During the week of the Feast of Tabernacles, reflecting (dwelling) upon the Lord and His Covenant promises were a part of the fabric of what God’s people did each year.
Let’s take time to do the same by reviewing Jacob’s family’s history and journey with the Lord and identify the pattern and purpose of the seven Feasts reflected in his own life.
BIBLICAL HISTORY PRIOR TO JACOB
After the flood of Noah’s days, wickedness began spreading throughout the earth once again with the help of Nimrod’s reign that birthed the “anti-Christ” government (Gen. 10,11). The Lord decided to choose one of Noah’s great, great grandsons to establish the next covenant with that would usher in the solution to stop the cycle of evil (sin) that was separating mankind from the Lord (Gen. 12).
God determined that this next covenant could not be dependent on man’s ability to keep his promise to the Lord in order to fulfill the covenant. God would not only initiate the covenant, keep it and perfect it in Himself, but also “set apart” a people to perfect the process that would bring forth the “Son of man” in the earth. The person God chose to initiate this plan through was Father Abraham:
“I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant…” (Gen. 17:6,7).
It was through Abraham’s lineage that God would multiply His people to the ends of the earth like the sand of the sea and the stars in the sky. Abraham later gave birth to Isaac, the chosen “Seed” used to fulfill the Covenant promise.
“And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your SEED all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 26:4).
In a moment that did not make sense to the fulfilling of those Covenant promises, Abraham was commanded by God to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice (Gen. 22:2). Of course, we know the story of how God stopped Abraham and provided a ram, but I am pointing out this part of the story to show how Isaac was a symbol of Christ, offered up for our sins.
Afterwards, Isaac had two sons: Esau and Jacob. Jacob, the younger son, would end up being the son who would inherit the Abrahamic Covenant promise, multiply it, and through his family, form a nation. When it was time for Isaac to bequeath the inheritance of the Covenant, Isaac blessed Jacob and charged him:
“May God Almighty bless you, And make you fruitful and multiply you, That you may be an assembly of peoples; And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you, That you may inherit the land In which you are a stranger, Which God gave to Abraham”(Gen. 28:3-4).
Through Jacob, the Covenant would multiply into an “assembly of people.” Given that Isaac represented a foreshadowing of Christ, Jacob represented a foreshadowing of the Early Church (Christ-ians), that would multiply to the ends of the earth.
Jacob’s family, who become known as the Israelites, were a nation “set apart” for the Lord as God prophesied. Likewise, the Church has been chosen to be a “set apart” people to be witnesses for Christ.
“Therefore may God give you Of the dew of the heaven, Of the fatness of the earth, And plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you. And nations bow down to you…”(Gen. 27:28,29).
IDENTIFYING THE PATTERN OF THE FEASTS IN JACOB’S LIFE
Now that we have a little background of Jacob, let’s identity the pattern we have learned of the Spring and Fall Feasts fulfilled in Jacob’s life, starting when he received the Covenant blessing from his father Isaac.
At the place that Isaac was going to pass the covenant blessing to Jacob, the Bible says that this occurred in the city of Beersheba, which is translated to mean, “well of the oath.” This blessing was Jacob’s “PASSOVER” experience because he inherited the covenant blessing of his father and great grandfather, Abraham, and was “set apart” and “justified” to carry it forward.
Jacob’s name means “deceiver,” which was inherent in his character. Jacob received the birthright by tricking his brother Esau as well as his father Isaac (Gen. 27). Once that blessing was given, it couldn’t be revoked. This deception didn’t surprise the Lord, for he understood Jacob’s weakness. Jacob’s motives at the time were seemingly based on self-gain rather than service to the Lord. Esau hated his brother for stealing the birthright and wanted to kill him. But God had a redemption plan that included working through these issues in Jacob’s life.
In the Book of Jasher, one of the lost books of the Bible that is mentioned in Joshua 10:13, we learn that Jacob spent much of his time feeding the flock and learning “the instruction of the Lord and the commands from his mother and father” (Jasher 26:17). There is no mention of Jacob having a personal encounter with God as a child, but rather, taught about the God of Abraham. We could surmise that Jacob desired the benefits of the birthright because he understood its inherent value, or he wouldn’t have taken advantage of his brother’s weakened state to seize the opportunity to take it (Gen. 25:31).
Most of us today have a similar story. We hear and learn about God, but we don’t necessarily have a personal relationship with Him. When we do accept Christ as our Savior, many are motivated out of desperation, afraid of hell, or wanting the benefits of eternity. Rarely do we first come to the Lord to lay our life down for servant hood, becoming a “bondservant of Christ.” This heart change comes through a process of tests and trials for the purpose of sanctification.
Not long after receiving the birthright, Jacob had an encounter with God through a dream, which most refer to as “Jacob’s ladder.” In the dream, he saw a ladder that was set up on earth and its top reached heaven. Angels were ascending and descending on this ladder, and then the Lord stood above it and spoke to Him:
“…I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also, your descendants shall be spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed ALL the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 28:13,14).
This was Jacob’s “PENTECOST” experience, with the promise revealed of “Tabernacles” to come. Jesus Himself mentions this same “Tabernacles vision” that He Himself would experience after His resurrection:
“And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (John 1:51).
Jacob’s vision happened at a place called “Luz,” which means, “the place of almonds.” Almonds in the Bible represent “awakening.” There were 22 almonds on the lampstand in the Holy place of the tabernacle. Jacob was “awakened” in his spirit, and then renamed the place of his encounter with God “Bethel,” which means “house of God.” This name change was a foreshadowing of the deposit of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the house (tent/body) of a believer after encountering (accepting) Christ.
