GOD’S HOLIDAYS – Didn’t know God has Holidays? Yes, He most certainly does! Every beautiful Holiday is both commemorative AND prophetic of iconic events from the Exodus, thru the Cross, and on forward to the Kingdom!

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GOD’s HOLIDAYS … and Their Wonderful Significance!               02-05-15

Many years ago, there was a movie called “The Cross and the Switchblade”, about a young Pennsylvania country preacher named David Wilkerson, who took the Gospel to the gangs on the streets of New York.  It was Pat Boone who played the role of Pastor Wilkerson. Do you remember now? Well, David Wilkerson founded and pastored the Times Square Church, right there on Broadway, in the middle of Manhattan, where he ministered primarily to the street people, until his death about four years ago. 

Late in the Summer of 2001, Pastor Wilkerson said he received a warning from God that a calamity was coming.  For six weeks he felt an intense burden. The critical need for intercession was so profound that Pastor Wilkerson canceled everything on the church calendar – missions, conferences, youth events, and all guest speakers.

For six weeks, there were no sermons.  Instead, there was intercession for our nation, with weeping and repentance. They believed something was coming, and that “something” was not good – and it would be coming soon. So they prayed, and then they prayed some more.

Then Pastor Wilkerson was strongly impressed to do something that seemed rather bizarre.  He “heard” God telling him to make sandwiches  – an abundance of sandwiches.  But why?  For whom?  For what purpose?  That part wasn’t clear, but he and his church decided to do what they believed God was telling them to do!  Now, there’s a refreshing example of simple, childlike faith, isn’t it?

So, that Monday night, the 10th of September, they stayed up till dawn, making hundreds and hundreds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  By morning, they had a mountain of about 2,000 sandwiches …

… and at 8:46am, the first plane hit the World Trade Center … and Pastor Wilkerson’s Times Square Church was prepared to feed and minister to the rescue workers and to the survivors of our nation’s worst attack ever.

Making sandwiches all night long seems like a strange thing to do, doesn’t it?  And if some flesh-and-blood human being told me I should stay up thru the night and make sandwiches, I’d probably laugh and tell him he’s delusional.

But when we’re in a trusting relationship with our Lord … well, as John 10:4 says, “His sheep follow Him, for they know His voice”.  We may not fully understand God’s purposes, initially, but we’ll obey Him anyway, because we know Him, and we trust  Him,   and because He has proved Himself, over and over … And His marvelous ways are far, far beyond all human comprehension.

Romans 11:34 “For who hath known the mind of the Lord?  Or who hath been His counselor?”

This  (^The Bible^) is the Word of God – the revealed will of Our Heavenly Father.  His Son Jesus, to Whom Scripture refers as “the Word made flesh”, prayed to God the Father, “Sanctify them by Thy Truth; Thy Word is Truth.”

All of God’s Commandments, His Statutes and Judgments have a distinct purpose; and each oracle represents an aspect of the Gospel, or a phase of the office and function of one of the members of The Godhead.  All that God has revealed is intended to clarify our understanding of spiritual things.

The full significance of each truth may not be entirely clear to us, but as we grow in our relationship with Him – as He increases our understanding, the Holy Spirit will lead us into a clearer grasp of God’s Truth.  The pieces begin to fit into a more complete picture, and we can see more clearly that all He has ordained serves to illustrate the nature and purposes of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.  It is most appropriate today, to take a closer look at God’s Holidays and how each one represents, fleshes-out the landmarks along our path to the Eternal Kingdom.

As the fledgling Christian Church grew in those early centuries following the crucifixion of Christ and the martyring of the apostles, many influences from the pagan culture,   into which the Church had been born,   brought a subtle, gradual setting- aside of some of God’s oracles as revealed in the Scriptures, in favor of traditions and beliefs that were carried over from their earlier, pagan rites.  In fact, the Apostle Paul solemnly warned the early church of this corrupting of God’s Word in several of his epistles.  Although there are some seemingly-logical reasons given for the continuation of such substitutions,    this over-arching fact remains:   Man simply did not – and does not, today – possess the authority to do so.  And in the process of altering God’s Word, the significance of these Holy Days is completely obliterated.    How about an illustration?

Let me tell you about The 100-mile-per-hour Goat …

Two Tennessee good-old-boys are out in the boondocks, hunting; and as they walk along the edge of a wooded area, they come upon an immense hole in the ground. They cautiously approach it, and are astonished by its size – and depth.

The first hunter says, “Wow, that sure is some hole; I can’t even see the bottom. I wonder how deep that thang is.”

The second hunter says, “I don’t know!  Let’s throw something down and listen, and see how long it takes to hit bottom.”

