Tag Archives: END OF THE WORLD

The Future: Jesus in the Feast of Tabernacles

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve written about God’s rescue and rest—the heart of His ordained fall festivals. Trumpets and Atonement deal with His rescue. The final festival, Tabernacles/Booths (Hebrew Sukkoth), celebrates the rest God gave Israel when He rescued her from Egypt about 3,500 years ago. Importantly, it looks forward to the rest God will give His people in the new age. Before exploring the feast’s significance, let’s look at some details and its background.

God implemented the feast so that Israel would remember His provision and shelter during the 40 years they wandered in the desert. It begins five days after Atonement on 15 Tishri, is eight days long, and identifies a completion of the harvest and, therefore, the agricultural year. In the ‘feast context,’ Trumpets happens on 1 Tishri, Atonement happens ten days later on 10 Tishri after the ‘ten days of awe’ for repentance, and Tabernacles occurs five days later.

Today, Tabernacles is Israel’s Thanksgiving for the fall harvest. It’s a party, as people are invited to come and eat and drink and enjoy God’s harvest provision and view creation at night. How do they do that? Well, per God’s instructions, they sleep in a three-sided booth. A relatively open roof made of sticks and leaves allows the inhabitants to see God’s handiwork. This reminds me of Psalm 19:1-2:

“. . . The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge.”

The feast celebrates God’s rest for His Old Covenant people, Israel. It also looks forward to fulfillment when God returns His creation to perfection and once again dwells with His people:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. . . . And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’” (Revelations 21:1-4)

To summarize the fall feasts of God, terrible times happen, and worse are coming, but God will insert Himself into human history when He’s ready and bring rescue and rest for everyone who is His. Where will we go next week? I mentioned the word ‘perfection’ in this article, so let’s learn what the word means in the original language and explore character traits that can keep our fellowship with God perfect.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

The Future: Jesus in the Feast of Atonement

The fall feasts of God celebrate and look forward to rescue and rest. They occur in September or October, depending on the near-total darkness of the sun and moon over Israel and begin with the Feast of Trumpets, which marks the new year and is called the ‘in-gathering.’ In the future, it will announce the rescue of God’s people before His judgment, which will fulfill the Feast of Atonement.

Atonement happens ten days after Trumpets. The time between the two is called the ‘ten days of awe’ used for repentance. On the annual Day of Atonement, the priest entered the innermost part of the Temple to atone for Israel’s sins (temporarily cover the debt to God, so to speak, with the blood of animal sacrifices). Significantly, the Jews believed that God’s final judgment would happen on the Day of Atonement in the future. It makes sense considering that all the other intentional feast days by God were, or will be, fulfilled.

Indeed, Jesus told His disciples in about 26AD and showed the apostle John in a vision in roughly 90AD about this judgment following the future ingathering and subsequent resurrection of all humans:

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:31-32)

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.” (Revelation 20:11-12)

So, how did or does Jesus fulfill this feast? By willingly dying on a horrible instrument of Roman torture and death 2,000 years ago. It’s important to understand that atonement means ‘reparation’ or to make right. In a sense, it’s to repay a debt or settle the books. Jesus began this atoning work by being the one perfect sacrifice to satisfy humanity’s debt to the Creator, who will complete it through His judgment preceding the new age. More on that next week when we dive into the final God-ordained feast and the one we genuinely look forward to, Tabernacles.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

The Future, Jesus in the Feast of Trumpets

Rescue. Rest. God has, does, and will save people who are His and renew them. The spring feast of Passover celebrates God’s power to do just that, beginning with rescuing His people from Egypt nearly 3,500 years ago. Unleavened Bread and Pentecost, also in the springtime, remind us to be set apart for God’s purpose: partnership with Him in returning creation to the perfection it once enjoyed before we messed everything up. If we do this, we too will find rescue and rest at the end of this world to which the fall feasts of God look forward.

