GODS MASTER PLAN and THE FEASTS

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Like any good builder, God has a plan. When a contractor has even a small job—likeremodeling a bathroom or adding a bedroom—his company consults an architect todraw up blueprints for the project. He also arranges a schedule for the varioussubcontractors and inspectors so that no step in the process is left out. Withall this careful planning and the cooperation of all the parties involved, theproject can be successful.

We would be making a terrible mistake if we thought that God had started His work without a plan! God’s plan, of course, is far grander and more involved than aconstruction job—and also incredibly more important. Though God is Creator, the physical creation is just the environment for His most important work, creating a Family to share it with for all eternity! We find the blueprint for this wonderful, ongoing creation in the pages of the Bible.

1.Does God have a plan for His creation?  ISAIAH46:9-11

Comment:God says, “My counsel shall stand!” He has a great master plan thatHe is working out on the earth, and it will come to pass because He is AlmightyGod.

2.Does God plan and create wisely? Psalm 104:24; Proverbs 3:19; Romans 8:28.

Comment: Wehave a great God who does nothing carelessly. He has determined that His plan,more than any other, will produce the most good when it is completed.

3.What is His main objective? Genesis 1:26-27.

Comment:Here in the Bible’s first chapter, God states His goal: He is making man in Hisown image! By using both “image” and “likeness,” Godexplained that He would create man to be just like Him! Man would not only looklike God, but humanity would also have a spiritual ability to understand His natureand learn to conform to it. Through the experiences of life and the process of building godly character, humankind can put on the image of God and be resurrected into His Family (I Corinthians 15:49-53).

4.Has God set time limits to His plan? Matthew 24:3,14: 28:19-20.

Comment:God’s plan has a beginning and an end. He has set certain boundaries and limitsduring which His creative work of glorifying many sons and daughters will bedone. In these particular verses, Jesus speaks of “the end of theage,” that is, this present system of man’s rule over earth will end whenJesus returns to set up His Kingdom.

5. In comparison to our concept, what is time to God? Psalm 90:4; II Peter 3:8.

Comment:Isaiah says that God “inhabits eternity” (Isaiah 57:15), so time to God takes on different dimensions. He can functionoutside of time if He so desires. These verses, however, give us a rough guidethat a thousand years equal one day in God’s prophetic revelation to man.

6.Does Christ’s rule, called “God’s rest” in Hebrews, last a thousandyears? Hebrews 4:1-10; Revelation 20:4.         

Comment:Hebrews 4 shows a connection between God’s rest on the Sabbath day during the creation week and the thousand-year reign of Christ, commonly called the “Millennium.” It is logical to conclude that the other six daysof Creation typify 6,000 years of man’s government on earth. Thus, God has a7,000-year plan to bring humanity into His Family, and we find ourselves nearthe end of man’s allotted 6,000 years!

7.What has occurred in God’s plan already?

Comment:The following list gives the highlights of completed steps in God’s masterplan:

-God made the earth fit for human habitation (Genesis 1:2-25).
 -He made man and instructed him in His way (Genesis 2:1-3, 16-17).
-He called Abraham, with whom He made a covenant and gave promises (Genesis 12:1-3;17:1-22; 22:15-18).
– He freed Israel from slavery in Egypt and made the Old Covenant with them to preserve His law until the coming of Christ (Exodus 12:31-42; 20-24; Galatians 3:19-25).
– He sent His Son Jesus Christ to live perfectly, die as man’s Savior and be resurrected as High Priest and firstborn among many brethren (Colossians 1:12-20; I Timothy 2:5-6;Hebrews 4:15; Romans 8:29).
– He sent His Spirit and founded His church to preach the gospel to those He is calling (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2).
– He proposed a New Covenant to offer salvation to the Gentiles (Hebrews 8:6-13; Galatians 3:26-29).

8.What has yet to occur in God’s plan?

Comment:Some of the coming events in God’s plan:

Christ will return as King of kings, defeat man’s Satan-inspired rebellion and set up His Kingdom (Revelation 19).
– The saints will be changed to spirit and reign with Christ a thousand years(I Corinthians 15; Revelation 20:4).
Satan will be bound throughout the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-3).
– All who ever lived will be resurrected to physical life and have a chance toaccept God’s way and live forever. Those who reject salvation will be cast in to the Lake of Fire (Isaiah 65:20-25; Ezekiel 37; Revelation 20:11-15).
– God the Father will rule the whole universe from earth, and His Family will live and work with Him throughout eternity (Isaiah 65:17-19; Revelation 21-22).

Whatan exciting, glorious future God has in store for us!

THE PLAN OF GOD:

Welearned that God has a master plan to recreate himself through human beings.Further, He has limited His plan to a 7,000-year process. If we overlay that blueprint with a more detailed one, we will see more of the process He is using to accomplish His purpose. Each of His holy days highlights a specific step in His work to “build” children in His image.

