Is This the Only Day of Salvation?
The Annual Holy Days
Reveal the Awesome
Plan of God!
Is Satan really stronger than God? It would seem that he must
be, if the vast majority of Christians are right in their belief that
the majority of mankind are "lost," and will die having missed
out on salvation! What is the truth about salvation? Is God
attempting to save the whole world now? Could millions or
billions of people be doomed to hell, because they simply were
born, lived and died, never having heard of the name of Jesus
Christ? Is God really "fair"? Just what is the "Plan" God has
in mind for human beings? And what do the ANNUAL HOLY
DAYS of God, given to Israel, have to do with God's Great
Plan? Let's take a new look at this most important subject!
William F. Dankenbring
Consider for a moment. The apostle Peter clearly said: "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
This means that salvation can only come through Jesus Christ! He is the only Mediator between God and men (I Tim. 2:5). No one else!
On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter exclaimed: " Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call" (Acts 2:38-39).
Salvation can only come through Jesus Christ! But think for a moment. Millions -- no, billions -- of people have lived and died, never having even heard of the name of Jesus Christ! Are they forever lost -- doomed for all eternity?
If this life is the only opportunity for salvation, then they must be lost forever! For salvation can only come through the name of Jesus Christ! That's what the Bible says!
What about the millions and billions of people in India, and China, in Indonesia, Africa, South America, Australia, the pygmies and the bushmen, the Hotentots and the Watusis, the Indians of the Brazilian rain forest? Are millions of them forever doomed because they never even heard, much less understood, the message of salvation through Jesus Christ?
What about it? And what about the inhabitants of ancient Egypt and Greece, the peoples of ancient Persia, ages before Christian era? Are they, too, forever lost, because they never heard the "only name under heaven" given whereby men may be saved? Does that make any sense?
Is God Fair?
The truth is God is not calling everybody to salvation during this age! THIS IS NOT THE ONLY DAY OF SALVATION! The overwhelming, vast majority of mankind will receive their opportunity for salvation at a later time! Does that surprise you?
Jesus told His disciples: "No man can come to me, EXCEPT the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44). He added in verse 65: "Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father"!
Only those whom God calls can truly understand His truth and His Plan, now! But the rest -- the vast majority -- are not yet called! This means that they will be given their chance for salvation later -- at another time! For those to whom God reveals His truth now, today IS the day of salvation (11 Corinthians 6:2). But the vast majority are now blinded. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "But if it is hid to them that are lost (not lost forever, but in a present condition of being lost, not yet having been called): In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (11 Cor. 4:4).
The apostle Paul explains: "I say then, Hath God cast away his people? GOD FORBID!' (Romans 11:1). Paul goes on: " God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew." He wrote, "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace."
Paul continues, "What then? Israel hath not obtained that whicn he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, AND THE REST WERE BLINDED (According as it is written, God hath given
them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) UNTO THIS DAY" (Romans 11:2-8). How plain!
Why Jesus Spoke in Parables
You have probably heard, and assumed, that Jesus Christ spoke in parables to the multitudes, in order to be more understandable. Most people think that Christ spoke in parables to make the meaning of His lessons and stories simple and easy to understand. But what if I were to tell you that such is not the case at all? What if I told you Jesus spoke in parables to obfuscate and to HIDE the truth, so that the masses of people would NOT understand Him?
Believe it or not, that is precisely the reason Jesus said He spoke in parables! Notice!
Jesus' very own disciples asked Him this very question. It seems they, too, were having a difficult time understanding Him and making sense out of His parables. We read in Matthew's gospel: "And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
"He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto YOU to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but TO THEM IT IS NOT GIVEN" (Matt.13:10-11).
What? Read that again! Jesus Christ said that to the multitudes, it was not given or offered for them to understand! In other words, He used parables to hide, to cloak, the meaning! Why did He do this? He goes on to explain: "For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more in abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." That is, they just don't get it! But why does Jesus hide the real meaning of His parables from them? He continues: "And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; LEST at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, AND SHOULD BE CONVERTED, and I should heal them" (Matt.13:12-15).
