If anyone thirsts …
The Last Great Day
"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." John 7:38
So as we come to the end of this feast period, to the last festival of God in His calendar year, the Last Great Day, let us look at what it means and where it fits into the Holy Day schedule.
During New Testament times the priests, for each of the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, would go down to the pool of Siloam in a religious procession with large water jugs and there at the pool of Siloam they would fill the water jugs and walk up the steps leading up to the Temple Mount, commemorating the long anticipated promise given through the prophet Isaiah:
“And in that day you will say: ‘O LORD, I will praise You; though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’ Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And in that day you will say: ‘Praise the LORD, call upon His name; declare His deeds among the peoples, make mention that His name is exalted.’ ” (Isaiah 12:1–4).
As the priests approached with the water jugs, the people would start singing the “Hallel Psalms” (Psalms 113–118) and as the people were praising the Lord they would pour out these water jugs on the pavement, reminding them of how God had miraculously provided water in the wilderness out of the rock (Exodus 17:5–6), and will also one day pour water from Heaven on their thirsty souls through the Messiah.
On the Eighth day, the Last Great Day, the priests made no procession and poured no water onto the pavement — this was significant, because it symbolised the fact that God had fulfilled the promise to their forefathers, having now brought them into the Promised Land, a land that was well-watered, flowing with milk and honey, in which they no longer needed the miraculous supply of water out of a rock.
It was on this day that Christ stood up in the synagogue and said:
“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.’ ” (John 7:37–38).
It is interesting to note that it was on this day that they sung the marvellous Hallel Psalms of praise, which conclude with a passage from Psalm 118:
“I will praise You, for You have answered me, and have become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone… Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!” (vv. 21–22,26).
The historical background sheds much light on the meaning. Yahshua, their promised Messiah, was standing in their midst as they were performing the ceremony, and was fulfilling the Scripture and the promise spoken of by Isaiah, that the Lord would become their salvation (incarnate) and the water was always used as a symbol of that which comes from above, and is identified with the Messiah throughout.
The Last Great Day prefigures the endless cycles of eternity when the life-giving power of the Almighty God will flow to and through His people on the earth made new. At present, the reality of this Holy Day is an event to look forward to, but in the future, when the saints occupy the new universe, the breaktaking fulfilment of the Great Day will be appreciated as each anniversary, through the endless ages of eternity, brings unspeakable joy to the ransomed host. The Great Day will have begun, never to end.
The words of Christ in John 7:37–38 are an invitation to the true believer to not only live with the Almighty for all time, but to go on with the Creator to become the channel and co-producer of life everlasting to others, just as a young wife is the potential mother of many generations to come.
Feasts Represent Programme of Salvation
This Day concludes the seven annual appointed memorial feasts in the Almighty’s programme of salvation. Every one of them commemorates in a special way a unique accomplishment of the Holy One of Israel.
1. First we have the Passover, which is described in Leviticus 23:5,
“On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover.”
This was the time when historically the death angel passed over the Israelites but killed the Egyptians, before the Israelites left slavery in Egypt, and later in history, the day when Christ died for our sins, before we who are alive today were even born, called and chosen. For the individual Christian, this pictures the penalty for sin being paid for by Christ.
2. Secondly is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, in Leviticus 23:6–7,
“And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.”
This is the time when the Israelites left Egypt, coming out of a sinful place and out of slavery. For us it is symbolically when God removes sin, falsehood, hypocrisy, pride and error from His people, and grants repentance, and baptism takes place for individual Christians, just as Israel was symbolically baptised in crossing the Red Sea.
3. Then comes Pentecost, in Leviticus 23:16, 20–21,
“Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD… The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.”
This was the time when the Law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai, i.e. the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1–17), and to Israel. And in New Testament times, when the Church was gathered together on Pentecost in 31 AD, in Acts 2:1–4,
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
This was the day when the Holy Spirit was first given to the Church, after Christ had died, was resurrected and ascended to Heaven. For the Christian it pictures God giving the Holy Spirit to the person, after the earlier repentance and baptism.
Once we have the Holy Spirit, then we can move on as God works in us to purify us, while we wait for Christ to return. It is nearly 4 months from Pentecost till the next Holy Day.
4. The Feast of Trumpets, in Leviticus 23:24,
“Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.’ ”
This Holy Day pictures the return of Christ, after the Church has patiently waited for some time (112 days in the year, which is the largest gap between feasts in God’s calendar from first to last), and the firstfruits at Christ’s return will be changed into spirit beings, part of God’s Family, married to Christ for eternity.
5. After that event, we come to the Day of Atonement, in Leviticus 23:27,
“Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.”
This was a day in ancient Israel when sacrifices were made, a young bull for the priest and his family, and a goat for the rest of mankind, and the sins of the nation placed onto the Azazel goat which was banished into the wilderness. This symbolises Christ’s sacrifice for the Church (Christ’s family, and the firstfruits of God), and the rest of mankind (who will be offered salvation when Christ has returned), and the sins of mankind being placed totally on Satan, who is thrown into the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1–3), and the Church, as the Bride of the Lamb (Christ) being at one with the Father, in preparation for the 1000 years of ruling and beyond.
6. The Feast of Tabernacles follows, in Leviticus 23:34,
“Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD.’ ”
After Christ has returned, married the Church, and put Satan into the bottomless pit, then He will rule, with His Bride, for 1000 years, as the Kingdom of God, with the Father too. During this time those humans who live in the flesh will be taught God’s way of life and offered salvation.
7. The seventh feast is the Last Great Day, also known as the eighth day of the Feast, as it directly follows the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, in Leviticus 23:36,
“On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.”
The 8th day is a separate feast, often referred to today as the Last Great Day, a time when the rest of mankind who ever lived, and died before Christ returned, will be resurrected, and the Kingdom of God will teach the billions of people who will then live again how to live God’s ways.
Christ said in John 7:37–38 about giving living water to the people, and this is when God’s truth will be given to all mankind.
These are the Feasts of God, seven in all, which also include seven Holy Days, which God commands His people to keep, even to us today He says, in Leviticus 23:2, 4,
“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts… These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.’ ”
The children of Israel today are the Church, His people, spiritually Jews, as indicated in the following scriptures:
“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans 2:28–29).
Gentiles who believe in the Messiah of Israel are, according to the Scriptures, grafted into the olive tree of Israel, becoming a part of the commonwealth of spiritual Israel, and thereafter sharing in all the blessings of the chosen race. Paul’s letter to the Romans makes this clear:
“And if some of the branches [Israelites who sinned] were broken off, and you [Gentile Christians], being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree… Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’ ” (Romans 11:17–27).
This means that all true believers in God and Christ are Israelites, and are included in this gracious invitation to become a part of the olive tree of Israel. As Israelites we can rejoice greatly and gladly observe the Feasts of God, the eternal memorials of our salvation.
So in the Last Great Day we see a culmination of God’s Plan of salvation, when all of mankind will have either been saved, or, in the case of a few individuals, have chosen death in the lake of fire in rebellion against God.
But, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is the end of the beginning of God’s great Plan, one which will give a great future to us all.
© David King 2003