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One of the purposes of Christ’s coming is to restore the Head on the body of Christ, so that the complete body may be presented to the Father. When Christ presented Himself to the Father after his resurrection, it was to fulfill the wave-sheaf offering on the day after the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:11). But this was part of the sequence in the Spring feasts. There is a second fulfillment prophesied in the Autumn feasts in which the body of Christ (or “sons of God”) are presented to the Father along with the Head.
So the Head must join with the body prior to this presentation of the sons. Hence, we see in John 7:14 how Jesus came to His temple in the midst of the feast of Tabernacles and then prophesied of the Spirit on the eighth day, the last great day of the feast. His words pointed to the glorification of Solomon’s temple a thousand years earlier on the same day. But it also prophesied of a future event that went beyond Pentecost.
The Eighth Day Prophecy
The purpose of Christ’s coming is to prepare the firstborn sons of God and make them eligible to be presented to God on the eighth day of Tabernacles, or “Booths.”
The foundational prophecy of the feast of Tabernacles is found in Leviticus 23:34-37,
34 Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, “On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the Lord. 35 On the first day is a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work of any kind. 36 For seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation [miqra, “a calling out”] and present an offering by fire to the Lord; it is an assembly [asara, “meeting”]. You shall do no laborious work. 37 These are the appointed times of the Lord…
A seven-day cycle is a Sabbath cycle, but the eighth day is also important. The number 8 is the number of new beginnings, and it serves as the first day of the next Sabbath cycle. In the law, it is the day—the only day—in which the firstborn of both man and beast are to be presented to God. Exodus 22:29, 30 says,
29 You shall not delay the offering from your harvest and your vintage. The firstborn 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.
Notice that God said the firstborn must remain with its mother for seven days—a full Sabbath cycle. A firstborn ox, sheep, or son could not be presented to God on the seventh day, as some might expect. Nonetheless, in the law regarding the feast of Tabernacles, both the first day and the eighth day were to be treated as Sabbaths, regardless of the day of the week. Likewise, the firstborn might be born any time during the week (day 1), and so they were to be presented to God a week later. It was not tied to any week day on the calendar.
The law prophesies many things about Christ and His body. The feast days are “the appointed times of the Lord.” That is why Jesus had to die at the moment the people were killing the Passover lambs. That is why Jesus had to ascend to the Father (John 20:17) to be presented on the eighth day (Sunday). This was also why the disciples had to wait another seven weeks before the Spirit could be poured out on the feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1, 2).
The appointed times were set in granite, and the feast days prophesied of future events.
My conclusion, based on past precedent, is that the Autumn feasts are also the appointed times for events surrounding the second coming of Christ. The feast of Tabernacles itself is seven days long (Leviticus 23:34), but there is also a “convocation” (miqra, “a calling out”) an “assembly” (asara, “meeting”) on the morning of the eighth day.
In my view, this prophesies that the appointed time for the presentation of the sons of God to the Father is the eighth day of Tabernacles of some year. This is a divinely-ordered convocation, a meeting with the Father. Yet in order to be presented, they must first ascend in some manner.
This is what Paul means when he says in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 that “we who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.” This event will not occur underground but “in the air” and “in the clouds” (nephele).
The Significance of Clouds
We are accustomed to thinking of clouds a bit too literally without considering a deeper meaning of the term. Recall from Hebrews 12:1 how the great men and women of faith in chapter 11 were called “a cloud of witnesses.” Though the author uses the Greek term nephos, rather than nephele, the word picture denotes both a cloud and a crowd. Just as clouds change shape as they move across the sky, so also do the seething crowds change shape as they move along the streets or in the fields.
Likewise, God spoke out of a cloud (Matthew 17:5) and came in a cloud (Exodus 19:9; Matthew 24:30; 26:64; Revelation 1:7). Clouds served to veil the glory of God, even as Christ’s flesh veiled the glory that was in Him (Hebrews 10:20). For this same purpose, the Most Holy Place was veiled.
The “Apocalypse” (Book of Revelation) is literally The Unveiling of Jesus Christ. That unveiling is associated with the clouds, for “Behold, He is coming with the clouds” (Revelation 1:7). This, in turn, is a reference to the coming of the Son of Man “with the clouds of heaven” in Daniel 7:13.
So when Christ comes in clouds, the implication is that He is veiled so that the people are not struck down by His glory. It is only to a few that He is unveiled, for these are the ones who are changed into His image and are themselves an expression of His glory. When they are caught up, must they necessarily go “up” to meet God in heaven? What is up? Certainly, heaven is pictured by the stars of heaven, but the stars surround us in all directions.
Heaven is a spiritual dimension and does not have a physical location as so many think. We may step into a heavenly realm without even moving physically. Jesus may indeed have literally ascended, but once the “cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9), did He continue ascending into outer space? I do not think so. We do not even know how high in the sky that cloud was. We only know that the disciples were “gazing intently into the sky” when “two men in white clothing” essentially told them to stop looking up (Acts 1:10, 11).
