The Messiah, Yeshua Ha Moshiach (or Jesus the Christ, in English), offers each one of us
"living water" (John 4:10) -- the water that leads to eternal life. He said to the Samaritan woman at the well at Sychar, in Samaria, "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14).
This is the very water that Isaiah the prophet foretold, when he declared, "Behold, God is my salvation [Hebrew, Yeshua]; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH
[YAHVEH] is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation [Yeshua]. Therefore
with JOY shall ye draw WATER out of the wells of salvation [Yeshua]. And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name [Yeshua], declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in ALL the earth. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel [Yeshua] in the MIDST of thee"(Isa.12:2-6).
God also prophesied through Isaiah, His prophet: "For I will pour water upon him that is
thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour MY SPIRIT upon thy seed [children
], and MY BLESSING upon thy offspring" (Isa.44:3).
Yeshua (Jesus Christ) put it this way: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
He that believeth in me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow RIVERS OF LIVING WATER (but this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)" (John 7:37-38).
The theme of water is intimately tied up with the final holy day of the year, Shemini Atzeret. We will discuss this amazing feature later.
"The seven days of Sukkot which end with Hoshana Rabbah are followed by another holiday, Shemini Atzeret, the Eighth Day of Assembly.
.. It is a festival in its own right, independent of Sukkot, and is observed one day in Eretz Yisrael . . .
The fact that Shemini Atzeret is a separate Yom Tov is evident in the blessing of Shehecheyanu (Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season), which is recited by women when lighting the candles and by men when reciting the Kiddush.
"None of the special mitzvot associated with Sukkot are observed on Shemini Atzeret, and thus there is no requirement to take the lulav and etrog. . . .
"The word atzeret is derived from atzar, to collect, to store. The purpose of this festival is to recapitulate and to store in our memories everything we experienced and gained during the preceding Yamim Tovim [Good Days], so that we will carry out the resolutions we have made, will retain the spiritual elevation we have reached,and will not lose them in the every day life to which we are about to return" (p.95-96).
The Rabbis recognized that this day, in itself, is a very special holy day. They saw that it is distinct from the Feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles. They understood that in a special sense, this day is connected to STORING UP and COLLECTING all the knowledge, spiritual food, and instruction that we have gained in the preceding holy days -- especially from Rosh Hashana (Feast of Trumpets) through the Feast of Sukkot -- all the spiritual lessons of repentance, forgiveness, character development, obedience, faith, joy, love -- the lessons of complete spiritual maturity -- that we have learned during the High Holy Day season through the Feast of Sukkot.
Spiritual Aspects of Shemini Atzeret
The Rabbis also contemplated why on this day -- Shemini Atzeret -- there is no living inside the sukkah required, and no waving of the lulav, two rituals which were prominent during the preceding seven-day festival of Sukkot. Finkel goes on to explain:
"Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi said, Shemini Atzeret is a Yom Tov that is not identified with any specific symbol or mitzvah.
It is not celebrated with either matzah, shofar, or lulav. The reason is that on Shemini Atzeret
we reach a stage of TRUE AND PURE JOY, a state of happiness that requires no external symbolic stimuli. It is a joy that stems from the depth of man's inner self.
Sadness and depression are the marks of a person who is distant from his inner core.
A person who 'is himself' and is in harmony with his inner core is filled with pure joy.
"This is what the sages meant when they postulated in the Talmud, '
Shemini Atzeret is a Yom Tov by itself,' it is a celebration and rejoicing of the essential inner self'" (p.96).
Seventy bullocks were sacrificed to God during the Feast of Tabernacles, picturing the "seventy" nations of mankind having their sins at one for, and becoming obedient to the truth of God and the commandments of the Lord (Isa.2:1-4; Micah 4:1-4). But on Shemini Atzeret, only one bull was offered. Why?
"During the week of Sukkot, altogether seventy bulls were brought as Mussaf offerings on the altar in the Bet Hamikdash.
However, on Shemini Atzeret, only one bull was sacrificed. Why? The seventy bulls represent the seventy nations of the world; the one bull of Shemini Atzeret represents the unique nation of Israel. You may compare it to a king who had held a festival for seven days and invited all of the country's inhabitants (the nations of the world) to the seven days of feasting. When the seven days of feasting were over, he said to his friend (Israel), 'Let us now have a small meal together, just you and I' (Bamidbar Rabbah21, Sukkah 55b)" (p.98).
Obviously, the picture of Shemini Atzeret is of a very intimate union and fellowship, which follows after the broad-based and universal Feast of Sukkot. It is a close family union, with much deeper and more pure insights and depth of meaning and spirituality. Finkel goes on:
"Rabbi Noach of Lechowitz expounded, The theme of Shemini Atzeret may be better understood if we think of it in terms of a BRIDE AND GROOM.
