Recently at a prayer meeting a friend excitedly showed me a news bulletin she got from a certain church. It was filled with things about this or that prophetic season in your life—based on the cycle of the Jewish year, the old covenant festivals, events in ancient Israel, etc. While I can't remember the exact words or events, I think I can write in the same way as an example:
PASSOVER is coming up soon. Look for seasons of deliverance in your life. God is about to vindicate you in the eyes of your neighbors and those who have treated you wrongly. Be sure to give glory to God when this happens. There will be "plunder" that God will give you. Expect increase in your finances especially. This will be the beginning of a new journey, a new level in your spiritual walk. Do not look back to Egypt but continue to go forward, for this day is the Lord's Passover!Is it just me, or does this kind of thing read like a horoscope?? I was shocked and horrified as I read the church news bulletin with two pages filled with things like this. I do believe God speaks prophetically today, and yes, I know He can take any event or word in the Bible and speak to us today with it, even at times out of its original context. But to try to align, order and predict our futures by the ancient Jewish calendar or the events of Jewish history? Does it make it okay simply because it's done with the Bible instead of with star charts?
More disturbingly, this kind of exercise misses the fulfillment. It fails to recognize that these things were shadows which pointed to the Messiah. Hebrews chapter one speaks of what was revealed to the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament as having been revealed in various parts, but in these last days God has spoken to us by His Son, Jesus, who is the exact representation and out-shining of His being. Jesus is God's "word" to us today!
Each festival pointed to Jesus. Each event of ancient Israel's history pointed to the coming of Jesus and the fulfillment of all things in Him. Colossians chapter two says that the festivals, sabbaths and even the foods and drinks of the Old Covenant were shadows of Jesus Christ!
Are we not like the parable of the several blind men holding different parts of an elephant and making wild conclusions and assumptions without seeing the larger picture? When we take our eyes off of Jesus Christ and return to the shadows of the Old Covenant to try and discern our future (or the world's future), are we not choosing spiritual blindness? Although God told us explicitly in the New Testament that the festivals and events of Israel's history were meant to lead people to Jesus Christ (the "elephant"), in effect I think we are saying something like this: "Yes, God, You say it's an elephant and to look at the big picture, but I know there is more to this, so I'm going to pick it up and look closer at it because that's the way!" Meanwhile Father just wants us to rest on top of that elephant—to rest in the fulfillment of Jesus Christ and let Him carry us by His Spirit to new, unknown and unsearchable things and places in our lives.
After the prayer meeting where my friend had excitedly showed me the horoscope-like church bulletin, I walked back to the train station alone, nearly weeping as I walked because I felt the Spirit grieving so much. Sitting on the train home I asked God if I could draw a picture about this, and He gave me one. It is called,
"Back to the Wilderness"
It's a picture of a boy holding a scroll-like map with a Star of David on it, his footprints zig-zagging this way and that in the sand. And in the foreground is the Cross, and the white dove of the Holy Spirit is perched on the arm of the Cross, watching and a tear falling from His eye.
The boy is many of God's people in the churches who have considered "the cross" to merely be elementary, a sort of "entrance thing". They have thought that the more "advanced" teachings and "way" is found in looking at the ancient festivals of the Old Covenant. And in the world today, they are also trying to navigate the "end times" according to the literal nation of Israel today. They don't realize that they are walking in circles, and have gone back to the wilderness. They have returned to walking in uncertainty, walking in the flesh and in the law instead of walking by the Spirit and by faith.
While the picture applies immediately to looking to the past festivals and events of ancient Israel to find our way today, it also equally applies to looking to present-day "Israel" in order to discern God's "times", His movements in the world today, and what will happen in the future in the final days to come. God has given us the "way"—it is His Son—and now we are called to walk by the Spirit instead of according to the circumcision of the flesh. The Holy Spirit is waiting for us back at the cross! It is not about a holy day, a holy "land" or which people in the world are "holy", but it is about the Messiah Jesus who Himself is the Holy One!
A final thought. Maybe you, your church, someone or some church you know is getting excited that "passover" is approaching at the end of this month. Maybe you're looking for deeper meanings (deeper than "It represented Christ"). Or maybe instead you're praying for the nation of Israel today. Maybe you want to celebrate "passover", or maybe you want to find some Jewish people nearby so you can show them that you "honor" them. Here's an idea for you and your church:
When you see a Jewish festival approaching on the calendar, why don't you pray for the Jewish people that they see Jesus as the fulfillment of the event? Why don't you cry out to the Lord to open their eyes to see that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away their sins? Why don't we cry out to the Lord to show them that He Himself is their promised land instead of a strip of perishable earth in the Middle East? Instead of looking for other "ways" or supporting their desperate efforts to find fulfillment in their land, why don't you pray that they see that Jesus is their only true "way" and that they can find complete fulfillment and everlasting rest in Him?
See also: "Where is Your Center?"