Monday, 12 December 2016

Feast of Tabernacles

I'm not convinced that we'll be observing the Feast of Tabernacles in a future age.
The ancient Jews' Feasts were only a shadow of the real thing - and God isn't into returning to the shadow.
The real thing is Christ. God Himself will be 'tabernacled' with us - He will dwell with us, forever - in a new earth and new heavens. Of course we're still waiting for that Day.
Yet in a very real and spiritual way, we have already experienced the inauguration of that Promise - through the birth of Jesus Christ, Whose name is Immanuel (meaning, God with us); and
through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; and
through the indwelling Spirit of God.
That's called the Gospel - and it's something better than anything that was experienced under the Old Covenant!
Therefore since we now live with a sense that the fulfilment of the Prophesied salvation has already been inaugurated, even though we await its consummation, there's no need for us to 'rehearse' for the future by attempting to continue carrying-out the shadow. Instead we just show forth the Lord's death 'til He come.
Certainly it was prophesied back in Old Testament times that nations would begin making pilgrimages to the altar at Jerusalem to keep the Feast. But that must have been fulfilled while the Old Covenant still stood - because it isn't possible to observe the Feasts anymore the way Moses' Law required.
And it won't be possible in future either, because the genealogies which were required to prove a priest's descent from Levi in order to authenticate him as a priest, have been lost.
Even if it was possible to reinstate the Levitical priesthood and its sacrifices, it still wouldn't be relevant or necessary - because Messiah has already made a New Covenant for us.
Jesus said the hour has come when the true worshipers will no longer worship in Jerusalem, but in spirit and in truth - and He said that's the kind of worshiper the Father is looking for. The Father will no longer be requiring the nations to make pilgrimages to the altar in the Temple on mount Sion at Jerusalem to keep the Feast and offer its required sacrifices!
And the sacrifices were a necessary component of the Feasts, not merely an optional part. The Law and Prophets knew of no such thing as keeping the Feasts without sacrifices for atonement.
The only memorial Jesus instituted, is the Lord's Table - we do this in remembrance of Him - and only 'til He come - because when He comes we'll need no more remembrance of Him for we shall see Him as He is.
Other details in the Prophecies (besides the existence of the altar and Temple; a functioning Levitical priesthood; and animal sacrifices for atonement not merely as some 'memorial') also help place the fulfilment in the past - other details such as:
Specific nations are named, nations which no longer exist;
Tents not modern housing are mentioned;
Cavalry and archery, not modern military hardware, is mentioned.
The necessity of circumcision is mentioned.
The prohibition of one particular nationality is mentioned.
Each of those details has no relevance this side of the cross, in the present nor in the future, therefore those details help place the fulfilment of the Prophecy squarely in the past, while the Old Covenant was still functioning - not in the future.
But the most important detail which places the fulfilment in the past, is the fact that Messiah was to come in that historical context - He was to come at a time and place when the nations had begun making those annual pilgrimages to the altar at Jerusalem to keep the Feast. If the fulfilment is still future, then Jesus was too early in history to qualify as the Messiah.
And if the Feasts are still future, then the Prophecy itself in fact forever lost its opportunity to ever be fulfilled, seeing it's no longer possible for the Feasts to be carried-out in future, in the way that was written.
But the Prophecy was indeed fulfilled - the nations indeed began making annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Tabernacles. The Bible itself even gives us the history showing it happened. Acts 2 is an example!
And in that historical context, Messiah came, precisely as required by Prophecy - He came at a time and place when the nations were making those annual pilgrimages to the altar at Jerusalem to observe the Feast. He came to His Temple, as Prophesied, while the Temple still stood. But all those logistical requirements ceased to exist soon afterwards, while Jesus' generation was still living.
If we mistakenly relegate the fulfilment of those details in Prophecy to the future, it weakens our case for Jesus being Messiah; it also wrongly implies that we must begin observing modern-Judaism in future. That's the Orthodox Jewish position - but it wasn't the Apostles' doctrine!
The Apostles asserted that there'd come the fulfilment in history of Israel's Promises - they were eyewitnesses. Understanding Scripture and history the way the Apostles did, establishes our case that Jesus is Messiah, and assures us that we are justified by faith in Him, without the deeds of the Law.
This understanding has the effect of placing our focus right back where it belongs, even for modern Israelis - not on modern Judaism, but on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and on Him alone.

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