Nine. Concluding questions: Coincidence, Evangelism, Conspiracy, or Something Else?
Do the Jewish holidays point beyond themselves to something that comes after? Do they point to the Messiah, the anointed of God, who in Himself and His work is the reality behind the shadow that the holidays were meant to be? Are the holidays of Israel prophetic historical depictions of events that would take centuries to realize?
Our answer is a decided and a studied, Yes! This answer is indeed based upon a reasonable decision after an exhaustive study of Scripture, but it will only and always be a faith position.
Certain questions must and will be asked, so this concluding chapter will pose a few of the possible ones.
Could it be that Jesus’ life, ministry, and death merely coincided with the meaning of the holidays? After all, our conclusions depend upon a backward look at the Hebrew Scripture through the lens of the New Testament, coupled with the influence of many Christian scholars and theologians. That looking backward was all necessary before it could even be suggested that Jesus did fulfill the spring holidays and will fulfill the fall holidays as well. Nothing is actually stated in the passages where we find accounts of the holidays—in Leviticus 23, Numbers 28, and Deuteronomy 16 among others—that there would be a future completion.
It might also be argued that the feasts do not need completion—that they are whole in and of themselves. This argument has substance when one considers that there was a long period of centuries before the Christian era when they made sense to the original hearers and readers of the books of Moses and had relevance to them in much the same way that Independence Day, the 4th of July, has to Americans today. That is, they celebrated historical events in the life of Israel, events that God was calling them to remember.
The possibility of coincidence cannot be easily dismissed, but it is peculiar that Jesus’ life, death, and promised return do connect so strongly with the holidays. It is not unreasonable that Christians would connect the dots. Having made the incredible discovery that Jesus not only completed the spring holidays, but that the fall holidays contain the very outline of His return in the “last days,” the Christian can see and anticipate the establishment of the ultimate intention of the Creator—the Kingdom of God.
Coincidence? Maybe, but maybe not.
Christians have been commanded by Jesus to proclaim what we call the Gospel to Jews as well as Gentiles. The message of the cross and resurrection was to be preached first in Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, and only then to the ends of the earth—the Gentiles.
Paul reinforced Jesus’ missionary mandate when he wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
Could it be that connecting Jesus with the holidays is merely an evangelistic tool or strategy? Is this a matter of Christians saying, “Jewish people, see and don’t miss this, look at the evidence, this is for you so that you will also trust in Jesus as your Messiah.”
If such a means of approaching Jewish evangelism was not fully implemented in the early days of the Church, it has become so now. However, there is no clear connecting of the dots between the Tanakh’s story of the holidays and any fulfillment or completion of them in the New Testament short of a few statements by Paul and others. Within the first few centuries of the Christian era there is little or no evidence that the early Church apologists and fathers focused on this fulfillment issue in the manner or extent that the authors of this book are doing. There is some evidence that Methodius of Olympus (d. A.D. 311) and Augustine of Hippo (d. A.D. 430) were acquainted, to some degree, with the types or foreshadowing found in the Old Testament, particularly as related to the Exodus and the Tabernacle/Temple, but no one to a substantial degree focused on the Jewish holidays. It was only starting in the eighteenth century that Christians were writing on the subject, but not much was written in the late second century into medieval times, when there was a decided effort on the part of the then predominantly Gentile church to distance themselves from the Jewish roots of the Gospel of Jesus and from any appearance of sharing something as important as major holidays with Judaism.
It is reasonable to conclude that Christians gradually began to discover the connection between the Old Testament’s accounts of the holidays and the life and ministry of Jesus. In fact, it is not a simple relationship to grasp, and it is usual that few Christians ever see it at all. Even at this late date, it is not common that non-Jewish Christians view the holidays as presented in this book.
Evangelistic methodology? Possible, but not probable.
If the above question of evangelistic methodology is possible, then it could also be possible that there was a conspiracy motivating it. Again, however, the research has nothing to support this, so it would only be surmise, and this is not good enough to so easily dismiss the dramatic conclusion that Jesus, in His life, death, and future return, could complete the seven holidays of Israel.
Conspiracy—so much of what we cannot figure out and don’t want to hear about or accept in the first place is consigned to conspiracy theories. While most conspiratorial narratives are political in nature—consider those about the deaths of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy—a few are religious, such as the story about the Knights Templar and the intrigue associated with Jesus and Mary Magdalene in books like The DaVinci Code. Then there are lighter entertainments such The Robe, The Holy Grail, and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Little risk ensues in a quick dismissal of the idea that the relationship of the Old Testament holidays with Jesus is a Christian evangelistic conspiracy, since there is nothing in the historical records that research can discover to substantiate either position. Therefore, to dismiss Jesus’ relationship with the holidays would have to have some reasonable support.
Conspiracy? Very unlikely.
What else could this stunning relationship be? While not an easy question to answer, it is certainly a critical one.
What if the Jewish Holidays are God’s roadmap to world history? To miss it would be a huge loss.
The authors’ position is that the holidays point beyond themselves in the Tanakh itself. The Prophets of Israel interpreted the holidays messianically and eschatologically. That is, they saw embedded in the accounts of the five feasts, one offering, and one fast a promise of a Messiah who would complete the ultimate intention of the Creator God at a point in the future. These prophets found clues in the accounts of the holidays about future realities. In the fullness of time God sent forth His Anointed One Jesus, whose life and death corresponded to these realities. And then the authors of the New Testament identified Jesus as the fulfillment of the holidays in either His first or in His second coming.
From a human point of view, Jesus’ fulfilling of the holidays may well appear to be an incredible and staggering coincidence. Certainly it has evangelical value, since God desires all to be rescued in His Messiah—the Jew first and also the Gentile. And yes, it is a conspiracy of God’s own making, woven throughout the entire length and breadth of the fabric of human history.