Daniel 9, Succot and Shemini Atzerat – #2
In the first article on “Daniel 9, Succot and Shemini Atzerat,” I introduced the typological significance of the Sabbath, Succot and Shemini. This is highly important for understanding Biblical eschatology, and yet, I can speak concerning my early days as an Amillennialists, there was hardly ever a passing mention, much less an understanding of the importance of Israel’s feast days. Sometimes sermons would be made given on the passing of the Sabbath, and Colossians 2:14f would be cited. It might even be suggested that we today, in Christ, are experiencing the true Sabbath. There were very, very occasional references to the ultimate Sabbath at the coming of the Lord. But, those facts were never presented in a context of the fulfillment of the festal calender of Israel and the passing of the Law at that future time.
It is still not uncommon to hear Bible students deride and attempt to negate the importance of the feast days for understanding Biblical eschatology. It is also not uncommon to read even commentators who claim that Christ fulfilled all the feast days in his personal ministry. My friend Gary DeMar seems to be among those:
One of the first things a Christian must learn in interpreting the Bible is to pay attention to the time texts. Failing to recognize the proximity of a prophetic event will distort its intended meaning. The New Testament clearly states that the ‘end of all things’ was at hand for those who first read 1 Peter 4:7; that is, the Old Covenant with its types and shadows was about to pass away.”
The New Testament describes Jesus as the fulfillment of every element of the Old Covenant shadows, feasts included (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost): “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, [Jesus] explained to [His disciples] the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. . . . That all the things which are written about [Jesus] in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (24:27, 44). Earlier in Luke’s Gospel we read “that all things which are written” about the end of the Old Covenant were “fulfilled” (21:22). Jesus is the “lamb of God” (John 1:29, 36), the temple (2:29), the bread from heaven (6:48), the high priest (Heb. 5:10), and the Rock (1 Cor. 10:4).” DeMar Link
Now, it appears, carefully considered, that DeMar rejects the idea of the Law passing at the cross, since he posited the end of the Law as future to Peter. However, to my knowledge, DeMar never makes an argument on the relationship between the last three of Israel’s feast days and the eschatological consummation. This is a major failing, and one that I made for many years.
The fact is that there is an unbreakable bond between the last three feast days of Israel’s calendar and the consummation of the Biblical story of eschatology. Now, what is so interesting is that while many commentators speak of the coming true Sabbath rest at the coming of the Lord and the resurrection, they completely divorce it from that festal context.
The late Greg Bahnsen, brilliant in many ways, held to a convoluted view of the Law of Moses, the Sabbath (and feast days) and eschatology:
At the coming of Christ the Sabbath was purged of the legalistic accretions brought by the scribes and Pharisees (Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-6; Mark 3:1-6); the Sabbath had suffered corruption at the hands of the autonomous Pharisees just as numerous other moral precepts had (cf. Matthew 5:21-48). Moreover, the ceremonial and sacrificial aspects of the Older Testamental cycle of feast days (‘new moon, sabbath year, Jubilee, etc.) along with those cyclic observances of feast days, were ‘put out of gear’ by Christ’s work of redemption. Hence, Colossians 2:16f looses us from the ceremonial elements of the sabbath system (the passage seems to be referring specifically to feast offerings), and passages such as Romans 15:5f and Galatians 4:10 teach that we need not distinguish these ceremonial days any longer (as the Judaizers were apt to require.).” (P. 226-227– all emphasis his).
Although ceremonial days are no longer to be distinguished, the NT does distinguish the first day of the week from the other six (1 Cor. 16:2; Acts 20:7) and denominates it “the Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:20).” (226).
The Sabbath was a shadow of coming salvation under Torah– Sabbath is now a shadow of coming salvation now. (227). “As Christ provides for entrance into eternal Sabbath rest of God by His substitutionary death upon the cross, He makes the typological elements (e.g. the offerings) of the Sabbath system irrelevant (things which were a shadow of the coming substance according to Colossians 2:157; Hebrews 10:1,8). By accomplishing our redemption Christ also binds us to the observance of that weekly Sabbath which prefigures our eternal Sabbath (cf. Hebrews 4).” (P. 227). (Greg Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, (Nagadoches, Tx., Covenant Media Press, 2002), 226+).
So, in Bahnsen’s view, all of the ceremonial, festal laws have been set aside, annulled. And yet, not one jot of one tittle of the Law could be set aside until it was all fulfilled. Sabbath (the seventh day) has been changed to Sunday (set aside without being fulfilled) and the typological meaning of the original Sabbath has been transferred to Sunday because the original typological meaning has not been fulfilled! To say this is both confused and confusing is an understatement.
It is not an overstatement of any kind to say that confusion reigns in modern day Christianity over the issue of the feast days – and the Sabbath especially. See my article on The Sabbath: The elephant in the room of Postmillennialism. (This is a two part series so be sure to read both articles).
(I have been writing a book on the Sabbath, entitled Celebrating the Eighth Day, for several years now. I have, unfortunately, laid it aside from time to time to write some smaller works, but I have promised myself to get back to that (major) project in the very near future). But to continue with our examination of Daniel 9, Succot and Shemini.
Look closer at Shemini Atzerat, the “eighth day” Sabbath festival.
In Jewish thought, the number eight: “is the number that signifies arrival at a new level transcending seven, the number signifying a completed prior reality. This number is indicative of departing from the physical world to the spiritual.” (http://www.betemunah.org/eight.html).
Charles Vernoff speaks to the importance of the number eight and the significance of the eighth day:
“For Torah tradition, eight is the number that signifies arrival at a new level transcending seven, the number signifying a completed prior reality.” (Charles Vernoff, PDF, “Feast of the Redemption,” Tradition, Vol. 33, No. 4 (Summer 1999), 6-26. Published by Rabbinical Council of America. My thanks to Robert Cruickshank for sending that PDF to me).
It is interesting that many prominent early writers saw, at least to some extent, the importance of the eighth day (e.g. The Epistle of Barnabas contains a lot about this). Yet, they seldom seemed to understand the eschatological implications of their own words.
In his disputation with Faustus, Augustine explained the change of signs from circumcision to baptism, and the change of the Sabbath day from the seventh to the eight, by suggesting that the “eighth day” in the Old Testament carried with it the idea of new creation and resurrection. He wrote:
[Christ] suffered voluntarily, and so could choose His own time for suffering and for resurrection, He brought it about that His body rested from all its works on Sabbath in the tomb, and that His resurrection on the third day, which we call the Lord’s day, the day after the Sabbath, and therefore the eighth, proved the circumcision of the eighth day to be also prophetical of Him. For what does circumcision mean, but the eradication of the mortality which comes from our carnal generation? So the apostle says: “Putting off from Himself His flesh, He made a show of principalities and powers, triumphing over them in Himself.” The flesh here said to be put off is that mortality of flesh on account of which the body is properly called flesh. The flesh is the mortality, for in the immortality of the resurrection there will be no flesh; as it is written, “Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (St. Augustine Reply to Faustus the Manichaean 16.29– cited by https://feedingonchrist.org/theological-significance-eighth-day/)
I certainly concur that the New Creation began with Christ’s resurrection on the eighth day. That is not the issue. We are focused here on the fulfillment of Succot and Shemini Atzerat, and that most assuredly did not take place on the day of Christ’s resurrection– that was his fulfillment of Passover. We have already demonstrated that by our appeal to Colossians 2. But notice now, how important it is to place Daniel 9 within the context of the fulfillment of Israel’s festal calendar.
I have shown above how the feast days permeate the expressions and thought of Daniel 9:24. So for brevity let me summarize what I am trying to communicate here.
✪ The bringing in of everlasting righteousness, as foretold by Daniel 9, would be accomplished no later than the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. I think Milton Terry expressed it well:
The seventieth heptade is the time when Messiah appears, establishes a new covenant with many, and, to use the language of Isaiah (liii, 10), it pleases Jehovah to bruise him and to make his soul an offering for sin, and so to supersede and do away the temple sacrifices. The end of that eventful heptade is signalized by the total destruction of the Jewish sanctuary, which pouring out of judgment on the desolate was the sign of the coming of the* Son of man and the bringing in of everlasting righteousness. This was the eonic crisis, which, according to Heb. xii, 27, 28, marked the removal of the temporary and the typical and the coming of “a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” (Milton Terry on Daniel 9:24– The Prophecies of Daniel Expounded by Milton S. Terry, (New York; Hunt and Eaton, 1893), 86).
✪ So, Daniel 9 anticipated the coming of the world of righteousness and that world of righteousness would be fulfilled no later than the end of the seventy weeks, which terminated in AD 70.
✪ That prophesied world of righteousness was foreshadowed in the last of Israel’s feasts, (סֻכּוֹת (sukkô?) and שְÑמִינִי (šemî·nî) Shemini Atzerat: “Seventy weeks are determined… to bring in everlasting righteousness.” Succot and Shemini Atzerat were a shadow of that coming world of righteousness. In fact, I suggest that in Daniel 9 we have what I will call a “festal inclusio” since we have a direct reference to Passover (Messiah shall be cut off) – the first feast, and we have a direct reference to Succot and Shemini, the final feast “the bringing in of everlasting righteousness.”
✪ Since Succot and Shemini foreshadowed the coming world of righteousness, and since Daniel 9 delimited the arrival of the coming world of righteousness to AD 70, here is what that means:
1. As suggested earlier, unless Paul in Galatians 5:5, Peter in 2 Peter 3, and John in Revelation were all predicting a different world of righteousness from that foretold in Daniel 9, then that demands that they were anticipating the fulfillment of Daniel 9:24-27– at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70– just as Daniel foretold.
2. If Paul, Peter and John were anticipating the arrival of the world of righteousness foretold by Daniel 9, this serves as definitive, irrefutable proof that the seventy weeks did not end in AD 34-35!
3. If / since the world of righteousness of Daniel 9 is the same as that in these passages that puts the fulfillment of Daniel 9, Galatians 5, 2 Peter 3, Revelation squarely within the framework and context of the Old Covenant, and God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel. Specifically, it posits it at AD 70.
