It is extraordinarily beautiful and wonderful that the Most High, in the kindergarten of Israel’s ordinances, has given, with rich distinctness, the ground-plan of the ages. “Figures of us” (1 Cor. 10: 6), and “shadows of things to come” (Col. 2: 16), the Feasts are an exquisite cameo, designed as such, of the Church’s path from her re-birth to the Eternal City:- the Sabbath - redemption; Passover - conversion; Unleavened Bread - sanctification; Harvest - resurrection and rapture; Trumpets - war; Day of Atonement - judgment; and Tabernacles - final joy. For the divisions of the Feasts remarkably corroborate this simple and decisive clue. They are divided into three groups: (1) redemption, conversion, and sanctification, a yet uncompleted group which all occur in the first month; (2) resurrection and rapture, a group not yet begun, by itself, after arrival in the land; and then war, judgment, and joy, grouped together in the seventh (or last) month, close all with a rapid rush.


The Sabbath was the foundation of all the festivals, so as to be before all, through all, and after all.  The first of the seven feasts was the Sabbath; all through the following feasts, the Sabbath continued, in sabbatic days, sabbatic months, and sabbatic years; and God’s whole scheme of time closes, first with the sabbatic month - the millennial age, and then with the sabbatic jubilee, seven sevens of years - the vast eternity beyond.  So that the Sabbath begins all, permeates all, and closes all, because it is the picture of redemption.  For before a single soul is saved, redemption is ready; throughout every vicissitude of the Church or the believer, redemption never leaves, never forsakes; and after the last soul has been brought in, redemption remains our foundation for ever.  All that preceded our epoch went to produce redemption - creation, conscience, law, incarnation, sacrifice, resurgence from the tomb - all are God's laborious work ending in the conversion of the human soul.

For the Sabbath was the first blessing God ever gave to man; for God’s seventh day was man’s first; and God called man at once to share, having done no work himself, in the restful enjoyment of all that He had made.  So when our Lord sat down on high, His rest began: the work was over, for everything possible for the salvation of a universe had been done: He then “rested from His works, even as God did [at the creation] from His” (Heb. 4: 10).  And exactly the same invitation is once again given to man.  Man, with no works of his own, is now invited to share in the Rest of an ended work; as surely as man had no hand, and could have no hand, in the creation of the universe, and yet was invited to share its benefits, exactly so we who have had no hand, and could have had no hand, in the salvation of the universe, are yet invited to share its benefits to the full.


The first essential, after a provided redemption, is the new birth: all things begin afresh from the moment of God’s descent into the individual soul.  “In the first month” although it was the seventh in Israel’s old calendar; for “this shall be the beginning of months to you” (Exod. 12: 2): conversion instantly makes the past obsolete, and starts all life afresh – “at the fourteenth day of the month” - the exact date of Calvary – “is the Lord's Passover” (Lev. 23: 5).  The Holy Spirit has made the meaning absolutely sure: “0ur passover hath been sacrificed for us, even Christ" (1 Cor. 5: 7): so, from the moment of regenerating faith, when the lintels of the conscience became blood-sprinkled - “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal 2: 20): now sheltering for ever behind the Blood, the old life has been blotted out as though it had never existed; it is the birthday of the new calendar.  The Church starts on her path home to God.  So therefore none unsheltered by the Blood by his own act can escape the Destroying Angel.


The next feast is that in which, anti-typically, we are now living. “And on the fifteenth day, of the same month” - that is, immediately after crucifixion with Christ on the fourteenth - “is the feast of unleavened bread” (Lev. 23: 6). The Holy Spirit again leaves us in no manner of doubt. “Our passover hath been sacrificed for us, even Christ; wherefore " - since expulsion of all leaven is immediately to follow the sprinkling with blood upon the lintels (Exod. 12: 15) - “let us keep the feast” - a seven-day purgation covering our whole dispensational era - “with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5: 8). “It is the sacred festival of a consecrated life, which should follow upon our union to Christ in His death” (Lange). Appropriately, therefore, to this section the Holy Spirit attaches excommunication for leaven retained (1 Cor. 5: 11), and a “cutting off” (Exod. 12: 19) from the [millennial] Kingdom of the [regenerate] believer guilty at the Bema of unexpelled leaven (1 Cor. 6: 9).  Sanctification is the process through which we are now supremely passing.


