LAST GREAT DAY
is God's seventh and last annual festival?
"Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have
gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the LORD
for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and
on the eighth day a sabbath-rest" (Leviticus 23:39).
"Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, [Ezra]
read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven
days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to
the prescribed manner" (Nehemiah 8:18).
The seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles are followed by another high
day, on which God commands an assembly. This eighth day is the Last
Great Day of the fall festival season, and it represents the final,
or seventh, step in God's plan of salvation.
As Christ's 1,000-year reign on earth (Revelation 20:4) is followed
by other prophesied events, the Feast of Tabernacles is also followed
by a concluding festival that represents the conclusion of those final
events-the final aspects of God's purpose and plan for humanity on our
physical earth. The book of Revelation reveals that all people who have
ever died without hearing of Christ or learning God's way of life are
to be resurrected and given their opportunity to receive eternal life.
This brings us to the concluding aspects of God's plan.
John writes: "And I saw the dead, small and great, 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 their works, by
the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead
who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in
them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death
and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake
of fire" (Revelation 20:12-15).
This is the resurrection of "the rest of the dead [who] did not
live again until the thousand years were finished" mentioned in
Revelation 20:5. This resurrection of many millions of people back to
physical, perishable life is graphically depicted in Ezekiel 37:1-12.
In this resurrection, according to Jesus, the dead of all past ages-people
such as the queen of the South (or Sheba) from Solomon's time, the inhabitants
of the ancient Assyrian stronghold of Nineveh from Jonah's time and
the people of Christ's time-will all be resurrected together (Matthew
This judgment will take place over time as these people hear and learn
God's truth for the first time. Those who rise in this resurrection
and repent-and the Scriptures indicate that most of them will repent-will
receive God's Spirit. "Then you ... will know that I am the LORD,
when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit
in you and you will live ... Then you will know that I the LORD have
spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD" (Ezekiel 37:13-14,
NIV). In this resurrection God will give them their opportunity for
salvation-an opportunity they never had before.
Did Jesus speak of a connection between the Last Great Day and
the receiving of God's Spirit?
"On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and
cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will
flow rivers of living water." But this He spoke concerning the
Spirit, [which] those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit
was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:37-39).
Most people cling to the notion that God sends those who die unsaved
to an ever-burning hell to be tormented forever. This is one of the
great deceptions Satan has foisted off on mankind. It is simply not
true. Instead, the Scriptures consistently teach that each person who
dies remains in his grave, having no consciousness or pain (Ecclesiastes
9:5; Psalm 6:5) until God resurrects him.
Jesus explained that everyone who dies will be resurrected from his
grave, not from an ever-burning hell: "Do not marvel at this; for
an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs ['graves' in most
translations] shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who
did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the
evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28-29, New American
Standard Bible). Some translators incorrectly render this event as a
"resurrection of condemnation." Such translation does not
accurately reflect what the Scriptures teach.
Humanity's final judgment, according to the Scriptures, will not be
in the form of a resurrection to automatic condemnation. Rather it will
be the time when those who have never heard God's truth explained will
finally receive an opportunity to hear and repent-by being resurrected
and taught God's truth over a generously sufficient length of time to
come to repentance and prove to God they really want eternal life and
are willing to submit to Him.
Through God's wondrous foresight, all people will enjoy the opportunity
to learn His truth and come to repentance, because God "desires
all men to be saved" (1 Timothy 2:4). God will forgive those who
repent (the biblical indications are that most will repent) and give
them His Spirit and ultimately salvation in His Kingdom. Remember, "the
Lord is ... not willing that any should perish but that all should come
to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). He provides for everyone to have
a genuine personal opportunity to have his name written in the book
Finally, this time of judgment will conclude when the incorrigibly wicked-those
who, after receiving their opportunity to repent, still refuse to accept
God's ways-are cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15).
What do the Scriptures describe as the conclusion of this final
"Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and
the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I,
John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from
God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud
voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,
and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself
will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear
from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.
There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away"
What follows in Revelation 21-22 briefly describes the community of
those who have received salvation living peacefully and harmoniously
with each other in the presence of God for eternity. In His wonderful
Kingdom God will reveal the meaning of His promise, "Behold, I
make all things new" (Revelation 21:5).
God's festivals celebrate the seven stages of His wonderful, all-encompassing
plan so we can have faith in Him and rest assured that He knows what
He is doing. He has thought out every detail to bring us-all who are
willing -to repentance and give us eternal life.
By keeping His festivals we remain focused on what is important in our
view of the future and our role in it. Each time we keep them we deepen
our understanding of prophecies throughout the Bible that fill in the
details of God's wonderful plan.
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