . verse 9, 10. "Thou shall therefore KEEP this ordinance." Do you grasp the true significance of it all? Do you see God's purpose? The PASSOVER pictures the DEATH OF CHRIST for the remission of sins that are past. The accepting of His blood does not forgive sins we shall commit. It does not give us license to continue in sin – therefore when we accept it, our sins are forgiven only up to that time – PAST SINS.
Shall we stop there with only past sins forgiven? We are still flesh beings. We still suffer temptations. Sin has held us in its clutch! We have been slaves to sin, in its power. And we are powerless to deliver ourselves from it. We have been in bondage to sin just like the Israelites were in bondage to Egypt! To what extent shall we put away sin? Not partly but COMPLETELY! And as leaven is also a type of sin – leaven puffs up, and so does sin – and as SEVEN is God's number symbolizing COMPLETENESS, we are to follow the Passover with seven days of Unleavened Bread.
Shall we leave Christ symbolically hanging on the cross? The seven days of UNLEAVENED BREAD following Passover, picture to us the COMPLETE putting away of sin, the KEEPING of the Commandments after our past sins are forgiven. They picture the life and work of the RISEN CHRIST who ascended to the throne of God where He is now actively at work in our behalf as our HIGH PRIEST, cleansing us of sin — delivering us completely from ITS POWER. The early Church kept the Days of Unleavened Bread. Notice Acts 20:6, "We sailed away from Philippi, AFTER THE DAYS OF UNLEAVENED BREAD." Paul and his companions plainly had observed the Days of Unleavened Bread at Philippi. The Holy Spirit would not have inspired these words otherwise. Likewise notice Acts 12:3-4, "Then were the Days of Unleavened Bread." Why this, if those days had in God's sight, ceased to exist? This was after the crucifixion. The Days of Unleavened Bread still existed, or the Holy Spirit could not have inspired "then WERE the Days of Unleavened Bread."
Pentecost or Feast of Firstfruits or Feasts of Weeks
Next in order of God's plan for mankind comes Pentecost. The word "Pentecost" is a Greek word, used in the New Testament, but not in the Old. It signifies "fifty." In the Old Testament this feast is called "Feast of Firstfruits," and "Feast of Weeks." In Leviticus 23:9-10-11, "And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel saying unto them, When you come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you; on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it." (The Israelites were not allowed to harvest any early grain crop until this day.) Verse 15-16, "And you shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath [during the Days of Unleavened Bread] shall you number fifty days." Verse 21, "And you shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an Holy Convocation unto you; you shall do no servile work therein; it shall be a statute in all your dwellings throughout your generations." This is the very feast that Jesus' disciples were observing as recorded in Acts 2:1, "And when the day of Pentecost [Feast of Firstfruits] was fully come, [being observed] they were all with one accord in one place." This is the day God gave His Holy Spirit to the Church. Christ had told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for this power.
In Palestine there are two annual harvests. First produced by the early rain, is the spring grain harvest; second, produced by the "latter rain," comes the main harvest — the MUCH GREATER fall harvest. God intended His Holy Days to picture to His Church repeatedly, year by year, the fact that only those He Himself calls during this age can become His begotten children now. We are merely the firstfruits of the great spiritual harvest. As Passover symbolized Christ's sacrifice for the remission of our sins and the Days of Unleavened Bread, the putting away of sin, PENTECOST pictures the FIRST part of the spiritual harvest – the calling out of the Church – the called-out ones which, for the New Testament dispensation, began in A.D. 31 – on the day the Holy Spirit FIRST came to dwell within flesh, as prophesied in Joel 2:28.
The two wave-loaves were brought out of the habitations of the congregation as the FIRSTFRUITS unto the Lord. So the New Testament CHURCH was gathered out of an apostate, Christ-rejecting congregation (church) of Jews, as the FIRSTFRUITS of His salvation, Leviticus 23:17.
Most Not Now Called
God has not cast away His people, Israel. But He blinded them UNTIL the end of Gentile Times, so that through their fall, salvation came to the Gentiles, who, through Christ, are individually GRAFTED IN, or spiritually ADOPTED into, the family of Israel.
This is the dispensation when God is calling a people for His name (Acts 15:14-17 – study this anew!) to be a Kingdom and PRIESTS, reigning WITH Christ in the Kingdom during the thousand years, Rev. 5:10.
"After this" – after this dispensation of taking out of the Gentiles a people for His name – "I will return," promises the Eternal; What for? "and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof and I [Christ, not men] will set it up," Acts 15:16.
