Hebrew priest blowing the Shofar hornThe Feast of Shemini Atzeret

The Last Great Day Festival

For those who die righteouslyah (under YAH’s spiritual influence), eternal life begins as a New Jerusalem descends from heaven. Scripture offers a glimpse of this eternity, just enough to inspire desire and hope to be among those who overcome the world’s tribulations. Picture Elohim and His saints living together in perfect harmony and love. “I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from Elohim, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of Elohim is with men. He will dwell with them. They shall be his people. Elohim Himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death shall be no more. Neither, shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:2-4)
Scripture refers to the Last Great Day as a “solemn assembly”. “On the eighth day, you shall have a solemn assembly. You shall do no servile work there in.” (Numbers 29:35) The two English words (solemn, assembly) of the Bible’s King James Version (KJV) is translated from one Hebrew word, “atzarah” (H6116). It is derived from the Hebrew root word “atzar” (H6113), which means “to hold back, in close, to maintain, rule, assemble, keep close, up close, et al.” The word “shemiyniy” (H8066) means “eighth”. Hence, some call this Feast Day “Shemini Atzaret”, or the “Eighth Solemn Assembly”.
From Webster’s New World College Dictionary, “solemn” is an adjective often associated with annual religious festivals. Its definition is: “1. a) observed or done according to ritual or tradition (said esp. of religious holidays, rites, etc.) b) sacred in character; 2. according to strict form; formal (a solemn ceremony); 3. a) serious or grave (a solemn face) b) deeply earnest; very sincere (a solemn oath); 4. very impressive or arousing feelings of awe because of its great importance or seriousness (a solemn occasion); 5. somber because dark in color.” This word aptly describes a Feast Day that spiritually pictures Yah’s soon-to-come new creation. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For, the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and the sea was no more. (Revelations 21:1)
For those judged worthy to spend eternity in Elohim’s new creation, this day is indeed a joyous occasion. Being amongst Yah’s chosen ones; privileged to “atzar” (hold back) with Yahushuah is a true blessing. At times, it seems like an impossible dream. The concept of eternity often is incomprehensible to humans. Nonetheless, let us wait expectantly for YAH’s unsearchable riches, seeking to trust and obey Him faithfully until our end. But as it is written, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which Elohim has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
Won’t it be totally YAHsome to receive an invitation to “atzar” (come close) to YAH? What prevents us from being Yahushuah’s close friend now? Is it selfishness, fear, or anger that hinders us from becoming one (echad) with Him? Are we too busy with worldly details to “atzar” with Yahushuah with a free and loving mind, heart, soul? “Who shall separate us from the love of Mashiach? Shall tribulation? Distress? Persecution? Famine? Nakedness? Peril? Or, sword?” (Romans 8:35)
Sadly, the seeking of material wealth will stop many from accepting His invitation. “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” And Yahushuah said to him, “Why do you call me good? There is none good but one, that is, Elohim. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery! Do not murder! Do not steal! Do not bear false witness! Defraud not! Honor your father and mother!’” And he answered and said to Him, “Master, all these I have observed from my youth.” Then Yahushuah beholding him loved him and said to him, “One thing you lack. Go your way, sell whatsoever you have, give to the poor and you shall have treasure in heaven. Come! Take up the cross and follow me.” And he was sad at that saying and went away grieved for he had great possessions. And Yahushuah looked round about and said to His disciples, “How hardly shall they who have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:17-23)
Thereby is the very solemn (serious, somber) aspect about the Last Great Day. Spiritually, it includes, in large part, coming to judgment on how people choose to live their life. Whoever accepts Yahushuah’s call to obey YAH’s commandments, to love others and to serve Elohim, will “atzar” into Yah’s rest. Those who hear Yahushuah’s message, but choose to ignore it, neglect it, or pooh-pooh it, will miss their opportunity to repent (turn from their way toward Yah’s Way) and subsequently miss the wonderful reward that is available through YHVH Elohim’s Plan of Salvation. Hence, the bittersweet solemnity! “When the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who had not a wedding-garment. He said to him, ‘Friend, how came you in hither, not having a wedding-garment?’ And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away and cast him into utter darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For, many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:11-14)
Adding the Last Great Day to the 7-days of Sukkoth gives us a total of 8 days of fall festivities. Our spring festivities of Matstsoth (Unleavened Bread), Pesach (Passover) and Yahushuah’s Memorial also total 8 days. Reflect on the mirror-imaged spring and fall festivals. Numbers depict spiritually significant matters. Meditate upon and study YAH’s festivals. “Rejoice in Adonai always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. Adonai is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to Elohim and the peace of Elohim, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Yahushuah ha’Mashiach. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the Elohim of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9).
For example, consider that during Sukkoth Solomon consecrated and dedicated the Temple with a grand opening celebration. (1 Kings 8:1-66) It ended with Shemini Atzaret. “In the eighth day they made a solemn assembly for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days. On the three and twentieth day of the seventh moon, he sent the people away to their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that YHVH had shown to David, to Solomon and to Israel, His people. (2 Chronicles 7:9-10)
After Solomon’s Temple was destroyed, the exiles who returned from Babylonian captivity to reconstruct the Temple, also celebrated its new beginning during Sukkoth. “They found written in Torah, which YHVH had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh moon and that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Go forth unto the Mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.’ So the people went forth, brought them and made booths, every one upon the roof of his house, in their courts, in the courts of the House of Elohim, in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim. All the congregation of those who once again came out of the captivity made booths and sat under the booths. For since the days of Yahoshuah, the son of Nun, until that day the children of Israel had not done so. There was very great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read in the book of Torah of Elohim. They kept the feast seven days. On the eighth day was a solemn assembly according unto the manner. (Nehemiah 8:14-18)
This pattern of 7-days plus 1-day (8-days) that is evident in YAH’s festivals often appears in Scripture. From E. M. Bullinger’s, Appendix-10 of the Companion Bible; “The Spiritual Significance of Numbers,” the numbers in the Bible convey spiritual messages. For example, “One denotes unity and commencement; seven denotes spiritual perfection; and eight denotes resurrection, regeneration, a new beginning or commencement.” 
