Rachel’s Lament: The Mysterious Last Day of the Festival

Every year, on each Sabbath, festival, and fast day in Jewish tradition, the reading of Torah is followed by the Haftarah, a reading of selections from the Nevi’im (Prophets). The word Haftarah means “parting”, or “taking leave”, because it is the final reading from the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible).

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On the new moon festival of Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets, commonly known as Rosh Hashanah, there are two days, and thus two Haftarah readings, one to end each day. Being perhaps the most mysterious and unique of the seven annual festivals, it comes as little surprise to learn that the 2nd and final day of the festival ends cryptically with a prophecy from Jeremiah that was fulfilled by the famously horrific Massacre of the Innocents. This was the event in which the ancient Israeli city of Ramah became the grounds of a nightmare after King Herod, hearing from the three magi of a star sign above Bethlehem heralding a king of kings, jealously set out to slay the newborn king by ordering the execution of every male child under the age of 2 in the vicinity of Bethlehem. This infant king was Jesus, whose father, Joseph, took him and his mother Mary to hide in Egypt after being warned in a dream…

The real mystery is what Jeremiah’s prophecy of this tragedy has to do with the final day of the new moon festival.

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Yom Teruah, Day 2: the final Haftarah reading from Jeremiah 31:1-19 tells of God’s promises to regather all the tribes of Israel and return joy to them in the end of days, and this is where the passage is read aloud…

JEREMIAH 31:15-17 — “Thus says the Lord: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, declares the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, declares the Lord, and your children shall come back to their own country.”

Now, let’s compare that with the Gospel of Matthew, which relates that passage to King Herod’s mass infanticide…

MATTHEW 2:16-18 — “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” 

It would seem there is a great mystery here, some obscure connection between Herod’s infanticide and the last day of Yom Teruah when the prophecy of the massacre is recited. I think the greatest hint is found in one of the most enigmatic chapters in the Bible, Revelation 12.

REVELATION 12:1-6 — “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.”

Most people agree that this image of a newborn king divinely destined to rule the world, and a ravenous dragon seeking to devour this hope, is a mirror reflection of the newborn Jesus being carried away from the bloodthirsty decree of King Herod.

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MATTHEW 2:7-15 — “Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.’ After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod.

I find it very strange that, by ending Yom Teruah with Jeremiah’s prophecy of this event, this already very odd lunar festival spirals further in mystery with the apocalyptic resonance of Revelation 12—but a trace intended only for the perception of Christians, who might acknowledge Jeremiah 31’s connection to Matthew 2. Something about the Feast of Trumpets is speaking to the Church.

Obviously, our first major clue is in the name: Feast of Trumpets. In three different books, the Bible relates the rapture of the Church to the sounding of a trumpet…

MATTHEW 24:31 — “He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds…”

1 THESSALONIANS 4:16 — “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”

1 CORINTHIANS 15:51-52 — “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”

The Feast of Trumpets is also the only one of the seven lunar festivals that takes place on a new moon; the others all fall on or around a full moon. That makes it especially unique, and worthy of deep contemplation.

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While the moon is engulfed in darkness, the festival begins upon first sighting of the waxing crescent at the very beginning of the new lunar cycle. The dark nature of the new moon as being hidden can be related to the Church being hidden in heaven in the day of God’s wrath.

ISAIAH 26:19-21 — “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the wrath has passed by. For behold, YHWH is coming out from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity…”

PSALM 27:5 — “For He will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of his tent; He will lift me high upon a rock.”

As Revelation 12 seems to have a strange connection to the Feast of Trumpets through its hidden reminiscence on Bethlehem’s tragedy, the festival is again adorned with intrigue because of its allusions to the rapture of the Church; after all, when interpreted correctly, Revelation 12 is a clear picture of the rapture. In the great celestial sign of Revelation 12, the male child being born is not only a depiction of Jesus Christ, but all who are “in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17). The Bible is clear that Jesus is only the head of a body.

COLOSSIANS 1:18 — “He is the head of the body, the Church…”

ROMANS 12:5 — “…so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

1 CORINTHIANS 12:27 — “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

So, when Revelation 12 describes Jesus Christ as a king being birthed to rule the world with a rod of iron, it is depicting the Body of Christ as a whole—that is, Christ and His Church as one corporate entity. The Church is also illustrated in Revelation 12 as the male child, which means the Church will also rule with Christ, a concept corroborated by Jesus’ own words in His message to the Church in Revelation…

REVELATION 2:26-27 — “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.”

Yes, the Church is also the male child of Revelation 12.

REVELATION 12:5 — “She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne.”

The original Greek word for “caught up” is “harpazo”, which is rendered in the Latin Vulgate “raptus”, where we derive the modern term “rapture”. The Church is depicted in Revelation 12 being raptured to the throne of God, which explains why it is seen in heaven before the throne in Revelation 7.

