“By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe” (Heb. 11:29-31)
The spring holy days are aligned with, and represent the firstfruit harvest, and each has specific themes that keep showing up. Passover is a sacrifice and redemption from slavery. The Days of Unleavened Bread are overcoming sin and acceptance or victory. Pentecost is a celebration, receiving an inheritance.
The holy days show us God’s plan for His people and all mankind, and give us a framework for prophecy. But while we often talk about the fulfilled prophecy of Passover and future implications of the fall holy days, people get really mealy-mouthed around both the Days of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost. We’ve been told the Days of Unleavened Bread picture our journey out of sin and putting sin out of our lives. These are likely true, but what if there are even more concrete fulfillments?
This time of year I think it’s important to look at two significant occurrences on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread that help us begin to figure out its place in the future prophetic framework. God performed similar baptism-like miracles for two generations of Israelites, then destroyed the worldly system standing in the way of establishing His chosen nation in the land He had promised them. Together these show us a picture of the future when God will destroy sin and the carnal world—the death knell of Babylon—and help His people enter His kingdom.
Coming out of Egypt
The children of Israel started their journey out of Egypt on the first holy day during the Days of Unleavened Bread, after experiencing the horrifying and humbling tenth plague and God’s favor as their own firstborn were spared death. Over the next few days, God led them away from the heart of Egypt, by day with a pillar of cloud and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light along the dark path. His presence was visibly with them every second of the day.
As the seventh day came, God led them to the shores of the Red Sea and had them set up camp in a very vulnerable location, even as Pharaoh’s army was drawing near in pursuit (Ex. 13:17-14:9). God purposefully put the Israelites in a position where they had no choice but to rely on Him—there was nothing their own skill, strength, or smarts could do to defeat the might of Egypt. Only God could bring them out of Egypt and into the land He had promised them, just as it is only by God’s strength and mercy that we can overcome the world, have our sins forgiven, and enter His kingdom (Ex. 13:6, Eph. 2:8).
When the Israelites realized that Egypt’s chariots pursued them, they panicked. They had no faith and no vision despite having just experienced the incredible miracles of the plagues and their release from slavery. Their first instinct was to turn back to the bondage of Egypt, to the world they knew. But God told them, through Moses, “’Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you…the Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace’” (Ex. 14:13-14).
Then God divided the Red Sea and dried the land so that all the people could cross safely. God allowed the Egyptians to pursue them into the heart of the Red Sea, holding them off until the Israelites made it through. Then He “troubled the army of the Egyptians…and He took off their chariot wheels, so they drove them with difficulty,” and commanded Moses to bring the waters of the Red Sea crashing back down on the soldiers and chariots. And so, we’re told, the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea, so not one of them remained (Ex. 14:23-27). God utterly destroyed the Egyptian army as surely as He will one day destroy spiritual Babylon (Rev. 14:8-11, Rev. 17 & 18).
While it’s difficult to say if this is meant to be a direct parallel, the way God destroyed the Egyptian army has some interesting similarities to another example of Him severing Satan’s pursuit of His people, which is prophesied in Revelation:
“Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth” (Rev. 12:13-16)
After the army of Egypt was annihilated, Moses leads the people in a song thanking God for their deliverance and praising His glory and power, often called the Song of Moses (Ex. 15:1-18). We’re told that this song will be sung again by the resurrected saints on the sea of glass, before the throne of God (Rev. 15:2-4).
Like Babylon, Egypt is used over and over in the bible as a symbol of slavery, particularly slavery to sin and the world (Rev. 11:8). When God broke the military might of Egypt, He says He overthrew, or literally “shook off” the power it had over His people. The Israelites walked on dry ground between the walls of the water of the Red Sea, in what Paul later describes as a baptism (I Cor. 10:2). As they set foot on the other side in the dark right before the dawn during the Last Day of Unleavened Bread, they were truly leaving Egypt behind them and were ready to move forward toward the land God had promised His people.
We see time and again as the Israelites were in the wilderness that, though they were physically free from the boundaries of Egypt, they were not free from Egypt’s influence—they carried that in their minds and attitude and actions still. We must be careful not to fall into the same trap. The Israelites’ experience, here and for the next 40 years, is a good analogy for our journey through this physical life. It’s easy to think that because we have our eyes opened and have committed to God’s way of life that we’ve shaken off the shackles of our carnal hearts. But we, too, carry pieces of our former lives along with us and all-to-willingly turn back to the slavery of sin when we’re tired and tested—whether through compromise, justification, or outright rebellion. We’re often just as guilty as the Israelites of looking back longingly at Egypt for all the “good” things we’ve left behind—not seeing it as the hardship of slavery any longer and forgetting to look forward toward God’s promises.
