Christ's Coming: Timing Clue
Jun 03, 2006
In the past week I have discussed the coming of Christ to the disciples in the middle of the lake (Matt. 14, John 6). I showed that the storm represented tribulation, and that the disciples were portrayed as going through the tribulation. But now I want to take this one step further before leaving this subject.
The book of John is structured around eight specific miracles that Jesus did. These "miracles" are actually miraculous "signs." The Greek word is semeion. The first sign was when He changed the water to wine in John 2. After recording this, John tells us in verse 11,
"This beginning of miracles [semeion] did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed in Him."
John records eight particular miracles that Jesus did. They represent the eight days of the feast of Tabernacles. The first seven were done before His death and resurrection; the last was done afterward. Likewise, the feast of Tabernacles is seven days long, with an eighth day climax.
After each of the miraculous signs, John records the reaction of the people (often opposition) and then gives Jesus' teaching that each sign was meant to portray.
Likewise, there is a connection between the first sign and the eighth, the second and the seventh, the third and the sixth, and the fourth and fifth. Thus, the middle signs (#4 and 5) are of current interest to us, because they portray the middle of the feast of Tabernacles.
The fourth and fifth signs are found in John 6. First Jesus fed the 5,000 (John 6:1-15), and next He walked on the water (John 6:16-21). These signs are also exceptional in that John puts them together before giving Jesus' commentary on each of them.
From John 6:26 to the end of the chapter, Jesus gives teaching about the real meaning of the fourth sign. It is all about Him being the true Bread of Life and the manna that came down from heaven. Gathering up the fragments that remain is explained in terms of "raising us up at the last day." That is, it is about resurrection.
The fifth sign is then explained in the entire seventh chapter of John. It is the story of Jesus keeping the feast of Tabernacles--the only one of its kind in the New Testament. It tells how Jesus sent the disciples ahead of Him (7:8), just like He sent the disciples ahead of Him across the lake in the fifth sign.
Then verse 10 says that Jesus also went to the feast, but "not openly, but as it were in secret." This is the meaning of Jesus coming to the disciples in the fourth watch of the night (Matt. 14:25). No one saw Him coming, except for the disciples as He approached, and even they were surprised.
John 7:14 says, "Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught." Malachi 3:1 tells us that the messenger of the covenant will come suddenly to His temple. The timing of His coming was "about the midst of the feast." The word "about" is imprecise in English, but the Greek word is much more precise. It should be understood as meaning "precisely the middle of the feast."
Essentially, this story contains major clues as to the prophetic meaning of the feast of Tabernacles and how it relates to the second coming of Christ. It portrays Christ as coming in the middle of the feast of Tabernacles. And this correlates with the fact that in the fifth sign Jesus came to the disciples in the middle of the lake. John 6:19 says that the disciples had rowed about 25 or 30 furlongs by the time Jesus arrived. Dr. Bullinger's notes in The Companion Bible says briefly about this: "About half-way."
To finish out the story in John 7, on the last great day of the feast (8th of Tabernacles), Jesus prophesied about the outpouring of the Spirit (John 7:37-39). This correlates with the event in the fifth sign, where Jesus transported the whole boatload of disciples to Capernaum (John 6:17, 24), which means "the covering of the Comforter."
All of this speaks on two levels: long term and short term prophecy. In the long-term prophecy, the story begins with the Passover where Jesus died on the cross, rose again, ascended to the "high mountain" to intercede for us. It covers the whole Pentecostal Age, during which the Church experienced persecution and tribulation until His coming.
In short-term prophecy, the story focuses upon His coming in the middle of the feast of Tabernacles, climaxing with the outpouring of the Spirit.
When I was a child, I was taught that Jesus could come at any moment at any time of the year and at any time of day. But in later years as I studied the feast days, I came to see that Jesus can only come during the feast of Tabernacles. We do not know the year, of course. But knowing the feast days gives us the ability to be watchful, as Jesus instructed us to be.
For a more in-depth study of the order of events that I believe will fulfill the autumn feast days (Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles), see my Foundation For Intercession bulletin dated September 2005, "They Shall be Priests of God." It gives my best understanding of the order of events and the laws that prophesy these things.