WHY? "That the residue of men might seek after the Lord."
Tabernacle signifies worship. During this present Church age, the Jews and Israel are blinded. Their church "tabernacle" is fallen down. Israel is "in Babylon." After this, Christ will return, and then the rest of men – blinded Israel, and Gentiles alike, will seek after the Lord when Satan is chained, and Christ reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords!
Those of the FIRSTFRUITS of His salvation, made immortal, will then reign with Him, as kings and priests in the wonderful work of building a NEW civilization.
During this time, Israel is mostly blinded UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles come in; and so (Rom. 11:26) all Israel shall, then, be saved from sin; for the DELIVERER, Christ, shall come out of Zion! All Israel shall be brought to repentance and saved from sin – how? Because Christ turns ungodliness from mortal Israel by forgiving sin.
Now, in this dispensation, Israel has not believed, and the tabernacle of David is fallen down, Rom. 11:31-32, that, through the mercy of the Gentiles and the small "Elect" in Israel, picked out in this age, acting as kings and priests with Christ, THEY, ALSO, then, may OBTAIN MERCY!
How WONDERFUL is God's great PLAN of redemption, when we understand it, as we see it pictured in these annual HOLYDAYS!
Only First Harvest Now
In James 1:18, Romans 8:23, for example, the saints of this dispensation are called the FIRSTFRUITS of God's salvation. This dispensation, and the picking out of these people to bear His name began on the DAY OF PENTECOST. This feast annually pictures this great event – this great "MYSTERY" dispensation – in God's redemptive plan!
Notice, too, that these feasts, Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost, fell at the BEGINNING of the year, and the great events they pictured occurred at the BEGINNING of the dispensation!
The group of holydays coming at the END of the year all symbolize tremendous events in God's Plan of redemption to occur, yet future, at the END of the dispensation! They all come in the SEVENTH MONTH – and their fulfillment will introduce the SEVENTH thousand-years since creation!
The churches of BABYLON today teach it is the mission of the Church to SAVE THE WORLD. They teach that all who ever shall be saved are being saved, now, in this present dispensation. They teach that "Probation ENDS" at, or prior to, the second coming of Christ.
If this be true, what a failure is God's plan! Only a very, very FEW have been truly saved in this dispensation. One-third of all living on earth today have never even HEARD the only name whereby we may be saved!
Are they – the majority of all living, eternally LOST because they never HEARD – lost and condemned WITHOUT A CHANCE? The common teaching is that God has cast away His people Israel, and they are eternally doomed and lost. Had they been KEEPING these annual holydays, commanded to be kept FOREVER – all kept faithfully by the New Testament Church as recorded in Acts and in Church history – they would have understood God's wonderful PLAN.
We are not to CONVERT everyone in the world in this age, but to declare the Gospel – what Gospel? – the GOOD NEWS of the KINGDOM – the Good News of the thousand years of restitution of all things when Christ returns to reign in power and great glory!
Let us understand this. During this time, Israel is blinded in part – but only UNTIL the completion of this Gentile dispensation. During this time, only the minority of Gentiles – Chinese, people of India, and Russia – have even HEARD the name of Christ.
The Good News of the coming KINGDOM is to be preached AS A WITNESS. Many have been called during this time, but only few actually chosen, and still fewer have remained faithful to the end.
They – the people picked out for His name – shall be made immortal and shall REIGN DURING the thousand years of the Kingdom upon earth. Then Israel's blindness will be removed. They were BLINDED UNTIL the end of Gentile times. The heavens received Jesus UNTIL these times of restitution of all things, Acts 3:21.
Those now gathered, since that day of PENTECOST are the FIRSTFRUITS, only, of God's Plan of Salvation. This dispensation, then, is picking out ONLY the "firstfruits" of those to be saved. And they are being tried and tested to qualify for positions as kings and priests in the Kingdom, to affect, THEN, the real salvation of the world.
When Christ Returns
THEN it is that God shall set His hand again the SECOND TIME to recover the remnant of HIS PEOPLE – Israel (Isa. 11:11).
THEN it is that "The Lord will come with fire, and . . . by fire and by His sword will the Lord PLEAD with all flesh . . . And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape [these plagues] of them unto the nations [Gentiles] . . . that have NOT HEARD My name, neither have seen My glory; and they SHALL DECLARE MY GLORY AMONG THE GENTILES," Isa. 66:15, 16, 19.