There are three God-ordained fall feasts: Feast of Trumpets (often called Rosh Hashanah because it heads up the new year), Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth). And just like “Passover” comprises Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits, “Tabernacles” comprises Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles.

The fall feasts beginning with Trumpets happen within 28 days in September or October, depending on the lunar calendar. Trumpets begins on the first of Tishri, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, and is the only holiday on the first day of the month at the new moon. This time of near-total darkness will be significant to Christ’s future fulfillment of the fall feasts upon His return.

Anyway, this time called the “in-gathering” celebrates the harvest of the earth and is a shadow (forerunner) of the harvest of humans at the end of this age—some for destruction (by their choices) and some for eternal life with God. Again, the three fall feasts together celebrate rescue and rest in the past and to come. The feast and future fulfillment begin with a blasting of the trumpets.

“Ron, why trumpets??” Trumpets in the Old Covenant represented God’s voice and power in warfare (e.g., Numbers 10). Blowing them was a warning that something extraordinary was about to take place. In the beginning, it was the ingathering of God’s people at Sinai to be in His presence (Exodus 19). It will announce the gathering of God’s people at the end of this age (e.g., Matthew 24:31; 1Thessalonians 4:16).

For more information about Christ’s return and God’s coming rescue and rest, please consider studying Finding the End of The World—the result of decades of research, writing, and teaching on the subject. Next week, we’ll continue our fall festival discussion with Atonement (Yom Kippur).

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Here Comes the Bride!

We’ve made it through four of seven feasts or festivals ordained by God. Well done! Let’s pause before going to the final three feasts in the fall. Why? Because Jesus’ consummation of the springtime feasts and His departure and impending return fulfill something else: the Jewish wedding process, beginning with betrothal. In other words, He and we are fulfilling a dress rehearsal for our relationship with Him and entrance into the age to come. Please allow me to share this unfolding love story with you.

God called Israel His ‘bride.’ We are Christ’s bride because He and we have fulfilled the marriage covenant since Jesus’ time on earth. No other relationship between humans should be as close as husband and wife, so it makes sense. Here are but a few parts of the ancient ceremony that have, and will be, completed:

  • The father of a potential groom would search for a wife for his son. When a suitable bride had been found, the two families would meet to discuss the possible union. If the young man and woman agreed, they would essentially say, “I will be yours if you will be mine!” This is akin to what God said to His bride, Israel. Our selection for the groom can be seen in 2Corinthians 11:2.
  • To cement the deal, the couple would drink from a cup of wine called the “cup of the covenant” (Matthew 26:27-28). This was the Cup of Redemption, the third of four cups of the Passover Jesus took with His disciples, and it is the foundation of today’s Communion cup. What about the fourth cup? We’ll enjoy that at the marriage ceremony at the transition of the ages (Matthew 26:29; Revelation 19:6-9).
  • After vows, gifts, and ceremonial bathing (like baptism), the couple separated. The boy and his father would build a home for the couple (John 14:2-3 for fulfillment). This separation would typically last a year; however, we continue to wait. Why? Because God’s timing is His timing, He’ll delay until those who’ll accept His mercy have had the opportunity (2Peter 3:7-9).
  • Then, at a time known only to him, the groom’s father summoned the groomsmen to announce the wedding ceremony with shouts and trumpets. We see this in the future in Matthew 24:31. The father started the process; he’ll finish it when he’s ready. So, Jesus’ comment, “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Mark 13:32) made sense to the disciples.

I realize that some people use Jesus’ statement to support an anytime, imminent return and judgment. However, there will be a sequence and signs, as we’ll see in the fall feast articles. Next week, we’ll move to the fall feasts, likely related to Christ’s eventual return and the transition of the ages, including the marriage feast I mentioned above.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Jesus in the Passover

Last week, I introduced the feasts and festivals God ordained about 3,500 years ago. Four happen in the springtime and three in the fall. The spring feasts/festivals are Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost. The fall festivals are Trumpets, Atonement, and Booths (Sukkot). The feasts and festivals were types (dress rehearsals) to be fulfilled by Jesus: the spring feasts at His first coming and the fall feasts upon His return. In this column, we’ll take a deeper look at how He fulfilled the feast of Passover about 2,000 years ago.