Consider another prophetic picture of the fall feasts when Moses initiated Aaron and His sons as Israel’s priests. “Therefore, you shall abide at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven days. Keep the charge of YHVH that you not die, for so I am commanded. So, Aaron and his sons did all things which YHVH commanded by the hand of Moses. It came to pass on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel. He said to Aaron, ‘Take a young calf for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before YHVH.’ To the children of Israel you shall speak, saying, ‘Take a kid of the goats for a sin offering; a calf and a lamb, both of the first years, without blemish, for a burnt offering. Also a bullock and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before YHVH; and a meat offering mingled with oil: for to day YHVH will appear to you. They brought that which Moses commanded before the tabernacle of the congregation. The entire congregation drew near, stood before YHVH, and Moses said, ‘This is the thing which YHVH commanded that you should do and the glory of YHVH shall appear unto you.’ (Leviticus 8:35 - 9:6)
The pattern of 7 + 1 days is such an important picture that YAH also specifies it for purging and the purification of the altar (which spiritually depicts our assembly in that we are the temple that Yahushuah has made without hands … Our bodies typify the flesh that is placed upon the altar …). “Seven days shall they purge the altar and purify it. They shall consecrate themselves. When these days are expired, it shall be that upon the eighth day and so forward, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar and your peace offerings. ‘And, I will accept you,’ says Sovereign YHVH.” (Ezekiel 43:26-27) “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of Elohim, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to Elohim, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)
The Eighth Solemn Assembly also pictures a time in which Elohim deals with Satan (and sin) once, and for all. “When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city. Fire came down from Elohim out of heaven and devoured them. The demon that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:7-10).
Scripture also reveals that at this time a resurrection of the dead will occur, and all the dead will stand before Elohim for judgment. Those judged unworthy of eternal life are sentenced into a lake of fire, i.e. spiritual death. “I saw a great white throne and He who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. There was no place found for them. I saw the dead, small and great, stand before Elohim. The books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works. The sea gave up the dead who were in it. Death and hell delivered up the dead who were in them. They were judged every man according to their works. Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)
After conducting this final business, YAH permanently addresses the last vestige of evil, and His eternal, glorious spiritual kingdom of YAH reigns anew. (Revelations 21 and 22)
Our promised coming into eternal rest and living in heaven’s spiritual city forever was part of YAH’s Salvation Plan from the very beginning. All of YAH’s festivals teach us in a physical way about His spiritual plan of redemption (salvation). The Last Great Day is about YAH literally asking us to remain with Him forever. His dwelling among us as we celebrate Shemini Atzaret is a picture of the world embracing YAH’s salvation plan. It shall come to pass, that every one who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, YHVH Tzavuot (of hosts), and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:16)
So what can BYA do to prepare for the Eighth Solemn Assembly? For one, we can pray for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding about how YAH directs our paths. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:6) Hold up my goings in your paths that my footsteps slip not. I call upon you, for you will hear me, O Elohim. Incline your ear to me and hear my speech. (Psalm 17:5-6) All the paths of YHVH are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies. For your name's sake, O YHVH, pardon my iniquity for it is great. (Psalm 25:10-11) Because my people forgot me, they burned incense to vanity, and they caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up. (Jeremiah 18:15)
BYA can also seek to walk along the ancient path of Israel. What Israelites did, we can do today. They came to hear Torah and to learn YAH’s teaching on Life; so can we. Biblical scholars believe certain psalms were sung as a chant during Sukkoth. (Psalms 15; 24; 29; 82; 83; 84; 85; 86; 87; 100; and 120 through 134 (Songs of Ascent) On the Last Great Day, we can read these psalms aloud; listen to YAH’s Voice. Hear Him speak of tabernacles, dwelling places, tents, booths, and Yahushuah coming to live amongst us as our King, our Bridegroom. When we do so, expect to receive a double blessing from YAH as it is written, “Blessed is he who reads, and they who hear the words of this prophecy and keeps those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” (Revelation 1:3)
BYA can also strive for unity. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard that went down to the skirts of his garments. As the dew of Hermon and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there YHVH commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” (Psalm 133:1-3)
Remember that the struggles of BYA are against unseen agents, not human beings. Let us be a community known for supporting and encouraging each other along the Way. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
BYA can also give all the glory for trials and tribulations to our Elohim as He goads us onto the correct ancient paths. “Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess. But be filled with the Spirit. Speak to yourselves in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to Adonai. Give thanks always for all things to Elohim and the Father in the name of our Adonai, Yahushuah Mashiach. Submit yourselves one to another in the fear of Elohim. (Ephesians 5:18-21) “Whether therefore you eat, drink, or what so ever you do, do all to the glory of Elohim.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) If any man speaks, let him speak as the oracles of Elohim. If any man ministers, let him do it as of the ability which Elohim gives that Elohim in all things may be glorified through Yahushuah Mashiach, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)  
Finally, BYA can uplift each other in King Yahushuah ha’Mashiach. “For the Kingdom of Elohim is not meat and drink; but righteousness, peace and joy in Ruach ha’Qodesh (the Holy Spirit). For, he who in these things serves Mashiach is acceptable to Elohim and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” (Romans 14:17-19)
HalleluYah! May BYA dwell with YAH at all the coming Shemini Atzaret. And, may Yahushuah’s mercy and grace be with us all. Shalom, Curt