Jacob encounter with God empowered (awakened) him to believe in the God of Abraham, and to begin trusting for the promises that came with the birthright. Jacob made a vow:
“…IF God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, THEN the LORD shall be my God” (Gen. 28:20,21).
Notice that this vow was conditional on God meeting Jacob’s needs. It was topped off with this understanding as well: IF God does such and such…THEN Jacob would believe God for His Word. Most Christians are no different than Jacob when we first come to Christ.
Jacob’s “Pentecost experience” lasted 21 years. Working for Laban was training to learn how to become an obedient servant while living in a place not his home. Jacob married Laban’s daughters, Leah and Rachel, and had 11 children while working for Laban. Through it, God was working on Jacob’s character that was prone to deception, as well as taking things into his own hands to make things happen (Gen. 28-31).
Jacob was close to the finality of his “Pentecost” testing time when the Lord spoke to him through an angel to leave Laban’s and begin the journey back to the land he was called to, which was Jacob’s Feast of Trumpets call:
“I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now ARISE, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family”(Gen. 31:13).
Jacob obediently left, but his sinful nature led his actions once again. Instead of being upfront with Laban of his departure, he left deceptively, taking the whole flock and possessions he had gained, as well as his family with him (Gen. 31:18-20).
Jacob left in fear of Laban taking all he had worked for. God had to work out this root issue in Jacob so that he would fear the Lord more than the people or about the possessions he had. Jacob had learned much from being Laban’s servant, but the gain was still self-serving. God had “proven” His word faithful as Jacob was blessed during this time with great wealth.
A final process of sanctification was needed in Jacob so he could rest in the knowledge of who God was in order to carry the Covenant forward, much like that of the “Firstfruits” remnant today. God Himself raises up adversaries to get our attention when we stray from His ways, or when we rely on ourselves instead of the Lord’s leadership. BUT, God will also cause our adversary to be subdued when we turn from our wicked ways:
“But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries” (Ex. 23:22).
“When a man’s way pleases the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Prov. 16:7).
God wasn’t going to allow Jacob to return home without giving him an opportunity to confront his sin. This is the pattern of occurrences during the “ten days of awe” that follow the Feast of Trumpets, when we are examining and preparing our hearts to come face to face with the Lord. In Jacob’s case, he had to enter into Esau’s territory (literally let go of everything he had acquired working and what he stole), and make things right with his brother.
Esau had been angry, revengeful and willing to kill his brother for stealing his birthright. The Bible says he had a great army of 400,000 men ready to confront Jacob to take him out. And so the story goes, the night before this encounter, Jacob got on his hands and knees and prayed with all his heart, wrestling with an Angel until the breaking of day.
“And He said, ‘Let Me go, for the day breaks.’ But he said, ‘I will not let You go unless You bless me!’ So He said to him, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘Jacob.’ And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but ISRAEL; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed'” (Gen. 32:26-28).
Jacob had finally come to a place that all his tricks, all his strength, and all his planning couldn’t get him out of a position of losing everything he worked for. But instead of scheming out a plan, He cried to the Lord for help. This caused Jacob to wrestle with the Lord to contend for the promise.
As Jacob wrestled the angel, the angel asked him what his name was. It seems like a strange thing to ask since the angel obviously knew who he was. But God set Jacob up to give him an opportunity to come clean, repent, and to confess his sin. By telling the angel his name, Jacob was confessing that he was a deceiver. This was Jacob’s DAY OF ATONEMENT.
In the midst of the wrestling, Jacob let go of the fears He was holding on to so tightly. He was ready to exchange the old identity of being a thief and deceiver and submit to the Lord’s leadership.
Because Jacob allowed the sanctification process to work in his heart, this day became Jacob’s Day of JUBILEE because it was God’s set time to birth the new man in Jacob. This was when Jacob became a “Firstfruits” remnant set apart to do the Lord’s work in the earth, meeting God face-to-face.
“They shall see His face, and HIs name shall be on their foreheads’ (Rev. 22:4).
God changed Jacob’s name to Israel (which means “God rules”). Jacob/Israel understood he did not rule over his life anymore…God did. Jacob/Israel understood that he was chosen to carry forth God’s inheritance, serving a greater purpose beyond his comfort or will, which required him to become a “bondservant” of the Lord’s.
Jacob/Israel then called the name of his wrestling place “Peniel,”
“For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Gen. 32:30).
Peniel comes from the root word Panah-el which means “face” or “presence,” which is why Jacob called the wrestling place Peniel.
Just as Jacob/Israel crossed over Peniel, the sun rose on him. This was the first sign of the “TABERNACLES” transformation process for Jacob.
Jacob/Israel then “bowed himself to the ground seven times” before meeting Esau. This represents the 7-day “cleansing process of TABERNACLES” that purifies our body from “the wages of sin.”
As a result, instead of attacking Jacob/Israel, his enemy was subdued, and healing took place.
“But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept”(Gen. 33:4).
Jacob/Israel offered Esau a “firstfruits” offering of his possessions to Esau. This act confirms that Jacob/Israel’s heart had changed. Jacob no longer held on to his possessions in greed or self-gain. Now he was stewarding his possessions with the Lord’s principles of blessings, and truly, this offering was “unto the Lord.”
Afterwards, Jacob/Israel stopped in Succoth, which is translated as “tabernacles/booths.” There he built himself a house and made booths for his livestock (Gen. 33:17). This was the FIRST permanent house that Jacob/Israel had build since his “Passover” experience, representing the new glorified bodies we receive after the “purifying process” so we can permanently “tabernacle” with the Lord.
“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation”(Heb. 9:11).
Notice this first permanent house was in the Promised Land here on the EARTH. This also represents the work of the “Firstfruits” remnant, serving as a “priest” for the King and His Kingdom on earth during the Millennium.
“…You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9,10).