We have given a basic definition of “imminent” and we showed that Yeshua’s return is certain but it will be according to a fixed date according to the eschatological plan of God as revealed in his festivals given in Lev 23.
The definition of eschatology is the study of the Messiah and the redemption. We are dealing with the coming of the Lord in what is known as the Rapture, or the Natzal. What we are trying to establish is that this event cannot happen “at any moment” because it will occur on a particular festival called Yom Teruah, year 6001 from creation. There are seven festivals listed in Lev 23, eight if you count the Sabbath Day which is also listed there. The seventh day is a picture of the last one thousand years called the Day of the Lord, or Millennium. It also goes by the name of Messianic Kingdom.
The civil year begins on a Yom Teruah , or Rosh ha Shannah which means “head of the year.” Now, the seven days of the week correspond to the 7000 year plan of God. We work six days and rest on the seventh. Accordingly, man “works” 6000 years but the last 1000 years belong to the Lord, just like the seventh day belongs to the Lord. This day has not been changed to Sunday, except by man.
This last, 1000 year period begins on Tishri 1, or Yom Teruah (Rosh ha Shanah) and this day is mentioned in Num 29.1-2. Teruah means “an awakening blast” of a shofar and it is also translated as “shout.” A teruah is a particular note on a shofar that signifies war and for the people to gather together.
There are several idioms relating to Yom Teruah. It is called “the day no man knows” because it occurs on a new moon (Tishri 1) and nobody knows when that is until the new moon is sighted. This festival is also the first day of creation, when civil time began and no man was present for that. Once the moon is seen, the month starts and Yom Teruah is the only biblical festival that starts on a new moon, if you exclude the new moon festival itself. So, if a Jewish person said to another Jewish person “I’ll see you on the day no man knows” it was understood to mean Yom Teruah.
Another idiom for this festival was “the last trump” and here is why. In Gen 22, we have the account of the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. Now, we know Abraham did not carry it out because God stopped him and a ram was caught in a thicket (mans sins) by its horns and he used that for the burnt offering. In Hebrew thought, the horns of the ram symbolized the two stages of a Jewish wedding, betrothal and full marriage. These were seen as stages of the redemption.
These two stages were symbolized by two festivals, Shavuot (betrothal) and Yom Teruah (full marriage). In Jer 2.2, God said that he betrothed himself to Israel on Shavuot as he gave the Torah on Mt Sinai. The Torah was seen as a betrothal contract called the Shitre Erusin. So, the first trump, or horn of the ram caught in the thicket, was Shavuot and that is an idiom for this festival.
The other horn, or last trump, symbolized the full marriage at Yom Teruah (Rosh ha Shannah). At Sinai, a trumpet blew and the people gathered at the mountain and “got engaged” to the Lord. At Yom Teruah, or last trump, the trumpet will sound and the people will be gathered to the Lord for the full marriage. When the Apostle Paul was writing about eschatology to the Thessalonians, he said that the Lord himself will “descend from heaven with a shout (teruah), with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God” and the people would be gathered to the Lord in what is also known as the Natzal (to pluck up).
He describes the same event in First Corinthians where he says that in a “moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised.” Paul uses “the last trump” as an idiom for Yom Teruah to discuss the catching away, or plucking up (Natzal) of the believer. That day happens only one day a year and that day is Tishri 1 on the Hebrew calendar.
So the coming of the Lord at the Rapture can only happen on Yom Teruah, Tishri 1, year 6001 from creation. Since we do not know for sure where we are exactly on God’s calendar, we cannot know the exact day or hour. But, we can see the signs leading up to it and so that day will not catch a true believer unaware.
In Matt 24.36, Yeshua is referring to unbelievers who will not know the day or hour at all and Paul said the same thing to the Thessalonians when he wrote that “as to the times (moedim-festivals) and the seasons (festival seasons) brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you (because he taught them the festivals and biblical eschatology). For you yourselves know full well that the Day of the Lord (Yom Teruah is the first day of the last 1000 years) will come as a thief in the night. While they (the unbeliever) are saying peace and safety then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth-pains (idiom for the Tribulation) upon a woman with child and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness (misunderstanding) that the day (Yom Teruah) should overtake you like a thief.”
As you can see, the believer will not be taken by surprise when one knows the times and seasons (festivals). In Lev 23, the word “convocation” (mikrah) is used in the NASB and it means “a rehearsal” so the festivals are “rehearsals” for the real thing that will come along in the life of Messiah and his eschatological plan to bring about the redemption of the people. He was crucified on Passover, buried on Unleavened Bread, was raised from the dead on First Fruits and sent the Holy Spirit on Shavuot (Acts 2). This fulfilled the spring festivals.
The fall festivals are Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. In Part 3 we will talk about the fall festivals and how they will be fulfilled, what happens after the Rapture, the Tribulation, the False Messiah and several other topics relating to this time period.