During the wedding, they are both decked out in a wardrobe of exquisite, elegant clothes and jewelry. However, when they come together in their private chamber, they remove their garments and jewelry.
"It is the same with Shemini Atzeret. During the seven days of Sukkot, the Jewish people offered a profusion of seventy bulls, but on Shemini Atzeret -- the moment they achieve COMPLETE UNIFICATION WITH GOD -- they brought only one bull (Num.29:36)" (The Essence of the Holy Days, p.98-99).
The fact that there are no outward rituals or symbols connected with Shemini Atzeret,
unlike Passover, Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, Atonement, and Sukkot, speaks of the unique spiritual quality of this final Festival of God. It is as if we have transcended from the physical to the purely spiritual -- from the concrete and palpable to the sublime and untouchable -- from that which can be seen to that which cannot be seen. As the apostle Paul wrote, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal [temporary, transient, evanescent]: but the things which are not seen are ETERNAL" (II Cor.1:18).
We move from the threshold of the visible to the invisible -- from those things which can be shaken to the unshakable. As Paul also wrote, "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things that cannot be shaken may REMAIN.
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which CANNOT BE MOVED, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire" (Heb.12:25-29).
Comparing the symbolism of this Holy Day with the imagery of a Bride and Bridegroom, and their intimate togetherness, by themselves, after all the guests and party-goers depart, gives us a special insight into the real spiritual implications of Shemini Atzeret.
The picture reveals that after the Millennial "Feast" of Sukkot is finished, and the great "Fall Harvest" has been gathered in, the Bride -- the Church of God, spiritual Israel (Gal.6:16) -- and the Groom, Yeshua the Messiah -- will have a special "day" or time to themselves, in an even deeper expression of intimate love, sensitivity, and pure joy.
But there is even more.
Joel Ziff, in Mirrors in Time: A Psycho-Spiritual Journey through the Jewish Year, gives us even greater insight and understanding into the deep spiritual meaning of Shemini Atzeret. He informs us:
". . . Sukkot is associated with the earth. There are two qualities of earth -- one implying humility and the other expansiveness.
We pray for humility with the words, 'May I be like the dust of the earth before all of creation
' . . . Paradoxically, the image of earth is also used to suggest expansiveness when God promises Abraham and Sara their progeny will be like the 'dust of the earth.' In this same manner, developing a sense of humility and an acceptance and appreciation of our vulnerability, we also connect to the source of our power and hope.
"On the eighth day, we collect the water we have accessed. It becomes a WELL from which we can nourish ourselves as we resume ordinary life. The connection of the well to Shemini Atzeret can be translated as assembly or collection. On this day, we assemble with in ourselves the STOREHOUSE OF ENERGY which will fuel our efforts through the remainder of the year, as we bring light to Shemini Atzeret can be translated as assembly or collection. On this day, we assemble within ourselves the STOREHOUSE OF ENERGY which will fuel our efforts through the remainder of the year, as we bring light into the darkness.
Just as we can store water in a cistern, JOY energizes our continued efforts through the year.
"We have been able to experience ourselves in a new way while under the protection of the Sukkah. On the eighth day, we set aside the external supports which have helped us to respond in a new way. We no longer use the lulav and etrog. We return to our homes and say farewell to the sukkah.
In some respects, the props are no longer necessary -- just as a plant which has grown from a seedling no longer needs special protection from the elements. We are now more able to support ourselves.
"However, we are not completely self-sufficient. The Israelites were more able to sustain
themselves when they reached the land of Israel. They worked hard to plant and harvest crops rather than rely on the manna for food. However, they still required help from God in the form of RAIN. On Shemini Atzeret, the beginning of the planting season, a special prayer for rain is added to the daily service.
In this same spirit, we are able to work hard to nurture our NEW BEGINNING, but we still need nourishment to flow down to us from the heavens to HELP US GROW AND DEVELOP"(p.241-242).
Shemini Atzeret, then, represents the completion of one cycle, and the beginning of another NEW cycle, according to God's Plan.
It represents a NEW BEGINNING. This "new beginning" requires "rain" -- a type of the Spirit of God poured out in order to produce a new crop and a new harvest! Shemini Atzeret represents the beginning of a new RAINY SEASON, during which the earth is nourished by rain from the heavens. Spiritually, then, it represents the pouring out anew of God's Holy Spirit and the continuation and expectation of a NEW HARVEST for the Kingdom of God!
Joel Ziff goes on, describing how this day integrates with the High Holy Day season, the Days of Awe, and the Feast of Sukkot. He writes:
"Shneur Zalman also describes the process at this time of year with the image of a PLANTING A SEED in the earth. The planting of the seed in the earth is a symbol of humility; when we plant a seed, we cover it with earth. We are like that seed in our process of self-evaluation during the Days of Awe. . . Eventually the seed sprouts and emerges into the light of day from inside the earth. Empowered by the work of self-reflection, the actions take place with a positive feeling.
