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The seven bowls set forth a major prophecy in Scripture, because the feast of Tabernacles is the apex of the prophetic feast days each year. All of the earlier feasts can be viewed as the foundation stones of Tabernacles, and the seven days of Tabernacles give us the final run toward the great climax on the eighth day.
Tabernacles and Its Prophetic Ceremonies
Under Moses, Tabernacles signified the Israelites dwelling in booths, or tents—movable dwellings—that signified a time when they were still searching for a resting place that was permanent (Leviticus 23:42, 43). It linked the seven days to the wilderness, implying that the eighth day of the feast signified a change from tent to house. In other words, the eighth day represented the time when they would rest in their inheritance.
Prophetically speaking, the church under Pentecost was in its own wilderness for 40 Jubilee cycles (33-1993 A.D.). The present Jubilee cycle represents the eighth day in relation to the second coming of Christ in His capacity as Joseph, the Birthright holder.
When the priests marched in procession around the altar seven times on each of the days of Tabernacles, it signified their work during their wilderness cycle. As with the Jericho march, the marching appeared to be an exercise in futility, because nothing seemed to happen until the time was completed. It showed that individuals could not expect to fulfill the feast ahead of time. Individual saints, if they endured to the end (as the book of Hebrews says), can come to the brink of the Jordan River, but they cannot cross over until the overcomers of all past generations have been gathered together as one.
The Apostle Paul understood this, for when he was reaching the end of his life, he knew that he had endured to the end. He had reached the end of His wilderness journey. He stood on the brink of the Jordan. 2 Timothy 4:6-8 says,
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. 8 In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Paul had endurance, whereas most Israelites and Christians lack endurance. Hebrews 10:36-39 admonishes all of us,
36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37 For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. 38 But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith in the preserving of the soul.
Those who “shrink back” will not lose their salvation (as Calvin believed), but they will certainly miss the first resurrection at the second coming of Christ. To be an overcomer requires endurance to the end. These will “receive what was promised” on that occasion. The rest will await the general resurrection a thousand years later. (See The Purpose of Resurrection.)
John’s Gospel of Tabernacles
The Gospel of John is structured to explain the purpose of Christ’s coming in terms of the feast of Tabernacles. He sets forth eight miracle signs that overlay upon the eight days of Tabernacles. The purpose of these signs is stated at the beginning in John 2:11,
11 This beginning [or “first”] of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
In other words, the eight days of Tabernacles were designed to manifest His glory. The seventh sign, wherein He raised Lazarus from the dead, reached the climax just before He went to the cross. The eighth and final sign, where the disciples caught 153 large fish, showed the purpose of the eighth day of Tabernacles. The cross itself divided the first seven from the eighth.
We may draw from John’s gospel that the purpose of Tabernacles is to manifest the glory of God in the overcoming sons of God, because the Hebrew term, beni h’elohim (“sons of God”) carries a numeric value of 153. The sons of God are begotten through Passover, matured through Pentecost, and birthed through the feast of Tabernacles. They are born on the first day of Tabernacles and presented to God on the eighth day, according to the law in Exodus 22:29, 30,
29 You shall not delay the offering from your harvest and your vintage. The first-born of your sons you shall give to Me. 30 You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.
The first-born son was to “with its mother seven days,” and so there are seven days in the feast of Tabernacles wherein the priests marched around the altar. The presentation of this first-born son occurred on the eighth day. Hence, there is an eighth day of Tabernacles, where the sons of God (153 fish), having been birthed on the first day, are presented to God on the eighth day.
Another notable day, set forth in John 7:14 is the middle of Tabernacles. On this day Christ appeared publicly in the temple to fulfill Malachi 3:1, “the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple.” It prophesies of the second coming of Christ in the middle of Tabernacles in order to make the body of Christ complete with its Head, so that this first-born son can be presented to God a few days later on the eighth of Tabernacles.
The seven bowls in Revelation 16 give us another view of the feast of Tabernacles as it relates to the overthrow of Mystery Babylon. It is comparable to the overthrow of Jericho under Joshua, because Jericho is an Old Testament prophetic type of Mystery Babylon. In order to transfer authority to the saints of the Most High God (Daniel 7:27), Babylon must be overthrown. The systems of men must be destroyed in order to establish the government of the Kingdom.