Looking around them, the first hunter says, “Hey, there’s an old automobile transmission.  Gimme a hand, and we’ll throw it in and see”.  

So they pick it up and lug it over to the hole’s edge, and they count together, “One … and two … and three!”, and they heave it into the hole.

Well, they’re standing there, listening intently and peering over the edge when … they hear a frantic rustling in the brush behind them. 

As they whirl around toward the commotion, a goat comes crashing through the brush, runs up to the hole and, without hesitation, he leaps in head-first, and disappears into the abyss.

While they stand gawking at each other and peering down into the hole, trying to figure out what in tarnation that was all about, an old farmer approaches them.

“Say there,” says the farmer, “You fellers didn’t happen to see my goat around here anywheres, did you?”

The first hunter says, “Funny you should ask, ‘cuz we was just standing here a minute ago and a goat come dashing out of the bushes – doin’ about a hunert miles an hour – and jumps head-long, right into this-here hole!”

 ”That’s impossible!” the old farmer exclaimed.  “I had him chained …

      … to a transmission!”

 

What went wrong here?  Well, neither hunter stopped to question what was the reason for an automobile transmission to be out in the middle of the Tennessee back-woods.  And wouldn’t you at least wonder about the purpose of the chain that was hooked to the housing? It was all there for a sound, legitimate reason! It had to be!

The same can be said of God’s HolyDays, which is precisely, by the way, where we get our present-day word “holiday” – it comes straight from His “Holy Days”. 

God’s Holidays identify and celebrate seven milestones, seven iconic landmarks, for His Church on the road to Eternity: Passover-Unleavened Bread /The Sacrifice of the Sinless One; FirstFruits /The Resurrection; Pentecost /The Gift of the Holy Spirit; Feast of Trumpets / Last Call to Repentance; Day of Atonement / the Final Judgment; Feast of Tabernacles / the Return of Christ and the Redeemed of the Earth entering the Heavenly Kingdom.

God’s Holidays are both commemorative and prophetic.  They mark past milestones in the history of God’s Church and in addition, for each and every one of these Holidays,    there remains a coming milestone, a yet-unfulfilled future significance for the Christian!

Pentecost  is a most-interesting Holiday, and yet it’s barely understood by mainstream Christianity.  Thanks to our Pentecostal and Assemblies-of-God brethren, we’re mindful of the Day of Pentecost, because that was when the Holy Spirit descended on the congregation of believers who were gathered to celebrate this HolyDay, and the Bible says that 3000 souls were baptized and added to the Early Church in just that one day!  Many, many more were soon to follow.

Jesus had ascended into heaven only 10 days prior to that, and had instructed His followers to remain in Jerusalem, with the promise that He would send them His Representative, The Holy Spirit, to help them to firmly establish the Church and carry forward the Good News of the Gospel.

But a little-known fact about Pentecost is that, according to Biblical historians, Pentecost  is the Day, fifty days after the Exodus from Egypt, that God spoke the Ten Commandments from the top of Mount Sinai, and then delivered them to Moses on two stone tables.

So, Pentecost is commemorative of the giving of the Law from Mt. Sinai, as well as the descending of the Holy Spirit on the Early Church – an event that’s referred to as the Early Rain, which is a term that pertains to the agricultural growing seasons in the middle-east.   But, the future significance of Pentecost is the falling of the Latter Rain, or the great and final outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which will ripen the crop of precious souls in God’s Vineyard, for His final harvest.

                                                                    

The fanfare of trumpets always announces something big – something of vast importance.  Trumpets proclaim and they summon! Looking back, the Feast of Trumpets summoned the people to put their account in order, in preparation for the Day of Atonement, which would follow in ten days.  For us, today, the prophetic significance of the Feast of Trumpets’ is as God’s last appeal,    announcing the coming Great Day of Atonement, and the antitypical Final Judgment.

The Day of Atonement is the only one of God’s Holidays that is not a joyous celebration, and that’s for very sound reason.  Atonement  is a solemn day of confession, repentance, and fasting, and it represents that impending Great Day of Reckoning for mankind  (Acts 17:31).

The eight-day-long Feast of Tabernacles has two Holidays – the first day and the last days.  The first Sabbath of Tabernacles commemorates the salvation and release of God’s people from Egyptian bondage, which was followed by their years of wandering in the wilderness;   while the second Sabbath on the 8th day celebrates their crossing the Jordan and, at last, entering the Promised Land.  Now, the prophetic meaning – the future significance of these two Holidays, is  1) the Second Coming of Christ, which will rescue us from this present “Egypt” of sin, and from our struggle in this worldly wilderness – and  2) the Redeemed entering the Heavenly Kingdom, which is the true, eternal “Promised Land”.  