Then it is that "living waters shall go out from Jerusalem," and the Gentile nations that have not HEARD previously "shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to KEEP THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES!" Zechariah 14:8, 16.
Then it is that many nations "shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain [nation] of the Lord . . . and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for THE LAW SHALL GO FORTH OF ZION, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares . . . neither shall they learn war any more . . . In that day, SAITH THE LORD . . . THE LORD SHALL REIGN OVER THEM in Mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever," Micah 4:2-7. (Does "forever" MEAN forever?) This does NOT apply to God's Church NOW – but to the glorious time of the KINGDOM, after Christ returns. What a wonderful PLAN of REDEMPTION!
Adam sinned. All have sinned. From Adam to now we behold a chronicle of man without God – of human suffering and failure.
And thus God, in His great wisdom, has permitted men to PROVE to themselves what sinners they are! – how HELPLESS they are, of themselves!
And finally, we shall have to learn the lesson that it is only when GOD HIMSELF undertakes to save men – by sending JESUS to rule with a rod of iron, that the world can really be saved! And so, those now being saved are a FIRSTFRUITS of salvation, and will have the very great honor of being Christ's assistants in that wonderful Kingdom work of redemption!
THAT is God's true Plan of Redemption, as taught from Genesis to Revelation! And how contrary to the popular teaching! But it is the Plan, nevertheless, pictured in God's annual HOLY DAYS. And had the churches continued to KEEP these Holy Days, they would never have lost sight of this PLAN, and come under the deception of false religionists!
Pentecost Observed By New Testament Church Of God
Just as we found the True CHURCH OF GOD continuing to observe the Days of Unleavened Bread and the Passover, so they continued to observe Pentecost. Read it: I Cor. 16:8, Acts 20:16.
Had they NOT been assembled in a HOLY CONVOCATION on the first Pentecost AFTER everything that was abolished had been DONE AWAY, we never could have read in our Bibles the sublime record of the second chapter of Acts!
Now a "HOLY CONVOCATION" means a holy ASSEMBLY of the CHURCH, convoked under absolute AUTHORITY. Look up the word "convocation" in the dictionary. It is an assembly where everyone is COMMANDED, under AUTHORITY, to be present. The Sabbath is a weekly holy CONVOCATION. We are commanded, therefore, to assemble ourselves together. Each of these annual days is an holy CONVOCATION. The early Church obeyed. Do we?
Feast of Trumpets
"And the LORD SPAKE . . . saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a SABBATH, a memorial [not a shadow] of blowing of trumpets, an HOLY CONVOCATION. Ye shall do no servile work therein," Lev. 23:23-25.
Here is pictured to us that NEXT blessed event in God's redemptive Plan, when Christ shall COME again, in clouds, with a SHOUT, with the voice of the archangel, and with the TRUMP OF GOD, I Thes. 4:14-17. It shall be "at the LAST TRUMP: for the TRUMPET SHALL SOUND, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed," I Cor. 15:52.
Unless Christ returns to RESURRECT the dead we would never gain eternal life – if there is no resurrection "then also those fallen asleep in Christ have perished," I Cor. 15:18.
Christ directly intervenes in world affairs at the seventh or the last trump, Rev. 11:15-19. A trumpet is a symbol of war. He comes in a time of worldwide war – when the nations are angry! As soon as the work of gathering in the FIRSTFRUITS (pictured by PENTECOST) is completed at the end of this present age, then Christ will begin to set up again the tabernacle of David, Acts 15:16 – to set His hand again the SECOND TIME to recover the remnant of His people (Isa. 11:11) – to search out and to FIND His lost sheep that the ministers of the CHURCHES have FAILED to search out and seek and find and save during this period, Ezek. 34:1-14.
Notice exactly WHEN this takes place! "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great TRUMPET shall be blown, and they [Israel] shall come which were ready to perish . . . and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem," Isa. 27:13.
When will Israel be regathered? At the sound of the TRUMP – at the second coming of Christ. Because the churches have forgotten the festival of Trumpets, many think that the return of Jews to Palestine now is the fulfillment of this prophecy!
Christ's direct intervention in world affairs will be the next great event in the Plan of Redemption.