The Lord declares war on Jericho, which stands in the way of His Promised Land being established
Fast-forward roughly 40 years (the number 40 being symbolic of a time of spiritual testing or trial). The Israelites’ wandering—a punishment for disobedience and lack of faith—was at an end. In preparation for entering the Promised Land, the people sanctified themselves (Josh. 3:5), and then God performed another miracle to part the waters of the Jordan River and gave them dry ground on which to cross over (Josh. 3:14-17). This again shows us that we cannot enter the Promised Land without Him making the way possible.
Once they were across, God commanded Israel to become a circumcised nation again in order to come back in covenant with God (Josh. 5:1-10, Gen. 17), before they could partake of the Passover a few days later.
However, they weren’t in the clear just because they’d been baptized and circumcised and set foot on the other side of the Jordan. The land was still occupied by the Canaanites, and the Israelites had to defeat and destroy all of their strongholds in order to truly enter and claim the Promised Land. Chief among these was the city of Jericho, considered indestructible with its heavily-fortified double wall (Deut. 9:1). It was also well-known as a wicked and licentious place. It was the embodiment of our society today—a citadel of sin standing in the way of the establishment of God’s kingdom.
On the day after keeping the Passover (as far as we can tell from the scripture) Joshua received a visit from the Lord (yhovah), who had His sword drawn indicating His role as head of the army of God (Josh. 5:13). The Man says, “See I have given the city, its king, and all that is in it into YOUR [Joshua’s] hand,” and then provides instructions for defeating Jericho. Joshua is the Hebrew form of Jesus, and means savior or deliverer. In this case, Joshua is a type of Jesus, who will lead the army of heaven in destroying Babylon at the end time. We’re told in Revelation that John sees “heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war…Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations (Rev. 19:11-15).
The trumpets precede the Israelites’ victory over Jericho during the Days of Unleavened Bread
God gives Joshua very precise instructions for Jericho’s defeat over the next seven days:
“And the Lord said to Joshua: ‘See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up, every man straight before him.’” (Josh. 6:2-5)
Joshua relayed the Lord’s instructions to the people, including a commandment that they were not to make any noise with their voices until they were told to shout on the seventh day (Josh. 6:10). And so the Israelites carried out this plan, circling Jericho with the trumpets once per day for six days and seven times on the seventh.
It’s not difficult to see the parallels to the events prophesied for the end-time, which also involve trumpets heralding the destruction of a society opposing the true God. We’re told, “When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets…So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound” (Rev. 8:1-2, 6). John goes on to describe the events that follow each individual angel’s trumpet blast, from the first through the sixth. The fact that each day’s circle of Jericho and blowing of trumpets was distinct from the day before, one after the other, similar to the trumpets in Revelation—the next angel cannot sound until the events of the previous angel’s trumpet plague have run their course.
There are some other interesting tie-ins between God’s instructions at Jericho and what He tells us in Revelation. The priests blowing the trumpets had to go before the Ark of the Covenant just as the angels that blow the trumpets in Revelation must go before as a herald of the coming presence of God (Rev. 8, 9, 11). I believe the men of war (or “armed men”, as it’s translated in the KJV) may represent the “armies in heaven”, composed of the resurrected saints, that will follow Christ into battle when Babylon is finally destroyed—and they are armed with the full armor of God (Rev. 19:8, 9:14, Eph. 6:11-17).
Destruction by God’s hand, purging with fire
Picking up the events outside of Jericho:
“But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city seven times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city seven times. And the seventh time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: ‘Shout, for the Lord has given you the city! Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all who are in it…And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat” (Josh. 6:15-17, 20)
Once the Israelites completed their seventh circle on the seventh day—the Last Day of Unleavened Bread, traditionally—the Lord exercised dominion over the city of Jericho, shattering the illusion of invincibility and control that the citizens of Jericho had. Similarly, we’re told in Revelation that when the seventh angel sounded, “There were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’” (Rev. 11:15). After this happens, the inhabitants of the earth join forces to fight the coming Messiah (Rev. 17:12-16, Rev. 19).