First, the original Passover in about 1445 BCE was part of the final plague in God’s plan to free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. In the 10th plague, God took the life of every firstborn male, both human and animal. That is unless a God-fearing person such as the Israelite put the blood of a blemish-free lamb above the door and on the doorposts as a sign that death should ‘pass over.’

Second, Jews were (and are) to remember what God did for them through the annual Passover feast. The priests would select blemish-free lambs from a holding pen at the appropriate time in March or April (depending on the lunar calendar). They would then inspect them for four days before sacrificing the animals to be cooked and eaten during an evening meal to remember the original Passover. Jesus became the blemish-free lamb (sacrificially speaking) inspected for four days by the religious leaders and slaughtered to spill His blood to free God-fearing Christ-followers from sin and death. His sacrifice has released them from the bondage of sin just as God freed the Israelites from the bondage of the Egyptians.

Third, the bread had to be cooked in a hurry without yeast. There was no time to let it rise before the Israelites had to ‘beat feet’ in a hurry to escape the wrath of the Egyptian Pharoah. This flatbread, still cooked and eaten during the annual Passover feast, has tiny holes in it and the stripes made by cooking over a fire and grating. Some believe that these represent the piercings and stripes Isaiah foretold (Isaiah 53:5) and Jesus fulfilled.

Finally, the Passover feast incorporates four cups of wine. The third is called the ‘Cup of Redemption’ and is likely the one Jesus presented to His disciples as the cup of the new covenant (Matthew 26:27-28). Just afterward, He explained that He would not drink with them again until they are together in heaven in the future (verse 29). Indeed, we see in Revelation that God-fearing Christ-followers will celebrate the marriage feast in heaven together when all will be fulfilled (Revelation 19:6-9), and we will enjoy this fourth cup of wine, aptly named the Cup of Praise.  Next week, let’s dive head-first into the next feast/festival ordained by God in the spring feasts: Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley (www.ronbraley.com)

The Feasts of God, an Introduction

God appointed certain times for specific things (Leviticus 23:4) and put stars, planets, and constellations in a particular order and position to mark them. (Genesis 1:14). For instance, some seasons and feasts were, and are, dress rehearsals for fulfilling God’s words. Jesus’ first coming in the 1st century AD and his second coming to occur at the end of our current age/world (Colossians 2:16-17) have fulfilled (and will fulfill) them. What about the feasts?

God ordained seven of them. Four occur in springtime: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost. Three more happen in the fall:  Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), Atonement, and Tabernacles (Sukkot). The Jews were required to visit the Temple in Jerusalem for three feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Let’s take a brief peek at each of the seven events.

Spring Feasts of the Lord (fulfilled by Jesus’ first coming): Roughly March to May)

Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread: These first two spring feasts commemorate the salvation of the Hebrews from God’s judgment against Pharaoh and their exodus from Egypt in about 1445 BC. Passover commences on the 14th day of the first month at twilight. The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts for seven days, beginning the day after Passover.

Feast of Firstfruits: This marks the beginning of the harvest period and allows Israel to present the first fruits of that harvest to God in thanksgiving. It occurs 50 days before the Feast of Weeks.

The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost): This feast happens 50 days after the feast of Firstfruits to signal the end of the grain harvest and give thanks to God for His provision.

Fall Feasts of the Lord (will be fulfilled by Jesus’ return to earth): September or October

The Feast of Trumpets: This ‘memorial of blowing of trumpets’ happens on the first day of the seventh month (usually September).

The Day of Atonement: The event is meant to be a time of atonement for the Jews and will most likely mark the manifestation of salvation and reconciliation between God and Israel at the end of the ‘time of the gentiles’ (cf. Luke 21:24 and Romans 11:25-27).