After doing the work of self-reflection on Yom Kippur, we are able to respond whole-heartedly on Sukkot.
As we dig into the earth, we find a spring, a well of water that flows up to us from the depths.
On Shemini Atzeret, we ACCESS THE 'LIVING WATERS' OF SALVATION which flow the quality of God's loving kindness, Chesed" (p.242).
Thus the Festivals of God are intimately bound up with the cycles of the earth -- the seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter. They are connected closely and in depth to the AGRICULTURAL HARVESTS of the year -- both spring and fall. But there is a mighty,
profound, rich spiritual lesson in all this. What is this lesson?
What do the annual cycles of planting and harvest have to do with God's spiritual Plan?
Let's understand this!
The Meaning of the Number "Eight"
The very name of this festival, "Shemini Atzeret," literally means "The Eighth Assembly."
It is the final holy day of God's Holy Day Plan. However, there is great significance in the number "eight" itself!
E. W. Bullinger, in his book Number in Scripture, explains about the meaning and symbolism of numbers, including the number "eight." He declares:
"In Hebrew the number eight is Sh'moneh, from the root Shah'meyn, 'to make fat,' 'cover with fat,' 'to super-abound.' As a participle it means 'one who abounds in strength,' etc.
As a noun it is 'super-abundant fertility,' 'oil,' etc.
So that as a numeral it is the super-abundant number.
As seven was so called because the seventh day was the day of completion and rest, so eight, as the eighth day, was over and above this perfect completion, and was indeed the FIRST of a new series, as well as being the eighth.
Thus it already represents two numbers in one, the first and eighth" (p.196).
Even as "seven" is God's number of perfection, or completion (as the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, which completes and perfects the week), so "eight" is the same as the first day of the NEXT week, but counting from the days of the previous week. Thus it represents clearly "A NEW BEGINNING."
An example of "eight" used in this connection in the Scriptures is the fact that as Peter tells us, there were EIGHT souls in the Ark of Noah, who began the NEW WORLD after the Flood!
We read of the time when "the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water" (I Peter 3:20).
Interestingly , in the future Temple of God described in Ezekiel, we find that there were seven steps that led into the outer court (Ezek.40:22, 26); however, there were eight steps that led from the outer court to the inner court (Ezek.40:31, 34, 37). The first seven led from labor to rest, but the eight led from rest to intimate fellowship with God and pure worship!
The consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests of God required seven days of being set apart (Lev.8:35), but it was on the "eighth day" that they were anointed as "priests," thus beginning a "new" ministry and office before God and the people.
David was the "eighth" son of Jesse, thus also beginning a "new dynasty" in Israel when he became king (I Sam.16:10-11; II Sam.17:12).
Bullinger adds concerning the significance of this number "8":
"It is 7 plus 1.
Hence it is the number specially associated with Resurrection and Regeneration, and the BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA OR ORDER.
"When the whole earth was covered with a flood, it was Noah 'the eighth person'(II Pet.2:5) who stepped out on to a new earth to commence a new order of things.
'Eight souls' (I Pet.3:20) passed through it with him to the new or regenerated world.
"Hence, too, circumcision was to be performed on the EIGHTH DAY (Gen.17:12)
. . . . The first-born was to be given to Jehovah on the eighth day (Exo.22:29-30).
The Holy City, New Jerusalem
Eight is the first "cubic" number -- it is 2 x 2 x 2 = 8. Whereas "3" is the symbol of the first plane figure (a triangle with 3 sides), and "4" is the first square, so here in the first "cube" figure we see something of transcendent perfection, something in which length, breadth, and height are all equal! But what does this fact have to do with Shemini Atzeret, the "eighth" day?
E. W. Bullinger points out this salient fact:
This significance of the cube is seen in the fact that the 'Holy of Holies,' both in the Tabernacle and in the Temple, were cubes.
In the Tabernacle it was a cube of ten cubits. In the Temple it was a cube of twenty cubits.
IN REVELATION 20, THE NEW JERUSALEM IS TO BE A CUBE OF 144,000 FURLONGS.
Dr. Milo Mahan is inclined to believe that the Ark of Noah, too, had a kind of sacred Shechi
nah in 'the window finished in a cubit above' -- a cube of one.
If so, we have the series of cubes: --
1 = The Ark
10x3 = 1,000, The Tabernacle
20x3 = 8,000, The Temple
12,000x3 = 1,728,000,000,000, The New Jerusalem" (Number in Scripture, Bullinger, p.201-212).
Bullinger points out that the number 1,728 (see above) is also a very unusual number. It is
the product of 82 (Shemini -- "a new beginning" squared), times 33 (the number of Decision,
Finality, Judgment, cubed).
