The Rapture and Jewish Feasts
February 23, 2017
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
There is a growing movement to interpret the Jewish Feast of Trumpets as pointing to the Rapture of the church, and dates have been set based on that interpretation. In other words, according to this view, the Rapture will occur on the Feast of Trumpets (the Jewish date of Tishri 1, which usually occurs in September).

Based on this view, some have claimed that the Rapture would occur in September 2011; others claimed it would occur in 2015. Now some are saying it will occur in 2017.

According to vain Jewish tradition, the Feast of Trumpets, (Lev. 23:23-25), or Rosh HaShanah, is the beginning of 10 Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) that end with Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. During this time, God supposedly weighs every man’s work to determine who will be written in His books, who will live and die, who will have a good life or a bad life for the next year. The judgment is based on one’s works during the Days of Awe (e.g., repentance, prayer, obedience, acts of charity). The individual’s fate is then sealed on Yom Kippur.

Of course, the real meaning of these Feasts point to Israel’s repentance during the Tribulation and her cleansing by the blood of Jesus the Christ and national regeneration by God’s Spirit (Zec. 13:1). The Day of Atonement was the day when the high priest brought blood into the holy of holies and sprinkled it on the mercy seat, signifying the cross of Jesus Christ (Lev. 16:15-19). No work is allowed on the Day of Atonement. This is emphasized three times (Lev. 23:28, 30, 31), signifying the fact that salvation is entirely of God’s grace (Eph. 2:8-9). In that day Israel will finally stop going about to seek her own righteousness and will put her faith in the free righteousness of God through Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:3-4). The Day of Atonement is a day of afflicting the soul (Lev. 23:27), signifying repentance. When Israel is converted, she will mourn and afflict herself (Zec. 12:10-14). Yom Kippur is followed closely by the Feast of Tabernacles, which points to Christ’s millennial kingdom. It looks back to the deliverance of Israel from Pharaoh in Egypt (Lev. 23:43) and looks ahead to Israel’s deliverance from the Antichrist. The feast of tabernacles will be kept in the Millennium (Zec. 14:16).

Consider some fundamental Bible truths that can protect God’s people from the bogus prophecy ministries that have proliferated on the Internet:

Any man that sets a date or even suggests a date, even with a disclaimer -- is wrong (Mat. 24:34, 36, 39, 44, 50; 25:13; Mark 13:32-37). (Many date setters even say that they aren’t setting dates!) We can see the day of the Lord approaching (Hebrews 10:25, e.g., the state of Israel and the preparations for the building of the Third Temple), but we cannot know the time. Date setters have a wide variety of ways that they justify their actions, but the bottom line is that every date setter or date suggestioner is wrong and should be rejected out of hand. They have brought great reproach to the cause of Jesus Christ. William Miller claimed that Christ would return in 1844. The Jehovah’s Witnesses announced the end of world in 1874, 1878, 1881, 1910, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1941, 1975, and 1984. In Future Survival (1978), Chuck Smith “I’m convinced that the Lord is coming for His Church before the end of 1981.” Edgar Whisenant published 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988 and then 89 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1989. Rabbi Menachem Schneerson said the Messiah would come in 1991. Mission for the Coming Days, a Korean cult, said Christ would come in October 1992. F.M. Riley of The Last Call predicted 1994 as The Year of Destiny. Stan Johnson of the Prophecy Club claimed a “90 percent” chance for the Rapture in September 1997. Marilyn Agee saw The End of the Age coming in May 1998. In his video A.D. 2000--the End? Jack Van Impe strongly suggested that the Lord would return in 2000. Harold Camping set dates for 1988, 1994, and then for May 21, 2011. Finally in March 2012, Camping issued an apology and renounced date setting, but by then he had misled and confused a lot of people.

As a foundational rule of Bible interpretation, it is unwise to develop doctrine on types and parables. They illustrate doctrine, but they don’t provide the foundation for doctrine. By their very nature, the right interpretation of types and parables depends on other Scripture.

The doctrine of the Rapture must be built directly from New Testament passages, because it is a mystery, which refers to truth unknown to Old Testament prophets but revealed in the New Testament Scripture (1 Cor. 15:51-54).

We must never confuse Israel with the church (1 Cor. 10:32). There is actually a blowing of trumpets for both groups of people. One trumpet is for church-age saints (1 Cor. 15:52). The other trumpet is for Israel (Mat. 24:30-31; Joel 2:1; Isa. 27:13). 

The doctrine of the imminency of the Rapture is a foundational Bible truth. This means that the Rapture is always at hand, but its time cannot be known (Mat. 24:42, 44; 25:13; Mk. 13:33; Phil. 4:5; 1 The. 1:9-10; Tit. 2:13; Jam. 5:8-9; 1 Pet. 4:7). The fact that Christ’s return for church-age saints is imminent means that we cannot know the day, the week, the month, the year, or even the decade. If we could know any of that, His return would not be imminent. It also means that the Rapture will occur before the events of Daniel’s 70th Week (Dan. 9:24-27), which pertains to Israel, and which is described in more detail in Revelation 6-18. Once the Antichrist comes on the scene as the great peace man and signs a covenant with Israel, the timing of Christ’s Second Coming can be counted down year by year.

The Bible says that “he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way” (2 Th. 2:7). The context is the devil’s mystery of iniquity program to put the Antichrist on the throne of the world, and the One who restrains this program is God the Holy Spirit who came at Pentecost to empower the Church for world evangelization (Acts 1:8). Paul is saying that the Spirit of God will restrain the forces of evil until He is ready to allow the final events to proceed to fulfillment. The times are always in God’s hands (Dan. 2:21). 2 Thessalonians 2:7 has some wonderful implications. For one, regardless of how brightly the prophetic signs glow, we can never know when the church age will end and Daniel’s Seventieth Week will begin. Another implication of 2 Thessalonians 2:7 is that God’s people need never fret about the times (Psalm 37:1-4).

Jesus taught His people to focus on the Great Commission, not on speculative prophecy (Acts 1:6-8). Christ’s words here don’t mean that the study of prophecy is without value. In fact, a large part of Scripture consists of prophecy, and it has great value. I love to study and teach on prophecy (e.g., my book The Future According to Bible Prophecy). Prophecy is a great light and motivator in the Christian life, and I am convinced that the churches should study prophecy far more than most of them do. But Acts 1:6-8 is a warning that constant speculation about the “times and seasons” is the wrong emphasis, at best.

2 Peter 3:9 tells us plainly why the Lord is waiting. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” God loves sinners. Christ died to save souls, and the saving of souls requires the preaching of the gospel, which is what Christ has commissioned the churches to do in this present dispensation (Mark 16:15).

These biblical truths have helped me immensely through the years. Not only have they enabled me to reject every date setter but also to avoid being swept up in various hysterias, such as Y2K.

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