The Feast of Tabernacles represents the third and final harvest period in God’s plan of salvation.
“Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread . . ., and the Feast of Harvest (Weeks/Pentecost) . . ., and the Feast of Ingathering (Tabernacles) at the end of the year . . .” (Exod. 23:14-16).
What does this 7 day festival picture and who does it represent?
Initial understanding of Tabernacles
Understanding in God’s Church today about the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles came through God’s work with Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong.
Mr. Armstrong was a dedicated servant of God, not to be worshiped, but respected for the work God did through him. Unfortunately, the majority of God’s Church, ministers and brethren alike, fail to appreciate the significance of Mr. Armstrong's work. Are you part of this majority?
Mr. Armstrong compiled his understanding of God’s Holy Days in his booklet, “Pagan Holidays-or-God’s Holy Days-Which?”
In explaining the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles, Mr. Armstrong associated this 7 day festival with representing the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, when God’s Kingdom will be established on the earth.
On pg. 51, Mr. Armstrong provides a summary explanation of God’s Holy Day plan.
“Here are pictured those final culminating events in God’s great plan: after Christ has died for our sins to redeem mankind—after He has sent us (God’s Church) the Holy Spirit and picked out a people for His name to become kings and priests through the thousand years—after His glorious second coming—after He has finally restored the redeemed by placing all the sins upon the head of Satan, their real author, and separating both him and the sins from the presence of God and His people, thus finally perfecting the at-one-ment, making us finally joined in one—then we are ready for that final series of events, the commencement of the “Marriage of the Lamb,” the actual making of the New Covenant, the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth and the reaping of the great harvest of souls for a thousand years.”
“This festival (of Tabernacles) is the picture of the millennium.”
Mr. Armstrong re-iterates this point near the end of the same page.
“Just as Pentecost pictures the early harvest—this church age, so the festival of ingatherings or tabernacles pictures the fall harvest—the great harvest of souls in the millennium!”
Harvest Periods 1 & 2
As explained in previous posts, Harvest Period #1 represents the offering of the wavesheaf. This ceremony occurred on the 1st day of the week following the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev. 23:9-11).
The wave sheaf represents the very first stalks of grain to be harvested in the spring harvest. It pictures the first group of human beings to be born into the God family (I Cor. 15:23). This group is composed of those who qualify to be in the 1st resurrection (I Cor. 15:50-52). John specifically states the number of this group to be 144,000 in total (Rev. 14:1, 4). The 144,000 firstfruits will rule with Christ as kings and priests throughout the millennium (Rev. 20:6).
Harvest Period #2 is symbolized by the 2 wave loaves offered on the Feast of Pentecost (Lev. 23:15-17). It should be noted these loaves are also considered firstfruits, but represent a much larger group of people who compose the majority of the spring harvest.
These are human beings who become converted during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, both Israelites and Gentiles (Rev. 7:1-4, 9-10, 13-17). Their conversion allows them to become members of the God family too. People in the millennium will, for the first time have opportunity to understand God’s Truth and receive His Holy Spirit (Jer. 31:31-33, Ezek. 36:24-27).
It is important to understand that while Satan will be locked up for 1,000 years during Christ’s reign (Rev. 20:1-3), sin will still be present on the earth (Zech. 14:16-19). This is why the 2 wave loaves are baked and offered to God with leaven (Lev. 23:17). God’s acceptance of these loaves mean the sin has been repented of, making their offering to God acceptable (Rom 5:8-11).
Harvest Period 3
Once the wave sheaf and 2 wave loaves are offered and accepted by God, the spring harvest is complete.
Following the spring harvest, Satan is released to commit his final deception of human beings before God puts him away forever (Rev. 20:7-10). This fulfills the meaning of the Day of Atonement.
When Satan is put away forever, it allows for God’s great fall harvest to begin, described as the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-12). This is a resurrection of all human beings who lived from the Garden of Eden to the time Jesus Christ establishes God’s Kingdom on the earth and begins to rule. They are described as the “the dead” in Revelation 20:5.
“But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.”
This resurrection of people has been understood in God’s Church for many years as the 2nd resurrection.
On pg. 55 of his booklet “Pagan Holidays-or-God’s Holy Days-Which?” Mr. Armstrong explained the purpose of this resurrection.
“Now turn to Revelation 20. After the millennium, what happens? A resurrection! The dead stand before God. This couldn't include true Christians today, as they will appear before the judgment seat when Christ returns. It couldn't refer to those converted during the millennium. They have already inherited the Kingdom during the millennium, after living out a normal life-span. Those in this resurrection must be those who died in ignorance in past ages! They are not brought to life until after the millennium (Rev. 20:5).”
Those in this resurrection will be people who lived prior to the establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth without ever understanding God’s Truth. God will resurrect these people back to physical life with new flesh and blood bodies. And just as He did with Adam (Gen. 2:7), He will breath into these resurrected human beings the breathe of life (Ezek. 37:9-10).
Harvest Period #3 represents God’s great fall harvest of human beings and coincides with the celebration of His 7 day festival called the Feast of Tabernacles.
Notice in Exodus 34:22, the Feast of Tabernacles is to be observed after the fall harvest has been gathered in.
“And you shall observe . . . the Feast of Ingathering (Tabernacles) at the year’s end.”
“The year’s end” refers to the agricultural harvest year meaning, the fall harvest has been completed before the actual celebration and fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles begins.
Following the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles, will be the final step in God’s plan called, the Last Great Day. This holy day pictures final judgment.
Growing in grace and knowledge
Mr. Armstrong believed and taught Jesus Christ represented the wave sheaf and the Church pictured the small spring harvest. He combined within the great fall harvest, those converted in the millennium with those of the 2nd resurrection, but this is incorrect.
With additional revelation from God, it is now clear what the 3 harvest periods represent.
Harvest Period #1 = the wave sheaf symbolizing the resurrected Church of God of 144,000 firstfruits.
Harvest period #2 = those converted during the millennium who become members of God's family and complete the spring harvest.
Harvest Period #3 = those of the 2nd resurrection or Great White Throne Judgment who will be resurrected back to physical life and given their first opportunity for salvation.
God’s revelation of knowledge did not end with the death of Herbert W. Armstrong. Those who desire to continue growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ must understand this key point and respect the work God did through him.
Mr. Armstrong was a man ahead of his time. Like past servants of God, he greatly anticipated the unfolding of God’s plan and got ahead of himself from time to time. This is understandable and does not disqualify the work he did.
Information has now been made available to show the deeper meaning of God’s plan. Are you capable of proving this or will you continue to slumber along as much of God’s Church is doing today?
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”