Once the walls of Jericho fell, the Israelites went up and took the city and “utterly destroyed all that was in the city…they burned the city and all that was in it with fire” (Josh. 6:21, 24). Like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah centuries earlier, God orders the entire annihilation of Jericho as a symbol of what will occur at the end of the age. God inspired Jeremiah to write of future Babylon’s fall in language reminiscent of Jericho’s, saying:
“Put yourselves in array against Babylon all around, all you who bend the bow; shoot at her, spare no arrows, for she has sinned against the Lord. Shout against her all around; she has given her hand, her foundations have fallen, her walls are thrown down; for it is the vengeance of the Lord. Take vengeance on her. As she has done, so do to her…The proud will stumble and fall, and no one will raise him up; I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it will devour all around him” (Jer. 50:14-15, 32)
This future fall of Babylon the Great occurs at the seventh trumpet, through the seven bowls of God’s judgment and then ultimately through the second coming of Christ with the armies of heaven.
“And he (the angel) cried mightily with a loud voice saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen…for all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich’…For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works…Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire [like Jericho], for strong is the Lord God who judges her” (Rev. 18:2-8)
We’re told, “Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore” (Rev. 18:21). Jericho’s destruction by fire is meant to be a clear picture of what God will do in bringing down the corrupt religious and political world system that opposes the establishment of His eternal kingdom. Those who put their trust in that system will see the walls fall down around them and be destroyed—they will share in its destruction and only that which is devoted to God will be saved.
God cautioned the Israelites against coveting the riches of Jericho, lest they be tainted by them and ultimately destroyed. Joshua tells them, “Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all who are in it…And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed” (Josh. 6:17-18). We, too, are told to separate ourselves from Babylon if we do not want to partake in her destruction (Rev. 18:4).
These events provide a sobering reminder that all who participate in the worldly Babylonian system will be destroyed. We can’t be looking back longingly at the riches of Egypt, or trust in the seemingly indestructible walls of Jericho. We’re told:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (I John. 2:15-17)
Only those, like Rahab, who understand the need to sever ties with Babylon and obey God‘s instructions will be delivered when Christ establishes His kingdom on this earth. Just as Jericho was an obstacle to the establishment of the Promised Land, so will Babylon the Great be an obstacle to the establishment of God’s Kingdom, and it will be destroyed just as swiftly and completely.
Entering the Promised Land
Once God crushed the walls, the Israelites were required to participate in Jericho’s destruction. God made the way possible, but then He made sure they did their part.
“And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city…and they utterly destroyed all that was in the city…they burned the city and all that was in it with fire” (Josh. 6:20-21, 24)
It’s interesting the specific phrase used to describe their victory. It says “and the people went up” in the NKJV; earlier in verse 5 the same phrase was used, and was translated “ascend up” in the KJV. The word used here is alah, which is used a lot of different ways, including be high, mount, ascend, climb up, etc. Alah is used over 800 times in the Old Testament, often in terms of an offering, smoke rising up, the sun rising, or occasionally indicating someone has departed one place and arrived in another (such as “going up” to possess the Promised Land). Specifically, when it’s translated as “ascend”, it’s always in the context of ascending into heaven, above the heights, or “to the hill of the Lord”—in other words, going up to be with God.
Paul gave the Thessalonians a glimpse of what would happen at the conclusion of the seven trumpets of Revelation, telling them, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (I Thes. 5:16-17).
It’s hard to ignore the parallels between Old Testament events on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread and the future fall of Babylon at the seventh trumpet. For some people this will be challenging, as traditionally the churches of God have associated end-time events only with the Feast of Trumpets and fall holy days. But I don’t believe these are mutually exclusive. Historically I think we’ve largely thought about the holy days and what they picture as very compartmentalized and linear. Taking a macro view, however, the spring holy days picture God’s plan for His firstfruits, the spring harvest, and so their meaning is in how they apply to and affect the firstfruits. The fall harvest, rather, is about all of mankind throughout history, and the fall holy days show how God’s plan plays out for those not called right now.
The past physical events on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread picture freedom from bondage and slavery, and the destruction of sin and the world with the establishment of God’s Promised Land. Both leaving Egypt and the destruction of Jericho show clearly that entering the Promised Land isn’t possible without God’s help and intervention. We can’t do it by ourselves. But God does require us to take an active part in our salvation (Phil. 2:12). The Days of Unleavened Bread should serve as an annual reminder that—though Christ’s sacrifice is what redeems us—we have to spend our entire lives searching after and ingesting the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. It’s not a one-time commitment we make, words we say or a ceremony we complete, and then we go on our merry way. It’s a life-long journey of obeying God’s instructions and seeking His will. And at the end, God will make the way into His kingdom possible and break the power of Babylon for good.
Other holy day studies: