The Meaning of the Fall Feasts
The biblical holy days take place into two main groups: the first group is in the spring; the second in the autumn. The spring group has three holy days:
The autumn group also has three holy days:
Holy days in the Scripture have three main levels of revelatory meaning:
The first level of meaning (Agricultural) is common to all cultures. There is a time of thanksgiving to a divine being (or to "Nature" as a god) during the spring when the agricultural planting season begins. There is a second time of thanksgiving at the end of the season as the harvest is finally gathered.
This natural level of revelation began with Adam and continued to the time of Abraham (approximately 2,000 years). The Israelite revelation began with Abraham and continued until the crucifixion of Yeshua (approximately 2,000 years). The Messianic or gospel revelation began with the crucifixion and continues unto today (again about 2,000 years).
One rabbinic source refers to these three time periods as:
[The rabbinic meaning here is that it is the time for the Messiah to be revealed, but obviously leaves them with an open question.]
In the gospel level of revelation, the group of holy days in the spring represents the first coming of Yeshua. Pesach symbolizes the crucifixion of Yeshua for the forgiveness of our sins. The first sheaf is Yeshua being raised from the dead. Shavuot was the time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Not only did those three great events of the gospel fulfill the meaning of the spring feasts, the events also occurred on the very day that the feasts were being celebrated. In other words, there was a perfect coordination not only of the spiritual meaning of the Torah and the Gospel, but also of the dates on which the Torah feasts and the Gospel events took place. That is not coincidence, but divine providence.
Not only are the Torah and Gospel dates coordinated by divine providence, both the Torah and the Gospel are in turn coordinated to the agricultural and weather seasons. Jerusalem is hot in the summer and cold at night in the winter. The one "in between" month in the spring is Nisan and in the fall is Tishrei. In those two months the evenings in Jerusalem are particularly pleasant.
The biblical calendar is lunar based, not solar. The first day of the month always has no moon; the 7th and 21st of the month always have a half moon; the 15th of the month always has a full moon. In other words, there are only two dates a year with perfect weather and a full moon: the 15th of Nisan, which is Passover; and the 15th of Tishrei, which is Tabernacles.
The Gospel is time-coordinated to the feasts of the Torah, which in turn are coordinated to the agricultural season. Or in reverse, the agricultural season was designed to accommodate the feasts of the Torah; which in turn were designed to accommodate the events of the Gospel. Why is there such perfect coordination? – Because the same God who created the universe also gave us the moral law and the priesthood; the same God who gave us the Law also gave us the Messiah.
We have only one God. Therefore natural creation, the Torah and the Gospel all go together. There is no contradiction. Before God created the world, the Temple priesthood and the Gospel message were already planned out. Creation was designed with both the Torah and the Gospel in mind (at least in the mind of God).
In the sovereignty of God, these three elements: Nature, the Torah and the Gospel were all planned together before the foundation of the world; and therefore are perfectly unified in meaning. The one God made one Creation, gave us one Law and sent us one Messiah. (Thus nature can be understood as a parable explaining the meaning of the Bible message – Matthew 13, Psalm 19.)
The yearly agricultural season and the yearly temple calendar are symbolic of the history of the plan of redemption. As the spring holy days represent the first coming of Yeshua; the fall holy days represent the second coming of Yeshua. Therefore, the meaning of the spring holy days has already been fulfilled, while the meaning of the fall holy days has NOT yet been fulfilled.
What do the fall feasts represent? The first holy day, the Feast of Trumpets, refers to the Seven Shofars (Trumpets) described in the book of Revelation. Those trumpets describe the End Times tribulation and harvest period.
The Day of Atonement is the great and terrible day of the Lord (as referred to by the prophet Joel) which is the very day of the Second Coming of Yeshua, which is also the greatest day on the priesthood calendar.
Note 1: The Day of Atonement was partly fulfilled when Yeshua brought His blood before the altar in heaven after the resurrection. However, as Dan Juster has noted, the Day of Atonement refers to a national redemption, whereas Passover refers to personal or family salvation. Zechariah 12-13 describes a time of national repentance in which the nation of Israel will weep as for an only son and will look toward the one whom they have pierced.
Note 2: There is a "last" trumpet blast at the end of the Day of Atonement at the beginning of the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10). This is the Last Trumpet referred to in Matthew 24, I Corinthians 15 and I Thessalonians 4. The Last Trumpet is not on the Feast of Trumpets, but at sundown of the Day of Atonement. The Feast of Trumpets concerns the Seven Trumpets of Revelation.
The Feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled at the great celebration at the beginning of the Millennial Rule, or Messianic Kingdom, on earth. On the Feast of Tabernacles, the Temple priests sacrificed 70 bulls, representing the salvation of all the nations of the earth. On that Tabernacles all the nations will come to Jerusalem to worship the King (Zechariah 14:16).
We may summarize the biblical Holy Days and their gospel fulfillment as follows:
Spring: First Coming
Fall: Second Coming
God's plan is simple, well-planned, natural, logical, and of course, all brought into perfect unity between heaven and earth at the end of times through the Messiah Yeshua (Ephesians 1:10).