The Manifestation of the Sons of God
After the meeting where the sons of God are presented to the Father on the eighth day, these firstborn sons will then be manifested to the people on the earth. The purpose of presentation is to inaugurate them in a greater way so that they can “reign with Him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).
In other words, they must return to the earth to fulfill their calling. Of course, it is clear that they had already been practicing that calling in a limited manner, having been seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). It is not likely that anyone will be given authority to reign with Him in the fullness of the Spirit unless they have exercised spiritual authority during their lifetime. While in the present mortal body, we are trained to exercise dominion, so that when we are caught up to the inauguration in heaven, we can do so in a more perfect manner.
Just as Christ is now the high priest of the Order of Melchizedek, so also are we His children, part of His family, and are priests of Melchizedek. This is our priestly order, because the Order of Aaron (Levi) is no longer qualified to minister as priests of God. Nonetheless, when we are caught up in the great ascension as the body of Christ, the high priest, we will follow the pattern set forth in the consecration of Aaron and his sons in Leviticus 8.
Leviticus 8:35 says,
35 At the doorway of the tent of meeting, moreover, you shall remain day and night for seven days, and keep the charge of the Lord, so that you will not die, for so I have been commanded.
They were to remain in the tabernacle for seven days and then come out to be manifested to the people as a whole. Leviticus 9:1 says,
1 Now it came about on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel.
I believe this prophesies of the manifestation of the firstborn sons of God after their presentation to God. The presentation itself, having taken place in heaven, would not take any time at all (by earthly perception), because the sons of God would have stepped out of the realm of time and space while in heaven. Thus, they would be able to return at the same moment that they were caught up to heaven, even if they were in heaven for a million earth years.
When Aaron and his sons stepped forth on the eighth day, they were told in Leviticus 9:6,
6 Moses said, “This is the thing which the Lord has commanded you to do, that the glory of the Lord may appear [ra’a, “to see, behold, be manifested] to you.”
These instructions came in the form of Old Testament sacrifices, but they prophesy of New Covenant things. Leviticus 9:23, 24 summarizes the entire scene, saying,
23 Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the Lord appeared (ra’a, “was manifested”) to all the people. 24 Then fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.
This is how the glory of the Lord was manifested to the people. Fire came from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. At that time, the priests were responsible to keep that fire going. However, they failed to do so, and so they “offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them” (Leviticus 10:1). The only fire that is truly acceptable to the Lord is the glory of God that comes from heaven.
In my view, this speaks prophetically of the firstborn sons of God, having the glory of God, being manifested to the people. These Melchizedek priests will not fail to keep that glory-fire going, because they themselves will have glorified bodies, and their presence will remain on the earth during the Tabernacles Age to come.
This is what Paul was talking about in Romans 8:18, 19,
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed [apokalupsis, “unveiling, revelation, manifestation”] to us. 19 For the anxious longing of creation waits eagerly for the revealing [apokalupsis] of the sons of God.
Again, this is what Paul was talking about in 2 Thessalonians 1:10,
10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed.
These “saints” will minister on earth in the age to come in the greatest time of evangelism the world has ever seen.
This is the greater context of the “rapture.” This catching away has an appointed time and is scheduled for a feast day. In my view, it will come on the eighth day of Tabernacles after a series of prior events beginning three weeks earlier with the resurrection at the feast of Trumpets. These “saints” will be caught away on the eighth day of Tabernacles and will then become the manifested sons of God on the same (eighth) day, according to the pattern of Leviticus 9.
Can We Really Know this Timing?
Of course, one should always be cautious about timing. The disciples asked about timing in Acts 1:6, 7,
6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.”
The disciples were not asking about His return but about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. A more important passage is in Matthew 24:42, 44,
42 Therefore be on alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming… 44 For this reason you must also be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
Jesus did not explain whether he was talking specifically about those disciples or if he was including people from all future times. Perhaps the disciples had not yet discovered the prophecies of the Autumn feast days, because they were yet focused on the Spring feasts. At any rate, I leave it to the reader to decide if my view of the Autumn feasts is correct or not. I can only present what I believe I am seeing at the present time. More light may come later.
In the end, I have no revelation about the year that these things will be fulfilled. Hosea 6:2 says that "He will raise us up on the third day," which may refer to both Christ Himself and to those who are raised in the first resurrection two days later--that is, 2,000 years later. Hence, we know that we are in the season for these things to occur. The year 2033 will be 2,000 years after Christ was raised from the dead. September of 2035 will see the 121st Jubilee from Adam. For now, these are just watch dates.
Having said that, we also have an intriguing word from Amos 3:7,
7 Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets.
Perhaps this means that shortly before His return, He will reveal even this to someone or a group of His choosing.