Notice! Jesus said He did not want the people as a whole to understand, at that time, LEST they should be converted at that time, and should be spiritually HEALED! In other words, He was not at that time CALLING the vast majority of people to salvation! So He cloaked the meaning of His parables, so they would remain blinded to the truth. Why would He do this? As He
said initially, those who are given understanding are HELD ACCOUNTABLE for it, and will be judged accordingly. Knowledge is a dangerous thing. Once we know the truth, we are responsible to OBEY it. If we don't, we heap condemnation upon our heads!
But why does God want most people to remain blinded, at this time? Why isn't He calling the whole world to salvation, at this time, as the Protestant evangelists all proclaim?
Haven't you heard men like Billy Graham, for example, say that this s THE ONLY DAY OF SALVATION? Haven't you heard them preach hell-fire and brimstone sermons, saying that all who refused to "accept Jesus," were in danger of the torments of Hell fire?
Yet Jesus said He plainly WITHHELD true understanding from the people, and deliberately spoke in parables and riddles to hide and to obscure the truth!
The plain truth is, my friends, that God is working out a PURPOSE here below, and very few people really understand what it is! The so-called Christian evangelists haven't got a clue!
Let's understand this mystery!
Who Are the "Elect"?
God has revealed His truth only to "the election." Who are they? They are the "elect of God" (see I Peter 1:2, Col. 3:12, Titus 1:1, I Peter 2:6) -- that is, true Christians! I must use the word "true," here, because the vast majority of professing "Christians" are themselves IGNORANT of God's true plan of salvation, and are no more converted than a jack-rabbit or an African chimpanzee! Those who are true Christians, however, are being given their chance for salvation today, at this time -- "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God" (I Peter 4:17).
Those being called out of this world now, to understand and obey God's truth, are being judged now; but the vast majority of mankind God has allowed to be blinded, and are disobedient, "whereunto also they were appointed" (I Pet.2:8). What will happen to them?
They are not lost forever. God Himself will open their eyes, and show them His truth, at a later time, as we shall see.
Let's understand. God has predestined NO ONE to be lost or to be doomed! Not at all! Predestination has to do with when one is called, and when a person has God's truth revealed to him -- not whether he is going to be saved or lost!
Those called to understand God's truth now have a special blessing. As Paul wrote: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before thefoundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having PREDESTINATED US unto the adoption [or, sonship, in the Greek]of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will . . . in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of time he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being PREDESTINATED according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of his glory, who FIRST TRUSTED IN CHRIST" (Epesians 1:3-12).
Notice! We are those who have "first trusted in Christ!" This means there are others who will be called later to trust in Christ! They are the VAST MAJORITY!
We in God's Church today are compared to "firstfruits" of the Spiritual harvest! We are compared to the early "spring" harvest -- but the great "fall harvest" will occur later! We are those who have the "firstfruits of the Spirit" (Romans 8:23). As the apostle James wrote: "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that WE should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures" (Jas. 1:18).
Predestination, then, has to do with the time when we are called. A few are called now, and chosen to become "first-fruits" to God and the Lamb. But the vast majority will be called later!
The Plan of God Revealed -- Passover and Unleavened Bread
Few realize it, but the Plan of God is revealed in the pattern of the Holy Days which God gave to Israel. The annual Holy Days began with the Passover and the days of Unleavened Bread, in the spring of the year (Lev.23:4-6). The Passover represented the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God's paschal lamb, who gave His life for us (I Cor.5:7). The days of Unleavened Bread symbolize our putting leaven, that which causes bread to "puff up," a type of sin, out of our lives (see I Cor. 5:8).
The Passover represents the beginning of the Plan of God -- not its termination, or ending! The Plan of Salvation begins with the Passover, and Christ our Passover Lamb, who was slain for us on the cross, or tree -- the stake on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Temple platform in ancient Jerusalem. The Plan
of God begins with the "crucifixion" of Christ on the cross -- but it doesn't END there! There is much more to it than that! Merely "accepting Christ," as the Protestants teach, is not the truth of the gospel! "Accepting Christ" as Saviour is JUST THE BEGINNING!
What happens after we accept Christ, and His shed blood covers our sins? Even as the ancient Israelites slew their Passover lambs in Egypt, and dabbed the blood on their doorposts and lintels, so that they would be protected and spared when the "death angel" passed over that night, and slew the firstborn of all the Egyptians -- even so the "blood of Christ" causes God to spare us, and put His canopy of protection over us. But that is only the beginning of God's Plan, and the beginning of His Holy Day season!
