"A New Approach to Revelation" by Tricia Tillin (Part Three)
how the day of atonement Temple service sheds light on the book of revelation: Which Feast?
While it can be easily demonstrated that the Book of Revelation takes the form of a Temple service, why have I concluded that it is the Day of Atonement that is portrayed there? The writer tells us! He receives the vision on - and relating to - the "Day of the Lord". (Revelation 1:10). We should not confuse this with the later Church tradition of "the day of the Lord, i.e., Sunday". What John as a Jew and first-century believer meant was THE DAY - The Judgement Day, the Day of Atonement.
"We must remember two vital facts about the book of Revelation: First, it is a book of prophecy primarily concerning the time of Christ's coming and the events that lead up to it (Revelation 1:1-3, 7). Second, it is written by a Jew steeped in the language of the Old Testament. To him, the phrase en teé kuriakeé heeméra ("on the Lord's day")—and its Hebrew or Aramaic equivalent—would imply what is called in the Old Testament "the Day of the Lord," the time of the coming destruction that climaxes in the return of Christ (Isaiah 13:6, 9; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; Amos 5:18; etc.). In the introduction to E.W. Bullinger's Commentary on Revelation, he explains definitively that the "Lord's day" in Revelation 1:10 is not talking about the first day of the week."Also this "...On the Lord's day - Likely not a reference to Sunday (which is called the first day of the week in the NT) but literally a "lordian day," or an "imperial day" (the same adjective is used elsewhere only in 1 Cor. 11:20), referring to the contents of the vision that reveal the future time when Christ will judge and rule. [Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible]
Is Revelation about Tabernacles?
Some years ago, I had assumed that Revelation portrayed the entire Feast of Tabernacles, the winter feast of Israel, including the New Year celebration, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) itself and the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles).
I once assumed (mistakenly as it turned out) that the bowls cast down to earth by the angels in the latter part of the book were like the bowls of sacrificial blood dashed upon the altar on the Day of Atonement. I also assumed that the trumpets in Revelation, and the "last trump" of the Rapture were the same, and that both spoke of the Feast of Trumpets. However, the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4 is not referring his readers to the seven trumpets of Revelation. He would be unable to do so, since that book had not yet been written!
Just as Jesus used a variety of different parables to make the same point, so Paul and John used different illustrations to point to the same prophetic event. It is easy to confuse the two, but we should not.
"We cannot go to the Book of Revelation and say that the voice of the seventh angel (Revelation 11:15) is the last trump. In the first century, the last trump (shofar) meant a specific day in the year. In Judaism, there are three trumpets (shofarim) that have a name. They are the first trump, the last trump, and the great trump. Each one of these trumpets indicates a specific day in the Jewish year. The first trump is blown on the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) (Exodus [Shemot] 19:19). It proclaimed that G-d had betrothed Himself to Israel. The last trump is synonymous with Rosh HaShanah, according to Theodore Gaster in his book, Festivals of the Jewish Year, in his chapter on Rosh HaShanah. Herman Kieval also states the same thing in his book, The High Holy Days (Volume I, Rosh HaShanah, Chapter 5, Footnote 11), in the chapter on the shofar. The great trumpet is blown on Yom Kippur, which will herald the return of the Messiah Yeshua back to earth." (Hebraic Heritage Ministries, http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/2175/)
Is 27:13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem" ---- which day?
Is 27:1...the day that "the Lord with his severe sword, great and strong (that proceeds out of his mouth on the day of his coming, compare Rev 19:15) will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent (Red Dragon), that twisted serpent, and he will slay the reptile that is in the sea (the great beast arose from the sea, in which is the bottomless pit Rev 13:1)
Neilah: The Closing of the Gates of Heaven & The Coming of the Kingdom
The Feast of Trumpets is about various things, but the most important for our study in Revelation is about the crowning of the KING of this world. The trumpet blasts pronounce God's rulership and man's need to repent and obey. This opportunity is open throughout the festival, but ends at the closing blast of the shofar, the Tekiah Gedolah. Accompanying this is the final Yom Kippur prayer service, the Neilah, the Closing or Locking.
Neilah is the final service of Yom Kippur. It is the Jewish belief that the gates of Heaven are open during the days of repentance to receive prayers for forgiveness and that they close after the Neilah service. When the final blast of the shofar (the Shofar HaGadol, the Great Trumpet) is heard at the end of the Neilah service, those who have observed the day with sincerity should feel that they have been inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life. [Source]
In ancient times groups of laymen attended the sacrifice at the Second Temple in Jerusalem as representatives of the common people. Each day before sunset, when the Temple gates were being closed, these deputations prayed the Neilah [Source] Neilah means 'closing'. There are two views in the Talmud as to what is or was closing at this time. The first is that it refers to the Temple gates that were closed at the end of the day. The second is that it is the gates of heaven that are closing as daylight fades (Yerushalmi Berachot 4:1). "Open the gates," our liturgy says, "For day is nearly past." [Source]
As I show later on in the study, these 24 chosen representatives of Israel who are allowed to pass through the great gates into the Sanctuary area of the Temple, may be the 24 elders John saw in that area. Therefore it is very intriguing that Revelation 11:15-18 describes the very prayers of Neilah in their worship at the sounding of the seventh trumpet.
The 24 elders not only proclaim God as KING (Rev 11:17) but that same verse echoes the Neilah prayer "The One who is and was and who is to come". Compare this statement from a Jewish site, speaking of the Neilah affirmations: "This is followed by a threefold repetition of "Praised is His name, whose glorious kingdom for ever and ever," the line that is usually recited as a silent response to the Shema. This recalls the threefold declaration: "The Lord is king (present), the Lord was king (past), and the Lord will be king (future)." [Source]
Over and over, therefore, we have in the book of Revelation the prayers and ceremonies of Yom Kippur, the Day.
I will make here just one further observation on the blowing of the shofar. There are four different sounds associated with the Feast of Trumpets. They are explained as follows:
- Tekiah: A straight trumpet blast signifying Kingship. A pure unbroken sound that calls man to search his heart, and seek forgiveness through repentance.
- Shevarim: Three short notes representing a man moaning in repentance. A broken, staccato, trembling sound.
- Teruah: Nine staccato notes blown in rapid succession, similar to the wail of a person weeping in short bursts.
- Tekiah Gedolah: One Long Blast. The prolonged, unbroken sound typifying a final invitation to sincere repentance and atonement.
Notice particularly the "Shevarim" blast. "Three short notes typifying sorrow..." Does that not reflect what the angel said (8:13) about the three last blasts of the Revelation trumpets? Woe, Woe, Woe might even be a description of the very sound the shofar made. In Hebrew 'woe' is OY (o'-ee) and in Greek it is OUAI: (oo-ah'-ee)
It will help understanding to briefly outline both the Feast of Tabernacles and the Day of Atonement itself, to show the reasons for my conclusion - because there are important differences that demonstrate it is ONLY the Atonement [Yom Kippur] ceremonies being performed in Revelation.
Feasts Fulfilled and Unfulfilled
The feast days of the Old Testament were intended to demonstrate the redemption of God's people. Jesus Christ gave his life as the lamb of God at Passover, and rose again at the waving of the Firstfruits. The Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost. These Spring and Summer feast-types have been fulfilled but the Autumn feast days have not.
In the Autumn (called the Fall in countries other than the UK where I live) there are three feasts close together that all have to do with HARVEST. They are Rosh HaShanah (the Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement and holiest day of the year, called simply THE DAY [Yoma] in Jewish literature), and Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths). Prophetic in nature, all three remain to be fulfilled.
* A useful page with illustrations can be seen here www.pray4zion.org/Thelast3FallFeastsoftheLord2014.html
Rosh HaShanah is the "head of the year" or the New Year celebration. The Biblical name for this holiday is called Yom Teruah (Hebrew: יום תרועה, literally "day [of] shouting/raising a noise") or the Feast of Trumpets according to the correct biblical calendar of the 1st and 2nd Temple period, not Rosh HaShanah. The ram's horn or Shofar is blown on this important day, and the total number of blasts on Rosh HaShanah is one hundred.
But - importantly - this is not the END of judgement, but the BEGINNING. It is the first of the High Holy Days or Yamim Nora'im ("Days of Awe") which usually occur in the early autumn. [See for example this page.]
