In Leviticus 23 God commanded Israel to observe three fall festivals: The Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. These are not feasts in the sense of food-consumption, but "appointed times" in which God's people were taught about holiness, forgiveness, and fellowship with the Creator. Not only did they have spiritual value to an ancient people, but they also have prophetic significance as well for us today.
In the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh HaShanah) the central theme is repentance and preparation for the coming Day of Atonement. This is marked by the blowing of a special trumpet called a shofar, which is usually made from a ram's horn (and reminds us of Isaac's ram in the thicket). The sound of the shofar has many voices. It can be a call to war, a warning sign, a cry of celebration, or a call to repentance. It is also understood to herald the coming of King Messiah at the Messianic Age. Its hollow, haunting sound is unique, and it pierces the open soul who beckons its call. It is likely this shofar that is in mind in New Testament references to trumpet blasts at Messiah's return (Matt 24:31; 1 Thess 4:16,17; Rev 11:15).
The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) comes ten days later and is the holiest day of the biblical calendar. On this day the High Priest would enter the Most Holy Place of the Temple, and it was a national day of spiritual cleansing. Its theme is the removal of sin before God, and it is a day of fasting and prayer. The Apostle Paul fasted on this day (Acts 27:9), and the writer of Hebrews (who repeatedly compares Messiah with the role of the High Priest, e.g. Heb 8:6) says that Messiah Himself provides atonement (Heb 1:3, 10:12). The days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are known as the "days of awe" and are a time for repentance and personal introspection.
During the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) the Israelites were commanded to dwell in booths/tents for seven days. This was to commemorate their wandering in the desert and the movable tabernacle. It is also a joyful rest following the intensity of the two previous "High Holy Days." This tabernacle image conveys the idea that (1) we are strangers in this world and that our true home and citizenship is in heaven, and (2) that God desires to be "in the midst" of His people, just as the ancient tabernacle was in the midst of the camps of Israel. This is best realized in the Savior who came and "tabernacled among us" (Jn 1:14). Many believe that it was during this festival that Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) was born.
So the Feast of Trumpets teaches repentance;
the Day of Atonement, redemption;
and the Feast of Tabernacles, rejoicing.
For service times or more information, contact B'rit Hadasha at (901) 685-9267. May this year's fall feasts bring you closer to the One who appointed them.