“And on the eighth day, a sabbath rest…” (Lev. 23:39)
“Now I saw a new heaven & a new earth, for the first heaven & the first earth had passed away” (Rev. 21:1)
The holy day following the Feast of Tabernacles, simply called the “Eighth Day”, is perhaps the most meaningful—and yet least talked about or understood—holy day in God’s plan for mankind. It often gets lumped in with the rest of the Feast of Tabernacles, or rushed through as everyone packs up their temporary dwellings and sets their minds toward home.
But we would be still majorly in the dark about God’s plan and His nature without the Eighth Day. It is not just a tack-on, a bonus day of feasting before we go back to our regular lives. Rather, it is the point of God’s holy days and His plan for mankind.
The spring holy days are quiet, personal, intimate. They’re about salvation on a one-to-one level, focused on inward change. But the fall holy days are about the whole of mankind, with dramatic and world-encompassing events that no one will be able to ignore. And how He places those holy days on the calendar is very purposeful.
Across all of God’s created times and seasons, the number seven/seventh represents completion (or perfection), and the number eight/eighth represents the beginning of a new cycle. We see this in the foundational seven-day week, to start with.
It’s also seen repeated in the Feast of Pentecost (the 50th day or “eighth day” after seven weeks, which beginning an eighth week). And similarly, we see it in the Jubilee Year (the 50th year, or eighth year after seven “weeks” of years and beginning of the eighth “week”). (If that felt a bit confusing, this study about Jubilee and Pentecost may help clarify a bit.)
In its most macro fulfillment, the Eighth Day represents the beginning of a new cycle after 6,000 years of man (six “days”) and 1,000 years (1 “day”) of Jesus Christ reigning on earth.
Placed right after the Feast of Tabernacles, the Eighth Day is the ultimate culmination of God’s plan, when sorrow and death cease to exist, mankind has been fully redeemed, Satan banished forever, the physical world destroyed and recreated as spiritual, and when God will dwell permanently with His children.
And while there’s a LOT we don’t know about what it pictures and what that will be like, there are several key themes throughout the bible that can help us learn a bit more and give a clearer picture of the Eighth Day as the conclusion of God’s plan for humanity.
What does the bible say about the Eighth Day?
Of all God’s holy days, the Eighth Day is the most mysterious. Explicitly, the bible doesn’t tell us a lot. So I’ll mention the few verses here and some additional food for thought, but will try to keep this brief so we can dive into the themes.
In Leviticus 23 as Moses lays out all of God’s holy days, we’re given the command for the Feast of Tabernacles and the Eighth Day together.
“Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest” (Lev. 23:39)
In Numbers we learn a little bit more about the sacrifices commanded, and in that command it’s called a “sacred assembly”. All holy days are called holy convocations, but this word (H6116, asara), is only used for the Eighth Day and the Last Day of Unleavened Bread (Num 29:35, Neh 8:8).
Historically in the sabbath-keeping churches of God, the Eighth Day has instead been called the Last Great Day. This…isn’t technically biblical and I’m not sure it’s accurate.
First and most importantly, God calls it Eighth Day and never refers to it another way, so I tend to think we should stick with what He’s given us.
But secondly, I’m not convinced that the reference is correct. I can understand how they got there, decades ago. The reference is from John 7, during the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2), and we’re told:
“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the holy spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive” (John 7:37-39).
His teaching would appear to reference the water ceremony that the Jews traditionally did each day during the Feast of Tabernacles, but NOT on the Eighth Day. That’s key—no water was poured out on the Eighth Day.
Historically, the churches of God have taught that the Eighth Day or “Last Great Day” pictured the Great White Throne Judgment spoken of in Revelation 20, when all people who have ever lived are resurrected and given a chance for salvation and to repent and receive God’s holy spirit.
So the church had seen Jesus preaching a sermon about how the holy spirit will be poured out and available for the whole world on “the last day, that great day of the feast”. Interestingly, Jewish people call the last (seventh) day of the Feast of Tabernacles “Hoshanah Rabba,” or “The Great Salvation,” the greatest day of the feast.
