August 2018 Member Letter
August 9, 2018
The news we see on television or read on the Internet is virtually all bad and, quite honestly, very depressing. But there have been a few exceptions. The rescue of 12 young soccer players and their coach from a cave in Thailand has been one of those positive stories with a happy ending. This could have been a terrible disaster. As it was, one man, Saman Kunan, died in the effort to get oxygen tanks through the flooded tunnels to the young boys, who were in a very dark place with the threat of more flooding and potential drowning or dying from a lack of oxygen.
It is rare in our day to have someone who can be hailed as a legitimate hero, a person who gave his life to rescue others. The man who lost his life in the rescue effort was a former member of an elite SEAL team and part of the Thai navy. He wasn’t alone. A number of divers braved the hazardous tunnels to bring oxygen, food and other needed supplies to those who were trapped.
The world is truly in need of heroes, those who are willing to give their lives to rescue others. As we approach the fall holy days (spring in the southern hemisphere), I am reminded that we are part of the greatest rescue mission there has ever been, and it, too, will have a happy ending. This massive rescue plan is laid out in the meaning of the seven annual festivals, which center on the two harvest seasons in the Middle East.
Keep in mind that the festivals are symbolic. Over the years, individuals have produced elaborate prophetic calculations based on forcing events to happen on certain dates because of the timing of the holy days. This seems to be a veiled (or not so veiled) attempt to circumvent Christ’s warnings when He said, “Of that day and hour no one knows” (Matthew 24:36). It seems that the one thing Christ told us we could not know is what some are determined to know! And if they can’t really know it, they just make it up!
In the normal course of a month I typically receive several of these prophetic scenarios, often built around the dates of the holy days. One individual wrote that he alone understood the book of Revelation and, therefore, he alone could predict, with accuracy, the identity of the two witnesses. He also provided a specific date (which has now come and gone) for the Tribulation to begin. Of course, since he couldn’t see how he could be wrong, he concluded that God had decided to add a delay, pushing his date further into the future. His dates were based around the number of days between Passover and Trumpets, all placed in the time frame of 3½ years, or 1260 days.
We must be very clear. We reject these prophetic proclamations as being foolish, human calculations, which, if we are not careful, can take away from the true significance of the holy days. Rather than providing us with a countdown of days, the fall festivals provide us with insight into God’s thinking and His plan to rescue the world.
John 3:16 is an often-quoted scripture that many people misinterpret. They use it as a sanctimonious understanding of “love” when, in reality, Christ is revealing the mind of the Father and Himself. God has a desire toward His creation, mankind. And that desire will lead to a rescue mission of mammoth proportions. God will not allow man to destroy himself, but will rescue him from himself.
In the short three-week period between the Feast of Trumpets and the Last Great Day, we will again see the symbolism of this rescue mission completed. It is this mission—the salvation of humanity—for which Jesus Christ gave His life. We are convinced that He did not die in vain, but that God will succeed in saving mankind.
The final four steps in this plan are laid out in the four festivals: Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. The Feast of Trumpets symbolizes the return of Jesus Christ to this earth, when He will set foot on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). Along with Him, He will have the just-resurrected saints, plus those saints who are alive at His return and will be changed, and a vast array of spirit beings composing an army that cannot be defeated. The armies of man will be gathered at Armageddon (Revelation 16:15-16) with the latest equipment of destruction to fight one another, but they will turn and fight this spirit army approaching the earth. It will be a short battle, and Christ will be established in Jerusalem as the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (Revelation 19:11-16).
But before true peace can reign on the earth, Satan and his demons must be locked away. The Day of Atonement symbolizes this event. Once Satan and his demons are out of the way, the reconciliation between man and God can actually begin. This will lead to the next stage—the millennial reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. It will be a world that is difficult to even imagine, given all the fighting and death that will precede it. The Feast of Tabernacles, which symbolizes the Millennium, will be a celebration of life, peace and happiness. And it will be experienced by the entire world. No celebration like it has ever taken place before.
After feasting for seven days, there is one more step to complete in the rescue of mankind—which is symbolized by the Last Great Day. It is referred to as “the eighth day” in Scripture (Leviticus 23:36) and is a separate holy day but very much connected to the Millennium. It is the completion of the rescue. When the thousand years are complete, Satan and his demons will be released for a short while. They will lead a rebellion against Jerusalem with the deceived armies of Gog and Magog, which will be followed by their being cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-10). Then a period of final judgment will take place (Revelation 20:11-15). This final judgment will consist of those in the second and third resurrections who will be judged and either given eternal life or eternal death. Those who never heard of Jesus Christ and those who did but never understood the truth will be given an opportunity (in a world without Satan) to understand God’s plan and be rescued. The Bible is silent on how long this period of judgment will be, but it will be adequate for proper assessment. Those who repent and are converted will be given eternal life, and those who reject God’s way of life will be burned up in the lake of fire, the second death.
And at that point the rescue will be complete! Mankind, so loved by God, will be saved. There is no greater message for the world to hear, but unfortunately, few are even listening. In spite of that, God has a rescue mission to save mankind. God’s plan is the ultimate good news, and in just a few weeks we will be celebrating the final holy days of this year. We are commanded to rejoice as we gather to celebrate the greatest rescue of all time!
Sincerely, your brother in Christ,