Because the fall festivals picture future events, much of the explanation of their meanings comes from the prophetic last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation.
Seven trumpets are described throughout several chapters that picture coming worldwide calamities, plagues and destruction unleashed on mankind like never before. In Revelation 11 the seventh trumpet is described as different from all the others. It ushers in good news! After the seventh trumpet sounds, Christ will return to earth to save humanity from self-destruction and rule all mankind. What a joyous moment we can look forward to!
Along with Christ’s return to bring God’s government to earth, another great event will also take place.
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
God’s elect—those who repented, were baptized and received God’s Holy Spirit—will rise to eternal life whether they are asleep (dead) or alive at Christ’s return.
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”1 Corinthians 15:51-52
Many people use 1 Thessalonians 4:17 to explain what they call a “rapture,” or a secret disappearance of God’s elect, leaving all others behind. However, the Bible explains that all will know when Christ returns. Read more about why there is not going to be a secret rapture.
Ten days after the Feast of Trumpets, we celebrate the Day of Atonement. This day in God’s plan for mankind pictures the removal of Satan as ruler of the earth, ridding humanity of its greatest barrier to reconciliation with God. Revelation describes Satan as being bound and imprisoned for 1,000 years, no longer able to influence the world and encourage rebellion against God and His law.
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.”Revelation 20:1-2
The Day of Atonement also differs from the other festivals because God commands His people to fast (not eat or drink) on this day to draw close to Him. All the other festivals involve enjoying food and drink.
Removing food and drink on this day reminds us that man cannot live by food and water alone, but needs God, who is the creator and sustainer of all things. Atonement also pictures the reconciliation of mankind to God, made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”Zechariah 14:16
With Satan removed and Jesus Christ’s reigning over all mankind as King of Kings, the knowledge of God will spread around the world. It will be a time of peace unlike any time before it on earth, demonstrating that God’s way of life produces the peace and abundance this world has been seeking since man first rebelled against God. This peaceful and prosperous period will last 1,000 years.
The elect will serve under Jesus Christ, teaching and administering God’s government for 1,000 years. This is also referred to as the Millennium.
The name Feast of Tabernacles comes from the tabernacles, or temporary dwellings, that God commands His people to stay in during this seven-day festival. These temporary living quarters reminded Israel of their exodus from Egypt, but also serve as a reminder of the temporary nature of our physical life (Leviticus 23:43; 2 Peter 1:13-15).
The Feast of Tabernacles is prophesied to be an international festival celebrated by all nations and people. Because we know that it is a commanded festival during Christ’s reign, we should also observe it today.
“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”Isaiah 11:9
Sometimes referred to as the Last Great Day, this festival is celebrated on the day immediately following the Feast of Tabernacles. Revelation 20 describes this event as the Great White Throne Judgment, picturing a time when all people who have ever lived will be resurrected back to physical life and those who have not had a chance will finally be given the opportunity to learn God’s way of life for the first time.
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”Revelation 20:11-12