In the Talmud tractate on Rosh HaShanah, it states that three books of account are opened on Rosh HaShanah, wherein the fate of the wicked, the righteous, and those of an intermediate class are recorded. The names of the righteous are immediately inscribed in the BOOK OF LIFE, and they are SEALED "to live."
The intermediate class are allowed a respite of ten days, until Yom Kippur, to reflect, repent and become righteous; the wicked are "blotted out of the book of the living forever." (Compare Revelation 3:5)
It is - for Israel - a time for serious reflection, fasting and repentance.. And that repentance and confession before God needed to be serious and genuine, even according to the Old Testament law, otherwise there was no atonement for sins. It is a time to cast away sin, as symbolized by the traditional act of Tashlich ('to cast') where Jewish people visit a body of moving water and cast bread crumbs into the water – this symbolically "casts away" the sin into the river.
Yom Kippur is the Day of Judgement
In Jewish liturgy, Rosh HaShanah leads to Yom Kippur, which is described as "the day of judgement" (Yom ha-Din) and "the day of remembrance" (Yom ha-Zikkaron). A prayer of that day says "You cause every living soul to pass before you; you count, reckon and review every creature, determining its lifetime and inscribing its destiny. On Rosh HaShanah it is inscribed, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed".
It is also in Jewish tradition "the coronation of God as King of the universe in preparation for the acceptance of judgements that will follow on that day, symbolized as "written" into a Divine book of judgments, that then hang in the balance for ten days [Days of Awe] waiting for all to repent, before being "sealed" on Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement]."
Yom Kippur / Atonement
As mentioned above, this most solemn of days in the Jewish calendar and Old Testament was special in a number of ways. On that day the High Priest alone performed the ceremonies and sacrifices. On that day, cleansing of sin was obtained for all by a special series of sacrifices. Also, on that one day of the year he was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies, and to see the very throne of God.
NOTE: Although we use the word "Atonement" for this feast day and throughout the English translation of the bible, there is no such word in Hebrew. Indeed, the word needed to be specially created for the purpose of translating "kippur" which means expiation - literally covering. "By the early 16th century, "at-one" was a transitive verb meaning "to achieve a state of at-one-ness, or reconciliation, between two parties" (The Forward, "On Language," 9/21/07). And it was William Tyndale, in his 1530 translation of the Hebrew Bible, who coined the English phrase, "day of at-one-ment," to translate the Hebrew Yom hakippurim in the Torah. Where he could have used the English version of the Latin translation of the Hebrew word "kippurim"— the more common word "expiation"—he instead chose what was then a new word, "atonement." In his translation, Tyndale affirmed that the response to the defiling power of sin is the restorative power of connection, the power of "at-one-ing." [Source]
Yom Kippur is "the tenth day of [the] seventh month" (Tishrei) and also regarded as the "Sabbath of Sabbaths".This day completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days or Yamim Nora'im ("Days of Awe") that commenced with Rosh HaShanah.
Unlike the other Jewish holidays, the Day of Atonement was no festive event. It was a day of national mourning and repentance. This was a Sabbath day celebration, which meant that no work could be done (Lev. 23:26-32). Anyone who did not observe this Sabbath was to be cut off from his people (Lev. 23:29), which is a euphemism for being put to death. Beyond this, this was a day when the people were to "humble their souls" (cf. Lev. 16:31; 23:27; Num. 29:7), which, according to many, included fasting. This would thus be the only religious holiday which was characterized by mourning, fasting, and repentance. [Source]
On the Day of Atonement, the high priest himself performed the offering of the daily sacrifice, the incense offering, and the other sacred duties. After a series of immersions and ablutions he offered a bull as his personal sin-offering. He confessed his own and his family's sins, the sins of the tribe of Aaron (the priests), and those of all Israel (Lev. 16:6).
Every time he uttered the holy name of God, the 'Tetragrammaton' which was uttered only on the Day of Atonement, the people prostrated themselves and responded: "Blessed be His Name whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever" (see Tosef., Sot. 13:8; Yoma 39b). During the service of the high priest, this procedure was repeated ten times (Tosef., Yoma 2:2), or, according to another source (TJ, Yoma 3:7), 13 times.
The high priest then drew two lots from a wooden box, one inscribed "For Azazel" [or just the single word Azazel] and the other "For the Lord." The role of each was determined by the lots. The high priest sent the goat "For Azazel" into the desert and he offered the other as a sin-offering.
