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Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.
The feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled when the sons of God (as a body) are united with their Head at the coming of Christ. When the body of overcomers is complete, then the Head comes to the body to create an eligible priest to the nations on earth.
While many individuals throughout the centuries have come into union with Christ, it is only at the end of the age that the greater body itself is complete. Then the resurrection will occur first at the feast of Trumpets, so the dead overcomers can be part of this body on earth. Two weeks later, on the first day of Tabernacles, the living overcomers will be “changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52). The two sets of overcomers will then be able to be a single, perfected body on earth, lacking only the Head to be complete.
I believe that according to the pattern in John 7:14, Jesus will come in the midst of the feast of Tabernacles. The completed body (the sons of God) will then be caught away and presented to the Father on the eighth day, according to the law in Exodus 22:29, 30. In this case, it will be the eighth day of the feast of Tabernacles.
Once they have been presented to God according to the law, the sons of God will then be “manifested” to the world. Because each of them will be “priests of God and of Christ” (Revelation 20:6), together they will be the New Creation Priest that represents God to the world and the world to God. The prophetic pattern in this case is found in Leviticus 8:35, where the priests were consecrated for seven days for priesthood, and then presented to the people on the eighth day (Leviticus 9:1).
For this reason, I believe that the sons of God will be presented to God on the eighth day and then presented to the people on the same day. Of course, since time is not relevant in heaven, they could remain in heaven for as long as necessary and still be presented to the earth on the same day. In fact, from an earthly perspective, it may seem as if these sons of God had never left the earth or only momentarily, for they could return at the same moment in time that they left.
Unity as a Husband and Wife
This marriage of the Head and Body brings about the full New Creation Man, which then rules over the rest of the creation as a Husband would rule over a wife. Hence, from that standpoint, the Bride of Christ is also a “Husband” to the world. These spiritual truths are depicted in terms of earthly marriage relationships, but spiritual relationships are not sexual, nor do these relationship beget children in the same manner.
Most people have difficulty thinking in more than one dimension, but that is how Scripture requires us to think. Just think of this as a person who wears more than one “hat.” A man can be a father, a son, a brother, and a husband all at the same time. When we add the spiritual dimension, where, as Paul says, “there is neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28), we may play both roles, which cannot be applied on a physical plane in the same way.
The purpose of the feast of Tabernacles is to unite heaven and earth in a great marriage. Here is where it is vital to understand the Hebrew (scriptural) view, rather than the Greek view that has crept into Christianity over the years. Recall that the Greek view started with the Demiurge (devil) creating all physical things, which caused them to believe that matter was inherently evil. They believed that spirit was good and matter was evil.
For this reason, they believed that history would end with a full separation of good and evil, that is, spirit would be separated from matter. Men’s “spiritual souls” would leave the physical body and go to heaven, where they would exist in a spiritual form. The divine plan, they believed, was not a marriage of heaven and earth, but a great divorce.
The Hebrew revelation was that God created physical matter and pronounced it “good” at each stage and “very good” at the end (Genesis 1:31). He then created marriage and said in Genesis 2:24,
24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
This verse also established the manner in which this union was to take place. In most earthly marriages, it is the bride who leaves her house and goes to live with her husband, where she shares in His family inheritance. But in this first marriage command (or prophecy), it was the husband who was to leave his father and mother and come to his wife in order to “become one flesh.”
This is the first major prophecy of the coming of Christ out of heaven to the earth to claim His bride. This is the foundational prophecy of “God with us.” It is the fact that “God was in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:19) coming to earth in order for heaven and earth to be unified in a New Covenant marriage. This was the opposite of Greek religious philosophy from beginning to end.
The feast of Tabernacles, then, is not the time of separation, but of unification. However, at the time of the first resurrection, only a few will be qualified to unify heaven and earth within themselves. For this reason, the sons of God are a separate body of people, and Scripture makes this clear. Nonetheless, their purpose is minister to the rest of the world, so that the blessings of God may be dispensed to all the families of the earth according to the Abrahamic promise.
One of the great keys to understanding the nature and role of the sons of God—that is, the priests of God and of Christ—is to learn of the two garments that they wear while ministering. They were to minister in regular (wool) clothing in the outer court, but in fine linen garments when they ministered to God in the Sanctuary. This is seen in Ezekiel 44:17, 18, 19, speaking of “the sons of Zadok,” who were prophetic types of the Melchizedek Order.
17 And it shall be that when they enter at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and wool shall not be on them while they are ministering in the gates of the inner court and in the house. 18 ... they shall not gird themselves with anything which makes them sweat. 19 And when they go out into the outer court, into the outer court to the people, they shall put off their garments in which they have been ministering and lay them in the holy chambers; then they shall put on other garments, that they may not transmit holiness to the people with their garments.