Leviticus23, where God lists the festivals and holy days that He gave His people,summarizes His more detailed plan. The weekly Sabbath is the first holyday God commands us to keep, reminding us of His purpose (verses 1-3). The rest of the chapter describes the individual holy days we are to keep “in their seasons” each year. God has us do this so that we never forget His planfor mankind and that we will pass it from generation to generation as ourchildren ask, “Why do we do this?” (Exodus 12:25).

1.How do we know the holy days show the whole plan of God and not just remind the Israelites of how God freed them from Egypt? Matthew 26:17-29; I Corinthians 5:2-8;Acts 2:1-17; I Corinthians 15:23-58; Acts 27:9; John 7:37.

Comment:Not only did Jesus and his disciples keep the Old Testament holy days—evenafter Christ returned to His Father—but also new meanings were given to them.Jesus clearly changed the symbols of Passover from a sacrificial lamb tothe bread and wine representing His body and blood given for our forgiveness.Paul shows in I Corinthians 5 that unleavened bread represents sin inour lives. These passages begin to reveal the plan of God, beginning with repentance and forgiveness and concluding with the resurrection of  the dead as members of His Family.

2.In the process of changing mankind to God, does God proceed in a particular order?    I Corinthians 14:40; 15:23; Revelation 20:4-6, 12-15.

Comment:God is not haphazard; He is a God of order. Christ deals with four distinctgroups of people, to whom He offers salvation and/or resurrects them atdifferent times:

1.The living or dead who have accepted God’s covenant.(OT AND NT ELECT)-WILL BE IN GLORIFIED BODIES

2.The living who have not accepted His covenant.(NT PEOPLE WHO ARE PRESENT AT CHRISTS COMING)-1000 YEAR PERIOD

3.The dead who did not know God.(THE IGNORANT PEOPLE INCLUDING BABIES WHO DIED{NATURAL OR BY MISCARRIAGE} AND THOSE WHO WERE ABORTED  —  FROM ADAM TILL THE END)-2ND RESURRECTION WITH SEXUAL MORTAL BODIES, A 100 YEAR PERIOD GIVEN.

4.The living or dead who have known and rejected Him.(ALL FROM ADAM TILL WHITE THRONE JUDGEMENT)

These four categories cover every person ever born!

FEASTS OF THE LORD

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The Feasts (annual holy days) were not only commanded to be kept prior to Christ, they were also kept by Christ,and his apostles. If you look closely, you will find that the Church continuedto observe these annual holy days after Christ’s resurrection.

Therewere seven yearly memorials or feasts that where commanded to be kept.

“Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which you will observe as holy assemblies, these are my feasts.” (LEV 23:2)

1) Passover (LEV 23:5).
2) Feast ofunleavened bread. (LEV 23:6) .
3) Feast of harvest(LEV 23:10) then you will bring abundle of grain from the first fruits of your harvest to the priest and heshall wave the bundle before the Lord, to be accepted for you.
4) Memorial of Trumpets(LEV 23:24)
5) Day of Atonement(LEV 23:27) .
6) Feast of tabernacles  (LEV 23:34).
7) The eighth day (LEV 23:36)And on the eighth day will be a holy assembly, a solemn assembly.

TheBiblical Festivals That Show How God Will Bring World Peace

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Will mankind ever experience lasting peace? Humanity’s track record isn’t very good. But a series of biblical feastsreveals how God will indeed bring lasting world peace!

History shows that the greatest barrier to world peace is our human nature. No segment of society escapes the cruelties it causes. Self-serving ambition, lust for power, prejudice and greed are only a few of humanity’s dark traits that regularly defeat the best of good intentions.

Conflicts arising from our selfish attitudes and choices victimize families and communities . We long for asolution, but can’t seem to find one that will endure.

Yet there is an answer, and the God who created us has revealed His intent to miraculously transform our nature so that peace will become possible!

In the Holy Scriptures He is described as “the God of peace” (Hebrews 13:20). The Scriptures alsorefer to His Son Jesus Christ as the “Prince of Peace” and promise,”Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end . ..” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

They foretell a time when “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4, New International Version).

But for now peace continues to be a  dream because, as those same Scriptures say of us, “the way of peace they have not known” (Romans 3:17).

Landmarks in God’s road map to peace

Mankind simply doesn’t know the wayto peace! The only sure way to lasting peace is through changing what is inside us.

So God’s plan for changing humannature is the most ancient of all road maps to world peace. It embodies seven successive steps, each vital to solving our human nature problem. Its focusis on transforming humanity from the inside out. And God assures us thatit will eventually bring lasting peace!

We often celebrate special events.Many celebrations are memorials of landmark events that have shaped our family,community, nation or society.