The next feast is not celebrated in the wilderness at all for it is ascension into heaven.  “When ye come into the land, ye shall reap the harvest thereof” (Lev. 23: 10). The seed are the children of the kingdom (Matt. 13: 38), planted in ever-recurring relays: the Saviour is both Sower (Matt. 13 37), and Reaper (Rev. 14: 15); so that the wheat is the crop sown between the two Advents; and the harvest is the garnering out of the field - from off the plains, and from out the bowels, of the earth, in a reaping accomplished after the wilderness Journey is over, in successive flights of resurrection and rapture. “The reapers,” our Lord says, “are angels” (Matt. 13: 39).  The harvest is exactly and minutely graded.  The first Sheaf - which is Christ (1 Cor. 15: 20); or, since a sheaf is a plurality of ears, the group that ascended after the resurrection, including Christ (Matt. 17: 53) is garnered while the feast of unleavened bread is still going on; then, when “seven sabbaths shall be complete” - the enormous lapse of a whole dispensational era - two first-fruit loaves, leavened, for they are types of rapt saints, not of Christ (Lev. 23: 17); these are followed, two or three weeks later, by the main harvest; and finally the batch is gleaned of un-reaped ears in the corners of the field - for even towards the close of the Day of the Lord (Rev. 16: 15) the characteristic Church warning for watchfulness goes forth.*

[* The type makes it as clear as anything can be that the field, which is the world (Matt. 13: 38), is reaped by a plurality of cuttings, and not by one swing of the scythe.  The enormous gap separating the Solitary Sheaf, with which no sin-offering is offered, from the Two Loaves, which are accompanied by sin-offerings, makes the guess that the Loaves are Pentecost manifestly impossible; for in that case the Loaves must have come immediately after Passover-Calvary, and before Leavenless Bread - the Church in her age-long walk of commanded separation.  The Lord’s own ruling of the type (Matt. 13: 39) shuts up the reaping to resurrection: the cutting of Firstfruits and Harvest is the same as the cutting of the Lonely Sheaf - ascension off the Field altogether.]


Atonement, or ‘covering’, follows; for the Day of Atonement, the awful crisis of the wrath of God, so covers sin finally as “to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness” (Dan. 9: 24).  In absolute loneliness the High Priest does it all; he confronts the wrath of God with the covering incense and the blood of the slain goat - Christ lifts Himself between the saved and the wrath of God; while “the temple was filled with the smoke from the glory of God, and from His power; and none was able to enter into the Temple till the seven plagues should be finished” (Rev. 15: 8).  It is Christ alone before the tribunal of Deity, sheltering His redeemed in the great day when God rises up to judgment; it is the inrush of the Blood between the saved and the outrush of the Divine wrath. Then follows the dismissal of the sin-laden goat into the wilderness - the living nations (the goats on the left hand), and later, the mustered dead before the Great White Throne, all adjudicated to Hell; and at last the High Priest puts off his sacrificial robes, all sin having been finally dealt with, and comes forth, clothed in his garments of beauty and glory, for His millennial and eternal reign.