While this prophecy was spoken in Old Covenant terms, it was actually prophetic of a new order of priests—the Melchizedek Order, of which Jesus is the High Priest. Even as Zadok replaced the line of Phinehas in the days of Solomon, so also has Melchizedek (Melchi-Zadok) replaced the entire Levitical order. Ezekiel’s prophecy referred to the change of priesthood in terms of Phinehas to Zadok, but this must be understood in the greater light of New Testament truth.
The two priestly garments were of wool and linen. The linen garments were stored in “the holy chambers” alongside the temple, used as dressing rooms. When ministering in the house itself, they put on linen garments. But when ministering to the people in the outer court, they dressed in woolen garments.
These two garments reveal two kinds of body: physical and spiritual, earthly and heavenly. In the big picture, where (as Revelation 15:6 says) there is a temple in heaven, no one dressed in wool (a physical body) may enter that heavenly temple. Only those dressed in linen minister there. But when those priests return to the earth, the “outer court,” to minister to the people, they must put on woolen garments—that is, physical bodies—to do their ministry.
The divine purpose is to create a generation of New Creation priests who have access to the linen garments, but who may also minister in woolen garments to the people on earth. Such priests must follow the divine rules for each garment, but once they become manifested sons of God, they have access to both realms—heaven and earth.
This was uniquely a Hebrew revelation that stood in direct contrast to the common Greek view. It is unfortunate that the Greek view has crept into Christian religious thought, for it has created inherent contradictions that have confused the people.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to His disciples occasionally for the next 40 days (Acts 1:3). He always appeared to them in “woolen” garments. That is, He appeared to them in physical form as the law commanded. When the disciples were fellowshipping in a locked room, He suddenly appeared in their midst. They thought He was a spirit or ghost (Luke 24:37) and were frightened. But Jesus told them, “touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39).
He then asked for something to eat in order to prove that He was physical. This was done also for our benefit, so that we might know that He appeared to His disciples in a lawful manner, having put on woolen garments while ministering to them. When He was finished, he changed clothing and disappeared, returning to His Father in the temple in heaven.
The Feast of Tabernacles
Tabernacles was celebrated by dwelling in a booth made of living branches for a week. This signified being clothed with immortality in the spiritual garments awaiting us. Paul commented on this in 2 Corinthians 5:1-4, where he spoke of our two garments, one earthly, the other heavenly. In Old Testament terms, these are the woolen and linen garments of the priests.
Paul says that we currently dwell in a mortal body, pictured both as a “house” or tabernacle, and as a garment. He says that our spiritual garment is being stored in heaven, much like the priests’ linen garments were stored in rooms beside the temple.
Moreover, Paul says that God has given us the Holy Spirit “as a pledge” (2 Corinthians 5:5), or as collateral, as if God were indebted to us. Yet the point is that a tabernacle is a house, and the feast of Tabernacles portrays a new house in terms of the spiritual garments that belong to us even while they remain in the heavenly dressing room. This is Paul’s commentary on the feast of Tabernacles, showing the prophetic meaning of Old Covenant observance of that feast.
The goal of creation is for the physical creation to manifest the glory of God. For this purpose it was created, and God will achieve His goal in the end. Sin is a temporary intrusion, not an inherent condition in matter. The higher positions are given to mankind, and of these, Jesus is given the greatest authority, the overcomers next, the other believers next, and finally the rest of mankind.
In the end God is creating spiritual matter, that is, physical creation that carries the glory of God. What will this look like? Our only real example in Scripture is what Jesus’ body looked like after His resurrection. It was real, and it was physical, but no one actually recognized Him until He said something or did something. He was the same, yet different.
Paul discussed this question when answering a critic in 1 Corinthians 15:35,
35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?”
Paul’s answer is first that a body has to die in order to be raised, and he compares it to a seed that must be sown into the ground in order to bring forth life. As for the kind of body that comes in the resurrection, he says only that there will be various types of flesh and various levels of glory. Beyond that, he says little. All we know for sure is that the “natural body” [literally, a soulish body] that is sown into the earth is raised a “spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:44).
It is spiritual, but it is also a body. Jesus’ post-resurrection body proves this, and His body is the pattern for all who are yet to be raised. Paul says also in 1 Corinthians 15:50,
50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
The soul is in the blood, and Paul says that “flesh and blood cannot inherit.” Flesh and blood is from the original Adam, who was made a living soul (1 Corinthians 15:45). He lost his inheritance, but the Last Adam has regained it as “a life-giving spirit.” So also is it with us. Our Adamic man cannot inherit the earth. The inheritors are those who are begotten by the Holy Spirit, even as Jesus was begotten.
The result, as Jesus said, was that He manifested Himself to His disciples as “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39), not as “flesh and blood.” His blood was shed for us, leaving only flesh and bones.
Beyond this, we can only speculate, but we know that whatever form of spiritual flesh we will take when ministering in the outer court, it will be appropriate for us. The important truth to know in this matter is that the purpose of God is to unite heaven and earth in a great marriage, so that the good purpose of creation may be fulfilled.
Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.