In your weekly Update 112 for the Week ending October 11th, 2003, you discussed the Last Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Do you still feel that this is the 8th day as there are those in the Church of God who think that this applies to the seventh day of the Feast?
We are happy to discuss this further. The Q & A that you refer to can be found at http://www.globalchurchofgod.co.uk/qa/3525 . In this answer, the last paragraph states the following:
“It is important to note what Christ said. He pointed out that the time would arrive when EVERYONE who thirsts could come to Him to receive from Him the gift of living waters — the Holy Spirit. That promise will not be fulfilled until the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-12) — AFTER the Millennium (Revelation 20:4, 6). While the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the Millennium, the Great White Throne Judgment is pictured by the Last Great Day or the EIGHTH Day. When THAT time has arrived, all persons who had not been called before will be resurrected to physical life and will then be given their first real opportunity to accept God’s calling. Christ’s words in John 7:37-39 speak of a time when God’s Spirit will be offered to all, for at that time, all will be CALLED to salvation.”
This is an important paragraph because it clearly shows that in John 7:37-39 Christ spoke of the time when EVERYONE who thirsted and who could come to Him to receive the gift of living waters – the Holy Spirit. It is worth reiterating and emphasising this point because that time won’t come until the Great White Throne Judgment when all who have ever lived and have not been called will have their first opportunity to accept God’s calling. That is why the Last Great Day, or the eighth day, pictures the Great White Throne Judgment.
But there is more. The 7th day of the Feast of Tabernacles is not even a Holy Day – it is the last of 7 days of the Feast of Tabernacles and in that context, the symbolism if the 7th day was that “great day of the Feast” wouldn’t really make sense. When the Bible designates an annual Holy Day—as distinguished from a weekly Sabbath—it oftentimes makes this distinction very clear. For example, when referring to the First Day of Unleavened Bread, it states in John 19:31, that “that Sabbath was a high day.” (For further explanation, compare our free booklet, “Jesus Christ—A Great Mystery.”). Likewise, in John 7:37, the terminology, “that great day of the Feast,” does not just refer to a “normal” day, and not even to a weekly Sabbath, but to an annual Holy Day.
It has also been stated that if the Last Great Day is a one day Feast, which would indicate that there are other days, how could it be called the Great Day of the Feast? It is an interesting question.
In Matthew 26:17 we read “Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” This shows that the Jews spoke about the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread as one period of time.
Barnes notes on the Bible states that “The first day … – The feast continued “eight” days, including the day on which the paschal lamb was killed and eaten, Exodus 12:15. That was the fourteenth day of the month Abib, answering to parts of our March and April.”
Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible has this to say: “Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread – As the feast of unleavened bread did not begin till the day after the Passover, the fifteenth day of the month, Leviticus 23:5, Leviticus 23:6; Numbers 28:16, Numbers 28:17, this could not have been, properly, the first day of that feast; but as the Jews began to eat unleavened bread on the fourteenth,Exodus 12:18, this day was often termed the first of unleavened bread. The evangelists use it in this sense, and call even the paschal day by this name. See Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7.”
We can see that the period which would encompass the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread was seen by the Jews as a time which they celebrated as one.
In Mark 14:1-2 we read “After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar of the people.” Again we can see that there were two separate Feasts but for the Jews “Unleavened Bread” covered the whole period.
In Mark 14:12-16 we read – “Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passoverlamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?” And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.” So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover.” Again, the Jews reckoned that the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread were one whole period and Feast.
Again, we read in Luke 22:1 we read this same terminology: “Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover.”
Having seen that the Jews lumped the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread together, we can better understand that, likewise the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day were also seen as one celebration.
In addition, if John 7:37-39 were to refer to the seventh day, and not the eighth day of the Tabernacles season, what then would the symbolic meaning be for the eighth day? Some say that it would refer to a time when God would colonize the universe or recreate the new heavens and the new earth. However, God’s annual Holy Days picture God’s plan for physical mankind, culminating in the final enlargement of God’s Family— the change of all of physical man into God beings or the extinction of those who maliciously refused to be part of the Kingdom of God. The eighth day pictures this final accomplishment for physical man. To now reduce this final step of God’s plan for physical man to the seventh day of the Feast and then add a totally new and unrelated thought to the symbolism of the eighth day—the colonization of the universe or the creation of new heavens and a new earth—makes little sense in consideration of the entire picture for mankind, as symbolized by God’s annual Holy Days.
It seems clear, when reviewing all of the available information contained in the Word of God, that “… the last day, that great day of the Feast” (John 7:37) was the eighth day which pictures the Great White Throne Judgment.
Lead Writer: Brian Gale