Trumpets muster for war, and open actual battle against a foe; for the trumpet is a war-weapon; and so we read, as God's final judgments fall, “And I saw the seven angels which stand before God; and there were given unto them seven trumpets” (Rev. 8: 2).  These trumpet-blasts proclaim war against an earth in conscious rebellion against God: each trumpeting is followed by a judgment: six blasts still hope for repentance; the seventh, covering all the closing disasters, are pure, unadulterated, awful war.  And as the peculiarity of the feast of trumpets was that the trumpets were blown all day, from dawn to sunset, so, throughout the Day of the Lord, trumpet-blast follows trumpet-blast till its sun has set.  “The great day of the Lord is near: the mighty man crieth there bitterly.  That day is a day of wrath, a day of the trumpet, and of alarm” (Zeph. 1: 14).  God’s appalling thunders break the silence of two thousand years, rouse the world, wake the dead, and usher in the tremendous events that cluster at the end.  Finally, ‘the loud trumpet’ ushered in jubilee (Lev. 25: 9): so “the seventh angel sounded; and the kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ” (Rev. 11: 15). That seventh trumpet-blast covers a vast epoch: the last judgments descend; the millennial era - itself wholly judicial - runs its course; the great judgment takes place before the Great White Throne; and the final jubilee of the ages is ushered in.


The Feast of Tabernacles is the final mustering of the whole people of God, first for investigation and reward, and then for eternal bliss.  “On the first day shall be a solemn rest,” a holy assembling; “and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest”: that is, before the millennial age, and again before the eternal state, there will be musterings of God’s people; solemn gatherings, first for millennial, and then for eternal, joy.  In the words of Jehovah . “Thou shalt be altogether joyful [literally, ‘Thou shalt only rejoice’]” (Deut. 16: 15).  In every sabbatic year the Law was read to all Israel on the first day of Tabernacles, as ushering in a judicial era.  “When all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God, thou shalt read this Law before all Israel ” (Deut. 31: 11); and Ezra (Neh. 8: 18) read the Law throughout the seven days: for the whole millennial epoch is judicial; but it was not read on the eighth, for eternity is based on grace alone.

The supreme characteristic of the Feast of Tabernacles - its lavish burnt offerings - reveals a humanity thoroughly redeemed and devoted to God.  Its only sin-offering was the single slaughtered goat, daily offered: whereas the burnt offerings were twice as many as on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and five times as many as during Passover Week: so our devotion in that day will be twice as much as in our utmost sanctification now, for our body will then be redeemed as well as our spirit [soul]*; and it will be five times as much as in the moment of our conversion, for then “the ordinance of the law [five is the number of law] will be fulfilled in us" (Rom. 8: 4): and all the sacrifices are a multiple of seven, because it will be the revelation of Calvary perfectly understood and fully appropriated at last.

[* Our spirit and soul are not synonymous.  The animating spirit returns to God at the time of death; the soul descends into Hades – “in the heart of the earth  Both body and soul (of the dead) are be redeemed at the time of resurrection.]

So God's wonderful kindergarten of the Church’s history closes in the folding up of the pilgrim tent and the final entry into the city whose foundations are immovable and eternal.  The long pilgrimage is over.  Grounded on the Sabbath of redemption, which precedes, interpenetrates, and winds up all; born from above at the touch of the Passover blood; battling for holiness against a thousand forms of leaven; an enormous dispensational interlude of seven weeks then divides the first three feasts from the last four - three in the wilderness, four in the land; the first three in the first month, and the last three in the last month: so resurrection and rapture resume God’s work in harvest; war on a rebellious world is ushered in by trumpets; universal judgment blots out sin in the day of covering or atonement; and now, after tent life on earth and in heaven is over, on “the last day, the great day of the Feast” (John 7: 37) - for it is a symbol of eternity - is the final convocation of the redeemed. “On the eighth day shall be a solemn rest The main distinction of this eighth day was the abandonment of the booths, which were broken up, and the return of all the people into solid houses: it is a final passing of the pilgrim life, and the entry into the many mansions in the House of the Father.  This eighth day is sometimes regarded as in the Feast, sometimes not: the old calendar, strictly speaking, is over: the morning of the eighth day is the final Sabbath - God's eternal Rest never to be broken again by sin.  “And His servants shall do Him [liturgical] service [as priests]; and they shall see His face; and they shall reign for ever and ever" (Rev. 22: 3).