So we read that a great (symbolic) earthquake occurs at the time of the seventh bowl, which breaks Babylon into three pieces (Revelation 16:18, 19). Huge hailstones pound the city as well. Isaiah 28:17 says that “hail will sweep away the refuge of lies.” Hail is the truth of God, which exposes all the lies that Babylon has taught men to believe. In other words, “the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:17) will be poured out, and the insanity of Nebuchadnezzar will come to an end.
After this first-born son has been presented to God on the eighth day of Tabernacles, he will return (the Head and the Body together) to rule on the earth (Revelation 5:10). They will have access to heaven at any time, as long as they change their clothing from wool (flesh) to linen (spirit), according to Ezekiel 44:17. When Jesus was raised from the dead, He moved from one realm to the other often, and this is the pattern for all the overcomers in that day.
Though all the resurrected ones will have access to heaven, their mission is to rule the earth and to bring all things under the feet of Christ. They will not retire on a cloud, as so many think. There will be much work to be done for a thousand years (Revelation 4:6) and even after the White Throne judgment. The work will not be complete until all things are put under the feet of Christ, and God is “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).
Day One: Psalm 105
The seven passages that were read during the days of Tabernacles added prophetic insight to our understanding of the feast.
On the first day of Tabernacles, the sons of God are born. So Psalm 105:7 foretells the judgment on Babylon, saying, “His judgments are in all the earth.” Further, Psalm 105:8-11 speaks of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob being fulfilled. Ultimately, this promise is to the sons of God. Psalm 105:11 says of this covenant,
11 Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan, as the portion of Your inheritance.”
We know from Hebrews 11:9, 10, and 16 that Canaan was only a type and shadow of the land and city that Abraham sought. The true land inheritance—our Canaan—is the glorified body, made of the dust of the ground and yet glorified by the Spirit of God.
Psalm 105:29-36 also reminds the people of the ten plagues upon Egypt, culminating with the plague wherein “He also struck down all the firstborn in their land.” The seven bowls of wine poured out against Babylon in Revelation 16 brings prophetic “plagues” upon the governments of men on a worldwide scale. All of this forms the prophecy of the first day of Tabernacles.
Jesus’ first sign was the wedding in Cana, in which He turned water into wine. This prophesied of the “change” that the sons of God will experience (1 Corinthians 15:51) when the first day of Tabernacles is fulfilled prophetically. Though the sign itself focused only on the positive event, the explanation later included Christ casting out the moneychangers from the temple (John 2:15). Cleansing the temple is the negative side of the prophecy.
It suggests that Christ will drive out “the love of money” (1 Timothy 6:10) from the hearts of the overcomers in order to transform them into the image of Christ. Not only are the Babylonian governments of men brought into judgment, but the character of Babylon is cleansed from the hearts of the sons of God, so that God may fulfill His covenant.
The First Bowl Poured out on October 21, 2000
At Tabernacles of 2000, we saw a wedding (Richard and Sharon), comparable to the wedding feast in Cana in the second chapter of John. We then poured out the first bowls of water and wine upon the earth as a prophetic act that was comparable to what was seen in Revelation 16:2.
John, of course, mentioned only bowls of wine and said nothing of a drink offering of water. Yet we were led to pour out both water and wine at the same time, in accordance with the priestly practice during the feast of Tabernacles. This established both the positive and the negative side of the prophecy.
The priests in Jerusalem poured out the wine into the funnel on the left side of the altar, and they poured out the water on the right side. So I too poured out the wine with the left hand (signifying judgment) and the water with the right hand (signifying mercy). The bowl of wine (judgment) can be viewed as the work of the house of David, who was a man of war fighting to overthrow Babylon. The bowl of water (mercy) can be viewed as the work of the house of Joseph, the Birthright holder, whose Fruitfulness Mandate was to bring forth the sons of God.
Both bowls were poured out every year in all the places where we were led by the Spirit.