REVELATION 7:9-10 — “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

That scene takes place between the 6th and 7th seal, which is proof of a pre-6th-seal (or pre-wrath) rapture. Also giving evidence to a pre-wrath rapture is the fact that the male child of Revelation 12, the Body of Christ, is raptured to the throne prior to the dragon’s persecution of the woman—that is, before his mother (ethnic Israel) is persecuted by the Antichrist—reducing the argument for a post-tribulation rapture to nothing.

REVELATION 12:13 — “And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.”

Now, back to the mystery…

The Feast of Trumpets is the 5th of the 7 lunar festivals, the one laden with symbols and shadows of the rapture. Although these ancient festivals all stand as calendrical commemorations of past events, they also show themselves to have had fulfillments in the age of the Church. They seem to look both to the past as well as the future. Jesus died during the 1st festival, Passover. Jesus was buried during the 2nd festival, Unleavened Bread. Jesus was resurrected during the 3rd festival, First Fruits. The Holy Spirit first conceived in the Church during the 4th festival, Pentecost… The next festival to be fulfilled in sequence is number 5, Trumpets.

Will the Feast of Trumpets be fulfilled by the next major event on the Church’s agenda? Is the rapture going to occur sometime during this curious 2-day festival?

If Revelation 12 has any connection to it, I’d say it’s very hopeful.

The Church being safely raptured in evasion of the Antichrist’s destructive ambitions, just as Jesus was hidden from Herod, is the main theme of the Revelation 12 sign. Not only is Revelation 12 connected to the Feast of Trumpets through the Haftarah reading of Jeremiah’s prophecy of Herod’s infanticide, but as a “great sign” appearing “in heaven” with the sun, moon and stars all at play to draw out the imagery, Revelation 12 is a literal astronomical sign that will be appearing for the first and only time in history this year, September 23, 2017, the last day of the Feast of Trumpets…

To be clear, let me say it this way… In Israel, the Revelation 12 sign is going to come into perfect formation on the 2nd and last day of the festival, at the exact same time that the Jews will be reciting the traditional Haftarah reading of the prophecy from Jeremiah that became the basis for the imagery of Revelation 12.

Still following?

It’s easy to get lost in this forest.

No one ever said mysteries were easy.

Allow me to explain what’s going on in the heavens to illustrate this major celestial sign — Or Click Here To Read My Full Article On The Revelation 12 Sign And The Feast Of Trumpets. The planet Jupiter entered into the womb area of the constellation Virgo in mid-December, 2016. Just before exiting the constellation, it then began to perform a retrograde motion, which caused it to move back and forth within the perimeters of Virgo’s torso. This is what’s taking place right now.

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Jupiter will then exit Virgo from between her legs in mid-September, 2017, this year, depicting the birth of the Body of Christ. Mind you, because of Jupiter’s retrograde motion, the planet remains within Virgo’s body for a total of 9 months before being born—that’s exactly 42 weeks since its conception last December, the precise length of time that spans between the conception of a human embryo and its birth.

Let me say that again.

Virgo the Virgin will birth the king planet between her legs after carrying it in her celestial womb for the same measure of time as the gestation of a human baby.

REVELATION 12:1-2 — “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.”

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This sign will be complete on September 23 of this year. On that day, just like Revelation 12 says, the moon will be positioned at Virgo’s feet, and the sun clothing her with light from right beside her shoulder. Her crown is made of the 9 major stars comprising the constellation Leo, which sit just above Virgo’s head, which is then joined by Mercury, Venus, and Mars, thus completing the 12 stars of her crown, but only on September 23, 2017—that’s what is so auspicious about this sign, and what convinces me that this is indeed Revelation 12’s “great sign”. The sign is only complete with all its elements—the sun, moon, and stars—on the day of September 23, 2017, which just perfectly happens to be the last day of the Feast of Trumpets, during the Haftarah reading of Jeremiah 31 prophesying the historical event illustrated in the Revelation 12 sign.

The celestial sign of Revelation 12, the new moon festival of Trumpets, the Haftarah reading of Jeremiah 31—they all allude to the rapture, and they all converge on the same day.

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And all this happens when the final blast of the shofar (trumpet) is sounding to end the festival. The many soundings of the shofar throughout the Feast of Trumpets is what gives it its name. But the final blast of the shofar is called Tekiah Gedolah (“big blast”) and is traditionally a prolonged, unbroken sound typifying a final invitation for Messiah to return. This is what ends the festival on the evening of the last day.

1 THESSALONIANS 4:16 — “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”

That “shout of command” is called in Hebrew “teruah”, meaning “shout”, and refers to the blast of the shofar. The Feast of Trumpets is called “Yom Teruah” (“Day of Shouting”). Think of when Jesus called Lazarus from the grave with a loud shout; so will it be with all the dead and living in Christ when He descends. For this reason, the festival is also called the Day of the Awakening Blast, as in those who sleep, the dead, awakening back to life.

ISAIAH 26:19 — “The earth will give birth to the dead.” — Here, the word “birth” clearly connects this rapture event to the male child that’s birthed in Revelation 12, the Church!

The trumpet blast also announces God’s descent, further equating the rapture with the 5th lunar festival, the Feast of Trumpets

EXODUS 19:16-18 — “On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire.” — Here is an assembly of God’s people upon His descent on Mount Sinai, foreshadowing the Church’s assembly with Christ in the air when He descends from heaven.

There’s a good reason for all the whispers and rumours about 9/23 this year.

Many people have long held the belief that a pre-tribulation rapture of the Church would occur during the Feast of Trumpets; they just never knew which year. Perhaps that’s where the Revelation 12 sign finds its purpose.

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Let’s try to solve the mystery of Rachel’s lament.

Reading Jeremiah’s prophecy, which according to Matthew 2 found its fulfilment in the Massacre of the Innocents, we learn about a town called Ramah. It was in the land allocated to the tribe of Benjamin. Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin on the road from Bethlehem to Ramah.

JEREMIAH 31:15-17 — “Thus says the Lord: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”

Matthew 2 tells us that this passage from Jeremiah was fulfilled by Herod, who had ordered the infanticide in Bethlehem and its surrounding region, which may have included the town of Ramah situated 11 miles north of Bethlehem… although, that seems a little too far outside the range of Bethlehem’s vicinity.

MATTHEW 2:16 — “…he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under.”

It’s possible that this included Ramah, which means Jerusalem must have also been targeted, seeing as it sits halfway between Bethlehem and Ramah. One thing’s for certain, Matthew was clear that there is a connection between Jeremiah’s prophesy of lamentation in Ramah and Herod’s massacre in the vicinity of Bethlehem.

But there’s another possibility…

Ramah is the home of the Prophet Samuel and was the centre of his prophetic activity.

1 SAMUEL 7:17 — “Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel.”

Samuel is told that he will go to Rachel’s tomb after leaving Ramah.

1 SAMUEL 10:2 — “When you depart from me today (from Ramah), you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah…”

This is a strong indication that, while Rachel’s tomb is today said to be located in Bethlehem 11 miles south of Ramah, her true burial site is probably much closer to Ramah.

GENESIS 35:19-20 — “So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), and Jacob set up a pillar over her tomb. It is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day.”

Rachel died on the way to Bethlehem, not in Bethlehem. We find here in Genesis that Jacob and Rachel begin on a journey in the far north town of Shechem and head south to Bethel…

GENESIS 35:3-4, 16-19 — “Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.’ So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem… Then they journeyed from Bethel. When they were still some distance from Ephrath (Bethlehem), Rachel went into labor, and she had hard labor. And when her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, ‘Do not fear, for you have another son.’ And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (Bethlehem)…”

From Bethel, when they are still far from Bethlehem, Rachel dies in labour. The next nearest city southward from Bethel is Jerusalem, but even before that is the town of Ramah. Surely, Ramah is the true site of Rachel’s tomb where Jacob set up a funerary pillar for the beloved matriarch.

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So, as Jeremiah’s prophesy says, Rachel weeps for her children in Ramah—because she is dying there in childbirth.

But what children was she weeping for? Her first son Joseph was destined to lead the tribes of Israel between exile and nationhood, and became great in Egypt; and the child she bore in her death, Benjamin, became the great patriarch of one of the 12 Tribes of Israel. Jeremiah said Rachel was weeping because of a death, that “she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”

I don’t believe the prophesy is suggesting that Rachel was weeping for either of her two sons. She was on the road toward Bethlehem, which would one day be the site of a great tragedy. Jeremiah’s prophesy is fulfilled by Herod’s infanticide in the region of Bethlehem, because it was in that direction, the road ahead, the future, that the dying Rachel was looking when she wept for her children. Jeremiah was attributing her tears to her distant descendants. Rachel went into labour and died “when they were still some distance from Ephrath” (Bethlehem), just as there would still be a distance of over 1,500 years before that southern destination that she never reached would be stained with the blood of Herod’s victims.

The dragon in Revelation 12 misses his opportunity to devour the male child, so he pursues the woman—the Jews persecuted by the Antichrist after the rapture of the Church.

REVELATION 12:5-6, 13-14 — “…her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days… And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.” (1,260 days)

Many of these end-time Jews that will have to face the Antichrist are going to be martyred in the great tribulation after finally awakening to their true Messiah, Jesus Christ—these are the so-called “tribulation saints”.

REVELATION 12:17 — “ Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”

The woman’s first offspring, the Church, was already delivered in the rapture; all that remain, the “rest of her offspring”, are the 144,000 Jews and the rest of ethnic Israel that afterwards comes to faith.

ROMANS 11:25-26 — “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved…”

Rachel’s offspring will again fall prey to the dragon, so as to bring them to a knowledge of Jesus Christ. But all who are presently in Christ will escape before this trial arrives, as Jesus did from Herod 2,000 years ago, and as the male child does in Revelation 12. This promise of the Church’s escape to heaven was given by Christ Himself…

REVELATION 3:10 — “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.”

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LUKE 12:35-37, 45-48 — “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes… But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” 

 

We are called to watch and get ready.

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