Here again is an additional, intriguing significance to this Holiday, the Feast of Tabernacles:  Nearly all historical theologians agree, that Jesus’ birth did not occur on December 25th.   Most theological historians concur that He was quite likely born in the Fall of the year, somewhere from what we now know as late September into October.  Many Biblical scholars firmly believe Jesus’ birth was at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, which falls comfortably within that time frame … because Scripture had prophesied that the Messiah would “tabernacle” with mankind – would “dwell among them”.  His name, “Immanuel”, means “God with us”, or more literally, “God in us”! 

Regarding all of God’s Holidays, note now the consistency and the symmetry: The Spring Holy Days all pertain to Christ’s first appearing,  while the Autumn Holy Days, pertain to His Second Coming

Today, we’re in the season during which we mark the Passion of the Christ.  And it seems that colored eggs, jelly beans, and chocolate bunnies have overrun the true significance of this time of year!  But there’s a deeper, far more meaningful significance to this season, which I want to share with you now:

 Passover  points back to the night before the Israelites left Egypt  (expound)

 - and then to the crucifixion (which at that time was a future event, on which we now look back) … And still today, Passover  is prophetic – now it points ahead to the future fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that He will celebrate the Passover with the Redeemed, when all is fulfilled in the Kingdom.  (Luke 22:15, 16)

 The seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread, beginning the very next day, teaches us that the Savior is the “Bread of Life”, and that He was without sin, although He was fully-robed in carnal, human flesh.  Yeast, fermentation, or leavening, is Biblically-symbolic of sin, corruption, and falsehood, in which He took no part – He truly was “Unleavened Bread”!

The Day of the First-fruits, on the third day, commemorates Jesus’ arising from the grave as the First-fruits of the Resurrection (the Wave Sheaf offering from the Spring barley crop).  It also points forward to the final resurrection of all of the Redeemed in Christ.

   (Seven milestones :) Crucifixion, Resurrection, Infusion of the Holy Spirit, The Final Appeal, The Judgment, Christ’s Return, Entering the Kingdom – Now, which of these events does not apply to the Christian living in the 21st Century?  They all do!  Every one!

Perhaps unintentionally, perhaps not  –  as in the story of the two hunters and the 100mph goat – the “church of man” has blotted out all seven of God’s original Biblical Holidays – We did it!  Man did it -  and in the process, both the commemorative and the prophetic meanings of each have been swept away; so that now, when we attempt to explain to folks that Jesus – Whom John the Baptist introduced as “the Lamb of God” – really was offered on the actual Day of the Passover, and died at the very hour of the evening sacrifice, thus becoming indeed  the fulfillment of this prophetic HolyDay … well, when we tell them,     it’s all news  to far too many! 

And when we go on to explain that Jesus    did arise from the tomb     on the exact  Day of the First-fruits, becoming the reality of the First-fruits of the harvest – the First-fruits of the resurrection of the dead … they’ve never heard that either!  The full significance and symbolism that God “built-into” each of His Holidays is taught and reinforced each time we honor and celebrate   and enjoy them!

In the same way that Jesus fulfilled the Passover  to the letter, on the exact  Day; and then became the fulfillment of the First-fruits on that very morning; and in the same way that Pentecost was validated by the Holy Spirit precisely on the Day of the Feast of Pentecost,  I believe that the remaining milestone events – God’s Final Call, the Day of Judgment, the Return of Christ, and the Redeemed entering the Kingdom – the events yet to come will be fulfilled at the times of the Fall Holidays,  in the same way,  and on the Holidays that point to these events.  Moreover, all the milestone events to which the Spring Holidays pointed have already occurred, and right on time!

So, tho we’re surrounded at this season with beautifully-decorated eggs, colored jelly-beans, chocolate rabbits, and gummy little chickie-candies,  may we keep upper-most in our minds, these priceless gifts of God – His living HolyDays and everything that they represent. They speak to our hearts, and gently remind us:

Have you claimed the sacrifice of Christ, the Passover Lamb, as your very own?

Is it your earnest desire to become Christ-like, to be “unleavened” in your character and conduct?

Have you invited His indwelling Spirit, to sanctify, to enable, and empower you?

Have you accepted your place “in” the Savior, and received His New Birth in you?

Are you eager to bring others to the Savior;  to “sound the trumpet” for Him ?

Are you putting your house in order in preparation for His soon return?

How much stronger might our faith be … how much more joyous might be our journey to God’s Kingdom … were we to honor and celebrate, and incorporate into our daily lives, the true significance of these wonderful Holidays – God’s Holy Days – which were given to us for the strengthening of our faith by our loving Heavenly Father! 

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