Special white linen garments were worn, the people had to be in a state of mourning and fasting, and sacrifices were offered that differed from any other day of the year. These were intended to obtain cleansing from the sins of the nation, the priests and the High Priest himself, along with the Temple and Sanctuary itself. It was a total cleansing of all defilement.
The fate of the two goats used that day will be familiar to many: one was sacrificed and its blood sprinkled in the Holy of Holies and the other was dispatched far away to the desert, never to return. (In later years the Jews made sure it could never return by throwing it off a cliff.) As there was no equivalent word in English for the Azazel, the word "scapegoat" was invented when the bible was translated..
All of these rituals will be examined in depth later on because they all have a mirror-image in the book of Revelation.
Sukkot / Tabernacles
The seventh (and final) feast given to Israel is called Sukkot or the "Feast of Tabernacles." The word Sukkot means "booths." During this week-long festival many Jewish families construct a booth or hut in which meals are eaten throughout the festival. It reminds Israel of the huts (Sukkot) that they lived in during their 40 year sojourn in the desert after the exodus from Egypt. This happy time is one of the three great pilgrimage feasts recorded in the Bible when all Jewish males were required to appear before the Lord in the Temple in Jerusalem.
As can be easily seen from the bible accounts and Jewish tradition, this time of living in specially-constructed booths points to the Lord's promise that He will once again tabernacle with His people when He returns to reign over all the world from Jerusalem. (Micah 4:1-7).
It also has the meaning "The Feast of Ingathering" since it comes at the time of harvest. After Israel entered the Promised Land, Sukkot was associated with the harvest at the end of the year. Certain customs were incorporated into the observance of Sukkot, including decorating the sukkah, performing special "wave" ceremonies of the "Four Species" (i.e., the lulav), and circling the synagogue in a processional while singing hymns. In Revelation 7:9 we see the great multitude of people waving their palms before the Throne because for them the time of mourning has ended and their joyful festival of praise has begun. They ARE the "ingathering", the harvest of God!
While the Jews looked back to the wanderings in the desert, we Christians look forward to the joyful time when God will once again dwell with his people. This is the true meaning of the Feast of Booths.
Beloved, I don't know when the Lord Yahushua is coming back. But I believe that symbolically we are in the sixth month of the Jewish calendar–the month of Elul–the month of preparation for the first day of the seventh, holy month Tishrei which is Rosh HaShanah–the Feast of Trumpets which prophetically points to His return! If you belong to Him, you have been through the four spring feasts which have already been fulfilled in Jesus Christ–Pesach (Passover) when the blood was applied to your heart through His death, Unleavened Bread when you were freed from sin and buried with Him, Firstfruits when you experienced His resurrection power of new life after conversion and Shavuot (Pentecost) when you were baptized in the Holy Ghost for power in ministry. You are now in the sultry summer months of the Jewish calendar, waiting for the final three feasts to begin in the fall. As you walk through the fourth month, the fifth month, the sixth month, your eyes are on that seventh month prize–HIS GLORIOUS RETURN (Feast of Trumpets–Rosh HaShanah), JUDGMENT DAY (Day of Atonement–Yom Kippur) and ETERNITY WITH HIM (Feast of Tabernacles–Sukkot). [Source]
So Why is Revelation the Day of Atonement?
From all seen above, the links between Revelation and Yom Kippur may have become apparent already. If not, here are a few additional thoughts. The Day of Atonement, as portrayed in Revelation is:
- The Day of Judgement and most solemn day of the year
- The closing of the door of Heaven and the final opportunity to repent
- The sealing into the Book of Life
- The restoration of Israel
- The establishment of the King and Kingdom
- The wearing of white garments (mentioned several times in Revelation)
- The only day that God's Throne (in the holy of holies) is seen
- The day on which Jews believed satan appeared to accuse God's people
- The day in which the 'Azazel' goat was cast down
- The day that began in mourning, fasting and prayer but ended in joyful celebration
And as we go on through this study, many more reasons will emerge.
If you are interested, intrigued, confused, or just want to give me some feedback, please e-mail me direct: Contact Page
© 2014 Tricia Tillin-Booth. All rights reserved. Birthpangs Website: http://www.birthpangs.org/ This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information. One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.