And perhaps the glorious second coming shall occur, in whatever year it may be, on THIS VERY DAY of the Feast of Trumpets! – who knows? While we cannot say, yet cannot we see this possibility? The crucifixion was upon the Passover Day – the very DAY! The Holy Spirit came, beginning the selecting of the FIRSTFRUITS of salvation, on the VERY DAY of Pentecost. Had not those 120 disciples been OBSERVING this annual Sabbath – had they not been ASSEMBLED there in holy convocation – could they have received that blessing of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit? Repeatedly Jesus warned us to WATCH regarding His second coming. Could it be possible that, unless WE are observing the Feast of Trumpets, as the first century Church of God was observing Pentecost, that we shall NOT be ready, or caught up to meet Him? We do not – we cannot, of course, say – but we do ask the question. Is it not possible? Let us humbly and willingly yield to walk obediently in ALL THE LIGHT.
The festival of Trumpets is a day of REJOICING – and, as the weekly Sabbath, HOLY UNTO THE LORD, Neh. 8:2, 9-12. The Levites were to blow the trumpets, Num. 10:8, but we do not do so today as this was only a temporary duty of the Levitical priesthood.
Day of Atonement, Or The Fast
Next, let us read Leviticus 23:26-32 – "And the LORD spake . . . saying . . . also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a DAY OF ATONEMENT: it shall be an HOLY CONVOCATION unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls [fast] . . . . Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute FOR EVER throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be a SABBATH of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, FROM EVEN UNTO EVEN, shall ye celebrate YOUR SABBATH." Wonderful mystery! At-one-ment with God! Man at last made ONE with his Maker!
Again, in the 16th chapter of Leviticus, verses 29 and 31, where the symbolism of the Day of Atonement is explained, we find it instituted a holy Sabbath to be kept FOREVER! "And this shall be a statute FOREVER unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country or a stranger that sojourneth among you . . . . It shall be a Sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute FOREVER."
Notice, too, in Lev. 23:32, the expression "from even unto even shall ye celebrate your Sabbath." Every Sabbath-keeper quotes this passage to show that the Sabbath begins at sunset. If we believe that, then why not KEEP the Sabbath that this very text is speaking of – the ANNUAL high Sabbath of the Day of Atonement, instituted FOREVER? Are we consistent, when we continually quote this text to show when to begin the Sabbath, and then refuse to keep the very Sabbath to which it refers?
Meaning Pictured By Day of Atonement
The Day of Atonement pictures a wonderful and great event, to take place AFTER the second coming of Christ, which the world has entirely lost sight of because it has failed to see the true significance of these annual Sabbaths HOLY UNTO THE LORD. It has failed to KEEP them as a constant reminder of God's PLAN of Redemption!
The symbolism is all expressed in the account of the events of the Day of Atonement, in the 16th chapter of Leviticus, as carried out before the crucifixion.
Verse 5 – "And he [Aaron, or the High Priest] shall take of the Congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering."
Verse 6 – The high priest offered a sin offering for HIMSELF and his house.
Verses 7 and 8 – "And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; the one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat [margin, Hebrew, AZAZEL]."
Now because this has not been understood – because there are many different views and opinions and ideas and explanations of this, we here pause sufficiently to go into this in some detail. Let us, therefore, regardless of our own former convictions, study with OPEN MINDS, without prejudice, PROVING ALL THINGS. We want TRUTH!
The key to the whole explanation lies in a correct understanding of the meaning of AZAZEL. This word does not occur elsewhere in the Old Testament. The Comprehensive Commentary has: "Spencer, after the oldest opinions of the Hebrews and Christians, thinks Azazel is the name of the Devil, and so Rosen, . . . The word scapegoat signifies the goat which went away." The One Volume Commentary says: "The word 'scapegoat' in the A.V., is not a translation." It is merely an interpretation of the supposed meaning by the translators.
True, the English word "scapegoat" signifies "one who bears blame or guilt FOR OTHERS." But "scapegoat" is an English word, and is NOT a translation of the Hebrew word AZAZEL. The word "scapegoat," and the meaning attached to this English word, is NOT a translation of the Hebrew word AZAZEL, and therefore it is NOT the word inspired originally. Continues the One Volume Commentary: "Azazel is understood to be the name of one of those malignant demons."
Types Of Christ And Satan
These two goats were, of course, TYPES. Notice, it was necessary to be decided by LOT, which one was qualified to represent Christ, and which Azazel. Some say BOTH were qualified. The Scripture does not say this. Let us not assume it. Now A LOT is a solemn appeal to God to decide a doubtful matter. It is a sacred religious ceremony. It includes a SUPERNATURAL ACT of God.
Notice, men were unable to decide which goat was qualified to represent Christ. This involved an APPEAL TO GOD TO DECIDE! "ONE lot for the Eternal, and the other lot for AZAZEL." Now one lot was for the Lord – this goat typified Christ – but the other lot was NOT for the Lord, did NOT typify Christ, but AZAZEL – Satan! These words most naturally suggest that Azazel is the name of a PERSON, here CONTRASTED to the Eternal! Notice the CONTRAST – one for the Lord, the other for Azazel.
Now the goat which God selected, through lot, to represent Christ, was SLAIN – as Christ, its antitype was slain. But the other goat selected by God to represent Azazel was NOT slain, but was driven, ALIVE, into an uninhabited wilderness. It was NOT a resurrected goat, symbolizing the resurrected Christ, for it never died. The uninhabited wilderness, to which this goat was driven, CANNOT, as we shall show, represent HEAVEN, where Christ went. Heaven is neither uninhabited, nor a wilderness.
After God designated which goat represented Christ, and which Azazel, the High Priest (verse 11) killed the bullock for a sin offering for himself, then took the burning coals of fire and the sweet incense into the Holy of Holies, also sprinkling the blood of the bullock before the MERCY SEAT, typical of the throne of God, covering the tables of testimony (the law). This the High Priest was required to do in order to PURIFY HIMSELF to officiate, and to represent CHRIST as High Priest. In the antitype, this was not done, for Christ, our HIGH PRIEST, had no need of this purification as the typical substitutionary priests did.
Now the Levitical high priest is ready to go out and officiate.
Next, the goat which God selected by lot to represent CHRIST, as the SIN OFFERING OF THE PEOPLE, was killed. Thus the SINS OF THE PEOPLE were BORNE by this goat, even as Christ, finally, once for all bore our sins on the cross. But Christ ROSE again from the dead, and ascended to the throne of God IN HEAVEN.
Now, WHO, or WHAT, from this point on in the Levitical ceremony, typified the RESURRECTED CHRIST, who went to heaven? Some say the goat representing Azazel. Let us see.
The RISEN Christ, now at the right hand of the throne of God in Heaven (I Pet. 3:22), is called – what? OUR HIGH PRIEST! What was the earthly TYPE OF GOD'S THRONE? The uninhabited wilderness? That is where the LIVE goat went! No!
The earthly type of God's throne was the MERCY SEAT in the HOLY OF HOLIES. After Christ died, He went to the heavenly mercy seat interceding for US, as our HIGH PRIEST. ". . . entering into what is within the veil; WHITHER the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec," Heb. 6:19-20.
Now, again, WHO, or WHAT, in the Levitical ceremony of the DAY OF ATONEMENT, typified the RISEN Christ, our HIGH PRIEST; who went WITHIN THE VEIL to God's throne in heaven? The one goat had been SLAIN. It represented the SLAIN Christ. It can no longer represent the RISEN Christ. The SLAIN Christ was NOT our High Priest as the Levitical priesthood, with its high priest, did not END until Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven as a High Priest AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDEC. But the RISEN Christ was HIGH PRIEST. Now WHO took this part in the Levitical ceremonies, temporarily reenacted year by year, on this eternal Holy Day? Why, so obvious a child could see, it was the Levitical HIGH PRIEST, not the goat representing Azazel!
The High Priest – Type of Christ
As soon as the slain goat was dead, who went within the veil, presenting the blood of this goat before the typical throne of God?
Lev. 16:15 – "Then shall he [the high priest] kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and [NOW the high priest himself typifying the work of the RISEN Christ] bring his blood within the veil . . . and sprinkle it upon the MERCY SEAT: and (v. 16) he shall make an atonement for the holy place."
And so it was the High Priest taking the blood within the veil, to the mercy seat, that typified the risen Christ figuratively taking HIS blood, once for all, within the veil to the very throne of God in heaven, there to intercede for us as High Priest. Surely this is so plain a child can see.
The slain goat represented the crucified Jesus. The High Priest, by taking the blood of this slain goat into the veil to the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies, a type of God's throne, represented and did the work of the RISEN CHRIST, who ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on High, there interceding as our High Priest. Can we honestly continue to teach that the goat representing AZAZEL represented the work of the RISEN CHRIST? Did this live goat take the blood of Christ WITHIN THE VEIL, to the mercy seat?
The High Priest going within the veil, into the Holy of Holies, symbolized Christ's return to heaven. The work he did while IN the Holy of Holies symbolized Christ's work these 2000 years interceding for us, presenting His shed blood before the MERCY SEAT in heaven. Now, returning, symbolizing Christ's return to earth, what did he do?
