BEYOND THE GREAT HARVEST

The  Festival of the Eighth Day is a celebration with many  meanings  that point to one final climactic event, which will  end  the physical existence and the order of things as we know them today. This festival also celebrates and pictures a new beginning at  a time far in the future, past the millennial reign of Christ and the elect of God, and after the  conclusion of God's plan for the salvation of humanity.

THE PROPHETIC ORDER

In  the prophetic order of events for the salvation of  humanity, which is  pictured  through the annual observances and  festivals,  the celebration  of the Festival of Shelters/Ingathering signals the  end of the  effort to convert humanity to the ways of God and the transformation of those who are worthy into spirit-beings.

With  the harvest of humanity into the Kingdom of  God  finished, there will be only two major prophetic events left to  take  place:

1. The  resurrection to death for all  the  incorrigibly  wicked humans who have  ever lived.  See Ezk.18:4,20;  Matt.25:31-46; Rom.6:23.

2. The coming of God the Father to claim the  kingdom   that  he has placed  under  the  rule  and care  of  Jesus  Christ.  See 1.Cor.15:24- 28.

THE RESURRECTION TO DEATH

While beseeching God to spare the Israelites who had rebelled  at Mount Sinai, Moses says,  "Yet now, if you will forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray you, out of your book which you have written. And the Lord said to Moses, Whosoever has sinned against me,  him will I blot out of my book" (Ex.32:32-33 KJV). See  also Psa.69:28; Rev.3:5; 22:19.

The rebellious individuals who will not repent of their evil ways will have their names taken out of the Book of Life  and  their existence terminated. For these individuals, there  will  be no  eternal  pain or torment, just  eternal  non-existence.  See Psa.37:9.22,34; Ezk.18:4; 20:25.

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom  of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor  idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor  thieves  nor  the greedy nor drunkards  nor  slanderer,  nor swindlers  will inherit the kingdom of God"  (1.Cor.6:9-10  NIV). See also Pro.10:30; Gal.5:21.

It is very clear that everyone who is incorrigibly wicked will  cease to  exist at some time in the future, because the wages of sin  is death (Rom.6:23), not eternal life in hell or some other place.

DEATH BY FIRE

"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is  the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book  of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev.20:14-15 KJV).

Termination of Life

"The  lamp  of the wicked is snuffed out; the flame of  his  fire stops  burning.  The  light in his tent becomes  dark;  the  lamp beside  him goes out. . . . He is torn from the security of his tent and marched off to the king of terrors. Fire resides in his tent; burning  sulfur is scattered over his dwelling. His roots dry  up below  and his branches wither above. The memory of him  perishes from the  earth; he has no name in the land. He is  driven  from light into darkness and is banished from the world" (Job  18:5-6, 14-18 NIV). See also Job 15:20-30; Psa.106:16-18.

Although the NIV  is not a literal translation, its translators have powerfully  captured the meaning of what Job was  inspired to write. These verses convey the image of the  destructive force of fire that will be used to terminate the existence of the incorrigibly wicked.

The Fiery Furnace

Jesus warned that a time will come when the wicked and the righteous will be separated and the wicked will be destroyed by fire:

"The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was  let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it  was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad  away. This  is  how it will be at the end of the age. The angels  will come  and separate the wicked from the righteous and  throw them into the fiery furnace,. . ." (Matt.13:47-50 NIV).

"But  the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the  murderers,  the sexually  immoral, those who practice magic arts,  the  idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death" (Rev.21:8 NIV).

Those  punished by the second death are those who refuse to  obey God's law;  therefore, they deserve the death penalty.

DEATH AND HELL DESTROYED

"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is  the second death" (Rev.20:14 KJV).

After the resurrection to the second death,  hell  (the grave) and death will be destroyed and cease to exist. This  condition  of deathlessness will exist for the following reasons:

THE DAY THAT BURNS AS AN OVEN

"For, behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and  all the  proud, yes, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble:  and the  day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord  of hosts, that it  shall leave them neither root nor  branch. . . .. And  you shall  tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes  under  the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, says the Lord of  hosts" (Mal.4:1-3 KJV). See also Psa.37:20; 97:3-5;  112:10; 119:119; 145:20; Pro.2:22; Isa.47:14; Nah.1:2-6; Matt.3:10-12; 13:36-46.

The  prophet  Malachi was inspired to show that the fate  of  the wicked is complete and utter destruction without a continuance  of life. Malachi does not say whether or not  these  wicked are human or spirit-beings. He merely states that the wicked will be destroyed by fire and cease to exist.

THE APOSTLE PETER'S LETTER

The apostle Peter was also inspired to  speak of the  cataclysmic end  of  today's existence and the death  of  the wicked.

2.Peter 3:1-7, 9-14 Paraphrased

"Beloved this is the  second letter I write to you; in order to stir  up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That you  may  be mindful of the words which were spoken by the holy prophets,  and that we, the  Lord  and Savior apostles  commanded you" (vs.1-2).