The Feast of Tabernacles: Finally, this feast commemorates the Israelites’ time in the desert just before entering the land of Canaan. During the festival, which lasts seven days, Jews are compelled to live in structures (booths) made of branches, twigs, and leaves. The event will most likely be fulfilled when God makes all things new and once again resides with people in combined heaven and earth.

Where will we go next week? Let’s kick off our deep dive into God’s ordained feasts by learning of Jesus in the Passover!

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Living Water: Refreshing & Transformative

Have you ever heard of the ‘woman at the well’—the Samaritan woman who believed in Jesus and ran throughout the town telling the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven to anyone who would listen? I thought so! But what do you know about the ‘living water’ God offered her (and still does through Jesus)?

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’” (John 4:10) “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

The ‘living water’ is the life that comes only through God. The Old Testament folks knew this through their prophets, and they looked forward to the day when the Living Water (the manifestation of God’s promise through Jesus) would come. The Samaritan woman, not knowing of the Old Testament references, believed that Jesus was talking about fresh, running water like the spring that fed the well. So, why didn’t the Samaritan woman understand what Jesus said?

The Samaritans honored only the first five books of the Bible. So, they didn’t know about the Living Water promise through the prophets. For instance, through Jeremiah’s prophecies, we learn that God was, and is, the fountain of Living Waters (Jeremiah 2:13 & 17:13). And from Isaiah, we learn of the Living Water as springs of salvation (Isaiah 12:2-3). According to the Apostle John, Jesus is the One who can give Living Water that comes from the Father above, and our faith in Him and the resulting faithfulness bring the rivers of Living Water by the Spirit. (Joh 4:10, 7:38, & 3:5).

Also, consider Jesus’ glimpse into the future when all who are God’s in the age to come will be continually refreshed by this Living Water: “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb … The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” (Revelation 22:1 & 17)

So, the Living Water is the refreshing God gives. How do we receive it? By answering God’s call with complete devotion to Him. He will then provide you with His Spirit (hence, the regeneration from above and the Spirit from John 3:5). Where will we go next week? Well, Passover is coming. So, I thought I’d introduce the feasts and festivals ordained by God and then dive into each one in the following weeks.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

How Dry I Am! How Dry . . .

“Dude! I don’t I feel God’s presence? Maybe He has left me!” You’d be surprised at how often these thoughts or questions come up! Perhaps you’ve wondered or asked them yourself. It’s OK. Let’s talk about why we think we need to ‘feel’ the presence of God.

Our creator designed us to bear His image.

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . . God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)

Do you know that He and the One we know as Jesus felt emotion (and, logically, still do)?

God: “Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” (Psalm 103:13)

Jesus: “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him . . .” (Mark 10:21); “When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’” (Luke 7:13)

We are imagers of God. He operates by free will; so do we (with good or bad consequences!). He feels; we feel. So God understands our emotions. The downside is that we can mistake feeling for Spirit and go into a tailspin when we don’t ‘feel’ Him. The truth is that, although our interaction with God can produce human feelings, the Spirit of God isn’t an emotion. He is either with us or not, regardless of what we feel. Old Covenant Elijah and David exemplify this reality.

God was with Elijah, as evidenced by His destruction of pagan priests and an animal sacrifice (1 Kings 18:20-40). He was probably on top of the world! Yet, he had a complete reversal when running from King Ahab soon afterward. Elijah was so depressed that he wished to die. He didn’t ‘feel’ the presence of God. However, he learned that God had not left Him as revealed in a ‘gentle wind’ (1 Kings 19:11-13).

David? Within the first 100 Psalms, you’ll discover quickly that David’s emotions were up one minute, down the next. He knew that God was his foundation (e.g., Psalm 18), but, later, he cries, “Where are you?!?” (as in Psalm 13).

And then there’s my dear wife, who felt like she was in a ‘spiritual desert’ for several years. Once she realized that God had been with her all the time and was waiting for her to do her job of introducing His Kingdom to others in work, play, and life, her outlook changed, and she’s been fine ever since.

In summary, our emotions (or lack thereof!) may keep us from remembering that God gives His Spirit to His own; feelings are ours. Next week, we’ll take a deep dive into Jesus’ washings in the upper room as we contrast born-again forgiveness and continued forgiveness.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

White Robes & Green Thumbs

What do white robes and green thumbs have to do with each other? Lots! In our Christian faith, you must have both to grow and persevere until the rescue (salvation) that will come when Christ returns (1Peter 1:3-5). Allow me to explain.

White robes imply a setting apart (holiness) from worldly things for the things of God. And the things for which we’re to be set apart are purity and good works and spiritual growth and maturity.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” —Ephesians 2:10.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that belief without productive faith will buy ‘fire insurance!’ Jesus said that would result in destruction (John 15:2-6). James confirmed that knowledge without action is dead (James 2:14-26). But righteousness (abiding by God’s standard) and holiness will earn a white robe and rescue at the end of this world and an eternity with God:

“After these things, I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands … And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” —Revelation 7:9-14.

White robes are good. But where does the ‘green thumb’ fit in? Well, living by God’s standard and doing good works out of faith don’t come naturally. They happen because of a change of heart (mind) and spiritual maturity. We must decide to receive the wisdom of God and learn how to grow it and put it to work. Jesus explained this in a parable about spiritual soil (Matthew 13:1-9 (parable) and 18-23 (explanation)).

Briefly, the parable showcases four kinds of people as an analogy of sowing and soil. The first is on no ground, the person who doesn’t understand the things of God and rejects them. The second is rocky soil: receiving wisdom but being unproductive. The third is thorny ground, representing the worrisome and greedy, intentionally and selfishly unfruitful. The fourth is good soil: the person who receives the good news of God’s Kingdom and matures accordingly. The green thumb in good soil earns a white robe.

Do you have a ‘white robe?’ Well, it depends on your soil and willingness to receive truth and grow in it. What kind of soil are you? Let me know if you need some fertilizer! I realized too late that I was to address healthy conflict resolution and dealing with anger last week. So, let’s go there next week.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

“I Am” or “I Will Be”??

You may have heard God referred to as “The Great I AM.” In fact, Exodus 3:14 states that God is “I AM WHO I AM” in most if not all Bibles. But did God really call Himself the “I AM” in the original language as if He needed to prove His existence? Or did the Hebrew phrase mean something else? Let’s see.

About 500 years after God formed a covenant with Abram, Moses encountered God. He asked about His name in Exodus 3:13-14: “Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM;” and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

The ancient Hebrew language in Exodus 3:13-14 refers to God as Ehyeh:  “And God said to Moses, ‘Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh.’” He continued, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites, ‘Ehyeh sent me to you.’”

The Hebrew word Ehyeh was understood, and, I believe, is best translated as, “I WILL BE—not “I AM.” Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh should be understood as “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.” There’s evidence showing that early Church Fathers wrote it this way. This rendering is also present in the first modern English translation of the Bible (Myles Coverdale, 1535).

Now, I realize we’re told that God is the ‘Great I Am.’ But this translation may not follow the intended meaning of the Hebrew text. And, it implies that God needs to convince people that He exists. The rendering of “I WILL BE” makes much more sense when we remember that God is a God of action, of kept promises. For instance, He will be a provider (Matthew 6:26), be a shepherd (Psalm 23), and be a healer (Exodus 15:26). Here are two other examples:

“And I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.” (Zechariah 8:8)

“FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.” (Hebrews 8:10)

God will indeed be yours if you will be His! Reach out to take the next step! So, what will we dive into next week? We’ll explore our deadly consumeristic “McDonalds” Christianity.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley