Certain evens associated with Christ’s Second Coming will occur in precise relation to certain Jewish feasts, just as His crucifixion occurred in precise relation to the Passover feast, and His birth in relation to Rosh Hashanah. While studying Christ’s return for the salvation of Israel--first to Edom, and then from Edom to Jerusalem, and then to the top of Mount Zion with the first fruits of Israel where the reign over the earth will be reclaimed by God Almighty--the relationship of those events to Yom Kippur, the Feast of Tabernacles and to Hanukkah became overwhelmingly clear.
Yom Kippur, which means “Day of Atonement,” occurs on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishri (Sept.-Oct.), the 7th month in the Jewish calendar. It was the supreme Jewish “holy day,” the time of national atonement for sin. Originally, it was the time when , once a year, the high priest, and the high priest alone, very briefly entered the Holy of Holies and offered sacrifices for himself and for Israel (see Lev. 16; 23:27-32).
During this holy period, fasting was mandatory from the evening of the 9th through the evening of the 10th. God declared that “it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you shall be clean from all your sins before the LORD” (Lev. 16:30).
On this day the slaughtered goat was a symbolic offering for the true sacrifice for sin that Jesus Christ made “once for all when He offered up Himself” (Heb. 7:27), when God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Speaking of the end times and the end of Israel’s sins, Daniel declares, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make and end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy” (Dan. 9:24, emphasis added).
If any one day of the end times could prophetically represent the Day of Atonement for Israel, it would be the last day of the 70th Week, when as Daniel reveals, her transgression will be finished, her sins ended, and her iniquity atoned for. This then would be the day that God’s hostility against them will end, because they will have made “amends for their iniquity” (Lev. 26:41).
It seems perfectly consistent from Scripture that certain events associated with Christ’s Second Coming will therefore correspond to and fulfill Yom Kippur, just as His crucifixion climaxing His first coming corresponded to and fulfilled the Passover. This conclusion does not set the date for Christ’s Return, but it does reveal the timing of the end of the 70th Week in relation to Yom Kippur. If that conclusion is correct, the end of the 70th Week, and therefore Yom Kippur, should occur 2,520 days (7 prophetic yrs. of 360 days each) from the date that Israel signs the covenant with death at the beginning of that final week.
That evidence alone, however, is not sufficient to make one adamant about making Yom Kippur fall on the last day of the 70th Week. But it is a reasonable possibility.
Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, always begins 5 days after Yom Kippur, on the 15th day of Tishri, and is one of 3 feasts that is requires to be observed on Mount Zion. Originally lasting for 7 days, this festival celebrated two events. First, it was a remembrance of God’s protection of a surviving remnant of Israel during the 40 years of wilderness wandering after He delivered His people from Egypt. The name of the feast is derived from the fact that it was celebrated in simple tabernacles, or booths, and was meant to remind God’s people of His faithfulness during those nomadic years of hardship. Second, Sukkot celebrated the end of the harvest, as people gathered and stored grain and other produce God had provided for them. For that reason it was often called the Feast of Ingathering. Although the figure of harvest is frequently used in Scripture of God’s judgment, it is also used of His blessing, in particular in relation to the salvation of the nation after they have atoned for their sin. Through Hosea God gave His people the clearly eschatological promise, “O Judah, there is a harvest appointed for you, when I restore the fortunes of My people” (Hos. 6:11).
As just noted, Sukkot occurs 5 days after Yom Kippur, it represents the dual celebrations of God’s deliverance from their affliction in Egypt and of His provision of the harvest (near-term: physical, far-term: spiritual), and it is celebrated on Mount Zion. It is surely more than coincidental those 3 central aspects of Sukkot perfectly parallel the events of the 5th day after the end of the 70th Week, when Christ will ascend Mount Zion after the salvation of the remnant of Israel that survives the horrors of the Great Tribulation.
Of additional fascination it is noted that Psalm 118, the one most likely sung when Christ and the 144,000 ascend Mount Zion on the 5th day after the conclusion of the 70th Week, is the great psalm of ascension always suing on Sukkot, 5 days after Yom Kippur.
Psalm 118 Psalm 118 was was specifically sung by Jews in the celebration of Sukkot as they traveled to the top of Mount Zion--hence its designation as a psalm of ascension or ascent. Although this feast was associated with Israel’s wilderness deliverance and with the ingathering of the harvest, Ps. 118 itself does not directly focus on those two things. The first 4 verses (1-4) express general adoration and praise for the Lord’s eternal loving-kindness. The next 5 verses (5-9) acknowledge Him as the only true place of safety in time of distress--which could refer equally well to Israel’s wilderness sojourn as to the second half of the 70th Week or, more probably, to both. Verses 10-14 praise the Lord for his deliverance from enemies--which obviously could relate to the persecution by Anti-Christ and his 10 nation 8th Beast Empire. The next 4 verses give thanks for His severe yet loving discipline of His people Israel, again paralleling the Day of the LORD refinement of Israel when “He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness” (Mal. 3:3).
It is however, the nest 6 verses that seem of special importance in relation to the last half of the 70th Week:
Open for me the gates of righteousness;
I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD
through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation.
The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
the LORD has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
(vv. 19-24) NIV
That passage does not relate to the physical deliverance of the nation of Israel, but clearly pertains to her spiritual salvation, when “the stone which the builders [Israel] rejected has become the chief cornerstone [Christ].” It is the cornerstone about whom Paul speaks when he assures believers: “You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” (Eph 2:19-21). When Christ ascends Mount Zion, the first fruits who accompany Him will be the redeemed remnant of Israel, singing, as never before that magnificent Psalm.
When that final Sukkot is celebrated, Psalm 118 will be sung as a song of thanksgiving to God for His protection during the last half of the 70th Week (vv. 5-9); a song of gratitude to God for His deliverance from Israel’s enemies, Anti-Christ’s 8th Beast Empire of Satan (vv. 10-14); a song of thanksgiving for His severe but loving discipline during the Day of the LORD (vv. 15-18); and a song of praise to God for His successful harvest of the nation, as it were (vv. 19-24) by her Lord and Savior, the “chief cornerstone” (V. 22).
Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights, or of Dedication, is observed in the month of Kislev (Nov.-Dec.), exactly 75 days after Yom Kippur and 70 days after the beginning of Sukkot. Hanukkah is not a biblically prescribed feast, but it is perfectly consistent with Scripture, has clear prophetic implications, and has been celebrated by Israel for well over 2,000 years.
This feast celebrates an event that occurred in the 2nd century B.C., a few hundred years after the last book of the Old Testament was written and a couple hundred years before the writing of the first New Testament book. Perhaps for that reason it is not mentioned as such in Scripture. It was, however, an essential element in the religious life of Jews in the time of Christ (see John 10:22). Christ Himself referred to this important feast when He told the scribes and Pharisees, in the context of the Feast of Lights (Hanukkah), that He was “the light of the world” (John 8:12). The feast is still of great significance to Jews today thousands of years later.
Hanukkah commemorates Israel’s deliverance from Antiochus Epiphanes (an Old Testament prototype of Anti-Christ) by Judas Maccabaeus, including the restoration of the Temple and the purification of the altar, which had been profaned by Antiochus when he committed the first Abomination of Desolation by sacrificing swine flesh on it. The celebration of lights is directly associated with Hanukkah and is a reminder to Israel of the eventual return of God’s shekinah glory to the Temple. As already mentioned, this feast has been observed by Israel for well over 2,000 years. Ultimately it looks forward to the day that the Messiah Himself will build His Temple that never will be destroyed and to the return of His shekinah glory that never again will depart.
Ezekiel was privileged to envision that return of God’s glory to the Temple:
I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory. . . The glory of the LORD entered the temple through the gate facing east. . . .He said: “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel will never again defile my holy name-neither they nor their kings-by their prostitution and the lifeless idols of their kings at their high places.” (Ezek. 43:2, 4, 7)
The glory will first return above the earth, announcing the coming of the Son of Man and His destruction of the earth’s wicked, and will then come to reside permanently in the Temple, “the place of My throne . . . where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever.
This is the grand and ultimate scene that Hanukkah depicts--the scene which will be fulfilled when Christ returns to Jerusalem to rule, on the first day of the Millennium when “the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one” (Zech. 14:9). As envisioned by John, “the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23). This glorious event will occur exactly 75 days after the completion of the 70th Week and exactly 75 days after Christ ascends to the top of mount Zion accompanied by His first fruits.
The ultimate Yom Kippur for the nation of Israel will be on the last day of the 70th Week when they have made “atonement for [their] iniquity.”
The ultimate Sukkot will occur 5 days later, two days after the national salvation of Israel, as Christ and His redeemed Israel will celebrate the ultimate and final Hanukkah when the glory of Christ returns to the Temple, after which Christ’s millennial rule upon the earth will begin.
I [VanKampen] have become convinced that when Christ returns he not only will fulfill the ultimate meaning and significance of those three festivals, but He will also fulfill them chronologically to the exact day and hour--in precisely the same manner that Christ became the Passover Lamb on the exact day and time the Passover feast was celebrated by Israel at His first coming. (And as He fulfilled Rosh Hashanah with His birth, and Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.)
The significance is clear. We cannot know in advance the exact day or hour that Christ will cut short the Great Tribulation by Anti-Christ, when He comes to rescue His church and destroy the earth’s wicked. We cannot know in advance the year in which the covenant of death will be signed, initiating the 70th Week. But this author [VanKampen] believes that to the degree it is possible to know when Yom Kippur will be celebrated 7 years into the future, a good indication of when the covenant will be signed in the current year can be determined.
Christ tells us that we should learn from the parable of the fig tree: “when its branch already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know summer is near” (Matt. 24:32). Because all the events necessary to initiate the 70th Week are now complete--except for the alignment of 3 Aryan nations with a powerful leader--every Christian should be aware that the 70th Week could begin, as it were, practically overnight. To that end, if my [VanKampen‘s] assumptions are correct, I believe we can determine to some degree in advance what time of the year the covenant will be signed in any given year.
In other words, we know that the 70th Week of Daniel is a “week” of prophetic years (that is 7 yrs.), consisting of 360 days each and totaling 2,520 days. We know the covenant of death will be signed on the 1st day of that 7 year period. We can also determine what day Yom Kippur will be celebrated for any given year in the future. Assuming that Yom Kippur will be the last day of the 70th Week, we can obtain from official Jewish sources the future dates set for Yom Kippur and work back from these dates to determine the exact date the covenant of death would need to be signed in any given year.
Because the Jewish calendar is both solar and lunar, it is much more complex than the strictly solar Roman calendar which is used today in most of the world. Suffice it to say, however, Yom Kippur normally falls in late September or early October of each year, and if one were to delete 2,519 days from the date that the Jewish religious leaders set for that festival 7 years into the future, mathematically the covenant would be signed in late October or early November of any current year. In other words, watch the activities of Israel especially during the fall of any one year! If the covenant is going to be signed in any given year, that is the time of year in which it will be signed. What year? I have no idea. But this one thing I do know. Everything that Scripture says should be in place before “these things” can occur is already in place for the first time in almost 2,000 years. For that reason, as never before, the true Church should be alert and watchful!
(from The Sign, by Robert VanKampen, pp. 404-411.)