✪ If one extrapolates the fulfillment of Daniel 9:24 into our future, that means that Israel’s festal calendar, her “new moons, feast days and Sabbaths” are still binding (imposed, epikeimai– Hebrews 9:6f). They remain as valid, unfulfilled shadows of the coming better things. In fact, since Hebrews 9:28-10:1 posits the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of the types and shadows of the Law, this likewise provides powerful probative demonstration that the Law did not pass at the cross.
Let me close by presenting again all of the above in syllogistic form, as succinctly as possible:
Daniel 9 foretold the bringing in of everlasting righteousness.
That prophesied world of everlasting righteousness would be brought in no later than the end of the seventy weeks of Daniel 9:24.
The end of the seventy weeks of Daniel 9:24 was the time of the destruction of, “the city and the sanctuary,” (Daniel 9:26), the time of the “full end”, “the end thereof shall be with a flood”, which contextually is the end of the countdown of the weeks.
Therefore, the time for the full arrival of the world of righteousness foretold by Daniel 9 was to be no later than the destruction of, “the city and the sanctuary,” (Daniel 9:26), the time of the “full end” (“the end thereof shall be with a flood.”
The time for the full arrival of the world of righteousness foretold by Daniel 9 was to be at the destruction of, “the city and the sanctuary,” (Daniel 9:26), the time of the “full end”, “the end thereof shall be with a flood”, (which contextually is the end of the countdown of the weeks).
That world of righteousness anticipated by Daniel 9 was also foreshadowed / predicted in the last of Israel’s feast days, (סֻכּוֹת sukkô?) and (שְÑמִינִי, šemî·nî, Shemini Atzerat).
Thus, Daniel 9, in its prediction of the arrival of the world of righteousness was predicting the arrival of the world of righteousness at- and as – the time of the fulfillment of Succot / Shemini.
But, Daniel 9 delimited and restricted the arrival of the world of righteousness for no later than AD 70.
Therefore, the fulfillment of סֻכּוֹת (sukkô?) and (שְÑמִינִי, šemî·nî, Shemini Atzerat):was delimited and restricted to the time no later than AD 70.
The world of everlasting righteousness is the New Creation, the time of the resurrection, the judgment and the parousia (second coming) of Christ,
Since the world of everlasting righteousness would be brought in no later than AD 70,
This proves beyond doubt that New Creation, the time of the resurrection, the judgment and the parousia of Christ all occurred no later than the time of the destruction of the city and the sanctuary of Jerusalem in AD 70. (I suggest and am developing this in my working project book on the Sabbath, that all of this has profound implications for the end of the Sabbath).
Finally, if one claims – as futurists do – that the New Creation, the time of the resurrection, the judgment and the parousia are all still future, then of logical and textual necessity, it therefore follows that:
Daniel 9:24f is not fulfilled.
If Daniel 9:24f is not fulfilled, then Israel’s festal calendar is not fulfilled, meaning that the entirety of Torah– every jot and every tittle of it– remains valid and binding (Matthew 5:17-18).
If Daniel 9:24f is not fulfilled, then Old Covenant Israel remains as God’s covenant people. After all, Daniel 9 is based squarely on God’s covenant with Israel. It is based on Deuteronomy 28-30, Deuteronomy 32, Leviticus 23, 26, etc., etc..
If Daniel 9:24f is not fulfilled, then all objections to the Dispensational Gap doctrine that says God postponed the prophetic countdown of Daniel 9, are nullified and moot, since to posit the fulfillment of Daniel 9 beyond AD 70 demands a 2000 year gap theology!
If what I have presented here is accurate and true, it proves the validity of “Covenant Eschatology” beyond any dispute. If / since the fulfillment of Israel’s festal calendar at the fulfillment of Daniel 9 is accurately posited for AD 70, it means, undeniably, that the New Creation, the time of the resurrection, the judgment and the parousia were all fulfilled at the end of Israel’s covenant age and have nothing to do with the supposed end of the Christian age. Biblical eschatology is therefore shown to be Covenant Eschatology, not Historical Eschatology. It is, as noted, about the end of the Old Covenant world of Israel, and has nothing to do with the end of time or human history.
If Daniel 9 and Israel’s festal calendar was in fact fulfilled in AD 70, this proves that all arguments that AD 70 was typological of the “real” end of the age, i.e. the end of the (endless) Christian age are false. To take that position you have to prove that the world of everlasting righteousness of Daniel 9 is not the time of the kingdom, the parousia, the resurrection. But as demonstrated above, Israel’s feast days– Succot and Shemini – (nor any of the others) did not foreshadow another coming of the Lord, another world of righteousness, another resurrection, another New Creation. Everything Daniel foretold was to come in by the time of, and no later than, AD 70.
See my book, AD 70: A Shadow of the “Real” End? It is a definitive and powerful refutation of the claim made by men such as Riddlebarger, Gentry, Mathison, etc., that AD 70 foreshadowed the end of the Christian age.
I think and hope that the reader can see how fundamentally important the issue of Israel’s feast days are to an understanding of Covenant Eschatology. They truly are, in the words of my friend Doug Wilkinson, “The Rosetta Stone of Biblical Eschatology.”