During the days of Unleavened Bread the people brought a sheaf of the firstfruits of the harvest to the priest, called an "omer." The priest then waved it before the Lord. This sheaf of firstfruits represents TRUE CHRISTIANS -- the true "firstfruits of God" who will receive salvation and eternal life! Also, during the Days of Unleavened Bread, the Israelites came out of Egypt, which was a type of bondage to sin. On the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is a HOLY DAY of God, they literally walked through the Red Sea, dryshod, with the walls of water towering over them on their right and on their left. On this awesome day, they LEFT EGYPT -- A TYPE OF SIN. They put sin completely out of their lives! God rescued them from the power of Egypt, even as He rescues us from the power of our own sinful human nature (Rom.6:6, 13, 8:1-2), and from the power of "sin and death" (Rom.8:2) by giving us His Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32, which enables us to CONQUER SIN and OVERCOME it (Gal.2:20). Even as God rescued Israel from the power of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, so He rescues us from the power of Satan the devil, of whom Pharaoh was a "type"!
So the Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures out coming out of sin, turning to God and obeying His commandments, statutes, judgments, and laws -- and leaving spiritual "Egypt" -- sin -- behind. It pictures the Christian life of overcoming, and enduring to the end.
But during this Feast, on the day after Passover, the "omer" was waved before the Lord, and was continued to be waved each morning as the Israelites counted "fifty days" until the arrival of the NEXT Holy Day -- Pentecost! What does this period of "fifty days" represent?
Passing through the "Red Sea," the apostle Paul tells us, was a type of "baptism," when we are buried with Christ in the water, and then come up out of the water "in newness of life" (Rom.6:3-4). The "50 days" from Passover to Pentecost, then, picture the Christian life of OVERCOMING OBSTACLES, and enduring to the end, and building holy, righteous, godly character! The
ancient Israelites had to journey through the desert, from the Red Sea to the Mount Sinai, where they met with God, and received the Ten Commandments, and became "married" to God in a marriage covenant (Jer.3:14). This was an arduous journey, and tested their faith, and their obedience.
Even so, after we are baptized, we enter into a life of struggle against sin, a life of overcoming spiritual obstacles, set backs, faith-building trials, and overcoming persecution -- until we finally reach "Mount Zion," and the Kingdom of God! The "50 days" from Passover to Pentecost picture the Christian life of overcoming, until the return of Christ, when we will marry Him as His bride! (Eph.5:25-27; Rev.19:7-9).
Pentecost -- the Marriage of the Bride and Lamb
Then comes the festival of Pentecost fifty days later. It is significant that the New Testament Church of God actually began on this Holy Day, when the Holy Spirit first descended on men and imbued them with spiritual power (see Acts 2:1-4). In Old Testament times, on Pentecost God Himself descended on the Mount Sinai, and gave the Ten Commandments -- the Law of God -- to His people. Isn't it interesting that the Holy Spirit was given on the very anniversary of the giving of the Law? Why was this? The answer is, we need God's Holy Spirit in order to have the power and fortitude to OBEY God's Law!
The Holy Spirit is what was missing from the Old Covenant, so that the people continually went astray, back slid, and fell victim to the sins of idolatry, Sabbath breaking, and rebellion against the Laws of God! But through the Holy Spirit, God is now writing His laws with our very hearts and minds (Heb.8:7-10).
Pentecost was the time of the actual spring harvest, which began with the wave sheaf offering typifying the "firstfruits." The harvest of Pentecost symbolizes the actual spiritual harvest of the Church of God, those called out of this world to be a kind of "firstfruits" to Christ! (Lev. 23:15-22). It pictures the "bride of Christ" being harvested, to rule the nations with Him at His coming!
After Pentecost, there are no more holy days, until the FALL holy day season. Then all the rest of God's Holy Days fall within ONE MONTH -- the "seventh month" -- the month of Tishri! The Spring Holy Days being completed, picturing the harvest of the "first-fruits" of God, now we come to the next installment of the Plan of God -- the Harvest of the Rest of Mankind!
