A slightly difficult uphill and narrow way in Tobago
At sunset October 7, 2012 begins a time known as the Last Great Day. (The seven day Feast of Tabernacles is immediately followed by the eighth day, which began last night at sunset.) It lasts until sunset on October 8, 2012.
Christians normally call this the ”Last Great Day” based on these statement from Jesus in John 7:37-38:
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.”
It is on that last day that those predestined in this age will be the praise to Christ’s glory to those on the earth in a way that has not happened before.
Jesus was clear that only a few will find this way in this age:
23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, 24 Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able (Luke 13:23-24).
14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:14).
So only some few will be called in this age. And there is an “age to come” (Matthew 12:32) where even infamous sinners will have an opportunity (cf. Matthew 10:15;11:22).
According to an old, but probably modified in the 4th century document, it seems that Polycarp observed the Feast of Tabernacles in the second century including the Last Great Day:
I will give the narration in order, thus coming down to the history of the blessed Polycarp…
So also he pursued the reading of the Scriptures from childhood to old age, himself reading in church; and he recommended it to others, saying that the reading of the law and the prophets was the forerunner of grace, preparing and making straight the ways of the Lord, that is the hearts, which are like tablets whereon certain harsh beliefs and conceptions that were written before perfect knowledge came, are through the inculcation of the Old Testament, and the correct interpretation following thereupon, first smoothed and levelled, that, when the Holy Spirit comes as a pen, the grace and joy of the voice of the Gospel and of the doctrine of the immortal and heavenly Christ may be inscribed on them. And he said that they could not otherwise receive the impression of the seal which is given by baptism and engrave and exhibit the form conveyed in it, unless the wax were first softened and filled the deep parts. So also he thought that the hearts of the hearers ought to be softened and yield to the impress of the Word. For he said that it unfolded and opened, like closed doors, the minds of recent comers; and accordingly the prophet was bidden by God, Cry out mightily and spare not, Raise thy voice as a trumpet. What must one say, when even He that was gentler than all men so appeals and cries out at the feast of Tabernacles? For it is written; And on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirsteth, let him come to Me and drink. (Pionius, Life of Polycarp (1889) from J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, pp.488-506.)
The Living Church of God states this about the eighth day of the feast:
…Old Testament meaning
…Adjacent to the Feast of Tabernacles, this eighth day is considered a separate Feast.
(Leviticus 23:36, 39)
…New Testament meaning
…Pictures the coming “Great White Throne Judgment” at which all of humanity not previously called will have the chance to hear the True Gospel and accept salvation. [The Holy Days]
Most of the small groups that observe the Feast of Tabernacles and the eight day that follows it are in basic agreement with the statements quoted from the Living Church of God.
Here is some of what the late Herbert W. Armstrong taught about the Last Great Day:
This eighth day, technically a separate feast, is called “the last day, that great day of the feast” (John 7:37).
What does this final holy day represent?
Notice what Jesus preached about on that day: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink . . . out of his belly [innermost being] shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive . . .)” (John 7:37-39).
This was Jesus’ sermon giving the meaning of the last great day!
Now turn to Revelation 20. After the Millennium, what happens? A resurrection! The dead stand before God. This couldn’t include true Christians today, as they will appear before the judgment seat when Christ returns. It couldn’t refer to those converted during the Millennium. They have already inherited the Kingdom during the Millennium, after living out a normal life-span. Those in this resurrection must be those who died in ignorance in past ages! They are not brought to life until after the Millennium (Revelation 20:5).
This is that judgment day mentioned in Matthew 10: 15. It is a time when Gentiles who died in ignorance will be given an opportunity to receive salvation. Ezekiel 16:53-55 makes this very plain. Even those in Israel who died in their sins will be given their first opportunity to understand the truth of God and His way (Ezekiel 37). The prophet wrote that God would pour out His Spirit on those resurrected (verse 14). This is precisely the salvation that Jesus mentioned in His sermon on that great day of the feast in the autumn of AD 30.
This eighth day, which immediately follows the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles, pictures the completion of the plan of redemption. It is just prior to the new heaven and the new earth. All parents and children, young and old will be resurrected. Notice that the “book of life” typifying salvation is opened (Revelation 20:12). Revelation presents the final view of the “judgment day” as the present material heaven and earth are perishing and the faithful are receiving their eternal reward at the throne of Christ. The wicked those who disobey are seen perishing in the lake of fire! What a marvelous plan! All will have an equal opportunity (Armstrong HW. Pagan Holidays–or God’s Holy Days—Which?, booklet).
Isaiah prophesied how long the White Throne Judgment period would last. During this time Christ and the resurrected saints will rule. It is the time of the second resurrection. The earth will be as peaceful and productive as the Millennium itself. Children who died will live again for one hundred years, building character through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Older people who had died without knowing God’s plan for them will also be resurrected to live for one hundred years. The close of the one-hundred-year White Throne Judgment is pictured by John in Revelation 20:11-12…100 years of testing…Isa. 65:20. (Bible Correspondence Course, Lesson 39. 1954, 1965 Edition).
A major reason that I originally became part of the Church of God is that in addition to proving all things from the Bible, I truly believe that since “God is love” (1 John 4:16) that He has a plan of salvation that will ultimately result in everyone being called and nearly every one who ever lived being saved.
Actually this was a belief of possibly most who professed Christ until apparently sometime in the 6th century, which in Roman circles was somewhat replaced with the purgatory doctrine. Three must read articles about these matters are Hope of Salvation: How the COGs differ from most Protestants, Universal Salvation? There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis, and Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory?