The Feast of Trumpets & The Day of Atonement

G. B. Fyfe, London

Part 5 of 6 of the series The Feasts of the Lord

FIFTH FEAST. THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS

We come now to the first of the second group of feasts which is the Feast of Trumpets. The other two in this category are the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Transition.

As has been previously remarked the first set of Feasts, four in number, have their fulfilment in Christianity, while the second group are prospective in character and look forward to Israel’s restoration.

A new section of Leviticus 23 begins therefore at verse 23, the 22nd verse marking the period of transition between the first group of feasts and the second. This link-verse may denote the tribulation period telling us that when the harvest had once been reaped no gleaning was to be allowed. After the removal of the Church there will doubtless be gleanings under the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom, but those who reject the truth today will be smitten with judicial blindness and will be afforded no further opportunity of being saved.

We notice, too, that the remaining three feasts take place in the seventh month, that is to say in the second half of the year - in the autumn time when dispensationally the end of God’s ways is coming into view.

With the Feast of Trumpets, then, there is a new start. This fifth of Jehovah’s feasts was observed on the first day of the seventh month, synchronising with the new moon. It marks the resumption of God’s dealings with Israel, for in Scripture Israel is often God’s moon.

The Trumpets.

The main feature in this feast was the blowing of the trumpets, an ordinance associated with the wilderness journeyings of the children of Israel. The assembly was summoned together by the blast of the two silver trumpets, trumpets which had been made out of the atonement money of the people. These trumpets sounded the signal for the camp to commence its forward march. Psalm 81. 3 provides a reference to the Feasts of Trumpets - “Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the set time, on our feast day”, J.N.D.

The trumpets were made of silver, signifying redemption and reminding us that we, like Israel of old, are a redeemed people, having been purchased for Him who paid the ransom price by the shedding of His blood. Moreover as it was the responsibility of the Israelites to respond to the trumpets’ clear penetrating blast, so must obedience characterise us in relation to God’s instructions contained in His Word. Obedience is a prerequisite for communion, and submission to the divine will an essential factor for sure guidance through earth’s perplexing wilderness.

The Turning Back.

But the primary import of the Feast of Trumpets still awaits fulfilment. Its application is to a time when the now scattered people will be gathered to their true centre. A prophetic allusion to this is found in Psalm 81. 3 - when the trumpet shall sound forth in Zion. The great event so frequently spoken of by the prophets of old is graphically described in Matthew 24. 30, 31. This refers, not to the first phase of Christ’s coming to the atmospheric heavens for his heavenly saints, but to His descent as Son of man to earth for the deliverance of His earthly people. Then shall the prophetic words in Genesis 49. 10 have their fulfilment: “Unto him shall the gathering of the people be”. So, then, the blowing of the trumpets is for the regathering of Israel’s tribes to enjoy their own land in a fuller way than ever before, the day in which Christ will acquire by power what He has already redeemed by blood.

We conclude with a cautionary word to younger Christians. This blowing of the trumpets for Israel’s scattered tribes must not be confounded with the trump of God which we shall hear at the rapture, 1 Thess. 4. 16. Our gathering to Christ in the aerial rendezvous is a necessary prelude to the recall of Israel to enter and enjoy their earthly inheritance at a later date when the great King comes down to earth in supreme power and manifested glory.

SIXTH FEAST. THE DAY OF ATONEMENT

The sixth of the appointed seasons - or feasts of the Lord - was the Day of Atonement. This was the day in Israel’s calendar for the annual remembrance of sin, and for the cleansing from sin. The ceremony connected with the Day of Atonement is recorded in detail in Leviticus chapter 16.

The Connections and Contrasts.

This solemn convocation was held on the tenth day of the seventh month, a time element which brings the Day of Atonement into relationship with the Feast of Passover. The paschal lamb was selected and segregated from the flock on the tenth day of the first month, and the Day of Atonement also took place on the tenth day of a month - the seventh month, that is, in the first month in the second half of Israel’s year.

Now everything as far as God is concerned is founded upon the cross. Everything in the economy of grace stands related to the sacrifice of Calvary. Besides the time-link then, there is another feature which associates the Day of Atonement with the Passover, and that is the blood. The blood of the sacrifice was very prominent in the Feast of Passover. Here again on the Day of Atonement the blood forms a major feature of the ceremony of that day. Yet it is important to observe that the application of the blood is quite different in each case. The blood of the Passover Iamb was applied to the outside of the house and sheltered those within from judgment. It speaks of the blood personally appropriated by faith. The blood of the slain goat on the Day of Atonement was, on the other hand, carried inside and presented and applied before God in the sanctuary to satisfy the righteous claims of His throne, Lev. 16. 14, 15.

The Covering.

Now the word “atonement” itself means “a covering”. It is used extensively in Leviticus but it never occurs at all in the New Testament. (The statement in Romans 5. 11, “we have now received the atonement” should properly be translated “the reconciliation”. It is not man who receives the atonement, but God. Man receives the result of atonement insofar as it affects him, namely reconciliation).

There are two main thoughts in atonement: Propitiation, which has to do with the majesty of God, and presents the Godward side of the matter, and Expiation, which concerns the sinful condition of man, and sets forth the human side of the question.

The Ceremony.

Space does not permit of a detailed consideration of the elaborate ceremony of the Day of Atonement and we must confine ourselves here to a few salient points.

It is noteworthy that one man alone in Israel was at work on this solemn day. He was Aaron the high priest. During the course of the great Day of Atonement he entered the sanctuary - the holiest - on at least three occasions and performed several acts in putting away sin. But all these find their full expression in the one act of Christ when He died on the cross. He alone wrought the great work of atonement - “when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high”, Heb. 1. 3.

Then the sin offering for the congregation of Israel calls for brief mention. Two goats figured in the ceremony here. One goat upon which the Lord’s lot fell was sacrificed, and its blood was carried into the sanctuary by Aaron and sprinkled within the vail. The other goat became the scapegoat (or the “goat of departure”) and it was led away laden with the sins of the people into the wilderness to wander and die.

The slain goat illustrates the truth of propitiation; the scapegoat portrays the doctrine of substitution. Christ bore the full penalty of our sins and so made propitiation. By our individual acceptance of Him, He becomes our substitute.

Before concluding, reference must be made to the dispensational import of this sixth divine appointment. It follows the Feast of Trumpets and points forward prophetically to the recall of Israel to the land of their inheritance. Their restoration will be accompanied by true repentance, deep sorrow of soul and loud lamentation. In that coming day, when the realisation of their former rejection and murder of Messiah is brought home to them the poignant words of Isaiah 53. 4 will be wrung from their hearts, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows . . .”.