The Feast of Trumpets -- Calling the World to Repentance!
Beginning the seventh month, Tishri, which is also the FIRST MONTH of the civil calendar, is the Festival of Blowing of Trumpets (Lev. 23:24-25). Notice! This is the Feast of Trumpets -- PLURAL -- not the Feast of the Trumpet -- singular! What does this Feast Day represent in God's great Plan?
Many have assumed that this feast represents the second coming of Christ -- that is, the final or seventh trumpet of Revelation, when He will return (Rev.11:15-19). But is this really so?
Notice! In the book of Joel, we read: "BLOW YE THE TRUMPET in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all of the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains" (Joel 2:1-2).
Here we see the REAL symbolism of trumpets! Trumpets are blown as an ALARM -- they signify a WARNING BLAST of impending danger, peril, calamity, destruction! They are a warning to GET READY -- GET PREPARED -- for the day of judgment is coming soon!
The Feast of Trumpets does not picture the day of "judgment." It pictures the blowing of trumpets, in ADVANCE of the day of judgment, and pictures God's warning to repent of sins and to get ready to face the returning Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords! Thus, as the Jews have understood from time immemoral, the Feast of Trumpets pictures God's WARNING TO REPENT -- they are God's FINAL CALL TO REPENTANCE!
This feast day represents the day of TRUMPETS which pictures the awesome trumpets BLOWN in the book or Revelation (Rev.8-7), the trumpet-plagues of the "Day of the Lord," the timewhen God calls all mankind to REPENTANCE, in preparation for the soon coming of Jesus Christ back to this world! The "trumpets" are warning blasts, a call to repentance, and a warning of impending calamities. Each trumpet blast will be accompanied by a divinely sent PLAGUE to convince mankind that God means business! (see Rev.8-9). They are a warning, sent by a loving God who doesn't desire to have to punish His people, but who will not put up with sin and rebellion any longer. The "trumpets" --plural -- lead up to the soon-coming JUDGMENT, which will occur when Jesus Christ returns to earth to set up the Kingdom of God (see Rev. 11:15-19).
The Great Trumpet and Yom Kippur
Christ will return at the blast of a great trumpet (I Thess. 4:16-17, 1 Cor. 15:51-52). Christ doesn't return when all the trumpets of warning are blown. They are blown in advance of His coming, to warn of the plagues of the Day of the Lord, and to warn the nations that He will soon return to judge their deeds and actions. Christ returns not at "trumpets" --plural -- but at the LAST and FINAL trumpet, at the conclusion of them all. This
trumpet will be the LAST trumpet -- and the "last" trumpet, which is also the "great" trumpet, is blown on the Day of Atonement -- Yom Kippur -- on the Year of the Jubilee! God thunders: "Then shalt thou cause the TRUMPET OF THE JUBILEE TO SOUND on the tenth day of the seventh month [that is, Yom Kippur!], in the day of atonement shall ye make the TRUMPET SOUND throughout all your land" (see Lev.25:8-10).
Yom Kippur represents the day of the coming of Christ -- the day actual JUDGMENT will begin! (Lev. 23:26-32). The entire symbolism and ritual of this day portrays "judgment"! At the return of Christ, Satan the devil will be banished, chained up in a great abyss, for 1,000 years (Rev. 20:1-2). This also is pictured by the Day of Atonement, and the banishment of the "Azazel goat" -- which represents Satan the devil -- on this day to the "wilderness" (see Lev.16:10, 20-22). Notice how beautifully, accurately, and perfectly, God's Holy Days picture and set forth the true Plan of God -- the Plan of Salvation!
Next on the Agenda -- the "Feast of Sukkot"
But what happens after the return of Jesus Christ to this earth? What comes next in God's Plan? Following the return of Christ to earth, the entire world will finally be reconciled to God. Over a period of time, all nations will be re-educated, and will LEARN the truth of God, and will begin to OBEY His commandments (Isa.2:1-4; Micah 4:1-4). Eventually, the re-education and retraining process will be completed, and "the earth shall be FULL of the KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9).
The whole world will then be made "at one" with Him. With Satan banished, the whole world will soon break forth with singing and rejoicing and all mankind will accept the truth of God! That will be the time of the great fall Harvest, pictured by the FEAST OF TABERNACLES -- called the "Feast of Ingathering," or the "Feast of Harvest"!