God has ordained seven unique celebrations that highlight the key landmark events in His plan to create and sustain world peace. Jesus Christ personally observed all seven of these celebrations (infact, He was crucified on one of them, the first one). These religiousfestivals celebrate the immense contributions that He has made or will maketoward transforming humankind into the righteous and peaceful children of God.

These celebrations are holy festivals that God instituted when He was transforming the descendants of Jacob(grandson of Abraham) from a slave people into an independent nation under His rule. Several great themes are depicted.

One theme is that of a people who are freed from slavery so they can serve God. When the nation of Israel was freed from Egyptian bondage, they knew they were being rescued from physical slavery.

What they didn’t understand at that time was that their newly acquired freedom from physical slavery was symbolic of God’s plan to liberate, in the future, all peoples and nations from their slavery to sin (Romans 6:3-6). The New Testament Scriptures explain that man’s enslavement to sin is caused by his fleshly desires that incite the evil tendencies of his human nature (Romans 7:22-23; James 4:1).

Another theme in God’s seven annualfestivals is that of a harvest. This is the grand theme that pervades all of these feasts. Their dates are set according to the agricultural harvest seasonsof the Holy Land. For this reason, they sometimes are called the harvest festivals.

But the implications of these festivals go far beyond the realm of agriculture. They lay before us the seven crucial steps in God’s plan to harvest—to gather—human beings into His everlasting family.

Jesus Christ explained this so clearly! “Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternallife, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.

“For here the saying holdstrue, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for whichyou did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor” (John 4:35-38, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added throughout).

The first three festivals

The first step in God’s planis symbolized through the divinely ordained festival called thePassover(Exodus 12:21; Deuteronomy 16:1-2).

It reminds us annually that Jesus Christ was put to death so that we can receive forgiveness of sin. By recognizing and repenting of our sinful behaviors and attitudes that flow from our selfish nature, we all may receive this forgiveness.

Anciently, the Passover was observed by slaughtering a lamb—which represented the future sacrifice of Christ. At the beginning of Christ’s ministry, John the Baptist “saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of theworld!'” (John 1:29).

The Passover commemorates what JesusChrist has done in offering His own life to pay for the guilt of all who will repent.

Jesus and His disciples kept this festival (Mark 14:12-14; Luke 22:13-15), setting the example we should follow(1 John 2:6). And the apostle Paul explicitly stated that Christians should continue following that example (1 Corinthians 11:23-28).

The second step in God’s planis celebrated as the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Paul explains the spiritual significance of this seven-day period alongside that of the Passover:”Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast [of Unleavened Bread], not withold leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

God delivered the ancientIsraelites, following their celebration of the Passover, from Egyptian slaveryduring the days of this festival. That national deliverance figurativelyrepresented God’s commitment to deliver in the future all peoples, oncethey accept Christ’s sacrifice, from the negative pulls of their human nature.

As Paul explains to those who havealready repented, accepted Christ’s sacrifice and begun striving to overcomesin and put it out of their lives: “We know that our old self wascrucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might nolonger be enslaved to sin . . . But thanks be to God that you, having once beenslaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching towhich you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, havebecome slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:6, 17-18, NRSV).

The third step in this divineplan is celebrated as the Day of Pentecost (Acts 20:16).

It also is referred to as “the Feast of Weeks” and “the day of the first fruits”(Numbers 28:26). James 1:18 tells us that “of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.”

It was on the Day of Pentecost that the New Testament Church was first established. What made this event so special was the miraculous change, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, that God made in the minds and hearts of those who were converted on that day (Acts 2:1-4).

The time had finally come for God tobegin changing a selected body of people from within. Jesus calls those whoreceive this marvelous transformation of their innermost nature in this presentage His “little flock” (Luke 12:32).

Though few in number in proportionto the masses of humanity, their vital mission is to be “the light of theworld” until He returns (Matthew 5:14). Not everyone who now claims tofollow Jesus Christ has truly repented and received the Spirit of God (Matthew7:20-21). Therefore, the time of removing completely the spiritual blindness that plagues humanity is yet in the future.

The global implications of the great autumn celebrations

The first three festivals of the spring harvest season represent those initial steps that are essential for preparing the way for the massive global renewal that will occur in the future.This global revitalization is pictured by the last four festivals. All are observed in the autumn (in the northern hemisphere), as the autumn harvest in the Holy Land is being gathered and stored.

God intentionally set them at this time to represent the key aspects of His great spiritual harvest of all nations and peoples. They point to the time when Jesus Christ will assume control overthe affairs of the whole world. Ushering in a new age, He will at last rid theworld of armed conflicts, deception and spiritual blindness.

The Kingdom of God was the maintheme of the gospel message Christ preached at His first coming. “Nowafter John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel ofthe kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom ofGod is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel'” (Mark 1:14-15).

The word “gospel” means goodnews. Jesus’ gospel was the good news that the Kingdom of God, which Jesuswill establish over all nations at His second coming, will address and solveall of humanity’s problems! Global peace will rank high among His most urgentpriorities.

Let’s now see what these sacred festivals reveal about that coming time of global reform.

Jesus Christ takes command

The fourth step in God’smaster plan is celebrated by the Feast of Trumpets.

It represents the return of Jesus Christ as the King of Kings to establish the Kingdom of God over all the earth at the sound of a great trumpet blast.

Notice descriptions of this crucial event in the Scriptures: “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever'” (Revelation 11:15, NIV).

“For the Lord Himself willdescend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and withthe trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1Thessalonians 4:16).

Not only will Jesus Christ assumecommand over all the earth, but also all those who have served Him faithfullywill be resurrected from the dead to become His executive staff: “And Hewill send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gathertogether His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to theother” (Matthew 24:31).

“Then the kingdom and dominion,and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to thepeople, the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:27).

“Blessed and holy is he who haspart in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, butthey shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousandyears” (Revelation 20:6).

The great deceiver is removed

The fifth step in God’smaster plan is foreshadowed by the Day of Atonement.

In ancient Israel it was on the Day of Atonement that the entire nation was ceremonially cleansed of sins committed in ignorance (Leviticus 16:29-34; Hebrews 9:7).Figuratively, this cleansing ceremony looked forward to the real cleansing ofthe entire world of its spiritual ignorance and blindness.

The Scriptures reveal that the onebeing most responsible for humanity’s spiritual ignorance and deception isSatan the devil (Revelation 12:9). Therefore, one of the first events to occurafter Christ returns is the binding and banishment of this great deceiver.

“And I saw an angel coming downfrom heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And helaid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, andbound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the abyss, and shut it andsealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer . ..” (Revelation 20:1-3, New American Standard Bible).

In ancient Israel this deceivingspirit being was represented symbolically by a goat that, on the Day ofAtonement, was banished into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:21). With theinfluence of the devil then removed, all people of the world can becomereconciled to God, through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Howdifferent from today!

A millennium of global restoration

The sixth step in this sacredplan is celebrated by the Feast of Tabernacles or the Festival ofIngathering.

This seven-day period represents the first 1,000 years of the restorative rule of Jesus Christ on earth. During the first part of Hisrule He will use several techniques to convince a deceived world that He reallyis the divine Son of God with the power to give or refuse blessings.

First He will establish Jerusalem asthe capital of His kingdom (Zechariah 14:1-9). After that, “Many nationswill come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to thehouse of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk inhis paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

“He will judge between manypeoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Micah 4:2-3, NIV).

But not every nation will cooperateimmediately. Many will have to learn the hard way just how fully Christ cancontrol every aspect of the entire earth. “And it shall come to pass that very one who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall group from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

“And it shall be that whicheverof the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King,the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain . . .” (Zechariah14:16-19)

Christ’s righteous rule will soonsecure a peace the world has never before known. “Of the increase of Hisgovernment and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and overHis kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from thattime forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will performthis” (Isaiah 9:7).

Hope for the unsaved dead

At Christ’s return only those whohave faithfully served and obeyed God over the centuries are resurrected. YetPaul explained that “God our Savior . . . desires all men to be saved andto come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). And Peter said:”The Lord is . . . not willing that any should perish but that all should cometo repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

What, then, happens to the rest ofthe dead who have never repented or really understood about God and His way oflife? Is there any hope for them? Indeed there is! God has also taken them intoaccount.

The seventh step in God’s master plan celebrates their hope in the Holy Day that immediately follows the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Since the last event in God’s plan of salvation mentioned in the Bible is the Great White Throne Judgment that immediately follows the 1,000-year reign of Christ (Revelation 20:11-15), this Holy Day represents the conclusion of God’s final judgment concerning the destiny of human beings.

Concerning those who died withoutrepenting, the Scriptures explain, “But the rest of the dead did not liveagain until the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:5).

After the 1,000 years expire, theapostle John explains what happens next: “. . . I saw the dead, small andgreat, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened,which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to theirworks, by the things which were written in the books” (verses 7, 12).

Jesus clearly included bothIsraelites and gentiles in that resurrection (Matthew 11:21-24; 12:41-42).Those who at that time accept God’s teaching and repent will be given HisSpirit through which they also may receive eternal life (Ezekiel 37:1-14;Romans 8:11).

A plan that guarantees peace

On its own, mankind has never discovered a lasting way to peace. Yet, through these biblical festivals, Godhas revealed how He plans to bring peace to the entire world. We can never achieve it on our own, which is why Jesus Christ must return.

WITNESS MINISTRIES