Based on my current understanding, my belief for years has been that the Great White Throne Judgment and the pouring out of God’s spirit is pictured at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles and then the Eighth Day pictures a complete cessation of the physical world and mankind (and no “water”, or holy spirit, poured out).
BUT, it’s critical to point out that this falls into the realm of “things we can speculate on but not know with certainty from the bible”. This is not a salvation issue nor something to cause division between brethren. It’s speculation. I happened to be listening to a sermon from Bill Jacobs recently that expressed similar conclusions, and he explained it very simply and succinctly, so I recommend giving that a listen or reading the transcript if you’re interested.
Even if you don’t totally agree with me on these points, though, I strongly believe that the themes we’ll dig into below surrounding the Eighth Day in the bible are applicable regardless. And that, by calling it the “Last Great Day” versus what God called it, we end up missing a lot of the connections and meaning.
So let’s dig in…
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Circumcision: cutting off/removal of the physical
“Then Death and Hades [the grave] were cast into the lake of fire…Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away [disappeared]” (Rev. 2:14-21:1)
“The world is passing away, & the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:17)
The first thing many of us associate with an eighth day is the law of circumcision, requiring male babies to have their foreskin removed on the eighth day after birth (Lev. 12:3). The Eighth Day represents the ultimate fulfillment of this physical ceremony, picturing the complete cessation of the physical world.
We know that spiritual circumcision symbolizes the removal, or cutting off, of the “body of sins of flesh”, when we are “buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through faith” (Col 2:11-12). It is the reorienting of our carnal hearts toward God and His ways.
Sin separates humanity from God, a vast chasm we can’t cross on our own. It creates a “veil of blindness” that sits over the hearts and minds of the entire world, stretching back to Adam and Eve’s initial rebellion.
But once that spiritual circumcision of the heart is accomplished for the resurrected entirety of humanity, that veil will be removed and the chasm bridged (Rev. 20:5, 11-15).
“Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away…but we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Cor. 3:16-18).
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect [complete] has come, then that which is in part will be done away…For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face” (I Cor. 13:9-12).
The seven days of creation in Genesis foreshadow the seven “days” (each day a thousand years) that mankind and the physical creation would be given. Once the eighth “day” begins, He will have made an end to the physical.
“But beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise…but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance…
The heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up [consumed entirely]. Therefore since all these things will be dissolved [broken up & destroyed], what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (II Pet. 3:8-13)
The entire physical heavens and earth will be melted, broken up and dissolved, completely ceasing to exist.
He will put an end to all of it—everything we think can satisfy us, that we chase after instead of seeking after God. He will make an end of sorrow, pain and sadness, of the consequences of our sins and of mankind’s disobedience since Adam and Eve, even of death itself (Rev. 21:4).
Mankind’s sinful and rebellious nature will be permanently removed and destroyed, and every person will be transformed into eternal, spiritual children of God. There WILL BE NO MORE MAN. This is one of the main reasons I think that the resurrection and judging of humanity is pictured on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles rather than the Eighth Day—which pictures the cessation of the physical.
When the new heavens and new earth come and the physical world that existed for 7,000 years of humankind is destroyed, we will no longer be separated from God. We will see His face and He will dwell with us (Rev. 21:3).
Renewal & re-creation: a new cycle begins
“Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” (Rev. 21:5)
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (II Cor. 5:17)
The previous theme ties directly into this one—as the physical world ends, something else begins. In the bible, eight/eighth frequently signifies new beginnings, or the start of a new cycle.
We already talked about the role it plays in counting the cycles of Pentecost and the Jubilee Year, but let’s look at another example of renewal and recreation.
Back in Genesis, God shut up eight people in the ark as He immersed the earth in water through a sort of baptism, wiping away the sinful societies and bringing about an entire world reset. Noah was the “eighth person” or eighth generation from Adam (II Pet. 2:5), whose righteousness helped usher in this time of re-creation.
For us, the process of conversion and a commitment to living God’s way that leads us to baptism is a re-creation as well—a new mind is being created, and a new person comes out of the water (Col. 3:1-10; Rom. 12:2). That will happen on a scale of billions and billions when God’s plan reaches its final stage.
And it won’t only be the people that are being recreated. One of God’s final acts in the bible is to “de-create” the physical heavens and earth, and start from scratch.
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new’” (Rev. 21:1-2).
A brand-new cycle of creation and renewal will kick off as God sets up His spiritual everlasting kingdom.
Purification & consecration: set apart & accepted before God
“A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city” (Psalm 46:4, NLT)
“I beseech you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1)
Another larger theme that reveals itself around the Eighth Day is that of consecration and purification, the final steps in God setting things apart for Himself.
We see ties between the eighth day and the purification and reacceptance of (healed) lepers into the community (Lev. 14:10, 23). Once the priest pronounces them acceptable on the eighth day after their quarantine, they wash in water and offer sacrifices to complete the purification.
In Leviticus 8-9 God consecrated Aaron and his sons as His priesthood, first using water, oil, the blood of sacrifices, and special garments. Then He commanded that they remain in the tabernacle of meeting for seven days, “since Adonai will be consecrating you for seven days” (Lev. 8:33).
On the eighth day their consecration was complete and Moses called them out to make a sin offering for themselves and for the people. God accepted the offering and “then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering” (Lev. 9:22-24).
On the eighth day of the consecration, God accepted them and His presence came to them tangibly!
Hundreds of years later we see a similar eighth day example, in the culmination of rejoicing and worship at the dedication (consecration) of the temple that Solomon built for God, followed by the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles and then the Eighth Day (II Chron. 6-7). Here again, the people worshiped, the nation offered sacrifices, and God’s glory came to tangibly rest within the temple in a dramatic and awe-inspiring way.
As we go through the Feast of Tabernacles, dwelling in our temporary huts, one of the things we should meditate on is that it pictures a time of setting apart. A period when God will pour out His spirit on all flesh (Joel 2:28) to purify and consecrate mankind so that we can all move forward into the Eighth Day as His eternal children.
In fact, the whole creation will be purified. Peter tells us that “the heavens and the earth which are now…are reserved for fire until the day of judgment” (II Pet. 3:7). Fire destroys but it also purifies, and the fire of the last judgment (the second death, Rev. 20:14) will usher in the new heaven and new earth.
Water is also a key element in purification. In the new heaven and new earth once all have accepted God’s way, all will have access to the “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1).
God’s called today are in the early stages of setting apart, consecration, and purification. The Eighth Day is when this process will be complete across the totality of mankind.
“You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (I Pet. 2:9-10)
To infinity & beyond: permanence at last
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3)
“He has put eternity in their hearts…” (Eccl. 3:11)
It’s so often overlooked that the Eighth Day is separate and distinct from the Feast of Tabernacles. During the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Israelites lived in temporary shelters made of branches, watching them wither and fall apart over the week.
The Feast pictures many things, including how fleeting our physical existence is, how we must rely on God to sustain us, and looking forward to a time when God will dwell (tabernacle) with His people. But the whole point of the Feast of Tabernacles is that it’s temporary (see deeper study here).
The Eighth Day, instead, pictures PERMANENCE. It’s a clean break, when God’s plan to redeem and restore mankind to Himself has been completed and He can start something brand-new.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us, a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:16-18)
In this life, we’re not promised a tomorrow. Heck, we’re not promised another breath. But we ARE promised eternity.
And God embedded that desire, that hunger, into our innermost beings when He created us. We’re told, “He has set eternity in our hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Eccl. 3:11).
We were created for this eternity, with that yearning. Paul tells us that “whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). This was always the plan! God made us in His image and the Eighth Day pictures when He brings it to a conclusion so He can begin something new WITH US.
What do we (think we) know about the time pictured by the Eighth Day? The physical world will be destroyed and a new heaven and earth created. We will be eternal, spiritual children of God, dwelling with our Father and Jesus Christ forever. We will live fully in the blessing and tangible presence of the Lord, like the Garden of Eden only way better.
What will it be like to live without pain, without betrayal and sorrow, trauma, losing loved ones, pain, or sickness?? Imagine a place where there is no unrighteousness, we won’t have to fear crime, and we will have abundance to share with those around us. A place where everything is holy, everything brings life, and is in complete alignment with God’s will.
The thing is, we are ambassadors of that place right now! While we wait for that permanence that God promises us, we can be bringing little pieces of that experience to those around us…just like an embassy is a tiny piece of another country that’s been “planted” in a foreign place.
We’re told of God’s faithful servants through the 6,000 years of humanity:
“By faith Abraham…dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents [like the Feast of Tabernacles, temporary]…for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God…
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland…But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:8-10, 13-16).
We’re given the tiniest, tantalizing glimpse of this heavenly city that God has prepared for us in Revelation.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle [habitation] of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:1-3)
This is the city that the faithful in Hebrews 11 were looking for, the city of God! This is why we were created, to share His love and light with us. To receive the eternal inheritance that we’re promised (Rev. 21:7).
His intention from the very beginning (including in the Garden of Eden) was to tabernacle among us—to inhabit or make His home in our midst. In the new, spiritual Jerusalem, that will finally come to pass.
In John 8, on what may have actually been the Eighth Day, Jesus taught “I am the light of the world. He who follows ME shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). When everything that this day pictures comes to pass, there will be no night, no more darkness—His light will be there all the time.
“But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light…there shall be no night there” (Rev. 21:22-25)
“It shall come to pass in that day that there will be no light…it shall be one day which is known to the Lord—neither day nor night…And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem…and the Lord shall be King over all the earth” (Zech. 14:6, 8-9)
“They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:4-5)
This life is temporary, but God has ultimately purposed something better for us (Heb. 11:40). He intends to bring the entirety of mankind into His spiritual family.
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the spirit of adoption by which we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:15-19)
The apostle John tells us to behold—truly see and perceive—the immense love that the Father had placed upon us, “that we should be called children of God!” (I John 3:1)
John goes on to say, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (I John 3:2).
What’s fascinating and hard for my puny human brain to grasp is that this particular Eighth Day and the new cycle it’s beginning is…open-ended.
Paul gives us a 15-second history of the redemption of mankind, beginning in order with Christ, then those who are His at His coming, and “then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, puts an end to all rule and all authority and power” (I Cor. 15:24).
Then comes the end. That’s all he says. What will it be like? I don’t know. I sometimes worry like, what will we do? Will I get bored? It’s kind of a ridiculous thought, but also very human…which I am, which is the point.
But God says we can’t imagine the awesomeness He has planned for us. Paul tells us that “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Cor. 2:9). I trust that the God who envisioned and created the mind-blowingly intricate and beautiful creation (and, as I was reminded at the Feast this year, the God who created fun) has some pretty amazing things planned for us.
“For our knowledge is partial and our prophecy partial, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass…for we see now obscurely in a mirror, but then it will be face to face. Now I know partly, then I will know fully, just as God has fully known me” (I Cor 13:9-12, CJB).
“Who were once not a people, but are now the people of God…”
The fall holy days are a rehearsal for the events that will be ushered in with Jesus’s second coming:
- The Feast of Trumpets represents Jesus’s return at the last trump and the breaking of Satan’s (and carnal man’s) dominion over the world.
- The Day of Atonement represents the removal of Satan’s influence and the application of the Lamb’s perfect sacrifice to the sins of all mankind.
- The Feast of Tabernacles represents the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ and His firstfruits on the earth, and the resurrection and redemption of humanity.
- The Eighth Day represents a new beginning, the creation of the new heaven and new earth, and spending eternity with God and Jesus Christ as His spiritual children.
If we have been called by God to follow Him during this lifetime, we should be asking ourselves: How much time do I spend thinking about eternal things?
Where is the time in my life spent? Are my thoughts focused on things that are ultimately fleeting, vanity, grasping at the wind (Eccl. 1:14)?
We are given the promise of a circumcised heart TODAY if we have repented and committed our lives to God, been baptized and every day try to follow Him. This promise applies to us now, and will apply to the entire world when the Eighth Day has come:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you…I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes…then you shall be My people, and I will be your God” (Ezek. 36:26-28).
If you’re interested, you can read other studies about God’s holy day plan for mankind here.