The great fall Harvest, when millions will have the blinders stripped from their eyes, and will see and understand God's truth for the first time, is symbolized by the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:33-37). This feast depicts the celebration of the ingathering of all mankind into God's Kingdom -- that is, mankind as a whole. At this time, Israel will be the chief among the nations, and the laws of the Lord will flow forth from Jerusalem to the whole world. Christ will sit upon the Throne of David, in Jerusalem (Luke 1:32), and rule the world. This will indeed be a great time of tremendous rejoicing, happiness, and celebration!
At this present time, blindness covers the nations, but at that time God will remove the scales from peoples' eyes. The apostle Paul put it plainly. He said: "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SA VED: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (Romans 11:25-26).
Whereas now God is calling only a few to be in His Church, and to receive salvation, at that time the WHOLE WORLD will be saved! As Isaiah the prophet wrote: "And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the VAIL that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it" (Isa. 25:5-6).
At that time, Isaiah says, the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid, and the calf and young lion shall curl up peaceably together, and the lion will eat straw like the oxen. "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be FULL of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:6-9). During that wonderful utopian time the nations will learn war more (Isaiah 2:2-4).
This is the GOOD NEWS that Jesus Christ brought! This is the good news of the Kingdom of God!
Hoshana Rabbah -- the "Great Day of the Feast"
On the last, or final day, of the Feast of Tabernacles, called "the great day of the feast," or "Hoshana Rabbah," a very special ceremony takes place. This is the "water-pouring ceremony." It is mentioned in John's gospel, chapter seven. Notice! "In the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive . . ." (John 7:27-29).
Many have confused this day with the "eighth day" -- or the following festival, often referred to as "The Last Great Day." However, this water pouring ceremony did not occur on the "eighth day" -- it occurred on the SEVENTH day, that is, the final day of the Feast of Sukkot!
Hoshana Rabba, then, the final day of the Feast of Ingathering, or Harvest, depicts the FINAL DAY OF JUDGMENT -- THE LAST GREAT DAY OF HARVEST!
What great event does this picture? What is the "last day of harvest" -- that is, the LAST OPPORTUNITY FOR SALVATION?
To understand this fully, let's back track, now, and pick up some of the loose pieces, and answer some of the unanswered questions, and see what the Word of God has to say about this "Last Great Day of Harvest" -- this FINAL opportunity for salvation. Notice how it fits in perfectly and dove-tails with God's Plan, His mercy, and provides a wonderful way of salvation for the billions who have lived and died, never having understood God's Plan, and never having even heard the name of Jesus Christ -- Yeshua the Messiah!
Nineveh, Tyre and Sodom
Jesus alluded to the many wicked of past ages, who died in their wickedness, when He said to His disciples: "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south [queen of Sheba during Solomon's day] shall rise up in thejudgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here" (Matt. 12:41-42).
Jesus went even further. He told His disciples that if a city rejected their message, "Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city" (Matt. 10: 15). Notice also Matthew, chapter 11. We read: "Then began he [Jesus] to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you.
"And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee" (Matt. 11:20-24).
The time is coming when all these ancient cities, and their inhabitants, will be judged -- some more severely than others. When will this happen?
The Valley of Dry Bones
Ezekiel gives us a strong clue as to the answer. Speaking
of a future time, he says: "The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and lo, they were very dry" (Ezek. 37:1-2). These dry bones symbolize the millions of people who lived and died long, long ago -- perhaps thousands of years ago in many cases. That is why they were "very dry.
What happens to these bones?
"And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O Ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live, and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, AND YE SHALL LIVE: and ye shall know that I am the Lord" (verses 3-6).
Here a great resurrection to physical, mortal life is described! These people will be raised to physical life once again. They will be breathing creatures. They will have sinews, flesh, skin -- they will be physical human beings once again!
Ezekiel says: "So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above; but there was no breath in them.
"Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
"So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, AN EXCEEDING GREAT ARMY" (Ezek. 27:7-10). Who are these people?
"Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are THE WHOLE HOUSE OF ISRAEL: behold, they say, Our bones are died, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I WILL OPEN YOUR GRAVES, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord" (verses 11-14).