"And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him ALL THE INIQUITIES of the children of Israel, and ALL their transgressions in ALL their sins, PUTTING THEM UPON THE HEAD OF THE GOAT, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: and the goat shall bear upon him [Fenton: shall carry upon itself] all their iniquities unto a LAND NOT INHABITED: and he shall let go the goat IN THE WILDERNESS. And Aaron shall . . . wash his flesh with water . . . and he that let go the goat for the scapegoat [Azazel] shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and AFTERWARD come into the camp," Lev. 16:20-26.
The Azazel Goat Not Our Sin-Bearer
Let us get this STRAIGHT!
Is there JUSTICE with God? Is not God a God of JUSTICE, as well as of compassion and mercy? Who is the real AUTHOR of our sins? The Devil is the AUTHOR of them, even as Christ is the author of our salvation. Jesus took our guilt – our blame – our sins – upon Himself as an INNOCENT SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE. He was an INNOCENT VICTIM. He loved us, and was willing to die for us. OUR guilt – OUR sins, were borne by HIM, and HIM ALONE – and God forgives them when we repent and ACCEPT His Sacrifice. And yet – is this, if we stop there, FULL JUSTICE?
The real CAUSE – the actual AUTHOR of those sins was Satan the Devil. Is it justice for CHRIST to bear guilt that is not His, while the Devil goes off scot-free? Do you not suppose GOD'S GREAT PLAN will finally work full justice by placing that original blame and guilt right where it belongs?
Now mark carefully this distinction. Christ bore OUR guilt. For we have been guilty, even though the Devil was the original CAUSE of it all. But justice certainly demands that God place right back on the head of the Devil HIS GUILT – not OUR guilt, but HIS OWN GUILT – for leading us into sin. We were guilty, too – and OUR guilt Christ bore – yet ALL OUR SINS belong right back on the Devil as HIS OWN GUILT!
Now notice another point. The Azazel goat CARRIES AWAY the sins of all the people ALREADY FORGIVEN. These sins already were fully paid for by Christ's SUBSTITUTE sacrifice, symbolized by the killing of the innocent goat, BEFORE those SAME SINS, which had been previously paid for by the death of the slain goat, were finally laid on the LIVE goat.
The Devil is the real AUTHOR of all sin. Can we, then, be finally made AT ONE with God, as long as this instigator of sin is with us? Can we not see he must first be DRIVEN AWAY? And there would not be justice with God unless HIS OWN GUILT in our sins were placed right back on HIS head? Is it justice for Christ to bear the DEVIL'S GUILT, as well as our own guilt, for our sins? Christ has CARRIED OUR SINS, but must He CONTINUE to carry them? Should they not be REMOVED entirely from us, and from the presence even of God?
Thus the killing and sprinkling of the blood of the first goat visibly set forth the MEANS of reconciliation with God, through the substituted sacrifice of an innocent victim. So the final sending away of the second goat, laden with those sins, the expiation of which had been signified by the first goat, no less vividly sets forth the effect of that sacrifice, IN COMPLETE REMOVAL OF THOSE EXPIATED SINS FROM THE PRESENCE OF GOD!
Webster says to ATONE means to SET AT ONE, TO JOIN in ONE – to FORM by UNITING. We shall not be completely joined IN ONE, and UNITED with God, until this is done.
In the 19th chapter of Revelation, we have the prophecy of the second coming of Christ. At the beginning of the 20th chapter, what is to happen?
Exactly what this 16th chapter of Leviticus shows. The Devil is sent away – the symbol here used is the "bottomless pit" symbol of an uninhabited desolate wilderness (Rev. 18:2) – and he is sent there by a FIT man – an ANGEL from heaven. Now the devil is not killed. He does not die. He is still alive a thousand years later – after the millennium, Rev. 20:7.
Now a few points that will come to mind. Both goats were "presented before the Lord." Can Satan be presented before the Lord? Job 1:6 and 2:1 says he has presented himself before the Lord. Note, too, Azazel was driven away from the Holy of Holies, a symbol of God's presence.
And so the annual DAY OF ATONEMENT was instituted FOREVER to keep continually before God's children and His CHURCH the PLAN OF REDEMPTION, to occur after the second coming of Christ.
