The Eighth Day – Shemini Atzeret

The festival of Sukkot comes to an end on the seventh day, “Hoshanah Rabba,” or “The Great Salvation,” the greatest day of the feast. Then there is the Eighth Day. The Eighth Day, counting from the first day of Sukkot, is considered a special celebration day of its own. It is to be a Sabbath Day, meaning a day of rest and a day of celebration. It is also a day to assemble together and rejoice before the LORD (Leviticus 23:36, 39).

“‘On the eighth day ye shall have a solemn assembly. Ye shall do no servile work therein; but ye shall offer a burnt offering, a sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Lord: one bullock, one ram, seven lambs of the first year without blemish; (Numbers 29:35-36)

The Eighth Day – Shemini Atzeret, a Plan beyond the Millennium

This Eighth Day is the time when observant Jews leave the “sukkah” (booth or tabernacle) and observe a unique day of transition. The Eighth Day marks the official end of summer and the beginning of fall, with the expectation of the fall and winter rains.

Prayers are recited to request the blessing of rain upon the land. There is generally no rainfall in Israel for seven months, from Passover until the end of Sukkot (from April ’til October). However from the Eighth Day until the coming Passover, the nation of Israel anticipates the rains from heaven and there are daily prayers offered to the God of heaven and earth to bless the Land with rain.

The Eighth Day is also the official end of the Torah reading cycle for the year. To mark this unique day there is a special celebration, which in Hebrew is called “שמחת תורה” – Simchat Torah or “The Joy of the Torah!”

During this festive ceremony of Simchat Torah there is rejoicing with the Torah in a very tangible way. It is customary at the synagogue to march or dance seven circuits around the synagogue as attendees take turns holding and literally dancing with a Torah scroll.

More on the Rainy Season: In Israel most of the rain usually fell from December to February. The first rain of the rainy season—the “early rain”—usually came mid-October through early November. This rain softened the ground and facilitated the germination of seeds and the growth of crops. The latter rain came, before the harvest, from early March to April. This rain contributed to maturation of the crop.

Therefore, rain was enormously important to Israelite life and was considered a gift from God (Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 5:24; Matthew 5:45). The lack of rain was often seen as an expression of divine disfavor, a result of the sins and rebelliousness of the people (Jeremiah 3:3).

Outpouring of the spirit and rain: In the Scriptures rain became a symbol for the divine outpouring of the spirit; both rain and the spirit were sent by God as a demonstration of his concern for his creation.

We find, first, an eschatological usage of the image of rain. God described the future restoration of his people using the language of rain to illustrate the work of the spirit: “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants” (Isaiah 44:3; cf. Ezekiel 39:29; Isaiah 32:15; 44:3).

In Joel, after announcing the coming of the early and latter rains, God added, “I will pour out my spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28, 29).

Second, the image of the early and latter rains could be applied to at least two different powerful works of the spirit within the church: one related to the experience of Pentecost, and the other to events shortly before the return of Christ.

The eschatological work of the spirit announced by Joel was partially fulfilled during the outpouring of the spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:18). This could be called, the “early rain.” But that same prophecy referred to “the great and glorious day of the Lord” suggesting that a fuller manifestation of the spirit was to be expected (cf. Acts 2:19, 20).

God’s future work of the spirit would accompany and empower the proclamation of the his message of judgement and salvation to the human race. It is to this event that Revelation 18:1 points. An angel, representing God (Ezekiel 43:2), descended from heaven with great authority, illuminating the earth with his glory, and adding power to the worldwide proclamation of God’s messages by his angels of Revelation 14:6-12.

Such a manifestation of the spirit could be called the “latter rain.” Before the return of Christ, evil powers will perform great wonders and miracles (Revelation 13:13, 14; 1 Tim. 4:1), but God will also express His superior power through the work of the spirit among His people.

So the phrases “early rain” and “latter rain” are agricultural images figuratively applied to the work of the spirit at the beginning of the Christian church and shortly before God’s end-time harvest (Revelation 14:14-20).