When will this great resurrection to physical life occur? It will be at the same time God brings the peoples of ancient Sodom, Gomorrah, Tyre, Sidon, and the Queen of Sheba, back to life, to stand before judgment!
The time frame of this marvelous prophesy is given in the book of Revelation!
The Great White Throne Judgment
John writes: "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great [who are these?], stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works" (Rev. 20:11-12)
Here is another time of judgment! This same time of resurrection is described in Ezekiel 37, the "dry bones" chapter. These vast teeming millions, including the vast majority of mankind that ever lived -- billions of people -- will be resurrected, for a time of "trial" and testing. They will be flesh and blood, not immortal. These people will be the millions who were never called by God during this life; those millions who never understood the Plan of God, who never heard of Jesus Christ, the only name under heaven whereby men may be saved (Acts 4:12).
Among them will be all the babies who died, and children who died in their youth, never having had a chance for salvation. Those who were blinded to God's truth in this life will at that time be resurrected to mortal life, and given their first and only real opportunity for salvation (see Matthew 12:41-42).
Notice that the "book of life" will be opened. And that they will be judged according to their "works" (Rev. 20:12). These people will apparently live for one hundred years (Isaiah 65:20). They will build houses, and plant vineyards, and live a natural, normal life for one hundred years, during which time they will receive their opportunity for salvation. They will be taught, for the first time in their existence, the truth of God. They will be able to compare their previous life, under Satan's way, with life and blessings under God's way, in the Kingdom of God. And the vast majority will repent of their sins, accept Christ as Saviour, and be saved. As Paul wrote: "And so all Israel shall be saved" (Rom. 11:26). God is longsuffering and patient, not willing that any should die or perish (11 Pet. 3:9). Everyone who ever lived will have a complete and unhindered chance to learn God's ways, and to be saved.
But what about those who are the incorrigibly wicked? What about those who refuse to repent, and to obey God, and who continue on in sin no matter what God says, and no matter how patiently He holds out His hand offering them forgiveness? What about those who REJECT the laws of God and give themselves over to sin and wickedness?
The Awesome Fate of the Wicked -- Total Destruction
"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:13-15).
Here all the incorrigible wicked will perish forever. Those who refuse to repent of their sins and blasphemies, who turn aside from God's way and trample on the shed blood of Christ, treating it as a little thing, those who reject and refuse God's way, will suffer the final judgment -- they will burn up in the lake of fire. And they will never live again. Their life will be extinguished, with finality. They will be put out of their misery. That is how God will banish all sin and punish the sinners who refuse to repent.
At that time, Peter says, "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (II Pet. 3:10). At that time "sinners [shall] be consumed out of the earth" and "the wicked [shall] be no more" (Psalm 104:35). At that time God will "renew the face of the earth" (Psa. 104:30).
The prophet Malachi describes the scene this way: "For, behold, the day cometh, saith the LORD, that shall BURN as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. . . And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts" (Malachi 4:1-3).
Hoshana Rabbah is the last, final day of judgment -- the final opportunity for all mankind to be "saved," and to enter into the eternal Kingdom of God as His sons. Those who reject God's mercy and plan, those who fail to make the grade, those who turn away from God and rebellion as Satan the devil did, will suffer the same fate as the devil. They will be destroyed -- forever! If you haven't read it, be sure to read my article, "Satan's Fate -- Will Satan Be Punished Forever?"
Notice! This Great White Throne Judgment, pictured by Hoshana Rabbah, is also pictured by Jesus Christ, in a marvelous prophecy He gave. Notice His exact words:
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory [throughout the millennial reign, with the saints ruling with Him]: And before him shall be gathered ALL nations [including the ones who lived long ago, as they are resurrected to mortal life]: and [in the Great White Throne Judgment, lasting perhaps 100 years] he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on the right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting [i.e., age-lasting] fire, prepared for the DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
"Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
"Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it NOT to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And THESE shall go away into everlasting punishment [that is, eternal death!]: but the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew 25:31-46).
Yes, God IS supremely FAIR! He is perfectly just, righteous, and absolutely perfect in judgment! All will have a chance -- an opportunity -- for salvation. What they do with that opportunity, however, is up to them.