Feast of Tabernacles
Now we come to the festival of Tabernacles – or Feast of Booths – the sixth festival. Let us notice the instruction concerning this occasion:
"Thou shalt keep the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou has gathered in from thy threshing and from thy winepress. And thou shalt REJOICE in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter . . . SEVEN DAYS SHALT THOU KEEP A FEAST UNTO THE LORD THY GOD IN THE PLACE WHICH THE ETERNAL SHALL CHOOSE; because the Eternal thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in the work of thy hands, and thou shalt be altogether joyful . . . and they shall not appear before the Eternal empty; every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Eternal thy God which He hath given thee," Deut. 16:13-17.
Here is the festival of Tabernacles, to be kept for seven days, beginning the 15th day of the seventh month of God's Sacred Calendar. Notice Leviticus 23:33-35: "And the Eternal spoke to Moses saying: Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Eternal. On the first day shall be a holy convocation; ye shall do NO MANNER OF SERVILE WORK."
On the FIRST of these days is a HOLY CONVOCATION – a commanded assembly. No work is to be done. ". . . and ye shall REJOICE before the Eternal your God seven days . . . It shall be a statute FOREVER in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month," Lev. 23:40-41.
Notice that it is commanded FOREVER.
Here are pictured those FINAL culminating events in God's great PLAN: AFTER Christ has died for our sins to redeem mankind – AFTER He has sent us the Holy Spirit and picked out a people for His Name to become kings and priests through the thousand years – AFTER His glorious second coming – AFTER He has finally restored the redeemed by placing all the sins upon the head of Satan, their real author, and separating both him and the sins from the presence of God and His people, thus finally perfecting the AT-ONE-MENT, making us finally joined in one – then we are ready for that final series of events, the commencement of the "MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB," the final actual MAKING of the NEW COVENANT, the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth and the reaping of the great harvest of souls for a thousand years.
This festival is the picture of the MILLENNIUM!
Pictures the Millennium
To portray His PLAN, God took the yearly material harvest seasons in Palestine as the picture of the spiritual harvest of souls. In Palestine there are two annual harvests. The first, produced by the early rain, is the spring grain harvest. Second, produced by the "latter rain," comes the main harvest – the much greater fall harvest.
Now notice when the festival of tabernacles is to be held: "at the year's end," Ex. 34:22. In this verse the festival of tabernacles or booths is specifically called the "feast of ingathering." The harvest year ended at the beginning of autumn. Just as Pentecost pictures the early harvest – this church age, so the festival of ingathering or tabernacles pictures the fall harvest – the great harvest of souls in the millennium!
Today is not the ONLY day of salvation. Today is a day of salvation. Isaiah said so: chapter 49, verse 8. In fact, the original Greek words of Paul in II Cor. 6:2 should be translated "a day of salvation," not "the day of salvation."
Turn for a few minutes to the book of Zechariah to understand this more thoroughly. In the 12th and 13th chapters we have a picture of Christ returning, and the reconciliation of the world commencing. Here the meaning of the festivals of trumpets and atonement is made plain.
Next, notice the 14th chapter. The time is the millennium. "The Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one . . . there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited," verses 9-11. It is the time when "living waters" – salvation, the Holy Spirit – "shall go out from Jerusalem," verse 8. The "waters" are literal as well as figurative. God often pictures His spiritual PLAN by material events.
In that day, when the earth is safely inhabited, when the Holy Spirit is granted to all mortal flesh, what happens? "And it shall come to pass that everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, AND TO KEEP THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES," verse 16.
Gentiles Forced To Keep the Feast of Tabernacles
Notice this 16th verse of Zechariah 14. After Christ returns, the nations – mortal Gentiles who have not yet received salvation – will come to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles! How could they keep a festival that was abolished at the cross? They could keep it only if it was commanded FOREVER.
And what will happen if they refuse to obey God? "And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them SHALL BE NO RAIN," verse 17. Strong words these!
The nations will be FORCED to keep the FEAST OF TABERNACLES, from year to year, when Christ is ruling with a rod of iron!
And if the nations still won't obey? "THERE SHALL BE THE PLAGUE, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen" – there are still heathen nations just beginning to learn the way of salvation – "that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles," verses 18-19.
To receive salvation, even the Gentiles will have to keep this festival. Of course, it is commanded FOREVER!
Now we customarily quote Isaiah 66:23, showing that the Sabbath will be kept in the millennium, as PROOF we must keep it now. Will we, then, when we read Zech. 14:16, showing that the Feast of Tabernacles will be kept in the millennium, be consistent by keeping it today?
Can WE qualify as a Son of God – a king and priest – ruling with Christ on His throne, assisting Christ at that time, if we NOW refuse to keep these festivals? Notice that Christ kept the Feast of Tabernacles. The apostle John devoted an entire chapter of his gospel – the seventh chapter – to describe what Jesus said and did during the Feast of Tabernacles in the last year of His ministry.