In the last day, the great day of the feast; namely, the Eighth Day, when, according to the institution of Moses, (Leviticus 23:36; Numbers 29:35) there was to be a holy convocation, or general and solemn assembly of the people, attended with some extraordinary sacrifices. This day is called the great day of the feast, on account of the high reverance in which the nation of Israel held it.

On the seven preceding days they held that sacrifices were offered, not so much for themselves as for the whole world; in the course of them, seventy bullocks (Numbers 29:13-32 from thirteen to seven), being sacrificed for the seventy nations of the world: but the sacrifices of this Eight Day, just one bullock (v35), they considered as being offered for Israel alone, on whose behalf the significance of the Last Great day was observed.

The biblical compositor of the Table of Nations in Genesis 10 states that seventy nations descended from Noah’s three sons, thereby indicating that the total population of the world came from Noah’s seed. From here is derived the concept of the Gentile world as “the seventy nations.”

“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 a hundred years old; but the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed.” Isaiah 65:20

The setting of Isaiah 65 is a prophecy about the time when the Kingdom of God will govern the entire world. The book of Revelation complements many of God’s prophecies, including this one. Revelation 20:5 tells us that there will be a resurrection after the first 1,000 years of Christ’s reign. Verses 11-13 add more detail, explaining that God will bring people who were not called to salvation during their initial lifetime back to life again.

This period is known as the Great White Throne judgement, described in Revelation 20:11-15, and is the final judgement prior to the lost being cast into the lake of fire. We know from Revelation 20:7-15 that this judgement will take place after the Millennium and after Satan is thrown into the lake of fire where the beast and the false prophet are (Revelation 19:19-20; 20:7-10).

But Shemini Atzeret is beyond God’s seven thousand year plan, even beyond the Millennium; it is on the Eight Day. In the New Testament, only one reference is implied to this Eighth Day festival:

37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.

38 He that believeth in Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38

The books that are opened (Revelation 20:12) contain records of everyone’s deeds, whether they are good or evil, because God knows everything that has ever been said, done, or even thought, and He will reward or punish each one accordingly (Psalm 28:4; 62:12; Romans 2:6; Revelation 2:23; 18:6; 22:12).

In this plan of God, many uncertainties exist in these verses. How long is this period? These verses in Revelation do not tell us. Instead, they focus on the purpose for it—to give everyone an opportunity to respond to God’s calling and to live the Christian way of life.

Due to the limited evidence available, the churches could say with certainty that this will be a total of 100 years. There are different alternatives for interpreting this verse, while many maintain the teaching of three resurrections. The first is the resurrection of the sheep, the firstfruit, to reign with Christ after the judgement of the nations (Matthew 25:31-36). This takes place after the tribulation period but prior to the Millennium; its purpose is to determine who will enter the millennial kingdom.

The second is the Great White Throne resurrection to mortal life and they will be given judgement at the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:11-15). This is the judgement of the billions resurrected and will be judged according to their works and will be given heavenly reward of an everlasting life or sentenced to everlasting punishment in the lake of fire.

The third are for those who utterly rejected God’s offer of salvation while they were alive. In Hebrews 6:4-6: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened . . . and have become partakers of the holy spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to
an open shame.” These will suffer a second death from which there will not be any more resurrection.

Some have said that God intends to show us through Isaiah 65:20, where the phrase “one hundred years” appears twice, that this time frame is 100 years. That may be the case, or it may be a way to emphasize the same principle given in Revelation 20. That is, the people will have the time that they need to respond to God’s calling and live a Godly way of life. “One hundred years” may be a way of making that point, but it could also be a literal prophecy on several fronts.

The following are a few possibilities to interprete this “100 years”:

(1) People born during the Millennium will have a life-span of a hundred years to live in general; these are descendants of those who survive the various tribulations before the return of Christ, the Messiah;

(2) People resurrected after the Millennium, that is, during the Eightth Day, Shemini Atzeret, the eighth Millenium will each be given a hundred years to live. These are those who had lived during the first sixth thousand years but have no chance of the redemptive process. They had never known the Bible, neither had they heard of Christ the Messiah. Some estimate these number as somewhere 130 to 150 billions and that’s a lot!

~ by Joel Huan on October 20, 2022.

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