Isn't that wonderful? Isn't God wonderful? Isn't the Plan of God marvelous, surpassing human wisdom and understanding?
Paul wrote: "For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
"For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (Rom. 11:30-36).
This day, Hoshana Rabbah, pictures the LAST GREAT DAY of harvest -- the final great time or dispensation of SALVATION! After it, there is no more harvest -- the harvest is finished -- over.
The last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, then, represents the Great White Throne judgment, the time when the billions of people who have lived and died, never understanding God's Plan of Salvation, will be resurrected to mortal life, and will be given their first and only chance for salvation, as they, too, will be re-educated and taught the truths of God! It also pictures the awesome time of final judgment -- and the final judgment of God upon the wicked, the proud, and the ungodly, who refuse God's Laws and His way.
Shemini Atzeret -- the "Eighth Day"
The Plan of God is complete -- except for one final thing. And that final thing is pictured by the LAST of God's annual holy days! Notice!
Right after the Feast of Tabernacles comes the final "feast" of the Lord -- the last "holy day" of the religious year. This is "Shemini Atzaret," that is, "the Eighth Day." What does it represent?
The "eighth day" itself is a special Holy Day and the concluding Feast of the Lord. During the feast of Tabernacles, or Feast of Sukkot in the Hebrew, the children of Israel dwelt in flimsly, quickly constructed booths, with thinly thatched roofs which were open to the sky, so the people could see the stars. This observance connected them with the "booths" which the harvesters used to dwell in, out in the fields, during the fall harvest. The "booths" also depicted the temporary shelters the children of Israel lived in as they journeyed through the desert, after leaving Egypt, before they settled in the Promised Land.
But on the final holy day of Shemini Atzeret, the people no longer dwelt in the booths depicting the harvest. On this day, they once again lived in their homes. What does it represent, then, in the overall Plan of God?
The key to understanding is in the name of the day -- the "eighth day." The number "8" has awesome significance in Scripture! There were "8" people in the Ark of Noah, when his family was saved, to begin a NEW WORLD AGE. There are seven days
in the week, and the Sabbath Day depicts the Millennial reign of Christ and the Feast of Tabernacles. The day after the Sabbath is the "eighth day" -- and begins another week, another round of "time keeping" -- a NEW WEEK. Since the "week" depicts God's Plan, the beginning of a NEW week depicts the beginning of a NEW PHASE in the Plan of God -- it represents A NEW BEGINNING!
The NEW Heavens and NEW Earth
There will be a new heavens, and a new earth! God says, "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind" (Isa. 65:17). John describes it: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
"And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:1-4).
Did you get it? In that new heaven and earth, there will be NO MORE DEATH! Everybody will live forever! The whole earth will be populated with SAVED, immortal beings, human beings who have been transformed into immortal, eternal sons of God!
"And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write. for these words are true and faithful.
"And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son" (vs. 5-7).
The new Jerusalem will sparkle like a diadem upon the earth (Rev. 21:9-21). It is the bride of Christ. That means, those now called and chosen, those who make up the members of the Church of God, who will marry Christ at His return -- they will dwell in the New Jerusalem, with Christ, and reign with Him on His throne, over the entire Universe, forever and ever!
Jerusalem will be the headquarters for the Throne of God; from it God's rule will extend throughout all the galaxies of space, to the uttermost bounds of the Universe, to the farthest
reaches of all Creation itself! On the other hand, those who are saved during the Millennial reign of Christ, and those millions who are saved during the Great White Throne Judgment, and who are given immortality, they will occupy the rest of the earth. They will be the "children" of the Lamb and His Bride.
John declared, "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
"And the nations of them which are savedshall walk in the light of it.- and the kings of earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it" (Rev. 21:23-26). Only those who are "written in the Lamb's book of life" will be there (v. 27).
What a society that will be! What a glorious Kingdom! Can you imagine? There will be millions of sons of God, each of them glorified, given immortality, eternal life, each of them perfect in character, with tremendous power and authority, their faces shining as the sun in its strength!
The earth will be the headquarters of the entire Universe! It will no longer be a second rate planet in a third rate. solar system!
The saints are not going to "heaven," but heaven is coming to earth!