As  Peter spoke of the end of the old order of  things, he  encouraged the elect of God to remember the teachings of  the prophets,  the apostles, and Jesus Christ, because they  all spoke  of the events that would end the physical work of God  on the earth and begin the new order of things.

"Know this  first,  that there shall come in  the  last  days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise  of  his coming? for since the fathers fell  asleep,  all things continue as they were from the beginning of the  creation" (vs.3-4).

There  have always been those who have not believed God's  prophets,  his teachers  and his written word. However,  Peter  did  not speak specifically of people of past ages or  those of  his time;  he spoke of the future and  those who  know the prophecies concerning the final events that  will end the existence of humans on earth and usher in a new age.  

In  verse 4, "his coming" does not refer to the second  coming  of Christ, it refers to the first coming of God the Father to  the earth. Many of the people who will live during the  time that  Peter prophesied about in chapter three will have forgotten or simply will not  truly believe the lessons of history and they will believe  that life will continue on as it always has. But, why will they believe this?

"For they are willingly ignorant of this. That, by the word of God, the heavens came into existence eons ago, and that the earth and the waters that were divided, and that God destroyed the earth with a great flood" (vs.5-6).

Although they  will have been taught God's plan and way of life, these people will be willingly ignorant,  they will not want to believe God's plan nor obey  his law.

Peter  reminds the elect of the first worldwide  destruction of the earth and its unrighteous inhabitants by water and he foretells the future destruction of the earth by fire:

"But  the heavens and the earth, which now exist, by this same  word are preserved until the fire of the day of judgment and punishment of ungodly men" (v7).

This  prophetic event concerning the earth's destruction by  fire will close the final chapter of human existence and usher in a  new age wherein only righteous spirit-beings will exist in the Kingdom  of God on earth.

An Ending and a Beginning

The  Father's   primary objective and earnest desire is  for  all of humanity to obtain salvation and eternal life in his kingdom. The Father  is  extremely   merciful and does not want  anyone  to  perish; however,  there is a point in time when his present plan  for humanity will end and the next phase of his plan will begin.  At this  point in time, the physical creation that housed  humanity will vanish in flames along with all wicked individuals:

"The Lord is not lax concerning his promise, as some men seem to think; but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance. But  the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the  night. In which  the  heavens and the earth shall vanish with a  great noise,  and the elements shall melt with intense heat, the  earth also and the works that are in it shall be burned up" (vs.9-10).

Verse 10 shows a prophetic event that has not yet been fulfilled. This event will come at the end of one age and the beginning of another. Just as the earth was purged of all wickedness during the Great Flood of Noah's time,  it  will again  be purged. But, this time, it will be purified  with  fire, and only righteous spirit-beings will survive.

"Because all these things shall  be  dissolved,  what kind  of people should you to be in all holy conversation  and godliness?" (v11).

Peter warns of the  importance of  being  found to be a righteous individual when this day arrives and he encourages those who are called of God to  diligently pursue a righteous life. He also encourages them to look forward to the great and wonderful  day when all that is impure and sinful will be eliminated and God the Father will come to dwell on the  earth.

"Looking  for swift appearance of the  day  of  God, in which the  heavens will be on fire and will be dissolved,  and  the elements shall melt with intense heat?" (v12).

A NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH

"Nevertheless, according to his promise we, look for the new  heavens and the new earth, in which righteousness dwells.  Therefore,  beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may  be  found  of him in peace,  without  spot,  and  blameless" (vs.13-14). See also Matt.3:10-12; 7:19; Rev.21:27.

Notice that righteousness is a prerequisite  for existence in the new  order of things. Nothing evil will exist in the new  heavens and earth; all that is evil will be purged away with fire.  The events that Peter spoke about are the events that  will  prepare the earth for the coming of God the Father.

The  scriptures clearly show that the purging of the  earth  with fire  will  culminate with the coming of God the Father  and  his holy  city to earth. From this magnificent city,  God the  Father, Jesus Christ, and the Father's elect children  will reign   and  rule forever over his ever-expanding Kingdom.

THE PRESENTATION OF THE KINGDOM

The  apostle Paul was inspired to foretell the   presentation  of  the  earth and all the righteous individuals to God the  Father  who will make the earth the focal point of his realm.

1.Corinthians 15:24-28 KJV

"Then comes the end, when he [Jesus Christ] shall have delivered up the  kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all  authority and power. For he must reign, till he has put  all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death:" (vs.24-26).

Paul  begins  this prophecy with the statement  "Then  comes  the end." But, what is this the end of and  when does the end come?  Here, "the end" refers to the end of the physical existence as  the Father arrives to dwell upon the earth.

The  day God the Father comes to  earth will be the climactic  end of the old order of physical existence.

"For  he has put all things under his feet. But when he says  all things  are  put under him, it is manifest that he  is  excepted, which did put all things under him"  (v27).