Why Called the Feast of Tabernacles
During the millennium, the Kingdom of God into which we may be born will rule the nations which are composed of mortal men begotten by the Spirit of God. The billions of mortals alive during the millennium will still be heirs to the Kingdom of God. They will not yet have inherited it as long as they remain mortal flesh, for "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God," I Cor. 15:50. "Ye must be born again" – "of the Spirit" – to inherit the Kingdom, said Jesus in John 3.
Remember that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were merely heirs when they dwelled on earth, Heb. 11:9. While heirs they dwelled in tabernacles or booths, sojourning in the land of promise. Booths or temporary dwellings pictured that they were not yet inheritors. Thus we read of the Feast of Tabernacles that "Ye shall dwell in booths seven days . . . that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt," Lev. 23:42-43. Israel dwelled in booths in the wilderness BEFORE they entered the promised land. Those booths pictured that they were only heirs. Even during the millennium, when the Kingdom of God is ruling over mortal nations, the people will be only heirs to the Kingdom. They must overcome their carnal nature and grow in knowledge and wisdom to inherit the promises.
Yet Another Festival! The Last Great Day
Did you notice that the Feast of Tabernacles is only the sixth festival? There is yet another – the seventh!
The Feast of Tabernacles is, strictly speaking, seven days long – to picture the entire millennium. Seven is God's number of completeness. Therefore, there must also be seven festivals. Let us notice where it is mentioned: "On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord . . . On the EIGHTH day shall be an holy convocation unto you . . . it is a day of solemn assembly; ye shall do no manner of servile work," Lev. 23:34, 36.
This eighth day, technically a separate feast, is called "the last day, that GREAT DAY of the feast," John 7:37.
What does this final Holy Day represent?
Notice what Jesus preached about on that day. "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink . . . out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive . . .)," John 7:37-39.
This was Jesus' sermon giving the meaning of the LAST GREAT DAY!
Now turn to Revelation 20. AFTER the millennium, what happens? A RESURRECTION! The DEAD stand before God. This couldn't include true Christians today, as they will appear before the judgment seat when Christ returns. It couldn't refer to those converted during the millennium. They have already inherited the Kingdom during the millennium, after living out a normal life span. Those in this resurrection must be those who died in ignorance in PAST AGES! They are not brought to life until AFTER the millennium, Rev. 20:5.
Pictures the Day of Judgment
This is that judgment day mentioned in Matt. 10:15. It is a time when Gentiles who died in ignorance will be given an opportunity to receive salvation. Ezekiel 16:53-55 makes this very plain. Even those in Israel who died in their sins will be given their FIRST opportunity to understand the Truth of God and His Way, Ezek. 37. The prophet wrote that God would pour out His Spirit on those resurrected, verse 14. This is precisely the salvation that Jesus mentioned in His sermon on that GREAT DAY OF THE FEAST in the autumn of A.D. 30.
This eighth day, which immediately follows the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles, pictures the completion of the PLAN OF REDEMPTION. That final day of salvation, Isaiah tells us there will be a period where all people will live to be 100 years old, Isa. 65:20. It is just prior to the new heaven and the new earth, Verse 17. There won't be little children born then. All – parents and children young and old – will be resurrected. "They are the seed blessed of the Lord, AND THEIR OFFSPRING WITH THEM," Verse 23.
Notice that the "book of life" – typifying salvation – is opened, Rev. 20:12. Revelation presents the final view of the "judgment day" – the CONCLUSION of the time when all will live to be 100 – as the present material heaven and earth are perishing – and the faithful are receiving their eternal reward at the throne of Christ. The wicked – those who DISOBEY – are seen perishing in the Lake of Fire!
What a marvelous PLAN! All will have an equal opportunity.
And, finally, notice, in Lev. 23:37-38: After describing these annual Holy Days, it says: "These are the feasts of THE LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be HOLY CONVOCATIONS . . . . BESIDES THE SABBATHS OF THE LORD." We are, then, to keep these BESIDE the Sabbath of the Lord.
SUNday is the weekly rest day of this modern churchianity, but the Sabbath is the day of the LORD.
Christmas, New Year's, Easter, and a host of others are the holidays that have come directly from Babylon, but these seven annual Holy Days are the HOLY DAYS OF THE LORD! Let us forsake the Babylonish holidays of this world, and observe the true Holy Days OF THE LORD!