But what does all this have to do with the "Eighth Day of Assembly"?
The Plan of God Unveiled!
As we have already seen, in discussions of the previous holy days of God, the Fall Festivals
picture the whole Plan of God.
The Feast of Rosh Hoshana pictures the call to Repentance (the blowing of trumpets of warning), followed by the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, which pictures the Judgment Day when the Messiah returns to judge the world. This holy day is followed by the seven day Feast of Sukkot, or "Ingathering," which pictures the Millennial Reign of the Messiah, for 1,000 years (Rev.20:10-4).
The last day of this feast, the seventh or final day, called Hoshanna Rabbah (The Great Hoshannas), pictures the final day of salvation or harvest -- the Great White Throne judgment, which occurs at the close of the Millennium (Rev.20:5-14).
But what happens AFTER this final period of JUDGMENT of the multiple billions of people on the earth, including all who never understood God's truth, the vast numbers of Gentiles, and those who were not called to be part of the "first fruits" from the dead? What happens after they have been "harvested" and "ingathered" in to the Kingdom of God?
"New Heavens and a New Earth"
The apostle John records: "And I saw a NEW HEAVEN and a NEW EARTH: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away: and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, NEW JERUSALEM, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW" (Revelation 21:1-5).
John then describes this magnificent "holy city," the New Jerusalem, "descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal: and had a great wall and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel . . . And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs [that is, approximately 1,500 miles to a side].
The length and the breadth and the height of it are EQUAL"(Rev.21:10-16).
Could this magnificent city be in the shape of the Holy of Holies of God's Temple -- a huge magnificent CUBE? It will represent the "Holy of Holies" in the earth, which will be the very Throne of God. Those who will be the "Bride" of Christ -- those who are in the first resurrection -- will dwell with God and Christ in this magnificent "Holy of Holies"!
They will be part of the divine, celestial, eternal "Trinity" of God -- the Father, the Son, and the Bride (Israel)!
But notice further.
Outside this city, in the magnificent New Earth, will dwell ALL THE NATIONS OF MANKIND that will be SAVED, and given immortality and eternal life!
John continues his description: "And the NATIONS of them which are SAVED shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.
And there shall in no wise come into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Rev.20:24-27).
Here the rest of "saved" mankind is described -- those who will enter the Kingdom of God, during the Millennial reign of Messiah, and, those who are resurrected to moral life to be given their chance for salvation after the Millennium, during the "Great White Throne" judgment period -- the "Great Day of Salvation" represented by Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh and final day of the Feast of Tabernacles.
However, the term "saved" also has a "present" connotation to it -- that is, the Greek word "saved" also means "those who are in a saved condition," or "those who are in the process of being saved" (see I Cor.1:18, 15:2, II Cor.2:15, II Tim.1:9). Therefore, this verse also has another incredible meaning and fantastic implication. Let's notice!
The Prophecy of Isaiah
Isaiah the prophet also describes this incredible scene of the new heavens and the new earth. He prophesied, in chapter 65, of God creating the new heavens and earth, as something to be rejoiced in FOREVER -- that is, for all eternity! But notice what else he says about this stupendous, fantastic time. Isaiah quotes God as saying:
"For, behold, I create NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH:
and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye GLAD and REJOICE FOREVER [Hebrew, olam, meaning forever, eternity, literally, "to the vanishing point" or "time out of sight "] in that which I CREATE: for, behold, I create JERUSALEM A REJOICING, and her people a joy.
"And I will rejoice in Jerusalem [God Himself will rejoice!!!], and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.
"There shall be no more thence an INFANT OF DAYS, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old;
but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed [judged and condemned to the lake of fire]
. "And they shall build houses and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them . . . for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; FOR THEY ARE THE SEED [OFF SPRING, CHILDREN] OF THE BLESSED OF THE LORD, and their offspring with them.
. . .The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in ALL MY HOLY MOUNTAIN, saith the LORD" (Isa.65:17-25).
Notice! This passage is clearly dual in application. It describes the Messianic Kingdom of Jesus Christ, Yeshua, who is coming soon to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, as the fulfillment of hundreds of Messianic prophecies. But it also describes in a vivid and clear sense the "new heavens and new earth" (Isa.65:17). It clearly states that in that New Heavens and New Earth, there will be CHILDREN BORN -- that God's plan of pro-creation and multiplication of potential members of the Divine Family through human beings, will continue, throughout the ages, and perhaps even "beyond time"!
Is such a thing possible?
Is "Shemini Atzeret" in reality the "staging ground," THE THRESHOLD, the NEW BEGINNING of the NEXT PHASE of God's Plan?
Its very name identifies it as a "new beginning." God will create a "new beginning" when He creates new heavens and a new earth.
2018 is the year of the Open Door and a New Beginning!