Paul  speaks  of a time far into the future, after  many  centuries  of Christ's rule, when all resistance to the  Kingdom  of God will have been overcome and Christ will be ruling as the supreme sovereign of the earth for his Father.

"And when all things have been brought under his control, then shall the  Son also  himself be subject to him that put all things  under  him, that God may be all in all" (v28).  

The presentation of the Kingdom  to the Father signals the end of the opportunity for redemption and salvation. At this point in time, all of the righteous  individuals  who have obtained salvation will  have been  transformed  into eternal spirit-beings.

THE COMING OF THE FATHER

Revelation 21:1-7 Paraphrased

The coming of the Father to earth is the primary meaning that is at the very core of the celebration and fulfillment of the  Festival of the Eighth Day.

"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and the sea was no more" (v1).

Here, we see that the earth will be completely transformed  into a new and different place, which has no vast oceans.

"And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out  of heaven from God, having been prepared as a bride adorned for  her husband" (v2).

John sees the magnificent and beautiful city of God, which Abraham and his descendants Isaac and Jacob longed to see.

"By faith he [Abraham] sojourned in the land of promise, as in  a strange  country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac  and  Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:  For he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God . . . But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city" (Heb.11:9-10,16). See also Jn.14:2-3.

This is the event which is foretold and pictured by the  Festival of  the Eighth Day. The old order will be gone, physical  humanity will be  gone,  all  evil spirits will be gone, and only righteous  spirit-beings will exist within the Father's family and kingdom.

"And  I  heard a great voice out of heaven  saying,  Behold,  the lodging  of  God is with men! And he will reside with  them,  and they  will be his people, and God himself will be with them, as their God" (Rev.21:3).

After the announcement is made, God the Father will dwell on  earth with his children. As well as fulfilling the prophetic meaning of the Festival of the Eighth Day, this event also fulfills the  prophetic meaning  of the Feast of Shelters, which looked forward to a time  when only  the righteous would dwell under the care and protection  of the Father within his family and kingdom for eternity.

What comes after God brings his kingdom to earth is a prophetic promise from God the Father  to his  faithful  children who have shown by their lives  that  they love  him  and desire with all of their being to dwell  with  him forever.

"And  God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes;  and  death shall be no more, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (v4).

These conditions will only exist after  all of  humanity has advanced beyond  this  physical existence and into the spirit realm  of God the Father.  Why will there no longer  be  tears,  sorrow, pain, or death?  This is possible because the things that were solely a part of the human experience will no longer exist.

The  next few verses sum up the primary prophetic intent for  the Festival of the Eighth Day and the reason to look forward to  and celebrate its future fulfillment:

"And  the  One [the Father]  sitting on the throne said, Behold,  I  make  all things  new. . . To the one thirsting, I will freely give  of  the fountain  of the water of life. The one overcoming will inherit all  things, and I will be God to him, and he will be the son  to me" (vs.5-7).

The Festival of the Eighth Day pictures and celebrates the consummation of God's plan for physical humanity. The old  physical  order will be gone, the new spiritual order will have  begun, and God the Father will have increased his  family  and kingdom  by  adding spirit-sons made in his likeness—both  in image and character.

This festival also prophetically celebrates the coming of the Father to earth and the many things that contribute  to  this great day, which are pictured and symbolized  by  the many  positive concepts and meanings associated with  the  number eight.

With the coming of God the Father to the earth, seven of the  most profound meanings of the Festival of the Eighth Day will have been fulfilled.

BEYOND THE EIGHTH DAY

We  are told very little about the Father's future plans beyond  the bringing of his throne and holy city to earth. However, there is an  indication in the Gospel of Luke that, in addition to its many other meanings, the  Festival of the Eighth Day pictures the beginning of a larger plan for the future:

"And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth  a son, and shall call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and  shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him  the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over  the house  of  Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall  be  no end"  (Lk.1:31-33 KJV). See also Dan.2:44; Mic.4:7: Rev.11:15.

Notice that, in  the last part of Luke 1:33, when the  angel announced  to Mary that she would give birth to the  Messiah,  he also announced that "his" (i.e., God the Father's) kingdom  would continue forever. Therefore, it seems that the Father  plans to  continue the expansion of his kingdom into eternity.

King  David who was a man after God's own heart  was  inspired  to  include the following within a prophecy of the coming  Messiah:

"You will show me the path of life: in your  presence is fullness of  joy;  at your right hand there are pleasures  for  evermore" (Psa.16:11 KJV).

The apostle Paul spoke of the time beyond the Father's coming  to earth, when he said: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered  into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him" (1.Cor.2:9 KJV).

With  the  prophetic fulfillment of the events  pictured  by  the Festival  of  the  Eighth Day, the awesome reality  of  what  the Father  has promised and prepared for his children will begin  to be fully  realized. Whatever the Father and  Jesus  Christ  have planned for the future after the Eighth Day, we can be sure  that it will be extremely interesting, exciting, and enjoyable.

By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w71